Sharing the Teachings of Jesus Christ through everyday events that shape our lives

Archive for December, 2010

Posted on December 31, 2010 - by admin

Questions to Challenge Your Growth This Year

As we enter the New Year of 2011, it’s important to have specific direction if we’re to grow intentionally. While preparing questions to challenge myself, a friend sent me something Dr. Don Whitney had written. I combined some of his with mine since he has some good questions also.  You may have more of your own.  This is a suggestion for you to use as a guideline to begin & track your growth this year.

(1) What’s ONE thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God? (2) What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?  (3) What’s the most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?  (4) In what spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?  (5) What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?  (6) For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?  (7) What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?   (8) Who do you most want to encourage this year?   (9) What is your plan for reading the Bible this year? (10) In what area of your life do you need to improve and what’s your plan for it?   (11) What trip do you want to take this year?    (12) What ministry or service do you want to be involved in and when are you going to do it?   (13) What person or family do you want to bless secretly this year who could not pay you back?  (14) What strongholds, sins, attitudes, or bad habits are you going to pray God for freedom from this year?   (15) What pain, bitterness, grudge, jealousy, resentment, or past experience are you going to release and let go this year?   (16) What attitude or spirit (pride, envy, etc. ) do you most want God to convict of before it takes root this year? (17) How do you plan to put God first in your finances, your marriage, your plans this year?    (18) What lesson did you learn last year from experience that you will be wiser for this new year?  (19) What specific goals have you written out for your better health this year?   (20) What are you going to do now with this list? Remember, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been“.

Have a Great New Year!

Posted on December 9, 2010 - by admin

The Christmas ADVENTure

With Christmas Day right around the corner, there’s a lot to be excited about! I remember when my boys were little they would wake up each morning in December and move a little mouse one day forward on the Advent Calendar Debbie had hanging in the kitchen. For them it was a reminder that Santa Claus would be visiting soon, but its true meaning goes much deeper than that.

Advent means coming or arrival. It does not actually signify the coming of Santa Claus, obviously, but the arrival of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at the truths of Advent together. It’s my hope that you will decide to celebrate the coming of the Messiah each day between now and Christmas. Reflect on these truths in your home and create traditions that will make Christmas more meaningful.

The celebration of Advent Season focuses on two things…

1. The birth of Jesus, which is his first Advent

2. The anticipation of His return as King, which will be the second Advent

There are many ways to celebrate the season as well as to give you and your family daily reminders that the coming of the Lord, Christmas Day, is near.

You are most likely already familiar with The Songs of Advent. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, Oh Holy Night, The First Noel, Silent Night, What Child Is This?, Joy To The World, and Oh Come All Ye Faithful. I love that this is the one time of year that the world is singing our songs…songs about Jesus, the hope of the world, and yet many don’t even realize that is what they’re singing about. Make these songs of Advent part of your life during the Christmas season. You can catch them anywhere…most cities have radio stations that devote the entire month to playing nothing but Christmas music. Tune in and let the songs and prayers of the season reign in your thoughts.

There are also different Symbols of Advent. One symbol I’m sure many of you have seen at the grocery store is the Advent Calendar, which is a great way to build anticipation. Twenty-four numbered windows or doors act as a count-down clock to Christmas Eve. Often times these doors or windows unwrap a small gift for children each day, like candy, chocolate or Bible verses. This is a wonderful way to teach your children what the Christmas season is truly all about. Having them open up a Bible verse from the Christmas story in the Bible, or even and Old Testament prophesy speaking of the birth of the Messiah is a great idea!

Another symbol is the Advent Wreath. It’s a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. The wreath itself is actually full of symbolism. Each week a candle is lit, counting down the weeks until Jesus’ arrival, and a different aspect of Christmas is explained. The shape of the wreath, a circle, is to remind us of God. His eternal nature has no beginning or ending. The green of the wreath reflects newness and renewal. The candles symbolize Jesus as the light of the world, and also that we are called to be a light to the world. The outer candles represent the period of waiting during four Sundays of advent and symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The colors of the candles are also for a reason. There are three purple or blue candles, one pink or rose candle, and one white candle. There is a specific order and meaning for the lighting of each candle.

The first candle is purple and called The Candle of Hope. Micah 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…” It’s a reminder that a savior is promised. It’s to be lit the first Sunday of Advent and every night thereafter until Christmas.

The second candle is also purple and is The Candle of Peace. Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. It’s a reminder of the peace only God can provide for the soul. It is lit the second Sunday of Advent and every night until Christmas.

The third candle is rose colored and called The Candle of Joy. Luke 2:10-11, “But the angel said to them, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It reminds us of the joy the shepherds and Magi felt at hearing about the birth of Christ. It’s lit the third Sunday of Advent and every night thereafter until Christmas.

The fourth candle is purple and known as The Candle of Love. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It represents the love God displayed by giving His Son to die for our sins. It’s to be lit the fourth Sunday of Advent.

The fifth candle is white and is The Christ Candle. It’s white reflecting the purity of the sinless Christ. It’s placed in the center to reflect where Christ should be in our life and is lit on Christmas Eve.

Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation and anticipation. Just as the prophets, the people, the magi, Zacharias, Mary, and others long in excitement for the birth of Jesus, the Bible tells us we should feel that same excitement for His return one day. Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

You see, there is so much more to celebrate this month than the singular day of Christ’s birth. Start your Advent celebration today! Emmanuel is coming and we have so much to joyously celebrate!

Learn More about Bill

Bill Purvis is the pastor of Cascade Hills Church, located in Columbus, Georgia - just 1.5 hrs. outside of Atlanta. If you’re ever in the area, we’d like to invite you to visit us!

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