Tag Archives: peace

Above All Else Christmas Means LOVE!

     Winter Solstice came and went on December 21st. The day with the shortest period of sunlight in 2018 is now history. Slowly but surely, dark winter days will lengthen. It won’t be long until we’re watching for the first signs of Spring. Bulbs will begin poking their sweet little green heads up through still-snow-blanketed soil.

     Christmas 2018 is also now history. At our house, we’re already thinking about taking down the beautifully-decorated tree. It doesn’t look nearly as welcoming without brightly-wrapped gifts beneath. In a few days, Ron will disconnect the timer which has so faithfully turned on our cheery outdoor Christmas lights.

     Christmas Eve, our two youngest grandkids, 7-year-old Emmi and 3-year-old Reeve, lit the candle representing Jesus on the Advent Wreath. It joined the candles of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE.

     I now find myself asking, “Where the rubber of my faith meets the often mundane, cluttered and unkind road of life, how do I keep alive the Light of LOVE Christmas is all about?”

     The word “love” is used 202 times in the New Testament (KJV). John, the youngest of Jesus’ twelve original disciples, penned those words a whopping 71 times.

     John often described himself as the “one whom Jesus loved.” There wasn’t a doubt in John’s mind that he was beloved by Jesus, and he in turn loved Jesus deeply.

     So, how can I, how can you, love Jesus deeply?

     The Apostle John, writing words when in his elder years, provides that answer in a letter to his friends. John’s words remain relevant to you and me in the 21st Century.

 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

     1 John 4:7-11 (NLT)

     These are great words. If I’m honest, however, I’ll confess that way too often, I desire to be loved by Jesus more than I want to love like Jesus. This is an area of life where I want to grow.

     As we recover from the stress of the Christmas season caused by too much—perhaps too much spending, decorating, gathering with family and friends and eating rich foods—I hope you’ll join me to reflect on the gift of God’s LOVE, JESUS.

     What if each one reading these words asked this question of God prayerfully:

Since you loved me SO much, God, how can I love you by loving others more like JESUS loved?

     Somehow, I imagine that’s a question God will like and be pleased to answer.

In closing today’s post, quoting Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol,

“…And God bless us everyone!”

Sue Reeve

It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…
yes, it is Christmas every time you smile…and offer…your hand.
~ Mother Teresa

Advent – Week Two PEACE

Sue’s Note: I must apologize about the order I mentioned for the Advent candles in my first Advent post. As I said, this tradition is new to me, and I have gotten out of order. In doing a bit more research, however, I see there isn’t absolute unity concerning which candle represents which week. Thank you for understanding!

This week Ron and I lit the second candle on our Advent wreath, a light symbolizing peace. On Week 3, we’ll explore Joy and Week 4, Love. (Today’s post contains excerpts from earlier posts written during previous Christmas seasons.)

 

     Hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, penned these words about the promised Messiah:

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)

     More than 250,000 nights later a band of angels announced the birth of that Messiah—a baby named Jesus—to a group of shepherds, declaring:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all people. (Luke 2: 14)

     Thirty-three years later the promise of peace, coming as a babe born in a lowly manger, would die a violent death on a wooden cross.

     Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke with his disciples.

     For three years, he and his beloved friends had done life together. The young men who’d left all to follow Jesus had heard his radical teaching and marveled at miracles he performed.

     Scripture records final words spoken to his friends. Jesus warned them, they would suffer horribly—to the point of martyrdom— because of their alignment with him. Then, he said…

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

     In 1863, war ravaged a divided nation. Brother fought against brother, father against son. The Civil War created many tragic tales, such as that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

     Longfellow’s son had been crippled horribly in a fierce Civil War battle. The grief he experienced as a result of his son’s injury was complicated by the earlier death of his beloved wife, Fanny, who perished in a house fire. During his time of deep despair, Longfellow wrote the words to what has become one of my favorite Christmas carols.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

…Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

     It’s been over 2000 years since angels sang their song, more than 100 since Longfellow wrote Christmas Bells. Still, we ponder peace. Evening news reports scream violence. Christians still are martyred. Mass shootings claim the lives of young students and elderly worshipers. Women and children are sold as sex slaves. Immigrants, fleeing ravaged homelands, seek asylum in a more peaceful place.

     A part of me is tempted to ask, ’Okay, so where is this Prince of Peace?’ Thoughts of world peace seem hopeless. Hate remains strong, mocking the angelic song to the shepherds one night so long ago.

     Yet, a deeper part of my soul—that place that transcends my human understanding—believes more strongly than ever in The Prince of Peace.

     In the next Listening on the Journey… post, I’ll tell you about my friends, Barb and Will. Their story of tragedy and triumph illustrates the relevance of the peace Jesus promised to leave his friends, showing how that same peace remains available to believers in the 21st Century. Until then…

May peace fill your days…

Sue Reeve

ANXIETY + PRAYER + THANKSGIVING = PEACE | Part 2

Part 2

     On Wednesday, January 31st, I waited almost 4 hours while Ron underwent serious eye surgery. The final day of January 2018, became what I call Philippians 4:6 & 7 Practice.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

     These words are for me some of the most important ever written. Penned by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison somewhere around 62 AD, these two short verses provide a powerful prayer model that works—especially during stressful times.

     Why is it that a few lines from a letter written almost 2000 years ago—a letter tucked into the back of a book that has been printed some five billion times in the past 200 years[1]–remain relevant to a grandma living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2018?

     With all my heart, I believe the Bible is God’s idea—God’s way of communicating divine and timeless truth. During my recent season of concern, I’m more convinced than ever the message of Philippians 4:6 & 7 is relevant.

     In the last Listening on the Journey… post (February 5, 2018), we looked at Verse 6. Today, we’ll dive into Verse 7.

     In Verse 6, Paul presents a process for acknowledging, praying about, and giving thanks during times of anxiety. Verse 7 gives the outcome. Paul wrote these words from a place of painful personal experience, and I find something powerful about learning from someone who’s “been there/learned that!”

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

     Philippians 4:7 peace is soul-serenity, which Paul explains we may not understand but, yet, can fully experience.

     Sometimes, when I’ve practiced this passage of scripture, despite that ‘worry gene,’ which lurks in my DNA, I’m aware of a type of an I-just-don’t-get-it calmness. Philippians 4:7 peace is a feeling, which at times has caused me to worry because I wasn’t worried!

     Before I proceed, though, I must say that even though my words may seem to imply the process of finding peace can be reduced to a formula, in fact, that isn’t true. Generally, I avoid any type of spiritual formula, but as I thought about the title for this post, I was aware of the systematic process Paul presents. I realized I’ve used this process on numerous occasions for many years. Even as Paul’s peace-producing process has helped me and countless others, I hope my experience and words may help someone reading today’s Listening on the Journey… post.

     As I lay awake much of the night following Ron’s surgery, I felt anxious because Ron’s pain was preventing him from resting well. During those sleepless hours, I was reminded once again that the formation of my faith has been a journey—one I believe will continue until I’ve exhaled my last earthly breath.

     Oftentimes, my spirit collides with my humanity. I don’t want to do so, but still I succumb to natural emotional reactions, such as anxiety.

     That’s all right.

     God understands that even though my spirit may be willing, it’s also fragile.

          It’s times like this when I’m humbled by my frailty.

               It’s times like this when I’m able to rest in the strong arms of my Abba Father.

                    It’s times like this when I realize my journey of faith isn’t about perfection—but, it
                    does involve progress.

     As I attempt to become a spiritually mature woman, I find greater success when I’m gentle with myself concerning weaknesses. Gentleness, however, doesn’t mean I can ignore or keep excusing weakness forever. I must also accept my responsibility and make decisions for the way in which I proceed in my journey of faith—even when circumstances are less than lovely or when life has treated me unfairly.

     Passages of scripture such as Philippians 4:6 & 7 provide tools that help me learn and grow. My hope and prayer are that these two short verses will do the same for you.

Blessings on your journey of faith…

Sue Reeve

     P.S. By the way, in case you’re wondering, Ron is progressing well. This morning, I’ll chauffer my husband—hopefully, for the last time in a long while—to his medical appointment. The eye surgeon will remove the 16 stitches (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that number!) he placed in Ron’s eye eight days ago. Our hope is soon my husband, who has experienced more than a few anxious moments related to his vision, will enjoy pre-teen eyesight!

     For all who’ve prayed for Ron and sent well wishes, THANK YOU!!

  1. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/best-selling-book-of-non-fiction/

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