Fourth Sunday of Advent: Romans 16:25-27

By Driana Arceneaux
 

God gets the glory in all things. There are times when we are faced with uncertainties in life, when everything we do for good seems to go bad, but God has a way of turning around all things that seem to go wrong and make them right.

 
In this scripture of Romans, we see the letter written by Paul proclaiming some good news. The good news is that which was a mystery (Jesus) is no longer a mystery. Jesus and the salvation he brings is what strengthens us and makes it possible for all of us to be strong, be encouraged, and be able to endure and not give up. God made a covenant with Abraham in the Old Testament, promising him that, “All the families of the earth will be blessed in you,” (Genesis 12:3). Abraham had faith in God and knew that God would do it. He didn’t know how and wasn’t around to actually see it happen, but God keeps God’s promises. This promise wasn’t just for the Jews, but it was for everyone. God’s plan for all of us to be blessed involved Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven. God revealed the plan God had hidden for so long: that Jesus not only conquered death for himself, but also for all who have faith in him.
 
I am so glad that God saw fit for everyone to be blessed and experience God’s wonderful love and salvation through God’s son, Jesus. I don’t believe that God did this so that we could be selfish with it. I believe that when we experience the love of God, we are to share it with others that don’t know God’s love or who don’t feel loved. God shows us love so that we may show love to others. God gives to us, so that we can give to others. God heals us, so we can help others heal. God is not selfish with God’s love. In fact, God’s so unselfish that God provided a way for everyone to experience God’s wonderful love!

Driana Arceneaux is convenor of the national leadership team of AB GIRLS, American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

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Third Sunday of Advent: Psalm 126

By Rachel Price

We have all experienced a lack of happiness, whether it be heartbreak, anger, guilt, or sadness. In Psalm 126, we are reminded that God will show us joy, even when it seems impossible to smile. God has blessed us with many things, so there’s always a reason to smile! There will always be an uphill battle, there will always be something to mourn. God will take us out of negative circumstances and give us a reason to shout for joy. We are called to change our hearts for the better: in that, we will find happiness. I struggle with looking for silver linings. I am most definitely a pessimist. This scripture brought back good memories of toiling for a good cause and being joyful with the results that God blessed me with. Also, do not forget that you are not in this alone! Note that the scripture uses “our” and “we.” your sisters (and brothers) in Christ are here for you. You do not have to bear anything alone. Lay your burdens down at the feet of God; let your heart be lightened. You are not alone! Sometimes, I think we forget that we cannot control everything. I know I do, and it drags me down when I get stuck in that thinking. Let God take control of your life, and God will bring happiness into it as God did for Zion. Bad things happen, and it is okay to be down, but keep your chin up because God has happiness in store for you!

Rachel Price is Events Coordinator on the 2017-2018 national leadership team of AB GIRLS, American Baptist Women’s Ministries. For more information on the national leadership team, visit www.abwministries.org/nlt.

 

Second Sunday of Advent: Mark 1:1-8

By Grady Nun Tha Iang

Have you ever felt so helpless that you just want to scream and shout at the top of your lungs for someone to help you? You’re not alone. Recently, my relationship with my boyfriend is slowly breaking up my relationship with my family and I don’t know how to mend it. They are both important to me and choosing one over the other is impossible. It’s at times like these that we need Jesus the most: the only Son of God and our only salvation, promised to us since the beginning of time.

It’s hard to admit that we’re all fragile people, capable of hurting and being hurt. It’s also hard to admit that we are wrong. Whenever someone corrects us, we take offense and put up barriers around ourselves, trying to convince ourselves that we are not wrong. The same applies to me. Whenever my parents point out my weakness, I pretend it doesn’t exist even though I know that Jesus can see it all, no matter how much I try to hide it. But we can find in Mark 1:1-8 that if we admit our weaknesses and repent our sins, that Jesus will baptize us by the Holy Spirit. As painful as it is to experience it, failure is part of what makes us successful. The best way to achieve true success is to learn more and be strengthened by our mistakes.

We light a  purple candle on the second Sunday of Advent to represent the hope of Christ coming to the world. This reminds us that, that even in the face of darkness, we can have hope. Even in the face of total defeat, have hope. Even in the face of emotional teen crises, have hope. Without hope, we’ll become empty shells of negativity. That’s not the plan that God nor Jesus have for us. If God can forgive Saul and turn him into his prophet as Paul, then have no fear. Even if we see nothing good about ourselves and think that we’re too full of mistakes, think twice. God made us for a reason. We’re all women with God’s purpose: to do God’s work. So for the second Sunday of Advent, let’s look back on our mistakes and repent. Remember: Failure is the start to success. Hope is the start to a brighter future. Repentance is your connection to Jesus.

Grady Nun Tha Iang serves as the Promotions Coordinator on the national leadership team of AB GIRLS.

First Sunday of Advent: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

By Anna Kouadio

Last month was a very special month, the month of Thanksgiving. That is when we give thanks to all the people who affect our life: family, friends, and the most important, our Lord. This when women and girls throughout the world come together and realize how far along we have come, not only in the eyes of others but in the eyes of the Lord. But our thanks-giving shouldn’t end with the end of November.

During Advent, we prepare ourselves for the birth of our Lord. There is no possible way to ever thank God enough for all God has done, but 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 says the thanks that shows God a little bit of our love, and how grateful we are for God’s presence in our life. It reminds us to be thankful for the savior who is about to be revealed in the birth of Jesus. Paul says, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

These word are powerful because they tell the truth of the world. With God in our lives, we women and girls of the world wouldn’t have achieved as much as we have done. God is our light, God is the reason we are here. Without God, the women before us wouldn’t had been able make a way for the women and girls of today. Our best thanks are to be sure God knows the strength of our faith and love. The most important thing is always to be thankful for all God has done for us, especially for all the women who came before to create American Baptist Women’s Ministries and AB GIRLS. Those women created a place for women and girls to call home. I say this because I feel at home in this organization. Home isn’t just a building; it’s not just a place. It can be people or things that makes you feel special, let you know that you’re special, and where you always feel welcome. And, with thanks to God, many women and girls in future generations will have that home.

Anna Kouadio is Coordinator of Mission on the national leadership team of AB GIRLS, American Baptist Women’s Ministries.