C3 Leaders’ Advent Devotional 2021

The 2021 C3 leaders’ Advent Devotional was

underwritten by

and

 

The C3 Leaders’ Advent Devotional will guide your Advent journey right up to Christmas, driving you deeper into the Word and closer to the One that we anticipate.

For this special season, the Advent Devotional can be added to your current devotional plan. If you do not have a regular plan for reflection, then the Advent Devotional is a perfect devo gateway…

  1. A) The studies are brief.
  2. B) They cover a concentrated set of dates, and
  3. C) It’s written by your co-laborers at C3 Leaders,

…peers who you “get” and “get” you.

Set aside time each day starting Sunday, November 28, the first Sunday of Advent, for the Bible readings and reflections. Ensure that you have enough space to reflect on your own heart and life and pray. You may choose to journal, as well.

Join the community of Jesus-centered, business-focused leaders this Advent on this unique spiritual journey.

Merry Christmas.

Mason Rutledge, President

C3 Leaders

 

What is Advent?

WHAT IS ADVENT? Advent is the four-week season of preparation for Christmas. For many of us, unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be confusion around the meaning of Advent.

There is certainly anticipation in Advent…awaiting the arrival of Christ. That is part of the story, but there is more to Advent than expectations.

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word meaning “coming.” Since the 6th century, Roman Christians have celebrated Advent as a part of Christmas. Their idea though was not about Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, but his second coming. It was not really until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was linked to Jesus first coming at Christmas. Today, Advent marks the beginning of the Christian liturgical year.

Most importantly, Advent offers a special way for each of us to focus on the meaning of our Lord’s birth and to look expectantly to His coming again.

The encouragement is to use this time to turn again to the God who keeps seeking us in love. As we do that through reflection, reading, and celebration, we will enjoy the great blessing of the Father who sent his only Son.

The following reflections are written by the broad C3 Leaders’ family. You will read devotions by some of our incredible C3 Forum Chairs, members of C3 Forums, members of the C3 Board, C3 Ambassadors, and friends of C3 Leaders.

Take time daily to read the Biblical passages and then reflect upon the brief devotional writing. You may also want to journal about your thoughts and prayers. May God bless you.

 

 

November 28:  Luke 21:5-19
by Rebekah Rivisto
C3 Forum Chair
Owner, My Loving Nanny, Inc.

Jesus hits at the heart in these verses. Like the disciples, it is easy for us to lose focus on what really matters when we are surrounded by beauty and gifts; however, Jesus came as our Savior, not as was expected for the coming Messiah, but as a baby wrapped in swaddling cloth! As the verses continue, Jesus reminds us that all these material, external structures of beauty and worldly expectations, will be thrown down.

He warned us to “Watch out that you are not deceived,” because He knew how our hearts so easily seek for things that have worldly wisdom, worth, and value.

The simplicity of His birth demanded a response from us to trust in and live for something more powerful than what we see around us; whether the rumors of wars, nations rising and falling, the betrayal of parents and brothers, or even facing death.

Jesus told us that we do not know the time or hour when the end will come. So, let us make up our minds and remember, this Christmas season, that baby wrapped in swaddling clothing, Jesus, has overcome the world! His ways are beyond our ways and all of creation will call upon His name.

Stand firm! You will win true life!

Reflection questions:

  1. Jesus tells us to make our minds up and to not defend ourselves. Is there an area the Lord is inviting you to do this as a Christian leader in the community?
  2. Are there areas in your life and/or business where the “way the world does things” has won over? How does this compare to how Jesus showed us how His Kingdom works?
  3. What areas can you trust God more and rely on His wisdom, instead of the wisdom and practices around you?

 

 

November 29:  Matthew 21:1-11
by Jeff Rogers
C3 Leaders’ Board Member and
C3 Forum Member
Chairman, OneAccord

A king’s welcome? The people spread coats and branches on the road for a donkey carrying Jesus to ride over. Why? Their enthusiasm for the moment infected the crowd. Should WE pause and reflect as we consider the opinion of the crowds [culture] we’re in?

The entry? A “Roman” approach. When a victorious commander returned there was no greater honor than to celebrate with a triumph; the pay-off was an increase in glory for the leader of the victory.

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was an anti-triumph. He rode in on a donkey, not a great white horse [that comes later!]. No spoils. Just a crowd of hopeful, while fickle people. In your daily vocation, how can you demonstrate humility and model this contrarian behavior that differs from our cultural expectation? The people of Jerusalem were saying, “Hosanna” – a form of the Hebrew Hoshana (הושענה); a contraction of the words “save” and “please” (“hosha” and “na”). It means something like “save now” or “give us help from our oppression!” (the same words are used are used in Ps. 118:25). What do I find myself turning to in times of stress, confusion, and discord?

The people expressed their belief that Jesus could save and it was the beginning of the kingdom of David. Jesus said if the people were silent that the rocks and trees would celebrate. How then could the crowds who were then so supportive turn against Jesus and join in shouting “Crucify Him?”

Reflection Questions:

  1. Following Jesus will likely require deep roots. How do we ensure that we don’t wilt in our enthusiasm for serving His church?
  2. Eventually, within days all of the disciples turned from Jesus. Where can we go to find the unwavering relationship that are needed to stay the course?

 

 

November 30: Matthew 21:12-22
By Dr. Gregg Jantz
C3 Ambassador and C3 Forum Chair
Founder, The Center

A friend recently told me about her ten-year-old daughter, who wanted to put a little Christmas tree in her room. Nothing elaborate, just a scrawny “Charlie Brown tree” she could decorate and look at before falling asleep.  “That’s fine with me,” my friend told her daughter. “But ask Dad, too.”  “Oh, no, I don’t want to bother him,” the girl replied. “Daddy’s always busy with important things. Besides, I’m afraid he’ll say no to such a silly request.” When the mother accompanied her daughter to ask, the dad readily and happily agreed. The girl got her tree.

I’ve noticed that some people display that same kind of reluctance when they want to approach their heavenly Father with a request. They don’t want to “bother” God. But Jesus had something to say about that kind of thinking.

In Matthew 21, we read that He gave His followers astonishing news: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt … you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (vs. 21-22).

Jesus’ words highlight the confidence we should feel in approaching God, even when we think we’ll “inconvenience” Him. We might feel that He has bigger issues to intervene in and that our personal concerns are insignificant. Scripture assures us this is not the case.

The writer of Hebrews echoed this reassurance: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Don’t ever feel hesitant to go before the Lord and humbly ask for something. Jesus encourages us to ask for anything—with boldness and confidence.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you ever feel reluctant to request something of God?
  2. What is the “mountain” in your life that needs to be moved, with God’s help?

 

 

December 1:  Matthew 21:23-32
by Karen Johnson
C3 Forum Member
Senior Associate, Centered

Picture the scene… Jesus is teaching in the temple courts, just days after entering Jerusalem to shouts of Hosanna, and perhaps just hours after overturning the tables of money changers and vendors. He has healed the blind and the lame and offered hope in the midst of the violent world of Roman oppression. But the chief priests and elders challenge His authority and demand that He did not heal on the Sabbath.

In response, Jesus tells The Parable of the Two Sons, and the religious leaders certainly understand what He is implying – that they are “the second son” … all talk, and no true obedience. Their traditions and lofty expressions of worship do not translate into genuine faith, and they refuse to recognize what God is doing, or seek to know Him.

It’s easy to judge these hypocritical chief priests, but what about me? Am I ever like that? In this season of advent, do I get caught up in traditions, and “to-do lists” more than pausing to worship the King? Do I convince myself that the appearance of vibrancy is proof of my devotion?

Our culture worships success and busyness, but Jesus wants our hearts. He wants us to slow down and sit with Him. He wants us to listen for His voice, rest in His love, and ask what He wants us to know and to do. It’s that simple.

Reflection Questions:

  1. In this advent season, will you join me in pausing for 10 minutes a day to just sit with Jesus, receive His love, and listen for what He has to say?
  2. Will you write down one thought or word of thanks each day?

I believe it is in these moments that our hearts will be transformed.

 

 

December 2: Matthew 21:33-46
by Brian Turnbull
C3 Forum Member
Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

“As followers of Jesus we seek to do business with God.” I heard this phrase at the recent C3 Leaders’ High Ground Breakfast and, though simple, is so true for us. Doing business with God.

In this story, we see a group of tenants doing business with God and missing the whole point of the relationship. Their selfish ambition took over and they sought to take for themselves that which belongs to God, the landowner.

In this parable, we see the business and economy of God on full display. The story demonstrates the long-suffering love of God, illustrated by the many sendings of the landlord. On full display, as well, is the sinfulness of all humankind in the actions of the tenants, consumed with selfish ambition.

The central truth is the sending of the landowner’s son, who is rejected, beaten, and killed. During this Advent season we are invited to see our selfish ambition and by God’s grace, repent.  In confession, there is great freedom to live into the renewed invitation of tending the garden that has been put in front of us, the whole time.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What selfish ambitions keep you from tending the Kingdom of God set before you?
  2. What one thing could you change or do differently in the next few weeks to prepare yourself for the coming of the King’s Son, our redeemer, and Prince of Peace?

 

 

December 3: Matthew 22:1-14
by Donald Jacques
C3 Forum Member
Principal, Global Development Partners, and Acentile, LLC

Ever been to a wedding and thought, “Who are these people?”

In Matthew, the ‘certain king,’ Father God, illustrates a difference between the Hebrew and New Testament chosen people. Hebrews are a special people of God; they represented God’s favor and plan for a chosen people. However, in Ephesians we see the ‘Chosen’ are remade in the image of Christ.

Ephesians 1:4 For He chose us in Him (Jesus) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.

These Chosen were defined in Christ (His image) and wear a Robe of Righteousness (the wedding garment). The ‘wedding’ is unspeakable intimacy with an all-loving God. God loves everyone created. Nevertheless, no one comes to the Father (the intimate ‘wedding’), except through Christ (Jn 14:6). Accept the wedding invitation to experience the joys of intimacy with God.

Those without the wedding garment have chosen to reject the love of God. Every one of us has the choice to experience blessings, joy, and peace into eternity.

Do you wear a Robe of Righteousness? Next, consider the people invited as you attend your next ‘engagement party’ at work, church, home or on the street. Do they wear a Robe of Righteousness? Is God using you to call them? “For many are called, but few chosen.” Shouldn’t we know everyone at wedding!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Can you imagine attending a wedding where you know only a few people, or a wedding where you are asked to leave?
  2. Make a list of all your family, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances you’d like to be with at the wedding. Do they have a wedding garment?
  3. When they see your Robe of Righteousness, they might want to know how they can get one. How does God want you to invite them to ‘the wedding?’

 

 

December 4: Matthew 22:15-22
by David Giannini
C3 Forum Chair
Principle, Private Asset Management

The Pharisees scheme to entrap Jesus with a question, “Is it right to pay the tribute to Caesar or not?” Matt. 22:17.

The nature of this question helps us understand the passage. For Israel, the seed of Abraham and chosen nation, to pay tribute to Caesar is an act of surrendering allegiance to an earthly ruler. The Romans, however, consider not paying tribute as disobedience to Rome. Either answer, so they thought, puts Jesus at odds with the Jews or Romans. Like asking a politician if they still beat their wife, there is no good answer.

Not interested in an earthly kingdom or national Israel Jesus directs us to consider a spiritual reality. Condemning the Pharisees’ disciples as hypocrites Jesus asks for a coin then questions:

“Whose image is this? And whose inscription? ’Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’”

Reflection Questions:

  1. Jesus’ use of the words image and hypocrite is instructive. What image do we, and for that matter the Pharisees and their disciples, bear? Is it not the Imago Dei? Hypocrites feign to be what they are not; how about us? As image-bearers, how should we live?
  2. A conspicuous question remains; what do we give back to God? God gave His only son who emptied himself of everything for our sake. Do we not likewise owe him everything?

Entering Advent perhaps we can dwell on these questions as we wait and prepare.

 

 

December 5: John 3:16-21
by Melissa Gehrig
C3 Forum Chair
Executive Director, VisionHouse

John 3:16 is perhaps the most recognizable verse in scripture. It very simply represents the profound meaning of belief in the Christian faith. But what difference does it make for me?

I grew up in the church learning Sunday school stories of Jesus. There was a kind of magic in knowing of Him mostly through songs and festivals of light during Advent. I waited for His coming as I sang “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” But I didn’t really know what I was waiting for and mostly prayed to God to keep me safe.

I love the idea that Advent is a time of preparation, a reminder that God doesn’t sneak up on us – a reminder that it’s important to prepare our hearts and minds to receive Him. I have always loved the concepts, the words, the hymns, and the warm embrace that faith provides.

But the awakening came for me early in my adulthood. I longed for something but didn’t know what. Until Jesus began to appear to me in a vision. I could see Him on the other side of a glass wall…waiting. I was reminded that Christianity makes the bold proclamation that we can have a relationship with God, right now through Jesus, not based on anything but His love. It was an invitation.

I can claim the cliché from the life-changing impact that experience had on me: I had seen the light.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you been looking for the light?
  2. Is there light in your life or have the past twenty months been a cloud of darkness?

Maybe a good practice in this season of advent and preparation is to look for the light, to be reminded of the extravagance of God’s love for us. That’s all we must do. Receive His gift and shine that others might see.

 

 

December 6: Matthew 22:23-33
by Heather Tuininga
Principal, 10|10 Strategies
There are some great lessons in this passage, including:

  • Jesus’ emphasis on knowing the scriptures; and
  • God being the God of the living.

First, note Jesus’ words in v. 29 – “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” and again in v. 31 – “…have you not read [the scriptures about] what God said to you.”

What a privilege to be able to meditate day and night on the Scriptures (Psalm 1:2) so we can “hear” from God and know His power!

Second, v. 32 confirms that our God is the God of the living – the God

of

YOU

now

– not the dead.

This is great news, and it remains true even when we leave this earth, because we will not be dead but rather enjoying eternal LIFE with Him! He is our God now AND forever!

Reflective Prayer – I invite you to humbly pray these words:

Lord, during this advent season, please help me faithfully meditate on your Word so I can hear from You and know Your power. And would You please bless me with daily experiences of You because I trust You are alive and active NOW.  Work in and through me for Your glory, and my joy. Amen.

 

 

December 7: Matthew 22:34-46
by Kimberly Lee
C3 Forum Member
Regional Director NW, Apartment Life

No one could answer Him. And after that no one dared to ask Him any more questions. (Matthew 22:46)

Have you ever read a familiar passage of scripture, and all the sudden something stands out in a way that it never has before?

It was my intention to write about loving God and loving our neighbors, so while I was preparing, I skimmed over the latter part of the passage where he gives the Pharisees a theological proof for his identity/divinity all in the form of questions. For some reason, that last verse grabbed my attention though, specifically the part where they stopped asking questions. It wasn’t because they believed him. It was because they were certain he wasn’t God.

Jesus knew they weren’t really listening. He knew what was coming. But Matthew noticed the difference.

How did Jesus avoid bitterness against the very ones that should have recognized who He was from the time that they heard about Him? Shepherds, who were guarding the sacrificial lambs, seeing a choir of angels. Anna and Simeon professing right there in the temple that this baby was the one they had been promised. Wise men visiting to find the King of the Jews, and they knew that He would be born in Bethlehem. A young man who was teaching them about the scriptures. I mean, come on! Even then…was no one paying attention?!?

And yet, every time I judge the Pharisees and religious leaders, I am reminded that I am much more like them than I care to admit.  Have I stopped asking God questions too because I think I know who He is?

My hope and prayer is that we will see something new and fresh through this Advent season.  May we never stop asking him questions—not from a heart of antagonism or skepticism, but from a desire to know Him and His ways better.  May the mystery of God move us all again!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you stopped asking God questions?
  2. Has the mystery of God’s story become so familiar that you have become complacent?
  3. What is one way you can become curious about him again?

 

 

December 8: Matthew 23:1-12
by Daryl Miller
C3 Leaders’ Board Member and C3 Forum Member
Owner, Fischer Companies

We all know a few highly successful people that seem to be deeply respected, yet it’s not for their worldly achievements. This is Christmas — it’s natural to have a generous Spirit. But how do these few special leaders engender our love during common times? What is it?

Jesus observed the rhythms between the Church Leaders and the people. He saw something He didn’t like.

It was the Lack of Humility problem.

Look around C3 Leaders. We are surrounded by a select group of women and men who have achieved above standard. They have founded amazing organizations and grown them. Risen to lofty positions faster than others. Earned significant wealth. Is there plenty of justification to be pretty pleased with ourselves? Is it human to be UN-humble?

Sure, but Jesus himself is reminding us here that — hey buddy, come back down to earth! You have a responsibility to give even more, to be even more of a servant to others…. the last that shall be first.

As we travel in circles of the classic C3 Leaders individual, the ones we need to emulate according to Jesus are the ones who exhibit servanthood. We all know who those people are. They are the ones admired the most and loved the most. Those who always seem to be found figuratively washing others’ feet. The opposite of a Pharisee’s self-seeking. They exhibit humility even though the world would not require it.

This Advent, Jesus asks us to suppress our hubris and replace it with humility, love, and compassion. Let’s work on this……

Reflection Questions:

  1. How long has it’s been since you told yourself to cut out the self-praise?
  2. Think for a minute and identify three Christian leaders you know who exhibit genuine humility?
  3. Can we resolve to live more as a servant from this day forward?

 

 

December 9: Matthew 23:13-26
by Tori Dabasinskas
C3 Forum Member
Owner, WIT Professionals, LLC

Jesus is passionate about people knowing the truth about God. And He is passionate about the changes that will happen in our hearts when we trust the truth about Him. Jesus is passionate about mankind experiencing a love from God that causes people to say “Wow!”

The teachers and religious leaders of the day had the ear of the people. They taught, traveled, and spoke, yet neglected the truth about God in their lifestyles and their teachings. Jesus boldly calls them out as blind, hypocritical, greedy, and self-indulgent. They are “shutting the door of the kingdom of heaven on people’s faces.”

With language representing deep anger/agony and grief, Jesus says over and over, “Woe! Woe! Woe!” His feelings are intense and so is His desire that they would see the behaviors that were inhibiting people from knowing the truth about God.

Then, once again, consistent with the heart of God, Jesus gives them a way out. He gives guidance, direction, and hope. He tells them to start with their own heart, “First, clean the inside…” Then guess what, “the outside also will be clean.” Hearts will change, the One who sits on the throne will be truly known, and all the people will say, “Wow!”

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who was someone that has helped you get to know the truth about God by how they live/lived?
  2. How much thought am I giving to the “outward appearance” of my life verses the “inward condition” of my heart? What does it practically look like for you to pay more attention to the “inward condition” of your heart?
  3. What is one area of my heart I could invite God to help me grow in: “justice, mercy, faithfulness”?
  4. Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with vigilance for from if flows the spring of life.”

 

 

December 10: Matthew 23:27–39
by Tom Wilkins
C3 Forum Chair
Owner, RHI Solutions

Matthew 23:27-39 is a familiar passage. Here Jesus rebukes the pharisees for a variety of hypocritical lifestyle choices, starting in verse 27 where He says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”

Commentaries vary as to the meaning of His reference to whitewashed tombs. One suggested that tombs in that day were whitewashed to enhance their visibility, discouraging vandalism by making potential intruders more visible against the whitewashed background of the freshly painted tomb. But the image I’d like to discuss is the obvious contrast of what we present on the outside compared to the reality of what is true inside our hearts.

Perhaps, like me, you spend a lot of time decorating your house at Christmas. Lights, trees, wreaths, nativity scenes, most of us love them all. And when the decorating is done the house looks lovely. But how beautiful, metaphorically, are our homes on the inside and how much time do we spend getting our hearts prepared for the Christmas season?

Reflection Questions:

  1. Pray that the Lord would increase our awareness of whatever hypocrisy or uncleanliness we may have in our lives. Confess those things to Him, turn away from them, and ask for His forgiveness.
  2. Commit to spending extra private time with Him this Christmas season in order to fill our “insides” with the joy of His birth. And give us opportunities to share the Good News of His unconditional love with all of those whom God has placed in our lives
  3. Make us mindful of our duty to represent a consistent image of Christ both in our homes and in our hearts.

 

 

December 11:  Matthew 24:1-14
by Matt Larkin
Candidate for U.S. Congress and
Chief Legal Counsel, Romac Industries

It’s hard not to read this passage and think about it in light of today’s world events.

At times, it certainly seems like our world is falling apart before our eyes. We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the state of world affairs is frightening at times.  But I personally believe that as Christ followers, this doesn’t have to be a time of fear – in fact, this can be our finest hour. We are called for times such as these. Jesus said himself, that he didn’t come for the healthy, but for the sick, and the world sure is sick right now – both mentally and physically.

We are placed here for a reason in this very time and place, and God will use leaders like us to further His kingdom. People in this world are hungry for hope and certainty right now, and the Gospel message offers both of those things. Jesus came to elevate us above this world and to bridge the gap to the Kingdom of God.

During this advent season it’s even more important that we stand tall as Christians to be the salt and light in this world. Christmas is the perfect time to share with the world the message of Christ’s love and redemption.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who are a few people in your life that could use the hopeful message of the Gospel this season?
  2. What are some ways that God can use you specifically during this time of uncertainty?

 

 

December 12: John 5:30-47
by Jorge Ramos
C3 Board Member and
C3 Forum Member
President; Followed Thee, PLLC

Jesus came to the religious elite to demonstrate to them that they had lost sight of the purpose of the Scriptures.

Let us focus on the books that Jesus mentions in this passage. In verse 46, Jesus mentions Moses and his writings. Moses wrote the Torah (or what we commonly call “the Law”). These are the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Here we have Jesus explicitly stating that these writings of Moses are about Him.

If instead, we expect, like the religious elite, God’s word to only endorse our existing ideas of nationalism, politics, theology, or tradition then our point of view will forever be warped.

To see Scripture correctly, we must explore it from several points of view, consider other angles, and be open to the surprising moment when a new vision of God snaps into alignment.

The Torah properly understood witnesses against us, points us to Jesus, teaches us about God, offers us wisdom and insight, deepens our understanding of the person and work of Jesus, and challenges us to love God and our neighbor.

The religious elite refused to be open to a new and proper interpretation of the Scriptures. Let us humbly open our Bibles and allow Jesus to teach us about Himself. Our Lord and Savior himself quoted from Deuteronomy when he was tested by the Enemy. Let us love the writings of Moses like our Messiah.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What point of view do you interpret Scripture from?
  2. Do you think God ever expected perfect obedience to the Law? Reflect on why the book of John calls the law grace (John 1:16-17)?
  3. Do you see Jesus’ loving kindness in Moses’ writings? Pick a story in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) that you usually skip over and look for God’s character and purpose being revealed. (I recommend the Bronze Serpent episode in Numbers 21:6-9)
  4. Psalm 1 tells us to meditate on his word day and night. Do you meditate on the Torah? Our rabbi and Messiah did, perhaps we should as well.

 

 

December 13: Matthew 24:15-31
by Deborah Enos
C3 Forum Chair
Owner, Deborah Enos Healthstyle, LLC

I barely remember the words, “You have breast cancer.”

I was shocked. I’m a nutritionist. I run half-marathons and do yoga. The weight of it all and the lack of control turned my world upside down.

In the beginning, we didn’t know if this was a type of breast cancer that had the potential to take me out. I had to learn to “Be Ready” for whatever my oncology team suggested for my cancer treatment.

In Matthew 24;15-31, we are also encouraged to Be Ready for the coming of Christ. How does a person Get Ready for something? They study. They pray. They prepare their homes and families. They press in.

I had to press into the Lord during my cancer treatment. When I think about “pressing into” something or someone, I know that I’m so close to that person that I can smell their scent or feel the texture of their clothes. I had to press into the Lord to get through this season of cancer.

Reflection questions:

  1. What would you have to let go of to press more into the Lord? Jesus’ return will come suddenly, so the time to prepare is NOW.
  2. The timing of the coming of Christ in this passing is vague; how do you maintain your enthusiasm in relationships when things seem vague or unclear?
  3. Is there someone in your life you’ve wanted to talk to about Christ?

 

 

December 14: Matthew 24:32-44
by Dr. Joseph Castleberry
C3 Forum Chair
President, Northwest University

No one plans a surprise party for Christmas. We all know what day it will come.

Similarly, the birth of our Savior came well expected, as God sent angels to Joseph, Mary, Zechariah, and the shepherds to announce the coming of the Messiah. God spoke by the Holy Spirit to Elizabeth, and Simeon and guided the Magi from the East with a star. Indeed, the Father prepared quite a welcoming committee for the First Advent.

Things will be different for the Second Coming. “About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” – who is planning the greatest surprise party for His children in all history!

Jesus announced many signs in Matthew 24, and throughout Christian history, at many times and in many places, they all seemed to be lining up. But still we wait. Apparently, God meant for all Christians throughout the centuries to live with a sense of expectancy for the day of the Lord’s Return. Every time we celebrate Christmas, we long for the Second Advent. Maranatha!

Reflection Questions:

  1. What signs in our times seem to fit Jesus’ prophecies in Matthew 24?
  2. What would the Return of Christ mean for you personally?

 

 

December 15: Matthew 24:45-51
by Talia Hastie
C3 Board Member
Director of Advancement, Life Christian Academy

In my professional career, I’ve had plenty of people do volunteer work for me. Some of them I can count will go above and beyond my expectations; they are self-motivated and self-directed people who want to do a great job. They truly enjoy the hard work, the team effort, and the opportunity to make an impact. They’re the best!

But I’ve also had volunteers where I continually have to follow-up and make sure that they are following through with the tasks that have been assigned to them… They are distracted, and they do the least amount possible. Not to mention, they are usually late on their due dates. It’s so frustrating because I need the work done, but I just can’t count on them.

Do you see yourself in either of these types of people?

If you were the Master, would you pick yourself as someone who could get the job done? Would you be at the top of your own list? Or would you be the person who hoped that no one would ask them — someone who would rather not participate at all, and instead just do their own thing?

Whether you like it or not, our Master is watching and expecting us to get His work accomplished. Because now more than ever, time is of the essence.

My answer? Pick me Lord, pick me! I can do it. My heart is willing. I’m eager to do the hard work, no matter the cost.

Reflection Question:

  1. What’s your answer?

 

 

December 16: Matthew 25:1-13
by I-Fan Lin
C3 Forum Member
Client Solutions Manager, Facebook

Reading the parable of the ten virgins, one sobering observation for me is that the foolish and wise virgins must have all looked the same, right up to the moment when the bridegroom’s arrival was announced. They all had their lamps, and all waited together in the same place for the bridegroom. Yet when he arrived, half of them were caught unprepared.

It is foolish that they would wait around all night without making sure they had enough oil, to go through all that effort only to be absent at the most critical moment. What a tragedy. Yet the parable also prompts me to think: how many believers today, waiting around our churches, going through the motions of religious activities to make sure our lamps look good, will be caught unprepared when He actually returns?

What a tragedy that would be, to go through all that effort only to find in the last moment that we had not enough faith, that we’ve been unprepared because though we were waiting, we had forgotten He’s coming soon.

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). Father, help us to make ready.

Reflection Questions:

  1. If Christ is returning tomorrow, do you find yourself joyful? Anxious?
  2. As we remember and celebrate Christ’s first coming during Advent, how do we live in anticipation of His return?

 

 

December 17:  Matthew 25:14–30
by Tim Jenkins
C3 Ambassador and C3 Forum Chair
President, Colchuck Companies

When I coached football at King’s, I made sure to start each season with a discussion of the Parable of the Talents. I told “five-talent” players that if they only offered a small portion of what they were capable of, they would sit on the bench in favor of two-talent players who gave their all. The meaning of this parable was obvious to the boys. What is less obvious – even to adults – is that this parable is really about faith and one’s willingness to take calculated risks to achieve great things.

A cardinal rule of investing is that great returns are highly correlated with risk. I’ve seen too many talented folks live less-than-abundant lives because of their fear of losing money or status. Jesus calls us to abundant life, but this will necessarily involve risk – even danger.

We must be faithful and obedient to God’s direction when it comes to our time and treasure; after all, who is the rightful owner of the “talents” you possess?

Here’s the cool thing:  Jesus is okay if we put them at risk – in fact, He requires us to do just that!

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is God asking you to “lay on the line” in this Advent season?
  2. What is holding you back from “laying it on the line”?

 

 

December 18: John 3:31-36
by Jerry Koster
C3 Forum Member
Retired, Herman Miller

John emphasizes in this paragraph, that we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to have the blessing of everlasting life. If we do not believe we will experience the wrath of the Lord. We are not given the option to straddle the fence when it comes to Jesus Christ and His word. Our living relationship begins with a new birth…. the birth from above.

Receiving Jesus Christ into our lives means we share His very life and become children in the family of God. We cannot have anything until God gives it. Jesus must receive all the honor and glory. Jesus, our faithful witness referred to in this text, is not simply called from heaven, or empowered from heaven, He came from heaven. He represents his Father, and we know His witness to be true, because He is the true God. We can and must trust and rely on His witness. What a blessing it is for us the receive His word, meditate on it and make it a path for our lives.

However, we must never forget the cost of the Blessing that we have received. For us to be received into God’s family, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior had to die. For us to be able, as sinful as we are, to enter into this loving relationship of salvation, Jesus had to endure hatred, humiliation and the condemnation of men. He had to be hung on the cross so that we might experience forgiveness and eternal life. May we never take for granted what Jesus sacrificed for us.

Reflection Questions:

  1. When does our Everlasting Life begin?
  2. Why should we heed the witness this passage emphasizes? What is the result of not heeding?
  3. What are the three significant ways that the word “must” is used in Jn. 3?

 

 

December 19: Luke 1:1–25
by Tina Brown
C3 Forum Member
Real Estate Broker, John L. Scott

Luke is a trusted doctor whose careful account to Theophilus was written to bring the truth of the Lord with certainty, to build his faith.

Zechariah the priest and his wife Elizabeth observed all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But Elizabeth was barren, and they had no children. Zechariah was chosen to serve in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared to him bringing good news about the coming of his son, John. John was to be great in the eyes of the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit, and sent to prepare a way for the coming Lord Jesus.

When the angel Gabriel spoke to Zechariah he was gripped with fear. And Gabriel tried to reassure him with the amazing and faith-filled qualities John will possess but Zechariah asked for more, a sign of his unbelief. For this, Zechariah was struck unable to speak until the child is born. Elizabeth indeed becomes pregnant and says, “the Lord has done this for me”.

Reflection Questions:

  1. As a faithful believer, would I believe an angel’s words to me if the message seemed impossible?
  2. Do I look with great expectation for ALL that God can do?
  3. What are the consequences for me when fear and doubt sneak in?

 

 

December 20: Luke 1:26–36
by James King
C3 Forum Member
Audit & Assurance Senior Manager, Deloitte

Infinite, unlimited, inestimable, boundless…. these words don’t align with an accountant’s brain like mine. I struggle with them.

The antonyms to these words are much more appealing to me both in how I work and how I live my life. Boring? Maybe. Predictable? Bingo!

But then we turn to the story of Jesus in Luke 1 and we hear Gabriel telling Mary that “…of His [Jesus’] kingdom there will be no end.” No end? Isn’t there an end to everything? How are we able to comprehend this, especially someone like me?!

Mary, being the recipient of these words, had to have been thinking along the same lines. What an unexpected and perplexing message to hear. However, her faith, trust, as well as her mindset of being “the servant of the Lord” (vs. 38) allowed her to take the message from Gabriel and carry forward God’s plans.

Our God is a big God. The power, truth, and message of His son are infinite, unlimited, inestimable, and boundless. During this advent season, my prayer is that we continually reflect on the vastness of the Kingdom of God, and the hope we have in it!

Reflection Questions:

  1. What areas of your life do you need to place more trust in God, leaning on the vastness and infinite kingdom of our Creator?
  2. Can you declare you are a “servant of the Lord”? If not, what steps can you take during this advent season to entrust your life to the servanthood of God?

 

 

December 21: Luke 1:39-56
by Alexis Phillips
C3 Forum Member
Director, Centered

At Christmastime I find myself pondering how Mary, who was so young, has what appears to be an immediate response to her cousin’s statement of, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished” (vs. 45).

It seems like Mary suddenly bursts out in a song that is full of gratitude and has both a micro and macro perspective of God’s character. She begins with her own soul (vs. 47) and then quickly moves out to future generations and the magnitude of God’s breadth and depth.

A wise person I know says, “You can’t give away what you don’t have.” In pondering Mary’s song, I wonder if she was able to instantly recall God’s goodness and enormity because she had immersed herself in the Hebrew scriptures and also community. (She spent three months with her cousin!)

To know God in the way she clearly did, her heart, soul, and mind had to be anchored to him. She knew God, so she was able to freely ‘give away’ truth about who God was.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What about God are you struggling to believe?
  2. What does God want to reveal to you about who He is?
  3. Who can you share your reflections with?

 

 

December 22: Luke 1:57-66
by Deanne Devries
C3 Forum Member
Broker, Windermere Real Estate

The context: In part one of his story, Zechariah had doubted God. He had not believed in God when God was straight up revealing His very plan for Zachariah’s life.

And how many times have I wanted this very thing: for God to just tell me the end of the story so I could stop worrying or feeling sorry for myself?

But wait! God DOES this! He DOES tell me the end of the story! And how many times have I distrusted Him and His goodness or doubted the very promises of His Word? I am promised so much! Including victory and power in Jesus’ name!

I can be thankful that I am not struck dumb because of my doubt. But oh, how I am familiar with the shame of my unbelief. Oh God! I should be able to trust You and live in the victory of Your promises! Please help my unbelief.

So yes, I’ve failed. Next time, I pray I will succeed. Like Zechariah. And because of His mercy, God will meet me there. He will be there to bless me and restore me because He is good. His mercies are new. And He loves to give good gifts to His children. Even after failure.

Reflection Questions:

  1. In what ways have you doubted God’s words and His promise to you today?
  2. What would it take for you to accept His words, trust him and be ready to say, “YES,” to His promise next time?
  3. Will you, do it?

 

 

December 23: Luke 1:67-80
by Al Lopus
C3 Forum Member
CEO and Co-Founder,
Best Christian Workplaces Institute

What’s your favorite Christmas song? There are so many good ones to choose from and mine is clearly “Oh, Holy Night.”

Ask your virtual assistant to play “Oh, Holy Night” by Carrie Underwood. When she sings the crescendo, “Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever” …my tears are guaranteed.

In a moment of devotion, please reflect with me on a few of the stanza’s and how they apply to you this year.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices… for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees. Oh, hear the angel voices, oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born.

This Christmas, we are weary. For the last many months, we have experienced many trials that have made our world, even our very lives, weary. But wait! For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! I fall on my knees to thank God because tonight we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ who gives us the hope for a new and glorious morn.

The King of Kings lay thus in a lowly manger, in all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger.

This Christmas, I reflect on a statement by a Christian teacher I heard this year. The crucifixion and resurrection were not the hardest events for Jesus, it was his birth! What? The thought is that for Him to go from “being in very nature, God… making himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (a baby.) Philippians 2:7.

He did what? How? Why? Are you kidding? He would do that for humankind. For me? My only possible response: Fall on my knees!

Let all within us Praise His Holy name, Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever!

Reflection Prayer:

Oh Lord, this Christmas, may your Spirit rest on us, in a new and fresh way. Lord, we are weary, yet we rejoice for because of your birth and know we will experience a new and glorious morn.  Thank you for loving us by humbling yourself to become human, and to be our friend. Teach us to live your gospel, to love one another.  In the name of the King of Kings, Amen.

 

 

December 24: Matthew 1:18–25
by Harvey Drake
President, Urban Impact

This narrative describes the birth of Jesus our Savior and Lord. The Immanuel, God with us. It is replete with so much we can muse on. And at times cause us to scratch our heads or even cause us to have cranial cramps (headaches).

This passage raises questions about miracles, hearing, obedience, Holy Spirit’s work, the activity of angels, prophetic utterances, human relations, integrity, character, and even what humans might call the absurd.

If you would, try to put yourself in the space of Mary and Joseph and imagine your response to all that was occurring. What would you do if you found yourself in their predicament? What emotions would you have had or actions would you take if you were asked or told to do something that has never happened before? As you read this account how would you describe Mary and Joseph’s responses?

As we grapple with all that Mary and Joseph must have experienced consider the wonder of the moment as well, as they came to grips with what the Lord of all was doing through them. Envisage being chosen to be the mother and earthly father of the expected Messiah. Immanuel.  Prince of Peace. Everlasting Father. Wonderful Counselor. Reflect on the honor, humility, reverence, trepidation one would experience.

Thank God for being with us.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the ways God speaks to you?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much do you trust God?
  3. How would you gauge your intimacy and engagement with God?
  4. What do you think you would do if you found yourself in a situation similar to Mary and Joseph having to do or accept something that seemed outlandish but was a fulfillment of a promise God made?

 

 

December 25: 1 John 4:7–16
by Peter Talbott
C3 Forum Member
Owner, The Talbott group

Christmas Day is obviously the perfect day to remember this “love” passage (1 John 4:7-16) because it talks of God’s amazing love for us by sending His Son. But then it reminds us that we are now commissioned to love others just like God loves us.

WOW! That command to love others has always seemed like a nearly impossible task until I realized that God has also now given us his Holy Spirit (vs. 13) to accomplish that task. Only through the Holy Spirit can we accomplish that goal. Let’s all remember that Jesus told his disciples that the coming of the Holy Spirit was going to be even better than his being there with them in person.

As a child I heard a lot about God the Father and God the Son. But not much was taught about the actual ministry of the Holy Spirit. I have to confess that I never fully understood much about the “Walk in the Spirit.”

But this Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, this passage of God’s Word reminds us that all three persons of the Trinity participate in helping us to love one another.

Let’s thank God that we can celebrate the birth of Christ everyday…by developing an intimate relationship through the Holy Spirit…moment by moment…the only way we’ll ever be able to genuinely and effectively love one another.

Merry Christmas!

Reflection questions:

  1. If a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is the key to “loving others,” how do you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10? (1 is little intimacy and 10 is super close).
  2. How often each day do you consciously stop and ask the Holy Spirit to specifically lead you in your moment-by-moment relationship with business owners, neighbors, friends, relatives, people in line at the grocery store, or strangers on the street?
  3. How can a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit create more obvious opportunities to love others this last week of the year?

 

 

What is C3 Leaders?

Serving as a leader is a lonely business. We do not want you to go it alone, nor does our Lord. Community has been His model since the beginning of time.

C3 Leaders convenes groups of like-minded leaders in small groups, called C3 Forums, and in events. We talk about business, we talk about Jesus, and we are committed to each other in on-going, peer-learning relationships.

It is our mission to change our commerce, culture, and community – the three “C’s” – for Jesus and His Kingdom principles.

We believe that change happens through business. As business leaders’ lives are transformed, communities, employees, marriages, families, and individuals are enhanced. That is why, We Do Business with God.

How Do I Learn More about C3 Leaders?

Check out a C3 Forum: www.C3Leaders.com/moreinfo

Join a C3 Event: www.C3Leaders.com/events

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