Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Advent, Do You Know?

Advent Wreath
A Christmas tradition that dates back to the late 4th century is that of Advent.  Today Advent is still celebrated by many churches, but not all.  The word “advent” comes from the Latin and means “coming.”  It was officially established by church leaders in the 6th Century and was meant to be a time when Christians reflected on the meaning of Christmas.  Early Christians focused on three different meanings for the word “coming.”  First, the coming of God to earth in human form.  Second, the coming of Jesus into the lives, hearts, and actions of those who accepted him as their Savior.  Finally, the future coming of Jesus when he returns to earth to rule as king.

During the Middle Ages the period of Advent was established as the four Sundays preceding Christmas and the days between.  That time frame still exists today.  To help reflect on the three comings of Jesus, the Advent wreath slowly evolved.  Traditionally, the Advent wreath is an evergreen wreath with four candles nestled among the greenery and a large candle in the center.  Of the four candles three were usually purple with one representing hope, one peace, and one love.  The fourth, usually red or pink, represented the gift of life given by Jesus on the cross.  The center candle was always white, lit on Christmas Eve and represented Jesus’ birth.

While Christmas is still the celebration of God come to earth, with or without Advent, we are able to connect with its true meaning so much more when we take the time to reflect and prepare.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What Does Christmas Mean for You?

Matthew 6:19-21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When you unexpectedly read or hear the word “Christmas,” what is the first image that jumps into your mind.  Is it family gatherings, decorations, giving and receiving presents, cookies, or even Black Friday deals; or is it, perhaps, the image of a newborn baby lying in a manger?  As Christians we should make sure that to us the most important part of Christmas is the baby in the manger.  All of the traditions that are now a part of our celebrations are important, but should be observed only as they bring glory to God.

It is most important that we join the shepherds, wise men, the angels, and maybe even the animals and get down on our knees and worship our newborn king.  This little baby is the one who will grow up to be a man and as an adult will take on His shoulders all of our sins and carry them to the cross where He will suffer and die so that we have the opportunity to live with Him forever in Heaven.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Everyday Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Praise

Thoughts for when you are not sure what to be thankful for.

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings each morning,
Thank You , Lord, that I can hear.
There are those who are deaf.

Even though I keep my eyes tightly closed against the morning light as long as possible,
Thank You, Lord, that I can see.
There are many who are blind.

Even though I huddle in my bed and put off the physical effort of rising.
Thank You, Lord, that I have the strength to rise.
There are many who are bedfast.

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short.
Thank You, Lord, for my family.
There are many who are lonely.

Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced.
Thank You, Lord, for the food we have.
There are so many who are hungry.

Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous.
Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity to work.
There are many who have no job.

Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day, and wish my circumstances were not quite so modest.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of life.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Does Thanksgiving Mean for You?

giving thanks
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday I am once again reminded that we are frequently led, especially by retailers, to move from Halloween to Christmas.  This is the exact opposite of what the Bible says we should do.  For many Thanksgiving’s focus has been on food and family.  We forget the reason that Thanksgiving was originally established.  While the holiday was started many years after the original event, it was still meant to give thanks to God for watching over us during the preceding year.  Jesus gave us a perfect example when he instigated The Last Supper after he had been betrayed by Judas.  Matthew 26:26 says. “While they were eating Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples.”  Knowing that he was soon to suffer and die on the cross, Jesus still gave thanks to God.

I know that life is never easy, but just as Jesus was able to give thanks under extremely bad conditions, so too should we give thanks for the good things in our lives.  Paul tells us in
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It is still very important that we continue our daily prayers of thanksgiving, but given the chance to raise up to God a thanksgiving celebration we should not skip over the opportunity.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thank You, Jesus

praying woman
This prayer seemed appropriate to me after our study of repentance.

Dear Jesus –

You calmed the raging waters and walked upon the sea,

You healed the lepers, deaf and blind, and caused the blind to see.

Your miracles are endless – yet the greatest one to me

Is when I knelt repenting, you saved me; set me free.

You touched the hopeless sinner so filled with guilt and shame,

Infused me with assurance and made me whole again.

Thank you, for Grace unfailing, forgiveness – Love divine,

That took my sins and paid the price to make me wholly Thine.

                                                            Anna McCalpin

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Join our Prayer Group

Prayer is such an important part of living a Christian life that I decided to make it a part of this blog.  The process is very simple.  If you click here you will link to a page titled “Prayer Group”.  Simply submit your request and it will be included.  You will be asked to leave a username (doesn't have to be your real name).  This is to help identify your prayer, because we also ask that you let us know when your prayer has been answered so that we can remove it from the “Prayer Request” list.

I also ask that as others are praying for you that you also include them in your prayers.  Research has shown that the more people that pray the stronger that prayer becomes.

Finally, I ask that you do not use any profanity or pray for harm to come to anyone.  This type of petition will simply be removed.