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Peace be with you

Editor's Note

About the author: Emily Elmore and her husband Ryan are members of ZPC. They have three boys that keep them on their toes and they serve as ZPC Home Group Leaders.

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: Matthew 1:18-25

Two of our three boys are old enough to sit and read through our day-by-day advent calendar. Each day so far we’ve read a little bitty part of the most grand birthday, and today’s scripture coincides with what we’ve read thus far.

As we revisit the various elements of Jesus’ birth throughout each Christmas season, we often can’t help but contemplate the events with full knowledge and awareness of the amazing end result. But if we try to place ourselves in the story, facing the same circumstances and feeling the same emotions, it can quickly become overwhelming. Mary, a virgin, is found to be pregnant in a society where adultery is punishable by death.  Joseph, while resolved to divorcing Mary quietly to protect his fiancé and remain faithful to the law, must still feel tremendous personal turmoil in upending his plans for a future with Mary. 

At this moment, I imagine anxiety and uncertainty would be running at an all-time high, wondering what their individual futures would bring.  However, this is the moment when God stepped in to bring peace to the couple. He sent his angel to speak to Joseph and let him know that God had a plan in this. In a moment, Joseph’s perception of the situation was changed. While he still faced tremendous uncertainty, he had the opportunity to feel peace in the moment, knowing that he was playing his part in God’s plan. He obeyed God’s messenger and took those steps toward Bethlehem that have become so familiar to us. 

Throughout our lives, and especially during the holiday season, we can find ourselves faced with stressful or frightening circumstances with no certain outcome. While we don’t often receive a proclamation directly from an angel, we have the opportunity to recognize all of these circumstances are part of God’s plan on earth and to proceed joyfully with peace.

Peace be with you this holiday season.

Activity:

Reflect on a time you faced frightening circumstances. How did you react and who may have been there to support you along the way? 

Prayer:

Lord,

Thank you for the season of advent, and for reminding us of the miracle of your son’s birth every single year. Help us to put our trust in you when we are afraid or have doubt.

Amen.  

Posted by Emily Elmore with

Peace in God's plan

Jan and Butch West and Barb Luther at this year's All Church RetreatEditor's Note

About the author: Barb Luther is a longtime family member of ZPC. She has served on the ZPC Board of Deacons and in many other ZPC ministries. Currently she is one of the leaders for 2nd Half Adventurers, ZPC's senior ministry.

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: LUKE 1:26-38

Today’s story focuses on Mary when she first heard the news from the angel Gabriel that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High. What incredible news for this young peasant girl to hear and how it would change her life! She was betrothed to Joseph and probably very happily looking forward to their life together as most engaged couples are. But suddenly every thing had changed in an instant. This news put Mary at great risk, facing rejection from her community, the strong possibility of being outcast from her family and even being stoned to death. And yet, incredibly, this young girl said “Yes” to God in the face of all this. What would cause her to submit to God in these humanly impossible circumstances? Did she ever again experience “the peace of God which transcends all understanding”? (Phil 4:7)

I wonder if Mary recalled God’s words through the prophet Isaiah and felt reassured that this was his plan all along?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, … and he will be called ….Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

I wonder if she experienced his peace about this news because she trusted in God and his word in spite of her circumstances. For peace is not the absence of problems but it is the presence of Christ in the midst of our problems. For he himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:13-14) We experience peace when we rest in Jesus and his promises.

Ten years ago our family’s life was forever changed when we received the news that our husband and father was in stage 4 of melanoma. After fighting the battle for 11 months, we were nearing the end in the month of December. In our humanness, I must be honest and admit we did not always experience peace throughout these months. But I knew we were not alone, that God was with us in the midst of our struggle and grief, and that we couldn’t be in a safer place than his arms. I claimed his promises that he will never leave us and perhaps Mary did also. For no word from God will ever fail and her response was May your word to me be fulfilled. (Luke 1:37-38) What amazing trust! Is there a situation you are facing today where you need his peace? Call out to the Prince of Peace and he will give you rest.

Activity:

It has been helpful to me in difficult times to see God’s Word and especially his promises literally in front of me. I have written meaningful scripture verses and posted them in various locations of my home like the refrigerator or bathroom mirror. During my husband’s illness I especially claimed God’s promises in Isa 43:1-3 and carried these verses with us wherever we went between hospital room to doctor’s offices to home. Perhaps today you can write one of his promises of peace on a notecard and carry it with you or post it in a convenient location. His peace will go with you. That’s his promise!

Prayer:

Dear Father,

We praise you as our heavenly Father who is always faithful and will never break a promise to us. We thank you that you are always with us as you have promised and that you provide your peace as we trust in you.  Help us to focus on you in the midst of our trials and not on ourselves. May we be always grateful that peace was purchased through Jesus and given to us as an unconditional gift.

We pray this in the name of our Prince of Peace – Jesus.

Amen 

Posted by Barb Luther with

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