Hugs from Jesus – Thursday, December 17

“The little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.” Matthew 19:13a (BSB)

Ron Ludke

Ron Ludke

Last summer, I visited a community during Vacation Bible School.  Some volunteer missionaries from the year before had not been able to return, but they asked me to deliver a hug to a small boy they had met in 2013. They had fallen in love with “Charlie,” and he loved them back. Better still, he knew that Jesus loved him.

Charlie came running when he saw the VBS team arrive. He eagerly looked for the LAMP friends who had shown him so much love. When I saw Charlie, I called to him, “I have something for you.” I opened my arms and told him, “Your friends wanted me to deliver a hug to you, because they could not come this year.” Charlie wrapped his arms around my waist and buried his head in my stomach. He held on, as I told him that Molly and Terriann wanted to remind him how much Jesus loves him and that He would always be with him. At that moment, I realized that I was not only delivering a hug from Charlie’s friends, I was also delivering a hug from Jesus.

Jesus was born into this world to dwell among us. He gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. All people who share faith in Jesus as their Savior, like Charlie, have the hope of life eternal. This Advent, we remember that Jesus will come into this world again. Until then, the Holy Spirit calls people like you and me to deliver the Gospel and also hugs to others who need to know how much Jesus loves them.

We pray: Dear Jesus, thank you so much for the privilege of delivering hugs from You, and of sharing the love You have for all God’s children. Amen.

Written by Ron Ludke
Executive Director of LAMP

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Waiting for Jesus – Wednesday, December 16

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matthew 11:2-3 (NIV)

John the Baptist sits in a prison and contemplates if Jesus is actually the One the people are waiting for. A bold and outspoken man, living with the least of necessities, John doubts his ministry and the purpose of his service to God. Sometimes, we find ourselves in the same position.

Christine Lindner

Christine Lindner

This past summer, there were many challenges various LAMP teams faced. Forest fires and evacuated communities, sickness, no place to stay, and canceling the trip altogether were just a few. When we are faced with challenges, some common questions come to mind. “Where is God in this? Is this really our calling?” Sitting in a prison, John doubts. He knows about Jesus’ miracles, yet he doubts. In his doubt, just as in ours, we need the reassurance of the living Christ. The living Christ, Jesus, came into this world as an infant. He grew, taught, preached, healed, and loved. When it was time, He offered Himself as a sacrifice on the cross, taking all of our sins upon Himself so that we could have eternal life.

John waited with anticipation to see his Lord, and so do we. We wait for the second coming of Christ, comforted because His Spirit is already with us. We wait with anticipation, knowing that someday we will be with Jesus. During this Advent, let us set time apart to reflect on the unnecessary doubts we often harbor in our hearts, and by the Spirit’s power working through God’s Word and Sacraments, let us hold on to the miracle of Jesus’ love.

We pray: Lord, sometimes we get impatient to see You in our midst. Help us to wait for You, even through difficult times. Amen.

Written by Christine Lindner
Volunteer Missionary in Sandy Lake, Ontario

Together Despite Distance – Tuesday, December 15

“….Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27b (NIV)

Evelyn Fisher

Evelyn Fisher

Sometimes life prevents us from doing the things we would like. In the summer of 2014, I was unable to make my yearly trek to Garden Hill, Manitoba. That did not mean I ceased caring for, or praying for, my team or the children who attended VBS. Despite the distance, one spirit kept us striving for the same goal.

We are one in mind and spirit when we come together in prayer. When we pray for one another, we can be physically separated but spiritually one. For LAMP, that means that faithful supporters, office staff, volunteers and communities can work together to bring the news of Jesus Christ to the people of the North. Our shared goal is to joyfully proclaim the gospel.

This Christmas season, remember to pray with thanksgiving and praise for everyone involved in sharing the Gospel of Christ. Pray for the precious people of the northern communities we now serve, and pray for those whom we will serve. Pray that each person will come to know Jesus’ presence and know how much He loves them.

We pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of prayer. Thank you that You are always near to us and that prayer unites us for a common purpose. May every opportunity You bring us be used for Your praise and glory. Amen.

Written by Evelyn Fisher
Volunteer Missionary to Garden Hill, Manitoba

Patience – Monday, December 14

“Be patient brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. …be patient…, the Lord’s coming is near.” James 5:7a, selected words from chapter 8 (NIV)

In this biblical passage, James reminds us that the Lord’s coming is near at all times. Did you know there’s no place we go where we go it alone? Immanuel means “God with us”; and this is absolutely true. He is with us. This spiritual reality is not an easy theological concept to recognize, given the numerous distractions we encounter each day. We know of Jesus’ precious birth, life and sacrifice for us, but we struggle to understand what this means in our lives.

James, by recounting a basic biblical truth, helps us to remember that patience is necessary if we are to recall what is important during this time of Advent. God’s coming as the Christ-child sets the pace for future experiences with Him. If we stay Christ-centered, life’s distractions fade away. Anxious moments diminish. Life’s passions seem less troublesome. We are free to speak of our beliefs, of our Lord, with courage and confidence.

Rev. Ron Shellhamer

Rev. Ron Shellhamer

The season of Advent reminds us that, in the fullness of time, God came to dwell with us as “Word made Flesh.” The long-promised Messiah came to fulfil God’s Word, in God’s time. Now, we try to wait patiently for his Second Coming; He, in turn, is patient with us. The Lord’s graciousness allows us to be gracious and patient with each other, whatever might happen.

We pray:  Dear Father in heaven, help us to remember that we are washed clean of our sins through Jesus’ blood on the cross, and that our redemption occurred in Your perfect time. Help us to be patient, as we await Your plans, and help us also to be patient and kind with each other.

Written by Rev. Ron Shellhamer
LAMP Field Missionary

Simply Christmas – Sunday, December 13

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:8 (NLT)

Derek Dravis

Derek Dravis

Last year marked my sixth year of going up North and sharing God’s love with the people in the community of Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan.

One year while serving there, I went to the local store with an adult team member. A bunch of bananas caught my eye, and I suggested that we buy them, even though they were quite pricey. One of my fellow team members didn’t agree, but I insisted we get those bananas. On our way back to the place where we were staying, we decided to see what was going on down at the beach. While we were there, we ran into a dad and his sons who had been coming to Vacation Bible School. I sensed they were hungry, so I asked them if they would like the bananas we had just bought. They all excitedly said yes. I started separating the bananas and handed them to the kids. I was surprised to see that there was one banana for the dad and each one of his boys. We had no leftovers. It seemed to me that God provided the perfect gift at just the right time, by simply using bananas.

During the holiday season, it is very easy for us to get caught up in the gifts, decorations and all the other festivities. However, we need to remember to think about the birth of Christ and all that it means! And in our remembering the birth of Jesus, we also need to remember WHY He was born, namely to save us and the whole world from sin, death and the devil. By remembering Jesus and His work of saving us, we keep our Christmas holy. By reading daily devotions, lighting Advent candles, and praising God, we emphasize Christ’s presence with us and all people, not the presents.

We pray:  Lord, I pray that people would remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. In His name. Amen.

Written by Derek Dravis
Volunteer Missionary to Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan

The Gift of Hope – Saturday, December 12

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Dave Schneeberger

Dave Schneeberger

We bring a lot of things with us when we go to visit our northern friends: supplies, food, crafts and games. But these are only material things. The greatest things we bring along are free gifts: our love, and the Hope that only comes through the light of the Gospel. Hope in Christ is the true need, the best gift we can offer to the children and adults alike. Our message is pure, holy, never changing, the same today as it always has been since the beginning of time. We are God’s forgiven children. He washed us clean with His precious blood on the cross. He loves us with a love that exceeds any other.

Throughout the year, we can share this message with our friends here and in the North. We can do this in person, through current technology, and (most importantly) with our prayers. We also need to keep our own hope alive throughout the year. During Advent, let’s recall the excitement of the Savior’s coming. Let’s remember that hope for redemption and salvation was born so many years ago. Let’s all do our part, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to share this gift with those we meet, wherever they may live.

We pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the gift of Hope, Your precious Son, into our lives. Help us to be generous in sharing this gift with others. In His holy name, we pray. Amen.

Written by Dave Schneeberger
LAMP Ministry Board President

Confidently Confident – Friday, December 11

“I, the LORD, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.” Isaiah 27:3 (NIV)

Maura Leinonen

Maura Leinonen

We sometimes wonder if God’s Word will “stick” with the children and adults of Tadoule Lake. No pastor resides there, and the small community has few occasions for Biblical teaching throughout the year. Even our home churches are burdened with financial concerns or other conflicts. We sometimes wonder if God’s Church can survive amidst all this difficulty. Then, we hear some encouraging words: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2) God’s redeeming glory trumps over all sin, gloom and oppression. We are limited by our finite knowledge, but God’s wisdom and power are infinite and constantly at work, even in troubling situations.

We are reminded in Isaiah 27 that God promises to sustain His Church and His people. We can be confident of the truth of all of His promises, especially when we recall the hopeless state we were in because of our sins and how Christ came to redeem us from sin. God is our Creator and our Keeper, and Jesus is our promised Savior. Read every word in the Bible with the intent to know Him and His plan to save the world more completely. Trust that He is Who He says He is. By the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you, you can be confidently confident in God!

We pray: Glorious Father, thank you for being our Keeper. We praise You for the promise You kept by giving Jesus for our salvation. Shine Your glory so that all may know You and be confidently confident in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Written by Maura Leinonen
LAMP Volunteer in Tadoule Lake, Manitoba