Scripture: 1st John 2:17
And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.
Thought for the Day: On this last day of 2017, our minds are on things passing away. The language of the world is not the physical world of trees and dirt or even buildings and cars. It is a metaphor for everything that is not of God, including the cravings of greed and selfishness that drive us away from God. As we watch another year pass away, let us take a moment to ponder what should pass away from our own lives as the clock strikes midnight. What in your life and my life needs to pass away so that we might do the will of God and join the Eternal Life.
Prayer: Your Eternity chose to dwell among us, O Lord God. As we follow the Living Word that took on flesh, let us be mindful of how we are already living the Eternal Life by doing your will. Amen.
Scriptures: 1st John 2:4-5
The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him.
Thought for the Day: When I was living in Indianapolis years ago, there was a street light outside my second story bedroom that suddenly started going dim and then bright, then dim and then bright. For weeks, there was this feeling as if someone was turning up a dimmer and then down again. It probably took the city just a little less than a month to fix it. When I see the language of “the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word,” I find myself a bit nervous as I know I am far from perfect. But the word also could be translated as fullness or completeness. In reading these words, we must always remember how this love is ultimately God’s gift to us, and if God’s love, then it is perfect, complete and full. Within our imperfect lives, I see this love as a light on a dimmer. The power is the same at the source, but we keep dimming it. The power before the dimmer is still the same, but our less than stellar moments reduce its ability to shine through us. Though I know I’ll never get there, my hope for 2018 is to work on removing the dimmer from the God-life that lives in me and desires to be shared through me.
Prayer: May your perfect love, O God whose merciful kindness knows no boundaries, continue to shine through me as I live out your two great commandments. Amen.
SEE YOU IN WORSHIP TOMORROW
Scripture: 1st John 1:5-7
This is the message that we have heard from him and announce to you: “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.” If we claim, “We have fellowship with him,” and live in the darkness, we are lying and do not act truthfully. But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.
Thought for the Day: This could so easily be a finger pointing devotional. The list of those who I see as claiming to be in the light while living in the dark is lengthy, but our faith calls us to look inward and ask where might our personal claims not align with our life actions? Where do we pretend to follow the light while wandering aimlessly in the dark? If God is light and we are to live in the light as Jesus lives in the light, it only would come to reason that we need to be close to God/Jesus. When I say close, I am talking less about physical proximity and more about a life that mirrors the compassion and love of God revealed in Jesus.
Prayer: As I follow in the steps of Jesus, O Source of Light, may the light grow within me and become more and more of blessing to others. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 2:1
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem.
Thought for the Day: We don’t have as much of the birth story in Matthew’s Gospel, but Matthew is where we find the Epiphany story. This is important for a number of reasons – first and foremost, we are currently in the season of Christmas. In fact, we are celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas right now. It is probably impossible to find any radio station playing a Christmas carol right now, but despite what culture might say, it is finally Christmas for Christianity. The 12 Days of Christmas, as I remind folks every year, are the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany (the arrival of the magi/wisemen). In these 12 day, we start to watch the magi making their move from the East. Some have suggested the journey took two years, though we condense it to the 12 days. My family has often had our nativity scene with the magi on the other side of the room. We slowly move the three wisemen toward the holy family as we move through the 12 days. As strange as it might sound, this coming Sunday is Christmas Sunday, and the following Sunday is Epiphany (January 7, 2018). And of course, that’s the day of our One Service Sunday and Camel Walk.
Prayer: Lead me, Gracious God, as I continue on this journey. May I meet your gift and honor him with my own gifts. Amen.
Still On Our Journey
Scripture: 1st John 1:1-2
We announce to you what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have seen and our hands handled, about the word of life. The life was revealed, and we have seen, and we testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.
Thought for the Day: 1st John was not written until around 100AD, so about 70 years after Jesus. For this reason, we can only assume that when the author speaks about seeing and handling in regard to the life that was revealed, s/he is referring to the Spirit-filled Body of Christ – the church. We just finished celebrating Christmas, and though the events we celebrate are 2000 years old, we often speak of them in the present. To some this may sound odd, but it has to do with a belief that the word of life is not a historical event alone. What happened in the manger is not limited to the manger. The word that took on life and flesh continues to be seen, encountered and touched in the Body of Christ…including Cypress Creek Christian Church.
Prayer: O Father whose eternal life became human, we are overjoyed for the depth of love you have shown us. May we continue to strive toward a life that represents you and your boundless love. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 2:8-11
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
Thought for the Day: I was excited to talk about the shepherds on Sunday morning, for they represent all who feel rejected and devalued in our world. For every human being that has been dismissed or abused or harassed, the shepherd’s story is good news. At the same time, for those of us (which is too many of us) who have dismissed or abused or harassed another human being, we need to hear the challenge of the shepherd’s story. It is one of those unique stories that lifts up the broken while also calling to repentance those who have lifted themselves up at the expense of others.
Prayer: Let me truly hear the message of the shepherds, O Lord of Glory, as I need to hear it. Where your love needs to be affirmed within me, let it grab ahold of me, and where repentance and change is required, let it be so. Amen.
OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP
Can you give a few hours at the Church?
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
9am-12pm and 1-4pm
Scripture: Luke 2:7
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Thought for the Day: This morning, I pray that your Christmas finds that amazing gift wrapped and laid in the manger of your soul. As strange as it may sound, I am thankful there was no place in the inn, or even in a fancy palace or the guest wing of a noble’s home. When so many even within Christianity seek to push God just beyond the reach of this group or that group, I want to celebrate this morning the breath-taking beauty of God’s fullness being put down for a nap in the only thing available to an exhausted couple: a feeding trough. If God is willing to make an appearance there, we can feel certain that no religious restriction can hinder God being born in our lives.
Prayer: Come and find restful place within me, O Emmanuel – God with us all. Amen.