[ecko_quote source=" Isaiah 9:6"]For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace[/ecko_quote]
In a world filled with war and violence, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace. But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about (John 14:27).
The Hebrew word for “peace,” shalom, is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquillity of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word eirene means “unity and accord”; Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”
In our sinful state, we are enemies of God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfilment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”
But Christ’s sacrifice provides more for us than eternal peace; it also allows us to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Helper who promises to guide us (John 16:7, 13). Further, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in us by having us live in ways we couldn’t possibly live on our own, including filling our lives with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). This love, joy, and peace are all results of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer. They are reflections of His presence in us. And, although their deepest, the most vital result is to have us live in love, joy, and peace with God, they can’t help but spill over into our relationships with people.
Ironically, the lightest definition of peace, that of the appearance of tranquillity in a person, can be the most difficult to grasp and maintain. We do nothing to acquire or maintain our spiritual peace with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). And, while living in unity with other believers can be extremely difficult, living in peace in our own lives can very often feel impossible.
Note that peaceful doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation (John 16:33) and trials (James 1:2). But He also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all our understanding/ comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us.
Christians have to struggle through periods of grief and hurt like everyone else. But we have divine help and assurance to hold us up. Though our physical circumstances may be gloomy and dark, the peace of God that lies within us keeps us settled, sure and steadfast, confident in the hope of Jesus Christ’s return, when His peace will at last encompass all the earth.
[ecko_quote source=" Luke 2:10"]Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people[/ecko_quote]
No Christmas carol list would be complete without the cheerful celebration song, “Joy to the World.” This lively tune can be easily memorized and simple to play on an instrument. But do you know the interesting story behind this well-loved hymn?
Isaac Watts (1674-1748), author of around 750 songs, is commonly called “The Father of Hymns” due to his popularity as the first English hymn writer. A few of his most well-known songs still sung today include: Come ye that Love the Lord; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; At the Cross; and the topic of today’s post, Joy to the World. Isaac Watts was a young man when hymns other than Psalms were allowed to be sung in the Church of England.
If you notice the lyrics of the song, Joy to the World, you will see nothing about shepherds, a manger, wise men, angels, or any other character or element that we normally associate with the Christmas story. The reason being that Isaac Watts did not write Joy to the World to be a Christmas song. The original theme of this song was intended for the second coming of the Lord. Christmas won’t always be a joyful time, but when Jesus comes back, even the rocks will sing!
I have not been able to establish when or why this hymn became associated with Christmas. Certainly, we can look at the message in the song and see that it can be applied to Christ’s appearance as a babe in Bethlehem. We must prepare the room for Him in our hearts and lives. This is a joyous occasion!
As you hear and sing this beloved carol this season, think about the words. Yes, they apply to the Christmas story in which the 'Lord is come!' We should rejoice! But, let the lyrics all point you to the reason Jesus came: to save the world. Be ready because He is coming again! What a glorious day THAT will be when the whole earth celebrates His appearing!
Jesus’s birth was not Luke’s final word about our joy. Even in the midst of the very worst circumstances — the awful persecution of Jesus and his disciples — Jesus’s message remained the same, “Rejoice.” “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22–23).
Christmas encourages us to embrace this companionship and “repeat the sounding joy” throughout our lifetime. This verse is one of my favorite Scriptures in the Bible, where the angel of the Lord declares Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. From that, we know our message is GOOD NEWS. Our message brings GREAT JOY. Our message is for ALL PEOPLE. Let’s determine to keep a great spirit throughout this Christmas season and forward.
[ecko_quote source=" Isaiah 7:14"]Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel[/ecko_quote]
When you woke up this morning were, you feeling lonely? Were you feeling as if you were at the end of your rope? Were you feeling rejected by loved ones? Maybe you don’t have a job, maybe your business is not doing too well? I have good news for you this morning; God is dwelling with you.
The name Immanuel literally means “God with us”. Jesus has promised to us that He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Therefore, you have nothing to fear. If God is with you, all things will come right, but you need to acknowledge Him and give Him the first place in your life, in your decision making and in every other aspect of your life- be it good or bad.
Remember Don’t go somewhere today if you know that Jesus would be embarrassed to go there. Whenever you go, ask yourself the question- Would the Lord feel at ease in this place? If the answer is no, then don’t go there. If the answer is yes, do enter and be a part of what’s happening in that place.
Remember your manners today, because God is with you. Remember to restrain your lips and watch your temper. You are being watched, not only by men of this world but by all the angels in heaven, because God is with you today. Wherever He goes, the angels follow.
Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us, in his incarnation; God with us, by the influence of his Holy Spirit, in the holy sacrament, in the preaching of his word, in private prayer. And God with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity.
Be a good ambassador today and don’t be lonely. Speak to him as you are driving in your car. He is listening to you.
You can pray in your very heart without even opening your mouth; in your office, on the farm, on the sports field, and in the classroom. He is indeed a Friend who will stick with you, even closer than a brother. Have a blessed day and know that our God of heaven is with you every step of the way.
Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; Angus Buchan- A Mustard Seed
[ecko_quote source=" John 8:12"]Jesus spoke saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life[/ecko_quote]
Shining is always costly. Light comes only at the cost of that which produces it. An unlit candle does no shining. Burning must come before shining. We cannot be of great use to others without a cost to our own selves. Burning suggests suffering. We shrink from pain.
We are apt to feel that we are doing the greatest good in the world when we are strong and able for active duty, and when the heart and hands are full of kindly service.
When we are called aside and can only suffer; when we are sick, when we are consumed with pain, when all our activities have been dropped, we feel that we are of no use any longer and that we are not doing anything.
But, if we are patient and submissive, it is almost certain that we are a greater blessing to the world in our time of suffering and pain than we were in the days when we thought we were doing the most of our work. We are burning now and shining because we are burning.
The glory of tomorrow is rooted in the labour of today. Many want the glory without the cross, the shining without the burning, but crucifixion comes before coronation.
We take a candle into a room to dispel the darkness. Likewise, the Light of Jesus Christ has to be taken into the darkness of sin which engulfs the hearts and lives of those who are not following Him. That is the condition of having this Light—that we follow Him. If we do not follow Him, we will not have this light, this truth, this eternal life.
A Father went into a toy store to buy his son a Christmas present. The salesman showed him a new educational toy. It came unassembled, but no matter how the child put the pieces together, they would not fit. You see, the toy was designed to teach the child how to deal with life. Such is the mess of a person without God. He is never able to put his life together without Him. A life without Christ is a life of futility.
Receive Jesus as your light. Continue to look to him as your light. And then let him shine for you and through you. AMEN!
[ecko_quote source=" Matthew 5:8"]Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God[/ecko_quote]
Offended people are present everywhere! They are not just in the world but are found in the church as well. No matter where you go in life, you can meet someone who is upset and offended.Because the offense is such a widespread problem, Satan uses it as a tool to detour believers from what God has called them to do.
The Greek word used for offense in the New Testament is skandalon, which can be translated as "trap stick," or bait stick. The best way that I can communicate the purpose of a bait stick is to tell you about a program televised by the Discovery Channel demonstrating how the natives of one particular culture caught monkeys.
The natives placed a cage in the jungle containing bait sticks that the monkeys desperately wanted. As the monkeys approached the cage, they saw the bait inside and reached through the bars of the cage to grab it. However, as long as their fists were gripped around the bait stick, they could not pull their hands out of the cage. Although the animals could have been set free from the trap, they desired the bait so badly; they refused to let go of the stick, making their seizure effortless for the locals.
When the natives approached with their clubs, the monkeys began jumping up and down and violently squealing, still unwilling to release the bait. They could set themselves free anytime by simply letting go of the bait stick and pulling their hands back from the cage, yet they would not. The closer the natives came to the animals, the more fierce their shrieking became. Fully aware that death was imminent, they stubbornly refused to lose the counterfeit treasure. The predators simply approached their target and clubbed them to death. The monkeys literally held life and death within their grasp.
It is a perfect illustration of what happens to those individuals who takes hold of an offense. Whether you realize it or not, the offense is Satan's bait stick which allows him to destroy your life. As long as you are determined to cling onto the offense, your freedom will escape you in the same way it escaped through the monkeys. While you desperately cling to the bait, the devil effortlessly moves in with death and destruction.
What is it that offends you? Is it what others say about you? Perhaps someone will not allow you to do what you want. Or possibly you are offended by the bad rumors which are spread by others. Once the devil knows what offends you, he will continually send that particular thing into your life, hoping to lure you into his trap.
Sometimes harboring an offense can feel good to your flesh because you are looking for the opportunity to take revenge. You know that you are seeking revenge when you mentally plot and scheme to get back at someone who has offended you. No longer seeking payback is evidence that you have let go of the offense.
However, as long as you cling to the offense- like the monkeys in the illustration which held on to the bait stick- you can scream, you can jump up and down, you can even pray, but you will be snared by the devil's trap. Even though an offense and thoughts of revenge might feel good for a while, they will soon bring ruin into your life.
All that was necessary for the monkeys to be set free was for them to let go of the bait. The only real thing that hindered them from freedom was their own intense desire. James 1:14 says, "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." In reality, the only thing that stood between complete freedom and ruin was the monkey's strong desire for the bait. A simple decision to 'let go' brings life. In the exact same way, anyone who willing to make the decision to release the offense can live in complete freedom.
Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; Cutting Edge