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Peace training

Editor's Note

About the author: Mike Ellis and his wife Beth have been members of ZPC since 2001. They have two grown children, Victoria and Josh. Mike leads a recruiting company and is a ZPC Deacon.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:5-20

He gave us his one and only son!

What could give us more peace? Our God can do anything!

Most of us spend time throughout the week lifting prayers up to God, adding prayers to prayer lists, and asking others to pray for us; but when God handles these things, we are often shocked and don’t thank him. I hate when I do that. In our Bible passage today, we see the priest Zechariah going through the motions and an angel appears – telling him something most amazing and remarkable. But what does he do? He doubts. This could have been one of the most awe-inspiring moments filled with total joy and peace…and he doubts! 

Two thousand years later we still find ourselves acting like Zechariah – walking with God but doubting; thinking he has bigger problems to solve than ours, that he won’t show up, and worse yet, that we shouldn’t even bother to ask. The thing is he does want to hear from us. He does care and he does show up.

Have you ever caught yourself thinking these things?

  • God, I know you can do it, but I’m not going to plan on it.
  • Odds are good, but for some reason I’m not betting on God.
  • God can create the universe, but not help me and my measly little prayers.

Why?  Three reasons for me:  busyness, lack of heavenly focus, and too much me focus.

Why is it I’ve seen God and his handy work in life, time and time again through the ups and downs, but it is hard for me to trust and believe him. Through all my life’s journeys, I have noticed two things have happened. First, God has answered my prayers (sometimes as requested and sometimes with a totally different outcome). Secondly, God has brought me peace during this journey. Sometimes at the very moment I ask and other times only after enough time had passed for me to see his plan. Peace is God’s gift to us. 

For me “peace training” includes daily quiet time, scripture reading, and talking to God honestly. This is helping to replace my doubt so that I’m more inline with God – trusting, obeying, believing, and less “startled and gripped with fear.”

Activity:

Sometime today, this hour, this minute, or this second – draw in a deep breath – exhale and know that God has ____ (fill in the blank with your doubt and anxiety) covered and trust in the power of Jesus. Trust in the presence of God, his power and peace, this day and all the days forward.

Prayer:

Lord our Father,

You are mighty and awesome. Forgive me of all my non-peace filled moments, actions, and thoughts. Thank you, Lord, for giving us Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Help me during this crazy time of the year to remember it’s all about YOU and embrace your awesome peace.

Amen.

Posted by Mike E Ellis with

He is our peace

Editor's Note

About the author: Jenna has been working with ZPC Student Ministry since the summer of 2017. She married Jake in May and they have a sweet Great Dane puppy named Darla.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Hebrews10:5-10; Micah 5:2-5a

In our reading today, the writer of Hebrews contrasts the Mosaic law with the new covenant under Jesus. In case you need a refresher, God’s people in the Old Testament had to bring sacrifices and offerings to maintain a relationship with the Lord. The presence of the Lord was restricted to the innermost room of the temple, which was completely off-limits to the average person. Even more so, sacrifices and offerings were not long-lasting, and they were never perfect. This meant folks had to constantly work for a relationship with God. Talk about the opposite of peace!

Luckily, this is not so for us! In Jesus, we are under a new covenant. God himself became the perfect sacrifice, doing away with the sacrificial system and a works-based salvation. And, his sacrifice is eternal! With his perfect sacrifice, we are covered in forgiveness and grace. No more working for it. No more insecurity. No more condemnation. We are under the strength of the Lord, dwelling securely (Micah 5:4). Now that sounds like peace.

The thing about peace is that it isn’t based upon our to-do lists or responsibilities. The Hebrew word for “peace” in this verse is “shalom,” which means completeness or wholeness. To be “at peace” doesn’t mean getting everything done or having no problems. It means being in right-standing with God, unified with him. And guess what—with Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we have this peace! He offers us an inner-peace, a peace despite the chaos around us. We are enough and complete in him.

When we think of the holiday season, I doubt the first word that comes to mind is “peace.” This season is filled with endless to-do lists, errands, wrapping presents, and parties. Our schedules fill up while our bodies feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Peace? Not so much. Stillness? Nope. Or maybe we feel lonely, missing loved ones or old holiday traditions. Maybe we’re experiencing new challenges or changes this year. But under the new covenant, Jesus offers us a deep peace. He himself is our peace, and we are complete in him and with him. No matter how busy life gets, or the difficulties that come our way, He is our peace. Eternal, steadfast, and complete—he is our peace. Amen!

Activity:

Find a comfortable spot, dim the lights (if you can), and light a candle. Turn off all noises or distractions. Set a timer for 5 minutes and practice being still. Focus on your breathing – take deep breaths and try to quiet your mind. Don’t worry if you have to redirect yourself a million times in the next 5 minutes – it’s part of the process. You may also want to slowly repeat, “In you Jesus, I have peace.” Remember that we are enough and complete in his perfect sacrifice. Hallelujah!

Prayer:

God,

Thank you so much for the reminder of “peace” this season. Thank you for sending your son to sacrifice Himself for us and be our peace. We pray that we can lean into your peace, tuning ourselves in to your steadfast love, even when things are busy or difficult. Help us to fix our eyes on you. We love you and we’re so thankful for all of your blessings. We pray these things not in our name, or by anything that we have done, but according to your son’s name.

Amen.

Posted by Jenna Bezold with

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