Salvation- Advent Week Four

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(Luke 1v78-79) ‘because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.’

 

We need to remember that all God did for us, we were in no way worthy to receive that. That truthfully our sin should have been the death of us. Instead, through God’s grace, mercy and love he sent us Jesus; as the gift for our salvation. We need to learn to find some peace throughout the whole Christmas period away from all the commercial distractions. Take some time to be thankful and quiet and remember all that God has done for you this year. You may have had such an awesome year, where although there have been trials you have gained many achievements. You may have struggled horribly throughout this year. However,  to have made it this far shows your determination and grit. Take some time to reflect on all you have overcome, you will be able to see glimpses of God throughout even your darkest day.

I am always thankful that Christmas comes right at the end of year. It is a celebration in which we rejoice because God loved us even in our brokenness that he sent Jesus to be the salvation for everyone. (John 3v16-17) ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’  That truth is never lost. Even if you have had a year where you have felt so distant from God, God still loves you. Jesus still came to give you life. Never feel that God does not love you, because he does. There is peace in knowing that no matter how far you run, that whenever you call on the name of Jesus, he will meet you there.

I love the fact that the angels appeared to the shepherds, told them of the incredible news of Jesus having come into the world. ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is the messiah the Lord.’, (Luke2v10-11). These shepherds were outcasts, God chose the angels to go to them because they were loved and accepted; God called them his own. We were all like those shepherds, we were outcasts who have only been saved through Jesus. There is no other means possible for us to be saved, we cannot do it on our own. Unbelievable grace that we have received. As lovely as it is to receive presents and eat till your belly is full. May we embrace that we have been blessed to know salvation, to know hope. May we endeavour to glorify and to honour God with our lives. There is nothing we can do to earn that salvation. However, to live a life in gratitude and thanksgiving allows Jesus to have his place in our hearts.

(John 1v14 ‘So the word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only son.’

Have a very merry and blessed Christmas. May you continuously know hope, peace, joy and salvation throughout your life. With love always, Victoria. xx

Joy- Advent Week Three

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1 Peter 2v9 ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declares the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wondrous light.’

 

Our lives have been utterly transformed because of Jesus’s coming. This is why we look at joy during advent because we rejoice that Jesus came, God saw the brokenness of humanity. God’s greatest gift to humanity was salvation and redemption.  Joy of knowing our lives have been changed for the better. That darkness and sin has lost its grasp. That we can walk in a new hope and in a new relationship with God. Where we are loved and where we are welcomed. That there is purpose. No matter what we face now, we are never doing it alone. Being able to share that joy with others. The world’s view of joy does not have to be ours.

 

What drains your joy… maybe it is time to distance yourself.

We are blessed with many technological advances and many forms of escapism and many luxuries at our fingertips. They can be a source of joy but they can also quickly become our masters. I have such a weakness with social media, that I feel like I must know what is going on and I have to be present. I will spend hours trailing through but I always come away feeling empty and unfulfilled. The truth is I have put my worth in what I have posted, and I believe that will bring me joy. It is such a broken way to look at joy.  Francesca Battesttistelli highlights this in her song ‘Let the light in’. In which she writes ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more alone. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt really known.’ Our joy should come from knowing that we do have worth, even when our lives our not splashed all over the internet. One lesson I am learning is that I can go and live my life, without having to tell everyone else what I am doing. If I was to look at all the time I use on social media, I could be using it to pursue a new passion.

Social media is not necessarily a bad thing within itself, many people use it as a creative outlet. However, it can easily entrap you when you do not know your self-worth and what you value.

 

We need to remember that with social media that there is certain trends and certain ways you need to keep up with. If you do not, you fall behind. We all know social media stars who have sacrificed who they are, to get more views and more likes. It destroys them because they have lost who they are due to how people want them to be.  This can happen to anyone, regardless of the followers and views that they have.  I do not know how attracted and involved you are in social media; please be careful that you do not lose yourself trying to be something you never intended to be.  Learn to live your life with passion and joy, knowing that you are loved and gifted in many ways. You do not owe social media your identity. Learn to shut your phone down for a while and creatively pursue what you are passionate about.  You are so incredibly loved, that is a message I share with everyone I meet. Each one of you has a purpose and you are in this world for a reason. No matter how grim life looks, when you live with a passionate drive you will know joy. The Lord delights in you, because you are his child. When you are using the gifts and the attributes, he has given you, to bless other people and bless society, the Lord delights in you.

Here are some ways that I record my life.

I do a lot of journaling. I try to journal each day about the positives, the negatives, what I am learning and what I do next. That is something personal I do which enables me to grow and to remember the day. I also started in September doing the five year journal where you answer a question a day, I am loving it, I will be 27 by the time it finishes and I am looking forward to looking back at how I have grown. I still take loads of photos but those are for my own pleasure.

Find joy in the life you have been given or find joy in the passions you have. May we rejoice as we get closer to Christmas day, as we remember Jesus the greatest gift ever given to humanity.

May you have a blessed week. Love Victoria. xx

Peace- Advent Week Two

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John 16v33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

 

Last week we looked at extending the hope that we have to others. Now, as we focus on peace, I want us to look primarily at ourselves and our relationship with Jesus. One of the titles that Jesus has, is ‘The Prince of Peace’. As we reflect during this advent period, do we know peace in our own life? I know personally, that this year has been a hard one for knowing peace. I have struggled with feeling comfortable and content with where I am in my life. This year has been overshadowed by fear, anxiety and doubt. Peace is something I have struggled with. However, as much as the feelings I have had throughout this year are negative, they have led me much closer to God. While I am not perfect, God does speak his peace. Here are some things I have learned this year about peace, how even in my doubt the peace of Jesus is still present in my life.

 

  • In trust you find peace. One thing I have learned this year is that if God has got me through one thing, that he will get me through the next. Speaking that truth over my life does not instantly wash away the worry and anxious thoughts I have but it does give me hope. I always have to remind myself of Deuteronomy 31v6 ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’ These words were spoke in the midst of a change of leadership from Moses to Joshua, who was going to lead the Israelites across to conquer the land God had promised them. If these words can be a promise then, then whatever I am facing these words can be my truth and peace too.
  • Peace can be found even in hardship. There have been many examples this year where I have had to do things or talk to people which should have filled me with fear and dread. In those moments I have felt this overwhelming calmness, which enabled me to deal with those moments with more grace and understanding. I have also seen the opposite where I have tried to deal with moments in my own strength, it has been a massive failure. A few words spoken with faith, even in your head allows God to work within that situation.
  • Peace can be found in the people around you. Honestly, some of my favourite days are coming home from work and having a laugh with my sister. It gives perspective, that even if the day was horrible that it does not define me. God has placed round me a family and friends who love me. That speaks peace, that I am loved.
  • Peace is found in the things that I love. Whether it be music, reading, coffee, shopping (unless it is a Saturday) they all give me a sense of release and relief. I see them as blessings, that I do get to enjoy. They are not my primary source of peace, but they do give me peace.
  • Peace comes through letting go! I am someone who can hold onto the past with a steel grip. I have been learning this year, that it is not healthy nor is it wise to do that. The past is not your captor, I have prayed so much this year to be released from everything that has been holding me back. It has taken literally a year but I feel so many burdens have come off now, that I am ready to continue walking forwards.

 

These are some of the lessons that I have learned this year by focusing on the question of, do I know peace in my life? In one form or another, we all know a sense of peace in our life. I do pray that if you are struggling, if you feel like everything is coming down on you, that you would reach out to someone. For some of us, we may not have connected with Jesus for a long time. I pray that you would take that time to reconnect and to allow Jesus to be the Prince of Peace in your life. Please never feel like stress, fear, anxiety, etc have to be your masters. It is something I battle with on a daily basis so I am in the same boat as you. However, I also know that there is hope and life beyond those feelings.  Have faith and trust, allow peace to weave into your life. As we continue through this week, focus on knowing peace. Even in the small things. You are so loved and so cherished. Allow peace to calm your anxious heart.

 

I love you all. May God continuously bless your life. Enjoy some festive treats, you deserve them. Until next week, Victoria. xx

 

Isaiah 9v7 ‘Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.’

Hope- Advent Week One

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Isaiah 9v6

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.

 

Giving hope to those who have not known love or  grace in a long time.

We celebrate Jesus coming because we believe that he changed all our lives for the better. A life which we use to live in darkness, shame and judgement. We should be encouraged to speak life and hope into the people around us. Acts of love and kindness, that allow a person to know that they have worth. I understand that we have our own struggles that we are dealing with. However, we also have a hope in Jesus. who we know in our own relationship with him, has changed many aspects of our lives. If we can speak hope into the lives of those around us. Allowing the light of Jesus to shine into their lives. Even in small acts. It will change their lives. As we walk through this advent period, may we give the gift of hope to people. Those who have been suffering for a long time, may we share kindness and grace with them. That their adversities do not have to shape them. While they are a part of their life, it does not have to define them. May we all remember that we are messy imperfect people, it is never our right to judge. We would never want judgement upon the mistakes we make. We would only want grace and forgiveness so that we could move on from that place. It is so important, that we do treat people how we would like to be treated. Although, we may not always be shown that respect back it does give our life fruit. In this first week of advent, as we prepare for Christmas may we not forget the hope that Jesus brought into the world. That sin and death are no longer our definers bur rather salvation and life. May we walk in hope and bless other people with hope.