“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”~John 14:27
“Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me,
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be. With God as my Father, Brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.”
These are the words of the familiar song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” However, we live in a world where the threat of violence both locally and abroad has become the norm. Recent events have left us wondering: Is peace on earth even possible?
In John 14:27, Jesus promises to give us His peace. The peace Jesus offers will ease our troubled hearts and calm our fears. However Jesus’ peace is different from the world’s, because He calls us to go beyond personal peace to become peacemakers. In other words, rather than just seeking peace for ourselves, He calls us to share the peace we find with all who seek hope. In light of the perpetual violence we see again and again, we must remember that peace is powerful. For it is His peace that has the power to not only change our lives, but also the world around us.
What peace has God given you?
How will you share this peace with others today?
Listen: The Harlem Boy’s Choir “Let There Be Peace On Earth”
“The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” ~Matthew 21:9
This Sunday marks the final week of the Lenten season, the 40 day period leading up to Easter. Today we celebrate the holy day of feasting known as Palm Sunday. The celebration of Palm Sunday commemorates Christ’s entry into the City of Jerusalem. As Jesus arrives in the city, he is met by a large crowd of people waving palm branches in the air and laying them at his feet. They cry out to Him saying: “Hosanna! Hosanna, in the highest heaven!”
The word Hosanna is used in this passage as a shout of praise, much like the word Hallelujah. However, where Hallelujah literally means “praise be to God” the word Hosanna is translated as to save or rescue. So what appears in this story as a shout of praise, is actually a cry for help. As we celebrate Palm Sunday in the midst of a global pandemic, we confidently cry out to God and with expectant hearts, we trust that He will hear us.
What is the cry of your heart today?
How will you wait with an expectant heart?
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it? ” ~Isaiah 43:19
On the first day of the new year, we greet one another saying, “Happy New Year!” This first day is “happy” because after what was likely a challenging last year, the New Year is a time for renewal. We set goals, make new resolutions, and celebrate the hope of things to come.
Isaiah reminds us that God grants us the grace to start anew saying, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it?” Perceiving the “new thing” that God is doing is not simply forgetting the difficult things in our past, but rather allowing God to renew our hope, strength, and perspective. Ultimately, the “thing” God is making “new” this year is us.
Where do you need God’s renewal?
How will you allow Him to make you new this year?
“Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased.” ~Luke 2:14
On the very first Christmas evening, a few ordinary shepherds had their world interrupted by a terrifying visit from the angel of the Lord. The angel quickly assured them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people.” The shepherd’s frightening encounter with the divine had a greater purpose, to announce the birth of the Prince of Peace.
This fourth week of Advent we light the candle of peace. We do this in hopeful anticipation of the one who will bring true peace to the world. In our most fearful moments, we can trust God to transform our scary episodes into sacred experiences. When we open our hearts to this possibility, we join with the angels in worship saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven.”
Where in your life has God granted you peace in the midst of fear?
How can you share His peace this Christmas week?
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” ~Psalm 98:4
“Joy to the world, The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing.”
These familiar words are from the popular Christmas Carol “Joy to the World” written by Isaac Watts in 1719 with music composed by Handel. The lyrics are primarily taken from Psalm 98 where the Psalmist is extolling the praises of God by singing a ‘new song’ thanking Him for the marvelous things He has done. Verse 4 states that this praise extends to the ends of the earth, where people of all nations join in praise of their newborn King.
This third week of Advent we light the candle of joy. We do this in joyful expectation as earth prepares to ‘receive her King.’ The Advent season is the time to let ‘every heart prepare Him room’ and in so doing, we invite joy into our hearts as well.
Where in your heart are you lacking joy?
How will you ask God to prepare your heart to receive His joy this Christmas?
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
~I Peter 1:3
The word hope is often an ambiguous term. We “hope against hope,” or have “false hopes.” We “get our hopes up” and “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Over the years Hollywood has given us ‘hope’ themed movies such as Hope & Glory (1987), City of Hope (1991), Hope Floats (1998), Hope Springs (2003) along with the various television series of Saving Hope (2012) and Raising Hope (2014).
This first week of Advent we light the candle of hope. We do this in anticipation of the birth of Jesus who, as Peter reminds us, is our “living hope.” In our hopeless circumstances we are then able to turn to a living God who provides living hope to all who seek Him.
Where in your life do you need a living hope?
How will you share the hope that you have with others this week?
” Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ~1 Thess. 5:18
Thanksgiving is the time of year when family and friends gather to share food and fellowship. But we all know that the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers where we get to turn one elaborate meal in many more enjoyable meals.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul states, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” If God’s will is for us to give thanks in all circumstances, perhaps these are the “spiritual leftovers” of Thanksgiving. God is calling us to turn a one day a year holiday into a daily practice of giving thanks.
What are you most thankful for?
In what ways can you express your gratitude today and every day?