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Friday, December 22 2023

Good morning Joyful, Rejoicing Worshipers! We will hear a lot about joy and rejoicing today during worship as we light the Joy Candle on our wreath and explore joy in the Gospel of John. I think back several years when we explored a different spiritual virtue each month. Maybe one of those virtues might be a word God is leading you to work on next year as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling and work on becoming more of the person you were created to be or doing more of the things you were created to do. God has plans for you and is at work in you and all around you to bring His perfect will and plans to life. REJOICE! The spiritual virtue for Jan. was joy. I think about how we get to choose joy often since that study and have been working on that virtue myself since then.

Joy is a choice we get to make despite our circumstances. Joy flows from an active faith life where we know God is always at work bringing His will to life, that He never forgets us, and is working all things together for good for those who believe. He is working ALL things together and may allow some trials, testing and hardships into your life as part of that working all things together. So, choose joy as you trust Him to be with you, carry you, teach you, prepare you, stretch you and use you for His glory and plans for you. Check out our devos below as they do tie to this theme of trust and joy and the peace beyond understanding that you can know in Christ. We will start with Harvest Prayer's blog for today about praying for that.

You all have purposes no matter your age, circumstances, faith level or gifts and abilities. God knows, cares and has something just for you just as you are. One of the most important purposes in our Good News Delivery Co. is the role of praying. Prayer is vital! And what's cool is everyone can pray and learn how to pray more effectively as you practice praying. Check out this quote from Harvest Prayer's blog today: 

Prayer Pointer
“Ministry without prayer becomes work in the power of the flesh. Prayer without ministry is complacent Christianity.” —Anonymous

May you grow in faith as you trust God more, choose joy and come to know His peace. Rejoice and worship well today! Shalom!

Harvest Prayer Blog:

December 10 - Peace, Be Still (Second Sunday of Advent)

Before you begin, ask God to reveal to your heart the ways that the enemy has robbed you of the peace that is yours because of Christ. Confess these things to Him and ask Him to pour out on you His peace that passes all understanding.  Ask Him to still the storms in your life and refocus your living.

I thank You Father, that Jesus Himself is my peace and that He has completely destroyed the barrier that separated me from You! How grateful I am that I have been reconciled to Him through His blood shed on the cross and now have peace with You.

Forgive me I pray, for the times that I do not cast my cares and anxieties onto You, but instead carry them myself and allow my heart to be weighed down and needlessly burdened. I ask that Your peace, which is beyond my ability to understand, guard my heart and my mind--cover me, because I am in Christ Jesus. I belong to You. Thank You Lord Jesus, for the peace that You give to me which is so very different than the fleeting attempts of the world to quiet my heart. Guard my heart by Your Holy Spirit, that I might not be afraid. Help me to learn to be still and know that You are God, to hear Your voice in the midst of the storms that I face saying “Peace, be still.” Keep me from fear and increase my faith. May my life be characterized by Your peace no matter what situation I might face, that You may be glorified in me and through me and receive the praise that is due Your name.

May I love Your Word that I might have great peace and not stumble.

May my mind be controlled by Your Holy Spirit and produce life and peace.

May Your strength and peace fill my life because I belong to You.

Lord Jesus, You are my Wonderful Counselor, You are Mighty God, the Everlasting Father incarnate and Prince of Peace! With You all things are possible. I invite You into the impossible situations of my life and ask that as I wait on You, You fill me with Your peace – for my hope is in You alone and I trust in Your great name.

(Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20; Romans 5:1; 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:7; John 14:27; Psalm 46:10; Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 119:165; Romans 8:6; Psalm 29:11; Isaiah 53:6; Matthew 19:26)

--This Advent prayer was written by Tiece L. King, the author of Pray the Word. This resource is available at Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God as the one whose arm is “not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isa. 59:1).
  • Thank God for the promise to hear you when you come to him in prayer.
  • Confess any sin which may result in his not hearing your prayers (59:2). If you are struggling in this area, commit yourself to regular, daily times of prayer and fellowship with God. Ask him to draw close to you as you fellowship with him.
  • God has long arms when it comes to salvation. No one is beyond his reach. Thank him for that truth and pray for one unsaved person you know. 


God Won’t Forget You

I will not forget you! Isaiah 49:15

READ Isaiah 49:13–18


As a child, I collected postage stamps. When my angkong (Fukienese for “grandfather”) heard of my hobby, he started saving stamps from his office mail every day. Whenever I visited my grandparents, Angkong would give me an envelope filled with a variety of beautiful stamps. “Even though I’m always busy,” he told me once, “I won’t forget you.”

Angkong wasn’t given to overt displays of affection, but I felt his love deeply. In an infinitely deeper way, God demonstrated His love toward Israel when He declared, “I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15). Suffering in Babylon for idolatry and disobedience in days past, His people lamented, “The Lord has forgotten me” (v. 14). But God’s love for His people hadn’t changed. He promised them forgiveness and restoration (vv. 8–13).

“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,” God told Israel, as He also tells us today (v. 16). As I ponder His words of reassurance, it reminds me so deeply of Jesus’ nail-scarred hands—stretched out in love for us and for our salvation (John 20:24–27). Like my grandfather’s stamps and his tender words, God holds out His forgiving hand as an eternal token of His love. Let’s thank Him for His love—an unchanging love. He will never forget us.

By Karen Huang


When were you clearly reminded that God never forgets you? How can His unchanging love give you hope and security in your present situation?

Father, thank You for Your constant love and presence. 


The scope of Isaiah’s ministry is introduced in Isaiah 1:1: “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” While Isaiah’s ministry was largely localized to Jerusalem and Judah, it spanned decades and the rule of four different kings. J. A. Martin, writing in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, says: “Isaiah ministered for at least 58 years (from at least 739, when Uzziah died [6:1], to 681, when Sennacherib died).” Isaiah’s name means “Yahweh is salvation,” which is appropriate since his writing gives numerous prophecies of Jesus the Savior, including Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; and 53. The work of Jesus is clearly in view in Isaiah 53:5: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Bill Crowder


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. - Luke 2:4 (NIV)

Every year, many of us enter the Christmas season with a vision of the perfect Christmas. We dream of smooth and safe travels, gatherings filled with laughter, no one sidelined by illness, gifts perfectly selected and joyfully received. But rarely do we get that ideal Christmas!

Even the first Christmas was not perfect. The government had issued a decree, so Mary and Joseph packed what they needed and made their way to Bethlehem. As she neared the end of her pregnancy, probably the last thing Mary wanted to do was leave her home and her community of friends.

Maybe in this first week of Advent some situations are already far from ideal. Family tensions, financial burdens, health challenges, work-place stress — any and all of these can steal our joy. But God comes to be with us in the life we have right now, not the life we wish we had. Circumstances we resent won’t change the truth of Christmas. The first Christmas in Bethlehem is a powerful reminder to us that God comes to be with us in places and circumstances that are sometimes less than ideal — offering us the light of eternal love.


Gracious God, we need your presence with us in all our circumstances. Come this Advent, we pray, and meet us in the reality we are living right now. Amen.


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Wagner's Newsletter:

Greetings from cold and snowy Minnesota,

As we sit in the living room of Luke & Rachel’s home in Minnesota, holding our newborn grandson and watching the snow(!), it is hard to believe that classes at RVA finished just two weeks ago. Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed God’s perfect timing again and again.

A New Grandson

We arrived in the US just 10 days ago. Three days later, we were on a train to Philly where we boarded a plane to Minneapolis. Arriving that afternoon, we enjoyed family time together and made plans for the next day, as we anticipated waiting a few days for this little one to arrive. Those plans changed quickly as we joyfully welcomed Cayden Thomas into the world the very next afternoon! God’s perfect timing - amazing! Getting over jetlag while enjoying a large dose of baby snuggles has been a wonderful gift to our weary minds and bodies.

Finishing Up at RVA
Our last weeks at RVA were quite full, as expected, celebrating an early Christmas with concerts and fun parties before sending our dorm boys and students off for the December term break. We also had some unexpected things to navigate. Missy had been dealing with a cracked tooth since May. The repair worked for a time, but early in November it began hurting again. A week before our departure, she was having the tooth extracted. Thankfully, this is much easier and cheaper in Kenya where we have an excellent dentist. Again…God’s perfect timing as we could deal with the tooth before leaving and not have to figure it out in the US.
As part of the process of preparing to leave, we also scheduled regular physicals and other medical check-ups. The doctor that Brian was supposed to see was not available; and instead, he met with a different doctor. One of the questions that came up was a low resting heart rate that has been noticed in the past, but not really a big concern. This doctor decided to run some extra tests that turned up an issue for which Brian is not showing any symptoms. That led to even further tests right before we left Kenya, including a cardiac MRI on the morning of our departure. Again…God’s perfect timing, as these tests were easy to schedule, relatively inexpensive, and fully covered by our overseas insurance.
The Next Steps
Now that we have a diagnosis in hand along with extensive testing data, we are scheduling doctor appointments on this side of the ocean to figure out exactly what is going on and determine the best course of treatment. We’re thankful for our Kenya connections as one doctor contacted another, who contacted another and ultimately got Brian an appointment with a pulmonologist this next week. We are in the States, able to get excellent care, with the time and space needed to do the follow-up necessary…God’s perfect timing!
Prayer Requests
PRAY that the doctors will be able to discern the cause of the excess pressure in Brian’s heart and develop the best treatment plan. We are so thankful that this has been discovered before it causes any noticeable symptoms and long-term damage. PRAY with us for accurate test results, clarity on the cause, and good treatment options. We are grateful that we have time to work through this.
This next prayer request just turned into a PRAISE! Micah has been diligently searching for a car and prayed about several options with God closing the doors each time. Earlier today, he and Lynnsi purchased a car! We’re thankful for this provision for them which allows us to use our own car throughout the next nine months.
Upcoming Schedule
We will travel back to PA early this coming week and spend about ten days there before driving back out to Minnesota for a family Christmas. As our travel plans begin to solidify for 2024, we will share more frequent updates to let you know where we will be and when. We would love to have time together while we are in the States.
Thanks for standing with us in prayer. You are a blessing!
Brian & Missy
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St. Matthew's EC Church

5th & Ridge Streets
P.O. Box 433
Emmaus, PA 18049
Telephone 610.965.5570


We are learning to live and love like Jesus. 

We are working on becoming who we were created to be and doing our custom made purposes well. 

We are part of the Evangelical Congregational Church

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