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Bible Meditation

[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]

Devotional Thought

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.

Action Point

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.

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Bible Meditation

[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]

Devotional Thought

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).

Action Point

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.

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