“O give thanks to the Lord for he is good…his mercy endures forever.”
We are at the end of another year.
“Can you believe it?”
“Each year goes by faster than the next.”
“What will next year hold?”
“Are you going to make New Year’s resolutions?”
“I can’t wait to start the new year. This one was horrible.”
Perhaps these are some of the thoughts you have as you end one year and begin the next.
Your perspective of the year drawing to a close forms your enthusiasm or lack of it for the year ahead.
Let me invite us to end the year with a reflection on all the blessings that God has given. Perhaps those blessings have come in different ways. Here’s a few Scriptures and questions to reflect on:
- What blessings have come in the day to day routine of life? The Lord love and mercy are new every day!
Lamentations 3: 22-24 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
- What blessings have come from the challenges and hardships of this year?
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- What celebrations did you have this year that remind you of the Lord’s faithfulness?
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- How has God grown and developed your faith in him this year?
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
- How has the Lord shown his presence and strengthened you this year?
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- List what you would consider the top 10 blessings from the Lord this year. (Remember blessings come in things we consider good or bad!)
Numbers 6:24-26 “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
Our family had many celebrations this year…confirmation, graduation, work anniversaries, significant birthdays. Each was and is a reminder of the goodness of the Lord and his constant presence and blessings. As you reflect on 2022, may the Lord bring to mind his many mercies and his many blessings. Know with confidence, that as he has been with you in 2022, he will go with you into 2023!
Happy New Year to all!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for going with us and providing your presence and blessings in 2022. In your mercy, go with us to strengthen, guide and bless us in the year ahead! AMEN.
If you were busy last night, take time today to join us for worship
Crosspoint Church – 3800 Shell Road, Georgetown, TX 78628
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(Reprinted from 12/25/2020)
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” —Luke 2:10-11
There’s been so much bad news this year in the era of doomscrolling. How about some good news headlines?
History brings us some momentous ones: “Peace. Greatest War of All Time Over.” “Victory. Nazis Reveal Surrender.” “Man Walks on the Moon.” “Nelson Mandela Freed.” But we can also find these feel-good stories from the past year: “A 6-year-old ordered $350 in Barbies from Amazon. Her parents gave them to a hospital.” “A farmer fell ill. So dozens of his neighbors showed up spontaneously and harvested his crops.” “Bride and groom had extra food. So they took it to a shelter and served it.”
Today we celebrate the best, most momentous news of all time: Christ has come! Jesus is here! He comes in the midst of troubling times. He brings hope in our despair. He brings peace in our worry. He brings joy in our sorrow. He brings love in our conflict. He brings life in our death. This is the good news angels announced in the night. It is the good news we can proclaim on this morning. Jesus is who we expectantly await in Advent, and Jesus is who we celebrate at Christmas. He is the Good News no matter how troubling the times. Jesus is here. Jesus will come again. Jesus will never leave us.
In Jesus, let’s celebrate with hope, peace, love, and joy in our hearts as we worship with the angels: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom
his favor rests.”
Apply: How will you rejoice and celebrate today? How can you carry Christ’s hope, peace, joy, and love forward with you all year?
(Reprinted with permission from Outreach.com “Advent Reading Plan”)
TONIGHT: Find the HEART of CHRISTMAS!
Christmas Eve Worship – 5pm
In person @ Crosspoint Church, 3800 Shell Road, Georgetown, TX
Online: Live Stream
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. —Luke 2:4-5
“This is sooo not what we need right now!” Mary and Joseph must have thought when they found out they had to report in Bethlehem for that Roman census. Mary should have been at home nesting, preparing the nursery, cleaning the cupboards, or weirdly reorganizing the hut for the twelfth time. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. But instead of those final preparations, Mary had to endure a 90-mile journey on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
In pregnancy, you know the time is drawing near, but you never know exactly when the baby is coming. There are contractions. There may be false starts. But one moment you are rearranging the kitchen, and the next, labor has begun. There’s no going back. Your body and mind completely focus on the process of labor. This new life is entering the world, and your life will never be exactly the same.
In these moments, there is joy and there is uncertainty. There is contentment and there is expectation. There is the planned and the unexpected. There is completion and there is the journey ahead. Here on Christmas Eve, we find all the same things.
As we finish our Christmas preparations, let’s also pause to rest a few minutes in the expectant now. The celebration will erupt. The emotions will swirl. The memories will be created. Our lives will add another new day, a special day not exactly like any other, and in that sense, our lives will never be the same. Like Mary, let’s ponder and treasure these moments in our hearts as we reflect on this threshold of birth and life, expectation and celebration, and God turned human in our hearts and lives.
Apply: What is heavy on your heart in the anticipation of Christmas? What is joyful in your expectant spirit?
(Reprinted from 12/24/2020 with permission from Outreach.com “Advent Reading Plan”)
Devotions this week based on Sunday’s Message: LOVE is the Heart of Christmas! (LISTEN HERE)
So you just have a today and tomorrow to find the perfect gift…hopefully your shopping is done by now!
Finding the perfect gift for the people in your life is certainly challenging. Hopefully our devotions have given you some practical thoughts based on God’s Perfect Gift of love to you. A perfect gift is personal, priceless (given from a heart of love), timeless, and practical.
But outside of God’s love for you, it’s hard to find a gift that matches all of these…which is why God’s love is such the perfect gift.
But there’s one more attribute of God’s Perfect Gift…it causes celebration!
You can probably recall a Christmas git you received (or watched another person receive) that as soon as they saw what was inside they dropped the package half opened and threw their hands up in the air, yelling “YES!!! It’s what I ALWAYS wanted!” After the yell there may be a spontaneous “happy dance” around the family room, shouting and yelling joyful glee. Mom and Dad or whoever gave the gift may get a huge hug and a large “THANK YOU!” as part of the celebration for receiving THE perfect gift!
The Gospel of Luke records the shepherd’s celebration in Luke 2:20:
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
As Luke “carefully investigated” the life and work of Jesus, I wonder if had the chance to interview one of the shepherds? If he did, I wonder if the excitement returned as the shepherd recounted the appearance of the angels, the visitation to the manger in Bethlehem and the return through Bethlehem which found them telling anyone who would listen!
Perhaps it was a spontaneous “happy dance”! YES! God did give us what he has promised us for a long time! YES! God gave me exactly what I needed…a Savior. If I could run and give God a hug, I would…YES! What a perfect gift!
Christmas Day is a special day for us as Christians. While we know what’s “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in manger” is Jesus, the impact causes celebration every time we peer into the manger and see Jesus, our Savior born for YOU and me!
YES! What a perfect gift!
Don’t let your meal prep, your family gatherings, your travel, your unwrapping of presents or anything else get in the way of celebrating the perfect gift God has given to you. Make it a point to go to your local church Saturday and Sunday. Take your friends and family with you!
If nothing else as you are unwrapping gifts, just spontaneously stand up and yell, “YES!” Do a happy dance! Give someone a hug! And when you have everyone’s attention, simply say, “God gave me and us the perfect gift, the gift I’ve always wanted and needed…Jesus.”
Jesus is THE perfect gift!
Prayer: Lord thank you for giving all of us THE perfect gift at Christmas…your son, Jesus, our Savior. AMEN.
Devotions this week based on Sunday’s Message: LOVE is the Heart of Christmas! (LISTEN HERE)
3 days until Christmas and Happy Birthday to my mom!
Still on the quest for the perfect gift?
Time is running short…but don’t give up!
The insight today about the perfect gift might be a little controversial. Some really like sentimental gifts and they don’t have to have really any use other than they sit on a shelf and remind the person of the one who gave the gift.
However, some people like practical gifts, gifts that have some sort of use. (Note: I am not encouraging husbands to give their wives a kitchen appliance…however, wives, if you get your husband a tool for their shop…that’s ok.)
While a perfect gift doesn’t have to be practical, perhaps the person to whom you are giving a gift would enjoy a gift that has a very practical use to it.
The PERFECT gift of God’s love is very practical. In fact, God didn’t just give us his love in the manger of Bethlehem to keep to ourselves. He desires that once we receive his love we put it into practice and share it.
The Apostle John understood God’s love and the impact of putting that love into practice.
1 John 4:7-12 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
The practical impact of God giving us his love in the person and work of Jesus Christ is a) “that we might live through him.” God’s love is not just an emotional feeling (while it does create that feeling) but it has a use for us personally: to secure eternal life with the Father in heaven. As Jesus grew up, lived a perfect life and offered his life on the cross, he had the intended result that his life would bring us eternal life…and it does. Secondly, the impact of God giving us his love in the person and work of Jesus Christ is that b) we love others, making God visible to others. God’s love is to be shared with the people around us. While his love is a personal blessing, it is a gift that is to be regifted…over and over again. The impact of us showing the love of God to others? Others see and experience the love of God through us. In fact, God’s love is not complete in us until we love others. In essence God is reminding us that if we don’t see the practical importance and real impact of his love, we have lost the significance of his gift of love.
Makes sense, right? If you receive something for Christmas that you a) don’t know what it is and b) don’t know how to use it, you will never receive the blessing of that gift. On the other hand when you know what it is AND use it, you experience the complete blessing of that gift.
So it is with God’s love. It is the perfect gift. It is practical…giving eternal life to you and through you giving God’s love to others.
Apply: Do you like practical gifts? What makes God’s love so practical for you?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for giving to us a gift that brings impact to our lives and eternity and through us to the lives of others. AMEN.