Ah, the holidays… For some, the holidays incite a feeling of dread due to family get-togethers that aren't full of peace, but conflict. The elephant in the room sort of experience.
For some, the holidays bring sheer bliss:Decorating, holiday tunes, cooking up special treats, shopping for friends and family, family traditions—all have the ability to transform the mundane into sparkling, magical moments of delight.
Others may experience an onslaught of painful memories of lost loved ones, and once treasured traditions are hijacked by grief. Maybe some are just profoundly aware of the deep loneliness in their souls. Perhaps there is no family or friends with whom to share the joy of the season.
There are many swirling, whirling emotions in the atmosphere. One thing we can remember in this season is that everyone we encounter has a story. We cannot afford to judge others for the brief moment we are sharing space. We need to have grace for one another. Be aware that the stressed out mom behind you in line at the grocery store is trying to manage a load of relatives that are coming from out of town, and she has a house to clean, cooking to do, and her small children aren't cooperating. Be aware that the man that is taking his anger out on the photo lab worker for messing up his order might have just lost a wife and those were pictures of her that he was waiting on.
Be aware of others around you. Look into people's eyes and see them. The Holy Spirit in you wants to show you things: He wants to show you the person nearby that needs a word of encouragement; the person that needs a hug; the person that needs help; the person that needs prayers for peace.
Everywhere we go, we have the ability to release the blessings of the Kingdom. Peace. Joy. Hope. Love. Likewise, everywhere we go, we have the ability to come under some of the swirling emotions that others are releasing. Hopelessness. Anxiety. Anger. Doubt.
Have you ever been in a place where an extremely frustrated individual was being very vocal about his frustration waiting in a long checkout line at a store, and you start to agree with him? You start feeling that same aggravation and irritability? Ever tried staying calm when there are anxious, frightened, or quarreling people all around you? Ever been in a terrible mood and walk into a room of happy, positive people and instantly feel better?
We have to be aware of the atmosphere we are creating and that we are coming under. We have Holy Spirit inside of us to help us navigate this world. He wants to help us overcome the negative atmospheres we encounter in our daily lives. He reminds us that our fight isn't against people, but spiritual powers. I think of them as hijackers. They hijack our atmosphere and bring chaos. They hijack our peace and bring anxiety. They hijack our joy and bring depression.
I don't know about you, but I'm extremely sick and tired of these hijackers. I want to remember who God is, and who I am, so that I can overcome them and release the Kingdom. It's possible. That's the miracle of the gospel. Jesus made it possible for us to overcome these spiritual forces. To not only live in a place of peace, hope, and joy, but to spread it around.
This season, be aware. Be aware of your surroundings.
Are you seeing peace? Joy? Hope?
Or are you seeing the opposite?
If you see the opposite, know that you have a POWERFUL God inside you who equips you to pray against the negativity. To speak to the storm and say, peace, be still.
To end my letter I tell you, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. Wear the full armor of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks. Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness (emphasis added). We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places. That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil, you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living. On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows that come from the Evil One. Accept God’s salvation as your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18, ERV)
Word of the Day:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Holy Spirit, remind us who we are in You. Remind us our struggle is not against people. Remind us to speak life, hope, and love to those around us. Help us look into the eyes of the people around us and see what You see. Help us to respond like You would respond. Fill us with fresh wonder at the gospel message— fresh wonder at the reason for the season. Thank You, Jesus!
Author: Kerri Barfield