Saturday, December 24, 2022

  It is Christmas 2022, another year gone by - a new one waiting . A time to reflect on what was important in 2022 and pray for God's blessing to rest on the new year.  .

I want to wish you and your families a most blessed Christmas season with the blessings that come from the One who IS the reason we celebrate with love for Him and one another. 

Last  Sunday was  the 4th Advent of Christmas and it is the 'best' .. LOVE ... 
Listen to Rosemary Siemens sing the beautiful hymn "The love of God "  and make sure to keep listening after her song as she tells the story behind the song.   

Devotional Thoughts on LOVE 

The first three Advents are Hope, Peace, Joy - all wonderful emotions we hold close to our heart.  They warm us , encourage us, give us the strength to persevere through this earthly life.  But- LOVE - is different. 
 Love is -- an action. It  must be acted upon to be experienced.  Without action, it is cold, lifeless.  It is not something we hold for ourselves - it is not rooted in quiet devotional thoughts, or even meditation on God's Word.  No, it's worth is only felt, experienced, realized as it is  acted out.! 
Love is --  self-less. Love is unsatisfying, meaningless when it is directed inward - hoping to be consumed, fed by our selfish inclinations and desires.  Love is something that is only fulfilling and meaningful when we give it away!  Just like a 'runner' is not a runner until he 'runs'  so also love is not love until it 'runs\' from one to another giving the gift that warms another's heart. It is the only gift we can give, and receive it in the giving. 
Did you notice in the first verse of the song, The Love of God,  how it expresses God's 'love-in-action' ?   He 'gave' ,  He 'reconciled', He 'pardoned' !   John 3:16, God so loved that He 'gave', and He gives still to you and me ! 
Love is -- costly.  We need only think about God's expression of love in that He gave His only Son, to suffer and die on our behalf to recognize the incredible cost to Him.  Only LOVE will move someone to give their life for another - unworthy though they be!  So also we, no matter how much loving someone might cost us -- the cost is always less than the worth of the love given. We cannot out give 'love'.  

I know Christmas has in many ways been secularized but even in trying to push "Christ" out of Christmas, no one has been able to remove 'love' from the season,  from the traditions and the celebrations we all enjoy.  What other time of year so stirs people's generosity than the Christmas season --  the giving in so many ways,  toy drives, hampers, dinners, volunteering at  charities and donating to those in need,  caroling at nursing homes, sharing Christmas baking with shut-ins, family reunions , filling shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse, Christmas banquets ....etc. 
I pray that this Christmas and throughout the New Year, love will be our ACTION word. May we start each day asking God to show us where we can 'act-out'  the precious gift of 'love'. 

PRAYER - "Dear Father, thank you for your incredible love that was enacted on our behalf. May our response be to love you in return!.  Your love shed abroad in our hearts - not to keep for ourselves but to give to those whose lives we touch.  Not only to those that love us but also to those who do not love us.  
May your hope and peace and joy in our hearts move us to express our love in action to others, no matter what the cost may be!  
I pray for a safe holiday season -- protect those who travel, protect from harm and accident. Keep us in your joy and peace.
May our eyes be stayed on you  so that this world grows strangely dim.  Only the things of you are of eternal value and we put our trust in you, because there is no other!  In Jesus' Holy Name we pray, amen."