What A Year!

As we come to the end of 2016 we can look back and say “What a year!” Of course the emotion and meaning of that statement is open to personal interpretation based on our own personal experiences. Many end this year as they began last year with a great amount of grief, turmoil, and general unrest.

I think all of us can agree, we are in dire need of help and direction. Many are looking to Politicians, Government and Human Institutions for relief and answers to their problems. So many have lost hope and given up all together. This situation reminds me of a very similar condition in the world when Jesus spoke these words we find in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The Apostle Paul faced many troubling times during his life and encouraged us with these words from 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 “But we have this treasure in fragile clay jars, this makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

The words of Jesus and the Apostle Paul serve as reminders, that life as we know it is fragile. We are weak and powerless to confront the negative forces that come against us in our own strength or with human institutions. However, if we bring our weakness and uncertainty of life to Jesus Christ in faith, he will give us rest for our souls and the ability to withstand whatever forces that causes us so much unrest.

 We Labor Together with God, Wes

The More or Less of Christmas

Matthew 1:23 “Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” 

We have a certain expectation of Christmas. Whether its gifts, family together, baking, football, snow, or Christmas trees. Perhaps it’s the Christmas tree and decorations. Each year we pull them out set them up and each year we add more to the previous year’s stash.

Our expectation increases each year until we figure out we can’t do all of that or it becomes more of a burden than a delight. THEN, we feel let down or frustrated or cranky.

But Christmas is really more about less. Less of me and my decorations, impressive gift giving, attending parties, or what I want for Christmas, and more about what God has given to the world in Jesus.  Immanuel, God with us, is to be enjoyed, embraced, worshiped, and praised.

Remember Martha and Mary: Jesus came to them and Mary sat down and enjoyed the presence of God.  Martha, was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She complained – somebody’s got to do it, it won’t get done by itself.

To which Jesus replied, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, it will not be taken from her.”

“Immanuel … God with us.” Lord, help us to focus less on Christmas expectations and more on Jesus presence.

Bring Them With You

This week as you are hustling about I hope you will slow down, take some time, catch your breath and ponder those who are around you. Family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, strangers, neighbors, you get the idea. Be observant!

When I go to the mall I see the men (most often) holding large pocketbooks as their significant other is busy in the plethora of stores that adorn the mall hallway.

Of course if you happen to find a Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, or a Dunkin kiosk with a little sitting area, you can settle down in the middle of all the movements.

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas season whether in the mix of things, or on the periphery holding a large pocketbook, or a double espresso mocha – ponder those around you.

Do they know Jesus?

This Christmas, we return to the scene of a humble manger where the great Light of the world was born. We join with the shepherds and angels¬ — in awe of God’s love come to earth. Amidst the noise and distractions, we still our hearts as we bow before Him and worship the one true King.

Join us at The Ridge Sunday December 18, at 10:15 am as the adult choir presents “Come Let Us Adore.” Those folks you are pondering … bring them with you! We Labor Together with God,

We Labor Together with God, Wes