December 12th: The Arm of the Lord

Read: Isaiah 40:9-11

10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he 
rules with a mighty arm. Isaiah 40:10

 

     Jesus is the Sovereign Lord.  He demonstrated this with His victory over Satan, sin and death.  Conquering these three demonstrated His sovereignty. 

This Sovereign Lord rules with a “mighty arm.”  Raw power is a frightening thing. Yet, Christ is kindly.  Human goodness, in our own strength, goes sour. His goodness never fails.

 

Character of His Mighty Arm

“He tends his flock like a Shepherd.”  Our God shepherds us throughout life steering, guiding, standing among us, singing over us in trying times, looking ahead to take us to “green pastures and still waters.” 

“He gathers the lambs in his arms.”  Jesus takes special care with weakest members until they mature.  He gathers them close when they cannot stand, cannot follow, and cannot keep up with the pace.

“He carries them close to his heart.”  Jan tells of a time when she visited her grandparents in WV during a flood.  They had to walk over the river on a narrow bridge beneath which there were frightening turbulent waters.  She has a tender memory is of her grandfather taking her into his arms, holding her close to his chest, and carrying her across.  This is how our God carries us in times of great distress is we will trust Him.

“He gently leads those that have young.”   No one is more vulnerable than those who care for others as a ewe cares for her young.  Responsibility weakens us, delays us, and may be overwhelming.  All who care for others have the promise that Jesus is there to lead. 

“O Sovereign Lord Jesus, teach me today to be practical in my prayers and to yield to your gracious care.” Amen

 

Submitted by Derrel Emmerson, Member of Parkway

December 11th: Light of the World

 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever    follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

 

     Lights are synonymous with the season.  The twinkle of busy streets seem a little brighter with posts adorned with Christmas lights, my home feels more cozy with the glow of a lit tree, and events are planned around seeing thousands of bulbs filled with color (or not) formed into shapes and objects that put a smile on faces of all ages.  It’s one of my favorite memories with my Mamaw.  As a little girl, I would ride with her to different neighborhoods to see countless houses covered in lights.  We would ooh and ahh over the bushes covered in colors, remark at the effort of all those lights way high in trees, and when they moved?...oh the amazement.  This was especially true when they had a full nativity set (those were her favorite).  As an adult it was the one Christmas tradition that I could take her to enjoy, at 89 years of age with a failing memory and limited physical ability, as well as my own daughters with equally matched excitement.

 

     This year will be different.  This year my Mamaw will celebrate her first Christmas with Jesus.  We will still maintain our tradition here on earth this year, with the passenger’s seat notably empty.  But Mamaw isn’t missing the lights this year.  At all. Jesus says time and time again in scripture that He is the Light. (John 9:5, John 12:46, Luke 2:32)

 

     Webster defines the word light as “something that makes vision possible.”  It is a   reminder that, especially during this season that holds an extra bit of twinkle, it is only through the Light of the World that we are able to see clearly.  May our Christmas    season be filled with clear sights and a vision that views all things through the Light of the World.  It is through Him that we have been given the ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ.  It is also the Light that makes darkness flee.  Do you know the Light of the World?    How can you share His love with someone who may be living in darkness this  Christmas season?

 

Submitted by Erica Shaddix, Parkway Preschool Director

December 10th: Jesus is the MORNING STAR

Genesis 15:1-6, Revelation 22:16

 

     The season of Advent is a time of anticipation of a coming event. Anticipation is a form of faith and faith ” is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”, as was written in Hebrews.  We see in Genesis that Abram (Abraham), who was a wealthy man, exhibited an extreme leap of faith in a covenant with God that God would provide his heir. At the time Abram and his wife Sari were elderly and childless. Through several encounters with God, Abram’s name was changed by God to be Abraham promising Abraham that he would be “the father of many nations”.  In chapter 21 of Genesis we see the arrival of that heir, Isaac, to Abraham and Sarah, just as God promised. All through the Old Testament we see God’s promises to be the God of the Israelite nation if they will obey Him, but, they keep falling away. The blood line continued, just as God promised, all the way through the Old Testament through many, many years and generations later called David’s Royal Line to the baby boy born in Bethlehem on what we call Christmas.

 

     In the New Testament we see that God sent his Son, the Messiah, born man, but still wholly God, to take away the sins of the world.  This promise is offered to EVERYONE who will believe that He is truly the one and only Son of God and He came to save us from our sin. The four gospel books describe the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus while he was on earth. The letters Paul wrote plus other books more fully develop this Good News that it is for ALL people. We see near the end of the final book of the Bible (Rev. 22:16) that He is our MORNING STAR.

  

Submitted by Tom Harrell, Elder

 

 

 


December 9th: The Promised Prophet

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 & Luke 24:19

 

      We read in Deuteronomy that God promised to give his people a prophet and that he would put his words in his mouth. In fact, God gave his people many prophets as the years went by. They were instrumental in guiding the nation of Israel and establishing the church by sharing the truth from God. Jesus Himself came as prophet; sharing the Father’s truth with the Israelites and the gentiles. The Holy Spirit is still our prophet today. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:13-15, “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

 

Lord, we thank you for being a promise keeper; for continuing to reveal your truth to us through your Spirit. We thank you for the gift of Christ, who makes a way for us to receive your truth. May the love we show and the truth we speak to others today, reflect the love and truth of your kingdom. Amen.

 

 

Submitted by Jackie Mills, Deacon

December 8th: Branch

      Jesus is referred to as a branch in Isaiah. A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;  from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  (Isaiah 11:1) A branch?  Is he dense and hardened like the wood of a tree?  No indeed, the branch of the tree is where the real beauty and life of the tree resides.  The branch bears the leaves which feed the tree, the branch holds the flowers which give beauty, fragrance and will bear fruit, the branch sways in the wind and reaches out to those who might walk by and invites them to come enjoy the tree.  These characteristics are only a few that Jesus offers us.  He is given to us as a bud and grows into something strong yet flexible.   Like a branch full of leaves, he provides living water.  Like a branch full of fruit, he provides nourishment for us.  Like a swaying branch, he reaches out and invites us in.   Through all that he provides, he remains strong, flexible, and steadfast in his purpose.  So yes, Jesus is our branch.  He was given to us as a mere bud and grew to provide for us in so many ways.  He looks for us to become branches as well.  Reach out to one another, give life and joy to one another, invite one another to be part of His kingdom.  Unwrap the Kingdom of God for someone.

 

Submitted by Karen Robb-Gonzales , Deacon

December 7th: Christ as The Word

John 1: 9-18

Christmas has many aspects for me. It is a time of refreshment and being with family and friends, a time for us to remember the needs of others, and a time of lights, hot drinks, and frost in the air.  Most importantly, it is a time of reflecting on the big picture of what the    Father began in Bethlehem in saving us from ourselves.

Christ in John 1:14 is called the Word.  This means He is the personification of God’s revelation.  In Greek, the word used is Logos- essentially a bridge between God and the World. 

This bridge is crucial - what was began in Bethlehem is the only way to restore a right relationship with the creator of the universe.  This reconciliation is only possible by the Father reaching out to us through His revelation as represented by Christ.

As you go through the holiday season this year, I encourage you to reflect on the revelation of our Father as well as what Christ began in Bethlehem.

 

Father God, thank you for your plan to redeem us.  Thank you for the Christmas Season, for a time of refreshing and family.  Please help us to always remember the reason for the  season.

Submitted by Jeff Mills, Elder

December 6th: Good Shepherd

     Do you know and listen for the Good Shepherd’s voice?   When we belong to the Good Shepherd’s flock, he is committed to love and care for us.  I love the comparison Jesus gives us being sheep, for sheep are prey species, they bond closely to other sheep, they also know their name and  recognize and know the voice of the one that cares for them.    Isn’t it great to know we have a Good Shepherd who rescues, cares, feeds, protects, loves and provides?   In John 10:11 it states, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” 

       Since sheep usually graze on open, unfenced areas, there may be some that stray.  But when they hear their shepherd’s voice, they know to follow the voice to come back home.   The Good Shepherd is always looking for sheep that may have strayed to bring them back to the loving care and protection of the flock.  Jesus, our Good  Shepherd, gave his life so we know salvation and life everlasting.    Let us encourage and share the Good Shepherd’s news of salvation with those that need to know his voice, especially during advent season as we celebrate his birth.

      When I lost my Mom in 2010, the Good Shepherd provided me love and comfort and when I had a health crisis in 2014, he cared, provided, loved and comforted me and my family.  The Good Shepherd calls us his own and loves us beyond measure.   He is always there to love and care for us.  We need to trust, obey and listen to his voice and share the good news of his salvation to others during this advent season.  Let us share his love daily to others, so they know of the Good Shepherd, Jesus.

 

Heavenly Father, Thank you for being my Good Shepherd and for your saving grace.  
During this advent season, let us listen to your voice and help us lead others home to you so they know your voice and come into your flock.

 

Submitted by Tammy Fowler, Deacon

December 4th: The Lamb of God

 

     When I see Jesus referred to as The Lamb of God I think of His baptism by John (John 1 – 29, 36), and to The Lamb, sacrificed and resurrected for our sins (Romans 5:1-11).  But in a re-found book by W. Phillip Keller titled “A Layman Looks at the Lamb of God”,     I discovered new insights to the name.  Keller writes of the clothing for Adam and Eve that may have been from a lamb sacrificed by; of Abel’s sacrifice; of Abraham and Isaac; of the Passover lamb in Egypt; and, of many references in Isaiah.  I found the following passage enlightening and meaningful.

 

     The measure of our “closeness,” our communion, our compatibility is not one of

     distance but of unity, agreement, love and mutual acceptance.

     Incredible as it may sound, the responsibility for establishing this bond of

     affection and oneness between God and a sheep gone astray has been laid upon

     The Lamb of God.  He it is who comes to seek and save the lost strays, to draw them back.

     In the traditional life of the eastern shepherds, the stray sheep were always retrieved

     and gathered up by the shepherd’s pet lamb.   Every shepherd owned a special,

     hand-reared pet lamb who was considered almost as affectionately as his own children.

     Like a veritable shadow, wherever the shepherd went, the pet lamb followed. And

     whenever the shepherd set out into the wild pastures, the upland range or rough

     hill country to gather his stray stragglers, full responsibility for their safe return

     rested on the pet lamb.

     It was the pet lamb who came alongside the lost ones, who fed side by side with

     them, who called to them, who influenced them to follow him gently back to the

     master’s fold.  It was the pet lamb, who, at the close of the day as the sun set over

     the western hills, came home in the master’s footprints, faithfully bringing the

     strays with him.

     The term “bellwether” refers to this special lamb who often wears a bell), bringing

     the stray sheep back to the fold, back to the shepherd.  The divine Bellwether is The

     Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  Even out of the most difficult circumstances to which

     our own waywardness and selfishness have brought us, He gently but firmly nudges

     us in the right direction.  In love and compassion and care, He comes to call us back

      to God our Father and home where we belong.

 

Prayer:  Holy Father, at this time when we celebrate the birth of your Son, may we also remember your Lamb.  Thank you for your grace and faithfulness to us.  May we also be faithful to You.  In Jesus name, Amen.

     Submitted by George Menhorn, Deacon

December 5th: Root of David

 

      For this year’s theme: Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, my assigned name of Jesus is    ROOT OF DAVID. I have found several Scripture references to Root of David, and  Root of Jesse (David’s father).

      In Romans 15 Paul refers to Isaiah’s prophecy when he encourages the Romans to follow the Christ who loves all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’”     Romans 15:12.

      In Revelation 22:16, John is quoting Jesus who tells him “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches, I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  With these words from Christ, John brings his book of prophecy to a close.

      Like the dual nature of Christ – fully human and fully divine – it seems to me that Jesus is telling us that while he is a descendant of David, David has also descended from him.

      This name is important for us to remember as we begin the season of Advent, because we tend to focus upon the prophecies and stories of the coming of the human King - the Offspring of David. Not only did Jesus come to us for a few years as a human, but as John tells us in John 1:2, Jesus in his divine nature “…was with God in the beginning.” In his divine nature, Jesus has always been with us, and he always will be. “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.

      And so as we celebrate Christ’s coming as a human this Christmas season, may we also  celebrate his forever presence with us as our Divine Lord and Savior.

 

Father, we thank You for this season as we celebrate the special gift of Your Son Jesus, the Root and Offspring of David, and it is in his name that we pray. Amen.

 

Submitted by Peggie Barnes, Elder 

December 3rd: Alpha and Omega

  In Rev 1:8 Jesus says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come.”  What an amazing description of our Lord and our Savior and our God!  He is ALL the extremes – the beginning and the end, in all the dimensions. My finite mind   cannot fully comprehend the infinites, though conceptually I know they exist. Science can only scratch the surface of those depths and heights and lengths and pasts and futures.  God created what we call time and space, and He is both outside them and inside. He   always was – and always will be. He is the great “I am”.

      In Isaiah 44:6-7 God says: “I am the First and I am the Last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? And in 55:9: As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” He is all the all’s – all knowing, all powerful, all present – all everything. These are humbling perspectives for me to remember, particularly when I question God. Thus, Proverbs 3:5 tells me to “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

      At Christmas, we’re reminded of two other hard to grasp “all’s” of God. His nature  toward us is both all Loving AND all Righteous. We celebrate the day He came into the world in the form of a man to save us and show us how BOTH are simultaneously possible. In Jesus Christ, He loved us without limit to the point He Himself took on the excruciating punishment of death promised for all our sins - for His Righteousness sake.

      Ours is an amazing God – in all the ways from beginning to end! In this advent season, we know Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, is the ultimate and only gift we need.

 

Prayer: Father, I am in awe of You. I struggle to understand all you are and especially Your Love for me, a being You created in Your image. But I thank you Lord, and I love you.

Amen.

  

Submitted by John Burkhalter, Elder

December 2nd: I AM

Who do you say Jesus is?  He has several names.  This advent season you will hear 31 of them.  I was given “I AM”.  Did you know that “I AM” is in the Bible 719 times? In the Old Testament 508 times and in the New Testament 211 times. 

      Did you know that “I AM” is the divine name for LORD. 

      Wikipedia says, Koine Greek term Ego eimi , literally I am or It is I, is an emphatic form if the copulative verb that is recorded in the Gospels to have been spoken by Jesus on several occasions to refer to himself not with the role of a verb but playing the role of a name, in the Gospel of John occurring seven times with specific titles.  These usages have been the subject of significant Christological analysis.

      So, here is what I came up with the help of the Bible and Fr. Thomas Hopko, from his transcript of Jesus-I Am.

      The first time God gave the name “I AM” was to Moses at the burning bush.  God told Moses from now you shall know me as Yahweh.  Yahweh means “I Am Who I Am.” In Exodus 3:14, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”. This is what you are to say to the Israelites; “I AM” has sent me to you.

      John talks about Jesus being “I AM” a lot in his book. I found 10.

I AM” the living bread. John 6:51

I AM” the light of the world John 8:12

I AM” from above John 8:23

I AM” the One I claim to be. John 8:24

I AM” the gate John 10:7

I AM” the good shepherd John 10:11

I AM” God’s Son John 10:36

I AM” the resurrection and the life John 11:25

I AM” the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6

I AM” the true vine John 15:1

 

      How does this tie in with Christmas, well if God didn’t bring “I AM” or “Lord as a baby” He wouldn’t have died for our sins at Easter.  God has a plan for each of us. We just need to slow down and listen to “I AM.” 

      Here is my prayer for this Christmas season.  Dear “I AM”, please be with everyone this Christmas season.  Let us all turn to you for the bread that we need, the light in the world, the gate you have to open for us & let us be good sheep to follow our shepherd to where ever you may lead us.  In your name “I AM” AMEN

 

Joy & Love.

 

Submitted by Melinda Stear, Deacon

December 1st - Glory of the Lord

     As we begin our Advent season we will be looking at the titles and names of Jesus this year. Our Lord and Savior has so many meaningful and beautiful names that reflect His character and attributes. May the Lord bless you as we explore some of them.

Dec 1st.jpg

 

Isaiah 40:5 “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

 

      Glory means a lot of things to different groups of people. Celebrities, politicians and athletes often enjoy the glory of their position. The Glory of God is a completely different and impossible to define or comprehend. Our own comprehension as believers is described in 1 Corinthians as “dimly” seeing with the assurance of “fully” knowing when we see Him face to face. The glory of God is mentioned almost 80 times in Scripture and glory or glorious over 500 times.

      Luke 2:9 “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around the, and they were greatly afraid.”  This verse is when the shepherds were watching their flocks.

       John 1:14 “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” This verse speaks of how Isaiah 40 was fulfilled.

      Revelation 21:23 “ the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” How difficult that is to understand but what a “glorious” site it will be!

      The glory of and Son of God came to this earth as a helpless infant, born to a teenager and slept His first nights in an animal trough. He lived a life of humility and He gave it all for those that believe in Him. How little we give Him in return.

      I am a big Third Day fan so here are a few verses from a song of theirs titled, “Show me Your Glory”.

 

I caught a glimpse of Your splendor

In the corner of my eye

The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen

And it was like a flash of lightning

Reflected off the sky

And I know I’ll never be the same

 

Show me Your glory

Send down Your presence

I want to see Your face

Show me Your glory

Majesty shines about You

I can’t go on without You, Lord

 

Our Father and our God,

We praise your Holy name. During this Advent season help us to “Be still and know that You are God”. Help us to be thankful of the gift of Your Son and His atoning work on the cross. Make our prayer that we can’t go on without You, Lord. Help us to be a light to all that we come in contact with and always give You the glory that you are due.

Come Lord Jesus, come.

Submitted by Karen Bryant, Elder