Sunday, December 09, 2018

Peace with God - 2nd Sunday of Advent

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1


Occurring 429 times in the KJV and using the Hebrew word shalom and Greek word eirene, peace is translated as well-being, prosperity, health, safety, and completeness. Both the Old Testament and New Testament describe this blessing. Scofield offers four references to peace: peace from God, peace with God, peace of God, and peace on earth. Deep inside, each of us desires the assurance of peace. Only God can provide complete peace.

And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-story which they bring,
Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing. **

Jesus Christ is our peace (Ephesians 2:14-17). Peace with God is “the work of Christ into which the individual enters by faith”. Through faith, the repentant heart is given grace, not earned, not deserved. This gift of grace declares the believer righteous, bringing spiritual completeness and reconciliation with God. Christ is the Author of peace, our Mediator. He is Perfect Peace, a gift God gives to the faithful who trust in Him. We bring our need, and Christ meets us. Our unimaginable blessing through Christ becomes peace with God. Shalom. - dho

**lyrics from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears, 1849

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Peace From God - 1st Sunday of Advent

“At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.” 
Luke 2:13-14 MSG

Peace seems to be a distant hope at times with so much discord in the world. What exactly is peace? How does one find peace? Christianity believes that God is the Source of all true peace; Christ is the Good News of peace to us from God. Peace is the message of the angels the night that Jesus is born in Bethlehem.

“...Peace on the earth, good will to men,  
from heaven’s all-gracious King:
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.” **

Isaiah 9:6 gives us the promise of Christ, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Centuries later, angels appear in the stillness of the night sky, and welcome the Prince of Peace to earth.

This peace from God is a gift; this peace is Divine Grace! As the season of Advent begins, let us reflect up on God’s Promise given, the Prince of Peace for all. Can you feel the stillness of that night on a hillside in Bethlehem? Can you hear the angels sing? Let the peace from God become your message of hope! - dho

** lyrics from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears, 1849




Thursday, November 29, 2018

Peace Comes


At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.
Luke 2:13-14 MSG

The season of Advent, meaning "to come," finds us waiting to celebrate - once again - the arrival of the baby Jesus on Christmas. This promise of the Messiah spans generations, but when He does arrive, the first Advent, it changes everything. Tender manger scenes contrast the glorious angels singing. From the silence of the evening sky, Peace comes to earth.

We light the 1st candle of Advent this coming Sunday, December 3. During the Season of Advent I will post on Sunday instead of Thursday. Let’s gather each week during Advent and reflect more about God’s peace. - dho


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Give Thanks to the LORD ~ Thanksgiving 2018

God is the LORD,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifices with cords
to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, 
for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

As we pause to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us reflect upon the abundant blessings that fill the moments of life. The heart experiences immense gratitude from unexpected words that whisper love and inside surprises that shout joy and within unspoken thoughtfulness. In between the obvious and outside the margins, threads of possibility weave scenes of goodness and generosity and grace. While grand gestures and catastrophic calamities stand alone and unforgotten, these small and simple pleasures embrace the soul with wordless glimpses of heaven. As silence surrounds, we must bring these most sacred offerings to the His altar with abundant thanksgiving. Within these holy moments, God draws us deeper into His Presence. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. ~dho

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Extravagant Gifts of Every Day - Gratitude

Loving God,
    
The night sky is filled with luminaries that
light the darkness. Angels whisper evening
songs to my weary soul. I do not notice.

As sleep gently calls, I forget that I have
breathed the morning air, listened to laughter,
seen the evening sky appear. Another day! 

Something disturbs the rhythm of my sleep, 
summons my soul. In these sleepless moments,
the Holy Spirit is waiting and listens for my
response. I whisper, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! 




Holy Father, when I fail to see the beauty of
Your day, remind me with a glorious morning
to take my breath away, a soul-laugh that only 
a listening heart can find, and a night sky 
crowded with stars like diamonds that demand
a lingering look. 


My heart bursts with unmeasured thankfulness!  
These are Your ordinary gifts! I simply miss them in my
hectic hours, my scheduled chaos, my saturated time.

Give my heart the desire to breathe,
listen, and see the ordinary with extraordinary 
intention. Grant my soul the desire to breathe,
listen, and see Your Extraordinary Gifts of
Love, Grace, and Joy! Let me seek Your
extravagant gifts in every day! 

Let me shout, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Refresh my spirit! Refine my faith! 
Restore my love! Renew my strength!  
Rebuild my trust! Reclaim my soul! 

To God be the glory! Amen.  ~dho   

Thursday, November 08, 2018

God Moments


Affirmation of faith:
"We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Lord over life and death.
We believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. With His help we can remain faithful when tempted, peaceful when troubled, and loving when opposed. 

We believe that in all things we can be more than conquerors. For neither death nor life, neither the present nor the future, neither suffering nor trials can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."

God's love finds us where we are whether we are suffering or shouting hallelujah's! Because God desires a relationship with us, He longs to share in our days, whether they are long and full or hurried and fragile or few and peaceful. God walks with us so closely that sometimes we can miss Him ~ especially when everything seems so easy, so good, so simple. I believe only God can make days like these.

From a familiar hymn, these words remind me to be aware of time:
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.*

In the week to come, whatever comes our way, I believe we can find God in our moments. Remain faithful and be aware of His presence! ~ dho

* hymn Take My Life, and Let It Be

Thursday, November 01, 2018

One Thing!

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His templePsalm 27:4 ESV


The world rumbles with distractions and disappointments and gives voice to self-focused agendas. Desire for approval and applause comes from every direction. More replaces need. In the chaos of so many possibilities, our ability to discern God's voice diminishes. Our minds become numb, and our deeds become rote. How do Christians live in the world and in God's presence?


The presence of God must become my dwelling place, the one thingmy heart's greatest desire. To dwell in God's presence brings peace even in troubled times, gives assurance in uncertain times, offers hope in all times. To "meditate" is to be in "constant communion". Without listening in prayer for His voice or being in study and contemplation of His word, we do not see God's beauty and overlook God's faithfulness.

Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13 that while he has not achieved complete success, "one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead." Reaching forward toward God's call through Christ is the goal, to be in constant communion, to dwell in God’s presence. Paul's words give voice to my efforts, my striving toward the goal, even when I fall short.

LORD, my soul needs constant communion with You. Help me nurture our relationship that I may dwell in Your Presence all the days of my life, to behold Your beauty and to meditate in Your Dwelling Place~dho

Thursday, October 25, 2018

King of the World

Live like you believe God is Sovereign! -dho

                                       
                               King Of The World - by Natalie Grant  (link)


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spiritually Satistifed, Healthy Heart

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with your heart.  Jeremiah 29:12-13 ESV

Christian theologian J.I. Packer writes this about prayer and 
our heart's intentions, "Many of us have no idea how impoverished we are at this level." The knowledge of God or our talents or commitments at church fall short without prayer. Many people claim Jeremiah 29:11 as their favorite verse, but frequently do not look at the verses immediately following. Malnourished and dehydrated, our spiritual poverty claims us, even as we try to learn and serve. As a Christian, prayer becomes spiritual sustenance for a healthy heart.

So often we neglect to focus on the goodness of God, His love and mercy and faithfulness. In lectio divina, divine meditative and spiritual reading of God's Word, both the heart and the mind embrace the love of God. In this process, prayer becomes an opening of the heart which sings gratitude, humbly confesses sin, weeps over lost opportunities, whispers and shouts needs, both simple and desperate. The holiness of God surrounds your awareness, flows into the emptiest of places, quiets the fears, and strengthens the resolve as you welcome His unconditional love. Wordless songs of joy will break free from the chains of worry and doubt, soar above the chaos, dance over the brokenness. God's goodness will overflow into living and cannot be contained. 

As we learn God's "unforced rhythms of grace", the heart finds rest in His goodness, life becomes well-nourished, and Living Water quenches the thirst for more. More than a promise of hope for the future, Scripture reveals a God of splendor and majesty, grace and holiness, love and compassion. God satisfies the "now". Open your heart to  God's infinite, unchanging and sustaining goodness. Listen! He is calling, come and pray to Me...seek Me with your heart. ~dho


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Finding Meaning In Life

"Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person."     Ecclesiastes 12:13 NLT 


The writer of Ecclesiastes is searching for the answer that most all of us desire ~ the meaning of life. For each person, there are particular paths or callings that influence his or her choices of career, family, and community, but I believe this question reaches deeper and, if honesty prevails, becomes a common desire for all people ~ what gives my life meaning? After an exhaustive survey, the researcher in Ecclesiastes reaches a final conclusion, a universal answer to finding meaning in life: Fear God and obey His commands.

In his book, Living the Resurrection, Eugene Peterson gives insight into what demonstrates our truest Christian identity. How does one live the resurrection? He writes, "We embrace and cherish a firsthand, personal life with God and one another." Peterson explains, "We engage in a life that is permeated by the presence and companionship of the resurrected Jesus in the company of friends." The meaning of true life always comes from the Giver of Life. At the core of our being, this personal relationship refines the soul.

What gives my life meaning? It is having a personal, intimate relationship with God and growing that relationship through obedience to His Way. Living the Resurrection gives God glory and allows God's faithful to fully embrace His promise of Everlasting Life. While life will always be full of mystery and unanswered questions, God remains full of majesty and blessings. Remember, worship God, and let your obedience to Him define how living the resurrection is the greatest secret to the meaning of life! ~ dho

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Let the Light Shine Out

Every word You give me is a miracle-word -
how could I help but obey?
Break open Your words, let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
Psalm 119:129-130 The Message

Between the skeptics and unbelievers, questions swirl around Christians. The world constantly queries the Bible and seeks to discredit it on many fronts. Sometimes, even Christians have difficulty explaining God's Living Word. Words from Ray Stedman's The Power of His Presence give a good description of the Old and New Testaments and why both are still relevant.
"The Old Testament is designed to be a picture book, illustrating with fascinating stories the spiritual truths presented in the New Testament... One of the most convincing proofs of the inspiration of the Bible is the facility with which the Spirit of God took simple history - facts as they were lived out day by day - and recorded them in such a way as to weave together a totally accurate pattern of the development of spiritual life. In other words, what took place physically in the Old Testament is a picture for believers today of what takes place spiritually in their own growth in grace." 
The NASB uses these words in Psalm 119:130 ~ The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. When we spend time reading the Living Word, God's promises and spiritual truths are unfolded by the Spirit. Through studying the Scriptures, we begin to understand more about the character of God and His purposes for us. 

Gracious LORD, I come to the altar shouting
praise for all the blessings in my life. You are
the Light that writes the words of my soul-song.
It is You that gives my heart its desires.
Faithful Father, I am God-strong; my blessings
abundantly exceed my needs. Creator, gather
the details of my life, take Your holy threads and
weave a tapestry of Your design. You transcend
all circumstances, expose all evil, reveal all love
but never measure Grace. I am God-strengthened!
 ~dho