Don’t Miss Jesus

Couple of notes – first, if you are in the Pine Belt we’d love to have you worship with us tonight at Asbury for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion. We have two identical services, one at 4:30 and one at 6. Come join us!

Second, this will be our last scheduled post of 2014! Its’ been a great year. I hope these have a been a blessing to you! See you in 2015!

Luke 2: 1-7:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Two years ago I was able to be in Israel immediately following Christmas. We left a few days Christmas Day and spent 10 days there. If you’ve never been to the Holy Land, I hope you get a chance to go someday. It’s something that will change your life!

We happened to go to the Church of the Nativity, the traditional spot of Jesus’ birth on the day that was the Orthodox Christmas. The Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas 13 days later (here’s an explanation why) and we show up the church on their Christmas day.

And what’s going on? Well, they have church. And in the Holy Land, a church isn’t what we think of here in America. It will be multiple “church” or denominations, within the same complex (that’s thousands of years old). So the Church of the Nativity has a Roman Catholic part, a Greek Orthodox part, many different parts.

603192_10152382260870043_914198549_nAnd on that day, we waited for a chance to go and see the different parts of the church. But, they were having church.

So we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

And finally when we were able to go and see everything, we had to rush through. This was a big deal to us, but to the people of the church, they were having church.

For us it was a big deal, the only time many of us would ever be at that site. That didn’t matter to the people of that church; there were there to worship, to attend to their faith.

Our rush didn’t diminish their attention to worship.

Today is Christmas Eve. There will be rushes. They will be events. There will be worship.

Don’t miss Jesus. Don’t let the stuff of this moment diminish Jesus from your midst today. Don’t look past Him. Don’t look around Him. Don’t miss Him.

We were so busy wanting to see the scenes, we almost missed the reason for the scenes.

Don’t get so busy with Christmas that you miss the reason for Christmas.

Jesus.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Remembering is an Act of Will

We are in the final countdown until Christmas. It’s almost here. We are going to rushing around, getting ready, finalizing stuff.

Some of us may be on the road already, heading to the parents or grandparents house.

Some of us may be at work for the last few days before the fun starts.

Others may be at home, lying around, enjoying the break.

No matter where you are today, remember this. Christmas is not about the stuff. It’s not about food, the traveling, the going, the coming, all that.

Now, these things are a lot of fun. We enjoy all these things. But other events have these elements. They are not Christmas.

nativity-sunrise-andrew-soundarajanChristmas is Jesus. Jesus is Christmas. That’s what all this is about. Remember that. Remember that.

Remember in this season why we do what we do. Remembering is an act of will. We have to make ourselves do it. Everything this week is going to want to cause you to shift your attention somewhere else.

Everything is going to make you pull your gaze from what truly matters.

Don’t do it. Why?

Because when we shift our attention from the reason for the season to the stuff of the season, we get frustrated. We get tired. We get cranky.

Instead of enjoying the stuff, we are just ready for it to all be over.

When we focus on the reason, we can enjoy.

Today, remember why. Make yourself remember. Make yourself focus on what matters. Make yourself remember Jesus.

In all things. Make yourself remember Jesus.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

God With Us

One of the promises that we hear in this season is this Immanuel. God with us. And we think of that most during this time. We associate that with Christmas. We think of it Jesus. With Mary. With Joseph.

And that is the truth of Christmas. God is with us. Listen to what we are told in Matthew 1: 20-23:

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)

God with usWe hold tight to those words. We love those words. And those words are at the heart of Christmas. But here’s the beauty of that. Those words aren’t just for Christmas. Those words are always. And forever. And for all our lives.

God is with us in this season yes. But God is with us throughout all the year. God is with us in our good times. God is with us in our bad times. God is with us in our victories. God is with us in our defeats. God is with us when we feel healthy. God is with us when we are sick.

God is with us when we are laughing.

God is with us when are crying.

That’s Christmas. God entered into our world, into our lives, into our good times, into our bad time. God entered into our world. Into our day-to-day.

To show us love. To show us grace. To save us.

That’s the truth of Christmas. That’s the truth of today. God is with us. No matter what you are facing today, good or bad. God is with you.

That’s Christmas. That’s what it’s all about. Remember that. God with you. Today. He loves you and is with you today.

No matter what. That’s Christmas.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Silent Night

BethlehemBe still.  Listen.  Listen.

In a busy, busy, season.  In a busy, busy place.  In a busy, busy time.  Be still.  Listen.  Tonight is the silent night.  Tonight is the night when the choirs of angels sang.  Night is the night when the shepherds heard.  When they saw.  Tonight is the night.  The silent night.

But, not at this this exact time.  Not at this moment.  Right now, we are waiting.  We are focusing.  It is almost here.  Almost.  Almost.

Silent Night.  Holy Night.  Get ready.  Get your heart ready.  It’s almost here.

David and Mary travelled.  The knew the day was close.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

The people of Israel had been waiting.

The entire world had been waiting.

Creation had been waiting.

Today, are you?  Are you waiting for God wants to do? Are you waiting for where God wants to bring life?  Are you ready. Are you focused?  Are you are ready to live.

Silent Night.  Holy Night. It is here.

Are you ready?

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Courage

CS Lewis, in his great book The Screwtape Letters,  wrote these words:

“courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality.”

Courage is what is required to do that which is right, to do that which God desires, that which is that next step of faithfulness.  That is what God wants for us. That which God wants from us.

God wants us to take that next step.  God wants us to be faithful.  God wants us to be brave.  God wants us to have courage.

No matter what we are facing, no matter what is next, no matter what is going on, I promise you this.  God wants us to take that next step. God wants us to have courage.  In many ways, the story of Christmas is the story of courage.  It took great courage for Joseph to be faithful to God’s plan, to do what God wanted him to do, and to be obedient.  Listen to what he had to do, in Matthew 1: 19-25:

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

courage4When all this happened, Joseph was tempted to walk away.  He was tempted to just get out, as simply and pain free as possible.  That’s what he was going to do.  But he didn’t.

Because God had other plans.

And Joseph followed.  He had courage.  He took that step.

And God did amazing things.

Today, have faith.  Have courage.  Believe.  Hope.  Trust.

And God will be faithful.  May we do the same.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Worthy is the Lamb

There was a babe born in Bethlehem.  A simple child, born into a simple family, in a simple part of the world.

Common people.  Common place.  Common time.

And many people missed it.  Yes, there were angels in the sky, and they told the shepherds. And yes, people knew.  There was the town, and a eventually the wise men showed up.  But, for the vast majority of the world, no one knew.

King Herod had to have his scribes tell him what had happened and where it happened when the Wise Men showed up, looking for Him.  So many missed it.

I want to show you, this morning, who this babe is.  He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords.  He is Jesus.  Listen to how He is described in Revelation 5: 11-13:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

3496835915_c691158dfb_zWorthy is the Lamb, who was slain.  Worthy is He.

It’s all about Jesus.  He is life.  He is peace.  He is everything.  Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing will satisfy but Jesus.

Not your job.

Not your hobbies.

Not your money. . . or success. . . . or home. . . . or children. . . . or fame. . . . or toys. . . nothing.  Nothing will satisfy but Jesus.

Nothing.

Nothing.

For He alone is worthy.  Please, live in that today.  Worthy is the Lamb.

It’s all about Jesus. Everything.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Christmas Callings

God-is-CallingChristmas is a season of callings.  It’s  a season of risks.  It’s a season of trust.  It’s a season of believing.

Think back to what started everything with Christmas.  And angel came to Mary and said, you are going to give birth to the Savior of mankind.  You are going to give birth the the one that would save the people from their sin.

She would do it.

It was a scary, huge, big job.  It would be tough.  It would be a challenge.  It would not be easy. And what did Mary say?  Yes.  She said yes.

This season is a season of saying yes to God.

I though about that, when I read today’s text in 1 Samuel 3: 8-10.  Listen to what it says:

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Samuel, two times, heard the voice of God calling to him.  He was confused.  He went to Eli.  Eli told him to listen, and to respond to the voice of God. And that third time, when God called, Samuel responded.  He said yes.

And God would do great things through Samuel.  He would be the one to anoint David, who would the forefather to Jesus, as king.  God was using Samuel to begin the process that would result in Jesus.

And it happened, because he said yes to the voice of God.  He said yes to His calling.

Today, will you?  What is God calling you to?  Will you say yes?  Will you say yes to your Christmas calling?

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Christmas Lights

tyThere’s a cool house down the road from my house here in Petal that’s got a programmed Christmas light show.   You can pull up to their house, turn your car radio to a certain station, listen to the music, and see the lights flash in rhythm to the songs being played.

It’s pretty cool.

I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas lights. I remember as young child that was always one of my favorite things to do, to go with the family and look at Christmas lights.  Loved it then, love it now.  That’s one of the many reasons why I love this time of year.

I thought about that, as I read today’s reading from Job 33: 29-30:

“Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.

I talked yesterday about how God has a plan in all this.  God knows what He is doing and He has a plan, not just for all our lives, but for creation, redemption, and all the world.  I think of that again when I read what it says in Job.  God will bring us back from the pit. And they will be lighted with the light of life.

Even those those words were spoken to Job, who do I think of when I read that?

The one that it talks about in John 1: 4-5:

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus.  He is the light.  He is the light that overcomes the darkness.  He is the light of the world. And He is the light of of lives.

Think about that during Christmas.  Think of that during light shows. Think about during all this time.  Light has come. And that light is Jesus.  Remember.  Remember that.

Light has come.  And light WILL drive out the darkness.

Remember.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.