Saturday, December 9, 2023
Introduction: The Calming Storm
Imagine a storm-tossed sea, waves crashing against a small boat. The disciples, fearing for their lives, woke Jesus, who was asleep in the boat. With a word, Jesus rebuked the winds and the waves, and a great calm fell over the sea (Mark 4:35-41, NLT). This miraculous scene vividly illustrates Jesus as the Prince of Peace, bringing tranquility even to the midst of a raging storm.
1. Read Isaiah 9:6 (NLT):
"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."*
- Reflect on the significance of the title "Prince of Peace." What does it mean for Jesus to be the bringer of peace?
- How does the story of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:35-41 align with the concept of Him being the Prince of Peace?
"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."
- What is the nature of the peace that Jesus promises to give? How does it differ from the peace that the world offers?
- How can we, as believers, experience the peace of Christ in our daily lives?
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
- According to these verses, what is the connection between prayer and experiencing God's peace?
- Share personal experiences of times when prayer brought peace in challenging situations.
"Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us."
- How does faith in Jesus Christ bring about peace with God?
- In what ways does knowing we have peace with God impact our daily lives and interactions with others?
Discuss practical ways to actively embrace and share the peace of Christ in our lives.
Friday, December 8, 2023
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.
"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'" Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)
Through the years I have written and performed a variety of skits for the church that I attended. For one dealing with Christmas, I brought in a huge bag of Christmas related items and my cell phone. As I unpacked the items one by one, I carried on a conversation on the phone about how stressed I was about getting everything done in time and would reference the item that I held in my hand.
One of those items was a baby doll. As I handled it, I wondered out loud how it had gotten in my bag, and I moved it out of sight. But there was a person in the audience whose job it was to put the baby back where I would see it. As I kept moving it and it kept reappearing, my stress grew and I asked why the baby kept getting in my way.
Preparing for Christmas can be a stressful time. As we decorate our homes, shop for gifts, plan the meal for the big day, attend parties and deal with anxious children, our nerves can become frazzled. Aside from the special preparations, all of our regular needs and concerns need to be tended to as well. It is extremely easy to get so wound up in the "doings" of the season that we forget what it is truly supposed to be about.
Today's verse recounts when the angel appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Christ child. Can you imagine what that must have been like? What an honor it was that God chose these men to receive the news. I can safely say that was a moment that none of them ever forgot nor stopped talking about. For them, life became all about that birth.
It is far too easy to lose our focus on what is most important at this time of year. We get so busy fulfilling what we perceive to be the expectations of the season. But, when we take the time to stop, spend some time in the Scriptures reviewing the birth of Jesus, then we can be reminded that there is really only one reason to celebrate.
In my skit, as I picked up the baby doll over and over again and cast it aside, my intent was to show how quick we can be to allow the material part of the season to push aside what is most important. While we enjoy them, the ornaments, lights and bright colored packages are temporary and will be forgotten once they are all put away. Christmas is about our Lord Jesus Christ, who left His majestic throne in Heaven and was born as an infant. He was the ultimate gift and should be the object of our focus.
It's all about the baby.
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people
In the remission of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
Whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us,
To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death;
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
Monday, December 4, 2023
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,Make ye ready the way of the Lord,Make his paths straight.
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Reflecting on Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) - "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
As the gentle glow of the Candle of Hope illuminates our hearts, we stand at the culmination of our Advent reflections, immersed in the profound significance of this season. The birth of Jesus emerges as the truest and purest form of hope for a world shrouded in darkness, echoing the sentiments of Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT), "We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him, our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone."
The story of Alex and Jessica serves as a contemporary testament to the transformative power of hope in the face of adversity. Much like them, we navigate the complexities of our modern lives, holding steadfast to the promise that, in God's perfect time, a seed of promise will be sown, and we shall reap a harvest of joy.
As we conclude our time together, let us stand firm in His grace, knowing that the plans the Lord has for us are plans for good and not for disaster, giving us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT). The Advent journey beckons us to cultivate hope as a resilient companion, to rejoice in the trust we place in His holy name, and to embrace the unfolding chapters of our lives with courage and expectancy.
May the light of hope continue to shine brightly within each of us, not only during this Advent season but throughout the coming year. As we carry the essence of hope into our homes, communities, and beyond, let us be living testimonies to the transformative power of the birth of Jesus—the truest and purest form of hope that has graced our world.
In the days ahead, let us stand firm in His grace, anchored by the radiant promises of hope, and may the peace, love, and joy of Christ fill our hearts abundantly.
May our lives reflect the brilliance of these Advent candles, illuminating the world with the transformative power of the Gospel. Let our celebrations be a testimony to the enduring hope, peace, joy, and love found in Christ alone.
And enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their cause against thee.