Morning Musing: Luke 3:3-6

“He went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight! Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be made low; the crooked will become straight, the rough ways smooth, and everyone will see the salvation of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of those unwritten laws of physics is that things in motion try to find the path of least resistance in order to get where they are going. One of the places we see this in action is on a college campus where lots of people are commuting on foot each day. There may be nice, clean sidewalks to get everywhere you need to go, but there will also inevitably be some well-worn dirt paths where people have left the sidewalks in order to get where they are going by a more direct, shorter route. Let’s talk this morning about what this has to do with our lives and getting ready for Jesus.

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Morning Musing: Luke 1:17

“And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I had a conversation recently with a friend who had some family coming home for Thanksgiving. They were arriving that evening and she had spent the whole day preparing for it – cleaning, decorating, cooking, and the like. You’ve probably experienced something similar. When we know someone is arriving soon, we get ready. We are in the season of Advent, which is when followers of Jesus prepare for His arrival. Before His first coming, God helped His people get ready. He did this primarily through Jesus’ cousin, John. Let’s start our Advent journey this morning by talking about how and what it means for us.

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The Beginning of an Idea

This past Sunday morning was the first Sunday of Advent. With the season in mind, we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called, God with Us. For the next few weeks, we are going to take a look at this idea that Jesus was to be named Immanuel, which means, “God is with us.” Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll examine both the glorious and the humble aspects of this. Today, though, we’ll start with a look at where the idea came from in the first place. May this be the beginning of your preparing to receive Jesus as we move forward into this sweet, sweet season.

The Beginning of an Idea

One of the benefits of living in a culture steeped in nostalgia is that sometimes our forays into it can be pretty fun. One of the most classic sports movies when I was growing up was Disney’s The Mighty Ducks. It was one of those special movies that got everything just right. It certainly wasn’t going to win any awards, but it generated two sequels, both of which did reasonably well—especially once they left the theaters. More than that, the first film actually resulted in the naming of a new hockey team in the Los Angeles area that is still playing today: the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. I can’t think of another professional sports team that was named after a kids’ movie. Well, as Disney+ strives to attract subscribers by producing content intended for both kids and their parents who grew up in my generation, they are leaning pretty heavily on nostalgia to hook viewers and reel them in. One of the titles they have resurrected from the past in order to do this is none other than The Mighty Ducks. 

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Morning Musing: Luke 17:15-16

“But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

If you are like most people, today finds you looking ahead. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is coming. Tomorrow is coming, and you can prepare for it today by shopping in store or online so you can get the best deals you can possibly get. Because you’re probably ready to hit the road, I’ll keep this extra short. Here’s your prompt: Don’t lose sight of yesterday. Yesterday happened because someone put a lot of work into making it happen. Maybe that was you, but I’ll bet at the very least you weren’t alone. Take a minute and think about the two or three people who were most responsible for what you enjoyed yesterday. Once you have those people in mind, here is your challenge for today: Write them a note of thanks. Let them know how much their work to make yesterday possible meant to you. Then, before the day is out, get that note delivered to them. Unexpressed gratitude is generally received as ingratitude. So, don’t fail to express your gratitude for the gift you received yesterday.

Next week, we will begin our Advent teaching series leading up to Christmas (which is in just five short weeks). Starting on Thursday, Lord willing, we’ll turn our attention here to Advent with a series of devotions to get our hearts and minds thinking in that direction. Tuesday and Wednesday will be free days to explore a couple of stray ideas I’ve had lately. Next Friday, we’ll get started on our songs of the season series. I’m looking forward to it and I hope you are too.

Morning Musing: John 3:16

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Happy Thanksgiving! As you celebrate with your friends and family today, don’t lose sight of the fact that we give thanks at all because someone gave us a gift. All gratitude is the result of a gift of some sort. Whether it is a gift of great cost and worth or something as simple as a gift of respect and courtesy as when someone holds open a door for us, all gratitude is the result of a gift. On our own, though, we are not a gift-giving people. By ourselves, we tend hard in the direction of selfishness. A spirit of gratitude begins when we recognize that we are not the source of the things that we have. A bit of thinking in this direction can begin to open our eyes and hearts to an awareness that life itself is a gift given to us by someone else. And while the most immediate someone else’s involved in that are our parents, if you trace things back far enough you arrive at one of two places: primordial ooze, or a God who created the world and everything in it. The former conclusion does not give rise to gratitude of any kind. How can you be thankful to a pool of goo? The latter, however, brings us to a place of permanent and overwhelming gratitude for everything. Today, as you gather and enjoy the fruits of someone’s labor, allow me to encourage you in the direction of this second conclusion on your creation. There is a God who created the world and everything in it, including you, and who loves it – and you – so much that He was willing for His Son to die in our place to pay the price for our sins so that we can have eternal life. Embracing that fact will bring more gratitude into your life than you will find anywhere else. Here, then, is your challenge: Accept the offer of life God has made to you in Christ Jesus and enter into a relationship with Him once and for all. Then you really will have something for which to be grateful today.