Jesus: God’s Gift To You

IMG_0878As we approach Christmas,  hear again the words of the angel to the shepherds tending their flocks in Bethlehem’s fields that night and ponder them in your own heart: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you ….” These words tell us that the greatest gift ever given to mankind came not in wrapping paper and a bow, but rather in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. The Savior has been born “to you.” In these two words, are embodied the gospel of Christmas. They create faith in the hearer when they are received with an open heart, because these two words deliver this Holy Child to each one personally. If the text stated only that a Savior had been born, people might say “So what?” But it says that “a Savior has been born to you.” This personalizes the message, and makes it inescapable. These two little words, to you, evoke a response – believe or reject the Christ of Christmas.

The gift of God’s Son is universal, He came for everyone; yet, He’s a personal gift – He came for you. If there was a tag on that little bundle wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in Bethlehem’s manger on that first Christmas, it would have read, “To you, from God.”

This is good news, but not everyone is receptive to it. John 1:11 says of Jesus, “He came to those who were His own, (his own people) but His own (the majority) did not receive Him.” By nature we are proud,  resistant to receiving. We get an unexpected gift from someone and we say “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” and we mean it.  We don’t want to owe anyone anything. We do the same thing with God. We don’t want to be given to, we want to get for ourselves. We want to earn our own righteousness and present that to God, saying to Him in effect, “Look what I’ve done. Look at what I deserve.” In this way, we stay in control.  We remain in the driver’s seat.

But the baby in the manger pulls the plug on this way of thinking. God came when no one invited Him. He was born where there was no room for Him.   Before we called on Him, He called on us.  He came in the most humble of ways. God divested Himself of His glory in order to initiate redemption’s plan through His Son. He removed His royal robes, and exchanged them for dirty diapers. He hid His power and majesty under the weakness of an infant in a manger, and ultimately in a man dying on a cross.  This He did for you and for me.

Do you get the point? God isn’t impressed with our attempts  to earn His favor. In the Christ child, He humbly gave to us a gift that keeps on giving. He simply wants each of us to humbly receive the gift of His Son and to enjoy all the benefits His salvation provides.

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Operation Christmas Child: The Next Step

OCC-Logo-BannerThank you to all who donated shoe boxes to Operation Christmas Child through Community of Joy on Sunday, November 16th.  Now to take it the next step, there’s yet another way for you to be involved.

On Saturday, December 6th you can help prepare shoeboxes for shipment to other parts of the world at the regional processing center at 10779 Hampshire Ave. S., Bloomington, MN 55438.  There’s an OCC Family Event for parents, grandparents, and children 12 and under at 11:00 a.m. and an OCC All Church Event for age 13 and older from 6:00-10:00 p.m. Sign up sheets are available at the information table at Community of Joy, or you may notify us of your plan to participate by e-mail at office@cojlbc.org; or by telephone at 651-687-9010.

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Community of Joy’s Fall Harvest Party

Join us after our church service on October 26th 11:30 – 1:30 for our annual Harvest Party.  There will be jumpers, themed games, and food.

Church members can sign up to bring chili, soup, bread, or salad.

Invite your friends.  Everyone is welcome!

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Congratulations to Team Community of Joy!

Congratulations to our runners who ran in challenging heat to help those in need.

Eight runners participated in the Minnesota Half Marathon on August second to raise support for Team World Vision. World Vision is a Christian organization dedicated to working in communities world wide, tackling the causes of poverty and sharing God’s hope for a brighter future.

Team Community of Joy raised $9,440 bringing clean water for life to 189 people.
Team World Vision runners at the Minnesota Half Marathon raised $119,827 bringing clean water for life to 2,396 people.

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Team Community of Joy for Team World Vision

Meet five of the nine members of Team CoJ, all of whom attend CoJ.

Meet five of the nine members of Team CoJ.  This photo was taken at a recent team meeting.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

The Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:34-40 that whatever we do for the hungry, thirsty, sick, and others in need, we do for Christ. Community of Joy is excited to once again be doing the work of Christ by running a half-marathon with Team World Vision. Team World Vision is a ministry that raises funds through donor-supported runs for clean water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in Africa by providing wells, water systems, rain water harvesting systems, and many other permanent water solutions.   By providing clean water, preventable child death is cut by up to 57%.

God has placed this cause on the hearts of our 9 person team.  We are a mix of first-time and experienced runners pushed out of our comfort zones for the cause of Christ.  We pray that through our fundraising efforts and the work of World Vision many people will be reached with clean water and that in the process, many will receive the Living Water of Christ.”

Please join us in our journey with Team World Vision. We will be training for our half-marathon (13.1 miles) throughout the summer and running our race on August 2nd, which  begins at 8:00 a.m. in St. Paul.  Maps of the race course will be available at Community of Joy.  You can support our team and ministry in three equally important ways: by praying for our team and the ministry of Team World Vision, by coming out to cheer for us on race day, and by making a donation to the team using the following link.

www.teamworldvision.donordrive.com/team/communityofjoy

Thank you!  Team Community of Joy

 

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