“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
Peace Be With You. Shalom. As-Salaam-Alaykum. These greetings show that Peace is central to the life of faith. 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 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?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9
In Ephesians, Paul explains grace as an unearned, “not able to work for” gift from God. As a gift, grace needs to be received and opened. God’s grace has the divine power to rescue and save us, not just eternally but daily.
However, the world gives us mixed messages about grace. Author Max Lucado writes in his book Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, “We talk as if we understand the term. The bank gives us a grace period. The seedy politician falls from grace. We describe an actress as gracious and a dancer as graceful. We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, and pre-meal prayers. We talk as though we know what grace means. But we’ve settled for a wimpy grace that never causes trouble or demands a response” (7). This week, let us take time to receive God’s grace. Let’s embrace grace.
Where in your life do you need to embrace grace?
How will you share this gift with others this week?
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~Phillipians 2:3-4
In this post, H4H Team member Veronica Garcia shares her insight from her recent participation in our H4H “Gifts of Imperfection” e-course.
As I went through Brene Brown’s “Gifts of Imperfection” e-course, one guidepost titled “Letting Go of Comparison” stood out to me. Brene teaches that truly letting go of comparison is a practice which requires constant awareness. She also taught that tapping into our creativity allows our individual and original expressions to be unique, and in turn, help us to stop seeing ourselves as “ahead or behind, best or worst” (Brown, 98).
This has been a constant struggle as I tend to look to others and measure their successes and failures up to mine. Living and working in Los Angeles’ entertainment industry continually brought up this insecurity in me. However, going through H4H’s ecourse and discussing weekly Bible passages brought me a new perspective. It helped me to appreciate my gifts and encouraged me to embrace the journey that God has me on. I’ve been challenged to look for ways to serve those I compare myself to and may be jealous of. I had never thought of turning this insecurity into such a positive action. Most of all, I was reminded we are all on a purposeful journey that no one else can walk through but us!
In what ways do you compare yourself to others?
Instead of comparing yourself to others, what specific ways can you serve them this week?
Devotional Contributor: Veronica Garcia https://veronicagsuazo.wordpress.com/
“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 a challenging 2015, 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 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 it is 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?
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” ~Isaiah 9:2
During the holidays, Christmas lights decorate our homes inside and out. We wrap our Christmas trees with lights and hang them from our roof. These lights switch on at night so they shine brightly and beautifully in the darkness.
The prophet Isaiah also spoke about light saying, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
Our small, strung together lights not only display the beauty of Christmas, but also as Isaiah teaches, help dispel the darkness. As we celebrate with lights this season, let us be mindful that shining our lights will illuminate the world around us.
How has God’s light dawned in your life?
Where is He calling you to shine your light today?
” 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?
“Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” ~John 11:44
During our Summer Forgiveness course, teacher Iylana Vanzant asked the question, “If you saw someone walking down the street bandaged from head to toe, how would you treat that person?” She then asked us to consider how living with pain and unforgiveness can render us helpless, as if we are moving through life in a full body bandage.
In week 5 of our course, we explored John 11 where Jesus is summoned to the tomb of Lazarus, who has been dead for 3 days. Jesus calls Lazarus out from the grave saying, “Lazarus, come out!” After he performs the miracle of resurrecting him from the dead, Jesus then commands him to “take off the grave clothes” so that he might truly live. Although Jesus has the power to set us free, we, like Lazarus, must take off our “grave clothes”– our past hurts, present pain and future worries. When we free ourselves from those things which hinder us, only then are we free to live the life God purposed for us.
Which grave clothes are you still wearing?
What steps will you take this week to remove these clothes so that you can truly live?
Watch the H4H Message of Hope
“I cry out to you Lord, I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” ~Psalm 142:5
At our Summer Hope4Hollywood Ladies Tea: Stories of Courage, we heard from Charity Ngaruiya about how God enabled her to have courage in the midst of struggles with her education. She shared how she relied on God’s attribute of faithfulness despite facing continual obstacles with finances and work. One of the most encouraging lessons God taught her was how to engage in the practice of lament. Throughout Scripture, there are examples of people engaging in passionate expressions of grief in the form of song or poetry. Charity learned that through her lament she could cry out to God in her pain and anguish, which enabled her to have greater faith. At the tea, she shared her lament:
“Oh My God, my Lord, Yes, God you are my God! The God I trust and believe in the God who hears me, provides and protects me! And yet God I am angry…..Yes, I am angry because of some things I have gone through, at times I have wondered where you are! God it has been painful, sometimes almost to the point of giving up. Lord! there are times I have been worried that things will never be okay again. Yet God, you are a holy God, a God who hears and sees the injustices of your people. You see even the tears we cry and sometimes the feelings of shame or guilt. Yet now O Lord, I will trust you, Yes Lord I will trust in you!! For I believe that I am a child of grace and I will see your goodness in this land of the living. God please do not forsake me, let me always be near to you, for from you I draw the living water that sustains my life. Help me Lord to forgive….. Yes! Lord to forgive and I pray that God you will heal me and remove from me the burden of anger. Because I know that deep down inside of me is that well of joy which comes because I put my trust wholly in you! Amen.”
What struggles are you currently facing that have you feeling hopeless and angry?
How can writing a prayer of lament this week help strengthen your faith?
“The Lord will watch over your coming and your going both now and forevermore.” ~Psalm 121:8
At our recent memorial service for fellow Hope4Hollywood member Dr. Temille Porter, we learned about two contrasting views of time. Our world often has us embracing a “meter-mindset” with non-stop reminders, deadlines, and appointments, all with a sense that our time is always “ticking down.” Moreover, we are surrounded by an industry that reinforces the notion that we are always “running out of time”.
The Psalmist reminds us that God’s notion of time is different. He writes of God who watches over our “comings and our goings both now and forevermore.” With this heavenly perspective, we can rest in the hope that our time is not ticking down but rather is ticking up into eternity.
Does your life have an eternal mindset and focus? In what ways?
How will you trust God for your time this week?
“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.” We even “cross our hearts and hope to die.”
Hollywood over the years has given us 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).
Peter reminds us, however, that the hope we have in God is much more tangible. On that first Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead and became our “living hope.” In our hope-confused world, we 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 Holy week?