A Season of Love


One of my favorite Christmas songs is “I Celebrate the Day” by Relient K. This touching and powerful song culminates with the statement: “I celebrate the day that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life.” Wow! That is such a huge deal and so overwhelming to think about—Jesus chose to come to earth, to be born as both wholly man and wholly God; to go from being at the right hand of God to laying in a dirty, smelly manger; to be a helpless baby, a child who worried his earthly parents, a teenager (yikes!), and an adult in a world where nothing comes easy, especially if you’re different; to be falsely accused, tortured, beaten, and crucified; to be physically and spiritually separated from God and have the Father’s wrath poured upon Him; then to rise in glory. And why did He do this? Because of His LOVE for us! In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).

God loves us so much that He sent His only Son that whoever would believe in Him would have everlasting life (John 3:16). That is what we are celebrating when we gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts: the gift of God’s agape, unconditional, unmerited LOVE for each and every one of us.

So on this fourth week of Advent, light the first three candles, as well as the last purple candle, known as the “Angel’s Candle,” for the angels announced the good news of the Messiah’s birth, or the “Candle of LOVE.” Read and reflect on the following verses:

Isaiah 52:7-10

Luke 19:10

Romans 8:18-25

Isaiah 53:5-6

Revelation 21:1-4

God loved us before the foundations of the world; He loves us today; He will love us for all eternity. There is nothing more powerful or beautiful than God’s love for His children. Hallelujah!

God’s gift to us, the ultimate gift, was His only Son, who was born to die to pay for our sins. We can never give God a better gift than He gave us, but what can you give to Him? What present will you put under the tree for God? Will you give Him your time? Your love? Your heart? Your talents? Your passions? Your devotion? Your path? Your job? Your family? Your health? What is that you prize? That is what you should give to Him.

Pray: Father God, I don’t know why You looked down from the highest heaven, saw me in all my wretchedness, and still decided that You loved me enough to be born of man to die for me, but I am so grateful You did. Thank You for loving me when I was dead in my trespasses and blackened by sin and for continuing to love me when I stumble even now. Thank You for the future hope I have in Christ. When I feel discouraged, help me to remember that You will wipe away every tear. Help me, Lord, to reflect Your love onto those around me. Use me as a light of Your love to brighten the darkness in this world. And help me to never take for granted Your love or the incredible gift you have given to me. In Your Name we pray, Jesus. Amen.

Have a blessed Christmas Eve! And if you happen to be in the Colona, Colorado, area, please join us this evening at 5 pm for our Candlelight Service. We will read the Christmas story and sing hymns to celebrate the birth of Jesus in our beautiful, historic little church. All are welcome!

A Season of Joy


Today begins the third week of the Advent season: a time to meditate on and revel in the JOY which the Lord brings! When the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds, they immediately went to Him and they rejoiced. Those shepherds are a model for us: we should run to Him and rejoice!

Unfortunately, joy seems fleeting when we look at it only through the lens of this world. When we depend on material, worldly things to give us joy, we will never be satisfied, never be filled. There will always be something missing: we get a good job, but want a better one; get a new car, want a nicer one; get our first house, want a bigger one; and so on. That is because true joy can only be found in the Reason for this Season…salvation through and relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Through that relationship with Jesus one way we can find the JOY of the Lord is when we lay our burdens at His feet. Remember that Jesus commanded us to do just that: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Give your cares to Him today and be lifted up in His JOY!

If you have an Advent wreath, light up the first three candles: the purple “Prophet’s Candle,” which represents the hope of Jesus’ coming; the purple “Bethlehem Candle,” which represents the peace which His birth brings; and this week’s pink candle, the “Shepherd’s Candle,” representing the JOY of the Lord. Take time to read and consider the following verses:

Isaiah 9:6-7

John 1:19-34

Matthew 2:3-4

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Philippians 2:1-11

Pray: Thank You, Jesus, for being the Light of the world. We live in dark times; please help me to seek Your Light and find Your joy even in troubled times. Help me to shine brightly for You and to point people to Your love. Although You are my friend, Jesus, help me to fully understand what it means to have You as my King. Show me how to worship You with my treasures, my talents, and my time. When people try to rise up against me, thank You for Your protection, Your guidance, and Your direction. Your timing is perfect, Your joy is complete; give me eyes to see how true that is. In Your Name we pray, Amen!

Give your cares to Him and rest in the JOY of the Lord!

A Season of Peace


It’s the second Sunday of Advent: time to ponder the PEACE that comes from knowing Jesus as our Savior. This week reminds us that since God prepared the world for His Son, we need to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord.

So light the second purple candle in your Advent wreath (the Candle of Peace, also called the Candle of Preparation or the Bethlehem Candle) and read the following verses (or read one selection each day this week):

Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:1-2

Matthew 2:9-11

Isaiah 2:1-5

Matthew 3:1-6

God kept His promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Through this promise, we can have peace with God (Romans 5:1,6-8), peace from God (John 14:27), and the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-7).

Preparation means to “get ready.” During this season, we need to “get ready” to welcome Jesus into our hearts, our homes, our everything.

Pray: Jesus, You amaze me. You are a glorious King, and yet You were born in the most humble of circumstances. Thank You for showing me what true humility looks like. I know that even when I feel unworthy, You can still use me. Please give me the boldness to be a voice in the wilderness of this world, sharing my faith with those who don’t yet know You and the peace You bring. I pray You are preparing their hearts in advance to hear the Good News. Thank You for being Immanuel: God with us. Thank You for being with me throughout this week and for blessing me with Your peace. In Your Name we pray, Jesus. Amen (adapted from Rose Publishing, “Celebrating Advent”).

A Season of Hope


At this time of the year it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. What with shopping to do, decorating to accomplish, gifts to wrap, parties to attend, and food to prepare, there seems to be little time to do anything else. But we need to be especially mindful during this time that our preparations for Christmas don’t get in the way of our time with Christ.

So how can we, as Christians, show others the beauty, rather than the busyness, of this time for celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? One of the best ways to do this is to focus on the Word and all of its promises regarding Jesus’ birth and the first Christmas.

To help you focus your hearts on the reason for the season, we will be posting Advent readings each Sunday through Christmas. We pray they bring you the hope, peace, joy, and love of Christ with each new week.

This being the first week of Advent, we will ponder the HOPE that the promise of Christ’s birth brings to our hearts. The Scripture readings for this week remind us that Jesus is coming! It is all about the expectation of the Savior. “They shall see the glory of our Lord, the majesty of our God” (Isaiah 35:2).

If you have an Advent wreath, light the first purple candle and read the following verses (or read one selection each day this week). Remember that the most important part of this exercise is not checking it off of your list, but slowing down and taking time to meditate on and savor His Word.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Isaiah 11:1-10

Luke 1:26-38

Isaiah 7:10-14

Matthew 1:18-24

We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises He made to us. Our HOPE comes from God (Romans 15:12-13).

Pray the words of Isaiah 9:6. Thank You, Jesus, for being Wonderful to me. Thank You for being my Counselor when I am in need. Thank You for being my Mighty God when I feel weak. Thank You for always being there for me, my Everlasting Father. Thank You for being my Prince of Peace, calming the storms of my life and granting me rest. In Your name we pray, Jesus. Amen. (adapted from Rose Publishing, “Celebrating Advent”)

Take time to quiet yourself before the Lord during this often hectic time of the year, and you will be blessed.