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.

Naughty or Nice

naughtynice

This is our church sign at Asbury right now.  Now this isn’t just plug for Asbury (though we’d love to have you worship with us sometime!) This sign makes me smile every time I see it?  Why?

Is it simply because it’s a play on the “naughty or nice” part of the Christmas season?  Maybe.  But, mainly because it expresses something that I (and Asbury) believes fully about God.  God loves nice people.  God loves naughty people.  God loves all people.

And God wants to be in a relationship with all people.  Because God so loves the world.  The naughty and the nice.

Santa comes to check if you are naughty or nice.  Jesus came to save the naughty, and the nice.  Because He loves both.  And both need Him.

Listen to what Jesus says in Luke 19: 9-10:

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus came, seeking out the lost.  The broken.  The needful.  Because He loves them.  He cares for them.  And they are His.  He was born to save them.

He was born to save us.  No matter where we are.  No matter what list we are on.  That may matter to the world, or to Santa.  But it doesn’t matter to God.

Naughty or nice, it doesn’t matter to God.  He doesn’t love us because we are good.  He loves us because He is good.

Never forget that.  Ever.  He simply loves you.  No matter what.

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.

** Special thanks to Meghan Milligan for taking this picture

Nothing is Impossible

What mountain are you trying to climb today?  What hill are are looking at, thinking that there is no way that you can do this?  What challenge do you face that is worrying you to death?

What are you up against today?  What thing do you face, that to you, looks impossible, and leaves you with no hope?  What are you to do?

Listen to what happens in Luke 1: 35-38:

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Fra_Angelico_AnnunciationThis is the story that’s called “The Annunciation.”  This is where the angel tells Mary that she will give birth to Jesus. And her response, with a greater challenge than anything we will face is “let it be to me according to your word.”

How could she have such confidence?  How could she have such hope?  How could she trust in a situation that seems to hard, to challenging, to much, for someone to handle?  This is how.

She believed the word that that the angel spoke – Nothing is impossible for with God.  Nothing.  Nothing.

God is bigger than that mountain.  That challenge. That fear.  That doubt. That hurdle.  That, whatever.  God is bigger.  God is stronger.  God is more powerful.  With God, nothing is impossible.

Nothing.

Believe that, today.  Have hope in that today. With God, nothing is impossible.  Hold tight to Him.  Trust in Him.  And He will make a way.

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.

Mary’s Response

A couple of quick notes today before our reflection. First, if you are in the Petal area, we’d love you to worship with us tonight at Asbury for our Candlelight Christmas Service. We have services at 4:30 and 6 p.m.

Second this will be my reflection for a few weeks.  I’ll be out of pocket and with family most of this week, and next Monday, January 31, several of us from Asbury are leaving for a trip to the Holy Land.  While in Israel I am going to attempt to have a daily post and keep you updated on our journey, as well as share some photos.

Merry Christmas to you, and your family.  Now, on to today’s reflection.

theangelusI love Mary’s response when she is told that she will be the mother to God’s Son.

She has just had her world rocked. Everything that she had planned for her life is forever changed.

God has big plans for her. Hard plans. Challenging plans. Difficult plans.

Now, these plans will be for her good and for the good of the world. They are going to be blessing to her. To me. To you. And to everyone that’s ever lived.

But, they will also forever change her life. That’s the stakes. And listen to Mary’s response in Luke 1:35-38:

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Let it be to me according to your word.

She trust in God, and His plan, even when she knows that it will be a challenge.

Even when she knows that it will be hard.

She believed, even when God’s plan was not her plan. Because she knew God’s plan was the right plan.

Today, may we be the same. May we do the same. Today, may Mary’s response be our response.

Lord, let it be to me according to your word.

Amen, and amen.

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.

A Light has Come

lightI’ve been reading and talking a lot about darkness recently. Part of was the text that I preached from Sunday was John 1, which talked about The Light coming, and how it shines in the darkness.

And the darkness has not overcome it.

Remember y’all, that darkness will not overcome the light. It’s not going to happen. Light will win in the end.

With all that’s happened in the world in the last week, it’s easy to think that the darkness is going to win.

It’s not. Light wins.

Today, we see this passage that we all know so well from Isaiah. Listen to what it says in Isaiah 9:2, 6-7:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

The people in darkness have seen a great light. Light has shown on them.

The darkness has fled. It is gone. It has vanished.

Light has come.

Well, what is this light?

Isaiah continues. To us, a child is born. A son is given. He is wonderful counselor, might God.

Prince of Peace.

He is the Lord.

He is Jesus.

No matter what darkness you are waking in today, let His light shine on you. And in you.

Maybe it’s the darkness of sadness over Newton.

Maybe it’s the darkness of worry over your own children.

Maybe it’s the darkness of depression.

Of fear.

Of worry.

Of brokenness.

No matter what darkness you are in right now, a light has come. A light as shown.
Let it shine in your life. Let it shine through your life.

Let it drive out the darkness in you. Let it shine out the darkness through you.

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 Eve Podcast

The sermon podcast for Christmas Eve 2011 is up on Asbury Church’s website.     The text is Luke 2: 8-20. We look at how God shows up, uninvited in so many lives in scripture. Just as He does on Christmas Eve. And just as He does in each moment of our lives. Through the miracle of Christmas, God is with us each moment and makes all of life holy!   You can listen to it by clicking here, or you can listen to it here on this blog by clicking the link below. And, as always, you can subscribe to my sermon podcasts through iTunes.

CLICK HERE

Uninvited – Christmas Eve Podcast

Christmas Day Podcast

The sermon podcast for Christmas Day 2011 is up on Asbury Church’s website.   The text is John 1: 1-10. Jesus Christ is life, and His life is the Light to the world. Go and tell it on the mountain  You can listen to it by clicking here, or you can listen to it here on this blog by clicking the link below. And, as always, you can subscribe to my sermon podcasts through iTunes.

CLICK HERE

Life and Light – Christmas Day Podcast

Merry Christmas

I wanted to wish you each a Merry Christmas.

I’ll be offline most of next week, and blogging will be infrequent through the end of the year.  Enjoy Christmas, enjoy your family, enjoy your Church.

And enjoy the birth of our Savior!

We’ll see you in 2011!  And remember:

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS

Human Civilization is Not Dependent on You (or in others words, don’t forget to breath during Christmas)

Sometimes it’s good to remember our place in the universe.

Yes, we are loved.  Yes, we are sacred. Yes, we are of great worth to an awesome and amazing God.

Yes, we are priceless beyond compare to Him.

But. . . . .

We are not God.  The entire fate of human civilization is not resting on you.

And, if Christmas is not just absolutely perfect, you know what?

It will still be ok.

Life will continue.

God will still be God, the sun will still come up in the east.

Even if Christmas is not perfect.

Listen to the words of Isaiah this morning:

15 Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the LORD, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, Who sees us? Who knows us? 16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, He did not make me; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, He has no understanding

You are not God.  You don’t have to live with that pressure to be perfect.  You will make mistakes. Things will happen. All will not perfect.  Things will go wrong.

And it will be ok. Relax. Breath. And enjoy.

Don’t let all that goes into this season detract the real reason for the season from you. Remember what it’s all about and why we celebrate.

God is good. God is love. And Love Came Down at Christmas.

Never forget.