by Frances J. Harvey, Director of Operations
What does Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men REALLY mean?
Peace = A state of harmony, free from disturbances Goodwill = Favor or advantage
Does this imply the world should be a peaceful place and all mankind should have a favored life? The world certainly doesn’t seem to be a peaceful place and I don’t know anyone who isn’t affected by the economy these days, yet the message of the Bible is peace and love.
So what does this all mean? Well according to the angels in Luke 2:14, - they were declaring peace to those on whom His favor rests!
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests”
I believe they knew that the child, Jesus, who was born in the manger, was indeed our Savior and those that choose to believe and invite Him in their hearts and lives would in fact have peace and be favored. He came that we may have peace and life; despite our circumstances or trials we might face…we can have the assurance that He will bring His peace.
Yet despite the meaning and purpose, many people live a life without peace. This is needless because all we have to do to get it is ask and believe. In His compassion for mankind and the condition on earth He made – and continues to make – provision for change. Not only is peace available, but it is entirely possible! He promises peace that no other can give!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
As I think about 2012 and all that has happened throughout the year, one thing keeps coming back to me and that is He has been faithful to give His peace regardless of the circumstances around us!
This time of year is often difficult for many because of different reasons. Maybe you lost a loved one during this season, or you can’t be with family or your grown children. Maybe you are struggling financially to the point of not knowing whether you will be able to provide your family with a Christmas. Depression or stress could be plaguing you to the point of just wanting to give up and not do anything at all! Or it could simply be “the Holiday Blues”!
Whatever it is, I am here to bring good news and encouragement to you and that is, NO MATTER WHAT we may be facing, God has NOT turned His back on you! He is the same yesterday, today and FOREVER! He has come that we may have life – abundantly, and that includes a life of peace! Sometimes in the midst of our storms, we forget that simple fact. He never said I have come so you won’t have trials. On the contrary… we WILL. He promises that when we do have them, He will be there to give us what we need to get through them. He will actually fight the trial for us if we let Him. And He will give us His peace…not the kind the world gives, but an ever lasting peace.
The same God that promised Israel is the same God that gives us promises –
“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 The Message
So now that we have established that we can have peace in Christ, I want to pass on these 7 holiday tips that Dr. Kevin Downing shared some time ago to help you get through this season because the challenges will come!
7 HOLIDAY DESTRESSING TIPS
WHEN IT COMES TO FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS-EXPECT THE EXPECTED
Unrealistic expectations can ruin your holiday. If things have been cold and distant with a particular family member, they'll probably remain the same throughout the holidays. We often call these ‘edited’ relationships. (It's not a four-hour epic adventure movie. Your relationship with this individual may just be a little minute short clip.)
With edited relationships we send cards, maybe have a brief phone call or superficial conversation and basically acknowledge that our loved one is alive and wish them well. You have the rest of the year to see if you can make more of these relationships. The holidays are usually not the time to work on these relationships.
FOCUS ON THE RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR LIFE THAT ARE WORKING RIGHT
These relationships may or may not be with family members.
Celebrate with people who know you and love you. Consider spending more time with your church family. Reach out to a friend who you have not contacted in a while.
GET BACK TO THE BASICS
The holidays are about giving thanks and celebrating the birth of Jesus. Give Jesus a gift this year, namely give Him more of you.
Your spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading His Word and meditating on His goodness and grace to you will help. Be determined to be a grateful person this holiday season. One of the best things you can do for your spiritual and emotional well-being is to have a grateful spirit. Make time for your time with the Lord and list out all the things that you are thankful to Him for.
ENJOY SOME FREE ACTIVITIES
Take a long walk by yourself or with a friend.
This can be a great way to slow your pace and focus on the Lord and the blessings in your life. If you have an exercise routine, don’t let go of it. Cardiovascular exercise is a wonderful way to reduce stress. Other free activities can be, driving around looking at holiday decorations, and window shopping.
PACE YOURSELF AND ORGANIZE YOUR TIME
The idea here is to be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
Use your calendar and other time management tools. The old saying of less is more is often the helpful rule of thumb to live by during this holiday season.
LEAVE YESTERDAY IN THE PAST AND LOOK FORWARD
Don’t compare this season to the “good ol’ days”. Making comparisons to the past is a way to set yourself up for disappointment.
Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its’ own unique way.
WATCH OUT FOR EXCESSIVE EATING AND ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Remember that alcohol can add to feelings of depression. Over drinking can ruin your holidays. Overeating can be a real challenge.
During this season you may find that food is everywhere – at work, in stores and at home and friend’s houses. Set a plan in your mind about what you will and will not eat ahead of time.
You can see by these 7 tips the things that can cause additional stress and anxiety during the Christmas season. Keep this list close by along with the verse from Deuteronomy and remember that HE IS YOUR PEACE.
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16
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