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Peace in the World

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Imagine being in a field, hanging out with some friends and out of nowhere an angel appears and begins to talk to you about the coming savior. If that weren’t crazy enough the angel is then joined by an army of angels that begin to sing a song of praise to God.

“Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

When I think of an army I think of war and yet the message of these heavenly beings is that of peace. A baby has been born who will bring peace. A prince has come into the world whose very name is Peace (Is. 9:6)

What is ironic is that this Christ child’s birth would bring about anything but peace in his own life. Herod would massacre possibly hundreds of children in an attempt to kill him. Mary and Joseph would have to flee in the middle of the night into a foreign country. As an adult Christ’s years of ministry so up-heaved the religious community that it would end in his arrest, torture, and execution. After his resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven his followers would be persecuted and killed for his name’s sake.  And yet all of these things worked together for a peace that is far greater than any earthly peace we long for.

The peace Christ was born to secure for us is peace between God and humanity. Christ saves us from the punishment of our sin and reconciles us to our Maker. Christ saves us from the power of sin in our lives and gives us safety from their enslaving power. He offers us peace in the midst of dark days and difficult circumstances assuring us of God’s good plan for us. The salvation of Jesus will, in the end, save us from the presence of sin and establish a kingdom and a new earth where Peace will sit on the throne having conquered and removed all evil and darkness.

But how do we live in the meantime? How do we live in a world where people are self centered, where marriages are falling apart left and right. How do we live when people take the lives of others without thought and where the name of our King is used as a curse instead of a blessing?

The answer is found in peace itself. We are not only the recipients of peace, but we are called to live lives of peace. We are told to let peace rules our lives (Col. 3:15) and the only way we can do that is to walk closely to its source. To get to know him as much as possible by reading, studying and meditating on the very words this Prince of Peace has given us. Only then will peace truly characterize us.

“Peace should be a hallmark of the godly person, first because it is a Godlike trait: God is called the God of peace several times in the New Testament. He took the initiative to establish peace with rebellious men, and He is the author of both personal peace as well as peace among men. Peace should be part of our character also because God has promised us His peace, because He has commanded us to let peace rule in our lives and relationships, and because peace is a fruit of the Spirit and therefore an evidence of His working in our lives.” Jerry Bridges

So as you get ready to celebrate Christmas remember that this Christ whom we celebrate is our peace and therefore our safety. He is our safety from the curse, power and cruelty of sin.

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

jenthorn.com

Advent {Peace} ~ Week 4

Week 4- Advent Blog Post Header

Welcome back to our 4th and final week of our Advent series: Keeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus!

This week we are talking about Peace.  Aaahhhh… just typing that word makes me stop and take a deep breath.  I don’t know about you, but I long for God’s peace to capture my heart in a meaningful way this Christmas.

You know the people who have it.  You can see it in their countenance, in the way they respond to less than ideal circumstances, in how they treat someone who has wronged them.

God’s peace changes everything.  Not because everything around us changes, but because as believers we’ve been changed from the inside out by an Almighty God who loves us too much to leave us stuck in our sin.

Our sin leads to dissention and strife.

Our Savior leads us to peace.

Are you still looking for peace this Christmas?  Jesus came to bring peace to a broken world.  To every.single.detail of my broken world, and to yours.  Run to Him as the only source of true and lasting peace, and then stop… and simply rest in His presence. 

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. ~ Psalm 29:11

 

Week 4 Video: Peace

(Can’t see the video? Click here)

Previous Advent Blog Posts:

Week 1
Monday- Advent {Hope} Week 1
Wednesday- A Promise Kept
Friday- Hope of the World

Week 2
Monday-Advent {Love} Week 2
Wednesday- When Love Shows Up…
Friday- Love For The World

Week 3
Monday-Advent {Joy} Choosing Joy
Wednesday- When You’ve Lost Your Joy
Friday-Joy to the World

 

If you would like to receive all our FREE Advent materials (reading plan, study guide & children’s resources) please make sure to subscribe to our blog! Once you subscribe, all our materials are listed at the very bottom of every email! You will receive emails from us that go along with our study on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays! Click here to subscribe.

Wishing you and yours a peace-filled Christmas,

{Week 4} Challenge:  As you look at your calendar for this coming Christmas week, write down potential situations that could prove to be less than peaceful.  Pray over your list, asking God to help you to be a messenger of peace and a light for Him in those challenging situations.

{Week 4} Reading Plan:

Week 4

 

{Week 4} Memory Verse:

MemoryVerse-04

Joy To The World

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“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Joy is one of those godly character qualities that is elusive and therefore rare. To be able to have a deep rooted joy that is not shaken no matter what is going on around us seems almost impossible, and yet it’s something we all wish we possessed. At least this is true for me.

It is especially easy to lose our joy during this time of year when it should be overflowing. It is easy to get caught up in schedules, to do lists, financial strain, greed, stress, and general feelings of dissatisfaction during the Christmas season. These things turn our eyes away from the true joy found in that little child in Bethlehem.

Can you think of some things that kill your joy? For me it is worry, busyness and stress. In my children I see joy disappear when they have a complaining spirit. For others it may be comparison, fear or ungratefulness. Thankfully it is possible to rediscover joy that has been lost.

So, how do we rediscover true Christian joy?

We must pursue it. Our pursuit must be relentless because around every corner there is something that will try to steal our joy. Satan is never idle. While he cannot take away our salvation he sure can take away our joy and try to make us miserable Christian women.

“My quest for happiness is now nothing other than a quest for God. And He has been found in Jesus Christ.”  John Piper

Joy is only found by God’s grace in his Son. If we do not pursue it in Jesus we will never find it. We find joy in him because through faith we are loved, accepted, forgiven, redeemed, and promised a future restoration. We find joy in Jesus (his name means, “the Lord saves”) because he saves us. This should mean everything to us because no matter what storms rage around us we know that our soul is safe in Jesus. We can be satisfied with what we have because we know that one day we will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5).

But this joy must also be protected. It is not natural. Pride, self pity, anger, discouragement–these things are natural. They always return to our hearts and though our joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22,23) it can be lost through sin and unbelief.

If you feel that you are lacking joy pray. So as Christmas comes closer focus on what truly matters and pray with David that God would “restore the joy of my salvation…” (Psalm 51:12). Joy is truly a gift that must be received by faith and only God is the one who can fill our lives

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

jenthorn.com

When You’ve Lost Your Joy

When You've Lost Your Joy GMG

 

I had a fairly happy childhood and I remember when I got to high school, suddenly I started struggling to be the cheerful little girl I once was.  I smiled on the outside but on the inside I was sorting through my faith, boys, grades, and finding my path in life.  I remember purchasing the book by Warren Wiersbe titled “Be Joyful: a study in the book of Philippians” because I wanted my joy back.  I knew that my joy would only come from the Lord but life circumstances were stifling that joy.

Then I went into college, got married, began working, having babies and writing.

Life did not get easier — it got harder and more complex.

And that fight for joy –got harder and more complex.

One sad season was when my husband was gone on a business trip over 200 nights in one year.  I stood at the window weekly, with little toddlers wrapped around my legs, waving bye bye to daddy with tears streaming down my cheeks.  This was a long and lonely season.

Every time I’ve moved from city to city – from my hometown to Chicago to Columbus and back to my hometown, I’ve experienced deep sadness that sometimes turned into anxiety and an outbreak of hives.

I’ve had dark days when tears came easy or I felt like a failure and like quitting everything in life.  We have had hard moments in our marriage where I’ve woken up to the reality of why some people throw in the towel when the going gets tough.  I get it…marriage is hard.

I’ve cried over my parenting struggles trying to raise my wild child and my whole family can attest to years of me –crying in the New Year– because I get emotional on New Years Eve. Lol!…I get way too reflective and sad about all my failures, flaws, fears and frustrations.

Statistics prove that Christmas is the most depressing season of the year for many.  There is a spiritual battle raging this month – wanting to steal our joy.  There is NO other time throughout the year when Jesus gets more attention and God’s enemy does not want us to find joy in celebrating Jesus’ birth.  He wants us to buckle under the pressure of decorations, bows and cookie trays.  He wants us to mourn the hardships and losses of the past year without looking up to see the Savior who has come to save us from this lost and empty world!

“Rejoice evermore” – I Thessalonians 5:15

Rejoice!

Easier said than done right?

But this is what I’ve learned…

Rejoicing is a command and it’s a fruit of the Spirit.  Though we may not always “feel” joyful we can–

Choose joy.

Fight for joy.

John Piper writes:

It is crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.  This is the way Paul thought in Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” ESV

The key in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him.

This baby,  born in a manger who is Immanuel, God with us — holds us, when we have no strength to hold Him.

This season is a gift where we are reminded to pause – not to reflect on our failures and frustrations –but to rejoice that we have a God that holds us!

“The merry heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15

I pray that the world would see the merry hearts we have this season and that they would be drawn to the fountain of life from which our joy overflows.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Walk with the King,

Courtney, WomenLivingWell.org

Need more encouragement as you seek to sustain the Joy of the Lord in your life?

Courtney is the author of the newly released book titled:  Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home available now in paperback, Kindle or Nook.

Download the FREE Companion Study Guide by clicking on the image below:

WLW Companion Study Guide Image

Advent {Week 3} ~ Choosing JOY…

Good Morning Girls: Week 3- Advent

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I knelt down and made myself comfortable on the floor by her feet.  It seemed the appropriate place to be – a position demonstrating honor and respect.  Her years had earned it.  For once I wasn’t in a hurry, and for hours she rubbed her frail thumbs over the tops of my knuckles as she shared story after story about her youth.

She’s ninety-seven years young.  Ninety-seven.  And I pray that she lives to be at least a hundred, because I still have much to learn from her.  She’s lived a crazy fifty-seven years longer than me – oh, did she giggle about that – and she has a thing or two to say, if I’d just slow down and listen.

I met her when I was twenty years old, while working towards my college degree in a place away from the comforts of my hometown.  She took me on and signed her frequent letters to me, “Your Other Mother,” though at the time I didn’t appreciate her “mothering” nearly as much as I should have.  She’d invite me off campus for tea in her home, would randomly show up on my front step with fresh produce from her garden, and she prayed for me.  Powerful, faithful prayers that followed me through summers of international travel, college graduation, marriage, cross-country moves, and babies galore.

And twenty years later, in response to last week’s challenge, I found myself at the foot of her chair, listening to her recount her long, full, well-lived life. And the recurring theme I heard?

Joy.

Not because her life has been easy.  But because In Christ, there is fullness of joy.

Her worn Bible lay open beside her favorite chair, and she quoted scripture to me throughout the afternoon.  Not to flaunt her knowledge, but simply because God’s Word sustains her. 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~ Psalm 16:11

She could complain about a myriad of things that just get hard when you get to be her age, but she instead chooses to see Jesus – and joy - in her circumstances.

She could easily feel sorry for herself as she lives with daily physical ailments and limitations.  Instead, she remained strong through obvious episodes of pain, and credited God and His gift of good genetics for the strength in her years. Joy. 

She could have lamented about the recent storm that destroyed her garage and beautiful, mature trees.  But instead, she focused on the fact that the damage has allowed her to enjoy the view of the backyard birds more clearly than ever before. Joy.

She mentioned that her oven was no longer in working order, but only as an introduction to thankfulness for a gifted toaster oven that works quite nicely as a more than adequate substitute. Joy.

She could have given into grief and loneliness at any point over the past six years that she’s outlived her husband, but alternatively, she smiled ear to ear while she recounted the way God brought them together, and choose to celebrate the many years God gifted them on this earth together.  Joy.

I needed to slow down.  I needed to focus on what really matters during this busy Christmas season. I needed to choose the better portion.  I needed the reminder to choose joy.

She loaned me a book, and firmly implemented a due date that made me chuckle.  I’ll sit at her feet again after Christmas. We’ll hold hands and she’ll gently glide her frail thumbs over my knuckles, and I’ll ask her to tell her stories all over again.

And she’ll remind me to simply rest, and sit at His feet.  To choose JOY in all things.  Not because circumstances are always easy.

But because we have a rescuer in Christ.  A babe in a manger who came for the very purpose of taking on the weight of the world so we wouldn’t have to. 

“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

And when our eyes are fixed on Him - no matter what this world brings – there is fullness of joy. 

At His feet,

Week 3 Video-Joy

(If you can’t see the video, click here)

Week 3 Challenge: Look for the good this week!  When tempted to complain about a challenging situation or relationship, instead intentionally look for ways to thank God and find JOY in the midst of your circumstance.

Week 3 Reading Plan

Good Morning Girls- Advent study- Reading plan

Week 3 Memory Verse

Good Morning Girls-Advent Study- Joy

Previous Advent Blog Posts:

Week 1
Monday- Advent {Hope} Week 1
Wednesday- A Promise Kept
Friday- Hope of the World

Week 2
Monday-Advent {Love} Week 2
Wednesday- When Love Shows Up…
Friday- Love For The World

If you would like to receive all our FREE Advent materials (reading plan, study guide & children’s resources) please make sure to subscribe to our blog! Once you subscribe, all our materials are listed at the very bottom of every email! You will receive emails from us that go along with our study on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays! Click here to subscribe.

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