I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Christmas. I remember getting caught up in my wishlist months in advance, forcing everyone to decorate the tree at the same time, and don’t forget: the perfectly curated, 25-night, countdown-to-Christmas movie marathon. Needless to say, this almost always led to a major attitude crash come December 26th.
These traditions of mine did not yield a peaceful, celebratory holiday season because I was so focused on being successful with checking off the to-dos. God has taught me a lot about receiving His peace in times where I feel overwhelmed or distracted with what the world gives. I am still learning how to let some of these traditions change, but I have found that His gift is much sweeter than those I obsessed over.
And that’s not to assume that our hearts won’t be troubled about getting all of the family under the same roof, or that we won’t be afraid of whether or not you’re able to check off the traditions and to-dos in time, because it’s almost inevitable. But we can trust that God has already left us with enough peace to cover these anxieties, and all we need to do is ask to receive this gift.
Undoubtedly, I think that Wimberley is the best small town around! The unique history and culture of Wimberley make it great, but the people who live here make it the best.
For many years, Wimberley remained a hidden gem and few, even in the state, knew where it was (hard to imagine that today). Even more rare are the stories of people like the Johnson family, who long ago provided the land for the first church, school (now HEB), and library in town and also banded the community together through wartime and seasons of drought. I imagine that Bethlehem was somewhat similar.
Bethlehem was a small rural town in the Judean hill country and the unlikely birthplace of two of the greatest characters in the Bible: David, the greatest king of Israel, who was born 1,000 years before the King of Kings, Jesus, who came to fulfill the above prophecy in Micah over 700 years after it was written. Both of these men’s stories started in this small town, and praise be to God, we know their stories!
I wonder, what small things God may be starting in your life? Whatever they may be, I hope the promises of the verses above encourage and bring peace to us as we lean on Jesus, our shepherd — who gives us strength so that we can bring His story to the ends of the earth and live securely in the promise of everlasting life.
When I think about peace in our world today, I usually picture a place sequestered away in the mountains or beside a lake with no other people around to create chaos. On the other end of the spectrum, government is probably the last place I could imagine to focus my attention if I was interested in experiencing peace.
And yet, the amazing gift of the Son of God did exactly that…bringing peace as He governs over His Kingdom. To experience this peace, you must do a few things:
- Recognize that Jesus was born (“given” is the other word used in verse 6) to lead and govern.
- Realize that Jesus is qualified to lead and govern because He is the combination of a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace…those are some powerful qualifications.
- Refocus consistently on God’s Kingdom of justice, righteousness, and peace; instead of getting overwhelmed by the stress, chaos, and injustice of our earthly government.
Peace comes from receiving the gift of Jesus as your Savior, resting in His amazing attributes as a leader, and re-engaging in His Kingdom work of loving on others and making disciples.
Not much compares to the anticipation and excitement Christmas morning brings to a young child. It’s magical, filled with so much wonder and awe. Kids around the world experience a sleepless night, wondering what the morning will bring. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can experience the same kind of anticipation and excitement toward heaven. Knowing heaven is our final destination brings an eternal perspective that breathes life into our day to day.
I have days, moments, and sometimes experiences that make me so thankful that earth is just a rest stop on my way to my permanent home. Life can be hard. It brings challenges that can feel too hard to bear and hurt that sometimes feels paralyzing. It is in those moments that we need to remind ourselves that “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God’s true and deep love brings full reconciliation into our hearts and minds when we leave this earth to be with Him. He has truly thought of everything. I pray, no matter where you are today, that this passage brings you hope! Hope of what’s to come.
God, fill our hearts and minds with the hope that comes from an eternal perspective. Amen.
As the year starts to come to a close, now feels like a good time to ask, “Lord, what do I look for?” What is behind the motivation of our day-to-day planning and doing? When we look at the bottom line, what drives everything we do? Are we looking for affirmation? Fulfillment? Acceptance? Often, this time of the year can look like what the psalmist describes; going “around like a mere phantom,” “in vein rushing about,” and “heaping up wealth.”
Instead, the psalmist offers a clear answer for all of us: my hope is in You! Hope that through Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, God has forgiven us fully and brought us ultimate freedom in Him! Hope that we don’t have to be enslaved to empty doing. Hope to invest in the things that will have eternal significance. Hope that doing the things that matter, will matter!
Thank You Jesus for saving us from ALL our transgressions. We do not make light of Your decision to pursue us, intersect our lives here on earth, and make Yourself known to us. We celebrate You this season, and we look to You for our hope, both in this life and in eternity. Help us look for and see You in all the things that make up our days. We love and worship You!
This time of year comes with so many things that we look forward to with hope and anticipation. The decorations, the Christmas traditions, family time, gifts, reuniting with loved ones, the sweets and treats. It’s easy to let the festivities consume our search for true hope.
When we hope, we feel the expectation and desire for something. We also trust that what is suppose to be coming is indeed coming. While many of the things that bring us great anticipation and hope this time of year are good things, none of them compare to the hope found in longing/anticipation for the day we see Jesus face-to-face. The song “O Holy Night,” speaks of this anticipation as the lyrics say “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”
Whether your days are filled with thrills of hope or weariness, may you “continue to look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”
God is kind and full of compassion toward us. He has given every human being on our planet space to occupy, oxygen to breathe, and time to live out our days. He offers salvation to all people, but the message hasn’t been heard by many, and numerous other persons haven’t understood it and rejected it.
Having heard the message, understood it, and made the decision to follow Jesus, I am progressively coming to a clear realization that being a disciple of Jesus is not complicated. Saying “No” to the ways of the world and “Yes” to God requires us to follow Jesus’ example and trust Him in every life situation. Confidence that God will never leave us nor forsake us and the hope that Christ will return gives us all the assurance we need that every circumstance we face will eventually have a good outcome. We don’t need to know the details about how God will do it because we never recognize we have experienced a miracle until after it has happened. All I need to know is that everything happens for a reason, and most of the time, I don’t know what that is. Nor do I need to understand.
God has truly redeemed us from all wickedness and is in the process of purifying us so that we will know the good we ought to do. By walking moment by moment and enjoying continual communion with Him, we can live with the contentment that we have, in Him, everything we need.
Paul starts with a prophesy from Isaiah about the coming of Jesus. He says that He will rule over the nations and that in Him people will be able to find their hope.
There’s something really beautiful about this verse to me. It reminds me that in a time where it can be so easy to place our hope in other things, our hope and trust is only ever truly secure in Jesus. When we chose to trust in the Lord we never end up disappointed. He is faithful to do what He says He’s going to do. And in that time of trusting Him, He fills us with joy and peace.
More times than not, God is not the person I try to put my trust and hope into. Instead I place my hope in myself, thinking I can control and handle everything. By doing this, I am certainly not filled with joy and peace. Instead I am usually filled with stress and anxiety.
Hoping in the Lord is an act of worship. It’s saying, “God, I am not sure of what the outcome is going to be, but I trust that You make all things good.” It is telling God that I am giving up control and giving it to Him. By doing this, He will replace those anxieties with peace and joy. This is the kind of hope our souls can be anchored in.
Soft, colored Christmas lights glowing through my sheer, white-curtained bedroom window on Christmas eve – the only night of the season that mom and dad left them on all night. These faithfully marked the coming of my favorite day of the year as a child.
When I think about young Mary in the scripture above, I’m so struck by her great faith in the promise the angel of God spoke to her. She hadn’t yet married or born a child, yet she received this promise and she believed it. Sometimes our hope in a promise of God comes from His past faithfulness in that particular area of our life, just as my past Christmas experiences with the twinkling lights pointed me with certainty to the coming day of joy. But sometimes, holding onto hope can be difficult when facing a trial or season that we’ve not walked through before, or while waiting for the fulfillment of a promise that seems to tarry forever…these require more faith muscle. That’s when knowing God’s scriptural promises are so beneficial. As we read them, write them out, memorize them and continually claim them, our faith and hope are boosted, and we are again encouraged as we wait.
God has a will and so do I. When mine is in conflict with His, I can get along for a while but eventually I begin to face problems and challenges that I am incapable of solving.
I am so grateful that there is a very simple way that I can immediately find my way back to Him in every situation, no matter how complex it may appear. All I have to do is surrender everything to Him and be grateful. Something miraculous happens when I stop what I am doing and focus my attention on the Lord and express my appreciation for what He has done in my life.
I have so much for which I can give thanks and I will never exhaust the list. Even when there are negative situations taking place in my life, I can do His will by simply being thankful.
The conditions don’t necessarily change but the miracle takes place inside of me because I am focusing my attention on His faithfulness. Every negative thought that I had evaporates and my heart is filled to overflowing with His joy and peace. I thank God for His guidance.