The life of peace on earth is lived by prayer. When we feel wounded by lies and deceit, prayer directs our focus from ourselves to God, from self-pity to God’s glory. Obsessing over lies and deceit breeds bitterness; prayer fosters forgiveness.
Category Archives: Advent
With Shouts of Joy
Joy is not an achievement of the Christian life but a fruit of it. Nor is joy an acquisition but the produce of living by faith and obedience to the Spirit of Christ. Yet, some may feel as if joy is fleeting. If you are a Christian and wonder where your joy has gone, it would be wise to look to the robber baron of sin, your flesh. Like a thief who breaks in on Christmas Eve to steal all the presents under the tree, sin stealthily steals the gift of joy. And when we awake and realize it’s gone, we often look for it in all the wrong places.
For the Love of God
This is of course good news for all who are in Christ and joyfully under his reign. But it is not good news for his enemies, all who reject his gospel freely offered, his righteous rule graciously given. And as Zion is the dwelling place of God, to whom Christ has given “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” and the authority to bind and loose on earth as in heaven (Matt. 16:19), all who reject the gospel of Christ’s church will be clothed with shame. But the love of God shines forth in his dwelling presence, for Christ and his body are one (1 Cor. 12:27). But where there is no love for Christ’s church, there is no love of God (1 Jn. 4:7-12). Therefore, for the love of God, “let us love one another” (1 Jn. 4:7a), enjoying the dwelling place and presence of the Lord forever.
Deep Woes, Enduring Hope
In this, we are reminded of God’s steadfast love for his people. We rejoice that our redemption in Christ is so plentiful that it covers the sins of our past, present, and future. For, we are a people who have received the gift of God’s grace in Christ, who has redeemed us from all our iniquities, and he is the God who hears our cries, answers our prayers, sustains us moment by moment, and gives us hope, even in the depths of woe.
Light in the Darkness
Therefore, we must look to the light to know the truth and expose and silence the lies of darkness by shining the light. Darkness says that you are defined by your desires. Light says your identity is in Christ (Gal. 2:20), who is light. Darkness says that you are defined by your past. Light says that you are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), who is light. Darkness says you are defined by what you’ve done. Light says that you are known by whose you are (1 John 3:1), a child of light. Darkness wants you to believe there is no light. Light says that the Lord has “called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
Our Peace Offering
But it is not in our sinful state that God is pleased but in the sinless sacrifice of his Son, whom he has given as the greatest gift of all. As John wrote to the church, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). In Christ, our peace offering, we have been given the gift of peace with God forever. There is no greater Christmas gift than that.
Joy in My Heart
Sometimes life can feel unbearable. Whether it be the anxiety of a situation, conflict with people, or restless worry over tomorrow, we can easily grow frustrated even cynical, wondering where has the joy of living gone? We have all likely felt this way before, perhaps even today. But sometimes it can be difficult to express what we are feeling, to others, to ourselves, and even to God. But God has neither created nor redeemed us to wallow in the weight of our worries but desires that we cry out to him, giving us not only the privilege but the poetry too.
Loved to Love
Consider our passage today in Leviticus. He who is holy calls his people to be holy, like Father like child, a set apartness of and for God. What follows is a less succinct almost lyrical expansion of the Ten Commandments, an elaboration on what it means to love God and examples of what it looks like to love our neighbor. For example, it may surprise us to find that despite the thousands of years that separate us from ancient Israel, how Israel is commanded to love their neighbor is remarkably relevant for us today. So, if I too may summarize, loving our neighbor means loving generously, honestly, equitably, justly, and reasonably.
Peace in Christ
As God promised, so he provided, giving “His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NASB). In Christ, he has given us his abiding peace through the provision of his Spirit. In Christ, he has given us his means of grace abiding in his peace. In Christ, he has prepared his kingdom that we may know eternal peace.
More Than Happiness
I wonder how many Christians lead joyless lives because they wallow in the weight of their past sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Repent, confess, ask for forgiveness (early and often), and pray for joy. Therefore, we are to consider the trials of this life pure joy, more than happiness, for God is at work in us for our good and his glory.