Wednesday, December 14th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Wednesday, December 14th      CONNECT   As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:      Opening Prayer   O Lord our God, under the shadow of your wings, let us hope today.  You support us, both when little, and even to gray hairs.  When our strength is from you, it is strength, but when our own, it is feebleness.  We return from our weariness to you, O Lord, that our spirits may rise toward you, leaning on the things which you ave created, and passing on to yourself, who has wonderfully made them.  With you we find refreshment and true strength.  Amen.        Hymn   (May be sung to the tune of Jesus Shall Reign)  On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry  Announces that the Lord is nigh;  Awake and hearken for he brings  Glad tidings of the King of kings.     Then cleansed be all hearts from sin;  Make straight the way for God within,  And let each heart prepare a home  Where such a mighty guest may come.     For you are our salvation, Lord,  Our refuge, and our great reward:  Without your grace we waste away,  Like flowers that whither and decay.     To heal the sick stretch our your hand,  And bid the fallen sinner stand;  Shine forth, and let your light restore  Earth’s own true loveliness once more.  To God the son all glory be  Whose advent set your people free;  Whom with the Father we adore  And Holy Spirit evermore.  -Charles Coffin    GROW   :   Psalm 146:5-10       Our scripture is a text of praise.  Psalm 146 is just like all of the other psalms in its section begin and end with a Hallelujah, a praise the Lord.  Yet, this psalm is distinctive in two important ways.  First, it is the most individualistic of the five psalms, which form this section of the psalter.  Unlike the individualism that pervades our day, where the goal is to get our salvation, get things for us, this psalm calls for the reader to turn to introspective consideration of their commitments to God’s commands.  Second, Psalm 146 is unique, because it lists the reasons for the readers praise—the faithfulness of God to the poor and oppressed among us.      So, the praise on the lips of the psalmist is to be repeated by those who read, sing and hear this beautiful expression of gratitude.  For all that God might be celebrated, the psalmist insists here he is a doer of justice; a giver of bread, a liberator of prisoners; an opener of blind eyes, a raiser of fallen ones; a lover of the righteous; a watcher of homeless ones; and the champion of the widow and the orphan.  In other words the voiceless of the earth will find strength and support in their King.      It is very popular today for us to imagine we are all alone in our journey with Christ.  We are tempted to believe that we are picked on, criticized, and at times we imagine we are without recourse.  Yet, the psalmist reminds us God has our situation well in hand.  Not oneperson is beyond he reach and healing and protection.  Indeed, praise the Lord!   SERVE           Today, consider all of the ways God has been faithful to protect and strengthen you.  As you consider God’s rich faithfulness to you, consider sponsoring a child for Christmas through Angel Tree somewhere in the city, or sponsor a child at Overland Park Elementary School in conjunction with our church.  Children’s Director, Karla Christy, would be the perfect person to speak to about this important ministry.            —  Pastor Phil Hamner   

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Wednesday, December 14th

 

CONNECT

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

 

Opening Prayer

O Lord our God, under the shadow of your wings, let us hope today.  You support us, both when little, and even to gray hairs.  When our strength is from you, it is strength, but when our own, it is feebleness.  We return from our weariness to you, O Lord, that our spirits may rise toward you, leaning on the things which you ave created, and passing on to yourself, who has wonderfully made them.  With you we find refreshment and true strength.  Amen.  

 

Hymn

(May be sung to the tune of Jesus Shall Reign)

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry

Announces that the Lord is nigh;

Awake and hearken for he brings

Glad tidings of the King of kings.

 

Then cleansed be all hearts from sin;

Make straight the way for God within,

And let each heart prepare a home

Where such a mighty guest may come.

 

For you are our salvation, Lord,

Our refuge, and our great reward:

Without your grace we waste away,

Like flowers that whither and decay.

 

To heal the sick stretch our your hand,

And bid the fallen sinner stand;

Shine forth, and let your light restore

Earth’s own true loveliness once more.

To God the son all glory be

Whose advent set your people free;

Whom with the Father we adore

And Holy Spirit evermore.

-Charles Coffin

GROW:   Psalm 146:5-10

    Our scripture is a text of praise.  Psalm 146 is just like all of the other psalms in its section begin and end with a Hallelujah, a praise the Lord.  Yet, this psalm is distinctive in two important ways.  First, it is the most individualistic of the five psalms, which form this section of the psalter.  Unlike the individualism that pervades our day, where the goal is to get our salvation, get things for us, this psalm calls for the reader to turn to introspective consideration of their commitments to God’s commands.  Second, Psalm 146 is unique, because it lists the reasons for the readers praise—the faithfulness of God to the poor and oppressed among us.

    So, the praise on the lips of the psalmist is to be repeated by those who read, sing and hear this beautiful expression of gratitude.  For all that God might be celebrated, the psalmist insists here he is a doer of justice; a giver of bread, a liberator of prisoners; an opener of blind eyes, a raiser of fallen ones; a lover of the righteous; a watcher of homeless ones; and the champion of the widow and the orphan.  In other words the voiceless of the earth will find strength and support in their King.

    It is very popular today for us to imagine we are all alone in our journey with Christ.  We are tempted to believe that we are picked on, criticized, and at times we imagine we are without recourse.  Yet, the psalmist reminds us God has our situation well in hand.  Not oneperson is beyond he reach and healing and protection.  Indeed, praise the Lord!

SERVE

    Today, consider all of the ways God has been faithful to protect and strengthen you.  As you consider God’s rich faithfulness to you, consider sponsoring a child for Christmas through Angel Tree somewhere in the city, or sponsor a child at Overland Park Elementary School in conjunction with our church.  Children’s Director, Karla Christy, would be the perfect person to speak to about this important ministry.    

Pastor Phil Hamner

 

Tuesday, December 13th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Tuesday, December 13th      CONNECT   As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:      Opening Prayer   Behold me, my beloved Jesus, weighed down under the burden of my trials and sufferings, I cast myself at Your feet, that You may renew my strength and my courage, while I rest here in Your Presence. Permit me to lay down my cross in Your Sacred Heart, for only Your infinite goodness can sustain me; only Your love can help me bear my cross; only Your powerful hand can lighten its weight. O Divine King, Jesus, whose heart is so compassionate to the afflicted, I wish to live in You; suffer and die in You. During my life be to me my model and my support. At the hour of my death, be my hope and my refuge. Amen.      Hymn   Take a moment to name those things in your life currently causing you pain or worry. Release those cares to the Lord as you sing or meditatively read “Be Still, My Soul.” (Author: Kathrina von Schlegel; Translator: Jane Borthwick, 1855)     Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.  Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.  Leave to thy God to order and provide,  who through all changes faithful will remain.  Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend  through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.     Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake  to guide the future surely as the past.   Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;  all now mysterious shall be bright at last.  Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know  his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.     Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on  when we shall be forever with the Lord;  when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,  sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.  Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past  all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.       GROW   :  James 5:7-10         Suffering and poverty are not characteristics we generally desire. Pain, hunger, and marginalization are not pleasant experiences. Yet, they have often been the experience of faithful Christians. The letter of James was written to a group of believers whose faith had resulted in suffering at the hands of the world around them. Many of them lived in poverty and they were often abused. These people longed for justice; James’ letter was written both to encourage their faithfulness and to reassure them of their hope in Christ.       James chapter seven begins with a fierce condemnation of the rich. James proclaims that the wealthy will be judged for their greed: their own silver and gold will bear witness against them, even as it corrodes to worthless dust. In verse seven, James turns to address a different group: believers who have often been victims of the rich. Knowing their hardship, the author calls them to patiently endure suffering in obedience and holiness. To encourage them, James compares these believers to the prophets who were persecuted—even killed—because of their faithfulness to the Lord. Suffering is not pleasant, but obedient endurance is a tangible sign of God’s Kingdom.       James reminds the Church that “the coming of the Lord is near.” Therefore, even in suffering, we should not grumble. Rather, we should faithfully live in anticipation of God’s Kingdom, knowing that Christ will bring justice. What is an area of pain in your life that tempts you toward resentment or bitterness? Lift those feelings up to God; ask Him to help you patiently endure the pain of this world for the glory of God.      SERVE   As God’s people, we are called not only to faithfully endure our own suffering but also to bear the burdens of one another. We are not to ignore the poor and the oppressed, we are to seek them out and stand by their side. Today, in this cold time of year, buy a warm beverage for someone who is homeless. Seek out that person and, in addition to your gift, ask how you might pray for them.  — Pastor Travis Caldeira       

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Tuesday, December 13th

 

CONNECT

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

 

Opening Prayer

Behold me, my beloved Jesus, weighed down under the burden of my trials and sufferings, I cast myself at Your feet, that You may renew my strength and my courage, while I rest here in Your Presence. Permit me to lay down my cross in Your Sacred Heart, for only Your infinite goodness can sustain me; only Your love can help me bear my cross; only Your powerful hand can lighten its weight. O Divine King, Jesus, whose heart is so compassionate to the afflicted, I wish to live in You; suffer and die in You. During my life be to me my model and my support. At the hour of my death, be my hope and my refuge. Amen.

 

Hymn

Take a moment to name those things in your life currently causing you pain or worry. Release those cares to the Lord as you sing or meditatively read “Be Still, My Soul.” (Author: Kathrina von Schlegel; Translator: Jane Borthwick, 1855)

 

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide,

who through all changes faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend

through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

 

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake

to guide the future surely as the past. 

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

all now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know

his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

 

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on

when we shall be forever with the Lord;

when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past

all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

 

GROW:  James 5:7-10

    Suffering and poverty are not characteristics we generally desire. Pain, hunger, and marginalization are not pleasant experiences. Yet, they have often been the experience of faithful Christians. The letter of James was written to a group of believers whose faith had resulted in suffering at the hands of the world around them. Many of them lived in poverty and they were often abused. These people longed for justice; James’ letter was written both to encourage their faithfulness and to reassure them of their hope in Christ. 

    James chapter seven begins with a fierce condemnation of the rich. James proclaims that the wealthy will be judged for their greed: their own silver and gold will bear witness against them, even as it corrodes to worthless dust. In verse seven, James turns to address a different group: believers who have often been victims of the rich. Knowing their hardship, the author calls them to patiently endure suffering in obedience and holiness. To encourage them, James compares these believers to the prophets who were persecuted—even killed—because of their faithfulness to the Lord. Suffering is not pleasant, but obedient endurance is a tangible sign of God’s Kingdom. 

    James reminds the Church that “the coming of the Lord is near.” Therefore, even in suffering, we should not grumble. Rather, we should faithfully live in anticipation of God’s Kingdom, knowing that Christ will bring justice. What is an area of pain in your life that tempts you toward resentment or bitterness? Lift those feelings up to God; ask Him to help you patiently endure the pain of this world for the glory of God.

 

SERVE

As God’s people, we are called not only to faithfully endure our own suffering but also to bear the burdens of one another. We are not to ignore the poor and the oppressed, we are to seek them out and stand by their side. Today, in this cold time of year, buy a warm beverage for someone who is homeless. Seek out that person and, in addition to your gift, ask how you might pray for them.

— Pastor Travis Caldeira

    

Monday, December 12th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Monday, December 12th      CONNECT   As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:   Opening Prayer   O God, be gracious to us; for you we wait.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.  Shine your light into our hearts, and inflame them with your love. Amen.      Hymn   Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming  from tender stem hath sprung!  Of Jesse’s lineage coming,  as those of old have sung.  It came, a floweret bright,  amid the cold of winter,  when half spent was the night.        Isaiah ‘twas foretold it,  the Rose I have in mind;  with Mary we behold it,  the Virgin Mother kind.  To show God’s love aright,  she bore to us a Savior,  when half spent was the night.    GROW   :  Luke 1:46b-55         Imagine what Mary must have felt after being told by an angel of the Lord that she was chosen by God to miraculously be the mother of the savior of the world. Mary, a virgin pledged to be married, suddenly pregnant and facing the shame from what anyone—including her husband to be—would naturally assume to be immoral behavior. This is Mary’s situation as she journeys to see her relative, Elizabeth.      Under those circumstances, it would be no surprise for Mary to share with Elizabeth her feelings of uncertainty, questioning what the future would hold, wondering if what was happening to her was real. Instead, Mary’s response to Elizabeth is a song of praise to God, a song that has since been treasured by the church throughout the centuries.      Mary begins by praising God for what he has done for her. She then praises God for what he has done for all people. She finishes by giving praise to God for what he has done for the people of Israel. There is a sense in which Mary genuinely is overflowing with praise for her God. Had we been in a similar situation, we likely would find it difficult to praise God so unashamedly. So, why did Mary?      The key to Mary’s praise in the midst of her situation is revealed in the final verse, “according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Because God has demonstrated time and again his steadfast love and faithfulness to his promises, Mary knows without a doubt that what the angel of the Lord promised her just days before, would indeed come to pass. And that is worth giving praise to God, no matter the circumstance, as we long with anticipation for the day when his promises to us will indeed be fulfilled.   SERVE           Our God is faithful. But often times we don’t take the time to reflect on and recount the ways in which we have seen his faithfulness. Today, stop and reflect for five minutes, and write down at least one way that God has been faithful either to you, your friends and family, or someone in our community of faith. Then share that reflection with someone and praise God for the great things he has done.  —Pastor Grant Christy

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Monday, December 12th

 

CONNECT

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

Opening Prayer

O God, be gracious to us; for you we wait.

Be our strength every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.

Shine your light into our hearts, and inflame them with your love. Amen.

 

Hymn

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming

from tender stem hath sprung!

Of Jesse’s lineage coming,

as those of old have sung.

It came, a floweret bright,

amid the cold of winter,

when half spent was the night.

 

 

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it,

the Rose I have in mind;

with Mary we behold it,

the Virgin Mother kind.

To show God’s love aright,

she bore to us a Savior,

when half spent was the night.

GROW:  Luke 1:46b-55

    Imagine what Mary must have felt after being told by an angel of the Lord that she was chosen by God to miraculously be the mother of the savior of the world. Mary, a virgin pledged to be married, suddenly pregnant and facing the shame from what anyone—including her husband to be—would naturally assume to be immoral behavior. This is Mary’s situation as she journeys to see her relative, Elizabeth.

    Under those circumstances, it would be no surprise for Mary to share with Elizabeth her feelings of uncertainty, questioning what the future would hold, wondering if what was happening to her was real. Instead, Mary’s response to Elizabeth is a song of praise to God, a song that has since been treasured by the church throughout the centuries.

    Mary begins by praising God for what he has done for her. She then praises God for what he has done for all people. She finishes by giving praise to God for what he has done for the people of Israel. There is a sense in which Mary genuinely is overflowing with praise for her God. Had we been in a similar situation, we likely would find it difficult to praise God so unashamedly. So, why did Mary?

    The key to Mary’s praise in the midst of her situation is revealed in the final verse, “according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Because God has demonstrated time and again his steadfast love and faithfulness to his promises, Mary knows without a doubt that what the angel of the Lord promised her just days before, would indeed come to pass. And that is worth giving praise to God, no matter the circumstance, as we long with anticipation for the day when his promises to us will indeed be fulfilled.

SERVE

    Our God is faithful. But often times we don’t take the time to reflect on and recount the ways in which we have seen his faithfulness. Today, stop and reflect for five minutes, and write down at least one way that God has been faithful either to you, your friends and family, or someone in our community of faith. Then share that reflection with someone and praise God for the great things he has done.

—Pastor Grant Christy

Sunday, December 11th

  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:      Opening Prayer   Light of the world, you overcame the power of darkness through the advent of the Christ:  May we see your light and rejoice in your love.  Be born anew within us, that our hearts may be stirred to glorify the nativity with acts of justice and love; through Jesus Christ, the source of our hope.  Amen.        Hymn   (Sung to the tune O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing)  The King shall come when morning dawns  And light triumphant breaks,  When beauty gilds the eastern hills  And life to joy awakes.     Not as of old a little child,  To bear and fight and die,  But crowned with glory like the sun  That lights the morning sky.     O brighter than that glorious morn  Shall he, victorious, rose,  And left the lonesome place of death,  Despite the rage of foes.     O brighter than that glorious morn  Shall this fair morning be,  When Christ our King in beauty comes,  And we his face shall see!     The King shall come when morning dawns  And light and beauty brings;  Hail, Christ the Lord! thy people pray,  Come quickly, King of kings!   —Anonymous      GROW   :     Isaiah 35:1-10       To know your rescue is coming in a time of great crisis is something which gives you a feeling of hope and strength.  When I was a little boy, I loved to ride in the car with my father.  Sometimes I would get to ride with him in his police car, which made me feel extra special.   Other times Dad would take his day off and make it a father and son day together.  It was the summer of 1968, and we were heading out on a father and son day.  We went down to the Ohio River to watch the boats go by, and then we visited my grandmother.  She was such a kind and loving woman, and she was battling cancer at the time.        After our visit Dad promised me a cheeseburger and fries for lunch.  In those days there weren’t a whole lot of options, but not far from our home was a Sandy’s hamburger restaurant.  Back in those days you could pull up to the front of the store, and I could stay in the car with the windows down, while dad picked up our order inside.       As Dad was inside, I started playing in the car, as if I was driving it.  I hit something wrong and the car started rolling backwards.  I couldn’t stop it.  I started screaming and crying, because we were headed to the street.  Without fail, Dad rescued me, and decided I shouldn’t stay in the car alone anymore.  His rescue literally meant life and death for me.      This vision in Isaiah is centered in God’s unbelievable and faithful rescue of all of creation.  In 35:4 we are encourage to “Be strong and do not fear!”  God is coming. God is coming to repay all wrongs and avenge those abused by the political, social, economic and religious leaders of the day.  Ultimately, the promise is for full salvation.  God’s coming is genuine good news for all creation.  God promises to work good and to eliminate all threats.  What a glorious sight of all things new!    SERVE           Today, there are people in our community who are desperate of a rescue from their current dangerous living circumstances.  Many of them simply find it impossible to get out of their precarious situation.  In recent years we have been made aware of just how dangerous life is for young women in and around our community through illegal human traffickingng.  Many ministries are working to rescue these young ladies from their personal nightmare.  Take time today to make a financial gift to the church’s Special Assistance Fund on behalf of human trafficking victims.  The gift can be made online at  www.opnazarene.org/gift   .        —  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:

 

Opening Prayer

Light of the world, you overcame the power of darkness through the advent of the Christ:  May we see your light and rejoice in your love.  Be born anew within us, that our hearts may be stirred to glorify the nativity with acts of justice and love; through Jesus Christ, the source of our hope.  Amen.  

 

Hymn

(Sung to the tune O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing)

The King shall come when morning dawns

And light triumphant breaks,

When beauty gilds the eastern hills

And life to joy awakes.

 

Not as of old a little child,

To bear and fight and die,

But crowned with glory like the sun

That lights the morning sky.

 

O brighter than that glorious morn

Shall he, victorious, rose,

And left the lonesome place of death,

Despite the rage of foes.

 

O brighter than that glorious morn

Shall this fair morning be,

When Christ our King in beauty comes,

And we his face shall see!

 

The King shall come when morning dawns

And light and beauty brings;

Hail, Christ the Lord! thy people pray,

Come quickly, King of kings! 

—Anonymous

 

GROWIsaiah 35:1-10

    To know your rescue is coming in a time of great crisis is something which gives you a feeling of hope and strength.  When I was a little boy, I loved to ride in the car with my father.  Sometimes I would get to ride with him in his police car, which made me feel extra special.   Other times Dad would take his day off and make it a father and son day together.  It was the summer of 1968, and we were heading out on a father and son day.  We went down to the Ohio River to watch the boats go by, and then we visited my grandmother.  She was such a kind and loving woman, and she was battling cancer at the time.  

    After our visit Dad promised me a cheeseburger and fries for lunch.  In those days there weren’t a whole lot of options, but not far from our home was a Sandy’s hamburger restaurant.  Back in those days you could pull up to the front of the store, and I could stay in the car with the windows down, while dad picked up our order inside. 

    As Dad was inside, I started playing in the car, as if I was driving it.  I hit something wrong and the car started rolling backwards.  I couldn’t stop it.  I started screaming and crying, because we were headed to the street.  Without fail, Dad rescued me, and decided I shouldn’t stay in the car alone anymore.  His rescue literally meant life and death for me.

    This vision in Isaiah is centered in God’s unbelievable and faithful rescue of all of creation.  In 35:4 we are encourage to “Be strong and do not fear!”  God is coming. God is coming to repay all wrongs and avenge those abused by the political, social, economic and religious leaders of the day.  Ultimately, the promise is for full salvation.  God’s coming is genuine good news for all creation.  God promises to work good and to eliminate all threats.  What a glorious sight of all things new! 

SERVE

    Today, there are people in our community who are desperate of a rescue from their current dangerous living circumstances.  Many of them simply find it impossible to get out of their precarious situation.  In recent years we have been made aware of just how dangerous life is for young women in and around our community through illegal human traffickingng.  Many ministries are working to rescue these young ladies from their personal nightmare.  Take time today to make a financial gift to the church’s Special Assistance Fund on behalf of human trafficking victims.  The gift can be made online at www.opnazarene.org/gift.  

Pastor Phil Hamner

Saturday, December 10th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Saturday, December 10th      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 timeless grace, you fill us with joyful expectation. Make us ready for the message that prepares the way, that with uprightness of heart and holy joy we may eagerly await the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.      Hymn   Take a moment to meditate on “Prepare the Way” by Brian Boniwell. Especially allow your mind to imagine what “preparing the way of the Lord” looks like.     There was a man of God whose name was John. He came to speak for the light. The voice of one in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord."   (Chorus)   Prepare the way of the Lord. Prepare the way of the Lord. Prepare the way of the Lord. Prepare the way of the Lord.  Mountains and hills shall be brought to the ground, the winding paths be straightened and all on earth shall see his face; prepare the way of the Lord.   (Chorus)    He's the lamb of God and you must follow him who takes the sin of the world, for he has come to give you life. Prepare the way of the Lord.   (Chorus)   CCLI#14428       GROW   :  Matthew 3:1-12         We are entrusted with the task of preparing the way for God’s kingdom. Remarkable as it may sound, the God of all creation trusts you and me to bear witness about Christ. Yes, despite how sinful we have been, despite the wrong we have done, and despite our own lack of faith, God wants to use us for God’s glory. It is a ridiculous notion or, rather, it would be ridiculous if we didn’t believe in the God who redeems all things through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.      As we read on Tuesday, in Matthew 3 John the Baptist proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” He further explains how essential it is to “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” For John, the journey of repentance doesn’t stop at confession or baptism. Rather, repentance necessitates a complete reorientation of our lives. No longer are we to serve ourselves; we are to serve the kingdom of God. After all, we cannot encounter the abundant love and grace of God without extending that love and grace to others. While our salvation is not dependent upon our actions, our actions should show evidence of God’s saving work in us. In this way, the Holy Spirit enables us to be used by God to prepare the way for God’s kingdom. God wants to use you and me to share Christ’s grace with the world.      Honestly consider: what fruit is repentance bearing in your life? In the past week, how have your actions been an example of Christ’s grace? In the same way, consider the opposite: what areas of your life are not bearing fruit for God’s kingdom? Lift your thoughts to God in prayer. Ask God to illuminate those areas of your life that need to be changed so that they better represent the love that you have been shown through our Lord.       SERVE   Name someone in your life that needs to see a sign God’s grace. Perhaps it is a coworker who you see regularly, but who doesn’t have many friends. Maybe it’s an acquaintance who never seems to fit in. It could likely be someone you know who is in great financial or emotional need. Today, purchase a meal for that person. If they are willing, join them for the meal. Do this as an example of God’s generosity and as offering of thanks to the Lord.   — Pastor Travis Caldeira

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Saturday, December 10th

 

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 timeless grace, you fill us with joyful expectation.
Make us ready for the message that prepares the way, that with uprightness of heart and holy joy we may eagerly await the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ,
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Hymn

Take a moment to meditate on “Prepare the Way” by Brian Boniwell. Especially allow your mind to imagine what “preparing the way of the Lord” looks like.

 

There was a man of God whose name was John.
He came to speak for the light.
The voice of one in the wilderness:
"Prepare the way of the Lord."

(Chorus)

Prepare the way of the Lord.
Prepare the way of the Lord.
Prepare the way of the Lord.
Prepare the way of the Lord.

Mountains and hills shall be brought to the ground,
the winding paths be straightened
and all on earth shall see his face;
prepare the way of the Lord.

(Chorus)


He's the lamb of God and you must follow him
who takes the sin of the world,
for he has come to give you life.
Prepare the way of the Lord.

(Chorus)

CCLI#14428

 

GROW:  Matthew 3:1-12

    We are entrusted with the task of preparing the way for God’s kingdom. Remarkable as it may sound, the God of all creation trusts you and me to bear witness about Christ. Yes, despite how sinful we have been, despite the wrong we have done, and despite our own lack of faith, God wants to use us for God’s glory. It is a ridiculous notion or, rather, it would be ridiculous if we didn’t believe in the God who redeems all things through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    As we read on Tuesday, in Matthew 3 John the Baptist proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” He further explains how essential it is to “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” For John, the journey of repentance doesn’t stop at confession or baptism. Rather, repentance necessitates a complete reorientation of our lives. No longer are we to serve ourselves; we are to serve the kingdom of God. After all, we cannot encounter the abundant love and grace of God without extending that love and grace to others. While our salvation is not dependent upon our actions, our actions should show evidence of God’s saving work in us. In this way, the Holy Spirit enables us to be used by God to prepare the way for God’s kingdom. God wants to use you and me to share Christ’s grace with the world.

    Honestly consider: what fruit is repentance bearing in your life? In the past week, how have your actions been an example of Christ’s grace? In the same way, consider the opposite: what areas of your life are not bearing fruit for God’s kingdom? Lift your thoughts to God in prayer. Ask God to illuminate those areas of your life that need to be changed so that they better represent the love that you have been shown through our Lord. 

 

SERVE

Name someone in your life that needs to see a sign God’s grace. Perhaps it is a coworker who you see regularly, but who doesn’t have many friends. Maybe it’s an acquaintance who never seems to fit in. It could likely be someone you know who is in great financial or emotional need. Today, purchase a meal for that person. If they are willing, join them for the meal. Do this as an example of God’s generosity and as offering of thanks to the Lord. 

— Pastor Travis Caldeira

Friday, December 9th

Advent 2016 Image.001.jpeg

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Friday, December 9th

 

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 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

Savior of the nations, come,

Virgin’s Son, make her your home.

Martyred now, O heaven and earth, 

That the Lord chose such a birth.

 

From the Godhead forth you came,

And return unto the same,

Captive leading death and hell.

High the son of triumph swell!

 

You, the chosen Holy One,

Have o’er sin the victory won.

Boundless shall your kingdom be;

when shall we its glories see?

 

Brightly does your manger shine,

Glorious is its light divine.  

Let no sin o’er cloud this light;

Ever be our faith thus bright.

-St. Ambrose of Milan

GROW:  Romans 15:4-13

    The most precious gifts we can give can never purchased and wrapped.  Our cultural context suggests the exact opposite.  We are bombarded for months before Christmas with advertisements leading us to believe that material gifts are the only valid way to express the value of another.  The apostle Paul thinks very differently.  He believes the gift of God’s love in Hope and Harmony are the most wonderful gifts we can know.  

    Hope brackets off our passage today.  He begins by insisting that everything “written in former days was written…[so that] we might have hope.  This is not a silly platitude that every will just be all right.  Rather, hope is at the core a kind of trust that relies on the steadfastness of God, and empowers us to be faithfulness in all circumstances.  Hope then is God’s action in us.  We don’t muster it up in ourselves.  We receive hope in the promises of God made true in Jesus Christ.

    Harmony is God’s other precious gift, according to Paul.  Harmony is not peace for the sake of peace, but “so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  In the peace and harmony Christ brings we are called to welcome all people among us.  No one is cast out.  All people are welcomed into the great and glorious kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forevermore.  Alleluia!

SERVE

    Hospitality, then, is a significant part of God’s mission at work in us now.  I wonder if we could open our hearts and our homes in this season of Hope and Harmony to someone who is new to us.  Set a plan today to invite someone new to your Christmas table.  Identify a co-worker, classmate, or friend who may be away from their own family for Christmas and extend an invitation for a meal and rich Christian fellowship.

—Pastor Phil Hamner

Thursday, December 8th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Thursday, December 8th      CONNECT   As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:      Opening Prayer       Hymn   Love divine, all loves excelling,  joy of heaven, to earth come down;  fix in us thy humble dwelling,  all thy faithful mercies crown!  Jesus, thou art all compassion,  pure, unbounded love thou art;  visit us with thy salvation;  enter every trembling heart.     Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit  into every troubled breast!  Let us all in thee inherit;  let us find that second rest.  Take away our bent to sinning;  Alpha and Omega be;  end of faith, as its beginning,  set our hearts at liberty.     Come, Almighty to deliver,  let us all thy life receive;  suddenly return and never,   never more thy temples leave.  Thee we would be always blessing,  serve thee as thy hosts above,  pray and praise thee without ceasing,  glory in thy perfect love.     Finish, then, thy new creation;  pure and spotless let us be.  Let us see thy great salvation  perfectly restored in thee;  changed from glory into glory,  till in heaven we take our place,  till we cast our crowns before thee,  lost in wonder, love, and praise.  —Charles Wesley    GROW   :  Isaiah 11:1-10         On Sunday we were introduced to our new young king, the Messiah, who would bring his perfect justice to the earth.  We have learned in scripture and in our own lives that the justice of all other rulers is imperfect, incomplete, and unsatisfactory.  The story, however, is not finished simply with offering of perfect justice.  It is also a justice offered in perfect love, and it is to that theme which will guide us today.        In God’s perfect love the Messiah will bring New Creation.  Imagine a world where mortal enemies are peaceful companions.  A wolf living with a lamb is insanity.  A little child leading the earth is ludicrous.  Lions won’t devour the other animals, but will eat straw as a regular farm animal.   And children will play with venomous snakes.  This is simply unbelievable in the world that we know.  It is not, however, ridiculous to the God who created all things in heaven and on earth.  The vision of New Creation is exactly what God will do through the Messiah.        Over all the earth and in all of our lives the Messiah will bring Peace.  Unspeakable Peace.  Delightful Peace.  An end will come to the enmity between ourselves and our God, and the whole creation will delight in all things new.     SERVE           On this day God calls us to live now in the hope of God making all things new.  As a symbol of God’s new creation, gift new essential clothing to the Kansas City Rescue Mission.  At this time of year the Mission residents need new coats, new warm socks, new warm under garments.  You may bring your new gifts to the church next Sunday, December 11th.  —Pastor Phil Hamner

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Thursday, December 8th

 

CONNECT

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

 

Opening Prayer

 

Hymn

Love divine, all loves excelling,

joy of heaven, to earth come down;

fix in us thy humble dwelling,

all thy faithful mercies crown!

Jesus, thou art all compassion,

pure, unbounded love thou art;

visit us with thy salvation;

enter every trembling heart.

 

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit

into every troubled breast!

Let us all in thee inherit;

let us find that second rest.

Take away our bent to sinning;

Alpha and Omega be;

end of faith, as its beginning,

set our hearts at liberty.

 

Come, Almighty to deliver,

let us all thy life receive;

suddenly return and never, 

never more thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

serve thee as thy hosts above,

pray and praise thee without ceasing,

glory in thy perfect love.

 

Finish, then, thy new creation;

pure and spotless let us be.

Let us see thy great salvation

perfectly restored in thee;

changed from glory into glory,

till in heaven we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise.

—Charles Wesley

GROW:  Isaiah 11:1-10

    On Sunday we were introduced to our new young king, the Messiah, who would bring his perfect justice to the earth.  We have learned in scripture and in our own lives that the justice of all other rulers is imperfect, incomplete, and unsatisfactory.  The story, however, is not finished simply with offering of perfect justice.  It is also a justice offered in perfect love, and it is to that theme which will guide us today.  

    In God’s perfect love the Messiah will bring New Creation.  Imagine a world where mortal enemies are peaceful companions.  A wolf living with a lamb is insanity.  A little child leading the earth is ludicrous.  Lions won’t devour the other animals, but will eat straw as a regular farm animal.   And children will play with venomous snakes.  This is simply unbelievable in the world that we know.  It is not, however, ridiculous to the God who created all things in heaven and on earth.  The vision of New Creation is exactly what God will do through the Messiah.  

    Over all the earth and in all of our lives the Messiah will bring Peace.  Unspeakable Peace.  Delightful Peace.  An end will come to the enmity between ourselves and our God, and the whole creation will delight in all things new.  

SERVE

    On this day God calls us to live now in the hope of God making all things new.  As a symbol of God’s new creation, gift new essential clothing to the Kansas City Rescue Mission.  At this time of year the Mission residents need new coats, new warm socks, new warm under garments.  You may bring your new gifts to the church next Sunday, December 11th.

—Pastor Phil Hamner

Wednesday, December 7th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Wednesday, December 7th      CONNECT   As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:      Opening Prayer   Almighty God of Israel, defender of the poor and oppressed, we are blessed to call you our Lord. Teach us to follow you, and allow us to see our world with your eyes that we may live as your people and give glory to your name. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.      Hymn   1. Hail to the Lord's Anointed, great David's greater Son! Hail in the time appointed, his reign on earth begun! He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free; to take away transgression, and rule in equity.     2. He comes with succor speedy to those who suffer wrong; to help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong; to give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light, whose souls, condemned and dying, are precious in his sight.     3. He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth; love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in his path to birth. Before him on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go, and righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.     4. To him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend; his kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end. The tide of time shall never his covenant remove; his name shall stand forever; that name to us is love.       GROW   :  Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19         As we approach Christmas, we live in the hope that only Christ fulfills.  Psalm 72 points us to this hope.  Some scholars believe this song was either written by or for King Solomon at the beginning of his reign. Israel had hope in their new king, but even more importantly, they had hope in God to guide their king. While the original writer may have intended to bless Solomon’s reign with this work, we see this with a different lens.      As Christians, it is not hard for us to understand that this promise of one who brings justice, righteousness, and blessing goes beyond Solomon, but is a promise of the Messiah. We acknowledge that when John the Baptist was born, his father, Zechariah, echoed the words of this Psalm in his own prophecy of the Messiah. When Christ read from Isaiah in the temple and identified his purpose, he again echoed the theme of one who is sent to restore and make things right. We see more clearly with the hindsight that is the Christian faith.      As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ this year, we continue to anticipate with Israel the promise of that which has not yet come to be. Yet unlike ancient Israel, we have the privilege to rejoice that what was once promised has now become reality. We have assurance that our hope has come. We now live in the reality that Christ is, has been, and will continue bringing justice, righteousness, and blessing. This Psalm is a song for a leader, a king to lead his people into blessing and a Savior to lead us to righteousness. May we look with hope for Christ to lead us to justice, righteousness, and blessing.      SERVE   As Christ leads us, we must follow. If he is about the business of defending the cause of the poor and giving deliverance to the needy (v. 4), then must we not do the same? Take a moment today to call or email one of our local shelters or aid organizations to see what help is needed. It may be time or resources, but begin with a call today to involve yourself in service to someone who is less fortunate. As you do, tell your pastors about how your service to others has taught you or helped you to grow. We would love to hear how the hope of Christ is being lived out through your service.  —Pastor Rachel Shald

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Wednesday, December 7th

 

CONNECT

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

 

Opening Prayer

Almighty God of Israel, defender of the poor and oppressed, we are blessed to call you our Lord. Teach us to follow you, and allow us to see our world with your eyes that we may live as your people and give glory to your name. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.

 

Hymn

1. Hail to the Lord's Anointed,
great David's greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed,
his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
to set the captive free;
to take away transgression,
and rule in equity.

 

2. He comes with succor speedy
to those who suffer wrong;
to help the poor and needy,
and bid the weak be strong;
to give them songs for sighing,
their darkness turn to light,
whose souls, condemned and dying,
are precious in his sight.

 

3. He shall come down like showers
upon the fruitful earth;
love, joy, and hope, like flowers,
spring in his path to birth.
Before him on the mountains,
shall peace, the herald, go,
and righteousness, in fountains,
from hill to valley flow.

 

4. To him shall prayer unceasing
and daily vows ascend;
his kingdom still increasing,
a kingdom without end.
The tide of time shall never
his covenant remove;
his name shall stand forever;
that name to us is love.

 

GROW:  Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

    As we approach Christmas, we live in the hope that only Christ fulfills.  Psalm 72 points us to this hope.  Some scholars believe this song was either written by or for King Solomon at the beginning of his reign. Israel had hope in their new king, but even more importantly, they had hope in God to guide their king. While the original writer may have intended to bless Solomon’s reign with this work, we see this with a different lens.

    As Christians, it is not hard for us to understand that this promise of one who brings justice, righteousness, and blessing goes beyond Solomon, but is a promise of the Messiah. We acknowledge that when John the Baptist was born, his father, Zechariah, echoed the words of this Psalm in his own prophecy of the Messiah. When Christ read from Isaiah in the temple and identified his purpose, he again echoed the theme of one who is sent to restore and make things right. We see more clearly with the hindsight that is the Christian faith.

    As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ this year, we continue to anticipate with Israel the promise of that which has not yet come to be. Yet unlike ancient Israel, we have the privilege to rejoice that what was once promised has now become reality. We have assurance that our hope has come. We now live in the reality that Christ is, has been, and will continue bringing justice, righteousness, and blessing. This Psalm is a song for a leader, a king to lead his people into blessing and a Savior to lead us to righteousness. May we look with hope for Christ to lead us to justice, righteousness, and blessing.

 

SERVE

As Christ leads us, we must follow. If he is about the business of defending the cause of the poor and giving deliverance to the needy (v. 4), then must we not do the same? Take a moment today to call or email one of our local shelters or aid organizations to see what help is needed. It may be time or resources, but begin with a call today to involve yourself in service to someone who is less fortunate. As you do, tell your pastors about how your service to others has taught you or helped you to grow. We would love to hear how the hope of Christ is being lived out through your service.

—Pastor Rachel Shald

Tuesday, December 6th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Tuesday, December 6th      CONNECT   As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:      Opening Prayer   You sent Your messengers, the prophets, Almighty God, to preach repentance and to prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings, we pray, and to forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of our Redeemer.      Hymn   Your voice is a sweet sound to God. Take a moment to sing or read aloud the hymn “Shine on Me” by Richard K. Carlson.      Shine on me, shine on me;  Jesus shine on me.  Through the darkness of my heart,  Jesus shine on me.     See my heart for I repent,  Hear my humble plea  To renew your covenant.  Jesus shine on me.     In your mercy I implore,  Make the darkness flee.  Heavenly light upon me pour.  Jesus Shine on me.     New beginnings light my way.  Toward eternity.  Lead me in your light today.  Jesus, shine on me.    GROW   :   Matthew 3:1-12         “Repentance” is a concept that often makes us uncomfortable. Indeed, the idea of confronting and confessing our sin can be quite frightening. It is much more comfortable to trust in the belief that we are “good people,” or at least that we are better than Mr. and Mrs. neighbor next door. Comparison enables us to justify our actions, explain away our sin, and excuse ourselves from repentance. Yet, to act as though we have no need of repentance is to pretend that we also have no need of forgiveness—as though we have no need of a Savior.      John the Baptist emerges onto the scene in Matthew 3 as a strangely dressed, locust eating wild man. Yet, this strange person is proclaiming a convicting message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Word quickly travels around Judea, “There is a new prophet preaching by the Jordan!” Israelites flock to John from miles around because they long to hear a word from the Lord. Surrounded and occupied by the Romans, God’s people know they need a savior. Their humble posture ensures that John’s proclamation pierces them to the heart. Indeed, they all begin confessing their sins and being baptized with the water of repentance. In fact, this movement has become so popular that even the religious leaders show up to be baptized. The trouble is, the Pharisees and Sadducees do not genuinely believe they need repentance. After all, they strictly follow the law, observe all God’s commandments, and their Israelite lineage is clear; they believe they are above being compared to the sinners around them. John doesn’t think so. He turns to these self-righteous leaders and says, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.”      You and I can come to the waters of repentance with humility or with pride. We can either attempt to justify ourselves by demonizing the world around us, or we can honestly confess that we have failed to love. We can either try to save ourselves or acknowledge that we need a savior. Reflect on your need for Christ now. Use this prayer of repentance to guide your confession today:       Lord of Peace, we have done wrong. We have tarnished the gift you gave freely. We have buried you so deeply in our hearts, the world doesn't see you. We have not followed Christ. We have ignored your teachings. We have lived lives of apathy against your love. We have built fences and fortresses to push people away, and we have silenced the screams of those in need. Forgive us, we pray. Free us from our sin. Free us from our captivity. Free us to a life lived in joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Rev. Nathan Decker)         SERVE   Today, as an act of service, reflect on those who have been victims of your sin. In particular, name a relationship in your life that is in need of healing. Call that person you are estranged from. Remembering God’s grace in Christ, offer grace to that individual: repent of your wrong, extend forgiveness for theirs, and seek peace with humility and love.    —Pastor Travis Caldeira

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Tuesday, December 6th

 

CONNECT

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

 

Opening Prayer

You sent Your messengers, the prophets, Almighty God, to preach repentance and to prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings, we pray, and to forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of our Redeemer.

 

Hymn

Your voice is a sweet sound to God. Take a moment to sing or read aloud the hymn “Shine on Me” by Richard K. Carlson. 

 

Shine on me, shine on me;

Jesus shine on me.

Through the darkness of my heart,

Jesus shine on me.

 

See my heart for I repent,

Hear my humble plea

To renew your covenant.

Jesus shine on me.

 

In your mercy I implore,

Make the darkness flee.

Heavenly light upon me pour.

Jesus Shine on me.

 

New beginnings light my way.

Toward eternity.

Lead me in your light today.

Jesus, shine on me.

GROW:   Matthew 3:1-12

    “Repentance” is a concept that often makes us uncomfortable. Indeed, the idea of confronting and confessing our sin can be quite frightening. It is much more comfortable to trust in the belief that we are “good people,” or at least that we are better than Mr. and Mrs. neighbor next door. Comparison enables us to justify our actions, explain away our sin, and excuse ourselves from repentance. Yet, to act as though we have no need of repentance is to pretend that we also have no need of forgiveness—as though we have no need of a Savior.

    John the Baptist emerges onto the scene in Matthew 3 as a strangely dressed, locust eating wild man. Yet, this strange person is proclaiming a convicting message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Word quickly travels around Judea, “There is a new prophet preaching by the Jordan!” Israelites flock to John from miles around because they long to hear a word from the Lord. Surrounded and occupied by the Romans, God’s people know they need a savior. Their humble posture ensures that John’s proclamation pierces them to the heart. Indeed, they all begin confessing their sins and being baptized with the water of repentance. In fact, this movement has become so popular that even the religious leaders show up to be baptized. The trouble is, the Pharisees and Sadducees do not genuinely believe they need repentance. After all, they strictly follow the law, observe all God’s commandments, and their Israelite lineage is clear; they believe they are above being compared to the sinners around them. John doesn’t think so. He turns to these self-righteous leaders and says, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.”

    You and I can come to the waters of repentance with humility or with pride. We can either attempt to justify ourselves by demonizing the world around us, or we can honestly confess that we have failed to love. We can either try to save ourselves or acknowledge that we need a savior. Reflect on your need for Christ now. Use this prayer of repentance to guide your confession today: 

    Lord of Peace, we have done wrong. We have tarnished the gift you gave freely. We have buried you so deeply in our hearts, the world doesn't see you. We have not followed Christ. We have ignored your teachings. We have lived lives of apathy against your love. We have built fences and fortresses to push people away, and we have silenced the screams of those in need. Forgive us, we pray. Free us from our sin. Free us from our captivity. Free us to a life lived in joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Rev. Nathan Decker)

 

 

SERVE

Today, as an act of service, reflect on those who have been victims of your sin. In particular, name a relationship in your life that is in need of healing. Call that person you are estranged from. Remembering God’s grace in Christ, offer grace to that individual: repent of your wrong, extend forgiveness for theirs, and seek peace with humility and love.  

—Pastor Travis Caldeira

Monday, December 5th

  Longing:  An Advent Devotional   Overland Park Church of the Nazarene  Advent 2016  Monday, December 5th      CONNECT   As we continue our journey in Advent, let us sing, pray, and study our hopes and promises for our Savior:      Opening Prayer    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.       Hymn   That God should love a sinner such as I,  Should yearn to change my sorrow into bliss,  Nor rest till He planned to bring me nigh—  How wonderful is love like this!     Such love, such wondrous love!  Such love, such wondrous love!  That God should love a sinner such as I—  How wonderful is love like this!     That Christ should join so freely in the scheme,  Although it meant His death on Calvary—  Did ever human tongue find nobler theme  Than love divine that ransomed me?     That for a willful outcast such as I  The Father planned, the Savior bled and died,  Redemption for a worthless slave to buy,  Who long had law and grace defied!     And Now He takes me to His heart—a son;  He asks me not to fill a servant’s place.  The far-off country wanderings all are done;  Wide open are His arms of grace!          GROW   :  Romans 15:4-13         During this time of year we are overwhelmed by messages that would have us think we simply can buy whatever it is that is most precious to us. But as Paul concludes his letter to the Romans, we are reminded of two priceless gifts that we cannot purchase, but only receive from God, hope and harmony.      To Paul, hope is not some kind of wishful thinking. Hope is grounded in a trust that God will do what God has promised. But this hopeful trust is not something we generate on our own. Paul offers a word of blessing to the Romans that they “may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” This hope is a gracious gift of God.      The second gift Paul reminds us of is that of harmony, and encourages the Romans to “welcome one another.” But again, this acceptance of each other is not by our doing. It is only because “Christ has welcomed you,” that we are now able to welcome one another. There perhaps is no deeper yearning than to be welcomed and accepted simply for who we are and not what we have done or achieved.      We all long for the love of acceptance. During this season of Advent, we wait in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Christ, the God who would become flesh and dwell among us, and truly welcome and accept us for who we are.         SERVE   The early church theologian, Augustine, once said, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still accepts you.” Even though we may not know everything about most people we interact with on a daily basis, we are still able to offer the gift of acceptance to those around us. Many people feel the pain of loneliness especially during this time of year. Find one person today and offer them the gift of acceptance, the gift of feeling worth-while, by slowing down and taking the time to genuinely ask them how they are doing and listen intently. Let us accept one another, just as Christ has accepted you.     —Pastor Grant Christy

Longing:  An Advent Devotional

Overland Park Church of the Nazarene

Advent 2016

Monday, December 5th

 

CONNECT

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

 

Opening Prayer

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Hymn

That God should love a sinner such as I,

Should yearn to change my sorrow into bliss,

Nor rest till He planned to bring me nigh—

How wonderful is love like this!

 

Such love, such wondrous love!

Such love, such wondrous love!

That God should love a sinner such as I—

How wonderful is love like this!

 

That Christ should join so freely in the scheme,

Although it meant His death on Calvary—

Did ever human tongue find nobler theme

Than love divine that ransomed me?

 

That for a willful outcast such as I

The Father planned, the Savior bled and died,

Redemption for a worthless slave to buy,

Who long had law and grace defied!

 

And Now He takes me to His heart—a son;

He asks me not to fill a servant’s place.

The far-off country wanderings all are done;

Wide open are His arms of grace!

 

 

GROW:  Romans 15:4-13

    During this time of year we are overwhelmed by messages that would have us think we simply can buy whatever it is that is most precious to us. But as Paul concludes his letter to the Romans, we are reminded of two priceless gifts that we cannot purchase, but only receive from God, hope and harmony.

    To Paul, hope is not some kind of wishful thinking. Hope is grounded in a trust that God will do what God has promised. But this hopeful trust is not something we generate on our own. Paul offers a word of blessing to the Romans that they “may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” This hope is a gracious gift of God.

    The second gift Paul reminds us of is that of harmony, and encourages the Romans to “welcome one another.” But again, this acceptance of each other is not by our doing. It is only because “Christ has welcomed you,” that we are now able to welcome one another. There perhaps is no deeper yearning than to be welcomed and accepted simply for who we are and not what we have done or achieved.

    We all long for the love of acceptance. During this season of Advent, we wait in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Christ, the God who would become flesh and dwell among us, and truly welcome and accept us for who we are.

 

 

SERVE

The early church theologian, Augustine, once said, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still accepts you.” Even though we may not know everything about most people we interact with on a daily basis, we are still able to offer the gift of acceptance to those around us. Many people feel the pain of loneliness especially during this time of year. Find one person today and offer them the gift of acceptance, the gift of feeling worth-while, by slowing down and taking the time to genuinely ask them how they are doing and listen intently. Let us accept one another, just as Christ has accepted you.

 

—Pastor Grant Christy