I’m dreaming of a [realistic] Christmas

I’m dreaming of a [realistic] Christmas

Why does television still boast the gold standard of the perfect Christmas?  Family (who by the way, actually want to be together) gathered around a beautiful tree, everyone laughing and sharing hot cocoa, and giving each other either a new car or expensive jewelry. Every time I see it I can’t help but go, Psh, Yeah right!

Reality check: Only God knows how many people will feel the sting of a lonesome Christmas devoid of peace. It’s just a painful reminder of what is lacking.

And each year, medication is taken in the form of Christmas movies, sweets, shopping, and tons of eggnog help to distract from and numb the pain of reality. All we need, we tell ourselves, is “to get through the holidays”.

But we were formed by God for perfection. Our hearts were meant to live in a perfect world. That’s why we will never be able to find peace anywhere else but in God himself. Christmas as we see it in commercials doesn’t have it. Rather:

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8

God sent Jesus to be born here, to live a sinless life, and then to die on behalf of us. That we might repent and turn toward God, praising and glorifying Him. But how can we do that when we have so many confusing messages turning our heads this way and that?

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does.

If you are struggling with the idea of another [insert adjective here] Christmas you’re not alone. There is a God who is Good and True. Your very existence and design was His idea and he is enormously proud of His work. His right hand is extended even now, to gift you with a kind of peace that will never allow you to hunger or thirst for the things that rot and rust (like a Toyota Christmas commercial). He will offer Living Water and Bread of Life that will keep you full and satisfied forever.

Receive that gift and watch it transform your heart. The gratitude of salvation causes hope, which is an ever-leaning upon God’s promises. The more we take His promises as unshakable truth in our life, the more we will witness His work in our lives. And that’s an expectation you can rely upon.

Love Notes Series: Love Leads to Peace

Love Notes Series: Love Leads to Peace
Did you know that before Jesus was betrayed, he said a prayer for all believers to come?

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
-John 17:20-23
That’s right, he prayed for us here today, in 2016, that all the people who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, fully God and fully Man would be united in their faith, loving God and loving others, for the sake of the people who still might come to Christ?
We may clash from time to time, disagree about theology and about when, where and how to worship. But love between believers causes harmony. Harmony is peace. Love – Harmony – Peace. This is what Jesus brings.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send us feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you!

~The PD Team

My Weakness, His Strength †

 

I failed again, for the umpteenth time. I set out to meditate on good, but my mind barely goes as far as judgement or hate –whichever makes me feel the best about myself at the time. I no sooner finish dedicating my day to Love, than I turn around and say something passive-aggressive to my husband. I hate it when people stand too close to me in the supermarket (is it just me??) so I allow my annoyance to affect others and I sulk out of the store like I have a stormy rain cloud overhead.

I mean, come on, what is wrong with me?!  Don’t I know what I am to do? Can’t even one word of God’s penetrate my thick skull enough to change one action of mine? To paraphrase Paul’s famous (and more eloquent) speech from Romans chapter 7 :  I do what I hate, and I don’t do what I want to do.

Here’s what I learned: Just by indulging myself in a pity-party, I have allowed the enemy to win. He can’t stand it when we walk closer with God. He HATES when we are victorious over temptation through Jesus’ help. It infuriates him when we return to God after stumbling into sin. Satan prefers that we remain face down in the muck of our failings, believing the lie that we are too far gone to have hope for salvation.

But the Lord has said:

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Let us give glory to God when the Spirit helps us return to our Father, along the way of righteousness! There’s nothing we can do that pleases God more than running back to apologize and try again with an earnest heart. The peace that this thought brings makes all temporary pleasures pass away in comparison.

Judge yourself by what Christ is rather than by what you are.

Satan will try to mar your peace by reminding you of your sinfulness and imperfections:

you can only meet his accusations by faithfully adhering to the gospel and refusing to wear the yoke of bondage.

-Charles Spurgeon, Mornings and Evenings

a backwards miracle

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.

When I was swimming in depression a few years ago, this verse was quoted at me quite a lot. By well-meaning people and books. But still, it did not truly permeate through my thick skull until about a week ago, taking me completely by surprise.

My fiance and I had a very large disagreement. I won’t say fight because that makes me think of screaming and throwing things. All I know is that he wanted me to do something that I did not want to, and after the phone call was disconnected, both of us were left feeling somewhat unloved and indignant. 

When he hung up, I wanted to cry. My body was physically bracing for the heart ache, the sniffling, and hot tears. I even held my breath waiting for the onpour to come. But try as I might, I couldn’t cry! Nothing happened. In fact, it took a few minutes to realize that I wasn’t even really upset at all! I only assumed I should be, from prior experience.

It was so strange. My heart was quiet and calm, my mind, clear and able. I felt an overwhelming peace throughout my being that in all logic should not be there. It is difficult to explain, but it was a something Other than myself. I racked my brain trying to understand what this strange peace was, and then I remembered the verse, about God’s spirit guarding our hearts and minds.

Hearts and minds, I believe, are the essence of our earthly selves. Our thoughts, words, and actions all pass through our hearts and minds. And here I was in this difficult situation, with a clear mind and a peaceful heart. Only God could protect me from the impurities that would cloud my ability to make decisions. He hedged me in and set angels at the gate of my heart.

Now, the syntax of the text, and indeed, our worldly experience, would imply that we have to first give our anxieties to God, and then, only then, would he give the OK to bring peace which transcends all understanding to us. You give, and then you get.

Even after understanding that we can’t make our own salvation, I would still read this text in that way. “But not so”, says God. He gave me the peace first, and then I prayed after. 

What a Good God we have, who anticipates our needs, and gives freely of his everlasting store of peace!

His extraordinary peace found me first, built a protecting wall around my heart and mind, And only then, when I realized he was already holding me under his wing, was I able to let all of my anxieties and cares out to Him.