If we are honest, we have all been guilty of looking for PEACE in our personal possessions - the accumulation of them; our power; our position; our prestige; our prideful self. But when these self-made lifeless 'idols' leave us wanting, empty and fretful; we then find ourselves seeking true peace - the PEACE that Jesus offers.
Joy IS a constant mind-set defining and supporting all of life, an ever-flowing endless stream. Joy IS independent of and is NOT defined by life circumstances, good or bad; and in fact, is strengthened and refined by them. Joy comes from and rests in God's presence and our personal relationship with Him.
In Latin, the word 'Advent' means 'coming' and it is during the Christmas season that we celebrate the 'Coming' of God incarnate: Jesus, God's One and Only Son, the Light of the World - wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in an animal's feeding trough of all things - a manger. Wait. What? Jesus 'came down' to earth from His triune community in heaven, forfeiting all His divine rights and privileges. In a great paradoxical inversion Jesus 'came down' to our hopeless, faithless, joyless, loveless and less than peaceful world to be OUR hope, faith, joy, love and peace. In essence, Jesus looks us in the eye and says, "I get it. I personally understand what you are going through. I've been there myself. Here, let Me help. Choose ME. Choose HOPE. Choose FAITH. Choose..." Will we? Will we choose to place our faith IN JESUS rather than the things of our world? That's the question.
The backstory to the 'Prophet's Candle of HOPE' is found in 1 Samuel 8:5-8, when God's people wanted and asked God for what all the other surrounding nations had-an earthly king. Broken by their request, Samuel converses with God about this request. God responds by stating, "Samuel, they are not rejecting you-they are rejecting Me as their king." In essence, they sought after the things and systems of this world to offer hope. Which did not occur.
Each year, during the Christmas holidays, we ask our Central Christian family to give 'over and above' our regular general fund giving as a Christmas Offering for a specific need or ministry.
But God is calling us to more! In our 57th year of ministry, God is imploring us to accomplish immeasurably more FOR Him BY Him and WITH Him! How will we respond? Faithfully! Passionately! Readily! One way we are responding is to further improve our campus by renovating the complete interior of our 300 building.
But it's into this our darkness that Jesus says this to us by name, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
We are very excited to announce that this Sunday, February 28th during both morning services we are extremely honored to have Bob Russell here to speak and share with us. Let’s give Bob a warm welcome as he shares with us this Sunday.
There's a divine story of God's unfailing love being written for each of us by name. How will our story end? That answer is up to us.
As we read our Bibles, process our devotions, listen to our worship music, heed the advice of our friends - what 'One Word' continues to repeat itself? Be attentive to it. Listen for it. Notice it. Embrace it. Live it. For me in 2019, my word was 'entrust'; in 2020, it was 'dwell'; and in 2021, it is 'presence.'
So friends, when loneliness attempts to paralyze will we grasp and cling to the life-giving companionship of the Christ-Child – God WITH us! God FOR us! That’s the message of Christmas.