By Elaine Knudtson
“All is Well” by Michael W. Smith and Carrie Underwood
Grace and Peace Be Yours
The advent candles represent hope, love, joy and peace. Apart from Christ, these are illusive and fleeting. Only by focusing on the work of grace can we experience the precious gift of faith that awaits us.
Dear Lord, help us turn our attention away from ourselves to you. Gave us grace to accept your precious gift of faith so that we can enter into the blessings of advent of hope, love, joy and peace.
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to His own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. 5 For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; 11 so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1-11
Jesus allows us to participate in the divine nature of God by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. He offers forgiveness, faith, grace, peace and hope through His presence.
One Christmas I was experiencing a particularly dark time in my faith walk. Life appeared to be stalled in a meaningless cycle of work, family obligations and church commitments. It was joyless and I saw no hope of escaping the deadlock. During this time, I attended an advent choir concert. This verse appeared in the program: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Rom. 15:13
There in that one verse were the blessings of advent: joy, peace and hope extended through the Holy Spirit. I needed hope; not in myself and circumstances of life, but in the God of love who promised me these gifts through faith. I was focused on the wrong direction; it was not all about me, it was about Him, the author of hope and the only one capable of giving true peace and joy.
Hope does not depend on life’s circumstances, but on the giver of hope, Jesus. When we reflect on the gift given to us in the incarnation, we are amazed at his extravagant love. Our hearts are filled with gratitude and it transforms our circumstances. There is a sweetness in abiding in God’s presence. This was made possible to us through Jesus. A restored relationship with God fulfills our heart’s longing. As Pascale, a 17th century philosopher and theologian said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.”
Points to Ponder
- How do you try to manufacture love, joy, peace and love in your life? How does God bring those gifts to you?
- What is the difference between depending on yourself for hope and looking to God to provide hope?
Dear Lord, you need you to bless us with hope, love, joy and peace. We can’t manufacture hope apart from you. Hope is not just a wish, but a certainty guaranteed through the love of Jesus. Help us focus on that gift this season.