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delight – take great pleasure in

I think that’s what we all want for Christmas – a heaping, helping of Delight! We don’t just want to experience Christmas; we want to take great pleasure in all the various aspects that this special season provides us with.

I think of children delighting in the Christmas tree, full of lights and ornaments, and of course, all the presents underneath. They delight in Santa at the mall, and the thought of Santa coming on Christmas eve.

As a child growing up on the Colorado prairie, I was always delighted if we had a snowstorm before Christmas, or better yet, a full on blizzard. When the snow stopped falling and the wind stopped blowing, it was always a blast to go play out in the snow drifts. It was delightful to break icicles off the eves and lick them and to throw snowballs at my sister.

Adults find delight at Christmas as well. Whether it be the annual church Christmas pageant or the performance of the Nutcracker. It could be standing up and singing the Hallelujah chorus, or singing Silent Night at a Christmas eve candle light service. A couple of different churches that my family attended over the years had “singing Christmas trees” which attracted big crowds and we all took pleasure in.

There is delight for everyone on Christmas day, gathered ’round the table full of good food, and more importantly, full of loved ones, some of whom we see so seldom.

There is great delight, especially at this time of year, in pondering the message of God in the manger; God with us; God made flesh and dwelling among us. Jesus who would save his people from their sins. Jesus who would redeem the world. Jesus who would bring light into darkness.

But we don’t have to wait until Christmas to find delight. In fact we can find it everyday in God’s Word. At least that is the idea I get from Psalm 119. The author of this Psalm finds it a wonderful delight to dig into and meditate on God’s decrees, statutes, commands and law:

16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

47 I delight in your commands because I love them.

70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.

77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

103 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.

174 I long for your salvation, LORD, and your law gives me delight.

If we delight in God’s Word, it seems that we get counseling, compassion and salvation thrown in for free. Or we delight in the Word because we get counseling, compassion and salvation. And when we are afflicted, in trouble or in distress, we can go to God’s Word to not only find relief, but to enjoy delight. Let’s follow the Psalmists lead and begin to not just read the Scriptures, or just study the Scriptures, but take pleasure in the Word of God and remember the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us.

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Delighting in God’s Word leads us to delight in God, and delight in God drives away fear. David Jeremiah

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I was recently reading John 14 and came across those comforting words of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”

As I read these words, three questions came to mind:

  1. What exactly is this peace that Jesus is going to leave that the world cannot give?
  2. Why is this peace important?
  3. How can I get it?

We are in the season of advent. That time in the church calendar that begins the new church year. Advent is the four weeks that lead up to Christmas. The word advent means coming. In this season the church looks forward to the second coming of Christ for the first three weeks, and then looks back in time at the first coming of Jesus. Each week has a different focus. For some traditions the first week is Hope. The second week is Peace. The third week is Joy and the last week is Love.

I go to a rehabilitation center in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico, on Monday afternoons. This last Monday I talked to the group of men about Advent and about peace, specifically the Prince of Peace that is coming back to earth one day. The Prince of Shalom.

Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Jewish people greet each other with this word; back in Jesus time and even today. Jesus used this word when he was speaking to his disciples. The word Shalom has a much deeper meaning than our English word “peace”. I have been reading an Advent devotional from the magazine Christianity Today and I shared part of an article about shalom with the rehabilitation center men and I would like to share part of it with you. It was written by Carolyn Arends.

“Shalom is a beautiful word that conveys wholeness, harmony, and health. Where we might settle for uneasy truces and Band-Aid fixes as proxies for peace, shalom represents something much more robust. Beyond the cessation of war, shalom is a transformation of the conditions that lead to war in the first place. When there is shalom, everything gets to function the way it was created to. Shalom rejects the idea of life a a zero-sum game and dares to imagine the comprehensive flourishing of every person and everything, all at the same time.”

This concept of Shalom goes a long way toward answering my first question which was “What exactly is this peace that Jesus is giving that the world cannot give?”

That leads me to my second question, “Why is this peace important?”

Jesus tells his disciples in verse 27, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” This peace is so important because often our hearts are troubled and we are afraid.”

Jesus also told his disciples the same thing in verse 1. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Their hearts were troubled because in 13:33 Jesus told his disciples he would only be with them a little while longer and that where he was going they could not go. They received some news that they didn’t like and didn’t understand and their hearts were troubled. Some were afraid.

I think we all receive news sometime in our lives that we don’t like or we don’t understand, or we go through situations that are difficult and we ask God, “Why?”

And our hearts are troubled and sometimes we are afraid. It is at times like this that we need that Shalom peace that surpasses understanding.

Our family went through a difficult time that caused our hearts to be troubled and caused some fear. My wife’s mother was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. She had a huge tumor growing in her stomach. When we found out we all cried. The prognosis was not good. We couldn’t understand how God could let this happen to such a godly woman. She endured a lot of pain and suffering and then died. She was 57. But we thank God that as she went through this hard time, she had that Shalom peace and so did our family.

That brings me to the third question, “How can we get it?” How can we have that peace that causes us to overcome our doubts and fears? How can we go through life with that Shalom that brings wholeness, fullness, and completeness to our lives; that causes us to flourish and thrive rather than to despair and fear?

Jesus mentions three vital things that need to happen for us to have this peace. He says in verse 23, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” Right there are two of the things we need to do to get his peace. We need to love him and obey his teaching. That is easy to understand, but often times hard to do. Our main motivation for loving him and obeying him is that He loves us. The Father loves us. The Holy Spirit loves us. The three persons of the Trinity are present in chapter 14. To have that peace that Jesus was talking about we have to get to know the Trinity, and know that they love us and are working on our behalf.

I especially love the last part of verse 23 where Jesus says, “we will come to them and make our home with them.” He doesn’t say that we will occasionally visit them or sometimes check in with them to see how they are doing. He says that he and the Father, and later on the Holy Spirit, will all come to the followers of Jesus Christ and live with them. Make their home with them. Day in and day out. All the time. 24/7.

With that kind of motivation we can live lives of love and obedience to the Prince of Peace, and enjoy the shalom that only he can give. I hope that this advent we will live in shalom-peace; that we will embrace the love of the Trinity and share shalom with all those around us. I pray that we will experience that peace that surpasses all understanding and be God’s hands and feet in bringing peace on earth and goodwill to all humanity

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He who best knoweth how to suffer shall possess the most peace; that man is conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the friend of Christ, and the inheritor of heaven. Thomas a Kempis – The Imitation of Christ

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