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New Advent Series: It’s a Wonderful Christmas

This weekend at College Church we begin a new Advent series called “It’s Wonderful Christmas.” Over four sermons we will be looking at the specific approach that each of the four Gospels has towards the Incarnation and the Gospel narrative of Christmas. Historically, the four Gospel authors were known by different emphases that were represented in ancient artistic renditions that were viewed as representative of these emphases. We will be looking at the text of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then (on Christmas Eve) John. This weekend we are considering a “Down to Earth Christmas.” And we will be looking at Matthew’s genealogy which emphasizes the extraordinary movement of God to earth in the person of Christ, and the remarkable list of human forebears that are representative of the gracious redemption that Christmas describes. Here are four good reasons to come this weekend and hear what Matthew has to say about the Christmas...

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December 5: Humble Joy!

by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. Luke 1:46-55: 46 And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful     of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me –     holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,     from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;     he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones     but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things     but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant...

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December 4: Blessed Joy!

by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. Luke 1:39-45: At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has...

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December 3: Biblical Joy!

by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. Luke 1:35-38: The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her. How is this possible? A simple answer: God is going to do it. Simple,...

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December 2: Disturbing Joy!

by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. Luke 1:29-34: Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ Now the angel’s...

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December 1: Shocking Joy!

by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am going to be sharing with you those Bible readings, and giving some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. Luke 1:26-28: In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’  In Luke’s gospel, the master historian and medical doctor Luke records all the facts with care. Like all good storytellers, he also has a taste for the dramatic. It was “in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy” that once again God is on...

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Living with Evangelistic Urgency

God Centered Life Ministries is pleased to welcome Steven Lee, pastor of small groups and community outreach at College Church in Wheaton, IL. The man was unassuming. If I hadn’t been told, I would not have known he was a trained military expert for the Indonesian National Armed Forces. He began to tell me of how he came to faith from a Muslim background. Not just any Muslim background, but he was a teacher of Islamic law and practice. Hundreds of students learned from and listened to this man. But God’s ways are mysterious, and at 40 years old he came to know the Good News and confess allegiance to Christ. Next came very real persecution at the hands of angry former students. Not mean glares and disdainful looks, but physical attacks such as being stabbed and poisoned. The poisoning—with rat killer strategically placed in a sweet tea—permanently damaged his kidney and liver,...

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Radical

Radical/Crazy/Extreme/Really, Really Radical/Even More Crazy than Ever Before In Christian subculture there has been a spate of books and conferences that have emphasized the "radical" nature of following Jesus. But what does it truly mean to be radical? To be radical is, literally, to get to the root of something. From that original meaning it became connected to "radical" in the sense of crazy/extreme/even more crazy than ever before. If radical basically, literally, means to get to the root of something, then nothing could be more radical than Romans 8 verses 12 to 14. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. This is the...

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How Much Has Changed?

The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for November 2015. Yet another survey of American religious beliefs has come out recently. This was a telephone survey of 1,000 adults that purports to show that most Americans (no surprise here), including those who do not affiliate with a denomination of one kind or another, believe in a “Creator” (Christianheadlines.com October 8, 2015). This brings up a host of questions, as well as possible encouragements or otherwise. For instance, how much should we take as ‘gospel truth’ a survey of 1,000 people over the phone? If we want to get serious about what is going on in terms of trends we would do well to read the very brief but authoritative book by Mark Chaves entitled American Religion: Contemporary Trends (Princeton 2011). The trouble with books about trends is that they are quite rapidly out of date, but the advantage...

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