- Dr. Lucy Green, Web Manager
The Pastor's Corner will be taking a short Christmas Break and will be back the first week of the year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
- Dr. Lucy Green, Web Manager
Just like any good shopaholic, I have many Christmas shirts and sweaters. My favorite is a t-shirt that I purchased many years ago. (Yes, I still wear it.) On the front of the t-shirt, the words are: “God wrapped His Christmas present, too.” During the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season, God showed the world love by sending His only son to earth. God was willing to sacrifice His son for us. How great is His love!
How do you show love during this Christmas season? Searching for that perfect gift? Wrapping the presents? Sending food to a food pantry? Decorating the trees with lights and ornaments? Allowing an exasperated mother to go before you in the checkout line? Hanging wreaths? Helping a needy family? Opening a door for someone? Cooking special dishes and treats? Calling a shut-in? Sending Christmas cards that are sure to bring a smile? Smiling as you shop?
Jesus exemplified love. He cared for the sick and the exploited. He cared with grace and mercy. Showing love was natural to Him. In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are told that God has given us the spirit of love. It does not say we are given this spirit only during the Christmas season. Do we exercise this spirit year round or let it sit on a shelf hidden? How can you show your spirit of Christ-like love during the entire year?
"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people." Luke 2:10.
The alarm jangled. Bleary-eyed from too little sleep, she shut off the noisy intruder, turned on the lamp and sat up in bed. Why am I dreading this day? Lord, didn't you promise me a life of joy?
Joy is the promise of intense, ecstatic, exuberant happiness - an emotion that is clearly an inner expression reaching to our very depths even when outside circumstances say otherwise. Different people find joy in different ways but the fulfillment of joy in one's life gives people the opportunity to really enjoy this life they are given. One can seek joy but he cannot find true joy by merely seeking pleasurable enjoyment. The best sustained joy results from self-forgetful activity. The Christine discipline of serving others through Jesus as our example is the true path to pure joy. To fulfill the specific purpose for which one is called by God and created for is pure joy; not choosing for oneself what he thinks is best.
Joy does not need gimmicks and promotions, nor possessions and prestige, nor fairness and justice. It is not selfish but instead is found when giving up what we think we need. It is not loud or boisterous, not shallow or easy to come by, nor is it for sale or trade-in. Joy is for keeps - once one finds it, he wants to keep it!
Joy is found in a baby born simply without fanfare or advertisement, who grew into a man who never traveled far from home, yet changed the world, and continues to be found in a God who loves us and gave that baby back to us - the Joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12)!
The alarm jangled. She reached and turned it off, rested and ready for a new day. The Christmas season was fast approaching and she had much to do. Thank goodness she had organized and disciplined her activities so that when she awoke, she was fresh and revitalized. She was excited about volunteering after work tonight at The Refuge., and about taking a new friend to dinner who needed some advice and perhaps a church home. Her joy came from knowing that although the details of life can drag one down, the big picture of Christ's birth changed many things about her life and gave her a broad perspective about what is really important.
This joy that I have, the world can't take it from me! Find joy in your own heart the way Christ leads you this Christmas. It will change your life forever!
Bruce: "Pete, when I die I want to be buried in the Target parking lot."
Bruce: "So you'll be sure to visit."
It's no secret. I like to shop. Every so often I suffer from Target withdrawal and find that I need a fix. On a recent trip to Savannah I was thinking about my writing this Advent devotional on Peace. Upon entering Target I happened to take note of all the items available with peace signs emblazoned on them. Since the 50th anniversary of the anti-nuclear protest symbol in 2008, peace sings are everywhere! There are earrings, shirts, scarves, purses, dishes, sunglasses, notebooks, comforters, clocks, flip-flops, lamps, shower curtains; the list goes on. Peace is so in! Peace can be sequined, painted, embroidered, bedazzled, crocheted, and more. It occurred to me that thousands of peace sign products would not be available for sale if so many people weren't buying them. That got me to thinking about those people.
Now you might wonder if I could really have an epiphany at Target, but I think that's just what happened! I thought, if I wee to poll all the folks in this store today, I'll bet all of them would admit to buying, wearing, promoting or supporting something of peace, but...do they know peace? I also venture to say that if I were to ask my comrades their definition of peace, many would say: the absence of war, the void of conflict, or the state of quiet. What would I have said? Would my first response be a dictionary definition or would I speak of the Giver, Owner, and Prince of Peace? Would I speak of the peace worn on the outside or the peace that resides in my heart? Would I tell of worldly gifts of peace or of the by-products of real peace: guidance, blessing, and strength in a world that always falls short? What would you say?
During this season and beyond, my prayer is for you to accept the gift of peace. Please note: It can't be bought at Target. You won't need to return it or exchange it. You'll never outgrow it, and you can share it.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives." John 14:27a
Rev. Steve Ayers, Jr. began serving as pastor for The Oaks Baptist Church on June 27, 2016. He and his wife Rebekah along with their two twin boys Luke and Silas have become an important part of the church. Their warm and loving spirits as well as the boys have captured the hearts of many at the church.