The Time of Waiting!

Purpose of the Season

14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” ~ Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)

Advent starry night part 2 – WetCanvas

The traditional view of our modern – Western Christmas – is one that devolved over time from a pagan tradition to a more religious Christian tradition then finally into the economically driven holiday we have now.  In others words, what we celebrate is less about Jesus and the anticipation of the coming of Christ from Godhood to man, less about that singular miracle,  to something that is at a lesser state of being than what previously came before it!  We have softened the message of this miracle of Christ’s birth over time, we have sidelined God’s wanting to become flesh and blood as well as His love for humanity which is partly His motivation in becoming flesh and blood. We have changed the very definition of God’s purpose to fit our own less intensive version that is more politically correct and less threatening and less controversial.  We have changed the paradigm of God and turned Him into a jolly old man that gives tangible gifts instead of the intangible gift of salvation! Our modern Christmas for the majority of westerners leaves out this moment where we reflect and make ready our hearts in anticipation of Jesus the Son of Man  in His return so that we will finally and forever be with Him in Heaven. To me, this is the ultimate gift. It is a gift which cannot be bought, it never rusts or fades, it will be ours for all time and will never be taken away. It is the ultimate promise, one that is bigger, better, and more fulfilling than anything in Saint Nick’s green and red bag of toys. Because when we celebrate Christmas in it’s entirety we do not need toys to excite us or keep us from boredom because salvation is not boring!

So I say to you my brethren, the Lord Himself foresaw and provided for this time for the world to wait, hope, and pray for His triumphed return. The signs were all around the people of Judea, they are all around us today recognizable only if you believe and allow ourselves to see the true message of this remarkable holiday. For I tell you now that when a person understands the full meaning, knows the path yet to come, and fully comprehends what each word God spoke really meant, then the totality of that one miracle of Christ suddenly opens our eyes, hearts, minds, and His love becomes more accessible to us as we grow in the confidence that God is working towards our ultimate salvation through Jesus Christ. It is this miracle message we need to be celebrating and not the gifts that cost hundreds of dollars, the bling bling of modern day living, or even the decorations we allow to influence our motivations for celebrating Christmas in the first place. Our excitement of this season should be that which makes us ready to receive our savior.

6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Christian tradition as observed for most Catholics and some of the other religious denominations of Christianity in general believe in the coming of Christ in two parts. The First coming is typically called Christmas or the Nativity. However, a more appropriate term is “Advent”, which in its more basic meaning is, “Coming”. Breaking advent down more completely you have “Ad” = “To” and “Vent”=”Come”, leaving us with “TO COME”. Before the birth of Christ it was prophesied  that the word would become flesh and dwell among us in scriptures from Isaiah to Zechariah. Thus, within the Jewish teachings just before the birth of Christ the hearts and minds of the people where in this hopeful anticipation of the Savior or Messiah.  For those who understood prophecy also understood the signs to look for and in this case it was the Star of Bethlehem.  Christian tradition and the telling and retelling of the Nativity story has become the basis for the modern reason why we celebrate Christmas as a holiday. At first the meaning of Christmas was all about the miracle of the virgin birth of Christ. The celebration centered on the miracle of Jesus being sent by God, the act of the miracle of God made flesh. There was great excitement because to the Jewish people this would mean the end of Roman oppression! Oddly, it would be the Jewish leaders who would advocate Jesus’s death and the Roman Empire that would later embrace His divinity, thus combining two different holidays into one and called it Christmas complete with our modern Christmas Tree. But even then gifts where never at the center of the season, it was all about the hope and anticipation of Christ’s return or the Second Advent! So I say to you my brethren take time to prepare your hearts for God and reflect and be filled with the hope, love, joy, and anticipation of Christ’s return!

Advent | Sound Shore Media

ADVENT VIDEO ~ Concordia Publishing House, (2014)

Amen,

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Reflection 3: The Choice of Love

“22 And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them and You in Me: that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17: 22-23, Pp. 1046, NKJV.)

In this life we are lead down a path which at first glance tricks our eyes into believing that God does not love us, that we are alone in our pain, in our suffering, in our wants, and in all our trials and tribulations. We question God on his promise, his integrity, and his resolve in his absence in our life in being that all forgiving, merciful god his so called son, (Jesus Christ) talked about in the Bible. Under our breath we rebel against other Christians who have this unbelievable, unshakable faith and become jealous because in our heart of hearts we feel an inexplicable void which permeates our minds and souls, and forces us to ask the following set of question;

How do I rejoice when there is no real reason to in my life to do so?

How do I see the positive things in life when all there is are the negative day-to-day happenings?

Are there some people just born more positive than others? Is there some secret only a select few know about?

As found in John 17, Jesus was describing in graphic detail what he wants for every human on Earth.  He was not however making any promises that you will always feel his love, for that is a matter of faith, a choice to believe in love, and that God loves you beyond all measure.  Jesus was talking about a faith so strong  that there  would be no doubt that God loves you, this is best illustrated by his words, “I in them and You in Me” (Jesus, Pp. 1046). Subsequently there is no scripture which promises that you will always feel loved. Rather each circumstance in your life, within each trial and tribulation you will find if you have faith an unshakable connection with God. Allowing your doubts to vanish into thin air, for the negative things in life will always bring you closer to God. That journey or lesson then becomes unmistakable, exceedingly obvious that you are loved, for that is God’s simply promise. It then becomes your choice to believe in love, to believe in Him.

I told my daughter once that, “the more you love someone, especial your children, the more important that person becomes, the larger role they begin to play in your life. Because of this you cannot replace, ignore, no longer feel love for, or stop thinking about those people that you have allowed to become that important to you, no matter how badly they may have hurt you.”  So, if God made us in his image, allowed us to feel such love for each other, then it becomes an undeniable fact that His love is all around us, even if we do not feel loved by Him. It also becomes a fact that because Jesus said His Father loved us with His whole heart, so much so that God would send His only son to suffer and die to redeem man’s sinful nature, within that singular act it become apparent that God Himself has thus allowed all of us to become so unimaginably important to Him. In that, logic dictates that we are more important to God than we could ever imagine.

So, to answer these questions that make us doubt more completely we must first ask the following questions, “Why allow the negative things to have such an impact on us when we have a loving, forgiving, merciful relationship with God? Why allow such rebellion to seep into our hearts that we would give it such an important place in our life?”

As I travel the world and meet people from other cultures I am always fascinated to find how people are more willing to focus on the negative, annoying, problematic, complicated, agonizing, and even destructive situations in their life rather than to first search for the good within the bad? We as a race chose to first find fault, the proverbial “Why” behind the happening. We need to have a story, a fall guy, a person or people to blame for our own problems. The selective process we go through stops at nothing as we quickly point our fingers and utter the words that hurt feeling, start wars, and even destroy relationships. Few of us can stop before we blame and ask, “What did I do to cause this event?” Or more profoundly,  “What was it that I did wrong or perhaps not wrong but not what I should have done?”  If this was the process we clung too before playing the blame game maybe just maybe our world would be a better place to live in.

“26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty: 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; 31 that as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1: 26-31, Pp. 1099, NKJV).

Thus, through God we have the power within us to choose to build bridges that will last forever, or to destroy them before they are ever finished. Our choices in this life show more about you, how you handle unpleasant situations, and even how much you complain and moan about things you have no control over. This will ultimately unleash the truth of your character in ways your words would never be able too. In fact if the truth be told, it will be your actions here on Earth that which you shall be judged by more than your words. “Why?” you ask, because, it is your actions that are a reflection of what is truly in your heart. The sad thing is we have a choice from birth, just as Jesus did. We can chose to look at all the wonderful things in life as a daily blessing, even amidst the negative stuff. Instead of getting all down we can chose to say instead,

“Ok, I know there is something good in this pot of bad events dealt me….”

For when we make a conscious effort to find the miracles we find God’s love. No matter how small the miracle is, together they all make one big blessing from God. When we retrain our minds our spirit will take over, and the miracle in this will become apparent…trust me I know from experience. The need to have someone to blame goes away, the driving force to become the enforcer, the judge, jury, and executioner dissipates. The weight is suddenly lifted as it becomes almost effortless to see the good in any situation, just like our Lord and Savior; Jesus Christ did when being nailed to a cross.

One of my favorite stories that illustrates’ this best is the Book of Job. Here is a man who Satan unleashes all of Hell on Earth on. He lost his money, his children, his wife, his animals, his servants; more over his friends mocked him when he refused to blame God for the river of torment within his life. Job instead chose with boils on his skin to fall down before God  and warship Him, thanking Him for all the blessing he saw that God had granted. The real question here is could you do this in your life? Are you strong enough to be a Job?

Another character from the Bible which just amazes me is Moses. Here is a man who was simply born disadvantaged, as a slave. By the grace of God was he plucked from the river and raised as a Prince of Egypt. He learned all the ways of his people’s oppressors, then fell from grace. He found his way in the desert never once blaming God for his misfortune only to find favor, find a wife, have many children, and be so blessed.  As an old man Moses was called by God to free his people, (God’s chosen people). He argued with God, and according to the Bible, Moses had a love hate relationship with God and the people he was sent to free. Throughout the entire process as he was being transformed from being a mere Sheppard into God’s chosen profit Moses was a flawed, doubtful, and very much a sinful man. Throughout his life he had many reasons to curse God but never once did, rather, Moses searched for each miracle of God.  Are you strong enough to be a Moses?

However, the one greatest example God has given to us is that of Jesus. Here is a man who was given a task and carried it out faithfully, even though he knew it would lead him to a disgraceful, hideous, painful, and agonizingly brutal death. Yet there is not one word which that Jesus ever utters which would curse God. All of Jesus’s actions are peaceful and can even be described as being completely filled with love. In fact it is this love for others which Jesus spent more time preaching about more than anything else in his ministry here on Earth. If you take the time to read each passage where Jesus speaks even when he is angry, you can plainly see the love, the forgiveness, the peace within his spirit. It is so profoundly obvious just before he dies on the cross when he asks our Father in Heaven to forgive those who have crucified him. Jesus was willing to ask God for forgiveness of not just those who judged him, beat him, spit upon him,  disowned him, turned him in, and for those who did not believe in him, but he asked God to forgive every last one of us here on Earth. Jesus showed us how to look for the blessings, the miracles in all the bad events of our personal lives. He illustrated how to chose positive expression, to look at our own actions first, to put others first, to be completely beholden to God, to walk with God confidently. There is no other more perfect example found.

When we chose to look at these examples of how to live, how to act towards others we begin to see and to believe in the hidden power of God, the grace of God, and we begin to see each miracle happen, even if we have to experience something negative first. We fulfill the one true commandment left by Jesus Christ,

“35 Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36, Pp. 998, NJKV).

Therefore, we rejoice in the love of God because God’s love gives us purpose and a profound meaning. In doing so we obey God’s law of “Agape Love”,

“10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10, Pp. 1095).

Simply put it is through this good news of God’s never ending love for us do we find the reason to rejoice. When we look within all the dark places of our lives do we receive the insight, the reason God so loved us.  Rest assured the miracle of God is there, but we must make the choice to look for it, look for God’s love, to believe Christ is in us, as God is in Christ. In the face of this evidence I now ask, is there a special knowledge needed, to think positively? Are there just some people born being positive or did they chose to be positive? Within that choice are they freer, happier, and more satisfied with their lives? Thus, with this new insight into God’s mercy, do we now see we have a choice to love each other because God first loved us? He chose to redeem us first?

So for your New Year’s Resolutions I challenge each and everyone one of you to become positive, to make the choice to become more satisfied and let Jesus fill your hearts with his peaceful spirit of God’s most perfect love. Amen

Reflection 4: When God Listens

“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (John 11:41-42, Pg. 1039, NKJV).

Sometimes it feels like God isn’t anywhere to be found especially in the loneliness of the cold and still night. Deep within the gloomy recesses of our mind we feel a darkness come over us, a terrible nagging feeling that can only be described as being alone. For most people this is a scary thing, the realization of being alone, and being isolated within it. As this feeling slowly emerges and  then swells taking over our inner most thoughts we become convinced that we are in fact truly alone. But the truth is though the room is dark and there might not be anyone around, you’re not alone. Your husband or wife may not be physically with you, holding onto to, sharing the best parts of their day, the truth is you’re not alone. Your child or children might not be with you, smiling, laughing, playing, or listening to your bedtime stories anymore, all of which warms a parents heart to no end, the truth is God is with you. We sometimes lack that spiritual confidence that Jesus had in abundance. He knew his father in heaven heard every single word, he never second guessed it, he never shied away from that special reassuring knowledge that God was with him, in everything he did, in every word he spoke, and in every action he took. When Jesus prayed he was reaching out to his Father that which yes, “technically”, was not physically present where He could be seen by everyone,  but God is there spiritually. Jesus talked to God as if he could see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Each word exuded confidence that he in fact was being heard. So it is no wonder that when our Savior prayed to God, he was also giving Him praise.

It is a wonderful thing I think, that we have such a loving God, that he does listen to each and every word we utter, how we uttered it, and what was going on in our mind that was responsible for how those words where selectively chosen before  they came out of our mouth. God hears every whisper, every wish, and every salutation that is in our hearts. God listens so intently that He knows precisely how to calm each fear and He is ready to do so at a moment’s notice.

What so many of us fail to realize is that God only intervenes when we are ready for him to do so. That means we must give all we have, all our worries, and frustrations of this life willingly to him. We might pray and say, “Hello God…I am ready…where are you?” But he knows we are not ready even when we have convened ourselves that we are. Our words give us away; they betray our inner heart, and our doubts that God can’t possibly help us. The longer the perceived silence, the angrier we get at God. We get so worked up and over powered by the world, our life in the world, we stop believing, we stop listening, not to just God, but to everyone else around us. When we do this we become weak, and spiritually starved, because God can’t help you until you really want Him too, until you give it to him.

“43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with gravecloths, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:43-44, Pg. 1039, NKJV).

Lazarus died and Jesus was nowhere to be found. His sisters looked everywhere for Jesus and he did not come to heal Lazarus his good friend, before he died. The sisters became angry at Jesus, that he after hearing of Lazarus’s illness still took his time in coming. In fact it was if Jesus didn’t care about Lazarus at all. But Jesus had a plan. The salvation of the world was Jesus’ mission, and he used the death of Lazarus to bring so many people to God. Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus from the grave to please his sisters, to answer their prayers, but yet their prayers were answered because Jesus did come; Lazarus was resurrected from the dead. Jesus could feel their pain, their anguish, he heard their cries at the realization that Lazarus had passed away. When reflecting on this, the truth of the miracle comes to light. The one unshakable truth is that we are never alone. For God knows all things, and has power over all things. To think we are alone, is akin to losing faith, the loss of faith brings forth doubt, and doubt is Satan’s favorite weapon. So it was so perfect of Jesus to pray confidently to God, before raising Lazarus from the dead.

I was reading this book called, God Is In The Hard Stuff, written by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, who wrote, “If you mistakenly assume that God is not present, you’ll be spiritually blind to His presence. But if you take God at His word and expect to find Him in the darkest hours, you’ll be surprised that you see Him all around you. Suddenly, the severity of your problems will shrink in comparison to the magnitude of God’s presence in your life. God doesn’t remove the difficulty and pain. But He will be there with you through it all” (Bickel & Jantz, 2005, Pp14-15). Moreover, it has been within my own personal experience that God purposefully places people in your life when you need them to be there; they are there to help you through those difficult times.

So God might not answer your prayers directly as in the example of Lazarus, but he will use those prayers to bring you and thousands of others closer to Him. He wouldn’t do that if he didn’t care. He wouldn’t listen if he was not interested in your prayers, your words, your wants and desires. God wouldn’t have sent his only son to die on the cross if he didn’t love us so much. This very point ties so perfectly into last week’s reflection, “Paying Attention to Detail”.

“We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Challenge Question: If Jesus hears our prayers, and God knows our deepest desires, and our prayers get answered but not directly, our we to then assume it was meant for us alone, or for thousands of others who had prayed the same prayers?

Amen

If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life.  May God keep you and bless you. Amen.

Reflections 2: Paying Attention to Detail

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-22, Lost Gospel Q, Q30, p.64).

It is no accident that when we look at the human spirit we all have a common need to know God. It is no accident that Jesus chose to come as a sheep to be slain, only to rise on the third day. I say it is not an accident because God chose to give us all free will, in doing so He knew we would sin, and fall away from Him but our God did it anyway. God is so magnificent, so perfect in all His works that He was so precise that He paid such close attention to detail in the creation of us that which He had already made room for our sins in His overall plan for humanity. It is no accident that our creator made us in His likeness took such delight in giving Adam his first breath of life, as He does for each and every one of us. God paid such close attention to detail that He recognized when Adam was lonely, thus He created Eve. The miracle is in the fact there is no difference to how closely God observes us, each one of us, and knows when we need Him, answers our prayers, and plays such an active role in our individual lives once we have accepted Him into our hearts, under that most perfect design called free will.

Simon Peter could have said no, as well could have Andrew. In fact each and every one of the twelve disciples could have said no. But because each one of us has that built in need to know God, they followed him, they made a choice. They walked away from their lively hood, their families, their worldly responsibilities, and made the choice to follow him. To their credit they listened to Jesus and followed him upon blind faith that they were making the right choice. The most compelling aspect to this was Jesus knew they would slip in their faith while following him, he knew they would argue, complain, have many doubts, even question him on topics they all struggled with, which we all still today struggle with. Jesus knew they would abandon him in the end, run away in fear, deny him, and even betray him. Jesus knew this just as his Father in heaven knew Adam and Eve would sin, but instead of fixing this one trait, our Lord and Savior used it to our greatest benefit, through his death on the cross. Perhaps the greatest of Jesus’s acts took place during the last super as found in John 13: 1-5, when he washed his disciple’s feet. The attention to detail was so perfectly executed that Jesus did not hesitate to wash the feet of Judas Iscariot, knowing that within moments of him doing so, Judas would betray him.

“2 The evening meal was being served and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13: 2-5, Pg. 1656, NKJV).

How do you reconcile the example of doing for those who would do you ill? In truth I don’t know anyone who could have washed Judas’s feet if they had the forward knowledge that Judas was going to betray them. Moreover within hours from that moment such torture and pain was going to be unleashed upon him. But it took the unyielding, agape love of God to become the servant, to wash the feet of his betrayer. But yet we are all called to do this. In retrospect it is no different from when God gave Adam life, knowing Adam would eventually sin against him. In fact every human on Earth has sinned against God, but yet He still pays such close attention to detail as to love us anyway, to show us His grace anyway, and to choose to send His son Jesus to save all of us from eternal damnation anyway.

Jesus still chose out of free will, the twelve flawed, conflicted, non-patient men to be his disciples, and they accepted his invitation through free will and blind faith. Some of the most powerful words Jesus ever uttered in his ministry were his most simple of words, “Follow Me.”

Often times we get so wrapped up in our own lives we forget to do for others as Jesus so plainly gave the most perfect of examples. Some of us have such brilliant excuses as using the lack of time as the culprit in not obeying God. The simple miscalculation of this is found in the fact there is no one busier than God, but yet He so passionately spends personal one-on-one time with each and every one on planet Earth. There is no excuse for not showing others kindness, love, mercy, and forgiveness. Worse yet some of us openly betray God, in all their words and actions. They harm even those they love, and call this twisted pool of lies and rebellion love. But such is free will, we are free to think, feel, react, learn, and breath, as we choose. But we all have a choice, we all make our own destiny, we all have a loving forgiving father in heaven who is always there waiting, watching, hoping we will call upon Him, to ask for His forgiveness. Such is the very nature of God, as so expressed by John,

“8  He who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8, Pg. 1170, NKJV).

Furthermore John explains,

“16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19, Pg. 1170, NKJV).

Because we are left with the unyielding love of God, we are never alone, never left without hope, never subject to fear. Within our faith we are made perfect in God, we are molded and shaped by God. He takes so much pleasure in each wrinkle, every scratch, every pour and cell in our bodies, for He alone pays such great attention to such details. Ironically this takes vast amounts of time, and this is what God does for us just like He did for Jesus’s twelve disciples. One of the greatest reliefs is that whenever there is a huge worry, a meeting, assignment, or task that is life changing and a bit scary to face, know God is in our life and that there is noting to fear. For if we know God in our heart, we know love, in that love cast out fear and we then have perfect confidence our task will be completed just as Jesus faced down death, only to rise on the third day with God’s perfect confidence and love.

Challenge question: Knowing we are commanded to love one another, to love our enemies, to wash clean their feet, to show mercy and forgiveness, then when we choose not to do so aren’t we really in rebellion? Aren’t we really telling God we know better? Then if this is the case aren’t we all very lucky to have such a forgiving God who has paid such attention as to give us the agape love we need to come to him once we realize our mistake, our sin?

Amen

If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life.  May God keep you and bless you. Amen.

Reflections 1: Peace Be With You

“Whenever you enter someone’s home let your first words be, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a person who loves peace lives there, they will accept your blessing. If not, your words will come back to you. Stay in this house, taking what food and drink they offer, for the laborer deserves his reward. Do not keep moving from house to house. When you enter a town and the people welcome you, eat the food they provide. Heal the sick who are there. Say to the people of the town, ‘The realm of God is at your door” (Lost Gospel Q, Q30, p.64).

The words, “Peace be with you”, strikes a chord so deep into our hearts, it’s a greeting that wishes nothing but goodness, peace, and love for the person we are addressing. How often do we normally do that? How often do we take the time in our daily lives and wish someone else like our friends, our loved ones, even a complete stranger, and wish them well? The time taken is so small, so minimal that it takes hardly any energy at all, so why don’t we do it? The “Time Spent Series” is my reflections and observations on the biblical teachings that illustrate the amount of time God has spent teaching the human race how to love, how to honor one another, and how to properly spend time. It is my thoughts and feelings on how we need to spend time with those whom we love, our families, and close friends, but also in the smallest of ways why we need to be ready to give that one greeting that changes lives.

Our Lord and Savior took out the time to teach us about God, about Heaven and Hell, he taught the Jews about relationships. Not just our relationship to God, but more importantly our relationship to one another. The crowning glory of his ministry was his simple, but powerful greeting, “Peace be with you.” He says it to his disciples after his death in Luke 24:36 and again in John 20:21. Before that Jesus prepares his disciples for the Holy Spirit before his death and resurrection found in the bible in John 14:27 where he says to them, “Peace I leave with you my peace I give you.” This greeting can be found later in John 20:26 when Jesus greets Thomas after the other disciples saw the risen Christ. He said this to calm their souls, to build them up, to show his love for them.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house’, If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:5-7, p.1591, NIV).

In fact Jesus was so specific to include what you say when entering a person’s house and as illustrated above how to greet a town. He was preparing them how to greet people one-on-one, on their own terms. His anointment on the chosen seventy two happened after he was rebuked in the village of Samaritan, as found in Luke 9:51-62, still he taught his anointed to greet people with peace in your heart.

Time spent traveling from village to village as told in the bible, was Gods method of spreading the words of peace, love, and joy, because that is all we, his disciples, his children can do. Knowing this Jesus taught us all how to greet each other, brothers and sisters in Christ, and despite ones beliefs his example even extents to those who are not Christian, but from other faiths. Jesus embraced the idea that we are all one in the same, one family in God, and our respect is shown to God by greeting people in the proper manner, using his perfect example.

The time Jesus spent was used so strategically that we hardly take notice of the smallest of his examples because all our time is spent looking at his biggest accomplishments. His efforts in his eye-to-eye contact, to his smile, his gestures, and in his greetings, all took no energy on his behalf and changed the hearts and minds of his hardest of critics. His examples in soothing the soul, calming the mind, while spending quality time with all whom he meet and talked with revealed his perfect intent. Jesus’ overriding message throughout the bible has been proclaimed by many, but none so eloquently spoken than by the Apostle John who wrote, “21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us” (1 John 4:21-23, p.1951, NIV).

The words that most often change lives are not ones of malice and hatred, rather they come from the heart, and as Jesus illustrates, they are a blessings. If we obey his words, then there is no viable reason we cannot find ways to find common ground with strangers who do not hold to our same principals. If indeed our first words which role smoothly of our lips to our fellow man was a blessing, how long would it take to achieve peace in our own hearts.

“10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12, p.843, NIV).

Challenge question: If Jesus could chose to come down from Heaven, be born in a dirty, sticky manger, and know he was going to die a brutal death just to spend time with us; shouldn’t we make the effort to bless our fellow sisters and brothers with the words he taught us?

Amen

If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life.  May God keep you and bless you. Amen.

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