“My own peace I give to you.” John 14:27
Peace is not attained by the absence of a storm, but by the presence of the Spirit.
My mind goes to Matthew 8:23 where we find Jesus and the disciples on a boat in the middle of a storm. The disciples were looking at their circumstances, thinking only of their ability to handle the situation, as though they were on the boat alone. They did not factor in the reality that because Jesus was right in the boat with them, they were safe. They looked at the storm and panicked. They could have looked at Jesus and taken their cue from him. He was at peace in the midst of the storm. So at peace that he was sleeping right through it!
Today we don’t have the luxury of having Jesus in the flesh walking around with us, but we are not alone.
John 14:15-17 “If you love me and keep my commands I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot except him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
On that boat in the middle of a storm, Jesus’ physical body rested, because the Spirit of the living God was in him, and he knew that anything that happened, he was equipped to handle. When they woke him he said, “Why are you afraid? Oh you of little faith.” Matthew 8:26
Whatever situation we find ourselves in, the Spirit will be there to help us face it and he will walk through it with us. Accepting that – BELIEVING THAT, is where peace comes from.
Don’t look at where you are, look at who you’re with. Peace is not attained by the absence of a storm, but by the presence of the Spirit.
Remember who you’re with!
I just read Exodus chapter 3 where God speaks to Moses for the first time. He lays out the whole plan and all that he will do, after Moses doubts and questions him.
Unfortunately God doesn’t usually tell us the whole plan from beginning to end. Nevertheless, he is the same God to us that he was to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We can trust that he has it all worked out, including the parts where the people involved do the wrong thing. There is no obstacle, no mistake, no rebellion or evil plan, that can shake or ruin God’s agenda. We would live in perfect peace if we could just believe that and remember it every minute of the day. However, we don’t, because we are human. We will need God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit continuously, moment by moment, to get through this life, until we meet him face-to-face in our new heavenly bodies. Until then…
“He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, and insults, and hardships, in persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-11
“Your words were found and I ate them. Your word became to me a joy and the delight of my heart. For I am called by your name, Oh Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16
Don’t just read the Word of God. Eat it! Post it on your mirror and on your walls. Memorize it. Sing Psalms to the Lord in worship. Know Isaiah. Love Paul like a brother. Learn to pray like David. Squeeze the scriptures like fruit and drink in its bounty and inhale its fragrance. Devour it. Feast on it!
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Psalm 119:103
Prayer: Lord give me a voracious appetite for your Word. Plant your words deep in my soul. Like David, I want to be a person after your own heart. “You have said, seek my face; my heart says to you, your face Lord do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8) Amen.
I have been reading my Bible through chronologically and this morning I started reading Revelations. It starts by saying in Rev. 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads this prophecy aloud.” So I decided to read it out loud! In verses 12 – 16 it paints a portrait of what Jesus looks like now that he is in heaven. As I read it aloud I was overcome with emotion and tears spilled down my cheeks. It was true, I was blessed by it! If you are in a position to read these scriptures aloud, I hope you will.
Revelation 1:8, 12-16 vs.8 “I am the alpha and omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come. The Almighty. vs.12-16 “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp stands and in the midst of the lampstands, one like the son of man, clothed in a long robe with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
Isn’t he magnificent? I think most of the time we tend to picture Jesus the way he was on earth, because that’s the time period we have been taught and studied the most. He is no longer walking around in earthly flesh. He is so much more! He is the alpha and omega. The Almighty. When I picture him in the way he is described here, it stirs my spirit and strengthens my faith and my courage to withstand the trials of this world.
I think my favorite part is in vs 17-18 “When I saw him, I fell at his feet though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
HALELUJIA!! HE HAS WON!!!! We have nothing to fear! This loving, compassionate Savior who is my constant friend is so much more! In verse 20 it tells us that the stars are the angles of the seven churches and that the lampstands are the churches. Now don’t miss this…He is standing in the midst of them, governing and ministering to them. He also reached down and put his hand on his shoulder and encouraged him not to be afraid and reminded him that he has already won the battle. He holds the keys! Whatever we have to walk through in this life, we can do it in honor of him, knowing he is The Almighty and he is in the midst of us with his hand on our shoulder, encouraging us to fear not.
This holiday season, as you think of the birth of the Messiah and think of his ministry and sacrifice for us here on this earth, don’t forget to think of him the way he is now, with eyes like fire and a voice like the roar of many waters, with his hand on our shoulder, encouraging us and reminding us he already has the victory.
I am writing this from a hotel room in Cuba. I have spent the last two days meeting with Christian woman and hearing their stories. Today I sat in a tiny little room probably 8×8 that was a “Home Church” and heard each women tell their story of abandonment or loss of a spouse. The ones they loved, counted on and did life with were gone. They spoke of the faithfulness of God in their journey. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to one after another tell their heartbreaking stories of life’s disappointments and of Gods redemption. I wept because I have experienced a little of that in my life as well. SOMETIMES God does or allows things to happen that don’t make sense to us. Sometimes the enemy does things that we feel like God should have stopped! What do we do with our faith then? What do we do when we are hurting and confused, disappointed and honestly, probably a little angry? Here is the truth: I don’t know why he heals some and not others. I don’t know why sometimes he takes people that have served him faithfully and loved him and have made a difference in the kingdom of heaven and make this world a better place. It just doesn’t make sense to me. That’s just one situation I don’t understand. There are more.
Here is what I do understand. He is a big God. He is Sovereign and his thoughts are higher than ours, but he is also a loving and understanding God. We can bring our pain, our questions and even our anger to him. He can take it! He will walk through it with us. He is patient and loving and he is not afraid of our emotions, our anger or questions. I have had events in my life that caused me to question what I believed about God. Like these women I met today, I found out that it was okay with him, that I didn’t understand and questioned him. He still loved me and was faithful to love me and guide me through the pain, disappointment, questions and anger. In the end he led me to a place where I trusted him again. In time he showed me his faithfulness and how he had walked with me through the pain and taught me things that gave me greater understanding and it built my faith. It also deepened my relationship with him. He is not afraid of our feelings. He understands emotions. He created us. Jesus walked this earth and had to feel all of those things. He felt injustice, a broken heart, fear, pain, I could go on and on. HE KNOWS how we feel and IT’S OK to be honest and share it with him. Cast all your cares, anxieties, fears, and pain at the feet of Jesus. Don’t shut him out because you don’t understand why something has happened. Talk to him. I promise you that he will meet you where you are and listen to you, love you and walk with you through whatever it is that you are going through.
A couple of my favorite lines from the song “Bigger Than I Thought” that I’m sharing in this post says, “I THROW all my cares before you, my doubts and fears don’t scare you.” And the other one is, “I will rest in the Father’s hands, and leave the rest in the Father’s hands.”
Yes he is a BIG God. He is the Creator of the universe. The one who makes the waves roar. He is also a personal and intimate Savior who loves us. He is the only one who will never hurt us and will always, ALWAYS be faithful, understanding and forgiving. There is nothing we can say or do that will cause him to stop loving us. There is nothing we can say or do that will make him leave us alone. He is there, even when we choose not to talk to him. He loves us SO MUCH. He is waiting for us to turn to him and unload all that is in our hearts.
In the song “Nobody Loves Me Like You” my favorite line says “Story…I could have had a really different story, but you came down from heaven to restore me, forever saved my life.”
May I encourage you today, no matter what you are going through or how you feel about it, to take the chance on him? Tell him everything and leave it there at his feet.
Psalms 34:8 ESV “Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Scripture tells us not to be conformed to the passions of our past, but to be holy because he is holy. 1 Peter 1:14-15 “14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;” We are called to live a life worthy of the Lord. Colossians 1:10 “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” This is not, nor should it be looked upon as a duty or obligation that we dread or roll our eyes at. IF we have surrendered our lives – the miserable mess that we have made of our life- and have laid it at the feet of Jesus, he trades us salvation, purity, freedom, joy, a fresh start, for our mess, our sin, our pride. We then can joyfully and purposefully strive to live holy. Of course we will fail daily, but we shouldn’t get discouraged. Jesus told Peter when he was washing his feet, “You are clean!” John 13:10 10Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. He only needed to wash his feet from the daily dirt that got on them. We meet with our Savior daily, so he can wash away the dirt of the daily sin from our minds, eyes, ears, hands, feet… so that we can successfully be led by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. If we don’t go to our Savior daily and allow him and his Word to wash away the dirt of this world, by the renewing of our minds, the dirt of this world (our daily sins and anxieties) will weigh us down and we will move more slowly and not be able to keep in step with the Spirit. Romans 12:2 2Do not be conformed to this world,c but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. If we are not daily seeking him, it is harder to see where the Spirit is leading us and harder to keep in step with him.
God was always having the Israelites build monuments or establish feast days as a memorial to the victories where God had rescued them. This was to remind them what he had rescued them from. If we will continually remember what God has saved us from, it will keep us grateful for his Salvation. Then we will want to strive to be holy, not out of obligation but out of gratitude!
Imagine for a moment how humbling it would be, to allow The Holy God – The Great I AM – The one who spoke everything into existence – The one who willingly laid his life down in a humiliating and horrific death, to kneel down before you and wash your feet. Oh dear God, NO!!!! I can not imagine! I am so unworthy of such an act of love. That is the example of humility and love that he gave us. It is that same humbleness, and submission that we must have in order to lay our sin and our lives at the feet of our Savior. We have to acknowledge the mess we have made of our lives, the abundance of sin and pride, the lack of ability to do it right on our own and acknowledge his ability, his authority, his greatness, his holiness, his love, his sacrifice, his gift of salvation for us.
When we realize who he is and what he has done for us, then, instead of an obligation, to live holy, it becomes an opportunity to show our gratitude, as we humble ourselves and turn our backs on our wicked ways. 2 Corinthians 10:5 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 1 Peter 5:7-11 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Casting is defined in the Webster Dictionary as throwing forcefully in a specified direction. I don’t know about you, but I desperately, humbly and gratefully, HURL my sin, my worries and my problems, to his precious, holy feet and gladly and passionately strive to be an obedient child of God. What an honor! What a joy to lay down my passions and fleshly desires, to strive to serve my Savior and my God! Philippians 3:12-14 12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. It is with immense gratitude and joy that I strive and press on to live a life worthy of the Lord.
1 Peter 1:6-9 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
I just spent a wonderful week in Havana, Cuba leading a youth mission trip. On so many different occasions I saw how God had gone WAY before and set something in motion that might have seemed to a bystander as coincidence. My friend these things were no coincidence. It strengthened my faith. Now as I get back into the normal routine of life at home, the worries and stress of everyday life can be overwhelming at times. Then I remember how he showed me that he is working on our behalf all the time. He isn’t waiting until we cry out in desperation or fear in the moment. He knows what is coming before we get there. We can and should cry out for help and strength to face what comes in this life, but we can be comforted by the fact that he already has the provision ready. He loves us so much. He is so good to us. Are you worried about something or someone?When we are down he is there to pick us up. When we are tired he is there to strengthen us. When we run he runs after us. When we are lost he will find us. Take heart! God is faithful. He is love. He is in control. He is the great I am.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.”
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2 Corinthians 4:17 “For this light, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
When I read this verse, my thoughts go to my own personal “affliction” that I am dealing with and it neither feels light nor momentary. I suspect many of you reading this might feel the same about what you are going through right now or have gone through in the past. There are many trials that we can face in this life. I have gone through my fair share and know others who have gone through very hard things…loss of a spouse, a child, a marriage ending, and many other things. In this scripture there are several words that carry a lot of meaning. I began to focus on the words “Preparing us for the eternal weight of glory” I was reminded of a soldier going through training. My husband and I were recently on Coronado Island where the Navy Seals train on a section of the beach there. It came to mind so I googled Seal training. I found a video of a former Navy Seal talking about what they go through to train. He said that there is one part of training called “Bud’s” where they have you dive in a very deep pool wearing the diving gear. He said you have to stay down there a long time, then when you are about out of air, one of the instructors dives in and unhooks your hoses, ties them in knots and roughs you up a little bit, then goes back to the surface to watch and see how you handle it. He said they are testing you to see how comfortable you are under water and that it is the longest 30 minutes of your life, while you try to get your hoses back on with only the air left in your lungs. He said the most important thing is to “Stay calm, conserve your air, and work the problem until relief comes, when someone dives down and gives you the thumbs up.” As I compare this difficult situation they are in during this training, to the scripture verse, I can see the “affliction” but I can also understand that as hard as it must be, it still can be considered “light and momentary.” What makes it light and momentary? The fact that it is momentary lightens it somewhat, but most of all, it can be considered light because it is a test. It’s not a true life or death situation. There is someone above the water watching over them. Regardless of whether they handle it well and pass the test or whether they panic, blow it and fail, they are not going to drown. There is relief above the water, watching over them as they train. It’s practice. It’s HARD practice, but it is practice. This fact, this reality, that someone is watching over them while they train, is what makes it light and momentary.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16 “We are afflicted but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed. (vs 16) So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is waisting away, the inner self is being renewed day by day.”
When we find ourselves in difficult situations, we need to seek the face of God and get in his presence. In scripture it says “when we behold the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image, from one glory to another. ” 2 Cor. 3:16-18 The scripture says we go from glory to glory. This is referring to each trial and victory. The definition of glory is “high renown or honor won by notable achievements.”Those difficult things we go through are like our “Special Ops” training. As we go through a trial, it strengthens our spiritual man as we learn and grow in our faith. The victory on the other side of the trial is the glory.
James 1:2 “Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trails of various kinds, for you know that the TESTING of your faith produces steadfastness (loyalty, in the face of trouble and difficulty, resolution, resolve) and let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
At the end of the Seal video, he says that anyone can become a seal. Anyone can do it. He says “you just need to have dedication, and passion and resolve in mind and spirit.” When we give our hearts and minds to the Lord, we begin training for “Special Ops” but not the same kind as the brave and wonderful soldiers that serve and protect us and our wonderful country. We become a soldier in the army of God. We have a calling to eternal purpose. With Gods help, we can make it through trials, while having faith and confidence that it is momentary. The trials are strengthening our spiritual character. So then what? We are called to share with others, the trials, our faith and the glory of Gods victory through it, so they too can be encouraged and have faith in God. Then we are advancing the kingdom of God. That is eternal glory.
2 Corinthians 4:13 “Since we have the same spirit of faith, we also believe and so WE ALSO SPEAK.”
We are here to make a difference in the kingdom of God. When we speak, when we share the gospel with others, we are making an eternal difference in their lives. Let’s ask ourselves, “What are we doing that is eternal?”
2 Corinthians 4:17 “For this light, momentary affliction is PREPARING YOU, for the weight of ETERNAL glory, beyond all comparison.”
When we go from glory to glory, learning and growing through the trials of this life, thats great, but it’s not until we share the gospel with others, and show them that Jesus is our Savior and their Savior, that we make an eternal difference. That is the eternal weight of glory. When those soldiers pass Seal training, and become a Navy Seal, the testing is over. THEN they are in real situations making real life or death decisions. The training prepared them to handle the weight of those actions. When they succeed in their mission, there is glory in that victory, but that glory carries with it a weight. They are now taking action that has eternal results, because they are saving peoples lives. They understand the meaning of the eternal weight of glory. The challenge we can take from these scriptures is to remember when we are going through trials, to not focus on the circumstances and become consumed and overwhelmed by them, but instead “Stay calm, conserve your air, and work the problem until relief comes.” Clint Emerson. Let’s remember that God is there, watching over us.
2 Corinthians 4:18 “As we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are not seen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are ETERNAL.
Let’s remind ourselves to keep an eternal perspective. God is faithful. He is always there, watching over us. We should learn, grow, and look outside our circumstances and outside our own issues. The enemy wants to keep us consumed by our own problems so we loose sight of the unseen. What are we doing that is eternal?
Prayer: Lord thank you for your steadfast love and faithfulness. Please help us to remember your faithfulness when we are in the middle of affliction. Please help us to keep an eternal perspective and not be consumed by our problems, but instead, work through them with faith. Help us to share the good news of Jesus and our faith with others.
Have you ever drawn a long line on a piece of paper without using a ruler? It is difficult to keep it perfectly straight. Even using a ruler, you can end up with a very straight slanted line. Plumb is an architectural term that is defined as vertical, absolute. It is achieved by a lead weight attached to the bottom of a line and the top of the line is above and this is used to indicate a vertical direction, straight down/up. This procedure results in a vertical absolute, or true.
If something is referred to as off plumb it is “out of vertical or true.” Do you think that maybe part of your life might be a little off center, or off plumb? The only way to achieve this absolute is vertically. Think about that. I have been reading “Breathe” by Priscilla Shirer. In it she talks about keeping the Sabbath. She asks the question, “What does the Sabbath accomplish?” I believe that when we set apart time every week and every day to spend time in the presence of the Lord, we are refreshed and our faith and hearts are encouraged, but even more than that, we are shown and reminded of truth. In the presence of truth we can examine our day, our week, our thoughts and the choices we are making to see of they line up with the truth of God. If we do this on a regular basis it can give us the opportunity to correct our path before we get too far off center. It keeps us plumb. When we get in the presence of the Lord, he shines the straight absolute light of truth and we can see if we are plumb or off plumb.
In her book I learned there is a saying in the Jewish community that says, “More than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel.” I get it. When we choose to set a margin of time in our week or our day for corporate and personal worship, it keeps us grounded. It requires a disciplined choice to set apart this margin of time in our day and in our week. We are choosing to trust God to redeem and bless the time away from work and the business of life, while we rest, worship and remember his blessings and stand on his promises. Will you trust God to redeem that time out of your week and out of your day as you put him first?
Have you ever found yourself thinking “If only I had done this” or “If only that hadn’t have happened” and find yourself fretting over the way things play out in life? I most definitely have done this very thing on more than one occasion.
In Acts 25 & 26 We find Paul has been arrested because the Jews are unhappy with him spreading the gospel of Christ. They ask Festus, the leader at the time, to do them a favor and have Paul sent to Jerusalem. Secretly, they had plotted an ambush to take place during the transportation, with the purpose of killing him. Paul, having no knowledge of this plan, decides to request that he stand before Cesar, instead of going to Jerusalem. Festus honors the request because Paul is of Roman decent. While still in jail, waiting his turn to go before Cesar, Agrippa the King and his wife Bernice arrive. Festus laid Pauls case before the king and Agrippa says he would like to hear from Paul himself. Paul goes before them and shares his testimony and the gospel of Christ. We see here that one more time, in the middle of Pauls trials, the opportunity is made to share the Gospel with people in leadership that might otherwise not have heard the Gospel. After the king hears Paul, he is talking with Festus and says, “If only he hadn’t requested to go before Cesar, he could go free!” This implies that the king would have pardoned him. If only…. What they don’t understand, is that if he hadn’t of requested to go before Cesar, he would already be dead and the king would never have heard the Gospel, but God knew. Paul of course goes on to share the Gospel everywhere he is taken.
We have a tendency to worry and fret over circumstances in our lives because we don’t have the ability to see and know the whole story. I am more and more convinced that we should not stress over these things. I admit that it is difficult not to react in this way, because in our own understanding things don’t seem right or just, but the reality is, God is orchestrating everything! Even the evil in the world can be used to further Gods plan. That is not to say that he causes or approves of evil, but that he can use that evil to bring about a miracle and/or a beautiful story of redemption. Think about it. The people Jesus healed while on earth were first, plagued by disease or evil, then healed. The life of Christ is the ultimate example of evil being present. Evil worked his plan to kill Jesus by planting a traitor right in his inner circle, and the plan succeeded! Jesus was crucified. I’m sure the disciples thought, “If only we had stayed awake to pray…” but God brought about the most miraculous and beautiful story of redemption ever told.
I am reminded of the scripture Isaiah 40:28 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow faint or weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” In other words…..
“What in the world are you worried about???” I can picture him up there, pacing back and forth, throwing his hands in the air as he says “Do you think I don’t see?? Do you think I have dropped the ball??? WAIT upon the Lord Isaiah 40:31 says. I think he uses his hands when he talks, don’t you? I picture him up there looking at us, beating his hands on his chest saying in a voice mixed with love, frustration and authority, “I’VE GOT THIS!” while we are fretting saying “If only…”
Sometimes in life things happen that are heartbreaking. Sometimes we see how God redeems it, sometimes we don’t get to see how he redeems it. We live in a fallen world, so bad things happen. But God can make beauty from ashes if we will bring those disappointments, broken dreams and heartbreak to him. Isaiah 40:28 says his understanding is unsearchable. I believe I have seen the heart of God in the scriptures and in my own life. God is love. God is holy. God is sovereign. So I will choose to trust him. Will you? I will strive to be “easy going” in this life and remember to trust him, even in the things I cannot understand.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
The next time you think or say “If only..” follow it up with, “But God…”