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Friday, January 5, 2018

A Challenge for the New Year


With my whole heart have I sought thee:  O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee
(Psalm 119:10-11 KJV, emphasis mine)

*Note:  This is an edited and revised post that I have shared the last few years to kick off the New Year.


Personal Photo


As I work on this post the New Year is just underway—a fresh start from God.  Truthfully, each new day is a fresh start from God.  The New Year gives us the opportunity to adopt new behaviors, set new goals.  Hopefully, the new behaviors will be beneficial to us personally and to others!  The new calendars we opened four days ago are a tangible sign of this fresh start.  What will this year hold?  Only God knows for sure; whatever it holds, we can still learn, grow, and develop in our walk with the Lord. 

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.  
(Psalm 119:18 KJV)

The New Year also affords us the opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to all the possibilities that it holds.  Now is a wonderful time to either begin or renew or deepen our relationship with Jesus.  What can you do to grow in the Lord this year?  What is the Lord calling you to do or to not do? 

As you prayerfully discern what God is directing you to do this year, I hope that you will commit to reading the Bible from cover-to-cover in 2018.  This is my New Year challenge to you! 


Personal Photo


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

Any time spent in God’s Word is never wasted.  God’s Word’s goes out and does not return to Him void (see Isaiah 55:11).  The dividends are amazing!  Reading the whole of God’s Word allows us to get to know the heart of our Heavenly Father and to begin to see themes, interconnections, and more with ease.  One of the perks to continually reading the Bible (beyond beloved passages) is it will help you find passages with ease in a variety of settings.  The more you read the Word of God, the more you will see connections between the Old and New Testaments.  Another perk to Bible reading is doing much better in Bible trivia games!

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  
(Hosea 4:6 KJV, emphasis mine)

Keep in mind there are many atheists and agnostics who have read the Bible cover-to-cover multiple times.  We, His people, should hunger for the Word in such a way that we will want to read all of it!

The prophet, Hosea, in the above passage is speaking God’s heart to his people; I believe it is applicable to God’s people today.  To not hunger for God’s Word says much about the state of our heart—much like our bodies not wanting food when we are ill.  Sadly, I know of pastors who see no need to read the whole of the Word of God—this grieves my heart for them and the people in their respective churches.  Thankfully, my last pastor and current pastor read the whole of the Word and encourage their people to do the same.


Personal Photo


I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.  (Psalm 119:176 KJV)

It is my heart’s sincere desire that you are setting time aside in your daily schedule to commune with God and that you are growing in your relationship with Him.  God loves you so much and desires nothing more than relationship with you.  He loves you so much, in fact, He is crazy about you!  Keeping your eyes on the goal (prize), will help you stay focused and not get off track.  A word of caution: be kind to yourself, realizing that some days or weeks will not be so great; things will go wrong—give yourself the grace you deserve—give yourself the grace you would give to others.  Be sure to encourage yourself over how far you have come.

Time?  Yes, this does take time.  However, if we consider the amount of time we spend on social media or mindlessly watching television or reading books that do not edify; the cost is minuscule.  The cost is more than worth it in the end.

If my grandma, who only had a sixth grade education could do it; so can you!  Grandma Emma made that commitment; she lived without many of the modern conveniences we have, therefore, nearly everything took her much longer to accomplish.  Her life was not an easy one; she loved God and those around her.


Personal Photo: Grandma Emma and me--my first Christmas


Since 2005, I have read the Bible from cover-to-cover at least once each year, if not more!  One time, I read the through the Bible in ninety days (and even managed to read the New Testament twice in that period!).

Who will take me up on this little challenge?  I will cheer you on; you can do this!  Moreover, this is where supportive relationships (accountability) with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are so helpful.  Our relationships allow us to lend a helping, supportive hand to a sister or brother who is hurting or struggling; we can also be on the receiving end of the help and support of others.  How about we support and encourage each other?  


Personal Photo


Why not make 2018 the year that you allow Christ to change you—making you more and more like Him?  Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you and deepen your walk with the Lord.  What is holding you back?  I want to encourage you to commit to opening yourself to what God wants to give you.  You may find that you will go places and do things you never thought that you would do!  Keep on reading and studying God’s Word and praying!

A variety of plans exist that you can select from to guide you in this endeavor.  If you happen to fall behind, please do not get discouraged—keep on going and get caught up when you are able.  Moreover, apps exist to help you read, study, and understand the Word of God—one such app that is also accessible through computers is YouVersion. For more about YouVersion see here and here.  With YouVersion you can connect with friends and others for support and encouragement.  

Here is a link that will take you to a site that gives a variety of plans to read through the Bible in a year.  Bible Reading Plans  For some other ideas please pursue the content in the right side bar of this blog, particularly:  50 Day Spiritual Adventure 2015 and 50 Day Spiritual Adventure Fall 2016


Personal Photo


What are you looking forward to most in reading God’s Word this year?  How can I encourage you?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of life and for the gift of another New Year and for all the possibilities that it holds.  Help us to be always faithful to You—doing what You would have us to do each day.  Deepen our longing for You, so that we will press in and not quit until we have all that You have to offer us.  Instill deep within us a hunger for Your Word that is not easily satisfied.  Encourage us to commit to and keep that commitment to read the whole of Your Word this year; we can only do it with Your help.  Come Holy Spirit; enlighten the eyes of our understanding, as we read the Word You inspired.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim  


Happy New Year! 
May God bless you richly throughout 2018!
May 2018 be the year to give more of your life to the Lord.
                                                                                         




















Monday, December 25, 2017

Advent: The Christ Candle


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. 
(Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV)

Chrismon Tree--Trinity UMC--Albia, IA. Personal Photo.

Note:  This is a re-post from last two years with some editing.  Eventually, I hope to have some posts looking at Jesus’ first coming as prophesied in the Old Testament.  Likewise, audio sermons will happen at some point in the future.

*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  On December 3, 2017, we marked the first Sunday of Advent; this post takes a look at the fourth candle.  To read the previous posts in my Advent series please see: Advent, The Candle of Hope, The Candle of Peace, The Candle of Joy, and The Candle of Love
This post concludes the Advent series.  Thank you for reading and joining me in this journey through Advent.  My prayer for you is that this season was a time of considering the true meaning of the season.


Word Art Creation of K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved.


Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.[1]

Indeed, there was great joy many years ago when Jesus Christ came as a tiny baby who grew and developed like every human being.  He came the first time as Savior; He is coming again, as a warrior king who will rule and reign over the world He created.  The joy experienced on that first Christmas Day is available for us today.


Word Art Creation of K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved. 

On Christmas Eve, we light the final candle on the Advent wreath—the Christ Candle.  Jesus Christ is the Light of the World!  No matter how the dark the world appears to be, the smallest light can overcome that darkness.  This is seen in candlelight services, when the Christ candle is used to light the candles in the congregation.  As the light moves from candle to candle the darkness begins to fade and the light gets brighter.  

As Christians we bring light—the Light of Jesus—to a world that appears to grow darker and more entrenched in sin each day.  I believe that light we have as Christians overcomes the darkness. 

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  
(John 8:12 KJV)

How do we respond to the Good News that caused the angels to rejoice, the shepherds to leave their sheep, and the magi from the east to leave all behind and go and see the new born king of the Jews? 

What have you decided?  This is a great time to say “yes” to Jesus and ask Him to forgive your sins and come into your heart! 

I would like to encourage you to read, the narrative of Jesus’ birth in the second chapter of Luke verses 2:1-20, what is likely a familiar story to many.  To listen to it being read please click here: Luke Chapter 2

Please take some today to truly focus on Jesus whose birth we celebrate. 

Jesus came to save us and make us whole.  What a reason to celebrate His birth and to look forward to His return!

Who can you share the Good News with today?

Please join with me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, Thank You for the most amazing gift that we could ever receive, Your only Son Jesus who came to save us from our sins, and Who will one day come again to rule and reign.  Bring to mind the awesomeness of Jesus’ birth and all that He did so long ago.  May we never lose sight of exactly what we gained due to Jesus’ willingness to come to earth and walk amongst us and to die a criminals’ death on the cross and to rise again, so that we could have a way back to You.  Your love is amazing!  Prepare our hearts to truly be a welcoming place for Jesus our Savior and to truly celebrate today the birth of Jesus!  Place within us ears to hear, eyes to see, and a caring heart for others that reflects Your love and care.  Once again, show us how to be a comforting, loving presence to those around us who need to experience Your love and presence with skin on.  Jesus Christ, Immanuel—God with us—our HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE—we praise You!  Help us to truly experience hope, peace, joy, and love during this season of Advent and throughout the year.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim

Merry Christmas!  May God Bless you richly today and always!  




[1] Joy to the World Public Domain 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Advent: Week 4—The Candle of Love (or the Angel’s Candle)


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV)

Note:  This is a re-post from the last two years with some editing.  I am currently in the process of discerning about writing some additional posts looking at Jesus’ birth prophesied in the Old Testament, so there may be a few additional posts in the coming weeks.  Be watching for some Advent sermons I developed ten years ago—they will be in an audio or video format—there is still a bit to do on the technology end in preparation. 


*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  On December 3, 2017, we marked the first Sunday of Advent; this post takes a look at the third candle.  To read the previous posts in my Advent series please see:  AdventThe Candle of HopeThe Candle of Peace, The Candle of Joy.


Word Art Creation by K. Jolly. All Rights Reserved 


Love.  Throughout the Bible—the Word of God—we see His love for the whole of His creation.  He even loves His wayward, disobedient children!  The love we see and experience on earth is but a shadow of God’s love.  In a fallen, sinful world, love can be hard to come by at times.  At times, “love” does not seem much like love.  However, God’s love transcends all of this.

God’s ultimate expression of love came through sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to earth (see John 3:16-17).  Ultimately, Jesus freely gave His life on a cross for you and for me—for every person on earth. 



Banner Trinity UMC, Albia, IA. Photo Credit: D. Wright



Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 KJV).

In His resurrection, He won victory over death and the grave (see 1 Corinthians 15:56-57)!  We have that victory too, if we have Jesus in our heart (as our Savior)!



Fourth Sunday of Advent Candles--Trinity UMC--Albia, IA. Photo Credit: D. Wright

On the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, we light the Candle of LOVE (or in some traditions, the Angel’s Candle).  Jesus Christ is love; He loves us so much—far more than we can begin to understand!  The fourth Sunday of Advent reminds us that in Jesus we have true HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE.  Hope, peace, joy, and love that is true and solid—so true and solid that it lasts for all eternity!

How have you experienced God’s love in a tangible way?  How can you share that love with others?



Word Art Creation of K. Jolly. All Rights Reserved.


The Christmas story provides so much for us—hope, peace, joy, and love—love came down so many years ago on that first Christmas Day.  The first Christmas Day changed the world!  Light stepped into darkness, that light continues to over the darkness today. 

Experiencing salvation in Jesus has changed me for the better.  Jesus’ love sets us free—free to be the person we were created to be and do what God intended us to do before He formed us in the womb (see Jeremiah 1:5). 

If you have not experienced this freedom, this love, this joy, what are you waiting for?  Jesus stands ready to welcome you to Him—He has already said “yes” to you.  Salvation is in Jesus alone; we cannot get to heaven without Jesus as our Savior.  No one gets to heaven by being a “good person”—all our good deeds are but filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:6).

Christmas is a wonderful time to focus on LOVE—an emotion that is sometimes hard to come by in this world, especially during the busy holiday season when people are distracted by all the busyness.  What hope, peace, joy, and love we should feel when we deeply consider that Jesus came to this world He created to provide a way for us to be reunited with our Heavenly Father.  He did this willingly, knowing what He would endure.  He loves us so much that He did what only He could do.  Because of that, I rejoice…  What about you?

Take some time prior to and on Christmas Day to truly focus on Jesus whose birth we celebrate. 

Remember the Reason for the Season!

What can you do to focus on the hope, peace, joy, and love found in Jesus?

Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Do not assume they want to spend the day alone.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER. 

Please join with me in prayer:

Father, Thank You for showing us how much You love us through sending Your only Son, Jesus, to earth.  Show us how to love others with the love You have given us.  Prepare our hearts to truly celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day.  Help us to not forget why and who we are celebrating.  Remind us to truly care for those around us, especially those who need extra love and care due to their life story.  Place within us ears to hear, eyes to see, and a caring heart for others that reflects Your love and care.  Once again, show us how to be a comforting, loving presence to those around us who need to experience Your love and presence with skin on.  Jesus Christ, Immanuel—God with us—our HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE—we praise You!  Help us to truly experience hope, peace, joy, and love during this season of Advent and throughout the year.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim

**Special Note: Please look for a post on Christmas Day.  It will likely be fairly short. **

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Advent: Week 3—The Candle of Joy (or the Shepherd’s Candle)


The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.  
(Isaiah 9:2-3 KJV)

Note:  This is a re-post from the last two years with some editing.  I am currently in the process of discerning about writing some additional posts looking at Jesus’ birth prophesied in the Old Testament, so there may be a few additional posts in the coming weeks.  Be watching for some Advent sermons I developed ten years ago—they will be in an audio or video format—there is still a bit to do on the technology end in preparation. 

*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  On December 3, 2017, we marked the first Sunday of Advent; this post takes a look at the third candle.  To read the previous posts in my Advent series please see:  AdventThe Candle of HopeThe Candle of Peace.


And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  
(Isaiah 35:10 KJV)

Word Art Creation of K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved.


Joy.  Joy is a word that likely brings many thoughts to mind, especially during this time of year.  In the natural, it is easy to struggle with finding any degree of joy at times.  However, for those who are in Christ Jesus, joy should be a natural outflow of a relationship with our Savior.  Joy is possible, even in the midst of the incredibly hard times of life. 

I fully realize how incredibly difficult it is to have joy when so much “hard” seems to happen all at once and not stop, or when everyone seems to disappear during this season and exclude certain people.  This happens in families far more than we can begin to realize. 

On the third Sunday of Advent, we light the Candle of JOY (or in some traditions it is the Shepherd’s Candle).  Jesus Christ is our joyThe third Sunday of Advent reminds us that in Jesus we have true HOPE, PEACE, and JOY.  Hope, peace, and joy that is true and solid—so true and solid that it lasts for all eternity!    

The story of Christmas is one of great joy.  Remember how Jesus’ birth was proclaimed and how the shepherds received the news with great joy, and how the wise men traveled from a great distance to see the newly born King of the Jews? 

As Christians, we can experience joy and peace that others in this world cannot fathom.  If not, it likely means that we have taken our eyes off of the Lord and placed them in the world or the flesh.  Our joy and peace should be seen by others; perhaps enough to make them take note and want to know more. 

How have you experienced this joy? 

This joy and peace has nothing to do with what is going on in our lives.  The joy Jesus gives to us, gives us strength—strength to face the loss of family and so much more.  Those who have a deep relationship with the Lord find joy in heartache that comes with the death of beloved family members—they rejoice knowing their loved one (who is saved) is with their Savior and Lord.  Yes, they are sad, yet not without hope or joy.    



Word Art Creation of K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved.


Countless believers have counted the cost of following Christ and found it a cost worth paying.  They have found the hope, peace, and joy that seems so very elusive at times.  The question is:  have you found it too? 

If you have not yet experienced this inner joy; what are you waiting for?  Jesus stands ready to welcome you to Him—He has already said “yes” to you.  Salvation is in Jesus alone; we cannot get to heaven without Jesus as our Savior.  No one gets to heaven by being a “good person”—all our good deeds are but filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:6).

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength(Nehemiah 8:10 KJV emphasis mine)

Christmas is a wonderful time to focus on JOY—an emotion that is sometimes hard to come by in this world, especially during the busy holiday season.  What joy we should feel when we deeply consider that Jesus came to this world He created to provide a way for us to be reunited with our Heavenly Father.  He did this willingly, knowing what He would endure.  He loves us so much that He did what only He could do.  Because of that, I rejoice…  What about you?

Take some time prior to and on Christmas Day to truly focus on Jesus whose birth we celebrate. 

Remember the Reason for the Season!

What can you do to focus on the joy found in Jesus? 

Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Do not assume they want to spend the day alone.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER. 

Please join with me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Joy we can experience because of Jesus, who restores our relationship with You.  Direct our focus to that JOY, especially during those times that are challenging and painful.  Show us how to be a comforting, loving presence to those around us who need to experience Your love and presence with skin on.  Jesus Christ, Immanuel—God with us—our HOPE, PEACE, and JOY—we praise You!  Help us to truly experience joy during this season of Advent and throughout the year.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Kim

The next candle we will be considering is the Candle of Love, this coming Friday.

**Special Note:  Currently, I am planning to have a post on Christmas Day that will wrap up the series on Advent. **







Friday, December 15, 2017

Advent: Week 2—The Candle of Peace (or the Bethlehem Candle)


But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. 
(Micah 5:2 KJV)

Note:  This is a re-post from the last two years with some editing.  I am currently in the process of discerning about writing some additional posts looking at Jesus’ birth prophesied in the Old Testament, so there may be a few additional posts in the coming weeks.  Be watching for some Advent sermons I developed ten years ago—they will be in an audio or video format—there is still a bit to do on the technology end in preparation.

**Due to the need to get all the Advent posts done in a timely manner, there will be two posts next week--one on Wednesday and one on Friday.


*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  On December 3, 2017, we marked the first Sunday of Advent; this post takes a look at the third candle.  To read the previous posts in my Advent series please see:  Advent and The Candle of Hope.



Word Cloud creation of K. Jolly, All rights reserved.

Peace.  What is peace?  Peace—is it absence of conflict or discord?  How do we define peace?  Is it possible to experience peace in this world? 

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines peace like this: In a general sense, a state of quiet or tranquillity; freedom from disturbance or agitation; applicable to society, to individuals, or to the temper of the mind.  Freedom from war with a foreign nation; public quiet.  Freedom from internal commotion or civil war.  Freedom from private quarrels, suits or disturbance.  Freedom from agitation or disturbance by the passions, as from fear, terror, anger, anxiety or the like; quietness of mind; tranquillity; calmness; quiet of conscience.”[1]

Peace, like hope, is defined differently in the Bible. In fact, the world’s definition and the biblical definition are at odds! 

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It is defined, simply, as: “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.”[2] Shalom is also used as a greeting, such as:  hello and good-bye.[3]

Peace in the Bible is defined like this: “…The biblical concept of peace is larger than that [dictionary definition] and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means ‘to be complete’ or ‘to be sound.’  The verb conveys both a dynamic and a static meaning’ to be complete or whole’ or ‘to live well.’….”[4] 




Banner Trinity UMC--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright

In Isaiah 9:6, we read and amazing prophecy about Jesus—He is the Prince of Peace!  Jesus, our Savior and Lord is Prince of Peace!  Let that sink in for a bit…  How amazing is that?  {Click to Tweet}  

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace
(Isaiah 9:6 KJV, emphasis mine)

How has Jesus allowed you to experience peace?  Salvation in Jesus brings us peace with God (there is no other way to have peace with God).  Romans 5:1 (KJV) states:  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  What comfort this should bring to our hearts.  We can have inner peace, even when things around us are far from peaceful.

The world is full of conflict and violence.  Each day the news seems to overflow with war, rumors of war, terrorism, and acts of violence.  The answer to all of this will not be found in mankind.  Legislating morality is not possible!  The heart is the root of all the ugliness we see in the world today.  Heart issues are not touched by legislation (law).  {Click to Tweet}  
What, then, is the answer? 

The answer, I believe is not so much what as it is WHO.  Jesus is the answer!  He is Peace!  He is calm, peace in a crazy world.  {Click to Tweet}        

Word Cloud Creation of K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved.


On the second Sunday of Advent we light the candle of Peace (or in some traditions it is the Bethlehem Candle).  The second Sunday of Advent reminds us that in Jesus we have true HOPE and PEACE.  Hope and peace that is true and solid—so true and solid that it lasts for all eternity.

Peace came to our violent and chaotic world in the form of a tiny, vulnerable baby born in Bethlehem.  Jesus came in such an unexpected way (despite the prophecies) that His own people, for the most part, missed Him.  Jesus brought radical ideas that really turned the world upside down.  He came not as a warrior but as a Savior (a Suffering Servant).  In His first coming, He came to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of the humans He created. 

In His second coming, Jesus will come as a warrior king and then establish an earthly (a new heaven and a new earth) kingdom. 

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  
(John 16:33 KJV)


Poinsettias at Trinity UMC--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright

Until then, we will wait with expectation that one day we will no longer live in a world full of hate and violence—keeping our eyes focused on the author and finisher of our faith—Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 12:2)! 


Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Do not assume they want to spend the day alone.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER. 

Please join with me in prayer:
Lord of Peace, thank You for coming and showing us how to live and how to treat others.  We are thankful for the peace that we can have with God through You.  Help us to prepare our hearts to welcome You anew.  Jesus, we are so lost without You—lost without HOPE or PEACE—yet with You as our Savior and Lord, we can have HOPE and PEACE. Guide us in sharing this HOPE and PEACE with those around us.  Thank You for making a way for us to return to the Father.  Remind us to shine our light in this dark world, so that others may discover Jesus too.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Kim

The next candle we will be considering is the Candle of Joy.       




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