#Advent” – “My Advent Box” – Advent begins this Sunday, November 29th, 2020. Please join us as we celebrate Christmas together.

My Advent Box Instructions

Download Pastor Dave’s letter by right clicking below – https://nycshepherd.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/letter-from-pastor-dave-1.pdf

Personal and Family Advent Kit Instructions

  1. Having opened your box check and see that you have the following items

One letter from Pastor Dave

One Advent Devotional

3 purples candles

1 pink candle

1 white candle

5 wooden candle holders

One small green wreath

One candle lighter

One Christmas Carol Songbook

One Gospel of Luke

One book of Christmas readings

One limited edition Calvary Chapel Christmas ornament

  • Open and read the letter from Pastor Dave
  • Arrange your Advent wreath in a place you can gather and light the candles every day
  • 3 purple and one pink candle on the outside of the wreath circle, white candle in the middle
  • Candle meaning – One purple – Hope, One purple  – Peace,   One Pink – Joy, One purple – love, one white – Christ
  • Each day/night of Advent (Sunday, November 29th – Saturday, December 26th) gather and follow the instructions below. It is recommended that you do this at the same time very day but everyone’s schedule is different). Please also consider sending a selfie of your time together to avent@calvarychapelsi.org or sharing your time with others through a zoom or facetime call.

Every day during week one (Sunday, November 29th – Saturday, December 5th) have someone light one purple candle, you will call this the hope candle,  and have someone read the devotional or listen to the devotional through the app or other social media platform, for that day. Discuss using the discussion questions in the devotional. Have someone close in prayer.

Optional – Supplement the reading if you wish from the gospel of Luke or the Christmas reading book.

Optional – Sing a Carol from the Christmas Carol book

Every day during week two (Sunday, December 6th– Saturday, December 12th) have someone light one purple candle, you will call this the hope candle and light a second purple candle you will call the peace candle,  and have someone read the devotional or listen to the devotional through the app or other social media platform, for that day. Discuss using the discussion questions in the devotional. Have someone close in prayer.

Optional – Supplement the reading if  you wish from the gospel of Luke or the Christmas reading book.

Optional – Sing a Carol from the Christmas Carol book

Every day during week three (Sunday, December 13th– Saturday, December 19th) have someone light one purple candle, you will call this the hope candle and light a second purple candle you will call this the peace candle,  and light the pink candle, you will call this the joy candle and have someone read the devotional or listen to the devotional through the app or other social media platform, for that day. Discuss using the discussion questions in the devotional. Have someone close in prayer.

Optional – Supplement the reading if  you wish from the gospel of Luke or the Christmas reading book.

Optional – Sing a Carol from the Christmas Carol book

Every day during week four (Sunday, December 20th– Wednesday, December 23rd ) have someone light one purple candle, you will call this the hope candle and light a second purple candle you will call the peace candle, and light the pink candle, you will call this the joy candle and light the final purple candle, you will call this the love candle,  and have someone read the devotional or listen to the devotional through the app or other social media platform, for that day. Discuss using the discussion questions in the devotional. Have someone close in prayer.

Optional – Supplement the reading if you wish from the gospel of Luke or the Christmas reading book.

Optional – Sing a Carol from the Christmas Carol book

Every day during week five (Thursday, December 24th– Saturday, December 26th ) have someone light one purple candle, you will call this the hope candle and light a second purple candle you will call the peace candle, and light the pink candle, you will call this the joy candle and light the final purple candle, you will call this the love candle,  and light the white candle,  you will call this the Christ candle and have someone read the devotional or listen to the devotional through the app or other social media platform, for that day. Discuss using the discussion questions in the devotional. Have someone close in prayer.

Optional – Supplement the reading if you wish from the gospel of Luke or the Christmas reading book.

Optional – Sing a Carol from the Christmas Carol book

#thanksgiving – Giving Thanks in a Pandemic

The Scriptures are full of admonitions for us to give thanks. During this time of year we hear them often in sermons, songs and personal conversations. It is safe to say that for Christians there is no shortage of thanksgiving reminders.

     That is how the first century church at Colossae must have felt when they read the letter Paul sent them from prison. This little epistle reminds its readers about thanksgiving in every chapter.  Colossians 1:12 tells them that they should be “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” In Colossians 2:7 they are told, regarding their relationship with Christ, that they are to be “abounding in thanksgiving”. In Colossian 3:17 Paul gives a comprehensive command when he says “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.“ Finally in Colossians 4:2 he tells them us to “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

     Clearly being thankful people is something that God has as a priority for us. We are though, constantly challenged in this area by life and life’s circumstances. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that in everything we are to “give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. Sometimes this seems almost impossible. I mean really, we are in the midst of a nearly year long pandemic in which we’ve experienced so much loss and insecurity with no clear end in sight.

    Is it possible to really give thanks in all things? Is it feasible to constantly give thanks over a long period of trails? Are we actually able to give thanks even in tremendous loss?  Let’s look at someone who managed by the grace of God to be thankful in all things even a pandemic.

    

Martin Rinkart was a pastor in his hometown of Eilenberg in Germany beginning in 1617. He was just 31 years of age.  This is when the thirty years war began in Europe. Eilenberg, as a walled city, became the fleeing place of many, many refugees. In addition, Pastor Rinkart’s home as well as many of the other homes in the city were forced to house and feed soldiers[DW1] . This went on for what seemed like an eternity.

     Things got worse in 1637 as Eilenberg, fighting the Swiss Army and struggling with food shortages, was hit by the plague.  This further devasted the town. 8000 people lost their lives. It took the life of the other four clergyman in town leaving Rinkart as the only Pastor. It took the lives of most of the town council, it took the life of Pastor Rinkart’s wife. That year he officiated at 4.480 funerals as the city’s lone pastor.

    It was Pastor Rinkart himself who sought to negotiate a truce with the Swiss and after being initially rejected, through a fervent prayer meeting, was able to do so. Knowing the importance of giving thanks even in difficult circumstances he wrote a prayer for family meals. The prayer, “Now Thank We All Our God” became a national song of thanksgiving when the war ended.  

Here is the prayer that became the song.

  1. Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
    Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
    Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
    With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
  2. Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
    With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
    And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
    And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!
  3. All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
    The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
    The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
    For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Here is the song performed by reawakenhymns.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ecqss2ZvN2c

And here is a contemporary version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GvSMerBDUc

      Pastor Martin Rinkart life is worthy example for us to follow when it comes to giving thanks. These are hard times. Very hard times. With the Lord’s help though you and I can truly give thanks even in in a pandemic.

Blessings,

Pastor Dave Watson


 [DW1]

#thesetimes – Important brief read

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated”
Thomas Paine, The Crisis. 1776

#stewardship – Principles of Stewardship from Randy Alcorn’s “The Treasure Principle”.

Principle one: God owns everything. I’m His money manager.

Principle two: My heart always goes where I put God’s money.

Principle three: Heaven, not earth, is my home.

Principle four: I should live not for the dot (my present life on earth), but for the line (heading on into eternity).

Principle five: Giving is the only antidote to materialism.

Principle six: God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.

On the election –

From Pastor Dave Watson – As a Christian Vote and Then Vote as a Christian

    As a Christian Vote and Vote as a Christian

     In a few days Americans will go to the polls and pull a lever to elect leaders to run our country (Truth be told many have already voted through absentee balloting and early voting). We are truly a privileged people. Christians in centuries past had to put up with maniacal dictators who persecuted and martyred our forbearers. They had no say in who would lead them. Even today, there are many places in the world where Christ followers are suppressed and oppressed. Because of our freedoms, I hope you will avail yourself of the right to vote. Being a good Christian means being a good citizen, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, (Mark 12:17) so go out and vote by Tuesday, November 3rd.

     This has been a very long and crazy campaign for the Presidency of the United States. Many Christians are confused about who to vote for.  Many of Joe Biden’s policies appear to be unchristian. Donald Trump’s personality seems to be  unchristian at times. That being said, a sample of social media from and for Christians will yield a multitude of reasons to vote for one candidate or another or  not to vote at all. Many times we are told to pray and seek the Lord’s leading as to who we should vote for. I do believe we should pray. However, I don’t think we should so much seek a leading as we should seek discernment. We need discernment to see through the media’s hoopla and the candidates’ smoke and mirrors. They are, after all, politicians. But wait, there is more.

     As Christians we have been given the infallible, life-changing, inspired Word of God. From these Scriptures we can discern, at the most, which candidates we should vote for or, at the least, which candidates not to vote for. It seems to me that there are seven timeless truths in Scripture that give to us guidance that should be a tremendous help. With that in mind I think we should vote candidates that meet the following criteria.

         Principle # 1 – A commitment to a pro-truthfulness position – Leaders are first and foremost accountable to God. The Lord says He requires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6) Unless a leader is committed to honesty we will never now what’s really up with that leader or what they are up to. Honesty begins in the heart and moves out from there to what a leader communicates to their advisors and the public. We desperately need people who lead us that we can trust and the first condition of trust is people who speak the truth Leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say and who keep their word.

     Principle # 2 – A commitment to a pro-religious freedom position – Paul tell us  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, “ – Note the peaceful, free from being hazzled, life we seek. In Acts 9:31  we read “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. “ While it is true that the blood of martyrs can be the seed of the church it is also true that when the church is free to worship and serve it’s Lord it can experience and exercise tremendous growth and influence for God’s Kingdom

     Principle #3 – A commitment to a pro-life position – All life is sacred in and out of the womb because we are all made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27-28 says – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  All lives matter and they matter equally.

     The life of the innocent unborn is indeed precious. Psalm 139:13–16 tells us “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” The Scriptures teach us that God supervises our creation in the womb, creates our very souls and that He has a purpose for us from before we were born.

     In Amos 1:13, God promised to judge the Ammonites for their mistreatment of the unborn and their mothers. God is clearly on the side of the unborn, so the person we vote for should be of that persuasion as well, both in their personal and political convictions.

      Principle #4 – A commitment to a pro-traditional family position – From the time of Creation, God has defined marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:22-25 & Matthew 19:3-6). In Matthew 19:3–6  we read –  And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Could God’s view of marriage be more clear than this.

     Same sex marriage and or polygamous marriages are outside of God’s design. A society cannot survive without strong traditional families. Every effort should be made to hold this Biblical model up as the standard. What’s more, any deviation from God’s original design for the family is both dangerous and destructive to a society. The person we pull the lever for should share God’s view of marriage and the family.

     Principle #5 – A commitment to a pro-Israel position – God promised Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you. And I will curse him who curses you.” (Genesis 12:1-3) This Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional and carries through to today. It behooves our nation then to bless Israel, to support this special nation

     This is a Biblical conviction we should embrace and hold to. It doesn’t mean that we don’t confront Israel’s evils and faults. Israel doesn’t get a free pass to do whatever it pleases. However, it is clear that the Jewish nation is still the apple of God’s eye and we and the person we vote for should see them that way. The words of Psalm 122:6 still apply –  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!

     Principle #6 – A commitment to a pro-Judeo/Christian values position – Proverbs 14:34 tells us that “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people”. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount reflect what the Lord means by righteousness. Psalm 94:20 asks, “Shall the throne of iniquity which devises evil by law, have fellowship with You?” The Lord says He will have no part with the kingdom/nation that legislates evil behavior.

      As Christians, we should support those who share our values. We live in a pluralistic country, but we are under no obligation to vote for those who don’t share our Judeo/Christian values. These values are a major foundation for the goodness of our land. America’s goodness is dependent on its Judeo/Christian Foundation. Therefore we want leaders who uphold those values.

    Principle #7 – A commitment to a pro-compassion position — Psalm 9:17-18 tells us, “The wicked shall be turned into hell and all nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten, the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.” How do we know a nation has forgotten God? That nation forgets the poor. It is clear that God cares about the poor and needy. The Church should have that same concern and so should those we vote for. Turning our back on those who are genuinely in need can result in God turning His back on us as a nation and a people.

     I encourage you to use these seven simple principles to discern and to determine which candidate would best govern according to our Christian values. If you aren’t sure where a candidate stands, Google that candidate and the principles above. Check out their web page and look at their positions carefully. As Election Day looms ahead of us let’s be sure we search the Scriptures, search the internet, search our hearts and by Tuesday, November 3rd search out our polling place and vote.

As believers in Jesus Christ we are told to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”. Thus, we don’t vote a political party but our Savior’s priorities. We cannot vote our color, but His creed. We don’t vote our ethnicity but His ethics. We don’t merely vote for “a change we can believe in”, we vote according to “God’s unchanging Word that we can count on.” We don’t vote “Country First”, we vote “Christ’s Kingdom First.” We don’t even vote according to our pocketbook, but rather, we must vote according to His principles. In the end, our prayer is not for what we want but what He Wills.

    As a citizen of the United States of America I am grateful for the privilege of voting to elect our public officials. As a citizen of heaven, I am grateful for the knowledge that the Lord ultimately selects our leaders. Daniel 2:20 tells us that the Lord “changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings”. He is always in control. First, foremost and always you and I are committed to follow whole-heartedly only one person. That person is our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is our only real Hope both now and eternally.

Pastor Dave Watson

Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel