The Gift of Peace

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)

Although Christmas is almost a month past, the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” rings in my ears. It could be because I’m unwilling to let go of my advent topics. Nevertheless, that song pricks my heart with its lyrics of peace on earth. When I hear news reports of child abuse, armed robberies, and mass murders, I want to cry out, with the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882),

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Before writing this post, I took the time to read the story behind the poem …

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Next time we’ll examine the gift of rest. In preparation, please read and meditate on Matthew 11:28-29.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Hope

Advent 2014

Day 28

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25)

The Hope of His ReturnMany of us celebrate Christmas with a hope of receiving something we long for but haven’t bought for ourselves. After we tear off the paper, open the box, and clasp the item, we no longer hope for it. We own it. It’d be silly to say we’re hoping to receive what we are already holding in our hands. Unfortunately, we often put the item in its place and immediately dream of something else. We never seem completely satisfied.

Maybe that’s where New Year’s resolutions came into play. We weren’t satisfied with the previous year or years for that matter. The beginning of a new year marks a time of reflection on the past. In doing so, we recognize all the areas we could have, should have, would have done “it” differently with better results. So we resolve to improve our behavior, achieve more, give more, study harder, pray fervently, and just become all-round better people. Yes, we enter the New Year with high hopes and great expectations. But somewhere along the way …

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Next time, we’ll peek inside the Gift of Peace. Prepare by reading and meditating on John 14:23-31.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Light

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Years ago while watching TV in our den, my daughter and I suddenly found ourselves sitting in the dark. The veil blanketed us in darkness as black as Dracula’s cloak. We joked about ax murders, monsters, and aliens at first. But the longer we sat there the more spooked we became.

“Let’s go upstairs now.” I headed for the door. “There’s a flashlight in Dad’s closet.” Rachel, although a teenager at the time, clung to my shirttail. As I opened the den door, a wave of darkness cascaded into the room almost bowling me over. It was so eerie our dog decided to stay in the den. Rachel and I clutched the banister and followed it up the stairs. No light, not even from the moon or stars, greeted us through the kitchen window. We walked our fingers along the wall as we pussyfooted down the hall to the bedroom and into the closet. I stretched, grasping the coveted flashlight and flicked on the switch. We blinked and squinted, adjusting to the light—glorious light.

Walking in spiritual darkness can be as scary as suddenly finding yourself in a dark room. We wander around searching for light … any light … to illuminate our way and give meaning to our lives. Eventually, we discover there are as many spiritual light sources as there are physical ones. And as our flashlight overcame the darkness that night, these forms of spiritual light override spiritual darkness to a degree. However as sure as there is only one sun in the sky, there is one true spiritual light source. All man-made lights can only simulate the sun. Similarly, all man-made religions can only emulate the true Light God has sent into the world.

It was no accident that the Light came in the darkness of night during one of the darkest periods in history. It was no accident that the Light opened the eyes of the physically blind. It was no accident that the Light suffered the cruelty of the cross, illuminating the darkness of the human soul. It was no accident that the Light overpowered the darkness of the tomb and rose again. As our world grows darker in this present day, it is no accident that the Light stands ready to return to claim His own.

How about you? Are you standing in spiritual darkness, searching for the Light? Why not grasp the spiritual Light of Jesus Christ? He’ll overpower the darkness and lead you to a safe place where you can thrive in His presence.

Next time, we’ll unwrap the gift of hope. Prepare by reading and meditating on Romans 5:1-10.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Life

Advent 2014

Day 26

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 b  KJV)

Abundant LifeA few days ago, I found myself sitting in the social security office. Unbelievable! I’m at retirement age. How’d that happen?

Reflecting on my life, it seems to have been filled with a lot of insignificant activities in comparison to what others have accomplished. My life is filled with unattained aspirations, fading dreams, and just plain failures. But Jesus promised to give me life … and that in abundance.

So where is my abundant life? While I have had my share of disappointments, I’ve also enjoyed many of life’s pleasures—an adoring husband, beautiful daughters, marvelous grandactives, a comfortable home, and always enough to eat. If you want to get a little more philosophical, I take great delight in my surroundings—the wonder of the sky, the glory of the mountains, and soothing chirps of birds singing in the morning. I am blessed indeed. But is any of this the abundant life of which Jesus spoke?

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Next we’ll peek inside the gift of Light via an art video, which wraps up the past four messages. Prepare by reading and studying John 8:12.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Amazement

Advent 2014

Day 25

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:18)

Amazing NewsSeveral years ago, my mother, my daughter, and I took a bus trip to New York City during the Christmas season. The window dressings, the lights and decorations in Time Square, and the show at Radio City Music Hall amazed this country bumpkin. But I don’t have to travel six hours on a bus to be awestruck by tinsel and bright lights. A drive around the towns in our area, gawking at the homes all decked out for the holidays strikes the same chords of wonder and amazement within my heart.

However grand the most extravagant, man-made decorations are they cannot compare to the brilliant display of angels the shepherds saw the night of Jesus’ birth.

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Next, we’ll look at the gift of life. Prepare by reading and meditating on John 3:13-18.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Perseverance

Advent 2014

Day 24

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

During my darkest hours of oppression, I learned the meaning of perseverance. Through my thoughts, the enemy tore at the very core of my faith, my purpose, and my self-worth. At first, I had no control over the negative input. He hammered me continuously with all the wrong I’d done throughout my life. He told me I was unlovable and worthless. But somehow within that flood of lies, the Lord spoke the truth. He said He loved me with an everlasting love; with loving kindness He had drawn me to Him (Jeremiah 31:3). The Lord said He had plans for me and would give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He told me the truth would set me free (John 8:32). And it did. However …

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Tomorrow, we’ll consider the gift of amazement. Prepare by reading and meditating on John 20:11-18.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Hardships

Advent 2014

Day 23

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)

I’ve sailed on the ship called Hard often enough. And I seldom, if ever, viewed the experience as a gift from God. Both my daughters were born with birth defects. To this day, that term grates my spirit even though I know the outcome of their struggles. I felt as though I had done something terribly wrong to have had two daughters with special problems. Some people took it upon themselves to point out that such things come from hidden sin. And as if that wasn’t harsh enough, they added the reason why God didn’t heal Melinda and Rachel immediately was because their father and I lacked faith. Talk about making waves on the sea on which my Hardship was sailing.

Likewise, the disciple must’ve felt like they were in the midst of the worse storm …

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Tomorrow, we’ll consider the gift of perseverance. Prepare by reading and meditating on James 1:2-8.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks