“Be aware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.”
We check out five-day weather forecasts; we count the days before special events; we wonder when our bus will arrive. We plan, and we wonder, we wonder and we plan. Have you ever stopped to think that the Lord has given even the moment you are now experiencing as a time to savor? O it could be a hard time or an uncertain time but God is still in the mix. Maybe the greatest gift we could give ourselves is the awareness of God in our lives, now! The Bible calls us to be ready and prepared to receive Jesus into our lives at any time and to celebrate each moment we have been given by God. You have been given a gift today, right now. To be occupied with the uncertainty of the end of our mortal lives robs us of the joy of the moment and knowing that this “is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24) During this season of Advent, as you prepare for Christmas, open your heart to the “now” of faith and celebrate the time that God has given you. Live your faith today as if there is no tomorrow; may each of us lives our lives as “God’s story,” full of expectations and excitement for today, seeing the God moments that are continually around us. Thank you Jesus for the gift of life today.
“Remove the scandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
‘Tis the season to decorate our homes, our church, and our souls in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is a holy time to be sure! The story of Moses standing on Mount Horeb listening to God speak to him through the burning bush was the first story I remember hearing in Sunday school. Have you ever visited a place and it just felt different? Moses certainly knew where he was standing was far different than anywhere else had visited in his lifetime. The presence of God makes ground holy, and more importantly, makes us realize that all that God has created is holy, including and especially you. God’s definition of holy ground and holy lives transcends any worldly definition. Holiness, or being set apart, occurs any time we are face to face with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For Moses on the mountain, the presence of God was made manifest through a “burning bush” which was not consumed. For us it may be anytime we feel the presence of God in our lives maybe through a word or just somebody crossing our path when we need them the most. No matter where we decorate for the Christmas celebration, the presence of God makes all things holy. Remember you are a holy person of God, cherished and loved so much that the presence of God is not only now, it is forever. So when you prepare for the Christmas season, whether with lights and the stuff of the season, or just adorning your soul with the affirmation of God’s love, look down and remember you are standing on holy ground, and then look up, and know that the One that has created you and the incredible place you are standing will never let you go and has promised to be with you, even to the end of the age. Thank you Jesus for the incredible gift you have given us.
Rev. Tom Joyce, pastor
“Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.”
When we give thanks to God, we are at the same time humbly confessing that God is God and we are not. Have you ever considered the gifts you have been given by God?” The people that God has placed in your life, the opportunities that just seem to happen, the little reminders of God’s presence even at the most difficult of times are just a few examples of our Lord’s loving presence in our lives. Our gratitude offered to God is our purest witness of faith and is the realization that we need God “every hour.” Take the time to consider even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant gifts you have been offered, and give God thanks. Every time we offer thanksgiving to God, we experience the joy of knowing our Lord is with us, through good times, bad times, uncertain times, and all the time. Thank you Jesus for the promise you have made to be with each of us, “even to the end of the age.” Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, our rock and our salvation.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
In the story of Martha and Mary, Martha did all the right things; she welcomed Jesus and went about completing all the tasks necessary to entertain a special guest. Martha had her list and stuck to it, after all, so much needed to be done. Are you a list-maker? Do you carve up each and every day with things to do? We all lead busy lives to be sure, not enough time in the day, is there? But we do have a choice in how we choose to live our lives; we can choose to be busy with things, or we can choose to draw closer to the One that truly offers something far more precious than even the culmination of the tasks we accumulate for ourselves can. When Jesus said, “I came so that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10) He offered us a gift. When Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened she was being offered the abundance that only a relationship with Jesus could offer. The abundance that is offered has nothing to do with completion of tasks or the accumulation of stuff, rather it has everything to do with a relationship that seeks nothing more than for us to know the grace, hope, and joy that is eternal. Have you ever tried to get to know somebody by never talking to them, or listening, or spending time with them? Relationships build only by spending time with another and learning more about them. So it is with Jesus; if you truly want to know God, take the time by hanging out with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Sometimes that means time in prayer, other times in study, and still other times just serving the people whom Jesus loves. Take some time with the Lord; you will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. Choose wisely and follow the Lord; you will receive a gift that can never be taken away. Thank you Jesus.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I kept the faith.”
II Timothy 4:7
Every year about this time I ask myself, “how did they do it?” How did they endure all the trials and tribulations of life with incredible strength and enduring faith? How is it that their impact upon our lives was so powerful that we realize that what they were witnessing was intended to pass the most precious gift they could offer to us, their gift of faith. When I think of the saints, my mind does not go to names etched in stone rather to those lives who are forever emblazoned upon my soul. O the saints of our lives; they would have hardly considered themselves saints, in fact they would have denied being in such exclusive company. Yet God gave each of them a gift that they in turn shared with us. The saints rose to the challenges that life dealt, and the challenges we probably dealt to them! But they could do no less than love us even more. They fought the good fight armed with the tools of grace, love, and hope. It could not have been easy, surely it was not. Yet the witness they shared has become very much a part of how each of us are today. William How penned these words over 150 years ago and they continue to sing from the lips of Christians celebrating the amazing gift that God has offered; “For all the saints, who from their labors rest, who thee by faith before the world confessed.” How did they do it? They shared their faith with every step they took and with every breath and with every fiber of their being hoped beyond hope that others would come to know the incredible joy of faith that they lived every day. For all the saints, O Lord we give you thanks. For all the saints, O Lord who shared their lives and their witness with us, we give you thanks May the witness of the incredible people God has put in your path offer you hope and the faith to “fight the good fight” of faith and give the gift of faith to another. For all the saints; “they have fought the good fight, they finished the race, and kept the faith.”