In today’s ancient story we find Jacob succeeding and happy after taking advantage of his naïve brother and tricking his failing father. Isn’t this the way it goes? Dishonesty pays. A subtle manipulation gets the handshake, the promotion and the good life. Yet, what if the good life could be better? On this second Sunday of Advent we discover that satisfaction, happiness and power are for those who strive, but joy, peace and love are afforded to those defeated by and surrendered to an All-Prevailing God.
Peace is the beautiful reality when things and people are in the right place at the right time doing the right things for the right reasons. We crave peace and yet it is so tough to obtain. Jesus brought peace and His approach was relational. As He lived in His Father’s love and presence, He honored relationships with those in authority and everyone around Him. In light of this, it makes sense why the God of peace calls the 1st century followers of Jesus in Thessalonica and us in Denver today to live with and love like our King, the Prince of Peace.
Last week Arik preached, “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” Yet, recent world events may make us feel like Earth is rather more like Hell right now. A series of tragedies between police officers and African Americans has created a climate of judgment, condescension, fear, and apathy. How are we to proceed as followers of Jesus Christ? In Matthew 7, Jesus makes it clear that when we are tempted to judge and lash out, we are to do serious self-reflection. We are to mourn with those who mourn, lament like David in the Psalms, carefully listen to Jesus and others, repent of what gets exposed in us (especially fear!), act in love and out of faith, and develop habits to continue to Heavenize as Jesus’ agents of reconciliation, no matter the environment.
Today we step away from our journey through Acts to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. “Advent” means “coming” and it is a term to describe the four Sundays that precede Christmas in which God’s people celebrate Jesus’ first coming in Bethlehem as well as His awaited second coming. On this first Sunday of Advent, just before the busy month of December begins, we discover that faithfulness to King Jesus produces peace and enables us to become His couriers of peace in our distressed world.
Throughout the Bible Jesus is portrayed as The Good Shepherd. In this well-known Psalm, we see many of the benefits of following Christ including living with Him in Heaven for eternity. To receive the benefits, we must see ourselves in the proper perspective and follow Jesus, The Good Shepherd, wherever He leads us.
With so many pressures from family, friends, co-workers and voices inside our head it is easy to become anxious and perplexed in life. Fortunately, Jesus modeled and taught a way of life that listens to God and then carries out what he directs. This week we explore how to hear God’s assignments as well as […]
One of the greatest ways to show God’s grace and love to others is by simply listening to them. Yet, with so many ideas floating around our world and inside our head it can be difficult to really hear what others are saying. Fortunately, God is a great listener and so He has a lot to teach us. This week we explore some barriers that can keep us from listening as well as some tools from God’s Word that will help us be better hearers. When we grow in the ministry of listening, we and those we listen to can experience the invaluable gifts of God’s grace and love.
There are many beautiful examples of peace coming at times of crisis in our world: two of them are the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the life of Nelson Mandela. But peace in this world tends to be temporary and incomplete, and it leaves us longing for something more lasting and whole. Humanity continues to be rocked by violence and we continue to be cynical of the word “peace.” The beauty of Christmas is that Jesus comes as the Prince of Peace, to bring peace that is “not of this world.” We are given Him to receive lasting peace, and we can become transmitters of His peace when we receive it.