Dale R. (2004)
As I started typing my response to this, I let my mind wander a bit (not too much though, I may never get it back). I was recalling the fact that He wants us to give all of ourselves to Him. There are times when I think to myself that I am doing a good job at this. I look at all of the different things that I am involved with and think, “See how much I am giving to Him?” But then I realize that I could be doing all of those things and still not be giving MYSELF to Him. How many times do we physically sit through a meeting but mentally we are miles away with other cares from our lives.
I think about the fact that we are supposed to spend time in prayer with Him everyday. I seem to think I do a good job at this too. I figure that I have a 50-60 minute ride to work each morning so I use that as my prayer time. That seems like a lot of time in prayer everyday when you first think about it. Then, of course, you have to adjust for the time that the phone rings and you spend some of that time talking, or even making additional calls to take care of the reason that you were called in the first place. Then you get back to your prayer time and just then the traffic report comes on the radio. Well, you can’t miss that so there goes a few more minutes (of course, that’s also every time they give the traffic report).
It is such a simple request that He asks of us and yet, because of the busy pace of each of our lives, it seems to be the hardest thing to give to Him. We will give bits and pieces, but not the WHOLE. Of course, the question at this point is this. If God is able to do such wondrous things with what little of our lives that we actually do give to Him, what AWESOME things that He would be able to do if we actually gave ALL of ourselves to Him. That’s what we can give Him, but will we? Only you can decide.
Pastor Kristi (2004)
What can I bring him? This year, what comes to mind is a sense of wonder. I will bring a sense of wonder. Sure, as I get pulled into the crazy machine that our culture calls Christmas, I wonder what I should buy for my brother. I wonder how we’ll fit everything into the calendar. I wonder about the balance in my checking account. That, of course, is not the kind of wonder I want to bring to Jesus.
The Polar Express has long been a favorite among my children’s Christmas books. This year it has been made into a feature length film starring Tom Hanks. It is about a little boy who never loses his sense of wonder about the Christmas season. As his friends and his sister become adults, they forget the amazement of their childhood Christmases, but he is unique because he never does. He can always connect to the joy and the mystery that is Christmas. We all want to be that boy.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, testifies that her soul magnifies the Lord. To magnify means to make greater, or to increase. I am amazed each year at the opportunities to share Christ with others through the holidays. It feels somehow refreshing and simple in a back-to-basics way to be determinedly Christ-centered through all the chaos of the season.
This year I bring a sense of wonder. I wonder at the beauty and simplicity of an infant, born quietly one dark night. I wonder at the wise teacher that the baby became. I wonder at the miracles that he performed. I wonder at the amazing love of his sacrifice. I pray that my soul, too, can magnify the Lord. Amen.
Jim N. (2004)
What can I give to Jesus?
Over the past few months, I have thought about this. Bob Dylan has a song called, “What Can I Do For You?” It is a song about the Messiah. One verse is as follows:
“Pulled me out of bondage and You made me renewed inside,
Filled up a hunger that had always been denied,
Opened up a door no man can shut and You opened it up so wide
And You’ve chosen me to be among the few.
What can I do for you?”
As I read the scriptures this year, I find there are only a few things I can do. I can submit, I can be thankful, I can love; I can give myself as an empty vessel for the Lord to fill.
Jesus tells me in Galatians 5:20-33 to give thanks for everything, to submit to Him and to love my wife as He loves the church. In Hebrews 12:9b, I am told to submit and live. “Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?”
In Deuteronomy 10:12 I am told to love God with all that I am. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the Lord your god with all your heart and all your soul?
Jesus says love is all important. He says it is the most important thing. In Mark 12:30-31. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
In Luke 6:27, Jesus says the following, “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
I am only living because God created me. I only have hope for the future because Jesus, the Messiah came here and lived among us, gave up His rightful place in heaven and became a sacrifice for me. Jesus pursued me; He sought me as a lost, lonely soul. He prepared my heart to recognize Hi and He gave me the heart and mind to let Him into my life.
For me there is nothing I can give, except Faithfulness, Love, Thanksgiving and one day thru many prayers and lifting up of empty hands (Psalm 141:2), maybe I will be a pleasant fragrance for the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Then, maybe I can go home.
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)"