Devotional – Luke 1.37

Devotional:

Luke 1.37

For nothing will be impossible for God.

Weekly Devotional Image

Our parsonage is beautiful. One of the many blessings of serving as a pastor for a United Methodist church is the fact that the local church often provides a parsonage for their pastor and family. I’ll freely admit that I was slightly nervous before arriving in Staunton for the first time because I would have no say about where I was living. Whereas other families can pick and choose a residence based upon their proclivities, I would be stuck with whatever St. John’s provided. However, when I began moving my belongings in, I realized how very fortunate I was.

Providing a parsonage is an incredible act of grace and generosity, one that I try to not take for granted. Whenever I pull into the driveway after a particularly stressful day at the church, I give God thanks for the people of our church community and their willingness to provide such a wonderful gift for my family. I am proud of the parsonage and I look forward to the changing seasons as an opportunity to adorn the house with different holiday elements.

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I invited everyone from the church community for an open house at the parsonage. Part of our decision was born out of the fact that the parsonage belongs to the church, and we wanted to express our thankfulness for their generosity. (The other part of our decision was born out of the fact that Lindsey talked me into purchasing two Christmas trees this year, and she wanted to show off all of our ornaments.) We worked hard last week to clean and organize everything, prepare an abundance of food, and open our house to those near and dear to us.

Youth playing "Just Dance" during the Open House

Youth playing “Just Dance” during the Open House

At some point during the open house, I was struck by how remarkably blessed we are. In such a short amount of time Lindsey and I have been so welcomed into the local community, and to be surrounded by our church family was a humbling experience. I looked around and saw the people I have prayed with, and for, on a regular basis, I saw the children I have baptized, I saw the individuals I have counseled, and I saw God’s love manifest in the gathered people.

I have known for a long time that I felt called to be a pastor, but I never imagined that it would feel this incredible and graceful. I thought that being part of a loving community to this degree was impossible. But nothing is impossible for God.

The feelings that I experienced yesterday were only possible because of the incredible gift that God gave us in Jesus Christ. Without the impossible possibility of God coming in the form of flesh as a baby in a manger we would not have such a loving community. Without the impossible possibility of God’s unending love and grace, we would not see one another as precious gifts.

In these few remaining days of Advent, I encourage you to look around at the blessings in your life, give thanks to God for the gifts that you have been given, and remember that nothing is impossible for God.

Devotional – Isaiah 25.1

Devotional:

Isaiah 25.1

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Weekly Devotional Image

I felt very stressed during church yesterday. When I arrived in the morning I was dismayed to discover that the boiler was not working properly and we had no heat in the sanctuary. I must’ve gone into the basement five times in order to figure out what was wrong before the worship service began. Instead of taking the proper time to be in prayer and rested for worship, I spent the morning running around with thoughts of pilot lights and water pumps rather than Psalm 19 and God’s presence. Moreover, as the service began I noticed that the sound system was not functioning and I realized I was going to have to use my big preacher voice; instead of entering the sanctuary and singing the opening hymn faithfully, I worried about the lay people who rely on hearing assisted devices that would not be working.

When our service ended I felt drained. Carrying the burden of worship is often enough on its own, but to have the added stressors yesterday was almost too much. (Both the boiler and the sound system have now been fixed, in case any of you were worried). After shaking hands with everyone as they left, my wife, Lindsey, wrapped her arms around me, and told me that she was taking me out to lunch. Without having to explain to her everything that I had been through in the morning, without even mentioning how drained I felt, she read me like a comic book and offered to take care of me.

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We all have many blessings, even when we feel like we are in one of the deep valleys of life. While Lindsey and I drove to lunch yesterday I thanked and praised God for having done so many wonderful things for me: for bringing Lindsey and I together, for appointing me to a church with such loving and caring people, for bringing us to Staunton, for being present with me even when I let the stress of church overpower me. There are times when I find myself praying for others in our church and community, and I forget to thank God for all that he has done for me. It is sad how often I take for granted the incredible grace and mercy of the Lord that has been poured onto my life and I would do better to remember the words of Isaiah while I pray: “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.”

What are some of the wonderful things that God has done for you? Have you thanked God today for the blessings in your life?

Let us be thankful people who praise the Lord for his faithful presence.