Advent 2015

Advent 12

Read Matthew 2:1-12.

Here is a “traditional” christmas passage to read. I love the story of the wise men and the rich backstory that follows. These men were most likely descendants of the men Daniel trained in Babylon who eagerly awaited the arrival of their true King. They then journeyed quite some time to see Jesus and worship him. Later in scripture we see that king Herod orders the death of all infants 2 years and younger in the city of Bethlehem, where Jesus was staying, so we can infer that it took the wise men up to 2 years to get to see Jesus. So while they were not at the “nativity scene”, they still play a huge role in Christ’s early story, and I believe they can teach us a very powerful lesson this advent season.

The wise men embody perseverance and determination. Think about this, they traveled for two years through the wilderness to see a boy that was prophesied to come. We always dwell on what occurred once the men arrived, but I think the most impactful aspect of their story is their journey. They spent years on the road to get to Israel, and I imagine that if I was on that journey I would begin to have serious questions and doubts as the long months dragged on. The wise men saw this arduous journey through to the end, never wavering or questioning, and they are remembered in our Holy word for it.

This speaks volumes to me about our lives and what we are called to do as followers of Christ. We are called to great things in our lives, but often the journey can be long and arduous. Often we will see a star in the sky, a sign from God to follow a certain path, and follow it. But after months of time, we begin to doubt or wander off the path. We often lack the perseverance to see these callings to the end and as such turn back before we see them to fruition. The wise men were not remembered for their long trip, but for what happened at the end of their journey. The same is true for us today. God is calling each of us to something great in its own right in our lives. He is asking us to trust him and blindly set off into the wilderness following His lead. The trip could be long, challenging, and full of difficulties, but I can promise you that if you see it to the end, you will be blessed and leave a lasting impact on those around you.

Do you feel like God has placed a “star” in your life? What is He calling you towards? What steps do you need to take to follow that call wherever it leads you?

The greatest regret one can have eternally is turning aside from something great to chose something mediocre because of safety or lack of perseverance. Commit to follow wherever God leads you, and you will be amazed at the dynamic and fulfilling life you will lead. God is still seeking wise men and women today that will follow Him. Will you?

Advent 11

Read Luke 2:8-11.

I love this passage! It sums up the “Christmas Story” perfectly. God came to earth and decides that the first to see Him should be some blue collar workers out in the fields. Let us put ourselves in the shoes, or sandals, of these men and boys and think about the significance the angels message carried to them.

These guys’ jobs consisted of sitting out in fields outside town with tons of sheep. Now this does not carry a lot of weight to us, until we consider public safety was a bit lax back then. These guys were constantly on guard to protect the sheep and themselves from bandits, wild animals and on top of that, they were under enemy occupation from the Romans and were justifiably concerned about their troops as well. I think when we read the story we think of the shepherds as these peaceful folks gathered happily around a campfire, but in reality, I believe their lives were a bit more gritty and messy. They were poor, oppressed commoners that were just trying to make it by, and they were one bad luck moment away from not being able to pay the highly inflated taxes to Caesar.

So with this image in mind, we see the angels arrive and their first words to these guys is to “fear not.” We think this applies to the fact that the angels just arrived and while that is part of it, I believe it goes deeper. These men are living each and every day in fear of all the negative things going on around them. In the midst of all that fear and uncertainty about the future Jesus came with a message of peace and hope. Their SAVIOR was coming to bring them peace.

Few things can cripple us like fear. When I look around at the news and events happening today I still see the same fear in people’s lives. From the shootings, employment and national policy, everything is seemingly motivated from fear of something.

Jesus came in the midst of chaos and fear to bring peace and calm so many years ago, but His message remains the same today. There are so many voices crying out to steal our peace and replace it with fear. If we become a people motivated by fear and devoid of peace then we will fail miserably to show the love of Christ to those around us.

What things in your life are trying to steal your peace? What steps can you take to FEAR NOT?

We remember the Prince of Peace coming to Earth this holiday season. Take time to cleanse yourself of anything robbing you of that peace, and then be encouraged to go out and share that peace with a lost and struggling world. Show those around you a different way to live, a better way.

Advent 10

Read John 16:33.

How many of you reading this would say they are dealing with troubles of some kind in their life right now? Whether it be financial, professional, relational or in some other form there seems to always been stress and trouble in our lives. This is the human condition. We are always going to be struggling with something in our lives.

This verse is powerful to me, as it speaks to the fact that Jesus Himself understood this and reassures us that this is normal. Jesus took the time to tell us these things, so that we would find PEACE in the world. Amidst that stress and chaos clamoring in the world around us, His desire for us is to find peace. As Christians, we serve the Prince of Peace. We are called to look and act differently than the world around us. One of the most powerful witnesses we can have on those around us is how we deal with the troubles of this life. In those hard and stressful times, how we respond to setbacks and hardships tells a great deal about the God we serve.

Remember you serve a king who has OVERCOME the world. Every trial and hardship you face now is going to pale in comparison to the great joys that await us. So this Christmas as we celebrate our King coming into this world, remember we are also celebrating a victor who has defeated death and the troubles of this world.

What hardships are you dwelling on? What steps do you need to take to look more like a follower of the one who has defeated this world? What can you do to glorify your King even in the hard times?

Remember a bad day does not mean a bad life. This too shall pass, do not let Satan steal your peace this holiday season with trouble. Give it to God and find your peace.

Advent 9

Read Mark 6:31.

In Europe, it is the law that each employee receive 22 paid vacation days and 13 paid holidays. An American employee receives 16 days off in total each year. There is a stark difference in how much rest we are given and how much stress this adds to our lives. This stress makes it hard to balance our home lives, and then we become stressed at home. As we scramble to fit everything into our schedule we cut things out to give us some breathing room. The first thing we are tempted to slack on is our study and time with our Lord. As our walk with God slips, it throws everything else in our lives even more out of balance and the cycle continues.

This holiday season we try to cram even more “fun” events into our schedule such as parties and visiting with family. These events that we should enjoy become daunting tasks that we begrudgingly go through the motions of doing because we have become to busy and stressed to slow down and enjoy them. While at one event, our minds are already thinking about the next weeks worth of plans and what to do. This lifestyle of always going and never be mentally present where we are physically is very unhealthy and causes severe burnout both professionally and personally.

Jesus models a lifestyle that takes time to slow down and gain some rest. We can be no help to anyone else around us if we first do not take time to care for ourselves. This holiday season get into the habit of taking time to get away from the business. Thin out your schedule, perhaps, and make sure you are invested in whatever you are doing. Strive to really be “there” as you can be sure others notice when you have checked out. We were never called to do it all, we were however called to give our all to whatever we do. Take time to rest so you are full and able to pour yourself out into those around you.

Advent 8

 

Read Colossians 3:23.

What is it that you do here at church? Is it work with kids? Plan a sermon? Scrub a toilet? How do you feel that your particular job affects and blesses this place?

Often times we fall into the mindset of placing levels of significance on the work we do and putting different amounts of effort into it based on how important or impactful we deem it to be. Paul is telling us that in ALL things we are to do our best. Even in the small or unnoticeable details, we are called to do our best. We are not working for the praise of those around us, we are working to glorify God who is always watching. Do not let life drag you down with its monotony. Do not get discouraged by the tasks you have, but look at them as opportunities to witness to those around you about what it means to be a servant of the Lord.

Our work is a chance to witness. Often we get discouraged when our work is not noticed or we do not “feel” appreciated enough by our peers. This allows Satan to get a foothold and bring us down with depression or the thought that “since no one cares, I do not need to do my best.” As Christians, we are not working for others or even for ourselves, we are working for the Lord and He demands and deserves our best.

What do you need to change in your life so that you can give your best to the Lord in ALL you set your hands to? Do not miss out on chances to witness though your work.

Advent 7

Read Revelation 21:4.

Today we remember Pearl Harbor. A tragedy of war that befell our countrymen back in 1941. It was a dark day in our history where many mourned and fell into sadness. That Christmas many were not as joyful as they would have been otherwise. After this event, the British prime minister surprised our president with a trip to the White House where they both lit up the Christmas Lights. It was a very healing moment and many found this a turning point where they could hope again for a better future free from the stresses and hardship of the war.

Has the “war” of life began to drag you down and rob you of your joy and hopefulness? What steps do you need to take to get your hope back? What ‘Christmas lights experience” do you need to refocus yourself and get you back on track?

There is a better time coming that is promised to us. Hope and work towards that day.

Jesus models a lifestyle that takes time to slow down and gain some rest. We can be no help to anyone else around us if we first do not take time to care for ourselves. This holiday season get into the habit of taking time to get away from the business. Thin out your schedule, perhaps, and make sure you are invested in whatever you are doing. Strive to really be “there” as you can be sure others notice when you have checked out. We were never called to do it all, we were however called to give our all to whatever we do. Take time to rest so you are full and able to pour yourself out into those around you.

 

Advent 6

Read Romans 5:4.

Often times we get tired, morale can slip, or we begin to play the blame game in our personal and professional lives. All this stems from the fact that we are tired and we let our defences slip and lose sight of trying to be the best version of ourselves that we can. We get frustrated and decide the average version of us will do for today.

Often time, the daily grind gets to us and we become tired of attempting to put our all into it. I love this verse because it encourages us to carry on with endurance. It promises us hope, not success, not joy, but hope. This is powerful to me because often I fear we look at our faith as a candy dispenser. Say the prayer and get a prize. God does not promise us that everything we do will turn to gold or become successful. God does promise us hope, something to look forward to, something to dream about, a bigger picture. He promises to give us new heights to achieve for His glory when we carry on with the work He has given us.

Do not get tired of the work you are doing, it matters, it has value. When things fail,and they will fail, get back up, dust yourself off and move on with the work you have. This is the key to gaining hope and a better perspective of the world as God sees it.

What has been getting you down and robbing you of your joy and hope? What do you need to do to carry on with endurance?

Advent 5

Read Matthew 6:32.

In this time of year we often become frantic, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. We search for the perfect gifts, try to make it to all the social events, fit in family time, still try to make a job work and wonder why we are stressed. It is easy to jump into the American ideal that we need more things, but I fear that this mindset has sunk deeper into our minds. I look around and I see people not just clamoring for things anymore, but for success and achievements as well. We set goals, both personal and professional, for success and are then get frustrated when they do not work out. We even go so far as to bring God into it by setting positive goals and determining that since it is “good thing” that obviously that is what God wants for us. We have begun to think of our will as God’s own.

The answer comes in the fact that we are focusing on the wrong things. The scriptures plainly state that we are to seek to grow in Christ and everything else will fall into place. This rings true in all aspects of our lives. Often I see us trying to bring positive change with our own power be that in church size, family relations or many other aspects, but the scriptures tells us that God will bless us if we fist stop, slow down and seek to grow closer to Him. If we are faithful and diligent in what we have, God will see fit to bless us and aid us in what we do.

We CANNOT enact even positive change on our own power. It must stem from God and His plan for us. If you want to relieve stress, stop seeking to change the world by yourself and start seeking what God has planned for you and your ministry. Let God be God.

When was the last time you asked God what His goals were for you personally? In your ministry? In chasing after seemingly positive things what chances may you have run right past in your life? Where in your life have you masked your own will as God’s?

It is time we begin anew by focusing on the one who can actually enact change in our lives, instead of trying to rely solely on ourselves. Take some time this weekend to focus on the one relationship that will deepen and bless all other aspects of your life.

Advent 4

Read Proverbs 16:3.

Did you know that, according to the Institute of Stress, 44 percent of Americans feel more stressed now than 5 years ago? Or that work stress causes 10 percent of all strokes? Stress is a dominating force in our country and in our lives. I believe that God does not desire for us to stress.

Think about your own life and work. When do you stress? What causes it? Is it perhaps when you try to make success or failure of an event or program all ride on you? Does it come from not working ahead enough? Often we stress because we are trying to “control” the outcome of something to the finest degree, but God says HE is the one in control.

Read 1 Corinthians 3:11.

We are approaching what should be one of the most joyful exciting times of the year, but if you are like me, you look at it as potentially one of the most draining and stressful times of the year. This Christmas take time to find your joy…take time to pray that God will be God and bring success to your work and private endeavors. Rest in the knowledge that God is working in your life and that He is in control.

Advent 3

Read Joshua 1:8
This verse stresses that The Word is something that should be in our lives daily. As such we need to get into the habit of reading it daily so that we can become more Christlike in our actions and responses.
How long does it take to make a habit? Many people would say around 21 days but this is fact a myth. Modern science has show through testing that the rate varies highly between people but can be anywhere from 14 to 254 days for a habit to become solid. The average is 66 days for most people to gain a new habit in their lives. You will have to continue the process of being in the Word for it to become a part of your routine.

Think back to the verse. It states that it should not leave your side so that we may be prosperous in what we do. If the Lord states that we will be prosperous in the secular endeavors we set out on if we keep the Bible close how much more so when our job is serving Him? Look into your own life, what are some areas that you have pushed the Word out, what are some places you need to bring it back into daily? What needs to change so you can make time for study and devotion? Pray today that God will guide you and that you will be renewed with a passion to dive into the word and that it would guide your steps each and every day.

Advent 2

Read Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6-7

In these verses, we see that Isaiah is prophesying the coming of our Lord. The people of Israel intently looked forward to the coming of the Messiah for years that turned into decades. Through all this, they continued to look forward with anticipation. Anticipation can be very energizing. It spurs us onward and gives us hope and fuels our passion. Through years of trouble and conflict, the Israelis always found comfort in the fact that their Savior was returning for them.

As you think about the coming holiday, are we anticipating a day to celebrate our lord or are we anticipating work and stress? The Devil is good about getting us to look at the downsides to even the positive things in our lives and thereby robbing us of our joy and energy. If we do not have joy in abundance for the day we celebrate our Savior coming into the world, how can we hope to inspire that same joy in others? We are all leaders in some capacity or another, so we must be on guard to keep our outlook on one that reflects our love for Christ.

Think through your life, what challenges are you facing right now? How are they robbing you of your energy and excitement for this holiday season? What do you need to change internally or externally in order to return to a balanced mindset, so that you can become passionate again about your work and service to the Almighty? Take some time to ask God to reveal Himself to you in a new way this day and to renew in you a passion for service and the work you do specifically here at Metro. WE are all Christ’s ambassadors. Let us not tire of doing His good work, no matter the capacity.

Advent 1

Advent is many things. It has been practiced for many years some of the earliest documents tied to it date by to the late 400s. It was practiced by the high church as a way to prepared both spiritually and physically for the coming of Christmas and a way to practice penance for the coming holy day. Now many use advent as a family tradition to tell the Christmas story. Universally though Advent is a practice to spiritually prepare for the upcoming busyness. Each day I will be recommending a verse to you to read and meditate on. It is my hope that this will help each of you as ministers and servants be reminded of what is truly important this season.

Please read Jeremiah 15:16

Do you find yourself still craving God’s word? Do you desire to be in the word daily? If not what needs to change? As God’s representative what is keeping you distracted from hearing your saviors words?

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