Posts

, ,

Advent 2020: Our Magnificent God

Rejoice in God your Savior.

Yesterday we were given a roadmap, a guide, for our spiritual journey through Advent: Meditate. Examine. Build. Be.

As we continue reading through Joy to the World each day, incorporate the roadmap into your devotional time. Meditate on your need for a Savior, examine your current life in Christ, build anticipation for His return, and be in the Word.


Read December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God

Photo by Leon Oblak on Unsplash

Reflect.

What does Mary understand about God? Why does her soul magnify Him?


The only people whose souls can truly magnify the Lord are people like Elizabeth and Mary — people who acknowledge their lowly estate and are overwhelmed by the condescension of the magnificent God.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Are you overwhelmed and humbled because God stooped low to restore relationship with you? Why or why not?

What sparks your wonder of God coming in the flesh? What dampens it?

Ask God to fill you with a renewed wonder of His Magnificence.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:3-4 ESV

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

, ,

Advent 2020

O, come let us adore Him!

It’s time to turn our hearts to the wonders of the Babe in the manger. Grow Team’s offering to assist you in preparing your heart to adore Jesus is Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper.

The readings begin on December 1 and focus on the reasons for adoring this great gift God sent into the world. The Savior of our souls: Jesus.

Pick up yours today! They are available on the welcome desk in the Commons area or if you’re not getting out call the church office and we’ll get you a copy. We can bring it to your car or mail it to your home.

Grow Team is also offering a way to go deeper into each reading with daily posts here on the church blog. Responses and questions to consider based on what you read in Joy to the World.

Looking forward to adoring Him with you!

Grow Team

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

December 24

Advent Excitement

When I was a young child growing up in Cooper, Texas, my family attended church that had a children’s choir. I remember one fall the children’s choir was going to have a singing performance as part of the church’s Advent celebration.

I am one of six children, so our family made up the bulk of the children’s choir. We practiced for weeks and weeks until the night of the performance came. I remember putting on our costumes. I was a shepherd, my youngest brother was a sheep, and my younger sister was an angel, complete with wings and even a wire halo.

Advent-Holy Spirit-Faith-Light-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Chris Sowder on Unsplash]

The performance was held at night and the last song was to feature each of us children holding a candle while singing. The plan was then for one member of the children’s choir to light the candle of a congregation member, and then the light would be passed around from member to member until the small sanctuary was beautifully illuminated by candlelight.

I remember being excited, even though my costume was itchy. As we stood in the choir loft looking out at the congregation, I remember looking forward to holding a lit candle.

When the time came, us children started lighting our candles. Everyone got their candle lit and we started singing our final song (I don’t even remember what it was). All went well… for a while. Then my younger brother, who was standing in the row behind my sister, somehow got his candle too close to the back of my sister’s head and set her hair on fire. My sister, unaware of the growing inferno behind her, continued singing while holding her candle in front of her. As the flames grew higher one of my older sisters, also standing behind, saw the growing fire and quickly slapped her hands together on the flaming hair, putting it out. The smell of burnt hair began to fill the sanctuary, but my younger sister, unaware that anything had happened, kept on singing.

Each Advent season I am reminded of that event. In remembering it I also learn from it. John Wesley purportedly once said, “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” I don’t advocate setting one’s hair on fire, but I do believe it is good advice to metaphorically set ourselves on fire with the Holy Spirit. When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit amazing things happen, and people, especially the unchurched, take notice.

Another thing this memory reminds me of is to keep singing. No matter what happens in our lives, do like my sister did with her hair on fire and keep singing. Don’t let the things of this world keep us from singing our praises to God. Keep on singing.

God came to earth in human form at Christmas. The Savior is born not with great earthly acclaim, but in a small, humble way. And yet this Baby, the Savior of the world, changes everything. And that is worth singing about.

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. …”

Matthew 3:11

Doug Wintermute, Pastor

Father God, fill our mouths with songs of praise for all You’ve done, are doing, and have planned for us as Your people. May we see the work of Your hand and glorify You in all we do. Amen.

 Additional readings: 1Thessalonians 5:19, Romans 15:13, Psalm 40:16

December 23

God’s Provision: The Magi

 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? … After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

Matthew 2:1-2, 11-13

Recently, I read an article titled: What happened to the gold, frankincense and myrrh the Magi brought Jesus? The article explores the incredible wealth Jesus’s family received from the Magi. The scholars who researched this question estimated in today’s dollars it was approximately $4,000,000.00. The Magi weren’t kings but priests and astronomers from an ancient religion practiced in Persia for a millennium. Their caravan probably traveled several months to years and arrived in Bethlehem 2-3 years after Jesus’s birth. They knew of the prophesies of a Jewish messiah from the exiled Jews living in Babylon. As interesting as this question is it occurred to me that the real lesson in this part of “The Christmas Story” is God’s provision for Jesus’s family. It shows details of God’s complicated plan for Our Savior, just think how many things God put in place so we could reconcile with Our heavenly Father.

The Magi find Jesus and his family living in Bethlehem in a house not a stable. Joseph is making a living as a tradesman, either as a carpenter or more likely a mason. Since they are still in Bethlehem two years after Jesus’s birth, it is unlikely they had the money to travel back to Nazareth. But God had a plan. First, He provides for the holy family material needs with the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These treasures could be used to escape to Egypt and live. Then, He warned the Magi and Joseph of the impending danger to Jesus in separate dreams. Then the Magi and the holy family leave Bethlehem, maybe in the same caravan. The holy family traveling within a caravan of maybe a hundred or so people would have provided safety.

Prepare-Wisemen-Advent-Nativity-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Inbal Malca on Unsplash]

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus go and live in Egypt until God tells them it safe to return, approximately two years later. The treasure provides money for Joseph to buy tools to make a living while in Egypt. It also funds the return trip to Nazareth.

I believe it also provided for Jesus’s education and ministry, if we examine the Scriptures, they reveal Jesus as a very educated man in a time most people could not read or write but learned parts of the Torah from oral tradition.

Conclusion: God knew what was going to happen to Joseph, Mary, and Jesus years before it occurred, and He provided for them. God orchestrated the events in their lives for their good and His purpose. I believe God provides for all His children who love Him. Scriptures say God works all things for the good of those who love Him.  Think about it; all things: good, bad, godly, ungodly, natural and the miraculous. Sometimes God’s provisions come from unlikely sources; natural, everyday events, some may not seem godly. Usually God’s provision is not miraculous, but mundane everyday stuff. The next time you’re fearful or concerned about something in your life, pray and remember God already knows your concerns and has a plan in place. You just have to have the courage to follow God’s guidance. God will provide for your needs and desires before you know yourself.

Dear Father God, creator and owner of all things. We thank You for our blessings; our loved ones, spiritual gifts, and material wealth. Without You, we would be nothing. We thank You for Your provision in our lives. Most of all, we thank You for Jesus and His wonderful gift of salvation. AMEN.

 Jack Carter

Additional Scripture: Matthew 6:25-33

December 10

Remembering the Greatest Gift

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Luke 2:8

Just as the shepherds watched over their flock our Mother prepared our home beautifully, and on Christmas Eve tucked us in our beds. Thinking of Santa was wonderful but, having been taught, I knew the truth of this holy night was that baby Jesus was born.

Christmas-Decorations-Jesus-FUMC-Prepare.jpg[Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash]

As an adult I decorate with lots of very sentimental things. I think of all my loved ones who have looked upon these very same pieces and the magic of the season is the same for me now. Jesus was born the greatest gift, our Lord and Savior.

Lord Jesus, show us the way to your manger so that in seeing you we may believe and in believing have eternal life. Amen.

Alyson Owen Ezell

Additional readings: Isaiah 52:7, John 1:29, Luke 10:23-24