Per UA’s schedule, activities are cancelled and the building closed until noon tomorrow. Changes to evening activities will be announced tomorrow if needed.
by Hannah Alford
On Monday, Ruth gave us a prayer and reminded us then in this time of studying we need to bring our focus to the Lord, as well as our classes. By now we’ve reached the thick of it, finals week has begun and it’s like you can feel the tension around campus as people walk to their next exam. Some students care too much and some students care too little, but, there is something they all share in common. Whether they know it or not, the Lord is working in their lives! He’s there to support you and keep your head in the right space, however, if our own ideas and motivations get in the way, it can be hard to feel his presence. We must be actively seeking the Lord both in times of bliss (like the upcoming Christmas break) and times of great stress (finals, duh). A verse that helps keep me in check is from Romans 8:6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Those times when you’ve stayed up hours studying and pumping yourself with caffeine and you feel like death, it’s not just the lack of sleep. Make time in your day to relax and connect back to the Lord, I promise you’ll feel better after you do it, then you’ll find that when you go back to study your stress is at least somewhat relieved and you’re more focused, or at least this works with me. So try praying, even a small prayer, nothing too fancy, and see what happens! To help you along I’ll leave you a prayer too
I’m using this time to connect with you. This week has been hard insert concern here and I could use your support. So Lord, be with me in my studies this week, help my mind stay clear and my motivations good. Lord help me feel your presence throughout the week as I take my finals and remind me if I forget to spend time with you because you are stronger than any stresses I have, and your glory will live on past my anxieties!
In Jesus’s name we pray, AMEN!
by Ruth Hallstead
Christmas may be the last thing on your mind at the moment (or maybe the only thing on your mind, in which case you should probably go study). With projects and essays and tests piling up, you may be feeling more no no no than ho ho ho. Worries of losing a scholarship, failing a class, or simply facing your parents might seem paralyzing as you frantically read (and re-read), study, and type. Even if this isn’t the case for you, right now is probably a little more stressful than usual. It’s time to take a step back. Take a deep breath and remember who you are and who He is. Whatever threatens to overwhelm you, whatever you need this week, lift it up to the Lord. Take a break from studying to ask for patience, for inspiration, for focus, or simply for peace. You’ve got a lot on your plate this week, and there is absolutely no reason to try and carry it all by yourself. Work in a few minutes throughout the day to pause and remember that you are never alone. Read some scripture (Not sure where to go? Try John 10, Ephesians, Philippians especially 4:13, and Psalm 23 are all good options). Listen to or sing a song (“My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective, “Press On” by Building 429, and “Hello, My Name is” by Matthew West are all full of motivation). Most of all, pray. You should probably get back to the books now, so I’ll leave you with a simple prayer for the day.
Heavenly Father, I know you are with me and for me. But sometimes I forget and try to go it alone. Lord, be with me this week as I prepare for insert concern here, remind me to give it all to You. Take my stress, take my worry and give me peace, and the strength to face today. Thank you for the promise of your love and grace no matter what. Amen
P.S. Don’t forget to eat. You may think you don’t have time to, but your brain needs fuel just as much as your body does.
by Ruth Hallstead
Christmas comes with a lot of expectations. Gifts promised or assumed, family traditions, seeing old friends, lots of food… the list goes on and on. Most people have a special place in their heart for this season, and any disappointments can be hard to take. Over time this can cause cynicism or simply ambivalence rather than the enchantment that used to accompany the Christmas season. In “Last Christmas”, a certain apprehension can be heard. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away.” The singer has been hurt, and they haven’t forgotten that heart wrenching feeling. What is holding you back this Christmas season? Are you worried that you won’t have time to check everything off your list? Perhaps this is the first time you’re going home since summer and you’re concerned that too much has changed while you’ve been gone. Maybe you’re remembering relatives’ and parent’s prying questions, and you just don’t want to go there again. This worry can hold you back from experiencing the true joy of Christ’s birth. It can distract you from what really matters. So this Christmas, don’t hold back. Even if you still feel pain from something LAST Christmas, jump fully in. Surrender completely to the Lord, and prepare for His coming with joy and hopeful expectation. Keep in mind the words of Mary after finding out she was to be a mother “Here am I, the servant of the Lord. Let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). She was scared. She was unsure what was coming next, except for one thing: God was with her. And that was enough. Whatever happens THIS Christmas, we have the same promise. God will be there, and Christ is coming. And that is cause for one heck of a no-holds-barred, Christmas morning as a kid, we made the playoffs, kind of celebration.
Have you ever had a broken heart? I don’t mean just romantically, though that’s the broken heart this song is talking about, but there are other ways your heart could be broken like the loss of a friendship or the change in what you thought your life plan was supposed to be. Whatever it was, you probably know what I mean when I say it’s excruciatingly painful – the type of thing you wouldn’t wish on The Grinch before his transformation. Hopefully, you also know that it gets better. (If you don’t know that, consider this your standing invitation to come talk with any of us at Wesley about it.) That being said, this song makes me think of the heartbreak God feels when we give Him our heart one day and take it away the next day. Insert the story of Hosea. Hosea is an old testament prophet that God instructed to marry a prostitute. And so Hosea did and he loved her like crazy. But, she cheated on him time and time again and every time Hosea was heartbroken. But, God told him to go get her back. Hosea 3:1 says
“Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again,
your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your
Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people,
even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.”
We are told countless times throughout scripture that our God is a jealous God. He wants all of us and when we split our love or gifts or make other things more important than Him that breaks his heart. Not because He doesn’t want us to be happy or enjoy life, but because he knows that the love He is offering us is will bring so much more joy than the cheap imitation we get from other sources. Plus, if we truly love God like we say we do, why would we put Him through the pain of heartbreak over and over again? In what ways did I give my heart away to something other than God? This Christmas, to save God (and me) from tears, I’ll give it to someone special (aka Jesus).
I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
‘Til morning is nigh
Be near me, Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray
I love that verse so much. Despite being a touch too tone deaf to sing it prettily, I’ve always found the music and the words to be calming and really put me in the Christmas mood. The way it asks Jesus to stay with us until morning always brings to my mind the verse that says “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” While it’s so sweet to ask Jesus to stay close to us, this verse is providing details on exactly how to make that happen. You see it starts with the ask. Like in the song, our actions invite Jesus into our hearts in lives. We must willingly draw near to Him to recognize that He is always close by and loving us. The verse I mentioned before is James 4:8 and the passage around it provides a little more insight into how exactly we can draw near to Jesus. The message version of James 4: 7- 10 says,
“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”
As we celebrate Advent on Sunday and the coming time when Jesus came to be literally near us, I felt really challenged by this passage. Where in my life do I need to yell no to Satan? In what ways can I adjust my routine and habits to get serious about drawing close to Jesus? How can I say a quiet yes to God in more ways than just seeing this song?
p.s. If you’re feeling like being convicted today, the rest of James 4 also has some more specific tips and wisdom regarding this issue. You can check it out here 🙂