CHRISTMAS 2017 DEVOTIONAL

As the world swirls and churns in turmoil around us, sometimes the last thing we feel is peace. The wonder and awe of the Christmas season can easily get overshadowed by sales, gift wrap, and bows. But for centuries, the Church has celebrated the tradition of Advent. Advent literally means "coming" in Latin, and is meant to provide a time for people to intentionally focus their hearts and minds on the true meaning of the season, the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - Emmanuel ("God with us.")

To help us do the same thing, we've created this Heavenly Peace Devotional. We’ll post a new devotion on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week leading up to Christmas. And, if you have the WCC App, with your notifications turned on, we'll even send you a link and reminder when each devotion is uploaded for you to view.

This Christmas season we want to help you discover heavenly peace, which delivers us from a hectic, broken world. Because it isn’t reserved for the “one great day” or an overly dramatic holiday commercial. It’s actually available NOW.

We’d also love to invite you and your family and friends to join us for our current Christmas series, Heavenly Peace on Sunday, December 3, 10, and 17, as well as our Christmas Services on Saturday, December 23, at 4 and 5:45pm or Sunday, December 24, at 9 and 10:45am. For more details, check these pages on our website about our Christmas series and our Christmas services.

Immanuel – God with You
O Come O Come Emmanuel, Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18-25

Immanuel – God with You
O Come O Come Emmanuel, Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18-25

You know how some people are just a comforting presence? With people like this, you can sit silently together and it doesn’t feel awkward. That is a glimmer of what God’s presence is like.

Jesus Christ is sometimes referred to as Immanuel which means ‘God with us’. Jesus fulfilled an old prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 which said that a virgin would have a baby who would be Immanuel. Immanuel is God’s response to the pain and heartache in this world.

God is not a distant force. He always chooses to enter in, bring peace, and resolve problems. We get a picture of this at Christmas by remembering that Jesus Christ, Immanuel, has come to be with us. We can find peace in Him.

One of the oldest Christmas songs is called “O Come O Come Emmanuel”. This hymn dates back to the 8th century. When we sing this ancient hymn we acknowledge that Christ's first coming gives us a reason to rejoice again and again, yet we know that all is not well with the world. So along with our rejoicing, we plead, using the words of this hymn, that Christ would come again to perfectly fulfill the promise that all darkness will be turned to light. That is the promise we can hold to each time we sing this timeless hymn.

This week, read & reflect on the words of Matthew 1:18-25.


The Dawn of Redeeming Grace
Silent Night, John 1:1-18

The Dawn of Redeeming Grace
Silent Night, John 1:1-18

This is the time of year when early sunsets and gray clouds can leave us feeling blue. Once in a while we’ll get a bright sunny day in the midst of the gloomy winter. These are days when suddenly everything seems hopeful. They put a little pep in our step. One of the most poetic passages in Scripture includes these words about Jesus, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” Jesus is the Word and the Light here in John 1:4-5. His coming is like the light of 1,000 suns blazing in the midst of a dreary winter. When we turn to Him, we too can reflect His light to the world. We can reflect Him in our hopefulness in spite of struggles. And we can reflect Him in our gracious attitude toward callous people. Each day we can pursue redemption and forgiveness in light of Christ and the hope He brings.

There’s a great verse in the song “Silent Night” that goes like this: “Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love's pure light; radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace”. Read John 1:1-18 this week and reflect on Christ who brings the “dawn of redeeming grace” to each of us.


When the Soul Felt Its Worth
O Holy Night, John 3:16, Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:6-11

When the Soul Felt Its Worth
O Holy Night, John 3:16, Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:6-11

Most of us learn sooner or later that we succeed in life when we play to our strengths. We find confidence in our areas of competence. Some of us are blessed with athletic skills. Some have good looks. Some are especially skilled at finding ways to create wealth. All of these areas of competence are good things, yet they can become a problem if they become the thing that gives us our sense of self- worth.

The most popular verse in the Bible teaches us that God so loved the world…us… you…me that He freely chose to give His Son for our benefit (John 3:16). In this gift we find our true worth. Our value isn’t found in our ability to perform. We find our value when we receive God’s gift and understand the significance of Jesus.

The hymn “O Holy Night” has a beautiful line that drives this point home. It says, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth”. When Christ gave up His divine privileges, took the humble position of a servant, was born as a human being, humbled himself in obedience to God, and ultimately died a criminal’s death on a cross, we were finally enabled to know our soul’s worth.

This week, read and reflect on John 3:16, Mark 10:45, and Philippians 2:6-11.


A Peace-Deprived World
Isaiah 9:6-7

A Peace-Deprived World
Isaiah 9:6-7

These days it seems anywhere you look you’ll find a situation that could use a little extra peace. Sometimes it’s as simple as your kids fighting about whose turn it is to play with a certain toy, to another child crying over their difficult math homework. Other times it’s messy relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. And sometimes it is a bit more complicated like North Korea, the Middle East, or US politics. We are clearly living in a peace-deprived world.

Often it feels like the easiest thing to do is just avoid these messy situations. We avoid certain people or topics of conversation so we don’t offend or get offended. We don’t stay informed because it stresses us out. And we don’t engage because it feels futile.

But disengaged avoidance isn’t the answer. That’s not how we’re called to respond to the world around us. These situations are without peace and we know where it is found. We know the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

This Christmas season let’s be people who engage with the messy world around us. Let’s be people who bring peace in the midst of chaos. Let’s be people who reflect Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

This week, read and reflect on Isaiah 9:6-7, that the Prince of Peace came to earth, that we have His peace inside us, and how we might share that peace with others. Ask God to show you how you can bring His peace to the hurting world around you.


Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Matthew 5:9, James 3:18, and John 20:21

Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Matthew 5:9, James 3:18, and John 20:21

During one of Jesus’ most famous sermons He said that, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) He said blessed are the peacemakers, but most of the time when we attempt to be a part of peace in the world we act more like peacekeepers.

What’s the difference between making and keeping peace? Keeping peace is about avoiding conflict, maintaining the status quo, and upholding order. Keeping peace is often a temporary solution that doesn’t bring lasting change. Making peace, on the other hand, is about digging in to the messy, unpredictable world around us. Making peace is about sharing the peace we know with others – the peace we’ve been given by God. Being a peacemaker has a lasting effect on our world and the difficult situations we encounter.

The challenge to be a peacemaker rather than a peacekeeper is a big one. But it is what we are called to do. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) We are called to go out and share God’s peace with those who need it. So, let’s rise to the challenge this Christmas season to be peacemakers in a world that desperately needs to experience God’s peace.

This week, read and reflect on Matthew 5:9, James 3:18, and John 20:21. Think about where have you simply been a peacekeeper when you could have been a peacemaker. Ask God to use you to make peace in difficult situations this Christmas season.


His Law is Love and His Gospel is Peace
O Holy Night, Ephesians 2:17

His Law is Love and His Gospel is Peace
O Holy Night, Ephesians 2:17

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
– O Holy Night

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the truth of those lines play out in our world today? Sometimes it can feel hopeless when we start thinking about all the situations in the world that lack peace. But we have to remember that God is at work bringing peace where there was once chaos and pain. Jesus came to preach peace to those near and far. (Ephesians 2:17) Think about how He brings peace to your life, you who are close to Him. And think about how He can bring peace to those who are still far from Him. Jesus, who breaks chains and provides freedom and teaches us love, is the Prince of Peace. He is at work all around and we are invited to join Him in bringing peace to a lost and hurting world.

This week, read and reflect on Ephesians 2:17 and the last verse of O Holy Night. As you think about God bringing peace to those near and far, consider how you might join Him in that work. If you feel called, consider giving to the WCC Care Fund. Through the Care Fund you’ll be partnering with others from our church to help those in our community experiencing hardship, or dealing with addiction, and reaching those around the world to experience the peace of God. You can give during services THIS Sunday to the WCC Care Fund, or through the end of the year. Check here for more details on the WCC Care Fund.