Giving...

I guess I couldn’t have missed out this advert from my advent blogs...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSLOnR1s74o

What’s your favourite part of your Christmas?

For me, food comes pretty high on the list, all the TV Christmas specials, spending time with friends and family. I wonder how many of us are like the little kid in this advert.

How many of us can’t wait to get up on Christmas morning to get our presents?

How many of us can’t wait to get up on Christmas morning to give our presents to other people?


“Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it cam up in the east, and we have come to worship Him.”


Matthew 2:2

The wise men can’t wait to see Jesus, to give the gifts they brought for Him; not only did they bring material gifts for Jesus; they gave their time and energy.

How will you give of your time and energy this Christmas?

How will you make sure this Christmas is as much about giving of your time, energy and money as it is receiving?

Ordinary people...extraordinary things!

I can’t even comprehend what it would have been like for Mary. One day, she’s making plans for your new life with her husband to be, the next she’s trying to work out how on earth she’s going to possibly be able to articulate to the aforementioned husband to be that you’re going to have a baby that isn’t actually his!

We often gloss over the significance of each character in this story. Without Mary accepting God’s call, without Joseph not disgracing Mary, without the wise men not going to Herod on their return; imagine how different the story would have been! There wouldn’t even have been the story as we so fondly know it.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=2011+british+airways+advert&docid=1365078181284&mid=37D54822476B67CD061837D54822476B67CD0618&FORM=VIRE5#

God calls each of us to serve in exciting ways, ways that we can’t even imagine; none more so than Mary’s! These people that God calls are just ordinary people, but God uses them for extraordinary things!

Imagine how those pioneers in the advert must have felt...how does that compare with Mary’s emotions? How does that compare to when God calls us?

What extraordinary role does God have for you this Christmas?

Short-term Christmas?

How many of you watched the X Factor final yesterday? I’m sorry, but surely those two hours of television would have been better filled by just Coldplay than all the rest of them?! I think that’s enough of my misery on that subject for now...!

My house has always been a Strictly household (I’d just like to make it clear that this is forced upon me, you’ll be surprised to know that I don’t actually enjoy watching Russell Grant in a lycra sequin suit...!), but X Factor is on most Saturday nights too.

Those of you who do watch it, I wonder how many of the contestants from last year you can remember?

Struggling? I bet most of you won’t be able to name all of this year’s either...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYCToHQk6nc

Fame for all these people is almost certain to be a short-term thing. There might be the odd couple that last a few years, but I expect that in a month’s time we’ll have forgotten about most of them.


‘The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”’

Luke 1:30-33


The angel appears to Mary, and shares what God has in store for her. Mary isn’t just in for the short-term fame thing, she’s part of a story that will last forever!


The most exciting thing...we’re part of that story that never ends! We are the people of God, who are to proclaim the good news of Christ this Christmas!


So...


How will you encourage people to see the birth of Jesus as significant in the long-term?


How will you ensure your Christmas celebrations are not just short-term?

Prayer


I don’t know about you, but I find prayer really difficult.


I’ve never been one for kneeling by my bed each night and doing all that shebang, I much prefer it being more like an ongoing conversation with God throughout my day...but that’s turned out to work about as well as the kneeling by my bed thing!


I think this is a problem a lot of Christians have as well. So I thought I’d share a way of praying I find really helpful, I find it’s great for trains :)


I carry this little card around in my wallet all the time...



I love this as a structure for prayer. Before anything, reminding yourself of how completely awesome God is! Why we love Him, why we worship Him. Then you bring all those things that you’re not proud of, that you need to ask for forgiveness for. Then thank God for all those amazing gifts that he pours out on us each day. Finally, ask God for some help!

I think a lot of us are guilty of just using our prayer times to plead with God for some help, we forget about how awesome God is, how much we need God to purify us, and the incredible number of things that God gives us that we should be thankful for.


I really challenge you to make one of these cards for yourself, maybe with some bible passages you find more helpful, or you might just want to print one of these ones off. Put it in your wallet, or your purse, and take 5 minutes each day just to go through it and spend some time with God.

Prayer scares me...a lot! But when I remind myself that it’s not actually about all those fancy words that no-one understands; instead, it’s just you talking to you father, your friend, I feel a lot better!

Christmas is coming!

What, for you means Christmas is coming?



The start of December? Your advent calendar? Christmas decorations go up? Advent candles in church?



What about this...?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogetBqMgau0


How many people, on Facebook & Twitter, posted about the start of Christmas being when that advert came on the TV?!



In the Bible, its John the Baptist who heralds the coming of Christmas, the coming of Jesus.



'And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.'


Luke 1:76-79



Elizabeth was barren, but God blesses her and Zechariah with a child. That child was to be the one to prepare the way for the birth of Jesus.



How will you prepare the way for Jesus this Christmas? How are your preparations going to ensure that the centre of your Christmas lies with the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.