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He is our peace

Editor's Note

About the author: Jenna has been working with ZPC Student Ministry since the summer of 2017. She married Jake in May and they have a sweet Great Dane puppy named Darla.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Hebrews10:5-10; Micah 5:2-5a

In our reading today, the writer of Hebrews contrasts the Mosaic law with the new covenant under Jesus. In case you need a refresher, God’s people in the Old Testament had to bring sacrifices and offerings to maintain a relationship with the Lord. The presence of the Lord was restricted to the innermost room of the temple, which was completely off-limits to the average person. Even more so, sacrifices and offerings were not long-lasting, and they were never perfect. This meant folks had to constantly work for a relationship with God. Talk about the opposite of peace!

Luckily, this is not so for us! In Jesus, we are under a new covenant. God himself became the perfect sacrifice, doing away with the sacrificial system and a works-based salvation. And, his sacrifice is eternal! With his perfect sacrifice, we are covered in forgiveness and grace. No more working for it. No more insecurity. No more condemnation. We are under the strength of the Lord, dwelling securely (Micah 5:4). Now that sounds like peace.

The thing about peace is that it isn’t based upon our to-do lists or responsibilities. The Hebrew word for “peace” in this verse is “shalom,” which means completeness or wholeness. To be “at peace” doesn’t mean getting everything done or having no problems. It means being in right-standing with God, unified with him. And guess what—with Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we have this peace! He offers us an inner-peace, a peace despite the chaos around us. We are enough and complete in him.

When we think of the holiday season, I doubt the first word that comes to mind is “peace.” This season is filled with endless to-do lists, errands, wrapping presents, and parties. Our schedules fill up while our bodies feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Peace? Not so much. Stillness? Nope. Or maybe we feel lonely, missing loved ones or old holiday traditions. Maybe we’re experiencing new challenges or changes this year. But under the new covenant, Jesus offers us a deep peace. He himself is our peace, and we are complete in him and with him. No matter how busy life gets, or the difficulties that come our way, He is our peace. Eternal, steadfast, and complete—he is our peace. Amen!

Activity:

Find a comfortable spot, dim the lights (if you can), and light a candle. Turn off all noises or distractions. Set a timer for 5 minutes and practice being still. Focus on your breathing – take deep breaths and try to quiet your mind. Don’t worry if you have to redirect yourself a million times in the next 5 minutes – it’s part of the process. You may also want to slowly repeat, “In you Jesus, I have peace.” Remember that we are enough and complete in his perfect sacrifice. Hallelujah!

Prayer:

God,

Thank you so much for the reminder of “peace” this season. Thank you for sending your son to sacrifice Himself for us and be our peace. We pray that we can lean into your peace, tuning ourselves in to your steadfast love, even when things are busy or difficult. Help us to fix our eyes on you. We love you and we’re so thankful for all of your blessings. We pray these things not in our name, or by anything that we have done, but according to your son’s name.

Amen.

Posted by Jenna Bezold with

Joy in God’s Nearness

Editor's Note

About the author: Cindy and Mark Argentine have been members of ZPC since they moved here in 2005. They have two sons at Purdue University and a daughter at ZCHS. They are grateful for ZPC’s vibrant community of faith.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 31:31-34

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant… It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31-32)

After quickly reading these two verses, my first reaction was, “Did I read that last part right?” The logic seemed counterintuitive. Usually, when someone fails to hold up his or her end of a deal, the other party doesn’t respond by saying: “Let’s scrap this agreement. I’m going to offer you an even better one!” But that is what God seems to be doing in these verses. Even though the Israelites totally fail to uphold their end of the covenant—falling away from God, disobeying his commandments, worshiping idols—God promises them a new and improved covenant in the days ahead. He responds to his people’s failures with mercy, hope, and grace.

And the new covenant? “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Under this new covenant, God will draw even closer to his people—so close that he permeates their minds and hearts. No priest, prophet, or other intermediary is needed. Why would God offer such a promise? As with the original covenant, God is seeking a relationship with his people. “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” God wants to belong to us, and he wants us to belong to him.

Isn’t that remarkable to think about? This reality has been true since the beginning of time and is still true today. And we are fortunate enough to know that Christ is the key to receiving this “new covenant.” At the Last Supper before his death, Jesus said: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20) The words of Jeremiah,… Jesus’ Last Supper,… our sacrament of communion—all of these point to the love God has for us and his desire to live with and in us. To be our mentor and our friend. 

As I listen to Christmas carols and old hymns, I’m amazed by how many echoes of this idea I hear. In Joy to the World, there’s the idea of making room to welcome him into our hearts:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room...

In the classic Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, there’s also a line about opening our hearts to God:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love. Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.

And the newer praise song I Could Sing of Your Love Forever by Martin Smith has these lines:

Your river runs with love for me, And I will open up my heart and let the healer set me free.

This season, as you sing words that may have grown dull from repetition, tune in to the lyrics. Think about how God offers the ultimate friend request to each one of us. May the wonder of that invitation and the hope it promises be a spring of deep joy for you. 

activity:

Do you ever read Scripture and feel like it is a gift to live in the era that we do? I marvel when I read passages of Old Testament prophecy like today’s passage from Jeremiah 31. Now, living two thousand years after Christ, we can look back on these ancient words and see them through the lens of all the writings of Paul and the apostles. We can celebrate a fuller understanding of how God is moving through and unfolding the timeline of history. We can embrace the joy of the new covenant that God promised through his prophet so many centuries ago. With that in mind, take a few minutes to read Hebrews 8 and 9. These chapters quote and elaborate on Jeremiah 31:31-34. 

prayer:

Dear Lord, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace,

Help me to know that your love and mercy are beyond time, space, and everything else that we can imagine. Help me receive your offer of a relationship with humility and hope. Place your law in my mind and my heart. Lead me to reflect on the joy of your promises and to share that joy with others.

Amen.

Posted by Cindy Argentine with

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