This morning as we gathered for prayer in the Worship Center I noticed again as I do every Sunday that we are missing Jesus in our Nativity Set in front of the stage. Every Sunday I think to myself, “I have to do something about that.” Every Monday I forget to do something about it. Well, today I did something about it. I pulled my phone out and I order Jesus off of Amazon. Actually Denise ordered Jesus off of Amazon because she has Amazon Prime and we will get it shipped quicker and for free. Who would have thought that you can actually order Jesus on Amazon? You will be relieved to know that this Sunday we will have Jesus back in the manger.
This Christmas is a time to put Jesus back in His place – at the center of everything that we do. Many times throughout the year we can get off track just by moving off course as small as 1 degree. That could represent a missing habit or discipline, an attitude that has taken residence in our minds, or being too stretched to invest in our relationship with Jesus. After many days of that small adjustment, we can find ourselves in the middle of things that God did not intend for us to experience. Discouragment and loneliness can set in quickly. We have to remember that life is mostly lived in consequences rather than circumstances.
Let me encourage you to fill your heart with Jesus and not let Him go missing from any part of your life. I get into trouble when I live my life by compartmentalizing everything. I have a tendency to assign everything I do to a bucket system. I have a bucket for work, home, the kids, church, hobbies, and the list goes on. By doing that, it is easy to leave Jesus in one of the other buckets but feel alright with not including him in some of the buckets. Let me make a statement, “Jesus needs to become your bucket.” He should be the designer of your day. Everything you do must be through Jesus. In Proverbs 3:5-6 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
I’ve asked this question before, “What part of all do you not understand?” God has created everything and His love cannot be measured with any measuring method that we have available. It is too vast to measure. Our faith ought to hinge on God’s ability. On Sunday I ended my message with a familiar passage in the Message paraphrase. Look with me:
John 3:16-18 (MSG)
16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
On Sunday, I encouraged everyone to personally invite someone, in your sphere of influence, to our Christmas service and Christmas Eve service. Have you done that yet? What are you waiting for? We have room for your invitee. An overflow will be set up in order to have a place for each one invited. This may be the year that they truly believe and that belief in turn becomes their new walking orders. Pray for the services as we anticipate the presence of Jesus.
Let’s don’t let anyone accuse us of missing Jesus in our everyday flow. He ought to be the first thing people see in your life. Another thing I don’t want the men to forget – your socks! Don’t forget to wear your red socks this 4th Sunday of Advent. We are going on 18 years of this tradition. Pray with me for the Lord to anoint everything about these special days just ahead of us.
Joy in Jesus!
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” Colossians 3:23-24.
What if someone told you that this was going to be your last Christmas on this earth? What would you do differently than what you are doing now?
Would you call up that friend you have wondered if they have ever heard the truth of God’s Word? Would you talk to one of your family members about the Good News of Jesus Christ? Would you make sure that so and so knew that you truly forgave them? Would you make sure that so and so would forgive you? These are all good things to do.
Tim McGraw sings about a man who was told he didn’t have long to live in the song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” The words reveal the things he would attempt to do, “I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu. And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”
Not a bad list of things to start with but that list seems to lack the eternal impact Christ wants on our list. I can think of a few more things I would want to do.
If there were impactful things you could do this then what are you waiting for? If you can come up with a list of things that you would do that would make an eternal significance, wouldn’t you want to do that now? None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. We should live life to its fullest today. The Lord may return or we may be scheduled to go home and join other Christ followers who have finished the race. I just don’t want to show up too early and have the Lord say to me, “Mike, I didn’t expect you this early.” I say that jokingly but seriously if you know what I mean. I don’t want to do anything to speed up the process. I want God’s timing. No matter the case, I don’t want to live with regret. I want to live life loud. I want to love as Jesus loved, serve as He served, and point people to Jesus, the only way to eternal life in heaven. I want the zeal of the Lord Almighty to accomplish this through me.
In light of this wonderful season and the opportunity God wants us to take in being faithful to His story, remember the simple reason why we do what we do.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
This is a day you will not get back. Make it such a day that you will look back and be amazed at what God is doing all around the world, even where you live.
I am looking forward to this 3rd Advent Sunday as our Choir and Orchestra make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Come with great anticipation that God will draw us into what He is doing.
Joy in Jesus!
A common expression, often used by coaches, is, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” When they say that, they are talking to the people on the team who are not doing very well. Coaches probably believe that this thought will inspire the “weak links” to try harder. But it may have the opposite effect – only discouraging those who are not doing well.
Look at what the Apostle Paul tells us about being the “weak link”:
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
There are times when we may be the “weak link” in an otherwise strong chain, whether it is at home, at work, at school, or at church. Whenever you feel weak it is easy to look around and see others who seem so strong. If we could only read the minds of others we would see similar thoughts. The truth of the matter is this – compared to the surpassing riches of Christ and the power of the resurrection, we are all weak.
Paul knew what it was like to feel weak. His enemies at Corinth accused him of being the weakest link. However, Paul understood the benefit of weakness. Whenever we feel strong, pride has a tendency to raise his little head and create a false sense of security. His weakness helped him to depend on the Lord more. He knew his weakness brought him even closer to the Lord. Whenever you feel weak, look to Jesus, who came as a weak baby and died a helpless on a cross. But the weakness in which we see weakness is not weakness at all. There is power in a cross style life. Our weakness gives God a chance to come to us and strengthen our trust in Him. He has a plan and is fulfilling it through weak vessels.
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” 2 Corinthians 4:5-7.
During this Advent season, we watch and wait for God to return and be strong in us. As He shines through us, He becomes the light for all to see his miraculous hope.
This Sunday we will continue our theme, “More Than a Miracle on 34th.” During the first service, our service will be in the Worship Center and our Children will lead our worship during the second service. They will perform their musical – A Joyful Noise. Invite someone to worship with you this week.
May you encounter Jesus today as you seek for Him in all He is doing around you.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene