Three men on a long road trip stop and ask directions. No, it’s not the first line of a joke; it’s the truth. What they asked, and what they found, changed history forever.
Artists by the thousands have endeavored to capture on canvas the faces and gestures of the characters in the original Christmas story. Look at key moments in the gospel birth narrative through the eyes of great works.
Perseverance rocks. We have more clichés, mottoes and slogans about perseverance than any other virtue. Hang in there. Tough it out. And so on. Perseverance is how you go from wish to fulfillment. All it takes is stick-to-it-iveness.
SCRIPTURE: James 1:1-4
One occasionally bumps into a paradox while examining the Christian life. In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul says that spreading peace is a weapon of our warfare. This Sunday, we'll examine how one "wages" peace in Jesus' name.
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 6:10-18
Unlike armor you wear, the shield is a tool used for specific times in battle, such as for protection when advancing. If you’re getting fiery arrows in your life, that means you’re a strategic person in God’s kingdom.
How do we wear spiritual armor in 21st century culture? The best defense is a good offense. We need to stay constantly on the offensive, using a simple strategy with three parts.
SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Why do so many of the Bible’s glowing phrases feel like unfulfilled promises? We’re not wearing our armor. The world, the flesh and the devil are creaming us. We’re unarmed with what we think is clunky spiritual discipline and unable to wear Christ’s victory.
For many of us, prayer is something we do, like brushing our teeth. For Jesus, it was a way of life that opened the floodgates of heaven.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 11:1-13
When friend requests are digital and we move an average of 11 times in a lifetime, community can be hard to come by. The early followers of Jesus knew each other, cared for each other and shared life together—and people noticed. Where is your community?
SCRIPTURE: Acts 2:42-47
The Bible is consistently one of the best-selling books in the world. At the same time it is one of the least understood. We respect the Bible – but we don’t read it. Many simply lack the confidence to open this book on their own. The best way to develop skill in reading the Bible for yourself is to simply read it for yourself.
SCRIPTURE: Acts 2:42; Psalm 119
If this is the infinite infant, God, naked and vulnerable, here with us tonight, that changes everything. A warm, happy holiday response won’t do. There is no more important need than to fall to our knees and give ourselves totally to him.
SCRIPTURE: John 1, Luke 2
When Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, her life is in shambles. But at her meeting with Elizabeth come joy, excitement and comprehension. This is the importance of family and friends.
Mary simply took news of her out of wedlock conception on faith. By surrendering her life, Mary became the girl through whom God changed the world. In becoming a part of God’s mission, Mary found significance.
After Gabriel’s announcement to Mary we might expect that she would know exactly who her son was. But when the infant Jesus was on the threshold of adolescence he baffled his parents by calling God his “Father.” Like Mary, our grasp of who Jesus is may strengthen slowly, over time.
Ever notice that the best news is the hardest to believe? Over the years Zachariah and Elizabeth found ways of coping with the pain of not having had a child. The one thing they could not handle would be to get their hopes up again. So Zechariah says to a singing angel, ”Go away… Get out of my life.”
SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:5-25
Common grace is the idea that God can bring us a touch of his love and make us smile through the simple, everyday things of life. What are the simple gifts right under your nose that you’re missing?
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 145, James 1:17
Nehemiah tackled a city restoration job on the order of post-Katrina New Orleans. Chaos and death reigned in the streets as rival war lords battled for control. His task, and ours today, is to restore compassion, service, justice.
SCRIPTURE: Nehemiah 1:1-11
If we stand tall like Hezekiah, God will prove faithful. No matter how insignificant or marginalized you may feel, or how mighty our culture's pressure, be strong. God is in control.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 37
Solomon had riches beyond compare, yet died unhappy. His wealth had created a lukewarm cauldron that eventually cooked him. God gives to us not for our sake but in order for us to give.
SCRIPTURE: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11