HCC Monthly Harvest Seed

Luke 2:8-14 – Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Merry Christmas to you and your family. During this festive and busy time of the year. I pray that you will know the goodness and the presence of God in your life in a very precious and unique way.  I am excited to share this message with you.

Dona Nobis Pacem – is Latin for – Give us peace or grant us peace.

This is part of the Latin mass from the text of Agnus Dei. Agnus Dei – means Lamb of God.

I was introduced to this beautiful short song when watching the show MASH. It is a favorite of our family to watch at Christmas time.  In the middle of a war, in the middle of the battles and trials of life is the reminder that God came to bring peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the Dona Nobis Pacem three years before the outbreak of World War Two. In that moment the world needed that prayer – “Give us peace.”

Our world and people individually need to know the hope of Peace that is offered to us by God. Peace is the opposite of fear, it is also the opposite of war.  The angel’s message to the shepherds was – “Do not be afraid”. Peace calms the soul and settles the chaos and confusion that rages within us.

Christmas time reminds us in a very special way that one of the most precious gifts that Jesus gives us is the gift of peace.

John 14:27 - Peace, I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

(NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

We live in a world that is troubled and afraid on many fronts.

God invites us into his peace. His peace is unlike the world’s way of peace. The world is temporary, situational, and dependent on many variables.  The gift that Jesus gives us is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He will never leave us or forsake us.

We need Christmas peace. When Jesus entered the world, it was a time of incredible turmoil; life was hard for most people alive at the time. The world was in desperate need of a Savior and at just the right time is history, (HIS-story), Christ was born.  WE NEEDED CHRISTMAS. On that first Christmas. HIS -Story was about to become OUR story.

In the Bible there is a word for peace that is used over four hundred times.   In the Hebrew it is the word Shalom, in English it is peace.  Shalom is a word that speaks of more than the absence of strife, it speaks of quiet and wholeness to every part of who we are, spirit, soul, and body.  Peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.

Biblical scholars tell us that shalom signifies a number of things, including salvation, wholeness, integrity, soundness, community, connectedness (to others and to God's creation), righteousness, justice, and well-being (physical, psychological, spiritual).

When prophesying about the coming Savior Isaiah puts peace at the core of His purpose.  Isaiah 9:6- For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

When I was preparing my heart for this message, I kept hearing the Lord speak to me the words – Prince of Peace. The Peace That Christ Brings is something far deeper and far different than what many experience.

Christmas peace is far deeper than one silent night bathed in the glow of a fire and Christmas lights. Moments of tranquility will never sustain us for a lifetime.

Someone said in a devotional- “IF our expectations for Christmas are gifts and time with family, we have set our expectations too low.”

No Christmas carol can fix a broken heart. No amount of decorations can beautify the results of an ugly relationship and no amount of presents can replace what has been lost.

All of those things are enjoyable and have their place.

We are thankful for them. Christmas is so much deeper. It is the celebration of the coming of Christ and His redemption of mankind.

Many people look at the world today and wonder where is this promised peace?   Jesus made it clear that He would bring peace on earth but before He ushers in worldwide global peace, He had a higher agenda.   The day is coming to this world when there will be no more wars and no more sin and death, when the lion will lay down with the lamb.

The peace of Jesus transcends our situations. It surpasses our bank accounts, our sickness or the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of our plans and dreams. 

He promises a peace that passes understanding. In the middle of circumstances that should unnerve us, our faith and trust in God releases a peace that our emotions and senses can’t understand.  We are not victims but victors. We are not helpless but have the help and hope of God Himself.

Our God is Jehovah Shalom – God our peace.

Philippians 4:6 -7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Anxiety and anxiousness are just other words for fear.

It is worry that has moved past concern and into the realm of believing that our problem or problems are bigger than God, or that God is not really interested in them.

Worry is not just us having a problem, it is us having a problem that is bigger than us and thinking that it is up to us to solve it.

Christmas is all about us having a problem that is bigger than we are and that we had no hope of fixing on our own.  We could not fix our sin problem or the results of our sin. Physical and spiritual death. God took care of all of that. The answer to our worries and fears is the same answer for our sins.  We need to take them to God.

Someone needs to hear this today – God is not worried about anything.

When we give our fears and anxieties to Him, He gives us His peace. His peace becomes our peace. We exchange our fear, for His calm, His hope and His answers. The Bible promises us a peace that passes understanding.

Many people have a temporary peace on Christmas day. They allow the holiday to allow them to forget for a day. Yet there is a lingering thought that everything will still be there tomorrow.

God’s peace surpasses understanding. It overrides our thinking and reasoning and gives us a sense that all is well even when the problems are still there.

God promises a peace that will guard our heart and mind. – It will protect our thinking and how we think about things. It will guard our inner man and all that matters to us. He is the God of our peace and our Prince of Peace. The peace of God doesn’t just sustain us it propels us forward in His plan for our lives.

Christmas is all about the gift of His son.  Jesus is the master gift giver. He is the gift that keeps on giving.

He is full of surprises.

Matthew 7:11- If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

This Christmas may you be blessed with the wonderful gift of God’s peace.  God is full of surprises. Don’t let them startle you.  May they thrill your heart and calm your spirit and inspire you with faith.

I would like to leave you with a Christmas blessing found in the book of Romans.

Romans 15:13- Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dona Nobis Pacem – Give us Peace.

Merry Christmas!
Pastor Marvin and Dawn

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

HCC Monthly Harvest Seed

Genesis 2:2-3 - And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Rest is so important that God has woven it into the very fabric of creation.  Rest is part of the cycle of life. It is literally in the DNA of everything. We need to rest daily. We need a day of rest weekly, and God even designed the land to need to rest every seven years.

If we want to walk in personal peace and in sound emotional and mental health, then rest must become a regular part of our life cycle.  We were created by God to sleep a third of our lives away each day. He also commands that we stop from normal activity one day a week. God created summer for when things are in full bloom and winter for the land to rest. God created our lives and nature to have a rhythm of being active and then times for quiet and recovery. It is through this that God brings a necessary balance to our lives and to nature.

The Bible tells us that God blessed the day of rest and made it holy. To be made holy means to be sanctified or literally set apart as unique and special and dedicated for the purposes that God designed. The Hebrew word for rest is Sabat. It means to cease and desist from labor. God worked then He rested from all of His work. God put such a high value on rest that He made it part of the Ten Commandments.  While God has blessed our times and seasons of rest the world curses it as unproductive and intrusive. While we talk about vacations and down time few of us actually practice it.

We talk about how we can work 8-10 hours a day. Read at least 10 books a month. Spend time playing with our families. Exercise every morning, binge watch our favorite shows, keep up with the news, teach our children, cook healthy food every day, keep our house clean and updated and work at the local soup kitchen as we pay it forward.

The world does not praise rest it mocks it as unnecessary and people who flow with the rhythm that God created and commands us to follow are deemed lazy and unproductive.  God blesses and even commands us to work hard but He also desires us to rest and enjoy life.

Many people’s idea of a vacation is to fit a years’ worth of adventure into a single week. Most of us come back needing a vacation from our vacation. The truth is we have totally missed the point.  Others of us think that we can fit an entire years’ worth of rest into a one- or two-week vacation. Again, we have completely missed the point.

Even the most-high energy, type A personalities and young and physically fit need times to rest. As a matter of fact, if you fit into that category, you probably have a greater need for rest.

Isaiah 40:30-31 - Even youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired. Everyone gets tired, weary and loses strength, stamina and focus. The secret to keep going is to rest and wait on the Lord. This is how we gain new strength, renew our energy and refresh our spiritual anointing.

Rest is the secret to staying close to God and rising like an eagle.

Rest is the secret to being able to run and not grow tired and to walk and not grow faint.  We need to understand that rest is a pause. It is not quitting; it is not lazy it is necessary.

~ Someone made this important observation – “All Physical strength is spiritual in cause.”  All true rest starts inside of us. We have not truly rested until we have rested within.

How do you know that you need inner rest – that is actually pretty easy to gage.  All of us have gotten a full night’s sleep but have woken up having not feeling rested in the least.  Our minds and our emotions are still going, we are still thinking, we are still trying to work everything out.  Far too many of us shut down but don’t ever turn off.  Tiredness affects more than just our bodies. If that was all then a simple nap would solve all of our problems.

While a nap will fix many things. It is vital that we learn to rest in the Lord, Spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

Resting in God is a spiritual discipline much like prayer and fasting.  It is not meditation where you empty yourself of everything. You are already on empty. It is where you intentionally fill up Spiritually. It is where we put ourselves in a position to be filled new with all that the Holy Spirit offers.

A car isn’t tired because it ran out of gas, it needs a fill up. There is nothing wrong with the car except it needs an exchange of fuel from another tank into its tank.

When a car is on empty it sputters and spurts. Finally, is shuts down. Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. I am gentle and humble, learn from me and you will find rest for your souls.  When you can’t physically sleep because you are spiritual drained, exchange your emptiness and hurt for his healing and filling.

When you need inner peace, you don’t just need calm you need the Holy Spirit who is the comforter. He is our peace and the Spirit of peace.

We also need outward physical rest. People used to not be so hurried and hassled. This is a historically new thing in many ways.

Those who live by the new rules wear out, burn out and fizzle out.

I hear people say I would rather go out in flames than just burn out and fade away.  I have news for you those are not the only two options. You don’t have to go out at all.  This is utter foolishness.

Jeremiah 6:16 - This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’

Many times, we are tired because we are so busy chasing the new.

The old Godly ways are not passe they are a place of rest. So many people respond like Israel did to God’s invitation of rest. – “No, we don’t want it”.  God says when you are at the cross roads and you have a choice stop and choose the old Godly ways. You can’t go wrong, and you will have peace inside and out instead of turmoil and chaos and confusion inside and out.

As we are getting ready to enter the new year, I want to challenge all of us to make sure we make rest, both Spiritually and Physically a part of our normal routines. As we do I believe that we will find ourselves accomplishing what God desires AND living a life of peace.

You are Dearly Loved- Have a very Merry Christmas
Pastor Marvin & Dawn

Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay

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