Saturday, December 24th

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Saturday, December 24th

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer 

    Shepherd of Israel, may Jesus, Emmanuel and son of Mary, be more than just a dream in our hearts. With the apostles, prophets, and saints, save us, restore us, and lead us in the way of grace and peace, that we may bear your promise into the world. Amen.

 

Devotional Hymn:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

(#163 in Sing to the Lord)

 

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem,
From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow'r to save;
Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

 

 

GROW: Matthew 1:18-25

    It’s Christmas Eve. Our Advent journey is nearly complete, but it is not over until tonight. Resist the temptation to rush ahead and, instead, let your anticipation for Christmas remind you of how much you need Christ. Think of the names given for Christ in our passage today. The angel tells Joseph to call the child’s name “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew reminds us of another name given by Isaiah: “‘Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us.’” This is who we have been waiting for: God is coming to save us.

    In the years following Jesus’ death, Jews worked hard to root out the “heretics” who continued to preach about Jesus of Nazareth. Acts tells us that Paul—then known as Saul—gladly participated in these efforts. Jews like Saul insisted that Jesus could not be the promised Messiah they were waiting for. As we read on Tuesday, Matthew provides evidence that Christ was the fulfilment of God’s promises to Israel. This Jesus was a descendant of David born in Bethlehem. More than that though, Jesus Christ is God born as a baby for the salvation of the world. The angel’s words to Joseph in our passage do not just give hope for Israel, but for all people everywhere!

Sadly, our culture today rarely recognizes its need for hope. To many, Christmas is more about gifts and parties than about a little baby who lived, died, and was raised so that they might have hope and life. You and I are called to bear witness to that new life offered in Christ. We are to live as examples who wait upon the hope of a little baby who saved the world. May we be faithful like Mary and Joseph; may we speak truth like Matthew. May our hope always rest in Christ, our Lord, and may others see Christ’s light in us.

SERVE

    Tonight, we together proclaim Christ’s coming at our Christmas Eve service from 6:30-7:30pm. As an act of service, invite someone to join you who normally would not be going to church this evening. Invite them to join you in singing about the savior of the world, born as a baby. If you are traveling or otherwise away from Overland Park, try to find some way that you can participate in the proclamation of Christ this evening. 

— Pastor Travis Caldeira

Friday, December 23rd

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Friday, December 23rd

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer (share in this prayer as a reflective hymn and pledge)

For you, Desired One, the whole earth yearned,

chosen and alien, prophet and pariah.

O Rock of Infant Tenderness,

You made of all these one!

One, Light of Revelation to the Gentile and the Jew;

one Law, one Love, one Baptism,

One banquet and one list of guests

for the eternal wedding feast!

 

Be revelation of my Gentile soul

Desired One of all my days!

Be only God:  destroy all deities

my questing should enshrined in alien lands.

O MightStone, break down the walls of my divisions,

Great Unity, join me in Zion’s cornerstone.

O Stone Divine that knew rejection,

reject me not, cement me to Yourself. 

Make me a pebble in that Living temple

of the whole Christ, God’s Kingdom come on earth. 

O World’s Desire and desire of your Mother

form whom you took the mortal dust You made,

For memory of her blessed flesh that bore You,

O precious Stone, have pity on the poverty of clay!

—Jeremy Hall

 

GROW: Romans 1:1-7

    The placement of this beautiful introduction to Paul’s letter to the Roman church is not an arbitrary insertion into the readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent.  On the contrary, what Paul gives us here is the heart and soul of the Christmas message.  Paul has yet to visit Rome, so his speech to them is a way of celebrating the gift of Christ among us.

    Paul celebrates and identifies the ways in which his life has been changed by Emmanuel, God with us, in our Savior, Jesus Christ.  First, he notes he is a slave, a servant of Jesus Christ.  He is compelled by the grace given him to labor for Christ in every way.  Second, he is a sent one, an apostle for Jesus Christ.  Chosen by God for this work he MUST speak for Christ, wherever he finds himself.  

    Finally, Paul has us captured by the faithfulness of God.  God has always kept God’s promises, and now God intends to keep it again in Jesus Christ.  It is an absolutely wonderful time to be alive.  Christ is here!  Hallelujah!  Christ will come again!  Thanks be to God!

SERVE

    Today you will encounter all kinds of ways in which people will want to express the “holiday spirit.”  We will hear songs on the radio about roasting chestnuts, white Christmases, and children wanting Hippopotamuses for Christmas.  None of it has anything to do with Paul’s joyful celebration of the Savior who has come among us.  Offer a new song today that celebrates the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord.  Give heart and soul and voice to the song Hark the Herald Angels Sing as you go about your day.

    —Pastor Phil Hamner

Thursday, December 22nd

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Thursday, December 22

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer

We ask you, O Lord our God, that, having been gathered together in the unity of the faith, we may rejoice;  And at the coming of your Son our Savior we may go to meet him in the company of all your saints; Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  

 

HYMN

(Read this hymn meditatively)

O come, Divine Messiah;

The world in silence waits the day

When hope shall sing its triumph 

And sadness flee away

 

Refrain:

Dear Savior, haste!

Come, come to earth.

Dispel the night and show your face,

And bid us hail the dawn of grace 

O come, Divine Messiah;

The world in silence waits the day

When hope shall sing its triumph

And sadness flee away.  

 

O Christ, whom nations sigh for,

Whom priest and prophet long foretold,

Come break the captives’ fetters,

Redeem the long lost fold.

 

Refrain

You come in peace and meekness

And lowly will your cradle be;

All clothed in human weakness

Shall we your Godhead see.

 

Refrain

 

GROW: Isaiah 7:10-16

    On Sunday we learned King Ahaz lacked the faith to ask the Lord for the kind of things, which would bring healing, peace, and tranquility to the people of the southern kingdom of Judah.  Rather, Ahaz feigns the request, and claims he will not put the Lord to the test.  

    The faithlessness of Ahaz will not thwart the plans of the Lord, who brushes aside the King’s lack of fatih and gives him a sign anyway.  To the King, Isaiah speaks for the Lord: “Hear then, O house of David!  Is it too little for your to wary mortals, that you weary my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.”  The sign is not simply for the King.  The sign is the reminder and evidence that God will show Israel steadfast faithfulnessss and grace to God’s people.

    The sign is not another prophet, or another king, or another priest.  He is all of these and more.  The sign is a child, born of a virgin, having no human progenitor.  Rather, the child is God’s perfect and precious gift.  He is God with us.  He is not God far off, but God come near.  He is not a disinterested God lurking in the universe, but He is God walking, talking and living life with us in every way.  

    In your darkest hour God is with you.  In your most challenging times God is with you.  In your most fearful moments the Lord, Emmanuel, will be with you.

SERVE

    Today is a day of discovery.  In your comings and goings today look for ways in which God is with you.  As you note those precious and healing moments, bear witness to those around you of the deep abiding presence of God with you.  As you tell of God’s closeness in your life, will you in courage invite your friend, co-worker, classmate, colleague to receive Emmanuel into their life.  They will never be the same.  Invite them to pray with you.

—Pastor Phil Hamner

Wednesday, December 21st

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Wednesday, December 21st

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer

Loving God, we are thankful that you are the one who hears our prayer, that you are the one who redeems and guides us. As we celebrate the hope of this Advent season, help us to remember that you are the only one to whom we can look for help. Even when we neglect to turn to you, you do not give up on us. Open our hearts to the ways we experience your peace and hope, and help us to give you thanks. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

HYMN

As we continue to prepare our hearts for what God might speak to us today, sing the following song to the tune of "My Jesus, I Love Thee" or simply read in contemplation.

Hymn: “Great Shepherd who leadest Thy people in love”

By: Adoniram Judson Gordon, 1836-1895

 

1. Great Shepherd Who leadest Thy people in love,
'Mid cherubim dwelling, shine Thou from above;
In might come and save us, Thy people restore,
And we shall be saved when Thy face shines once more.

2. O haste, Lord, to hear us and pity our woes,
Affliction our portion, despised by our foes;
O Lord God Almighty, in mercy restore,
And we shall be saved when Thy face shines once more.

3. When Thou shalt revive us Thy Name we will praise,
And nevermore, turning, depart from Thy ways;
O Lord God Almighty, in mercy restore,
And we shall be saved when Thy face shines once more.

 

GROW:  Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

    In this Psalm, the people of Israel voice their despair at their circumstances, perhaps the destruction of Jerusalem. They remember how God had led them in the past and call on him once more to save them. In this era of Hebrew history, Israel had sinned repeatedly by turning away from God and relying on others to save. With their ill-placed trust, Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were exiled. In desperation, they returned to the God who created them, the God who had delivered them in the past and had promised to send a deliverer again. They call on God to reveal himself to them again. In this Psalm, we see Israel's hope for the Messiah.

How often do we trust in ourselves first without going to prayer? How often do we trust in our family, friends, job, or ability to help us when we find ourselves in need? We can learn from Israel's lament in this Psalm. It is God that we can turn to in every season of life. We, like Israel have hope in the Messiah. As we prepare to celebrate Christ's coming in just a few days, we are reminded that He has come among us, Emmanuel. Our help has come, we only need to look to Christ.

 

SERVE

    Our service is not just with our hands, but also with our prayers. Take a few moments to pray for those who find themselves in need. Pray for someone you know in need, then for others in our community who feel without hope. Pray for peace and provision for those who are worrying where they might sleep, what they will eat, or how they will support the people who depend on them. Pray for deliverance and restoration for those who feel trapped in abuse, addiction, or poverty. Pray also for those who have yet to trust God for their hope. Pray that God will open their hearts in this season to see the hope that Christ brings. Ask God to show you ways to offer the peace and hope of God to those who need it most. Close your prayer by giving thanks for all of the ways God has given you hope and help throughout your life.

—Pastor Rachel Shald

Tuesday, December 20th

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Tuesday, December 20th

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer

God of hope and grace, we give you thanks for your promises to us. Even when we are faithless, you are faithful. Help us to see your work in the world around us, God. By your Spirit, make us instruments of your redemption. Help us to prepare the way for our Lord, Christ, who we await with anticipation and longing. Amen. 

 

Devotional Hymn:

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

(#157 in Sing to the Lord)

 

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

 

GROW:  Matthew 1:18-25

     During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we often reflect on the faithfulness of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We do this with good reason. Luke’s account of Mary’s obedience has inspired the Church throughout its history. Interestingly, however, Matthew’s gospel is much more concerned about Joseph. Rather than recording the angel who visited Mary, Matthew tells us of an angel who came to Joseph in a dream. Matthew wants to ensure that we remember Joseph’s obedience and faithfulness.

    We do not have to look far to see why Matthew is so interested in Joseph. Unlike any of the other gospel writers, Matthew begins his book with a lineage of Israel. He records some forty-two generations of Israelites from Abraham right down to Joseph, “the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” For Matthew, it is absolutely essential that Christ’s lineage be established through David and back to Abraham. Why? Because this genealogy proves that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. Jesus is the “root from the stump of Jesse,” and the heir to David’s throne (Is 11:1 and 9:7). He is an offspring of Abraham and all nations have been blessed through him (Gen 22:18). Matthew wants there to be no doubt that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that Israel has been waiting for.

It may seem strange to us, but the fulfillment of God’s promises depended upon the faithfulness of Joseph, even as they depended upon the faithfulness of Mary. Time and time again, God demonstrates His desire to use ordinary people as instruments to bring about His Kingdom. Spend some time in prayer now. First, give thanks for a time when God has used you in the past. Next, name those places and communities that are a part of your life: work, school, church, family, friends, etc. Ask God to show you how He wants to use you as an instrument of His Kingdom in those places today. 

SERVE

    As an act of service today, take some time to consider the assumptions you have about the people around you. Joseph made the mistake of assuming Mary’s unfaithfulness because of her pregnancy. We too often make assumptions about the people around us because of their appearance, their language, their political affiliation, and a host of other things. Name one person (or group of people) you have made such assumptions about. Pray for that person or group now. Ask God to open your eyes so that you can see all people for who they truly are: God’s children. 

— Pastor Travis Caldeira

Monday, December 19th

Advent 2016 Image.001.jpeg

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Monday, December 19th

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.

I would be silent now, Lord, and expectant…

That I may receive the gift I need,

so I may become the gifts others need.

 

GROW: Romans 1:1-7

    As electronic communication has increased over the years, it seems the length of our communication has decreased. “The shorter, the better,” has become the standard. As a result, our communication today largely omits any kind of salutation or greeting that connects the writer to the hearer and hints at the purpose of the communication.  

 

Paul, on the other hand, begins his letter to the Romans with a lengthy salutation. His greeting not only makes a connection between himself and the church in Rome, but also becomes the groundwork for the content to follow in the rest of the letter. Paul summarizes God’s plan of salvation as God’s promise through the prophets, the incarnation of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the spreading of the gospel.

 

In a way, Jesus is God’s salutation to humanity. God greets humanity by sending Jesus as the reminder of God’s connection to us. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus become the foundation of God’s redemptive work in the world that continues to unfold as he makes all things new.

 

As our time of longing draws to an end in this final week of Advent, we remember the promises of God we have heard over the last few weeks “through his prophets in the holy scriptures.” But we also begin to look forward to the next part of God’s salutation to us, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, “who was descended from David according to the flesh.”

 

In our fast-paced world, we often just want to get on with it and dispense with the pleasantries. In this season, however, may we fight that urge, and take time to savor and reflect on God’s personal salutation to us, through the birth of his Son and our savior, Jesus Christ.

 

SERVE

    As you interact with people today, whether at work, or school, or socially, be intentional with your greetings. Many people can feel lonely during this time of year. So before you get on with business, let the person know how much you appreciate them, ask how their family is doing, or let them know you are praying for them. Greetings are not just pleasantries; they are opportunities for us to connect with people more meaningfully. Let’s take advantage of these opportunities today.

—Pastor Grant Christy

Sunday, December 18th

Longing:  An Advent Devotional Overland Park Church of the Nazarene Advent 2016 Sunday, December 18th   CONNECT As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:   Opening Prayer (Utilize this lengthy prayer as a time of reflection and repentance) Eternal Light, from Nazareth’s Burning Bush virginity burned by Love into maternity! From her You took your mortal flame, From her received beloved Name. And not by livid sky, on Horeb’s height, With voice of fearful majesty Was this new Covenant Now made by God. In quiet night, from love-enriched stall In lowly Bethlehem,  New Covenant, You spoke God’s Law of Love In helpless Infant cry!   O God enfleshed in Virgin womb, All-might made humble on that holy night! O mighty, Hand of God, creative force, And lordly Arm of God, Stretched over boundless realm, You are become a tender infant arm, A Child’s hand seeking for a woman’s breast! O little arm of Infant God, Reach to my hungry breast! O mystery of Might descended to the Lowly, O Son of Mary, raise me to Your Father, Make me holy! —Jeremy Hall   GROW: Isaiah 7:10-16     Another prophecy from Isaiah has as its backdrop the threat of war.  The northern kingdom of Israel and Aram attempted to invade Jerusalem and replace Judah’s King Ahaz with a puppet ruler who would be favorable toward Assyria.  Suffice it to say King Ahaz and all of Jerusalem were terrified by the prospects of the impending invasion and threat on their lives.     Into this threat the Lord provides the King with an incredible act of assurance through the prophet Isaiah.  The Lord tells King Ahaz he can ask the Lord for anything.  Nothing is out of bounds.  Nothing is to deep or to large of a request.  It is an incredible request really.  TheLord of heaven and earth has given him the opportunity to resolve any and all of his crises.       Ahaz refuses the opportunity to name a request, claiming he couldn’t possibly presume to make such a request of the Lord.  Again, God “offers Ahaz a sign—any sign he wants-to convince him to trust in God; but Ahaz still refuses the sign, say that he will not test the Lord.”       What signs is God offering you, but you refuse to accept it?  What is staring you in the face, but you refuse to ask for it?  Too often our faith is so weak we cannot accept what the Lord is offering us.  Unrestricted and wide-open is the love and mercy of God!   SERVE     Today, consider how God has been speaking to you in the past few months.  What big things is God trying to do in and through you?  Take 10 minutes today to write out a vision for the big dream God is giving you for life and ministry to the world.  Once you write out the vision, ask the Lord to give you a daily plan to receive God’s answer to that vision, and then act on it. —Pastor Phil Hamner

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Sunday, December 18th

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer (Utilize this lengthy prayer as a time of reflection and repentance)

Eternal Light, from Nazareth’s Burning Bush

virginity burned by Love into maternity!

From her You took your mortal flame,

From her received beloved Name.

And not by livid sky, on Horeb’s height,

With voice of fearful majesty

Was this new Covenant

Now made by God.

In quiet night, from love-enriched stall

In lowly Bethlehem, 

New Covenant, You spoke God’s Law of Love

In helpless Infant cry!

 

O God enfleshed in Virgin womb,

All-might made humble on that holy night!

O mighty, Hand of God, creative force,

And lordly Arm of God,

Stretched over boundless realm,

You are become a tender infant arm,

A Child’s hand seeking for a woman’s breast!

O little arm of Infant God,

Reach to my hungry breast!

O mystery of Might descended to the Lowly,

O Son of Mary, raise me to Your Father,

Make me holy!

—Jeremy Hall

 

GROW: Isaiah 7:10-16

    Another prophecy from Isaiah has as its backdrop the threat of war.  The northern kingdom of Israel and Aram attempted to invade Jerusalem and replace Judah’s King Ahaz with a puppet ruler who would be favorable toward Assyria.  Suffice it to say King Ahaz and all of Jerusalem were terrified by the prospects of the impending invasion and threat on their lives.

    Into this threat the Lord provides the King with an incredible act of assurance through the prophet Isaiah.  The Lord tells King Ahaz he can ask the Lord for anything.  Nothing is out of bounds.  Nothing is to deep or to large of a request.  It is an incredible request really.  TheLord of heaven and earth has given him the opportunity to resolve any and all of his crises.  

    Ahaz refuses the opportunity to name a request, claiming he couldn’t possibly presume to make such a request of the Lord.  Again, God “offers Ahaz a sign—any sign he wants-to convince him to trust in God; but Ahaz still refuses the sign, say that he will not test the Lord.”  

    What signs is God offering you, but you refuse to accept it?  What is staring you in the face, but you refuse to ask for it?  Too often our faith is so weak we cannot accept what the Lord is offering us.  Unrestricted and wide-open is the love and mercy of God!

 

SERVE

    Today, consider how God has been speaking to you in the past few months.  What big things is God trying to do in and through you?  Take 10 minutes today to write out a vision for the big dream God is giving you for life and ministry to the world.  Once you write out the vision, ask the Lord to give you a daily plan to receive God’s answer to that vision, and then act on it.

—Pastor Phil Hamner

Saturday, December 17th

Longing:  An Advent Devotional Overland Park Church of the Nazarene Advent 2016 Saturday, December 17th   CONNECT As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:   Opening Prayer God of all things, you are with us. We ask that you help us to see your work in and around us today. Help us to be messengers of your hope and love as we allow your Word to live in us. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.     Hymn “Art Thou He That Should Come, Dear Lord” By: William O. Cushing (1823-1903)   1 Art Thou He that should come, dear Lord? Then why are we bound in prison? Why is our night so sad and long? Why is our Light not risen? Wait, brother, for the day is breaking, Dreary night shall roll away; All the shadows round thee gathering Soon shall melt in a glorious day.      2 Art Thou He that should come, dear Lord? Then why are the sad hearts crying? Why are the poor still trampled down? Why are the needy dying?  Wait, sister, for the day is breaking, Dreary night shall roll away; All the shadows round thee gathering Soon shall melt in a glorious day.  3 Art Thou He that was promised, Lord? O hear Thou the captives weeping; See how the tide of sin and woe  Wide o’er the world is sweeping.  Wait, brother, for the day is breaking, Dreary night shall roll away; All the shadows round thee gathering Soon shall melt in a glorious day.    GROW:  Matthew 11:2-11     By this time in Matthew’s narrative, John the Baptist had spent years calling people to repentance in preparation for the Messiah. Even though he dedicated his life to that message, forsaking even regular clothes and food, in prison he seemed to want some reassurance that Jesus was really the Messiah. Maybe he was weary and needed to know that the new Kingdom was close. Maybe he wanted to encourage his disciples.     Christ’s answer is simply the evidence of the Kingdom: the sick and disabled being healed, the dead raised, and good news being preached. Jesus also answers by pointing to John as the prophet who goes before, implying that Jesus is the one being prepared for. These would both seem to indicate that Jesus is the Messiah, but it says a little more too. His description calls to mind the Old Testament prophets, and in doing so makes a bold statement about who he is. In Isaiah (29:19, 35:1-6, 61:1), the prophet tells of the work of God in saving his people: the sick and disabled being healed, the dead raised, and good news being preached. Even when talking about John, he refers to Malachi 3:1, which talks about a messenger preparing the way for the Lord. Jesus is letting the disciples know that he IS the one to come and bring a new Kingdom, but also that he is God dwelling with his people.     When we are going through our difficult times in life, whether it is prison like John or illness, discouragement, financial hardship, or loneliness, it is easy to want some reassurance. Maybe you’ve even had moments where you wonder if your faith matters. In those moments, Jesus gives us the good news that he is bringing about the Kingdom, even when we can’t see it through our literal or metaphorical prison. When we feel stuck waiting for the promises yet to come, Jesus brings us hope because Jesus has come among us. He was with John’s disciples then and is with us now, comforting us and making us new. SERVE Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and he calls us to be like him. One way that we can do that is to come alongside others and offer comfort and hope. Take a moment in prayer and ask God to bring to mind someone in your life who is going through a tough season and might need a little encouragement. Take a few minutes and write them a note of love and hope. Drop it in the mail today or go deliver it in person. As you mail it or deliver it, pray for that person, that God would help them in their need, but also that he would help them to sense the peace that Christ is with us. —Pastor Rachel Shald

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Saturday, December 17th

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer

God of all things, you are with us. We ask that you help us to see your work in and around us today. Help us to be messengers of your hope and love as we allow your Word to live in us. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

 

Hymn

“Art Thou He That Should Come, Dear Lord”

By: William O. Cushing (1823-1903)

 

1 Art Thou He that should come, dear Lord?

Then why are we bound in prison?

Why is our night so sad and long?

Why is our Light not risen?

Wait, brother, for the day is breaking,

Dreary night shall roll away;

All the shadows round thee gathering

Soon shall melt in a glorious day. 

 

 

2 Art Thou He that should come, dear Lord?

Then why are the sad hearts crying?

Why are the poor still trampled down?

Why are the needy dying? 

Wait, sister, for the day is breaking,

Dreary night shall roll away;

All the shadows round thee gathering

Soon shall melt in a glorious day. 

3 Art Thou He that was promised, Lord?

O hear Thou the captives weeping;

See how the tide of sin and woe 

Wide o’er the world is sweeping. 

Wait, brother, for the day is breaking,

Dreary night shall roll away;

All the shadows round thee gathering

Soon shall melt in a glorious day. 

 

GROW:  Matthew 11:2-11

    By this time in Matthew’s narrative, John the Baptist had spent years calling people to repentance in preparation for the Messiah. Even though he dedicated his life to that message, forsaking even regular clothes and food, in prison he seemed to want some reassurance that Jesus was really the Messiah. Maybe he was weary and needed to know that the new Kingdom was close. Maybe he wanted to encourage his disciples.

    Christ’s answer is simply the evidence of the Kingdom: the sick and disabled being healed, the dead raised, and good news being preached. Jesus also answers by pointing to John as the prophet who goes before, implying that Jesus is the one being prepared for. These would both seem to indicate that Jesus is the Messiah, but it says a little more too. His description calls to mind the Old Testament prophets, and in doing so makes a bold statement about who he is. In Isaiah (29:19, 35:1-6, 61:1), the prophet tells of the work of God in saving his people: the sick and disabled being healed, the dead raised, and good news being preached. Even when talking about John, he refers to Malachi 3:1, which talks about a messenger preparing the way for the Lord. Jesus is letting the disciples know that he IS the one to come and bring a new Kingdom, but also that he is God dwelling with his people.

    When we are going through our difficult times in life, whether it is prison like John or illness, discouragement, financial hardship, or loneliness, it is easy to want some reassurance. Maybe you’ve even had moments where you wonder if your faith matters. In those moments, Jesus gives us the good news that he is bringing about the Kingdom, even when we can’t see it through our literal or metaphorical prison. When we feel stuck waiting for the promises yet to come, Jesus brings us hope because Jesus has come among us. He was with John’s disciples then and is with us now, comforting us and making us new.

SERVE

Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and he calls us to be like him. One way that we can do that is to come alongside others and offer comfort and hope. Take a moment in prayer and ask God to bring to mind someone in your life who is going through a tough season and might need a little encouragement. Take a few minutes and write them a note of love and hope. Drop it in the mail today or go deliver it in person. As you mail it or deliver it, pray for that person, that God would help them in their need, but also that he would help them to sense the peace that Christ is with us.

Pastor Rachel Shald

Friday, December 16th

Longing:  An Advent Devotional Overland Park Church of the Nazarene Advent 2016 Friday, December 16th   CONNECT As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:   Opening Prayer Eternal God, You are the Author of creation and the Maker of time itself. All things that were created, You made. All things that exist, You know. Forgive our impatience, we pray. Forgive our forgetfulness and our worry.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to live as people sure of Your promises. Use us to prepare for the day when Your Kingdom will arrive in its fullness. Grant us patience today, Lord, even as we continue to wait. Come, Lord Jesus. Come.    Hymn How Firm a Foundation (#689 in Sing to the Lord)   How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in God's excellent word! What more can God say than to you hath been said, to you that for refuge to Jesus have fled?   Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed! For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; I'll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.   When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee over flow, for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.   When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply: the flames shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.   The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I will not, desert to his foes; that soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake, I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!'   GROW:  James 5:7-10     Today is December 16th. If you have children in your home, you may be reminded every day that Christmas is drawing nearer. Perhaps you have already attended some Christmas parties or other themed event. At this point in Advent, it becomes even more difficult to maintain the seasonal attitude of anticipation. Indeed, in our age of two-day shipping and instant gratification, “waiting” seems almost obsolete. But as December 25th draws nearer, it is all the more crucial for us to resist the temptation of rushing toward Christmas. Advent still has much to teach us. Be still and wait upon the Lord.     Faithful waiting is a major theme in the letter of James. Writing to people who desperately long for justice, the author urges patience and endurance. James even employs an analogy to make his point: “The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.” Farming has changed a lot over the last two thousand years, but despite our advanced methods of irrigation, agriculture is still heavily dependent upon rain. We can plant all the seed in the world, but without water, nothing will grow. James says the “waiting” we do as Christians is similar. We should do our work faithfully but, in the end, we must patently wait upon the Lord to bring it to completion. Our salvation is dependent not on our own efforts, but on the faithful grace of God.     Throughout Scripture, God’s people are urged to remember God’s acts of faithfulness in the past as a way of encouraging their trust and hope in the future. Name a time in your life when you have seen God’s faithfulness. Write a short letter of encouragement to your future self. Write something to remind you of God’s faithfulness in the past and to reassure your faithful dependence upon the Lord into the future. SERVE To some extent, it is difficult for us to embody patience today because we have largely forgotten the Christian practices which encourage it. Fast today, as an act of patient service to the Lord. If you are able, deliberately give up a meal and instead spend your time in prayer for those who do not have enough food. If skipping food is not physically possible for you, then offer up some other part of your life (technology, television, etc.) as a sign of your trust in God’s faithfulness and your dependence upon His provision. — Pastor Travis Caldeira

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Friday, December 16th

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Opening Prayer

Eternal God, You are the Author of creation and the Maker of time itself.

All things that were created, You made. All things that exist, You know.

Forgive our impatience, we pray. Forgive our forgetfulness and our worry. 

By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to live as people sure of Your promises.

Use us to prepare for the day when Your Kingdom will arrive in its fullness.

Grant us patience today, Lord, even as we continue to wait.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come. 

 

Hymn

How Firm a Foundation

(#689 in Sing to the Lord)

 

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

is laid for your faith in God's excellent word!

What more can God say than to you hath been said,

to you that for refuge to Jesus have fled?

 

Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed!

For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I'll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand

upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

 

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

the rivers of woe shall not thee over flow,

for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

 

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply:

the flames shall not hurt thee; I only design

thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

 

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;

that soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,

I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!'

 

GROW:  James 5:7-10

    Today is December 16th. If you have children in your home, you may be reminded every day that Christmas is drawing nearer. Perhaps you have already attended some Christmas parties or other themed event. At this point in Advent, it becomes even more difficult to maintain the seasonal attitude of anticipation. Indeed, in our age of two-day shipping and instant gratification, “waiting” seems almost obsolete. But as December 25th draws nearer, it is all the more crucial for us to resist the temptation of rushing toward Christmas. Advent still has much to teach us. Be still and wait upon the Lord.

    Faithful waiting is a major theme in the letter of James. Writing to people who desperately long for justice, the author urges patience and endurance. James even employs an analogy to make his point: “The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.” Farming has changed a lot over the last two thousand years, but despite our advanced methods of irrigation, agriculture is still heavily dependent upon rain. We can plant all the seed in the world, but without water, nothing will grow. James says the “waiting” we do as Christians is similar. We should do our work faithfully but, in the end, we must patently wait upon the Lord to bring it to completion. Our salvation is dependent not on our own efforts, but on the faithful grace of God.

    Throughout Scripture, God’s people are urged to remember God’s acts of faithfulness in the past as a way of encouraging their trust and hope in the future. Name a time in your life when you have seen God’s faithfulness. Write a short letter of encouragement to your future self. Write something to remind you of God’s faithfulness in the past and to reassure your faithful dependence upon the Lord into the future.

SERVE

To some extent, it is difficult for us to embody patience today because we have largely forgotten the Christian practices which encourage it. Fast today, as an act of patient service to the Lord. If you are able, deliberately give up a meal and instead spend your time in prayer for those who do not have enough food. If skipping food is not physically possible for you, then offer up some other part of your life (technology, television, etc.) as a sign of your trust in God’s faithfulness and your dependence upon His provision.

— Pastor Travis Caldeira

Thursday, December 15th

Longing:  An Advent Devotional Overland Park Church of the Nazarene Advent 2016 Sunday, December 11th   CONNECT As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:   Call to Worship Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord. Come, Lord Jesus. O God, come to our assistance. O Lord hasten to help us. Drop down the dew from above, O heavens, and let the clouds rain justice. Let the earth’s womb be opened, and bring forth a Savior.     Opening Prayer Gracious God:  leader of the house of Israel:  Through a human family you introduced your Son to the world.  Help us to draw closer to our family of faith, that we may present Christ to the world through our love.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.   Hymn (Sung to the tune of Joy to the World) Hark the glad sound! the Savior comes, The Savior promised long: Let every heart prepare a throne, And every voice a song.   He comes, the prisoners to release In Satan’s bondage held; The gates of brass before him burst, The iron fetters yield.   He comes, the broken heart to bind, The bleeding soul to cure, And with the treasures of his grace To bless the humble poor.   Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace, Thy welcome shall proclaim; And heaven’s eternal arches ring With thy beloved name.   GROW:  Isaiah 35:1-10     On Sunday of this week we learned that the heart of this passage is the profound message of God’s healing, restoring and rescuing of God’s creation.  Further, God will restore the purposes of the creation to their intended function.  The question is what will this look like?     The prophet, Isaiah, first promises that God will have great effect for disable human beings.  Those with weak hands and feeble knees might be overcome with fear, timidity, vulnerability, lack of courage, lack of the capacity to live a full life.  They are struggling with those things which prevent them from living effectively and joyously.  Yet, when the good news is uttered in v. 4 the impact begins:  the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dumb sing.  In the amazing loving action of our God people are given back their lives.  All humanity is restored to it’s full function and glory.     Second, the impact of God’s good news will also transform a troubled creation.  All of creation is pictured here as a place of desolate drought and lifelessness.  However, for God no place is lifeless.  Despite the fact that the wilderness has no resources in store, and survival there is precarious at best, a rain is promised to make everything live.      Suddenly, streams are gushing in the desert, and life springs forth from the barrenness.  Thanks be to God!  The Lord does not despair of any of the Lord’s creation.  All things, all people, it all is coming to life in strong and beautiful ways, and the way for God’s people is a perfect and righteous way.  Not one thing will destroy those on God’s way of holiness.  Everyone who undertakes this journey will return to the Lord with singing, ever lasting joy, and all sorrow will be gone. SERVE     There are many days when the chaos of our lives distract us from God’s healing of creation.  Reports of violence, both human and creational violence, seek to district us from God’s great promise of all things new already begun in Jesus Christ.  Our temptation is to look outward and blame everything else on the evil in the world.  Today, Christ calls us to look inward and contemplate the ways we are being made new.  Spend 30 minutes today in silent reflection and note the ways God has transformed you in the past year.  Make a note of those transformations and give thanks.  Make a note of the new places the Holy Spirit seems to be working, and ask the Lord for the strength to trust again as we journey on the Holy Way of Christ. —Pastor Phil Hamner

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Sunday, December 11th

 

CONNECT

As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:

 

Call to Worship

Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O God, come to our assistance.

O Lord hasten to help us.

Drop down the dew from above, O heavens,

and let the clouds rain justice.

Let the earth’s womb be opened,

and bring forth a Savior.  

 

Opening Prayer

Gracious God:  leader of the house of Israel:  Through a human family you introduced your Son to the world.  Help us to draw closer to our family of faith, that we may present Christ to the world through our love.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

 

Hymn

(Sung to the tune of Joy to the World)

Hark the glad sound! the Savior comes,

The Savior promised long:

Let every heart prepare a throne,

And every voice a song.

 

He comes, the prisoners to release

In Satan’s bondage held;

The gates of brass before him burst,

The iron fetters yield.

 

He comes, the broken heart to bind,

The bleeding soul to cure,

And with the treasures of his grace

To bless the humble poor.

 

Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,

Thy welcome shall proclaim;

And heaven’s eternal arches ring

With thy beloved name.  

GROWIsaiah 35:1-10

    On Sunday of this week we learned that the heart of this passage is the profound message of God’s healing, restoring and rescuing of God’s creation.  Further, God will restore the purposes of the creation to their intended function.  The question is what will this look like?

    The prophet, Isaiah, first promises that God will have great effect for disable human beings.  Those with weak hands and feeble knees might be overcome with fear, timidity, vulnerability, lack of courage, lack of the capacity to live a full life.  They are struggling with those things which prevent them from living effectively and joyously.  Yet, when the good news is uttered in v. 4 the impact begins:  the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dumb sing.  In the amazing loving action of our God people are given back their lives.  All humanity is restored to it’s full function and glory.

    Second, the impact of God’s good news will also transform a troubled creation.  All of creation is pictured here as a place of desolate drought and lifelessness.  However, for God no place is lifeless.  Despite the fact that the wilderness has no resources in store, and survival there is precarious at best, a rain is promised to make everything live. 

    Suddenly, streams are gushing in the desert, and life springs forth from the barrenness.  Thanks be to God!  The Lord does not despair of any of the Lord’s creation.  All things, all people, it all is coming to life in strong and beautiful ways, and the way for God’s people is a perfect and righteous way.  Not one thing will destroy those on God’s way of holiness.  Everyone who undertakes this journey will return to the Lord with singing, ever lasting joy, and all sorrow will be gone.

SERVE

    There are many days when the chaos of our lives distract us from God’s healing of creation.  Reports of violence, both human and creational violence, seek to district us from God’s great promise of all things new already begun in Jesus Christ.  Our temptation is to look outward and blame everything else on the evil in the world.  Today, Christ calls us to look inward and contemplate the ways we are being made new.  Spend 30 minutes today in silent reflection and note the ways God has transformed you in the past year.  Make a note of those transformations and give thanks.  Make a note of the new places the Holy Spirit seems to be working, and ask the Lord for the strength to trust again as we journey on the Holy Way of Christ.

Pastor Phil Hamner