Archive for December, 2010

Love Serves

For this final week of the Christmas season, today’s post will conclude our look at the love that came down at Christmas. Our blog posts will continue next Monday with the start of 2011. See you then!

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NRSV

I Came From Above Christmas celebrates the arrival of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. Jesus is the one who has power and authority over all things on earth and in heaven. But this King of kings and Lord of lords was born in humility, lived most of his life in obscurity, and died the most humiliating, shameful and torturous death imaginable.

Despite his humble circumstance and relative obscurity, two of his disciples tried to get Jesus to play favorites and promise them a position of prominence in his kingdom. They wanted a piece of the action. They wanted a seat of privilege and power in God’s kingdom. So they asked Jesus to be his right and left hand men.

Jesus knew that they had no idea what they were really asking for. Jesus also knew that they were getting way ahead of themselves. What mattered on the road to Jerusalem was not heaven’s seating chart, but sacrificially serving the needs of humankind.

Sacrificial service is what matters most.

MP900409036[1] The love that was birthed into the world at Christmas does not seek its own way. It doesn’t lord it over others. It doesn’t seek privilege and power. Jesus’ love seeks to serve. Jesus’ love caused him to humble himself, even to death on a cross. That is true greatness!

Jesus love seeks to serve.

Christmas is really about loving so much that we put ourselves last. It is about putting our love for God and our neighbor first. It is about becoming a servant of all! When we love like that, we give the gift that Jesus came to bring, and we become great in the kingdom of God!

Great Love Gives Great Service!

Prayer:

Servant of all, you humbled yourself for us. Now help me to love like that. Give me a servant’s heart. Show me how to live a servant’s life!

Amen.

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Come & Adore

Joseph also went to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, he time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:4-7 NRSVMC900436345[1]

Jesus is born!

Now what are you going to do about it?

I am going to go and adore him.

I am going to proclaim him Christ the Lord.

Won’t you come with me?

 

Click here for a simple but inspired rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful”. Then come and adore Christ the Lord!

Christmas Cheer

Looking for Christmas cheer? Sadly, some turn to dangerous and self-destructive behaviors as they try to escape the stress and struggles of life. They think they will find some Christmas cheer in a bottle or a drug-induced buzz.

What they discover is nothing like the joy, peace and love that the Christ child came to bring. God sent his only Son so that we could experience real cheer at Christmas!

MP900309705[1]For me, real cheer comes at that moment when gathered believers raise their voices and candles singing about a silent and holy night when all is calm and all is bright. That truth, jumping off the lips of believers proclaiming Jesus as the Light of the world, fills my heart with unspeakable joy!

I need joy just like you do. So let’s turn away from the cheap imitations this year. Let’s stop looking for love in all the wrong places.

Let’s look to Jesus Christ for the gifts of grace he offers all who follow him!

 

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Real Gifts

TreeI love preparing gifts, putting them under the tree and opening them. Who doesn’t?

But I also know that the real gifts of Christmas are the gifts born in our hearts. The real gifts are the truths of God’s Word that fill our lives with light. The real gifts are the joy and peace Jesus gives. And the best gift of all is the love that redeems us, restores us and gives us eternal life!

So as you wrap gifts and trim the tree, don’t forget to look within and enjoy the real gifts of Christmas!

Love Is On Its Way

God’s love was revealed among us in  this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. John 4:9 NRSV

happy birthdayWe all know that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  But even though any birth is a wonderful and miraculous event, the best thing about Jesus was not just his birth. It was the fact that in his small frame was love incarnate! Love, real love, was wrapped in human flesh!

To be honest, it isn’t the baby lying in the manger that changed my life. It is the love Jesus gave. It isn’t the star in the sky that gives me hope, it is the love that forgives sin and gives new life. It isn’t the angel’s song that fills me with joy, it is having Jesus’ love alive and at work in my heart!

Today’s video focuses on the love that came at Christmas. Click here for its powerful message.

Then remember, love is on the way. Look to Jesus and you will find a love that meets you where you are and redeems, restores and recreates!

Love Turns To God

For the Advent/Christmas season, each Monday’s post will look at the love that came down at Christmas. We will explore what Jesus’ love offers us and asks of us.

At three o’clock Jesus cried out….”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34 NRSVMC900194002

Rejected and abandoned by his own people, Jesus hangs on the cross dying. Darkness covers the land. Life slowly drains out of Jesus’ body. Finally, in his agony Jesus cries out to his heavenly Father. With his last few breaths he turns his attention to God and asks “Why?’

That’s real love at work! Real love turns to God. Even when despair sets in and death’s darkness engulfs us, the same love that was at work in Jesus will help us turn to God too.

Real love turns to God.

Most of us probably don’t think much about the cross as we prepare for Christmas.MP900382968[1] Maybe that’s because we focus so much on celebrating God’s love  shown in sending us his only begotten Son. But after the all the celebrating dies down, what comes next?

If we want Jesus to be more to us than a figurine in a crèche, we must follow Jesus’ lead. We too must turn to God.

Turning to God means opening our hearts to God, pouring our pain out, laying our questions out, and clinging to our heavenly Father with our last breath. It means loving the One who first loved us!

Let the Messiah, the King of Israel and the Holy One of God touch you this Christmas with a love that will not let you go. Then, let that love keep you turned to God!

Love the One Who First Loved You!

Prayer:

Lord of unwavering love, your example on the cross reminds me that real love clings to God. Fill me with that love, and keep me ever turned to my heavenly Father!

Amen.

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Total Trust

Baby Looking Upwards I am richly blessed with two grandchildren. Their arrival has filled my world with wonder. I look at their faces and see the miracle of life and love at work in them.

One of the amazing things I’ve noticed in my young grandchildren is their capacity for absolute and total trust in whoever is holding them. These young children get passed from person to person, and no matter whose arms they are in, they smile and interact. No matter what goofy sounds the person makes or how high they toss them, my grandchildren pretty much go with the flow.

Of course they don’t have much choice. At just a few months of age, they can’t tell us what they want or need. They just have to trust us to care for them, to entertain them, to teach them, and to provide the kind of environment that will help them grow into the people God created them to be.

MP900444164[1] I am starting to learn from their example. I have always known that faith is believing and trusting. But I am realizing the difference between just believing something, and the total trust infants put in those who care for them. They are helpless, and they live in a state of total dependency. All they can do is to give themselves wholeheartedly to those who watch over them. That’s real faith!

No wonder Jesus was so glad to be surrounded by children. No wonder Jesus spoke of the importance of having a childlike faith!

I wonder, as we grow up, do we grow out of that kind of faith? Do we come to take a more cautious approach with God, our heavenly Father?

Real faith, the faith Jesus wants to see grow in us, is a faith that recognizes our own weaknesses and limitations. Then it totally, and without reservation, embraces God’s love, our Good Shepherd’s care and the Holy Spirit’s direction!

MP900443495[1] Growing into that kind of faith means leans totally on the everlasting arms of God. It involves putting our lives so completely into God’s hands, that we go joyfully where God calls us to go, and we do enthusiastically what God asks us to do. It means making God the one in whom we live and move and have our being!

I have learned much from my children. Now it seems my grandchildren are teaching me too. Let’s all grow into a faith that trusts God totally!