Category Archives: Christmas

Immanuel, God with Us ~ A Prayer

I am back after a Sunday off; celebrating Christmas with my family. I hope and pray the joy of Christmas continues to reside in you; drawing you closer to God through Jesus Christ. Let us pray…

Loving Father, Holy God,

You came to us at Christmas time
as Jesus;
Immanuel, God with us.
You came to us in love to give us hope.
You came to us as light to scatter the darkness.
You came to us as our Champion; defeating death.

Oh God,
words escape us
as we ponder the implications of this holy birth
as too often we take Christmas for granted.
Too often we get caught up in the
lights
and sounds
and smells
and tastes of the season.
Too often our gaze is diverted from the manger
to imaginary creations of the season.

Holy God,
send now Your Holy Spirit
to tune our ears to Your words
so that we may fix our eyes on Jesus.
May our hearts swell with joy
and pulsate with a desire to proclaim this Good News;
Jesus Christ,
Immanuel,
God with us.

May all glory be to You through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Open Letter to the Doyle Rices of the World

[From a story posted on Kare11 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; written by Doyle Rice from USA Today. This is in reference to the winter solstice (first day of winter).]

And why is the Earth tilted? It’s probably the result of collisions with various proto-planets and other massive objects during the formation of the solar system billions of years ago, according to NASA. Just a bit unsettling to realize that the reason the Earth has the perfect temperature for life to form is a few random collisions with other space rocks a few eons ago.

Oh Doyle Rice, if only you knew that the reason the earth is perfectly tilted isn’t due to “random” collisions. If only you knew that this perfect planet was created and put into perfect motion by God Almighty, our Creator. If only you knew that the only “unsettling” part of all of this is that your very life (and ours) are in the hands of an Almighty God.

But…

The Good News is that your very life (and ours) are in the hands of a loving, Almighty God who came to us on Christmas Day in Jesus Christ. And through faith in Jesus Christ, redeemed a lost and sinful people.

Therefore, when you look at creation, it should send you to your knees in humble worship of an awesome and powerful and loving God. There is NOTHING random about God. Creation is NOT a fluke. Life DIDN’T just happen. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of details about our universe, galaxy and planet that have to be perfect in order for life to exist. That is NOT random. That was NOT an accident. Collisions DIDN’T just happen and bump things into perfect place. Nature doesn’t work that way. If any collision is responsible for the earth being tilted PERFECTLY then God’s mighty hand guided that collision to make sure it was perfect; as God guided and formed all of creation.

One CAN NOT just pass off life as a cosmic accident.

And so to all the Doyle Rices in the world, I appeal to you to meditate on creation and consider the perfectness of all those thousands of factors and then look to God Almighty and worship HIM through Jesus Christ; for you are not random but rather wonderfully created.

So don’t be “unsettled” over randomness and accidents and chance, but rather worship and praise this awesome God of ours as we live in this perfect masterpiece called creation.

All praise and glory and honor and worship be to God, always and forever.

The Pastor -|—

 

Getting Closer ~ A Prayer

God of hope.
God of Joy.
God of glory.

As Advent winds down
we continue to wait with anxious anticipation
as we long for the coming of our
Lord Jesus.
We look forward to worshiping this week;
giving You thanks and praise
for the Christmas gift to beat all Christmas gifts,

but more importantly,

we long for the second coming of Jesus.

May we not look past the manger
and miss the joyful Good News contained within.
May we not see only a cute little baby
born to humble parents in humble circumstances.
May we not only enjoy the pageantry of the season
but may we also see our salvation story
being played out before our longing eyes.

May we see our hope.
May we know true joy.

So we humbly ask that You may send your Holy Spirit
to fill our hearts with the hope of the resurrection
through faith in Jesus.
May we know and live the true meaning of the season.
Jesus Christ,
our victorious Lord and Savior.
And may the joy on our face and in our voices
show people that we indeed mean business.

Amen.

God bless you, this 4th Sunday of Advent, as we speed ever closer to the manger. May your Christmas preparations draw you closer and closer to Jesus.

The Pastor -|—

All I Want

Father God,
there is much that I want.
Sometimes my list looks eerily like a letter to Santa.
I want this…
I need this…
I must have this…
All things that I think will make me happy.

But none of them bring you glory.

—————————–
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” 
(Psalm 32:9)
——————————

And then I am quickly reminded of what brings You glory.
You are glorified when I seek to be instructed by You.
You are glorified when what I want is You.
You are glorified when my happiness is wrapped up in You.
You are glorified when I am satisfied in You.

And so I seek instruction from You.
I seek wisdom from You.
I seek to glorify You.

Teach me
Lead me
Show me

And therefore, all I want for Christmas is YOU,
oh God.
All I want for Christmas is YOU.

The (seeking) Pastor -|—

WARNING

Christian beware!!! Today is the “last day of Christmas”.

Maybe you have already taken down your tree and decorations. If not, I am guessing soon. Whatever the case, beware, watch out, don’t let your guard down.

As the world around us moves on from Christmas, the many reminders of the season are slowly being packed away for another year. And as that happens, the threat of forgetting looms larger and larger all the time. Soon life will return to “normal”.

May that never be.

Just because the Christmas season has passed it doesn’t mean the promises of Christmas should be packed away as well. The love of God that came down in that baby in the manger, Jesus, is still alive and well the other months of the year. This Good News is not seasonal, and praise be to God for that. I don’t know about you, but I need to hear about God’s love every single day. I need to read scripture, pray, think about, contemplate, ponder and question every single day. I need to hear that my sins are forgiven. I need to hear that God is nearer to me than I am to myself. I need to hear the Good News proclaimed to me every single day. I need to hear about the hope of the resurrection.

I need Jesus.

So Christian beware!!! Don’t grow complacent as “normalcy” re-enters your life.

Keep running to the manger to see God’s love.
Keep running to the cross to see Jesus die for you.
Keep running to the tomb to see it empty.

Don’t pack away the Good News of Christmas with the rest of your decorations. Prominently display this Good News for all to see. And if it helps you, throw in a few “Merry Christmas” greetings throughout the year. I guarantee you will get people’s attention and get them thinking again and maybe even yourself.

So Christian beware and be merry.

Merry Christmas and Praise be to God🙂

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ Being wise

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. [Matthew 2:11]

A quick Christmas trivia question for you: How many wise men (magi) were there? Three? Actually we don’t know know. Scripture talks of three gifts but not the number of magi that showed up🙂

But seriously, these magi (this is where we get our word “magic” and “magician”) traveled a great distance to find this king. And once there, scripture says they bowed down to worship Jesus. And one only bows down to someone who is of higher status or importance than oneself. These magi (magicians, astrologers, worshippers of the stars) knew who they were in the presence of and humbled themselves before Jesus; their new King and Way of life. I imagine they returned home changed.

And really, humbly coming before Jesus in worship is the only appropriate response to Jesus. When you consider what he did for you, how can you not fall down before him. Jesus was born in order to die for you and for me; miserable sinners. Jesus came to bring us to God. Jesus came to defeat death and give us life.

These wise men were indeed wise. They recognized their true King and Way of life. Humbly come before Jesus and worship the one who is worthy; the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Humbly come before Jesus and praise the one who gives you life.

Merry Christmas and Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Still Christmas

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. [Luke 2:20]

It’s still Christmas. And I’m not talking about being in the midst of the 12 days of Christmas. It’s still Christmas in the sense that the Good News of Christmas is still Good News and always will be. I don’t imagine the shepherds glorifying and praising God only for a season. I imagine it continued on and on. They saw and heard amazing news. They gazed into the face of salvation. They had their lives turned upside down (or in terms of my Christmas sermon, “messed up”). I mean, how does one get sick and tired of news like this:

Jesus was born for you that you may know God and therefore everlasting life.

That is amazing!
That is awesome!

A season is not enough time to share the Good News of Jesus for there are many who have not heard. And for those who have heard, we often forget. So continue on your way, like the shepherds, glorifying and praising God for all you have seen and heard.

Praise be to God, always and forever, Amen!!!

The Pastor -|—