Worshipful Wednesday: Our Prince of Peace

search-for-peace-and-you-will-not-find-it-but-search-for-god-and-you-will-find-peace

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Search for peace, and you will not find it, but search for God and you will find peace.

Scripture of the Day:

Luke 2:13-14

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Peace. Just the word itself calms my soul. Tumult, troubles and protests are breaking out in multiple cities across our country and zealots threaten to wipe Jewish and Christian folk alike off the face of the earth.  How can we say peace?  Because He said it. In the verse above He gives it to those who are pleasing to God.

A serene scene by a still lake; a porch swing overlooking a sunny day; children laughing and playing, snow quietly falling on tree limbs.  An elderly couple walking hand in hand. All of these images evoke the idea of peace to me.  But stones create ripples in the water, sunny days give way to wilder weather, snow melts and we all eventually fade away.  Peace is not lasting as prescribed by the world, anyway.

No, Christ alone is our peace – our Prince of peace. We who have accepted the free gift of Jesus can have peace – not as the world gives, but as God can give.  A peace that brings security and hope, which are not dependent upon circumstances or emotions. Busy times, hard times, Christmas preparations, hardship, persecution – none of these things can rob us of peace unless we let them.  Right now, where you are at, quiet your mind and heart and focus on what Christ came to bring – peace to our souls. Reading His love letter to us brings a peace that no counsel on this earth ever could.

From the time he came as a baby, peacefully in the midst of chaos, to His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, Christ accomplished peace with God for us who were far away from Him.  Not perfect comfort on this earth, but complete peace.  Many will cry out for peace in this world, thinking that a leader or a country could bring lasting peace, but they will never achieve it.  True peace is only found in a relationship with God.  Search for peace, and you will not find it, but search for God and you will find peace.

Peace to you all this Christmas season.

Lord, quiet our souls and help us to rest in You at all times.  

Day 28: The Fruition of Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Scriptures of the Day:

Colossians 1:27

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Romans 5:5

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Here we are – we have come so far. What began as a seemingly hopeless situation has been transformed into a Hope Reinvented and the fruit of this new hope we have found is sweet, indeed.

When life disrupts the plans we have, it is an opportunity to trust God and see what He accomplishes as we hope in Him.

With this new hope there is no more shame, no more cause to wonder if God is for us. We are confident of God’s purposes even when the situation is bleak. This is the fruit of a life invested in God’s hope for us instead of our own. Bearing within us God’s perfect peace and love, His hope brings our hearts in sync with God’s purposes as we look to Him as our hope.

When I sat in the back of a police station for the second time due to yet another court error, the pain of the nonsensical mess I was in wrecked my heart and hurt my faith. Why would God allow this? But the LORD used the painful mishaps of life and the relentless pursuit from others against me to cause me to desperately draw nearer to Him.

I longed for a simple life again, but realized that this hope would keep me in a state of comfort and complacency. It felt like walking on water as I stepped out the boat of my hopes and placed all my dreams in His Holy hands. This hew hope was unending and filled my heart with joy and laughter, even as my old hope faded away.

When a person has a living hope, the resulting fruit is a life lived for God’s glory instead of for vain hopes. Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Thank You, LORD, for fixing our eyes on You – the Author and completer of our faith. Hope in You is always well placed and fulfills our life purpose.

 

Twelve Days of Christmas Day 6: Peace

Peace

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Colossians 3:15

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Isaiah 26:3

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Psalm 119:165

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

“Peace, man” is a common phrase spoken and heard today, yet rarely felt. Echoing a sentiment spoken many years ago by the Messiah Who was the only One Who could really speak and give genuine peace, people still try to give this illusive sentiment, even if only in a trite phrase.

What does it mean that Christ gives us peace?  How can we have peace when to sky is falling?  Because we know the One who made the sky.  How can we know peace when people shun us?  Because we are accepted unconditionally by the One who made them.

How can we have peace when financial hard times press in and we never feel we can get ahead?  Because our Provider owns the cattle on a thousand hills – and everything in between.  He gives us what we need – we just need to ask Him and believe Him.

How can we have peace when loved ones betray us and are unfaithful? Because the One Who chose us was betrayed, too, and chose to love enemies enough to die for them.

This precious babe brought real peace – not a peace that depends on everything going well, but a peace that depends on the Creator to be all Who He says He is.  That is a lasting peace – a hope in the only One Who is peace incarnate.

Lord, thank You for giving us peace with You, the Holy, perfect, blameless One.  Help us to walk in that peace and to give the peace You offer to others.

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way. 

The Higher Goal of God’s Deliverance

1 Samuel 1:10

“She was very upset as she prayed to the LORD, and she was weeping uncontrollably.”

1 Samuel 2:1-3, 9

1 Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in the Lordmy horn is exalted high because of the Lord.  I loudly denounce my enemiesfor I am happy that you delivered me. 2 No one is holy like the Lord!  There is no one other than you!  There is no rock like our God!  3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly, letting proud talk come out of your mouth!  For the Lord is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do. 9 He watches over his holy ones, but the wicked are made speechless in the darknessfor it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.”

Each day, I am amazed how God speaks to just what I need to hear.  This blog is written directly out of my devotion time, which is from a bible-in-a-year plan.  Yet in God’s sovereignty, He uses right where I am at in His Word to speak to me. What an awesome God.

Hannah’s story has always been special to me.  God sees our longings, but fulfills them in accordance with His will and timing.  Her response is so humble and surrendered to God.  In the face of a rival mocking her for her perceived inferiority because she could not bear children, she cried out to her God.

Don’t we all not measure up somehow, in someone else’s eyes?  Hannah suffered from the onslaught of minimizing, but it was not so much her concern for Penninah’s opinion.  She did not get involved with the small-minded desire to be esteemed by others or to have what others had for vanity’s sake.  No, she longed to be a mom.  The pain and shame of not being able to bear children stemmed from her innate, God-given role as a woman.  God honored this desire.

The sting of a longing unfulfilled can paralyze us if we let it.  But in this beautiful moment of Hannah’s submission to God’s will, she wipes away her tears and trusts in God.  When God granted her request, she praised Him and then gave back this cherished gift to her God.  Our tendency as humans is to want to hold onto God’s provision, but Hannah knew that Samuel, her precious son, was God’s and not hers.  Ultimately, her desire to honor God brought about more blessing for her and five more children.

More than victory over those who would demean her, Hannah had a joy in her relationship with her LORD and had gained something even more precious – character.  Humility gained from other people’s judgment is a reward, too.  It teaches us perspective and guards us from living to please man and reminds us that none of us are without fault.

Overly being concerned with man’s affronts is not righteous.  Jesus modeled this heart of humility when false accusations were hurled at Him and He is the only One in whom there was not a hint of truth in his enemy’s rants.  He was spat upon and murdered and responded by praying on behalf of those who wished Him harm.

Letting go of the idol of currying man’s favor is a beautiful place of peace and freedom.  Hannah was not trying to be glorified by man or be the best at anything.  She was not concerned with other people’s perception of her, and when Penninah’s judgment hurt, she ran to her Father – and He heard.

Man’s opinion is insignificant in the scope of eternity, but our response reveals pride and insecurities or trust and surrender to God.  Hannah chose the latter and glorified God, not herself.  We can, too.  Her “ladder” was leaned against God, not the culture.  Her greatest goal was not being right or triumphing over her enemies, but in glorifying God and being found in Him.

Lord, help us to be in the world and not of it.  May we care more about pleasing you than anything or anyone else.

Christmas Countdown day 5: Peace

Photo Credits quotes.lol-rofl.com

Photo Credits
quotes.lol-rofl.com

Luke 2:13-14

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Fridays are my busiest days of the week, so finding time to blog is very difficult, but I hate to break the Christmas countdown! So here it is, 10 minutes before midnight and I have had this thought on my head all day: peace.  Tumult, troubles and protests are breaking out in multiple cities across our country and zealots threaten to wipe Jewish and Christian folk alike off the face of the earth.  How can I say peace?  Because He said it.

A serene scene by a still lake; a porch swing overlooking a sunny day; children laughing and playing, snow quietly falling on tree limbs.  An elderly couple walking hand in hand.  All of these images evoke the idea of peace to me.  But stones create ripples in the water, sunny days give way to wilder weather, snow melts and we all eventually fade away.  Peace is not lasting as prescribed by the world, anyway.

But we who have accepted the free gift of Jesus can have peace – not as the world gives, but as God can give.  A peace that brings a security and a hope, which are not dependent upon circumstances or emotions. Busy times, hard times, Christmas preparations, hardship, persecution – none of these things can rob us of peace unless we let them.  Right now, where you are at, quiet your mind and heart and focus on what Christ came to bring – peace to our souls.

From the time he came as a baby, peacefully in the midst of chaos, to His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, Christ accomplished peace with God.  Not perfect comfort on this earth, but complete peace.  Many will cry out for peace in this world, thinking that a leader or a country could bring lasting peace, but they will never achieve it.  True peace is only found in a relationship with God.  Search for peace, and you will not find it, but search for God and you will find peace.

Peace to you all this Christmas season.

Lord, quiet our souls and help us to rest in You at all times.  

Writing 101, Day Two: A Room with a View (Or Just a View) – Challenge Question

lake and cabin

The water is calm, with ripples dancing across the surface of the sun-glistened lake.  A welcoming breeze flows through the tall trees and kisses my face.  I breathe deeply.  The wind cleanses away the pain and the sun hugs me with its warmth.  I smile.  In this moment, here at a cabin at the lake, time stands still and I am overwhelmed as I reflect on the passage of time.  No demands, no stress, just silence. My soul longs to be in this place – the appeal is palpable.

Suspended by the same rugged hammock as years past, I drink in the view around me – the same lake, the same breeze, caressed prior generations.  But I am here now – alone.  I soak in the sadness over all that has transpired and robbed me of my innocence, clinging to melancholic memories as if letting them go somehow erases the good portion of the memories I used to cherish.

Being in this unchanging scenery, I am at once comforted and disconsoled; so much change evident in my life, but my surroundings remain the same.  Provoked to dwell on the reality of my life, I am at peace that God is sovereign over it all.  I bask in the confidence that God already knows the end.  The same God who creates the breeze and sun continually for our enjoyment and sustenance – He is unchanging.  There is grace for each moment under the sun, but now, for just a brief moment I am here, grateful to be surrounded by such beauty, in awe of my Creator.