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One Woman's Pilgrimage

    by Linda Bush Cannon

Advent Devotions - December 1st through December 11th
Date Posted: December 5, 2010
Advent Devotions - December 1st

Luke 2:1: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

In those days… What do you remember when you think of Christmas past? What memories come to mind, emotions to heart? In those days, are they the “good old days”, days in which you visit and perhaps still live? We can get trapped by the past. Often we romanticize memories, make them softer, kinder, larger, sweeter than they were in reality. Do our hearts ache for a more simple, easier holiday?
Perhaps you are the opposite – memories of holidays gone by hold only pain and bitterness and disappointment for you. Your carry the chains of your past as much as Marley’s ghost from A Christmas Carol. They haunt you and keep you from Christmas present.

As we begin our countdown to Christmas, live in the present. Realize you can choose from this day forward how you will live, and why you will live. Look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). Look to the baby in the manger, the God-man on the cross, and blessed/gloriously, the risen Christ, Lord of all. Choose Him today. Take His gift of sacrificial love by accepting Him as your Savior. Unwrap the gift of Jesus and eternal and abundant life today. Bring him the good memories, the bad memories, let Him redeem your past, your present, your future.

Advent Devotions - December 2nd

Luke 2:1: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

A decree can be a declaration, judgment, announcement, a ruling. What is your life announcing today? What do your words, your actions, declare about you? What judgments might a casual observer draw from the facts of your life today? You are being watched every day by more people than you can begin to imagine. Now this is not written to make you feel paranoid or horribly guilty, but to free you. As noted in December 1st devotion, Christ frees us from our past, including our sins and blunders. You have a choice to make today – your can choose your words and actions (and reactions). Christ is here to make your life (right this moment) as new and clean as a freshly cut Christmas tree. He declares His love for you in each moment – you are so precious to him. Let your life announce Him in your heart by word and deed, beginning now. Take this day and gift it back to Jesus, and affirm your relationship with Him by spending time wrapped in His love (through prayer and reading His word, the Bible).

Advent Devotions - December 3rd

Luke 2:1: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

Caesar wanted a headcount of everyone in the entire Roman world. He wanted a “count”. The noun can mean a sum, a tally, a reckoning. But used as a verb, count can mean to matter, to be important, significant, to make a difference. Here we are, counting the days to Christmas, crossing the days off on our calendars as they fly by. You’re probably counting up Christmas presents on your list, and counting the cost as you spend money on those gifts, the decorations, the extra food for the holiday meal, the number of people you’ll have over for the fun and frolic of the season. What can be done to make this Christmas “count” for Christ? How can we centralize the story of our Savior’s birth into our holiday madness and rush? Take a moment today to count your blessings, and to realize how much you count to Christ!

Advent Devotions - December 4th

Luke 2:2 This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Do you remember your first Christmas growing up? Your first Christmas coming home from college? After moving away and coming back? Your first married Christmas? First Christmas with children? Maybe this is your first Christmas after a divorce, or after losing a loved one, and you aren’t sure how you will get through it. You may be looking at the Christmas lights on your tree through a blur of tears. There are so many Christmas “firsts”… both happy and sad.

Think about Mary, Jesus’ mother. This was quite a first for her, and I’ll be she wasn’t expecting the first moments of motherhood to be in a foreign land, giving birth in a stable and putting her newborn into a feeding troth! Society and the media hype Christmas as a perfect time of joy, love, peace, and good will (not to mention those two-hour Christmas movies where everything comes out wonderful, true love is found, everyone comes home, and life is beautiful). Get real.
If you are sad, give yourself permission to be sad – share this with the Lord. Have a quiet time of conversation with Him today, sitting in front of the tree. Take your Bible and read Luke 2:1-20, and learn about Christ’s first time as a baby in a manger. This Christmas, get real before God. Pour out everything to Him, and let it be your gift of praise, whether it is joy, or a broken heart.

And if you’ve never given your heart and life to Jesus, why not do it this very day? Find out what it’s like to have a “first Christmas” as a true believer and follower of Christ – now that’s something to really celebrate!

Advent Devotions - December 5th

Luke 2:3 And everyone went to his own town to register.

When we register something, we record it. A cash register receipt gives us a record of our purchase. We register our cars with DMV to verify they belong to us. We register for classes at college, so when we appear we are given access and validated as an authentic student. When something “registers” with us, it suddenly makes sense to us and we understand. It comes from the Latin regerere, to record : and gerere, to carry.

Today, why not pick up an inexpensive notebook or journal, and begin to record moments of this Christmas season? Maybe it will be a thought or feeling, or perhaps you will jot down something one of your children or friends said to you that brought a smile to your face. Possibly it will be a prayer, or a Bible verse, or a song lyric.

Make a record of your life for the next 20 days, because these days belong to you – they are a gift from God. Validate them – they are precious. Carry the memories into the future with a few simple words on a piece of paper. Who knows - years from now you may read this record of your Christmas 2007 journey, and the story will register deep within you, bringing back a wonderful blessing that might have been long forgotten, a newly discovered Christmas gift unwrapped all over again.

Advent Devotions - December 6th

Luke 2:4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Tis’ the season to travel. Some by plane, some by train, and some pack up the kids and dog and go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. We go to the Christmas pageants at the school, to the choir recitals at church; we run to the stores, and rush to the parties, until we drop from exhaustion and holiday burnout.

In Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message version) Jesus says: “Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely."

Stop a minute today to breathe. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and carve out even five little minutes to come to Jesus to recover your life! Take a moment to receive His gift today of the “unforced rhythms of grace”. Rest in the grace of our Savior.

Advent Devotions - December 7th

Luke 2:5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

So there was Mary, committed to her beloved Joseph, waiting on the birth of her first child, and facing a long and arduous journey to a foreign city. I am sure there were days she was tired, soul-weary, close to tears, and unsure of exactly what the future would hold. Mary… you found your hope and strength each day in the Lord, and His promises.

We also need to look to the Lord when we are facing our demanding and difficult days. In the midst of everything, quietly pause and remember that you carry the Holy Spirit inside you – given to you by the Lord until Christ returns. The fruit of that Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How precious are these gifts? Practice giving them away in the days to come.

Advent Devotions - December 8th

Luke 2:6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born

The Greek word for born in this passage means “to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed).” Yesterday’s devotion talked about the fruit of the Spirit born through you by the power of the Holy Spirit in you when you have accepted Christ as your Savior. When you think about birth, it takes months and months for the baby to develop in the womb. In that time, a mother sees changes in her own body – mentally, physically, emotionally -- a daily metamorphosis. It’s a time of preparation, and a time of waiting for that child to be born.

It’s no different spiritually. It takes time, preparation, and waiting as you learn daily lessons which help you to grow and give birth to the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These traits won’t be perfected in you overnight, they will take a lifetime. So today, don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t perfect – you are a beautiful and wonderful work in progress. God adores you and watches with overflowing love in His heart as you seek to live for Him. He applauds your daily obedience, and is your biggest cheerleader. If you have sinned, confess it immediately (1 John 1:9), and get on with it!

Take a moment right now to look at the fruit of the Spirit listed, and think of a way that you could show one or two in your life this in the next few days. Kindness – let someone in front of you in line, or on the road. Love – hug someone unexpectedly. Joy – smile at someone. Faithfulness – call a friend. Gentleness – bite your tongue when you’re ready to say something uncalled for or sarcastic.

You can do this – take baby steps. These suggestions aren’t huge acts, they’re the little moments that build a lifetime of beauty and character in your life. It’s time…

Advent Devotions - December 9th

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The most important moment in all of mankind – the birth of our Savior Christ Jesus… done quietly, without fanfare, in a borrowed, leftover space because there was no room anywhere else. I’m sure this was the last place Mary envisioned as she anticipated the birth of her baby boy during the grueling trip to Bethlehem. Surely she must have been confused, wondering how this could be happening in such a peculiar setting. A smelly, dirty barn, noisy animals, and... yes... stall after stall filled with hay and... manure. Not exactly a heavenly nursery! Yet she trusted in God, believing everything was working out according to His plan even if she didn’t understand.

Are there circumstances happening in your life right now that you don’t understand? Difficulties, pain, worries? Does life stink? Are you dealing with noisy "animals" of your own and mountains of manure? So complicated, busy and overloaded that you haven’t got any room left for God’s peace? It happens so easily, especially at this time of year. As you read this, take a moment to just take a deep breath in and out. Then take everything that is pushing in on you, and mentally scoop them up and wrap them in a bundle, and visualize yourself giving them to Jesus. Talk to Him about them – don’t allow them to crowd Him out. Give Him time today – trust Him even if you don’t understand everything that is happening in your life. Like Mary, don’t let the circumstances shake your faith. The reality that God is God, and He has planned everything out down to the very last detail – with love, for His glory.

Advent Devotions - December 10th

Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
Twinkling Christmas tree lights… sugar plum fairies… the faint sound of imagined sleigh bells… these are all part of the excitement and anticipation of many a child’s Christmas Eve experience. Lying in bed in the darkness, ears straining to hear even the hint of a “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Do you have fond memories of fighting to stay awake as you kept watch for Santa?

As adults we tend to lose most of that magical, breathless enthusiam – after all, reality does have a way of trampling over our enchantment for the season. We misplace our joy and peace in the hustle and bustle of the commercialized madness. Each day we play beat the clock as we push and cram more and more into our already satiated schedules, and by the time we drop into bed at night, the only thing dancing in our heads is exhaustion!

This advent we have a chance to celebrate and capture that joy again, by keeping watch not for a whimsical bearded man in a red suit, but for the return of the Savior whose birth we celebrate. Jesus told us in Matthew 24:13 to watch, for we don’t know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man will be coming. In Luke 21:36 we are told to watch and pray… Take heart, find rest and peace in the knowledge that the Baby who slept so tenderly against the night sky of the shepherds is coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all those who love and serve Him! So keep watch -- never lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back again, and soon… maybe even today!

Advent Devotions - December 11th

Luke 2:9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

God’s glory shown around them – the Greek means to encircle, encompass with light – the light of the glory of the Lord, the shekinah glory, the brilliant white light of God’s glory, which represented the holiness and presence of God. Just as Mary wrapped the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes, all snug and safe and warm, God wraps us in His light, His love. And yet often we are still afraid.

What do you fear today? Fears can manifest themselves in any/every thing from worry about Christmas not being perfect, anxiety over getting just the right gift, or deep fear of a major loss of relationships, health, beauty, youth, job, home, position. What is causing you fear, worry and anxiety? The past? The present? The future? He holds them all in His nail-pierced hands.

Take it to Jesus – tell Him, tell Him everything, every little detail. Pour yourself out like an offering before Him, unburden yourself. Ask Him for direction on how to deal with whatever is bothering you. He is more than willing to provide you with answers, and if the answer is wait awhile, He will provide you with His incredible peace… simply meet with Him. Allow Him to wrap you up in His love. He will surround you with His light, a lightness that will lift your heart and soul. He calls us to Himself in Matthew 11:28-30, promising we will find rest for our souls. And who can’t use that kind of love, peace and rest, especially in this hectic season? Breath, pray, rest in Jesus, be swaddled in Him this day.

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Biography Information:
Linda is "...simply one woman running hard after Jesus, in an effort to be authentic and always growing in my devotion to Him, while open and real in the hopes that my life might point to and glorify Christ my Lord." She has been a women's Bible study leader for over 17 years, and is a wife, mother, certified personal trainer, life coach, health/wellness coach, Pilates/Pilates Reformer instructor, writer, photographer and "wild 'n crazy wacky woman of God" She lives in NJ, and is happiest when she's outdoors by a stream or in a park with a book, cooking for family and friends, or simply enjoying early mornings in God's natural sanctuary of nature. Her life verse is Philippians 3:7-14.

You can find her on her website at
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