Tag Archives: Peace

Advent Week 4: Peace; Zechariah and Mary Tell It To The World

Peace 1

Reading Luke 1:39 – 80 Magnificat (Luke 1:46 -55)

mary_and_elisabeth

Similar to the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Mary breaks out in praise towards God and expresses the divinity of her unborn child.

“And Mary Said,

My soul magnifies (to hold in great esteem or to respect) the Lord,

And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, For he has looked with favour (approval, gracious kindness) on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed: for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His Mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped this servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary knows she is blessed and her relative Elizabeth has confirmed the annunciation. They are excited because they know things are about to change in the world. The child she is carrying is about to change the world by: bringing down the powerful, lifting up the lowly, filling up the hungry, leaving the rich empty handed. His arrival will be a reminder of the promises God had made to their ancestors.

Zechariah makes known to everyone that things are about to change, not with the birth of his son John, but with the arrival of another child. The arrival of Jesus is the fulfillment of the ancient promises made to their ancestors. It’s a powerful prophecy letting everyone know that the oppression and mistreatment will indeed end.

Zechariah lets his baby boy John know that there are big plans ahead for him. He will be the one to prophecy and prepare the way for the Lord. What will John’s message be: to let people know there is salvation available to all through the forgiveness of sins. According to Zechariah those who are in darkness will now see the light and this light will guide their pathway to peace.

QUESTIONS:

Will you be like Mary and Zechariah and proclaim to the world that there is light in the darkness?

Will you be like Mary and Zechariah and see the arrival of Jesus as a sign that God is faithful with his promises?

Will you be like Mary and Zechariah and see your children as heirs to the message and promises made by God?

Advent Day 18: Christmas Shopping with God

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Philippians 4: 3-9

“ Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

When we live in a country where we are more likely to experience first-world problems we can easily become anxious about superficial and materialistic things; at no other time of year is this more evident than during the Christmas holidays. In other parts of the world parents worry about clean drinking water for their families, the safety of their war torn community, being able to afford basic school fees so their children can obtain a basic elementary education, they worry about their children acquiring diseases that are almost non-existent here in North America. While our first-world problems are a far cry from the issues facing people in developing nations, God still hears our prayers and petitions, even though they are not life threatening problems. He hears our prayers because He cares about what is on our hearts.

Christmas can be stressful and anxiety producing. This is an important time to turn to God in remembrance of what the true meaning of the Advent season is about. If you can’t afford to purchase certain gifts due to a financial budget, give that concern to God. When we turn to God with our materialistic concerns He has an amazing ability to send His Holy Spirit to remind us of what Advent and the celebration of Christmas is about. The season is not about gift giving, that is called consumerism, not Christmas. Trust in the Lord, trust that He understands if you are unable to afford an extravagant Christmas or even the basics for the holidays. As you walk through the malls searching for gifts to buy for family and friends, pray! Yes, pray! Pray that you will be responsible with the finances you have. Pray that those who you are purchasing gifts for will have a softened and understanding heart towards your financial constraints. Pray that you will be a grateful giver.

There was no Christmas in Jesus’ lifetime, it didn’t exist and this is why the holiday season is not ultimately about gift giving. Christmas day is about rejoicing in the fact that we have an amazing God who sent His son to be our salvation, this is what we rejoice about. Holiday gifts are nothing more than a sweet bonus and a time to be in the company of those we care about.

The Christmas Gift Challenge:

For every gift that you are going to wrap (or place in a gift bag), stop and give thanks to God for one gift that He has given to us here on earth. Here’s some ideas of gifts given to us by God:

  • Jesus
  • His word (The Bible)
  • Grace
  • Mercy
  • Spiritual Gifts
  • Forgiveness

Challenge #2

Every time you go to the mall for gift shopping, stop and give thanks to God for blessing you with the resources to be able to purchase gifts for others. I guarantee this will change your shopping experience. When you are in the mall being tempted by all the bling and enticing marketing, it is easy to forget what the season is about, but by bringing God into your shopping experience, this is a simple way to open your heart, mind and wallet to God while trying to avoid being drawn into the deep end of holiday consumerism. May God Bless you as you bless others during the holidays.

 

Advent Day 7: Jesus Reveals Himself in our Actions

love and peace

How fortunate and blessed are we, that we have a god whose love is so big that He asks us to share that love with others. He cares so much about His creation that He sent Jesus to us to show us a living example of what that love looks like in action. Jesus in no longer literally on earth with us today, but His teachings and His spirit are here with us. We continue to see Jesus in action when believers carry out His commandment to love God, love others, and to do so through actions of justice, peace, and reconciliation; these are the living examples of God’s love. 

I enjoyed reading the liturgy (below) on the Sacredise website. There is a link for those who want to read it in its entirety; which I highly recommend. 

Action: 

I encourage you to read the liturgy below and following that, pray for anyone in your life or someone who you admire from a far who is running the race set before them. Pray for that person(s), that they may have continued strength, passion, encouragement and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide them as they serve others by way of justice, peace, and reconciliation. It is not easy work and they need our prayers.  

 

We Gather

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1 – NLT)

Eternal God,

In your infinite love for women and men,

you incarnated yourself in Christ,

and revealed your nature and your purpose to us;

In your infinite love for poor and wealthy,

you laid aside your glory

and walked among us as one of us;

In your infinite love for every race and tribe and nation,

you brought a new world into being

and taught us to live as citizens of God’s Reign;

But, you have not stopped incarnating yourself,

you still reveal yourself and your Reign of love and justice

to all who will see,

and to all who open their hearts and lives to you.

We praise and thank you, O God,

for the people through whom you reveal yourself still;

for those who give themselves to build a world

based on the values of your reign

of love, justice, peace and reconciliation.

 

http://sacredise.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=392&Itemid=39

 

 

Advent Day 6: Peace on earth is already here, it is in you.

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I couldn’t think of a more fitting public example of a person who lived the actions of Advent on a daily basis, than the now departed Nelson Mandela. Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, was not a holiday slogan for him, it was his way of life, all year long. Mandela was a man who knew that peace, both internal and external was not an easy way to live and that it required a lot of work and resiliency.We don’t need to wait for the second coming, the Advent, in order to have peace. God has already given us everything we need to have peace.

“Peace as a term is trendy at Christmas. But often it remains just that – a cute phrase to put on our holiday cards – “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.” But how often do we actively work at bringing that peace on earth? Are we peacemakers in our own families? Do we work to heal family strife or do we let our prejudices bring discord? Do we get upset at friends and neighbors who don’t celebrate the holidays for the “right reasons” or do we work to build community with everyone? Do we refer to people in other countries with contempt and ridicule or do we speak of them as our brothers and sisters?

Peace on earth starts with us, with our attitudes towards others. Our words convey the attitude of our hearts and create either a culture of peace or a culture of hate within our homes. Sometimes it is hard to tell which attitude is being promoted as our words speak of peace but our actions promote discord. I like the questions Willie Nelson asks in his song “What Ever Happened to Peace on Earth?” –‘So I guess it’s just/Do unto others before they do it to you/Let’s just kill em’ all and let God sort em’ out/Is this what God wants us to do?’  By Julie C. Lawson.

http://julieclawson.com/2007/12/09/second-sunday-of-advent-peace/