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A new year's wish

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The kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Romans 14:17).

Happy New Year! As Paul Simon sang, “I’ve hung one more year on the line.” A new year always holds the promise of new adventures and new experiences. It is also a time to make those resolutions that seem so hard to keep. This year I’ve made a resolution to go back and try to keep last year’s resolutions!

Coming off the Christmas season I still have the themes of Advent in my mind. The Sunday before Christmas I spoke on all four: hope, peace, joy, and love. You can access the message here. I’d like to bring three of these spiritual realities to mind as we start 2014. Love…Joy…Peace.

In today’s text, Paul is responding to difficulties the church in Rome was encountering around issues regarding external standards of Christian living. Much like our own times, some believed is was wrong to eat or drink certain things while others had a more relaxed attitude toward issues that were not specifically forbidden in the Bible. But the big point of the text is stated in our verse. What is the Kingdom of God really about? Is it about religion? Is it about observing a portfolio of rules and regulations? Is it about acting “spiritual”? Of course not. The real issues of the Kingdom are internal.

What is better than love, joy, and peace? It is the ultimate spiritual trifecta. Jesus desires us to first experience his love, and then become agents that dispense it. He wants our lives to be filled with a joy that only he can give, and then be a source of that joy in a joyless world. He wants his peace to both rule in our hearts and mount guard over our minds, then spread that peace. As St. Francis said, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”. So I pray that 2014 will be a year in your life (and mine) that is filled with love…joy…and peace!

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