Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Worship Fully - Day 4 (Luke 1:67-79)

Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were very old before they conceived the child who would become John the Baptist. God gave them a great miracle for which they were both very thankful. Zechariah, however, lost his ability to speak until after the birth of John because he did not believe the angel who brought the news that Elizabeth would bear a child.

Today's scripture records the first words that Zechariah speaks after John's birth. Zechariah has had at least nine months to think of all the things he should have said when God's graciousness was announced to him. At the very first opportunity he has to speak, Zechariah's words are solely in praise of God.

How do we respond when God does amazing things for us? Do we turn to praise Him only momentarily and then move on to complain about the next 'problem' in our lives? Are we thankful that He has taken notice of us at all or are we filled with a sense of entitlement and expect God to fix everything for us and turn away from Him if he doesn't?

We are more loved than we can ever know by the Most High God- the Creator of everything. We should worship Him with unending praise simply because He is our creator. The fact that He cares for us should astound and overwhelm us.

Take time today to worship our God and our King. Even if it is for just a few minutes. Give our magnificent, steadfast, loving God the worship that is His due.


Father God, forgive us for inflating our importance and being so self- involved. Help us to reach outside of ourselves to truly worship and honor you today and every day. Amen


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Worship Fully - Day 3 (Luke 1:45-55)

Luke 1:45-55

Mary sang this wonderful song of worship and praise to God when it was confirmed by her cousin Elizabeth that she was truly pregnant with the long awaited messiah. Instead of being filled with fear at the situation she found herself in (as an unmarried, pregnant teenager with an uncertain future), Mary turned to God and worshipped Him.

Instead of complaining to God about the difficult situation He had put her in, Mary praised God for His care of those who are small and poor in the world's eyes. Rather than asking God to make Joseph marry her and secure her earthly position, Mary gave thanks to God for choosing her as His servant. Instead of asking God to make sure her life was easy because she was bearing the Christ child, Mary praised God for fulfilling his promise to deliver his people.

Mary knew that worship is about God, not her. When Mary praised God for His actions, the praise was all about God and not about Mary. Worship is participating in something outside of ourselves, for something other than our own need. To fully worship God is to recognize God's greatness and our smallness and yet be truly aware of His great love for us.

When we open ourselves to God's greatness and holiness, we can not help but truly worship.

Almighty God, you come to us as a small, helpless baby. Help us to see your greatness shining out of that manger throne in Bethlehem and open our own hearts to fully worship you and you alone. Amen.CS


Monday, November 28, 2011

Worship Fully - Day 2 (Matthew 2:1-12)

The Magi (or wise men as we traditionally call them) traveled from a far country to worship the baby king of the Jews that had been foretold through their reading of astrological signs. They caused quite an uproar among the leaders in Jerusalem as they vocally searched for the child.

A baby that would become the King of the Jews was quite a threat to the established political and religious regimes. No one seemed to think that maybe they should also go with the Magi in order to truly worship this child who had come to save them; Holding onto their power seemed to be the more important objective.

While the wise men seek to worship and are willing to listen to God, Herod plots to kill this child who might usurp his power.

In this story, who would you be? Would you be the one who is willing to travel great distances to worship an unlikely savior? Or would you be the one who is threatened by the power this child might hold over you and do everything possible to keep him out of your life?

Father God, open our hearts to your son. Forgive us for failing to see how much we need you. Give us the opportunity and desire to worship at the feet of the Christ child this Christmas. Amen.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Worship Fully - Day 1 (Isaiah 40:1-5)

Today we begin our Advent journey together. A journey during which we will be working towards worshipping more fully, spending less on ourselves, giving more to others, and loving all people.

That sounds to me like a pretty good way to prepare for the birth of our Lord and Savior over the next four weeks.

Our God speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today's scripture to tell us that he has never and will never forget us. No matter what we do, how often we turn away or deny Him, God will never forsake us.

Jesus is coming. He is coming for us and to be with us. Jesus is coming because of God's great love for us.

How will we respond to this amazing love?

Will we ignore it? Cheapen it by acknowledging it only when we need it? Use it as a convenient crutch when we mess up?

Or will we fall down and worship the God of the universe who has condescended to love us so fully that he is willing to become one of us and die for us?

This Christmas, who or what are you going to worship? Will you worship the One who created you? Or will you worship the things that He has created?

Heavenly Father, give us a sense of awe and wonder towards you this Advent season. Open our eyes to your holiness and profound love for us. Let us see each morning as a new opportunity to worship you and do your will. Amen.



Monday, November 21, 2011

The Story - endings

If you missed Caz' sermon on the Book of the Revelation yesterday, I highly recommend you listen to it. It's great!

As my computer is in for repairs and I am blogging from my phone, today's entry is going to be short and sweet.

We finished up our 'Story' series yesterday. A quick, four week tour of the New Testament. Hopefully, that quick overview has whetted your appetite for more and you are ready to dive into the Bible a little deeper. If so, we have just the thing for you!

Next Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent. The season in the church year where we prepare for the birth of Christ. Most stories have an ending, but the story of God's love for His people goes on infinitely through time. God constantly calls us to him in new ways. Every year, we have the opportunity to re-visit the birth of Christ and remember or possibly understand for the first time how God came to us in the form of a helpless baby who would give up his life for ours.

It is a story that is full of wonder and new beginnings. Starting next Monday, I will be writing a daily blog Monday - Friday of The Advent season. I hope that you will find these daily blogs a way to renew your acquaintance with Scripture and find the true meaning of Christmas that lies outside of the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the Holiday gift buying frenzy. To go along with our 'unplugging' of Christmas this year, Live Oak will have an opportunity each week of Advent to sere the community here in central Texas. From providing needed items and gifts for kids and families in the Leander School District, to caroling in a nursing home, to passing out food with CAFB's mobile Wheels of Sharing program, we will have plenty of opportunities for you and your entire family to serve this Advent Season.

Please come join us as we remember why we celebrate Christmas and put the focus back on Christ.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Story - The Letters

When was the last time you received a great letter from someone?

My Dad was a great letter writer. He wasn't very good at putting his emotions into words in person but if he took the time to write down his thoughts about something, you knew it was going to be special.

I suspect that whenever Christians around the Mediterranean received a letter from the Apostle Paul, they were pretty excited because they knew that whatever he had written, it was going to be something special. Out of the 27 books of the New Testament, 21 are letters written by early church leaders to congregations or individuals scattered around the Mediterranean. 13 of those 21 letters, were written by the Apostle Paul.

These are letters that were written to encourage, teach, build up and strengthen the early Christian Church and its members. These letters were so life-changing that they were copied and passed between congregations, eventually making it into what we now know as "The Holy Bible".

These letters are not just about 2,000 year old dead people and the issues that they were having. These letters are words that God continues to use to touch us today and change us into the people He is calling us to be.

You might not think that anyone has taken the time to write you a special letter lately, but you just haven't looked in the right place. God, working through his earthly servants, has written you very special letters. Open your Bible this week and read anything between Romans and Jude and see what God has to tell you this week.


Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9


Monday, November 7, 2011

Story - Acts

The book of Acts gives us an overview of the early Christian church. It was written by Luke (the author of the Gospel of the same name) and picks up where that book left off.

It is a story about God's Holy Spirit working through humans to create the new Christian Church by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.

If you haven't read it before, pick it up this week and read it. It's important.
It's important because it is the story of our history and how the Church came to be. It is the story of our church 'family'. It tells us about the bad times and the good times in the lives of the first Christians. It tells us about their faith in God and the ways that God worked through them and was faithful to them. It's important because, if we take it seriously, their story informs our story. It gives us faith, hope, and guidance.

Pick it up and read about your family this week.


That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met
. - Acts 2:43-45