Reflect & Respond: Week 4
Below, you will find a variety of ways to reflect on Psalm 72 this week. Since God speaks to each of us in different ways, you, your family, or even your small group may wish to mix and match a number of the spiritual disciplines listed. No matter what “Advent-ure” you select, we hope that you will find an opportunity to connect more deeply with Jesus, the perfect King.
DAILY BIBLE READINGS
- Monday, December 23: Psalm 72
- Tuesday, December 24: Luke 1:26-35
- Wednesday, December 25: Luke 1:68-75
- Thursday, December 26: John 12:12-15
- Friday, December 27: Revelation 19:11-16
Read Psalm 72. This is a prayer of David for God’s blessing on him and his rule. List the characteristics of the prayer in two columns: one of all the things he is asking for himself, and one of all that he is asking God to enable him to do for his people. Now read Isaiah 61. List from this passage all the things God promises to do through His anointed one. What similarities or differences do you see?
We live in a time of the “now, and not yet.” We look forward to the return of King Jesus to rule over the earth, and yet this Kingdom is coming even now. Although we see the sin and brokenness around us, we also see beautiful pieces of this New Kingdom coming. We as a community are called to use our gifts and strengths as ambassadors for the coming Kingdom in this world. Ask others in your community what they see as your spiritual gifts and strengths. Encourage each other in those and go out and serve God’s Kingdom purposes through them.
PRAYER: SILENT LISTENING PRAYER
We often associate prayer with the words we say, but prayer is a two-way conversation in which we must also learn to listen to the Triune God. This is something that is very hard to do—especially in a busy week like this one! This week, we invite you to the truly counter-cultural practice of silent listening prayer. Just as friends can enjoy one another without conversing, contemplative prayer is a way of being with God without wordiness. In this practice of attending and listening to God in quiet, without interruption and noise, we learn to allow God to set the agenda for prayer. In other words, rather than talking at God, we learn to be with God.
There are many ways to practice silent listening prayer, and some will find that it comes naturally. For those who need a nudge to get started with silent listening prayer this week, try these ideas:
- Set a period of time in which you don’t speak. If silent prayer is new for you, start with ten minutes each day, and set a timer so that you are not tempted to watch the clock.
- If you find it hard to quiet your mind, consider also quieting your body through stillness.
- If your mind wanders, focus on a portion of Scripture (we suggest Psalm 72), allowing it to sink deeper into your heart as a prayer to God.
Lying facedown or bowing low to the earth is a posture of obedient worship. We serve a King who truly is worthy. Worship this week in a posture of bowing down in reverent worship to King Jesus. Consider singing or listening to “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” found on page 26.
Provide a ride to the Christmas Service (international students, homebound etc). We have services at 1, 2:30, 4, & 5:30 pm this year. Contact the Eastbrook Church office (414.228.5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on who needs a ride and how to serve.
As a family, small group, or individual, find a way to use your finances to bless and encourage someone.
This could involve donating to a charity, buying lunch for the homeless, paying the rent for someone in need. The possibilities are endless!
- Monday, December 23: Place Mary and Joseph in the stable. The time has almost arrived for Baby Jesus to be born!
- Monday, Tuesday 24: Place the Baby Jesus figure in the stable. In the middle of the night, in this little barn, Jesus was born! “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son . . .” (John 3:16).
- Monday, Wednesday 25: Place the shepherds near the stable. The angel told them that the Savior had been born! They believed, and there were the first to see Jesus and to tell others about Him!
- Monday, December 30: Bring your wise men figures a little closer to the stable. They are following the star, on their way to worship the King of Kings!
- Monday, January 6 (Epiphany): The magi arrive, and present Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Jesus is the chosen beloved God, the suffering servant, the forever priest, and the coming King!
CREATE: PLANTING PAPERWHITES
Psalm 72 is rich with agrarian imagery. In verse 15-16 in particular, this messianic psalm compares Jesus’ eternal reign with flourishing crops and thriving fields. In this passage, we hear an echo of what makes the season of Advent so special. Not only is Advent a time when we expect the birth of Christ that we celebrate this week at Christmas, but we also anticipate this eternal reign of Jesus. To put this into practice creatively this week, plant a paperwhite bulb in an indoor pot according to the instructions provided with your bulb. Wait with anticipation for your beautiful paperwhite to bloom!