Monday, December 19, 2011

What will your gift be?

This is the devotional I shared at Awana/T&T last week. :)

Matthew 2:1-12 gives us an account of the wise men who discovered the star in the east, recognized it as a sign that the King of the Jews had been born, made the journey to seek Him out, and gave our Lord gifts.

I can go on and on about how there were likely not only (or as many as) 3 wise men, what their heritage might have been and why they recognized this sign and sought Christ out, and I can question the timing of when the wise men found Jesus and whether they should be included in the nativity scenes.

But I won't.

Instead, I want to focus on the gifts they gave: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

  • Gold-a gift worthy to give to a King

  • Frankincense-used in the temple and, when burnt, symbolized the prayers of the people going up to heaven (and God)... possibly symbolically recognizing Christ as our High Priest

  • Myrrh-a costly aromatic ointment used in many of which was to be used on the dead...and this was one of the things used on Christ's body after He had died on the cross. (John 19:38)

These gifts were costly. And one might speculate that they provided the means to support Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they fled to Egypt and those years in which they remained there.

So, all this to say: What will you give Him as you celebrate His birth? How might your gift be used to further His kingdom?

Pondering this today...

Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Romans 12: Live peacably with all men...

I picked up a copy of Our Daily Bread at a local church, partly in remembrance of my grandma, who would often use this publication for her devotional time.

I wanted to share one of the Scriptures from the other day's reading, as well as my thoughts pertaining to it.

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Christmas is a time of year when one of the pervading themes is "Peace!".  Yet, with the hustle and bustle of life (that only gets more and more so this time of year), it's easy to lose touch with both the inner peace in our relationship with Christ, as well as the peace we need to be living out in our day to day walk. Road rage? Rude fellow shoppers? Arguments between family and friends due to being overstressed and overwhelmed and (let's admit it) sometimes irrational? Yeah, not exactly conducive to peace.

How can we live peaceably with all men (and women, and children....)?

1. It's about making ourselves presentable to God. Or rather, it's about setting ourselves aside and living a sacrificial, holy life, acceptable to God. (vs.1)
We aren't to blend in to this world and its sinful ways.  Rather, in having our minds renewed by Christ and His Word, we are to be changed and show what is the "good, acceptable, and perfect will of God" (vs. 2). This doesn't mean we stand out on the edge of a funeral of someone who lived some way we don't feel was right and protest. That is not a way to live peaceably with all men and promote the love of Christ.  In fact, it often has quite the opposite effect.
We are not to approach the world with a prideful, self righteous attitude (vs. 3 we are "not to think of <ourselves> more highly than <we> ought to think").

Let's read further.

2. It's about finding your place in the body of Christ and serving there. Verse 4-5 tells us that the followers of Christ each have a job to do. Much like the eye or the hand or the foot or any of the other parts of a physical body have their own purpose and "job description", we each as believers have a gift or talent(s) that we have been given to use to serve God and others.

"As each one does his part, the body <of Christ> grows in love" Ephesians 4:16 (NET)
"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." I Peter 4:10 (NKJV)

There are many gifts listed in Romans 12:6-9, as well as how we are to use them.  More gifts are listed in other Scriptures (I Cor. 12-14, Eph 4, I Peter 4...) .

What is your gift or talent? Are you using it to serve Him?

Is your focus on Christ and using your gifts for Him, or is your focus on being served?

3. Show brotherly love. vs 9-16 Read these verses to see how we should be interacting with each other in various life settings. The things that jump out to me are that in the midst of it all, we need to be serving the Lord, praying, blessing (and not cursing) others.

4. When Conflict Comes: It's not about the other person: it's about you.Vs. 17-21
Conflict inevitably happens at one time or another. This is where the verse about living in peace with all men comes into play.

When someone insults or hurts us in some way, intentional or not, we are not to do the same to them. We are not justified in doing so, no matter how much we feel we are.  We are to "do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable" vs. 17 (NLT)

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
I am not responsible for anyone else's behavior: only my own.  You are responsible for your own behavior. Own it. (Matthew 7 and Luke 6 are other good places to read on this topic)

Revenge is for the Lord to decide and do: not for us. (vs. 19) It's not up to me to seek revenge (or even be passive-aggressive).

Bless your enemy--look for his needs and help him out (vs. 20)

and the last verse:
"Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good." (vs. 21) (NLT)

The Bible tells us to be quick to hear, slow to speak....slow to anger. (James 1:19) Take some time to digest whatever situation is at hand, whether the kids are driving you crazy, someone cuts you off in traffic, someone grabs the last item at the store that you were hunting for to complete your gift list...whatever.

Assign positive intent to the people that wrong you. And when you can't think of any sort of possible positive intent, still choose to bless that person.  (Romans 12:20)

So, let me challenge you to examine yourself and how you are doing in your walk with Christ. First, have you accepted his free gift of salvation from sin? How is He working on you? How is He asking you to serve Him? What gifts has He given you? How do you fit into the body of Christ, and are you doing what you are called to do in service to Christ (and others)?  Are you possibly doing something that you are not called by Him to do?  Are you emulating Christ, both to your Christian brother and sister and to unbelievers?

Let your light shine for Jesus this Christmas season!
Blessings to you and yours!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Christmas Devotional and Challenge: The Light of the World

This is the devotional/object lesson I shared with the T&T Awana kids this week.

Here are the items I used:
  • Accessible Electrical outlet
  • Lit Christmas tree
  • 2 additional trees, strung with lights but not lit yet. (Be sure the strings of lights will plug into each other)
  • A nativity scene set up under the trees (optional, but helps with focus)

What makes light bulbs work? (allow for kids to answer one by one)
Answer: They have to be connected to a source of power, don't they? Well, today this Christmas tree is plugged into the electrical outlet, which is the source of power. So the electrical outlet for this lesson is symbolizing God, and the lit tree here is hooked up to God and is our symbol for Jesus.

Read John 8:12.
 12Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world: he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.(NKJV)

So, what is this saying? Jesus says that He is the Light of the world, and that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.  What is the light of life? (allow kids to give an answer)
The light of life is eternal life with Him. (define eternal if needed)  If we turn from our sins (define sin), which are what He is talking about when He says "darkness", and trust Jesus to save us from our sins, we will have the light of life. We will get to go be with Him, forever, someday.

Refer to lit tree and review that the lit tree symbolizes Jesus being the Light of the world.

Now let's look at Matthew 5:14-16
In this passage, Jesus is talking to his disciples, most of whom are believers.
  14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidden.
   15Nor do they light a lamp, and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all that are in the house.
   16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.(NKJV)

So, Jesus is telling believers that they are the light of the world. Imagine a city on a hill and the light it shines at night. (Have a  helper turn off the room light to accentuate this point--and the lit tree) Can that city be hidden? No. Do you turn on your nightlight at night and then cover it up so you can't see it? No.  A light is meant to be seen: it is meant to shine. And Jesus tells us here in Matthew that the reason we should shine is so that people will see our good works and glorify God the Father in heaven.

So, Jesus is the Light of the world. (gesture to the lit tree)
Jesus says here in Matthew that we (believers) are to be the light of the world as well. Where do we get our power to shine? (Allow for kids to answer: Jesus! and plug the cord to one of the unlit trees into the Jesus tree cord)

What are some ways that we can shine for Jesus? (Allow kids to answer. Answers may include, but are not limited to:  telling others with words, singing about Jesus so others can hear, giving to people, sharing verses we have memorized with others, going to church and bringing a friend, etc)

What is the purpose for which we are letting our light shine? (to glorify our Father in heaven)

Look at this other tree that is not lit.  It has lights, but is not hooked up to the source of power. Maybe it doesn't even know there is a source of power and that it can even be plugged in.  There are people we meet every day that have not heard of Jesus or know why He came to earth. Perhaps if we told them (let our light shine), they might also trust Jesus to save them from their sins and they too can be hooked up to the source of power (God/Jesus) and let their own lights shine as well! (Plug in the unlit tree, preferably into the other tree lights)

Let's share the Light of Jesus with others!

Close with Go Tell it on the Mountain or This Little Light of Mine.

Or if you're looking for a more "adult" hymn: "The Light of the World is Jesus"

Or something with a bit more, uh, flair. :) Jesus is the Light of the World by Carmen

Welcome and Introduction!

Welcome to Wordy Musings.

I am creating this blog as a platform on which to record my thoughts pertaining to Scripture, the lesson plans I create to use in my various ministries, and how God is working in my day to day life.

I pray that this blog will be a blessing to others as I share my thoughts and insights, but most importantly I want to be pointing to the Word of God: Jesus Christ.

May this blog be a beacon of light--may it be an extension of me, as I strive to be a light to the world, powered by Jesus, the Light of the world.

To God be the glory!