As we approach a new year, many of us take stock of our lives. We ask ourselves questions about where we would like to change and what we'd like to do in the new year. I thought it was funny that Amazon already started advertising workout clothes and fitness trackers on the day after Christmas just to get a jump on things!
As important as it is to take stock of your waistline or bottom line, it is even more important to take stock of your relationship with God. Where have we grown cold or lazy in our walk with him. This is what the book of Malachi, written almost 400 years before the birth of Jesus challenges God's people to do. The prophet Malachi relays a conversation between God and His people where God asks some soul-searching questions.
Although this Sunday is the last day of 2017, it will be the first Sunday in our new sermon series "Answering God". Make plans to ring in the new year with us as we prepare our hearts and minds for all that God is going to do in 2018 by listening to this week's podcast!
On Christmas Eve, we gathered as Christians have throughout the generations to worship our King and Savior as we remember His birth. As we conclude our Christmas Unwrapped series we will explore the end goal of the gifts of love, joy, peace and hope. Is a simple thank you enough or does Jesus expect more from us?
There is a story of a Kindergarten Christmas Program where the students were to sing a song called "Christmas Love". In addition to singing the song, students were to hold up the letters to spell the song title. Each letter of the song title was to be held up when the students sang the Christmas Song. As they did, one youngster held the "M" upside down. It wasn't until they got to the end of the song that they realized the "mistake" was a powerful reminder of Christmas - "CHRISTWASLOVE" held aloft for all to see.
As great as this story is (and I have no idea if it is true or not), there is an even better truth. Christ IS love and this gift for us is even more powerful than we realize. I hope you'll listen this week as we celebrate the love of Christ this Christmas!
If you have been around me and my preaching, you know how much I love to talk about joy. So, when we consider that there is one whole Sunday in Advent that we dedicate to joy, you can probably guess how I feel about that. But, there was a time that I didn't feel joyful about Christmas. In fact, I actually hated Christmas and all it has become. But to hear that story, you'll have to listen to this week's podcast.
I read an article the other day that mentions domestic violence incidents increase between Christmas and New Year's Day. Last year the Chicago Tribune reported that 61 people were shot over the Christmas holiday weekend and 11 of them died. It would seem that in our country, at least, we forgot the memo that Christmas is all about Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards men.
Yet, one of the things we find as we unwrap Christmas is that Christmas is a gift of peace. Not just between man and God, but truly between one another as well. This week, we'll unwrap one more aspect of Christmas by looking at "The Gift of Peace".
What are you hoping for this Christmas? Maybe you are hoping for a new gadget or a toy. Maybe you are hoping for something more serious like a miraculous healing or a new job. Maybe you're just hoping that everyone will get along at all the family gatherings this year. Whatever it is, we all tend to have a lot of hopes for this time of year.
Because of this, when we read a word like hope in the Bible, we tend to assign it a similar meaning as we use it culturally. Thus, our hopes are nothing but dreams and wishes. But what if God wants our hopes to be something else? This week we continue our series "Christmas Unwrapped" and explore the "Gift of Hope" that we have in Christ.