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Peace in God's plan

Jan and Butch West and Barb Luther at this year's All Church RetreatEditor's Note

About the author: Barb Luther is a longtime family member of ZPC. She has served on the ZPC Board of Deacons and in many other ZPC ministries. Currently she is one of the leaders for 2nd Half Adventurers, ZPC's senior ministry.

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 1:26-38

Today’s story focuses on Mary when she first heard the news from the angel Gabriel that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High. What incredible news for this young peasant girl to hear and how it would change her life! She was betrothed to Joseph and probably very happily looking forward to their life together as most engaged couples are. But suddenly every thing had changed in an instant. This news put Mary at great risk, facing rejection from her community, the strong possibility of being outcast from her family and even being stoned to death. And yet, incredibly, this young girl said “Yes” to God in the face of all this. What would cause her to submit to God in these humanly impossible circumstances? Did she ever again experience “the peace of God which transcends all understanding”? (Phil 4:7)

I wonder if Mary recalled God’s words through the prophet Isaiah and felt reassured that this was his plan all along?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, … and he will be called ….Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

I wonder if she experienced his peace about this news because she trusted in God and his word in spite of her circumstances. For peace is not the absence of problems but it is the presence of Christ in the midst of our problems. For he himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:13-14) We experience peace when we rest in Jesus and his promises.

Ten years ago our family’s life was forever changed when we received the news that our husband and father was in stage 4 of melanoma. After fighting the battle for 11 months, we were nearing the end in the month of December. In our humanness, I must be honest and admit we did not always experience peace throughout these months. But I knew we were not alone, that God was with us in the midst of our struggle and grief, and that we couldn’t be in a safer place than his arms. I claimed his promises that he will never leave us and perhaps Mary did also. For no word from God will ever fail and her response was May your word to me be fulfilled. (Luke 1:37-38) What amazing trust! Is there a situation you are facing today where you need his peace? Call out to the Prince of Peace and he will give you rest.

Activity:

It has been helpful to me in difficult times to see God’s Word and especially his promises literally in front of me. I have written meaningful scripture verses and posted them in various locations of my home like the refrigerator or bathroom mirror. During my husband’s illness I especially claimed God’s promises in Isa 43:1-3 and carried these verses with us wherever we went between hospital room to doctor’s offices to home. Perhaps today you can write one of his promises of peace on a notecard and carry it with you or post it in a convenient location. His peace will go with you. That’s his promise!

Prayer:

Dear Father,

We praise you as our heavenly Father who is always faithful and will never break a promise to us. We thank you that you are always with us as you have promised and that you provide your peace as we trust in you.  Help us to focus on you in the midst of our trials and not on ourselves. May we be always grateful that peace was purchased through Jesus and given to us as an unconditional gift.

We pray this in the name of our Prince of Peace – Jesus.

Amen 

Posted by Barb Luther with

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

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