The Ultimate Example

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
Philippians 2:5

Jesus — the babe in the manger — exemplifies a life of worship…
Sacrificing all out of love for the Father and for creation…

The One who knew no bounds…
the Word who spoke creation into existence…
chose to empty Himself of all
to be contained in a fragile vessel… an infant…
placing His life in the hands of those He created…
just as we are to place our lives in His…

From conception to death, His life reveals a true life of worship…
doing nothing of His own will…
but only what He saw His Father doing…

The Gospels, the authorized biographies of Jesus, can teach us to live as worship to Him. When we study… meditate… and consume…. His life story, we come closer to Him…

Who being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death — 
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11

As we move past Advent and into a new year…
consider all that Jesus sacrificed to enter the womb of Mary…
consider all He has blessed you with…

What are you willing to sacrifice…? …to live a life of worship…?

Father God, open my eyes and heart to the truth of what it means to be a living sacrifice. Fill me with a desire to know Jesus intimately and 
for His attitude to flow through me.

Worship is Gratitude

It’s the week before December  and time to take down the fall decorations. I put away the pumpkins and candles. Store the leaves and garland for next year. All but the thanksgiving tree because the month is not over and there is still thanks to give.

The smell of a fresh Christmas tree hangs in the air. Ornaments are hung, the tree skirt situated. The village is lit. Our youngest sets out the nativity scene less one camel this year because the years of storing have caused him to crack.

December creeps in on a Saturday and I quietly hang crystal ornaments from the window, put the greenery over the table and get the Jesse Tree ready.

The thanksgiving tree still sits on the kitchen bar. I am reluctant to take it down. The final touches are made and I need to do something with this tree.

Pouring beans in the soup pot I think of what I should do with it…take it a part, put it on the burn pile because it is just twigs and paper. Nothing feels right. Water washes over beans for the soaking and still I delay. As I turn and begin to take apart twigs and glass, something in me shifts…and so I put the twigs back in the glass and look around.

The thanksgiving tree sits by our Jesse Tree now because who can recount God’s plan…from the birth of a world to the birth of a Savior without giving thanks.

Not Mary…she couldn’t contain the thanks when she visited Elizabeth.
Not angels on high as they informed the shepherds of Christ’s birth.

Like them I giving thanks is an act of worship. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”–Isaiah 9:6

(taken from her blog

Family Devotional: Peace

Family Devotional:  Peace
Fourth Sunday in Advent
Have those around you offer a definition of peace.  It can be a place they like to go where they feel peaceful…a time of the day when things get quiet.
Light all the three candles previously lit.  As you light the forth candle say, “we light this candle for peace.”
Read Luke 14: 27
We often think about peace according to what is going on around us.  If our day is a good one we had peace.  If not we wonder where the peace went.  Jesus did not have a lot of peaceful circumstances surrounding him even at the time of his birth.  King Herod wanted him found and dead.  Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to protect him.  Most of what you read in the scriptures about Jesus doesn’t seem very peaceful.
Today’s scripture reminds us that the peace of Christ is not about what is going on around us.  We will not find it in quiet places or a day off.  We only find peace as a gift given by Jesus.
The words of today’s verse end, “So don’t be troubled or afraid.” 
Give each person at your table a small piece of paper.  Ask then to write or draw something that troubles them or causes fear in their lives.  Now ask them to draw on top of that thing a gift with a bow on top.
Prayer:  Have the oldest at the table pray for those things written or drawn and then give thanks for Jesus’ gift of peace.

364 Days of Different

Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:2

Christmas day for us is like no other day of the year. Christmas is different.  Everyone wakes up without moans and groans (sometimes before the sun comes up at our house). Our minds aren’t thinking of work, school or to do lists.  No one is worried about what they will look like or wear that day. Every family member is present. We all sit around anticipating the gifts we will give, and get. Here is the really weird one…EVERYONE IS NICE to each other. There is sharing too!  The whole day is like this. We eat without worry about how many calories each bite contains. I don’t even mind if there are messes that don’t get cleaned up.  We always sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and get this…EVERYONE SINGS! Even Justin.  We spend the whole day with the people who mean the most and there is no worry, no harsh words, no planning for the future.

Some of you may remember a musical play that I participated in many years ago under the direction of Jerry Compton, or Mr. C as I have always called him, titled 365 Days of Christmas.  It is about having Christmas every single day of the year. Celebrating Christmas on New Year’s, Christmas on Valentine’s, Christmas on spring break, a summer’s worth of Christmases.  Every Monday…Christmas. Every Friday…Christmas.

My first thought is, “wow”. Not sure I could handle that much excitement every day. My second, and less rash thought is, “wow. that’s it.”  This is how He lived. He was different.  He woke every morning with a heart ready to love, share, and be nice. Why don’t we?  This is how it’s meant to be. So many of our days should be like this.  Then, the days when the to do lists are overwhelming, the house is a wreck and NO ONE wants to share, those are the days that should be integrated with Christmas too. 

Every Advent season we hear the words Hope, Joy, Love and Peace. This is what I see on the day of Christmas each year without even leaving my house. I want to challenge 364 of your days next year to look like Christmas. Extra thankful for God’s son, giving to others, without worry, close to the ones you love. Make 364 of them different, too.

Lacy Matejka

Celebrating: An Act of Worship

An Advent Devotional from 1992…
“And Mary said, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord 
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'”
Luke 1: 46-47

I never spoke directly with him and yet he made an impact on my life in a way that I have remembered for years now.  It happened while we were at one of those fast food restaurants where young children love to have their birthday parties.  The party was well under way when out of the corner of my eye I could see that we had a new guest.  Sitting nearby, the man had obviously come to dine alone that night but somehow, in the midst of our celebrations he found himself drawn into what was happening there.  And soon, though he remained at his table physically, he was participating as enthusiastically as any of the kids there that day.  His laughter was so contagious,in fact,  we were quickly caught up with more than just parental supervision.
And then, as the party began to wind down and the man started to leave, two of the children took him a balloon.  He responded graciously and walked out the door.  And as we were clearing the last table, I glanced up and saw an old pick-up truck turn the corner from the parking lot with a bright balloon attached to its antenna.  Later on, my husband told me that he had asked the stranger a little bit about himself and had found that the man had recently been widowed and that meal times were especially tough for him.  Yet in spite of that great loss and his advanced years, our guest had a magnetic joy and vibrant participation in life.
And I wonder:  could it have been that same way with Mary?  For surely Mary was often alone and misunderstood at best, if not actually slandered by some.  She experienced physical, mental, and emotional distress in her life.  And yet, her attitude was one of great joy because she had been told the good news of a savior.  There is great reason to be joyful.  For we have a Savior who not only forgives us but stays with us through every turn of life.  No matter what life may bring us, we too can go through it with a “balloon tied on our antenna.”  Our joy can help point others toward the greatest gift of all–Jesus.
Julie Temple

Celebrating life’s special occasions can become acts of worship when we open our hearts and lives to those on the fringes of the celebration.  The season of Advent is the perfect time to do just that.

Consider who you might add to your invitation list… could you bring them into your celebration… welcome them with open hearts…as worship to Him...?

Worship Goes Out of Its Way

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? 
We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Read Matthew 2:1-12

The Magi… aka Wise Men… went out of their way to worship…

They intentionally chose to pack up and embark on a journey to follow the star that announced the arrival of the newborn King of the Jews… and they weren’t even Jewish… they recognized God’s sign and pursued with a passion…

They arrived fully prepared to worship… bearing extravagant gifts of gold… frankincensemyrrh… to lay before the King…

They were more than willing to go out of their way on the return trip… after a warning… they chose to honor the One they worshiped… taking the long way home…

Leaving home… preparation of offerings… obeying… these wise men went out of their way to worship…

A heart of worship gladly goes… offers… and obeys… even when it is not convenient…

Are you willing to go out of your way to follow…? to help others when God asks…? to prepare your offering…?
For whom… or what… do you go out of your way…?

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” –Jesus
Matthew 16:25

Lord Jesus… I choose to go out of my way for You… to lose myself… for You…

Forget the Sheep

Reprinted from Advent 1990:

Several years ago I read a devotional by Jo Carr that has stayed with me, and I would like to share it with you.

In this meditation, as she was retelling the story of the shepherds and the angels, she suggested that the shepherds with their frightened sheep almost missed the Messiah. The short range view of these simple men was on the sheep; so the message of angels was almost overlooked. As the shepherds rounded up their woolly charges, they began to discuss among themselves if they dared leave the sheep and go into Bethlehem to see this miracle that had come to pass. A bunch of sheep almost caused them to miss the happening of the age!

We do the same thing. Unable to look at the larger scope of our lives, we try every year to “make” Christmas perfect. We want our house, tree, food, and entertainment to be something out of a magazine or a picturebook. If the relatives are hard to bear, the children too demanding, the money too tight, the turkey too dry, we think that Christmas has been spoiled. We fail to recognize that a miracle has taken place and is still taking place. The “sheep” of the NOW blind and deafen us to the Miracle of the Ages: God has come in the form of the Babe of Bethlehem so that we may understand Him and He us. The shepherds were among the privileged to get the news first hand, and they might have missed it by staying and rounding up the cranky sheep.

Don’t allow the “sheep” of this year to keep you from celebrating the real meaning of this blessed event. Even if the relatives are a bit much, the tree isn’t perfect or one of the kids gets the chicken-pox, take time out every day during this Advent season to tune out the “sheep” and thank God for his wonderful gift.

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:9-11
June Landrum

Kitchen Worship

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13
For me… some days… a life of worship plays out in my kitchen…
After dinner, when I’ve waited until late to go back and clean up, after sleeping on the sofa in the den, I still need to wash dishes, put away leftovers, set up coffee for the morning…
In these moments… I pray… I can do all things through You who give me strength. Jesus, give me strength to do what I’m supposed to do…
And He does. Even though my flesh longs for the bed, and prods me to leave behind a mess, I choose in the Spirit, by faith, to ask for the strength He promises… and yes… even in the kitchen, in the mundane tasks of daily living, I find Him, live through Him, and thank Him.
Lord Jesus, may my life be as worship to You, even in the small and daily.

Only in Him,
Carol Weaver

To Live a Life of Worship

I will praise you forever for what you have done;
in your name I will hope, for your name is good.
I will praise you in the presence of your saints.
Psalm 52:9

My friend Rebecca lost her battle to cancer in August. Rebecca loved Jesus, family and her church. She taught so many how to worship our Lord Jesus with great passion. Rebecca wrote many songs and when you heard them you knew she desired to be in the presence of Jesus. She wanted to sit at His feet and saturate herself in His presence, to be lost in the moment with Him, to breathe in His fragrance, to taste His goodness. She longed for His glory. I spent so much time with Rebecca. I knew she had a special heart for Jesus and souls to be saved. She planted seeds everywhere she went. I remember Rebecca playing her guitar at church. The neuropathy was so bad, she had lost her fingernails but that did not hold her back. She lifted her hands and worshiped our Savior.

Worshiping to Rebecca was not just in songs, it goes beyond singing. She taught us to understand that worship is about our life. It is how we all should live.  Worship itself is a heart issue, we are worshiping things around us and we are worshiping ourselves,we need to only worship Him.
A.    Worship – to show extreme devotion and intense love, to make something your main focus and attention in your thought life.
B.     Worship – surrender, submission, obedience and faith.
This is not just about getting born again. When you are born again, you enter into a spiritual relationship with God and you begin to understand this relationship with God Almighty is more than a relationship, it is a covenant. Covenant requires everything you have is HIS and everything He has is yours.
Praise and worship is for our benefit. This is why over and over the psalmist continues to praise Him, praise you all my saints. I will praise Him and I will bless Him even when I don’t feel like it. When we do that, something happens inside of us. 
In memory of my Dear Friend Rebecca Jane Thompson Corley

Tammy Philbrick

Family Devotional: Joy

Third Sunday of Advent
“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!”
Psalm 100:1

The angel made several visitations right before the birth of John and Jesus.  The angel’s first words…”Don’t be afraid…”.

Ask those around you:  How do you think you would respond if you were like Zechariah, Mary, or Joseph and an angel showed up to give you a message?

Read Luke 1: 13-15 and Luke 1: 46-49

Ask:  How did Zechariah and Mary respond after they received the angel’s message?

Light the third candle of the Advent wreath and say:   We light this candle for joy.

The three that were visited responded to the angel’s messages with thanksgiving and joy.  Thanksgiving and joy go together because without giving thanks there is no joy.  The story of Christmas is full of those who were filled with joy and gave thanks like the shepherds and kings.  It is a season with many reasons to give thanks.

Make a list of things you are can thank God for this season.  Place the list under your Christmas tree.

Prayer:  Have each person say a thanksgiving prayer.