Molly M. (2014)
The Night that Changed Everything…on Purpose
The night that Jesus was born changed everything. God became flesh through his Son, and gave all of us the greatest gift of all, salvation.
But what if that night didn’t turn out the way it did? What if there had been an accident while Mary and Joseph were traveling? What if Mary hadn’t accepted her destiny to bear God’s Son in the first place, or Joseph hadn’t accepted her as his wife? The truth is, we don’t even need to ask those questions, because God had a plan, and it was in his hands the whole time. What was meant to be, was. Period.
In my own life, sometimes I need reminding that God’s got this. God has a plan for me. And God’s got my back, your back, all of our backs. Isaiah 41:10 tells us “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” When I remember that God has a plan for me, it helps me understand that I’m where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing, even if at the time it seems unclear to me what the plan is.
So if God has a plan for me, what does that mean for the plans I have for myself? Things I want to do, accomplish, learn? What about that family trip we’ve been talking about? What about planning and buying the Christmas gifts, decorating the house, and baking cookies (not necessarily in that order)? It seems to me that God’s plans for us are probably more about the big stuff…The things that have a more significant impact, a longer shelf life. Things that make an impact in our lives and the lives of others and help build His kingdom.
We can point to examples of people of our time who clearly had a God-given plan, like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and many others. But what about us “regular” people? Do we really have a plan from God? Short answer: Yes!
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We just have to be willing to listen to what God is telling us. We have to be ready to look for signs and messages and listen to that voice inside our heads. We have to be open to His divine intervention, in whatever form that may take. What if MLK had ignored the call to the clergy and to speak out for justice? What if Mary and Joseph hadn’t listened to God’s messages? Chances are they had other plans. But in Proverbs 19:21, the Bible tells us, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” It will always prevail, whether we know it at the time or not.
Dr. Mike S. (2009)
Before and After
We try to remember before we knew Christ. This is a hard task. Some of us try to forget sins of our previous lives. It seems spouses and mothers have about the longest memories. They could recite a long embarrassing list. I am thankful for Christian relatives filling those positions in my life. Either time embellishes or it misremembers some items. The before is a fuzzy area in the crevices of my memory. I take comfort in the after of God’s promise. His Grace prepares a place for me in his mansion, the one with many rooms. I am a believer trying to follow the teaching of Christ.
It is the interval between before and after which gives me daily troubles. I do what my Christian mentors taught me. Prayer, selecting the right words, and trusting the Lord to lead me through problems is my daily ritual.
I have seen the love of mothers to their offspring. I intellectually know the process of delivering a live birth. I can write or tell you about it. What I find indescribable is the miracle of birth. I have never been able to describe the awesome power transforming a fetus to a live being. It takes God to give the spark causing the breath of life. This is the before and after of God’s Work.
Before and after is making the leap from life to the hereafter. We are living in God’s world and in the next instant, we are seeing Him face to face.
The greatest thing is the endless love of Christ we receive after He enters our lives. This allows us to share the vision and Christian love with our friends.
Is this country boy a good Christian? I wish I had the final answer. The Grace and forgiveness of the Lord I serve decides this promise. Yours in the service of our Christ.
Greetings! This year's Advent devotions combine contributions from past years, interlaced with current contributions.
Introduction by the late Irma Ward, Pastor Emeritus:
"It is the prayer of those who have shared their Advent thoughts with you that this Holy Season will bring you a deepening sense of His presence. The One whose name is Emmanuel, God with Us!
Every page is personal witness of this fact, that in Christ we are encouraged, supported, comforted, challenged, forgiven, redeemed, blessed. Here are Scriptures of special meaning to persons in our fellowship; an intimate opening of hearts, a sharing of joy and pain, of promise and fulfillment. Some meditations are written by young children, others by youth and young adults, still others by mature and senior members of our fellowship. Each one reminds us we are one body, bound together in His love.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, we have beheld His Glory. (John 1:14)"