Advent Devotions
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December 21, 2017, 8:00 AM

God is Good


This devotion is taken from Panther Springs United Methodist Church 1991 Advent Devotions booklet my mom found while unpacking boxes this year. What a gift to hear a word from the past and HOPE for the future of PSUMC. The date of the Devotion was intended for December 26th, but it has a message about a gift that we can hear anytime this Advent season. – Rev. Kristen Burkhart

 

Luke 2:8-17 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the LORD. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." 15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the LORD has told us about." 16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child

 

As we reflect on the past year, we realize the abundance of blessings we have received. We can never praise the Lord enough. We can never out give God.

In many homes the last gift has been unwrapped and the decorations are put away. But at our house we excitedly await the arrival of my grandson from naval duty in the Persian Gulf. In just a few days, we’ll have Christmas again. Praise the Lord for keeping him safe.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving us so much that you sent your only Son to save us. Amen.

Thought of the Day: God is so good!!

Ruby Robertson (1924-2013)




December 20, 2017, 8:00 AM

Finish


“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

 

            Advent is a time of the year when we acquaint ourselves with waiting. We await the second advent of our Lord as we remember the first advent. We look back at the greatest gift and long for the fulfilment of the kingdom come; of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven that will be ushered in at Christ’s return.

            November 1 was the application deadline for the divinity school to which I feel lead to attend. Once the deadline has passed, applicants must wait until Christmas to learn of the admission decision. I find it intriguing that this period of expectant waiting upon a decision from the school aligns with Advent, when we await the coming of Christ. As I await word regarding divinity school, I remind myself that he who began the good work in me by calling me into ordained ministry will carry it to completion.

            The season of Advent is a time to be still, to rest, and to trust in the One who began the good work in us by calling us out of sin and death and into abundant life. Advent is a time to lay aside the busyness that accompanies the commercialization of the season and to seek peace. He who began the good work of salvation will surely complete it, as he who began the work of the Kingdom in his incarnation completed it with his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the grave.

 

Matt Wright




December 19, 2017, 8:00 AM

Spiritual Growth


1 Thessalonians 3:9-15 (ESV)

Paul was deeply concerned about the spiritual life of the church at Thessalonica. Upon hearing of their strong faith, he wrote the above passage, exhorting them to abound in love so God could establish them blameless in holiness.

I went to seminary with the expectation that Pentecost would come every time I walked through the doors, but it didn’t happen. Under the pressure of serving two churches, having one child and another on the way, I let the stress get to my personal time with God. I prayed, but it was like “What am I going to preach Sunday?” “How are we going to pay for that?”

Spiritual growth can be messy and scary sometimes. For six months I felt bound and trapped in doubt, confusion and fear. The problem was my failure to fellowship with God and draw strength from his presence. I confessed that sin, begging forgiveness, but nothing changed. The Lord took care of the churches and family, making it clear it was despite me, not through me. The enemy said God had set me on the shelf and couldn’t use me. I knew that wasn’t right, but it hurt to think it was even temporary. Asking friends to pray didn’t seem to help.

I met two people at the school whom God would use to free me. As they prayed, God opened the heavens, and my heart overflowed with joy, peace and love. God released me, and his presence set my heart free! The relief was overwhelming.

As we consider the entry of Jesus into the world at Christmas, remember that quality time with him is worth more than any busy schedule. Don’t get bound the way I did! May you overflow with love, so God can establish you blameless in holiness.

  • Rev. Rick Spell



December 18, 2017, 8:00 AM

The Righteous Branch


“ The Righteous Branch”

6 year old Maria loved Jesus and loved Christmas. As she walked the dusty trail over the mountain to the village church Christmas Service, her pace was quick and focused but her heart was aching. This was the service where everyone in the village brought their very best presents for Jesus, and she had nothing to give. She stopped for a rest to pray on top of the mountain and saw the village far below and she looked beside the road, and there were thick green plants glistening as the afternoon sun chased away the remnants of the morning dew. She remembered the preacher speaking of the “righteous branch” that God sent on Christmas, so she gathered a bundle of the green plants as a present for Jesus. She proceeded down the mountain praying she would arrive before the sun went down and the service began.

At the service, folks came one by one with their gifts for Jesus. The town baker came forward with a huge tray bragging “ I bring the best breads and cakes and cookies for baby Jesus and for the party after church services”. And the church applauded.   The seller of cloth carrying colorful bundles proclaimed “ I bring the finest silk and woven cloth for new vestments for the altar.” And the church stood and sang.  The richest man in town had his servants carry two huge bags of silver coins as he proclaimed “ I am the richest and I bring riches for Jesus.” The crowd gasped and shouted praise.

And Maria brought forth her offering, quietly and lay her bundle at the manger by the altar and knelt to pray. The crowd whispered “ Who does this raggedy child think she is bringing a bundle of weeds for Baby Jesus?” And Maria’s heart broke and her tears flowed as she whispered her prayer “ You are the righteous branch! I have nothing to give you, and you have given me everything! am broken but rely completely on you. Thank you!” And her tears fell upon the leaves of the weeds and they became bright as blood in color. And the leaves opened and took the shape of the Christmas Star. And the church went silent at the miracle as the starlight shining through the church windows and even the candles seemed to settle and dance completely around the poor and humble mountain girl. The baker, clothmaker, and rich man stood, this time quietly, tears flowing, and walked to kneel by Maria. They wept repenting of their arrogance. And the church emptied from the comfortable pews and formed around the altar realizing at last, this was not about what they could give, but what they had been given. “ The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 33: 14-16) 

“ Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine (righteous branch), neither can you unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

(This is Preachee’s version of the Legend of the Poinsettia – Merry Christmas!)




December 15, 2017, 8:00 AM

Patience


Advent Devotional from Linda Feltman

November 21, 2017

 

PATIENCE

Definition of patience:  The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting       angry or upset.

 

The last few years have been somewhat difficult for me as I have had two falls resulting in broken bones and two orthopedic surgeries.  Each required a long-term healing process, including some pain, physical therapy, and a lot of frustration from being limited in all physical activities.  That last item shows my complete lack of patience!  Being unable to do simple chores or self care results  in ill temperament and even tears.

 

There are examples in scripture that even Jesus experienced frustration and impatience.  So it is to Jesus I turn to express my feelings because He knows what I’m going through.  And He does send peace and hope for the future.  I am so thankful for the birth of Jesus, His love and His patient understanding.

 

As we look toward Christmas and all the hustle and bustle, do we patiently anticipate the celebration of the coming of Jesus as a baby?

 

Linda Feltman

 

Thought for the day:  I pray for more patience.


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