Rebecca Duvall

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Peace

grapesThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is Peace. I’ve chosen grapes because they grow together in a group, a community. We grow best, when together with a community, rather than alone. A community does better as a whole when its members feel at peace and not restless.

Peace has many different definitions and is described in assorted ways by various people. How would you explain peace?

Those who experience peace are not easily disturbed and feel calm and not worried about life in general. People who encounter peace live and work well together with others in a friendly way.

When you are at peace, you feel secure, your mind is free from annoyance, distraction, anxiety and obsession. You are untroubled, tranquil and content. Are you at peace within your circumstances today?

Experiencing peace has nothing to do with having an easy life or your circumstances. How you react in different situations in your life can show others if you are at peace or in turmoil. Would other describe you at a person at peace or in turmoil?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 

I find this passage in Philippians is comforting as well as encouraging. It reminds me to bring every situation, with a thankful heart, to God, because God alone can offer us peace as we walk through the trials and tribulations of life. As we pray, talk with God, seek to have a relationship with Him, He will be with us. God doesn’t wish for us to be anxious about anything. He calls us to bring all our troubles to him, so we can experience the peace He desires us to have. How have you experienced God’s peace?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the peace you offer us, regardless of our sinful nature. I pray we would turn our troubles over to you before they can cause havoc in our heart and mind. My we seek Your peace and not the peace offered from the world, Amen.

 

 

 

Advent

advent candles 2I must confess, in the past, I have not payed much attention to the lighting of the advent candles on the Sunday’s leading up to Christmas, which is called the advent season. This year, however, I have payed close attention to what was being said during the lighting of the candles.

At the church we attend, Covenant Community Church, a different family or group of people participate in the lighting of the candle or candles each week.

The 1st candle is purple and is the Candle of Hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises he made to us. Our hope comes from God.

And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations;
 in him the Gentiles will hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:12-13

I’m in awe of God and how much he loves us. He not only sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us, but He also gives to all believers of Jesus the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will not only guide and direct us, but also enable us in all we are called to do. Hallelujah!

The 2nd candle is purple and is the Candle of Peace. God kept His promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Help us to be ready to welcome You, O’God!

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“ A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’” ~ Luke 3:4-6

I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for me, and for you, so we could have direct access to God.

The 3rd candle is pink and is the Candle of Joy. It’s because of the hope we have in Jesus and the peace only He can bring to us we can experience true joy.

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

An there were shepherds living out in the fields nerby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on the earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” ~ Luke 2:7-15

The more I know Jesus, the more my heart is opened to see those around me, as it is filled with a deep desire to help them as Jesus helps me.

The 4th candle is purple and is the Candle of Love. God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3: 16-17

As I’ve said before, John 3:16 is the first scripture I ever learned. I believed it before I understood it. That’s the wonderful thing about God. He helps us to understand Him and His will for us. We must simply seek Him.

The 5th candle is white and is the Christ Candle. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth!

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:1-8

Isn’t that beautiful? Jesus’ purpose of becoming flesh here on earth was to die for us so we could be reborn. This helps me trust and believe, even more, God’s almighty plan and timing of it all.

May prayer for us today ~ Father God, we thank you for the precious gift of your son Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate on Christmas. I pray each and everyone across the world will experience hope, peace, joy and love that only comes from You, Amen.

Merry Christmas

baby JesusUp until five years ago I thought Christmas was all about Santa Claus, decorating trees and presents.  Lots and lots of presents, which meant lots and lots of shopping.  The greeting I gave this time of year was always, and still is, ‘Merry Christmas’.

My Christmas was all about planning for the arrival of the fat jolly guy in the red suit who lived at the santaNorth Pole with the elves making presents all year long.  As a child I worried about whether or not I was on Santa’s naughty list.  I always made a Christmas wish list for Santa.  To make sure he knew exactly what I wanted, I would tape a picture of the item and list the stores where he could get it.

Now my Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, my Lord and Savior.  We still do the same things at Christmas. We still decorate a tree and shop for presents.  I do feel different though.  I notice things I never noticed before, like the to-do list of things that most people could care less if I do or not.  The to-do list is something that brings stress, not joy, to my life.  This year I decided not to do a few of my to-do list items.  I’m not sending out Christmas cards and we didn’t even attempt to make baked goodies this year.

I find myself being bothered by the extra long hours many stores are open.  I use to love it because it gave me extra time to shop.  Now I feel sad for the employees who must work extra hours instead of being home with their families.  I do realize some families look forward to working the extra hours, but I still think the stores have gone a little too far.  Shopping on Thanksgiving Day and in the middle of the night, I think, is not necessary.christmas presents

Last week at church the sermon was about not being haunted by Christmas present.  We were challenged to buy less presents and be more present.  I love that!  I think the most valuable gift you can give someone is your time.  That doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts.  You can make them.  There are so many great gifts to give that can be made.  Pinterest is full of great ideas.  I know its kind of late in the game this year to decide to make Christmas gifts, but think about it for future Birthdays, Anniversaries and certainly for next Christmas.Love Joy Peace

Whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus, Santa Claus, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, nothing or whatever it might be, I wish you and your family a season filled with love, joy, peace and togetherness.

My prayer for us today ~ May God who understands each need, who listens to every prayer, bless you and keep you in His tender loving care, Amen

John 3 16

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