“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 1.4
Do you remember when you first heard about Jesus? Maybe it was at this time of year, a school nativity, or church service perhaps. Or maybe it was someone telling you about God and what He meant to them. Almost all of us have a journey of faith, maybe a long one, or maybe you are just starting out on it.
One thing I’ve learnt about my journey of faith is that the most significant things that have helped me on that road have been some of the people I’ve shared that journey with. A Sunday School teacher, youth leader, friends or mentor who have all been people who’s faith has inspired and challenged me and caused me to think about my own. This journey is never complete while we walk this earth and I can honestly say that some of those people have been so important to my own journey that I want to echo Paul’s words from Corinthians - and thank God for the grace that was given to them in Jesus.
Who has impacted your life this year? Who are the significant people who have challenged you in your walk with God? Or maybe simply there has been someone who has been there for you in a time of need.
Take some time today to thank God for those people who mean the most to you.
Pray for someone who has been important to you this year.
Take time to think of someone who has been important to you this year. Tell them in a Christmas card why they mean so much to you.
‘’And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need.’’
There are various reasons to why people look forward to Christmas but one possible reason could be the tradition of giving gifts and presents. Some people might find this an annual challenge and a costly practice while others passionately anticipate and relish the idea of exchanging gifts with their loved ones. Regardless of your view in this matter, there is such a pivotal interior symbol that conform to God’s nature and reflect Christ to the practice of giving and considering others.
Think about it! - how valued you’d feel resulting from courtesy and generosity in receiving a gift solely given from an act of love. Is this not an ideal way of building relationships and strong community? One that is centred around selflessness and consideration of others and displayed in a practical way? If only we could incorporate such spirit in our present world, how many hearts will be melted and encouraged to live another day?
What an ideal society! One that begins in us sacrificing our pursuits and focuses on living in harmony with others, showing concern for humanity in need and sharing of provisions!
Pray that your life will be more filled with love than possessions.
Practice sharing and giving frequently even when feeling inconvenient, encouraging togetherness.Why not clear out a room, a cupboard or a shelf - give away as much of it as you can
“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”
Often life, and the pressures within life, seem to saturate our minds: bills, finances, responsibilities, studies, etc. As we can all recall in this journey of a life time, each season presents different challenges which draw and capture our attention and become the centre of our focus. It is easier to set life on what we want and need than to settle on what we have presently, which can leave us disappointed.
The Psalmist of the day commits himself to give thanks to God for the good things and deeds in his life. The unpurchaseable gift present is the breath of life which offers our earthly experiences. That truth in itself should be the driving focus of our attention which is the greatest asset given to us possible for all our pleasures.
Think about it: there are plenty of things to be so grateful for - the design of food, families (loved ones), creation around us - these are all pleasant gifts in life provided by God. Above all: life eternal provided by the Advent of Jesus Christ. That is something worthy of our attention and focus which will change our approach, outlook and experience of life to a more positive mood.
Give thanks to God for the good things in your life.
Think back over the last year: what made you most happy? Thank God for this.
“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
2 Corinthians 8.9
Christmas is all about generosity. But I am not talking about us sharing presents with each other. What I mean is that the Bible tells us Jesus was there with God in the beginning, but then chose to leave all that behind to come and live on earth and experience life as we experience it. It would be like Bill Gates, the richest man in 2016 with a net worth of around $75.0 billion giving it all up and coming to live in Oldham - one of the most deprived parts of the UK currently.
Actually its nothing like that but you get the idea.
Jesus coming down to earth as a baby being born into a poor Jewish family in a backwater town and then living his love for others is all about generosity.
And the thing about generosity is that it’s contagious. When someone is generous towards you, it often makes you want to be generous to them or others, paying it forward.
Jesus gave up everything for you - including His life, so that you may experience the abundant love of God. This Advent we hope that as you journey with us you will see something of that contagious generosity and start to share it with others, not just swapping presents but sharing entire lives with one another and sharing the story of Jesus with those you meet.
Pray that you might feel the love of Jesus and catch the contagious joy of generosity this Advent.
Find a jar or pot to collect coins in. Collect them through Advent and then give them to a charity.
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Christmas, for many, is an extremely busy and full time in life. Lots of plays, parties, and preparation. It seems to be that we are so frantically getting ready that we end up arriving at Christmas exhausted and in need of a break. Whether it is preparing for Christmas, or trying to finish off projects, coursework or jobs between now and Christmas most people seem to go into ‘silly mode’. In the busyness of this season, it is often easy to forget what it’s really all about; to miss that Advent is all about preparing for Christmas - about making space in our lives to think about Jesus and his coming.
Our Bible passage today speaks of preparing for the coming of God into our world. We now know that this was a prophecy about the birth of Jesus, about how people need to be ready to receive Him when he comes. The wilderness is a place of nothing, very little lives there or grows there and I think Isaiah is calling us to find the wilderness place in our lives - where we have space.
If you were stuck in the wilderness - no phone signal, no noise, no people you would have space to think, to reflect - assuming you’re not panicking about being stuck in the desert! This Advent I want to encourage you to find the little place of the wilderness in your life, maybe 5 minutes of each day that everything is switched off and you lock yourself away from the rest of the world. Why? So that you can make room to encounter God.
Pray that this Advent you will find time and space to encounter God.
Make a place in your home or life where you will think about Advent, and make it as special as you can. Maybe put an Advent candle there, or something else to help you focus on the daily readings to help you prepare for the Lord.