What’s Next?

A Devotion by Joe G

“What’s Next?”

12/29/2022

John 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19-20

You may have heard or read me say this before, but one of my favorite television shows was “The West Wing.” The show ran for seven years and showed the inner workings of the White House and the relationship between the President of the United States and his staff.

Although the show was based on a Democratic president being in office, I always felt it could have worked with a Republican as well.

The fictional President’s name in the series was Josiah Bartlett. He was a direct descendant of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In the series, you would sometimes hear President Bartlett interrupt or end a conversation by saying, “Okay, what’s next?”

During his first run for President, some of his staff members were repeating and harping on specific agenda items. So, Bartlett would say, “What’s next?” And, when one of his staffers would say, “But sir, we need to discuss this further,” or “I want to make sure you understand the consequences of your decision.”

Finally, future president Bartlett explained. “When I say, ‘What’s next,’ I’m ready to move onto other things.”

********************************The Point**************************

It’s almost the beginning of the New Year. So, what’s your “What’s Next”? Are you moving forward or staying the same?

As Christians, our “What’s Next” is not just what’s coming up next on the Church Calendar. Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Advent, Christmas. It’s not a routine of our church year.

Our “What’s Next?” is, “How do you and I continue to learn about God and His plan for salvation? Good question. We continue to read God’s Word, engage in Bible studies, attend church services, and build fellowship with those around us. By doing so, we keep God’s plan for humanity alive and fresh in our minds, hearts, and on our lips.

“What’s Next?” is, what can you and I do to continue the spread of God’s saving Grace? Some things we’ll do the same, like, attending church, bible studies, reading devotions, and engaging in fellowship and outreach events.

And other things we will need to do differently. So, you may be asking, “Why do I or we need to change and do outreach and discipleship differently?”

Every person on this planet is different. Sadly, we are mistaken if we as a church try to put everyone into one category, “Christian,” and think that’s the end of it. Everyone is different! Everyone learns and understands differently. There is no single perfect way to spread the Gospel of Jesus of Christ to the billions of people on this planet.

So, how do we do this? First, we become more like Jesus. He met people where they were. Jesus went out to the people and filled their needs where they were. Before Jesus fed the 5000, He didn’t exclaim, “Okay, if you believe I’m the Son of God, I’ll feed you, but if you don’t, you’re just out of luck.”

No, Jesus took care of the people’s needs. He fed them because they were hungry, not because they were followers. Jesus provided for people when they needed feeding and healed them when they were sick or hurting. And on the night before He died, He washed His disciples’ feet, telling them to do as He did. Jesus was and is a servant to all. He asks us to do the same.

Serve others, love others, help others and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

God sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. Guess what? Mission Accomplished. Now it’s our job to be like Jesus and spread the Good News of God’s Salvation.

What’s Next? Listen to Jesus’ word and follow His command.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Amen

Have a Blessed New Year

(Joe G.)

Overwhelmed by Jesus

A Devotion by Joe G.

“Overwhelmed by Jesus!”

December 24, 2022

John 3:16

This time of year, it’s very easy to be overwhelmed. We shop for a tree to trip in our home. We plan and attend holiday parties. Then, of course, there’s all the shopping for gifts, the traffic, the crowds, and cooking. And somewhere in there, many of us try and squeeze in a worship service or two as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Christ.

About 11 years ago, when my Grandson Keegan was two years old, we had all of the family over to our house for Christmas Day. We conversed, ate, laughed, watched football, and after dinner, we opened presents.

Usually, I hand out the presents to everyone until there are none left under the tree, and then we take turns opening the gifts. However, this year was special; as mentioned earlier, Keegan turned two a month before Christmas.

As usual, and as it should be, the kids all got the most gifts. But for Keegan, the was a bit overwhelming. You see, after I kept handing gifts out, Keegan had close to 30 gifts to open.

Just watching his eyes, I could see he was “overwhelmed” by the mountain of gifts in front of him. Instead of digging in and unwrapping his presents, he just looked at all the beautifully wrapped gifts and didn’t know where to start. He’s looking at the gifts and then up at the family. Again, he was totally overwhelmed. Between his mother, my daughter Heather, and I, we worked with him to open all the gifts. Of course, once they were all open, he now had the overwhelming decision of, “What do I play with first!”

I have to say, at the age of 71, the gifts I receive at Christmas are great. And I love buying gifts for family and friends. But none of this overwhelms me like the birth of our Savior, Jesus, does.

***************************The Point***********************

This is probably an odd way to say this, but Jesus, the Son of God, was born to die. This is what overwhelms me. Not the trees, the gifts, the Hallmark Christmas movies (Okay, some of those are pretty good), and not even the getting together with family and friends. No, it’s Jesus. He overwhelms me.

Each day, as Christians, you and I can get up in the morning and know that no matter what happens. Jesus was born for you and me. Jesus died for you and me. Jesus’ arms are open, and He wants to guide, embrace, love, and show us the way. He did it! He saved us from our sins.

His Father sent Him to live amongst us, teach, rebuke, love, guide, but most of all, to die for you and me. I am in awe as I write these words; yes, I am overwhelmed.

So, tonight, tomorrow (Christmas Day), go to church. Make God a priority. Pray, sing, and thank God for sending His Son.

Oh, and one more thing:

“Be Overwhelmed by what He did for You!”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Amen.

The Key Word is Love

A Devotion by Joe G

“The key word is Love.”

12/22/2022

John 15:12; John 3:16

Yesterday, my wife, Kathy, and I went Christmas shopping at the Mall in Melbourne, Florida. We didn’t need much, as we were only stopping in two stores.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my wife Kathy has Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.). Over the years, her ability to walk without a walker has become almost impossible. However, she can go without one in our kitchen, where we have counters and an island that she can use for balance.

She also has an electric scooter. It has made getting around easier for her when we go to certain stores and especially at Disney World. Unfortunately, because of my two back surgeries in June, I still cannot take her electric cart out of the back of the car for fear of reinjuring myself.

So, when we got to the mall yesterday, I knew she wanted to go inside. So, I told her, “If you feel you can handle it, I’ll drop you off in front of the mall with your walker, and then I’ll park the car.”

She wanted to do just that. So, I dropped her off at the nearest entrance to Yankee Candle, and then I parked the car. I met her at the door, and our adventure began.

As I said, Kathy uses a walker all of the time, but because of her M.S. limitations, she walks very slowly. So as we walked through the mall, I tried to stay close by, or at times, I’d forget and find myself 20 feet in front of her. When I did that, I’d stop and peruse the shops and people around me and did my best not to act or be impatient.

We did stop once to lean against a short wall, as Kathy tires quickly when walking. Finally, we arrived at Yankee Candle. We took our time and then made our purchases.

After we left the store, I mentioned to Kathy that there was a “SEEs” pop-up not far from us and on the way to the next exit from the mall. (Sees is a candy store in California known for their peppermint patties).

As Sees was a bit out of the way, Kathy headed toward the exit, and I walked down to Sees and made a purchase. I caught up with Kathy at the far end of the food court. I could see she was struggling, so I suggested we sit for a few minutes, which we did.

I then walked her out of the mall to a bench she could sit on while I retrieved the car. But, unfortunately, I didn’t realize how far the entrance we had entered was. So, it took me about ten minutes to get back to our car, drive to where Kathy was and load her and her walker into the car.

You might say, wow, that was a lot of work for two stores and just a couple of purchases. It’s true, but I know it was harder physically for her than it was for me.

Why would I do all of that just to go to two stores? I do it out of Love. Just as many of you do so much for your own spouses and friends for the same reason.

****************************The Point************************

As a Christian, thinking of the word or act of Love is difficult to do without thinking about Jesus. As the verse above says, “We Love Because He First Loved us.”

Jesus preached Love everywhere He went.

While Jesus was here on earth:

He healed countless people; why? Out of Love for them.

He raised several people from the dead; why? Out of Love for them and their families.

He showed Love and respect for women. Remember the woman at the well who had, had many husbands? He showed her Love.

Then, there was the woman who was going to be stoned. Yet, Jesus saved her even though she was a sinner. Why? Because He loved her.

We are all sinners, and He came to forgive us and set us on a path of righteousness. Why? Because He loves us.

God loves us, you and me, so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to earth to die a horrible death for our sins.

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16

In just three days, it will be Christmas. Families will get together to eat and exchange gifts. Remember to care for one another, take care of one another and be good to each other.

 Don’t forget the greatest gift God has ever given His creation (You and Me), His Christmas present to you and me, His Son Jesus.

God is Love.

We love because He first (and always will) love us.

Amen.

Anger or love, it’s your choice

A Devotion by Joe G.

December 19, 2022

“Anger or love, it’s a choice.”

1 John 4:9-11; Matthew 22:35b-40

It’s difficult, isn’t it? I mean, to love one another. It’s hard, isn’t it? As I read this morning’s news, I saw yet another case of road rage. It landed both drivers in the hospital. Was it worth it? From my perspective, I’d say no. However, from the perspective of one or both of the drivers, they may feel they were justified in what they did.

Throughout my life, I’ve had many people with whom I’ve become angry, if not enraged. But, justified or not, someone always got physically or emotionally hurt.

When we’re angry, the tricky thing is to “Let it Go.” Yeah, I just copied Elsa from the movie, “Frozen,” but it’s true. We are not judge and jury; that’s God’s job, not ours.

Age and wisdom have tempered a lot of my anger toward others. But I’m not perfect by any means. So on occasion, I still get angry. And, every time I do, I inevitably regret later that I had.

**********************The Point**********************

It seems so simple, doesn’t it?

“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

But we all know it isn’t that easy. We live with a sinful nature; at times, we fight with, argue, hurt, demean and loathe others.

It’s not just in the 1 John passage above we are given a specific example of loving others. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son (Jesus) as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. ”  

We see it in the Gospel of Matthew in Jesus’ own words. He specifically instructs us on two levels of love.

“An expert in the law, tested him (Jesus) with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

“Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35b-40

Loving God and loving others is not a suggestion. Jesus sums up the entire ten commandments in one statement. Love God (First) and love your neighbor. Who’s your neighbor? It’s not just the person who lives in the house next door or across the street from you. Your neighbor is the person in line behind you in the checkout line at the supermarket. Your neighbor is your co-worker. Your neighbor is the person sitting at the table next to you in Starbucks. Everyone is your and my neighbor.

People seem to get caught up in Jesus’ statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Well, I’ve been really depressed lately, and I’m not feeling good about myself. So since I’m not liking myself too much right now, I don’t need to love my neighbor.”

Just because we’re sad or down about ourselves doesn’t mean we don’t or shouldn’t love our neighbor. But first, we need to understand what it means to love ourselves.

“Loving ourselves means we see our value because Jesus did—enough to die on the cross for us! Learning to love ourselves because of the value we have in Jesus will help us love our neighbors.”  (You Version, “How, to love your neighbors,” day 2 of Bible Plan)

You see. It has nothing to do with us. It does have everything to do with Jesus. We love because He first loved and loves us.

Perhaps it is simple, after all. Love God and love your neighbor. We know who God is; now, just remember, your neighbor is everyone you meet. From friends to family to perfect strangers, everyone is your neighbor.

When you have a choice between love and anger, choose love. In the words of a very wise man. “All you need is love.” (John Lennon)

Amen.

Our Favorite Christmas Memory

A Devotion by Joe G

“Our Favorite Christmas Memory.”

December 17, 2022

Luke 2:1-7

Several years ago, my wife Kathy and I wrote a series of Advent Devotions entitled Christmas memories. We sat down for several hours, thinking about and discussing the Christmas memories we had together and the ones before we met.

I recall one of Kathy’s we wrote about, which was the birth of her younger brothers Christ (Pronounced Chris-t) on December 25. Another story was about one of our many Christmas parties for my youth group at our home. The best party memory was of the youth having a snowball fight in our backyard with Hostess Snowballs😊.

Just recently, Kathy mentioned one of her favorite Christmas’ was in 2014. That year, we went to Disney’s Hollywood studios for the day; that night, we were in the middle of the street for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. (Check out this website for more info.

https://alleahttps://allears.net/2020/11/22/the-complete-history-of-the-osborne-family-spectacle-of-dancing-lights/.

As many of you know, my wife Kathy has M.S., and she gets around with either a walker or an electric cart. Unfortunately, in 2014, we did not have an electric cart, so I always pushed Kathy around Disney in a wheelchair.

Kathy remembers being in the middle of the street in her wheelchair. As the music and lights came alive all around us, I kept turning her wheelchair in circles, so she could see the entire show from different perspectives. A really great holiday memory for us. Here are a few photos of the now-discontinued Osborne family spectacle of dancing lights.

**************************The Point****************************

It’s okay to have fun. Even at Christmas time. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration as we praise and thank God for sending His Son, Jesus.

But, (Don’t you hate when someone says, “But.” 😊) we should focus on the birth of our Savior. The parties are fine, as are the lights, trees, and gift-giving.

Just don’t let all of these holiday traditions, including sharing stories of Christmas past, become more important than the story of the birth of the Christ Child.

“Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him; and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7

This story is just part of the Greatest Story Ever Told. God sent His Son to be born as a baby to save the world from itself.

The parties, the light (especially the ones at Disney), trees, food, decorations, and getting together with family and friends. It’s all part of Christmas.

Just remember one thing, without Christ being born, there would be no Christmas.

Amen.

“Tis’ the season of giving.”

A Devotion by Joe G.

“Tis’ the season of giving.”

Matthew 6:3; John 3:16

December 16, 2022

In my devotions, I’ve often discussed giving. In addition, on any number of occasions, I’ve talked about all the giving/servant work my students did for the church and community.

On the outside, my youth group looked like they were doing and going to all sorts of fun things. That’s true; we did have a lot of fun. We had Superbowl parties yearly, went to Disney too many times to count, and had coffee at Starbucks every Sunday morning before Bible study.

It’s okay to have fun. Here’s the other side of the fun stuff the group did. They also served others. My group delivered groceries to needy families and made street eats bags for the homeless. The students also did a lot of servant work around the church and in the community, just to name a few things.

Me saying this seems contrary to the verse in the photo above, doesn’t it?

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Matthew 6:3

That’s really not the case, though. When I talk about the servant work and giving of time and talents that my students and I have done, I tell you about it as words of encouragement, not as bragging. I hope and pray that you, the reader, will reflect on my observations and think about how you can help and serve others.

******************************The Point***************************

It’s the season of giving.

In case you didn’t know, December is the season of giving. So, there’s a lot of that going around this time of year, isn’t there?

There are loads of holiday parties, both at the office and at home worldwide. Bonuses are handed out, and gifts are exchanged. Many of us give our house a makeover in December as we decorate a tree and put up lights and decorations.

Unfortunately, the real reason for our Christmas celebration seems to get lost in all of the lights, parties, shopping, and, yes, traffic.

Let me plant a few thoughts for you to ponder. First, how’s your giving to the church? Do you give to the needy, poor, and homeless, or do you only worry about parties and gifts for the family?

Let’s not forget the reason we celebrate this time of year. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be born. But, actually, it’s more than that. God GAVE His Son to the world. God sent Jesus to teach, preach, witness, perform miracles and offer eternal life. Yet, at the same time, God gave us Jesus as a living sacrifice for our sins.

When we give a gift at Christmas, we give because God gave us His Son. When we help others and give to the needy, we do so because Christ did so as the greatest servant that ever lived on this earth.

Before you spend all your time purchasing gifts and partying (It’s okay to party 😊), think about how you can follow in Christ’s footsteps by putting others first.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“No Baby Shower”

A devotion by Joe G.

December 9, 2022

“No Baby Shower”

Luke 2:1-7; 8-20; Isaiah 9:6-7

My daughter, Heather, was born in the late 1980s. My wife Kathy and I adopted her 8 ½ months after we first applied for adoption. Unfortunately, we could not have a baby shower because of the many unknowns that accompany adopting a child.

So, there was no party with a bunch of people bringing baby gifts, such as clothes or toys. Actually, we only found out that her birthmother had given birth about 72 hours before she was delivered to us.

When Kathy received the call that Heather’s birth mother had signed the official documents, our life went into overdrive. We needed everything. Luckily Heather’s soon-to-be Godparents, Fred and Sue, came to the rescue.

On the day Heather was born, I was taking an evening class at the local community college and continually called Kathy on a pay phone (There were no cell phones back then). I kept checking to see if the birth mother had signed off on the adoption. Five minutes before class, I called her again. She told me the mother had signed the paperwork. When I got home after class, Kathy was nowhere to be found. Again, this was the late 1980s, so I had no way to contact her.

About an hour later, my wife Kathy walked into the house with Sue, with bags full of items for the baby. They had everything from diapers to baby bottles and clothing. Another person who blessed us with a gift was my brother Sam, who gave us a gift certificate for a crib. (The lawyer who handled the adoption loaned us a portable crib she had for a few days until we could purchase one.)

There was no party and not much preparation for our child’s birth. But that’s okay because God blessed us in so many other ways.

It’s a bit of a familiar story, isn’t it? A baby’s birth, no flourish, and no bed. Just a stable, swaddling clothes, and a manger.

***************************The Point*************************

My daughter Heather isn’t the only child who’s never had a baby shower or received gifts. I would venture to say this happens quite often.

Let’s look at one family and child in particular:

In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. “Luke 2:1-7

Was there a party for the baby born to Mary and Joseph? Not really, at least not in the conventional definition of what we call a party. It was just mom and dad in a stable amongst barnyard animals and their child. Baby Jesus was laid in a manger (an animal feeding trough). No party, no gifts, just another child born to a poor family. Or was it?

“And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great Fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

 Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2: 8-20

Perhaps there was a party after all. A handful of shepherds were called to by an angel of God. The angel informed them that on that very night, the scriptures had been fulfilled. God’s Son had been into the world to save it. And just to reinforce what the angel said, a multitude of 10,000 more angels singing and praising God joined in.

All my life, it has seemed such a simple story. But when I reflect upon the fact that God had 10,001 angels appear to a handful of shepherds to carry the message that the Christ, His Son, had been born, my mind can’t even comprehend it.

God sent His angel messenger in an overwhelming number to announce the birth of His Son. And those average everyday shepherds visited the manger. There they saw Mary, Joseph, and the Son of Man, Jesus. And this story would go with them and be discussed and proclaimed forevermore.

God sent His Son Jesus as a commoner. No flourish, no resounding gongs, or proclamations to the masses. Just a multitude of angels speaking and singing to a few shepherds and the knowledge to Mary and Joseph that their newborn Son indeed was the Son of God.

In case we forget, we are reminded every year at this time that God’s Son was born and walked this earth as a man and God. Party or not, He fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“For to us, a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Amen!

Perfection

A Devotion by Joe G

“Perfection”

12/6/2022

Hebrews 2:9-10

What’s your definition of perfect?

“It’s perfect.”  I’ve heard the expression often, haven’t you? The statement it’s perfect is used in many ways.

“Their wedding ceremony was perfect!” “The weather outside today is perfect!” “My parents have the perfect marriage!” “My life couldn’t be any better; it’s perfect!”

We all know there is no such thing as a perfect wedding, weather, marriage, or life. Another thing isn’t perfect. The photo of Alice in Wonderland and a child (above) isn’t perfect.

If you know me personally, you know that my wife and I are Disney freaks. In our 48 ½ years of marriage, we have been to Walt Disney World over 700 times.

Over the years, I have taken thousands of photos at various Disney parks and hotels. The one above is the closest to a perfect photo I’ve ever taken. Can you see the imperfection in it? Yes, it is a beautiful moment between Alice and a child at the England pavilion in Epcot. But it’s not perfect. If you look at the photo again, you’ll have to admit the moment is heartwarming. But, if you look just behind the child, you’ll see the edge of her stroller. It’s not awful, but it ever so slightly takes away from a beautiful interaction in a colorful garden.

For all of our imperfections, we are truly blessed. We have been made perfect in God’s sight through the suffering, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

*******************************The Point*************************

A moment ago, I just mentioned, “We have been made perfect in God’s sight through the suffering, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.”

Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect because He was and is “Perfect.” Imagine yourself as a pure white balloon. Now, add a tiny dot to the balloon for every sin, every transgression, and everything you’ve ever said or done wrong. I would venture to say that if you could remember every sin you have ever committed, your balloon, as well as my own, would be more than a white balloon with a bunch of black dots on it. No, it would be a black balloon.

Now take another pure white balloon. Even if you reread the four Gospels repeatedly, you would not find one incident of sinfulness during Jesus’ time on earth as a man. The balloon was and would remain pure white.

That is why Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. He was, is, and always will be perfect. Only through Jesus’ saving work on the cross can we live in eternity.

Once again, remember my four favorite letters. B.G.T.F. Because of God’s underserved Grace, we are saved through our Faith (Total belief) that Jesus is God’s Son and He sacrificed Himself on the cross for you and me.

By Grace, Through Faith. We are saved. Why? Because God the Father sent the Perfect sacrifice to save us from our sins. His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus. I truly believe that He is Your Son and that You sent Him to die for our sins. Yes, Lord, I believe that He, Jesus was and is the perfect sacrifice. Amen.

Let it, Snow, Let it, Snow, Let it, Snow

Children’s Message – 12/2022

Let it, Snow, Let it, Snow, Let it Snow – Isaiah 1:18

(I wrote this message several years ago, I’ve made several corrections and additions)

(You’ll need two things for this message. First, you’ll need to purchase some fake snow. You can buy the kind available at the store and have it in a bag ready to throw. You can also get dry snow online or at some stores, where you add a little water, which becomes a container of snow. Also, an excellent handout would be Hostess (or any brand) cake snowballs. They tie in very nicely with the sheep and white as snow references)

Good Morning!

I want you to raise your hand if you’ve ever seen snow?

How many of you have played in the snow?

How many of you have made snow angels? A snowman? Had a snowball fight?

I can remember a long time ago when I lived in Chicago; one year, it snowed so much that we couldn’t go to school for a whole week. How many of you would like that?

One more question. What color is snow?

That’s right, it’s white. What do you think of when you think of something white?

(It’s clean, it pure, it perfect)

In the book of Isaiah, God says,

“Come now, let us settle the matter. “Says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Who has wool? That’s right, sheep. And the Bible says that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep. But how can we be white as snow or wool if we are stained with sin?

(Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins and took them away from us and made us perfect and unstained in God’s eyes) That’s right; Jesus made us white as snow again.

Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for us, taking our sins away, and making us white as snow again in your Father’s sight.

Amen

Do you think it will snow out here this year? (It may have already snowed in your area, so adjust your question accordingly.) I guess I’ll have to make some snow for you really quick (make snow or throw out prepared snow while you’re speaking) and say this to you, you are all white as snow in God’s sight (throw snow on the kids) Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Merry Christmas

Before you go back to your seats, here’s a snowball for each of you! Please don’t throw them; these snowballs are for eating!

(Hand out snowballs to the children as a reminder of the message)

Be Kind

A Devotion by Joe G

November 28, 2022

“Be Kind”

Ephesians 4:32

My wife, Kathy, and I left the house early this morning. She had some lab work that needed to be done. For the test, she had to fast. Since it was early, I joined her and fasted, also.

When we arrived at the hospital and checked her in, we found out that I also had blood work ordered by one of my doctors. Glad I fasted.😊

After the blood work was all done, we headed to our favorite breakfast restaurant in Cape Canaveral. The servers and hostesses are some of the most patient and friendliest people I have ever met.

We then headed to the local Walmart to pick up a few things. That’s when the niceness of the day ended. As I pulled into a parking place, someone honked at me. To this moment, I have no idea why. We entered the store, and we picked up a couple of items. As I walked around, it wasn’t easy to find anyone smiling.

The lines were somewhat long, and there were many people in the few aisles we went down. I kept thinking to myself, “Everyone looks sad, tired, or annoyed.”

The self-checkout was backed up at least 15 deep when we went to check out. So, I told Kathy to meet me outside (she was driving an electric cart). I walked to the far end of the store to the area where there were 12 self-checkout lanes. I checked out and headed to the door.

As I did this, I saw an employee with a scowl on his face sorting through several returns baskets. Then, I met Kathy outside; we walked (and drove) to our car and loaded her and our purchased items into the vehicle. I then drove the electric cart back into the store where they were kept and plugged it back in.

We then headed home, watching cars cutting each other off, honking at each other, and seeing a couple of gloomy homeless people along the way.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas!

************************* Here’s The point***********************

As I sit at my desk writing this true story, I can’t help but ask myself, What Happened? A few days ago, many of the sad, unhappy, and sometimes difficult people we encountered were sitting at a Thanksgiving Feast. They were thanking God for family and all they have.

I guess we really do need Advent to prepare for the birth of Christ.

Ephesians 4:32 says, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

That sounds simple enough. Be kind to each other, and forgive each other, just as Christ has forgiven us.

But wait, there’s more!

Verse 31 says: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

As you may notice, the Bible gives us the good stuff after telling us the bad stuff. So when those horns were honking at people today, I can well imagine there was some anger, if not rage, when it happened. And inside the car, there may have been some slander going on. The employee who had to sort the three carts of groceries may have been a little bitter because he had to do that “dirty job.” Should I go on?

Guess who’s talking to you right now? If you said Joe G., you’d be correct. But I say, I’m someone who is sometimes bitter, angry, and full of rage, and I’ve slandered a person or two in my time. So yeah, I’m not perfect. I screw up; I get my dander up, just like you do.

Once again, Paul said in Ephesians 4:31: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

It’s difficult. Isn’t it? So what does one do? We pray we ask for help to improve. We take time to think before we act or speak. It’s just that easy, isn’t it? No, of course, it isn’t

I can think of three separate times this morning when I waved someone to come out of a parking lot and pull in front of me. Does that make me a saint? Not even close. But I did think for a split second and showed kindness to a fellow human being.

As we approach the day of celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Think before you speak and act. Try and be more Christ-Like. And remember:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Dear Jesus. So many times, we do not treat our fellow man/woman with love and kindness. Please help us to do better. Help us to live our lives like you, being a people of love and compassion.

Amen!