Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fourth Advent -- Love

(photo - morning view of the fog-covered valley from my patio)

For God so loved ..... LOVE is the reason for the season. Because God so loved you and me He sent His only begotton Son that we might have eternal life!

I am reminded of the year my granddaughter was a four years old in pre-school. In her class was a little girl who could only be described as a bully. My granddaughter had determined that she must have a broken spirit and needed a friend. She would be that friend.

She tried and tried ..... sharing her lunch treats, inviting her to play with her, drawing her special pictures. My granddaughter even asked her Mom to take her shopping so she could buy her a very special gift that would certainly convince this girl of her love.

Nothing ever changed. While my granddaughter readily acknowledged that this little girl "was mean", she never referred to her meaness in a personal way - always it was with sadness that this girl did not know how to be nice.

So many times my little granddaughter asked me to pray for this girl, that her spirit would not be broken any more.

I wondered at the little girl that she could for a whole school year resist such persistent love and sincere offer of friendship.

While my heart ached to see my granddaughter's love so rejected, I thought of how it is a picture of us and God. We were hardly 'lovely' that God should have reason to love us ! It was "while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us !" Rom 5:8

And yet. even though we rejected His sacrifice, resisted His offering of Love and turned away from His incredible gift ... He loved us still.

Patiently He wooed us until we turned and recognizing His love let it melt our hard hearts.

Then we could say with the apostle John....
"We love him, because he first loved us." 1Jn 4:19

"Lord, when we see how great your love for us is , our hearts are filled with thanksgiving. As we celebrate this Christmas season with family and friends, may we remember that it is because of Your self-less gift that we are so blessed. May hope, peace, joy and love reign in our hearts and homes. Amen"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Third Advent - Joy

Joy ... What is Joy ?

A dictionary defines it this way ... "The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires -- delight"

I think that definition falls short of true joy!

I would like to define Joy as inspired by the little chipmunk in my photo !

* Joy comes from above.
* Joy is a gift that this world cannot offer. It offers fleeting moments of bliss, happiness, elation, delight -- but not lasting Joy !
* Joy must be received. God has offered us joy -- life in Him -- but we must reach out to take it!
* Joy is a focus. Not much can detract from real Joy. When Joy is the anchor of our life, we overcome our fears and distractions fade !

When I was looking through my photos to find a picture that depicted joy, I was not thinking about chipmunks but when I looked at the above photo I realized again how often God tucks a 'sermon' into His creation.

God wants us to filled with joy ! -- to live our lives out of a joy rooted deep into our hearts. A joy that is undisturbed, undistracted by the sorrows, difficulties, disappointments and frustrations of this world. Not that we don't feel those things -- but always we can be aware of the foundation of joy our hearts are grounded in.
Jesus said ... "These things I have spoken to you , that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full!" (John 15:11)

The little chipmunk in my object lesson knew very quickly where the 'joy peanuts' were coming from and ran to me for more!
When we recognize that our Joy comes from God - from Jesus the Saviour of this world, how easy is it to run to Him continually for all that we need. It is His Presence in us that fills us with Joy and the knowledge that in Him we can abide in Joy.

The angels proclaimed .. "Joy to the World!" That is God wish for us -- to be filled with Joy -- and how much reason we have to be joyful.... especially this Christmas season as we remember the great gift that came down from heaven to reconcile us to our heavenly Father -- if only we put our trust in Him.

May Joy fill your heart today and always !!
"Rejoice, and again I say Rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Second Advent - Peace

When the angels came to proclaim Jesus' birth , they sang. "Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14 NKJV)
Peace on earth ? After 2,000 years, I don't see it , do you ?
We turn on the TV news every morning to hear about the lack of peace encircling our globe. We have computers and internet that link every part of the world with every other part - there is no place to hide! Wars and rumours of war so commonplace they barely raise an eyebrow. Violence is the repetative ingredient in TV shows, movies, video games.
Even our streets are not safe -- our homes , our vehicles , our possessions need to be guarded. Thieves lurk. We go for a walk in our local park... our lives are at risk. We watch over our children - it is not safe for them to walk home alone from school. Even school is not safe for them - we have bullies and school shootings.
Our families are shattered - divorce leaves children hurt and vulnerable. Suicides are at all time high.
So where is this peace that was promised ?
Is the desire for peace not the longing of every heart ? I believe that it is... but man has forgotten how to find it.
Peace will never be found in the world around us. It can only be found where Jesus promised it. In HIS Kingdom.
And where is His kingdom ?
It is a kingdom of hearts. Jesus came not to bring a superficial peace that the world looks for but a peace that permeates the hearts of His followers and flows out through them. It is a peace that cannot be touched by the turbulent events of a world tossed to and fro. It is a peace that fills our hearts birthed of trust in a God who is in control. We have a God whose promises are true - a God whose Word stills every storm and quiets every heart.
Real Peace comes from knowing God ( I Peter 1:2)
Jesus is our King of peace. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts - a deep peace that man cannot steal or destroy.
How often did Jesus say to His disciples, "Peace to unto you... "
The same words He still speaks to your heart and to mine!
That is why Jesus came - to bring us peace. Listen to the words of Zacharias prophecy about the Messiah in Luke 1:79.
"Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
In a dark and troubled world may our feet be guided in the way of peace -- in our own hearts -- and may the Light of Peace shine through us.
"Dear Father, I pray this morning, that you would speak 'Peace' to every person whose eyes fall upon these words. May their hearts be stilled knowing that you are God - the same yesterday , today and forever.
May we all hide in you, and be blessed in your kingdom where Peace rules! Amen"