Devotions

While there’s a world full of incredible, biblically sound devotionals, there’s something special about a shared experience with those you attend church with. At DCC we want to provide a resource for anyone interested in investing in time with the Lord that they can discuss with others who attend DCC or frequent our website. Devotions are provided during Advent each year, and during the year as special needs arise.

Advent 2021: Saturday, December 25

December 25, 2021

Christmas Day!<br><br> He has come! He did not forget us!<br><br> “…my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).<br><br> “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ <br><br> “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, <br><br> ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:8-14)<br><br> Is it any wonder that there was so much excitement and joy surrounding the birth of the Messiah? This morning, take a moment and thank the Lord for coming back for us, for coming back to fulfill his promise not to forget us, for coming back to save us!<br><br> Merry Christmas,<br> Jim Howard, pastor

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 24

December 24, 2021

World at War<br><br> What is the only thing an army can do to win a war? They must invade enemy territory. To set hostages free you must go and pull them out of captivity. A prisoner is chained to the wall. Can he move on his own? The first Adam gave control of the Earth to Lucifer. The second Adam has come to take it back. Jesus has infiltrated the territory of Satan. He has come to set the prisoners free. Free from "everything that entangles" to be able to live as Jesus meant us to. It has been said "we are his hands and feet", we are also his weapons... Only if we "love God and love others". These are the armament of God. Satan can only be defeated by love. As Martin Luther King said: "hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that". This is not a passive resistance; it is being and doing what Jesus has set you free to do. Be the weapon of love.<br><br> Merry Christmas,<br> Tim Seeling, elder

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 23

December 23, 2021

Have you ever noticed how balance (or lack thereof) seems to dictate so much of the peace and joy you experience in life? Standing on one foot with your eyes closed, looking at what you usually eat, your bank statement, how many hours you work, how much you play, time spent with family/friends, time spent in reflection with God—all will give you an idea of where you have balance or... not.<br><br> Christmastime seems to magnify the issue. Our own unrealistic expectations and those of our culture force us to look at the way we handle our time, our finances, our relationships, our generosity. The signs of Peace and Joy! that are all around us are merely “wished for” places we would like to experience. Yet it is a time of celebration of the birth of Jesus—the only one who ever modeled true balance in all areas of life.<br><br> If we are willing to trust in Him and believe he truly wants us to have peace and joy in life we can ask Him—the one who mastered it—to show us the way... what a concept! What a gift we received when he was born!<br><br> Judy Morgan, treasurer

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 22

December 22, 2021

Preparation. Tradition. Excitement. <br><br> These three words are the first ones that come to mind in describing Advent. The hanging of Christmas lights on the newly installed Christmas tree prepares our homes for the Christmas season. Excitement builds as the date draws nearer and gifts begin to pile up underneath the tree. Plans are made for Christmas eve and Christmas day, and families fulfill their unique traditions to celebrate. <br><br> The Jewish people in the time of Jesus had these three characteristics as well: the promise of a Savior created excitement, while Jewish traditions and prophecies pointed towards the coming of the Messiah, and John the Baptist prepared the way. <br><br> But Jesus brought one more word to the Christmas season—simplicity. Born in a lowly manger to humble parents, Jesus turned the world upside down. The King and Creator of the universe entered Earth as a crying and helpless babe. As he grew to an adult, he remained committed to simplicity: showing us how little in life truly matters. By revealing how worthless our indicators of success are (wealth, status, power), he stripped us to our true, spiritual selves. As Jesus entered the world as a simple child, he commands us live our lives likewise: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).<br><br> Lelan Eberly, high school director

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, December 21

December 21, 2021

What Does Christmas Sound Like?<br><br> During Christmas time, one thing I’ve noticed is that there is a veritable smorgasbord of sounds. From music and carols to the ringing of Salvation Army bells, so many sounds bring us into the season through our auditory memory.<br><br> I loved hearing the subdued voices of my family as a child, as treats and surprises were planned, and now as an adult, as our loves conspire to provide for and surprise each other. Hearing the whispered, low-toned communications fuels a sense of anticipation, fun and even a sense of being precious to someone.<br><br> I wonder if the Wise Men approached the manger with such a sense of awe and anticipation. Were their voices subdued in excitement as they approached Christ in the manger, with their gifts? Were they hushed by the importance of what they found by following the star?<br><br> “Faith is believing that all power can’t be seen”. (Sometimes we can hear it …)<br><br> Jude Mitchell, Church Lady

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Advent 2021: Monday, December 20

December 20, 2021

We haven’t celebrated Advent much in our family. So, my thoughts have been more serious towards Advent this year. Perhaps because I feel the stress of work as much as ever, so I am feeling guilty about missing the joy and peace of this season. Perhaps it is because my grown children get a tree and put up lights, but I don’t see them rejoicing in Jesus our Savior. So, I admit, it is with some sadness I look towards Advent.<br><br> My gorgeous and precious little girl, Hilary, just had her first child, baby Idris, 5 pounds 8 ounces 😊. Our entire family is rejoicing in this little girl. We think she rocks! Yet she is entirely dependent on us to live. This draws me to baby Jesus in a new way. The irony of the creator with power over all, to put himself in the form of a baby who would die if his teenage mom and clueless dad didn’t care for him. God put his trust, his life in our hands, the hands of humanity in the parents of Mary and Joseph.<br><br> I will put my trust in God. I have hope and now I have peace.<br><br> Tim Morris, father, grandfather, elder

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Advent 2021: Sunday, December 19

December 19, 2021

GOD, coming for us. What does he want? What is he after?<br><br> What was lost at the fall? God walked with Adam and Eve. They were in conversation, learning, give and take, joking (naming animals, not in Latin!) and so much we don't know about. How could we? We have never had that physical as well as spiritual bond. But what was lost is exactly what Jesus came to restore. Did Adam have a set of rules besides the one to live by? Was he concerned with being righteous enough for Eve or God? <br><br> He was just... well, Adam. All the time. And that is who God wanted. God didn't need a caretaker of creation; he could do that with a Word. Why did the Father put the whole of creation into motion? To give something for the man to do? No. God wanted to expand the confines of LOVE. The strongest proof of the Trinity is... LOVE. Can you really love by yourself? You need someone else to love. If God is love... he can't be alone.<br><br> God created us to be... us. Sure, we have the Natural Man to contend with. But God created us to be us. Jesus came to rescue... us. Not something we will become some day in Heaven. He wants our hearts, personalities, our attention. He wants US. You are what he wants so he can love us and teach us how to love. Jesus died so we can be free to be us.<br><br> Tim Seeling, elder

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Advent 2021: Saturday, December 18

December 18, 2021

Many may remember the old movie “Pollyanna” where the main character (Hayley Mills) lived to spread the message of finding the good in everything regardless of one’s circumstances. It was a “feel good” movie with a proper ending that left me thinking, even as a little girl, that I should do the same. <br><br> Today we are exposed to many books and articles that tell us the same thing--be grateful, find something to think positive about every day, be thankful for everything. What a concept!! These secular ideas mimic the very same things taught in God’s word—"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”. (Phil 4: 8). “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). Let us truly rejoice in the Lord’s birth and ask Him to give us the heart of gratefulness and the power to live out these verses.<br><br> Christmastime is the best time to start if you haven’t already!<br><br> Judy Morgan, treasurer

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 17

December 17, 2021

The Jesse Tree<br><br> When I worked in Parochial schools during my teaching career, every Advent we had a Jesse Tree on display in a very prominent place for all to see. The Jesse tree was just a branch from a tree. The whole school gathered each day around the tree to hear a Bible story about someone on Jesus’ family tree. We also hung an ornament symbolizing the story on the Jesse tree.<br><br> This tradition comes from Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesus is descended from the line of King David, Israel’s greatest king. Jesse was David’s father. And Jesus is the branch that God promised would sprout from the family tree of Jesse.<br><br> Here are some of the Bible stories that we read surrounding the Jesse Tree.<br><br> <ul> <li>Creation of Humans, Genesis 1:26-31, symbol Adam & Eve & globe</li> <li>The Fall, Genesis 3, symbol snake and apple</li> <li>Noah’s Ark, Genesis 6:11-14; 7:17-8:3; 9:8-13, symbol Noah’s ark</li> <li>The Promised Land, Genesis 12:1-7, symbol Tent and camel</li> <li>God’s Promise to Abraham, Genesis 15:1-6, starry sky</li> <li>Joseph, Genesis 37:1-36, symbol Joseph’s coat of many colors</li> <li>The 10 Commandments, Deuteronomy 5:1-22, tablets</li> <li>Rahab, Joshua 2:1-21, red rope</li> <li>Ruth and Boaz, Ruth 2:1-4:12, grain</li> <li>God Chooses David to be King, 1 Samuel 16:1-15, shepherd’s crook</li> <li>Elijah & God’s Triumph over Baal, 1 Kings 18:17-24, 36-39, fire & altar</li> <li>Esther Saves Her People, Esther 4, scepter (staff or baton of a king)</li> <li>Isaiah’s Prophecy of a Savior, Isaiah 9:2-7, sun</li> <li>Prophecy of Savior Born in Bethlehem, Micah 5:1-5, city of Bethlehem</li> <li>Elizabeth and Zechariah, Luke 1:5-25, praying hands</li> <li>John the Baptist, Matthew 3:1-6, baptism shell, water</li> <li>God Chooses Mary, Luke 1:26-38, Mary</li> <li>Angel Appears to Joseph, Matthew 1:18-25, Angel of the Lord</li> <li>Mary and Joseph Go to Bethlehem, Luke 2:1-5, sandals</li> <li>Jesus is Born, Luke 2:6-21, Baby in the Manger</li> </ul> <br><br> None of these readings are long, but hopefully all will learn something from them. You don’t have to do them all. The children were so excited each day to see what the new story was. I had my whole school to share them with, but they are also great to share with the family and friends.<br><br> Donna Tyburski, elder

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 16

December 16, 2021

Recitals, plays, shopping, parties, gift exchanges, decorating, cooking, baking, homework, finals… the list goes on and on of things that fill our time during the Christmas season. Good things! Events that bring us together, tasks that help us think about the people in our lives… if that’s the motivation behind them.<br><br> Oftentimes, we get too caught up in our “performance;” do they like my food, am I wearing the right things, will they like the gift, are my kids behaving? And not focused enough on God’s performance. Goodness, he sent his one and only Son because he loves us so much!<br><br> Why am I attending this party? So that I can be seen as important, so my family thinks I’m trying to make the season special, so I can try out a new recipe. NO! Because the Spirit fills me with love for this community! Why am I giving gifts? To check it off the list, so I can be seen as a good gift giver, so I can be seen as generous. NO! Because it gives me an opportunity to fill my thoughts with that person. What do they like, how do they fill their time, what makes them smile?<br><br> This year, I’m trying not to selfishly check things off my Christmas to-do list, I’m going to let God guide me through my interactions and chores. I’m guessing I’ll be filled with his LOVE, JOY and PEACE! And hopeful it will rub off on a few people :)<br><br> Jenn Odell, director of middle school ministries

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 15

December 15, 2021

Have you ever pondered the possible humor in the birth story of Jesus? The potential for situational humor is great. Consider this: In Mathew’s account it says, “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.” What was the conversation that Joseph had in his head with the Lord? As a guy, I can only imagine. “I know you said that what was conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit, but come on… Really??? Now I gotta wait another nine months and who knows how long! Dahhh!” <br><br> Or can you imagine Joseph trying to sell overly pregnant cantankerous Mary on the idea of traveling to Bethlehem for the census? Mary: “He wants a census? A Census? Now??? Well you tell him he can stuff it!” Josheph: “Now Mary, come on, it won’t be that bad.” Mary: “That’s easy for you to say! You won’t have a watermelon pressing down on your bladder the whole way to Bethlemhem.” Joseph: “I’ve got a donkey!?! That’ll make the trip real easy. Smooth. Traveling in comfort like a queen. And besides, Bethlehem is really nice this time of year and the journey is only about 103 miles. Piece of felafel!” Mary: “Don’t you ‘piece of felafel’ me!” <br><br> Or how about this scenario: Inn keeper: “Sorry mate! No room. You can sleep in the barn if ya want.” Joseph: Ahhh… ok… thanks.” (then to himself) “Oh poop! She’s gonna kill me! I knew I should’ve made a reservation. How am I going to sell this one?” (then to Mary) Ahem… hahha… Um… Hey Mary, so… um.. they have given us a very nice room. Plenty of space, nice views, relatively quiet, not too crowded with humans… real nice, quiet luxurious really when you think about it the right way. Quite the experience. Experience of a lifetime really! How do you feel about Egypt?” Mary: “...” <br><br> Well, it seems funny to me and so I thought I’d share. As it is said, “Laughter doth good, like a medicine.” I have also heard it said that “If there is one noise the devil hates, it is the sound of laughter.” May your Christmas this year be filled with laughter, and I pray that if it is not easily found that you will look for and find it. <br><br> Rob Schmidt, pastor of worship and arts

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, December 14

December 14, 2021

As the years have gone by, I’ve noticed myself longing for a simpler time, especially during this sacred season.<br><br> This past 18 months has certainly affected my perspectives on so many things, most meaningfully, the incredible gift of life that God has given us all. That life, for every one of us is limited in capacity, talents, perspectives and of course, time. This pandemic has given us an amazing opportunity to observe ourselves and others’ responses to uncertainty and outside influence. An opportunity to trust God’s way and His will, or not.<br><br> I have watched so many cringe in fear, devolving into anger and helplessness and judgement. I have watched so many boldly defy, devolving into anger, self-righteousness, and judgement. In each case I have wondered firstly, where am I on that continuum? Secondly, where is our faith in this time of uncertainty and confusion? Where is God?<br><br> The manger reminds us that He’s been here all along, of course. Christ was born for such a time as this. This Christmas, yet another reminder of God’s grace and love for us, allows us to stop the internal chaos to let His quiet love, wisdom and provision into our spirits. This brings a calming which helps us realign. This pandemic has shown us the ugly truth that we are not, after all, in charge of the universe. Who knew?<br><br> So now once again, I lean on the knowing that God reigns, and, well… I don’t. A child was born to redeem my life, however long it is, and whatever I do with it. What an amazing Christmas gift… each and every year a new gift of life. How amazing!<br><br> May you be blessed with God’s gift of life.<br><br> Jude Mitchell, administrator

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Advent 2021: Monday, December 13

December 13, 2021

One of the lessons many of us learned during COVID was the value of community.<br><br> Scripture talks of the various gifts given for creating community in the church (Romans 12: 4-8). Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”<br><br> We need each other. Our faith grows, our friendships are deepened, and our lives become richer as we practice love, friendship, and community as believers.<br><br> Let’s make this Advent and Christmas season richer and more meaningful by spending time together celebrating what Christ has done for us.<br><br> Merry Christmas,<br><br> Don Wolf, elder

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Advent 2021: Sunday, December 12

December 12, 2021

I find it interesting that Christmas and the new year are only 8 days apart and both provide us a time to reflect on the last year and hope for the new year. Like many, this past year has been a year of loss for me. My spiritual mentor and long-time friend of 45 years passed away this August and my only brother passed away in September.<br><br> Feelings of grief and emptiness are natural when we lose something or someone dear to us. Coupled with this loss, is the recognition that our own time is limited. Regardless of our age, it is important for us to wrestle with the reality that our days are numbered. As we think about the days ahead, we need to strive to live them well and fill them with love and purpose.<br><br> As Christians our purpose is simply to “Love God and love one another”. Each of our paths are different as to how we will do this, but I find it reassuring that in some small way we can each play a role in making this world a more loving, peaceful, and just place. As we play our role, we also have the promise of God at work, transforming us to be more loving and Christ-like. Slowly chiseling off our rough exterior, to reveal the beautiful creation that God has designed and destined us to be. In this metamorphosis we are slowly freed from the self-destructive desires and actions that may at the time seem scintillating and fun but end up destroying our lives and the lives of those around us.<br><br> In this Christmas season I pray that we can recognize the great gift we have been given in the birth of Christ. His gift includes purpose, meaning, peace and joy as we walk thru this life in the here and now. And the best part is, that this is only the beginning. <br><br> Merry Christmas!<br><br> Steve Hill, elder

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Advent 2021: Saturday, December 11

December 11, 2021

“Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath. And when He stood up to read, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it was written:<br><br> ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’<br><br><br><br> Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him, and He began by saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”<br><br> I hope Advent is not focused on buying gifts and filling our refrigerators with rich food, but as we wait for Christmas, we remember why Jesus came and provide good news for the poor, offer a helping hand to those imprisoned by sin, drugs, or mental illness, and walk with the lame.<br><br> “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.” (Micah 6:4)<br><br> Tim Morris, elder

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 10

December 10, 2021

As a child, growing up in rural Iowa, my mom and dad always emphasized the 4 seasons. Starting with the end of winter, Spring rapidly moved into the fore front. Watching the melting snow, warmer days, the change of color from gray to green. Warm winds and the smell of black dirt filled our senses. Sowing time. <br><br> Summer showed up with a hot blast and rain. Working in humid corn fields and gardens, family picnics and cool dips in the sand pits, were always on the agenda. Growing time. <br><br> The window in my bedroom now closed as hot summer nights were gradually replaced with cool fall evenings. And the smell of burning leaves filled the air. Combines and pickers worked the fields and gardens, and the vegetable stands were filled to the brim. Barn dances and Friday night football games. Harvest time. <br><br> Days became shorter, fireplaces now burning longer. Snow covering roadways and our walks getting shorter. Warmth, Family, and friends Thanksgiving. Quiet Silent nights. A time for Reflection and Celebration. <br><br> I did not have a favorite season. They were all good. They were all divine displays of God’s creation…especially with the advent of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! <br><br> Mike Graham, elder

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 9

December 9, 2021

The small child, helpless in His mother’s arms. The crowd gathered around, the pair staring in wonder and cherishing the moment at hand.<br><br> The Father, off to the side, but a part of it all. Proud, and knowing that the answer is nigh.<br><br> The starry night sky above, the heavenly hosts singing “Hosanna in the Highest”. <br><br> The story starts off sweet, but ends triumphantly, with the life of the babe, Knowing that the answer is His, starts a journey that saves us all.<br><br> Jim Anderson, elder

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Advent 2021: Monday, December 6

December 8, 2021

In Middle School youth group this month, we’re looking at different Christmas traditions and how we can reach out to different groups of people through them.<br><br> Christmas cards! I always overcomplicate this one and try to find the perfect family picture to send out. But it can be so simple to write a note that says, “I was just thinking of you today, Merry Christmas!” A grandparent, a cousin, a friend who lives far away, how much would they love to hear from you? What a sweet blessing you can give them! <br><br> Christmas cookies! Who doesn’t love them?! A little bag or box filled with cookies and delivered to a neighbor is a simple way to spread some Christmas cheer. Little, unexpected gifts like this can make them feel seen and cared for. <br><br> Service to others! With all the time off work and school, we are given plenty of opportunities to find a way to serve those closest to us; siblings, parents, children. Do her dishes, make his bed, give her the best seat to watch a movie, tell him something you like about him, give her the biggest piece of dessert! <br><br> It’s easy to look at our family tradition as “ours,” instead, let’s use them to include others and bless those around us, near and far!<br><br> Jenn Odell, director of Middle School ministries

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, December 7

December 8, 2021

Nelson Mandela completely changed South Africa. After 27 years in prison on Robben Island, he focused on forgiveness and healing of his country’s divisions. He said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we lived; it is the difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”<br><br> As we celebrate the Advent season, we think of the life lived by our Savior who gave His life that we might know joyous hope in a lost and dark world. This is of ultimate significance. Jesus has called each of us to be light and salt by our lives. I would like for each of us to read and dwell for a few minutes on Ephesians 3:14-20, and I Corinthians 13 as we reflect on Christ’s life, our response to Him, and to what ultimately counts in a life well lived.<br><br> Don Wolf, elder

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 8

December 8, 2021

The not so Cheerful Giver<br><br> Every year my wife and I talk about how this year we want to focus the spirit of Christmas around giving to those who need. I suspect that I'm not alone in feeling like I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to buy for people in my life who really don't need anything. Don't get me wrong. Gift giving and this is certainly a fun way of showing each other our love, but it never seems to bring me the joy and satisfaction that one would expect.<br><br> Recently I was pumping gas in my car when I spotted a man with a gas can walking toward me. As he passed up the other pumps, he confirmed my suspicion that he was going to hit me up for some free gas. Reluctantly, I put my nozzle in his can. As I pumped, I couldn't help but feel a spirit of resentment. I got cornered, suckered in, and was now at nearly $4 a gallon, I was being taken advantage of. To add to it he felt at liberty to inform me that the can holds 6 gallons. Well, I gave him a couple, since I was nobody's fool and he left. <br><br> As I got in my car I felt as though I had failed. My heart was not ready to give, and as a result I failed to give generously because of my pride. More importantly I failed to share the love of Jesus with someone who didn't just have an empty fuel tank. Perhaps my fuel tank was empty because I had not bothered to fill it up, or I had not allowed God to fill it. <br><br> The act of generous giving blesses both the giver and the receiver when it is done through the love of Christ.<br><br> On the bright side, I know I'll get another chance. <br><br> “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).<br><br> Matt Dayton, elder

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Advent 2021: Sunday, December 5

December 5, 2021

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa 7:17).<br><br> As a child growing up in Colorado, the anticipation of Christmas and the excitement it brings, was generally accompanied by snow… this paradigm remained as I grew older, usually with the changeover of summer toys for winter…<br><br> However, this year has been quite different. I have found it difficult to get into the spirit of the season, especially as I look outside and see a beautiful summer-like day and contemplate if I should head out for a bike ride.<br><br> This lack of excitement has fashioned an internal conflict within me. What exactly am I looking for this Christmas season; am I focused on worldly, self-gratification or on “our Savior, which is Christ the Lord?”<br><br> What sign are you looking for this Advent season?<br><br> Brett Confer, elder

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Advent 2021: Saturday, December 4

December 4, 2021

Growing up in a large family, we had some strange Christmas traditions. For many years, we didn’t even have a Christmas tree! With so many siblings, none of our gifts were anything expensive either. And we always worked on Christmas too: the calves had to get fed somehow! And yet, Christmas was still a special time that our family spent remembering the birth of Christ, eating good food, and enjoying each other’s company. The tree eventually comes down and the gifts end up in a box in the attic, but the memories we have of time well spent are priceless. I pray that each of you are able to enjoy Christmas with loved ones and celebrate the gift of life! <br><br>Lelan Eberly, director of High School ministries

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Advent 2021: Friday, December 3

December 3, 2021

This Advent season we are highlighting the various “players” in the Nativity story. How often have we talked about the Virgin Mary or the animals surrounding newborn Jesus but not stopped to interpret or investigate what each of those characters brought to the birth story. <br><br>The Angels and Shepherds were tasked with the amazing job of announcing the birth of our Savior. I mean, wow! Can you imagine being the bearer of that news? If you’ve ever played the game Telephone you know how things can get lost in translation... no pressure! <br><br>Then there were the animals who gently and sweetly looked down at baby Jesus and “meowed” or “mooed” at his cuteness... or wait, did they? Intuitively we think that the setting should be filled with all sorts of animals, but the Bible never mentions any in the story of Jesus’ birth... <br><br>The Wise Men followed on their camels to bring the infant Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh... oh wait... they didn’t arrive until Jesus was two (they should be far from your household nativity set)! And there are no accounts of them riding camels... <br><br>Then the most amazing piece of the story, Joseph and Mary. How terrified the Virgin Mary must have been to face a town full of people that couldn’t find her a place to lay her head let alone have a BABY! What mother wants to give birth anywhere other than those cozy birthing rooms in our modern hospitals?! <br><br>Each of these characters has an amazing and crucial part in the story of Jesus’ birth. A baby who could have entered the world as a grown man, a King, entered the world in a stable (perhaps with the company of animals?). Imagine how humbling it would be for the Lord to choose us as unknowing participants in a story such as this. <br><br>Julie Andrews, director of children’s ministries

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Advent 2021: Thursday, December 2

December 2, 2021

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matt 5:37). <br><br>Have you ever dropped the ball? Promised something to someone and then just absentmindedly or very deliberately failed to follow through? If you answered “No” to this question you are a better person than I. Now for the rest of us normal fallen knuckleheads, if you were to give answer to the question “Why did you drop the ball?” you might run down a list of excuses that would give account for your shortcoming or hide the motivations behind your transgression. But make no mistake, your actions did not match your words. <br><br>Perhaps one of the great challenges in life for every human and especially for the Christian is to have the confessions of our mouth line up with way we conduct ourselves every day. So, this Christmas, consider that one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family, friends and to the world at large is to let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No”, “No.” And you just might be surprised to find that in so doing you will be giving yourself quite a gift as well; namely freedom. For as Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31b-32). <br><br>Rob Schmidt, pastor

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Advent 2021: Wednesday, December 1

December 1, 2021

The traffic, the lines, the people, all of whom forgot how to think, or so it seems… like a scene from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the Island of Mis-fit Toys. You wonder if it will ever end, or at least get any better? <br><br>Pull over, step aside, slow down, and take a long deep breath. Then, dig for that prayer, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name.” The Father, The Almighty, knows what we are going through. He has given us an answer, One who came as a small helpless babe, Born in the place where few wanted to go, let alone stay. <br><br>He came for you, for us, for everyone. He is the Christ in Christmas. <br><br>Jim Anderson, elder

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Advent 2021: Tuesday, November 30

November 30, 2021

Advent is a time of watching, waiting, praying and giving alms. We are to prepare our minds and hearts for the coming of our Lord on Christmas day. It is the time four weeks before Christmas. <br><br>Many, many years ago when I first got engaged, I remember a time of waiting. My Mother told me that she and my Uncle George had ordered something for me as an engagement/Christmas gift, BUT that it wouldn’t get there till after the holidays sometime in January. She gave me some hints, but nothing helped. I tried and tried to get her to tell me what it was. No matter how hard I tried, she would not give in. I asked all kinds of questions… what’s it made of? How big is it? What can I do with it? It just didn’t work. Nooooo! I had to wait. <br><br>Waiting is not easy, no matter what we are waiting for—a gift, some news, medical test results. Waiting for the Messiah was that way for the Jewish people. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, very few people realized what was happening. Then the waiting was over. The Messiah was born. <br><br>As Advent begins we should realize what is commemorated on Christmas and what He did for us. We need to get ourselves ready for His coming. Let’s focus on our coming Savior this Advent, born in a cave with all the animals, without Whom we can do nothing—not even breathe. <br><br>Donna Tyburski, elder‍

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Advent 2021: Monday, November 29

November 29, 2021

Advent! Ah, preparing for Christmas! This is a good thing. <br><br>I grew up in the Presbyterian Church where Advent seemed to be overlooked. But in the fall of 1979, I headed off to the University of Vermont to get an education while playing rugby, drinking lots of beer and chasing the girls. A bold young man came into my dorm room one partying Wednesday night and told me about Jesus. I had heard of Him all my life, but never realized there was a decision to make, a life changing decision. After several weeks of study and discussion, God brought me to my knees, I had to turn to him. I prayed for forgiveness and devoted my entire life, come what may, to Jesus my Savior. This was late fall of 1979. <br><br>My first advent, my first Christmas, which was about the Savior of the world, not Santa Clause. I wasn’t even aware of the word Advent at that time. I was just in awe this first Christmas, seeing Christ through new eyes. I was a new creation! <br><br>I flew back home for Christmas, to my family and my homies in British Columbia, Canada. The same beer, the same ski slopes, the same old friends I had grown up with, but everything looked different. My old friends were now sons and daughters of the Most High deserving of respect and needing redemption. And skiing wasn’t the end all it had been, it was a gift from God to be put into perspective with all of God’s gifts and subjugated to his Lordship. <br><br>I am older now, but still a new creation. I have seen 40+ advents, AND I still need to be in awe of the Lord’s supreme act of coming to earth in human form and calling us all back to God. Let us bow down and worship Him! <br><br>Tim Morris, elder‍

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Advent 2021: Sunday, November 28

November 28, 2021

Advent! What a special time of year. Yes, Advent has to do with remembering the Lord’s coming and appearing to redeem us, but it is so much more. It is an invitation. An invitation to enter into relationship with Jesus (who has made God known). An invitation to receive his forgiveness. An invitation to experience his redemptive grace. An invitation to enjoy his deep love and to feel his embrace! In a time of overwhelming consumerism, confusions, fear, and division can you accept his invitation?<br><br>“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).<br><br>Rest and enjoy,<br>Jim Howard, pastor

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No Fulfillment Found in Wisdom

September 16, 2021

Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18)

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No Fulfillment in Wisdom!

September 16, 2021

Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18)

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Balance

March 24, 2021

Paul Tripp, author of our favorite devotional, New Morning Mercies, recently posted that there are 3 central attributes of our lives… “God, relationships and work.” Thinking about work, we can easily find reward, satisfaction, security, recognition and friendships. In fact, we are so drawn to work that our family relationships and spiritual life often suffer or are neglected.

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