Advent Reading – JOY

The psalmist said in Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Although it’s easy to think about joy in terms of happiness and celebration, we must be mindful that joy comes from gratefulness to God for salvation, not a lack of trials or an “easy” life here on Earth.  I like this quote from Rick Warren, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”Image result for christmas joy

Last year Ilona taught us that joy stands for Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.  I love the acronym because it’s easy to remember and when put into practice we can truly rejoice in knowing we are honoring God’s commands of loving Him first and our neighbors as ourselves.

What are some ways you are bringing JOY to others this advent season?  If you’ve already come up with a play to spread some JOY around, great, but if not here are some ideas; serve at a local mission, help someone put up Christmas decorations, invite your neighbors to Christmas dinner or better yet, invite them to church!  What better way to rejoice that to share the wonderful gift of Jesus with others?  The list could go on but hopefully you get the idea.  1 Peter 1:8-9 sums up what joy means to me pretty well so I’ll end with it.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

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written by: Kandice Eckhoff

Advent Reading – FAITH

The Bible is filled with hundreds of stories of people of faith. You can even say to an unchurched person that someone has the wisdom of Solomon or the patience of Job and they know kind of what you are referring to – someone who was rewarded by God for their faith.   But as we come into the Advent season, we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I find myself thinking – probably because I’m still raising children – a lot about Jesus’ childhood.  What must that have been like, really?  Image result for christmas questionWhat was it like to be Jesus, and be 6?  What did 14 look like for Jesus?  I think about how full of doubt and heartache and just the unknowingness that was my adolescence, and some parts of my adult life, let’s be honest.

But Jesus, even as a child… when he got separated from his family during their travels and, not a crying worried mess when they found him, but a confident faithful servant already – did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house? My Father’s House.  That’s faith.

Think about not just believing in God, because that word, belief, I can say I believe I’ll have a deli sandwich for dinner, and I can make that happen. Image result for faith in godI can say that I believe science is God revealing Himself to us as He wants us to know Him.  I believe that all humans were created by God just as they are, flawed in our eyes but perfect in His.  I believe that John the Baptist was a little bit of a nut but a crucial figure in our religious history.  Not just belief, but KNOWING.  The knowledge of God.  That is what we aspire to.  That is the level of faith we work toward.

That’s the faith of Jesus. To know how your life is supposed to turn out, and to go on preaching, teaching, loving. To do that? To love like that?  That’s faith.

What would our prayers sound like if we had that faith? Mine would sound like this: Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  A million times, thank you.  For I know that You are with me, every microsecond of my existence here in this body, and beyond.Image result for family praising god

And I am not afraid.






written by: Natalie Madison

Advent Reading – LOVE

Our greatest gift from God is, to me, the Gift of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. The Advent Season is a celebration of our preparation for His birth. Related image

Jesus Christ taught us many things. Above all, He taught us the importance, the value of Love. Love is that deep caring for God & people. While there are different forms & degrees of love, the most important is that “Love” that Jesus taught us: we must care for God, His Word; our fellow man; life, caring, & valuing life is of the utmost importance. We need to strive to have that love, a TRUE love, for people & God’s many gifts. This is all in the Spirit of the Advent Season.

If our hearts are void of Love for God & Love for others during the Advent Season (all other times as well) then are we truly believers?

Allow me to ask that again; If our hearts are void of Love as God expects, are we truly believers?

We are not perfect, we are sinners, however, the moments should be rare when Love, true Love, is absent from our hearts. God gave us Christ so that we may have Eternal Life. In turn, Jesus Christ taught us to have Love for God (The Trinity) & our fellow man.

Love God
Love one another
Love yourself

Related imageFaith, Hope, & Love, these three….but the greatest of these is Love. This is the gift which molds all things together. If we truly Love God, then we truly Love others as ourselves. Therefore, having that Love, then we truly serve God as He expects us to do. The Advent Season is the time of the year to come before God & bear all that is wrong, and renew our foundation of Faith, Hope, and especially, Love. I pray that each of us does not miss this opportunity.

Love God, Serve Others

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written by: Keith Cook