Tag Archives: peace

Do You Hear It? (Isaiah 27)

Isaiah continues to talk about God’s judgment on sin. But he also reminds us God will protect His children from the outcome His enemies will face. I love this picture:

“Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (2b-3a)

I am part of that vineyard, God’s Church, through the blood of Jesus. God says He protects it, waters it, guards it against harm. I know that a healthy vineyard goes through pruning, and harvest, and that’s not always comfortable. But God assures us He’s got our backs even when we face the trails of life. It gives me such peace to know the One who cares for me.

Then God says something that I need to remember. Listen to verse 4:

“I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire.”

This verse should terrify some. God will pass judgment on anything and anyone who tries to harm His Church. And it will not be a gentle tap on the wrist. The idea of God going to battle against anyone, or condemning someone to that fire should throw fear into hearts. But God is not motivated by anger. He is motivated by love, and here’s how I know that:

“Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” (verse 5)

Do you hear God’s heart? I do. God’s will is that no one die without Him. He WANTS everyone to come to Him, to accept what He died to give. He WANTS to protect and defend and nurture and ultimately to spend eternity with each and every one of us.

Some people will go to hell. But that’s not what God’s heart wants.

Do you hear the tenderness in verse 5? He says He will destroy His enemies, but He’d would rather not. “Let them make peace with me.”

Have you ever heard the words, “I love you,” from that special person in your life? Those three words can bring such joy when you know the sentiment is true. What happens then, when that special someone repeats those precious words a second time? Maybe slower, softer, emphasizing each word?

“I love you. I. Love. You.”

That’s what I hear in God’s voice as He said these words in verse 5, as He talks about people who position themselves as His enemies. As He readies to go to war against them, to mete out that final judgment, His heart still cries out:

“Make peace with me. Oh, make peace with me!”

Is there someone I know who needs to make peace with God? May I hear the anguish in the heart of my Savior as He pleads with them to come to Him. May I be faithful to tell them how they can do exactly that, to introduce them to the Savior who loves them so much.

But sharing Jesus isn’t just about helping someone avoid hell. It’s about hearing God’s heart. Do you hear it?

 

 

Twilight (Isaiah 21)

The world was out of control in Isaiah’s day. Nations rose to power only to be overthrown by nations that had previously been defeated by them. People worshiped idols, then they worshiped God, then they returned to idols, and sometimes tried to worship everything at the same time. Isaiah knew, because God had revealed it to him, that the world was on a downward spiral plunging toward destruction.

The prophet longed for peace. We who have lived on this earth for more decades than we sometimes care to admit, can relate. We worked our whole lives. We raised children through lean years, rebellious years, through the laughter and tears. We helped with homework, drove to games, sat through recitals, planned birthday parties, cooked and cleaned and bandaged boo-boos.

We served in our churches joyfully and tirelessly, teaching Sunday School, working in the nursery, serving on committees, visiting the sick, caring for widows. We sacrificed ourselves for the good of others. And we were glad to do it!

But now we are tired. We long for the peace and comfort of twilight, that time of day when things slow down, when the sun sinks in the west amid the purples and pinks and oranges of sunset, when the birds sing their final song of the day, and life slows down. But for some of us, like Isaiah, that twilight has become a horror. (verse 4)

I could sit here and list the many horrific things many of us are facing in the twilight of our years. We all know what’s going on. But I want to point you to the watchman in verses 11-12. The news isn’t all bad, or all good.

Yes, there are times of trouble. But there are also times of blessing. There is night. And there is day. Satan would love nothing more than to have us sit and fret about our current conditions, to worry about the “what ifs,” to be angry if people don’t see things the way we do. Our enemy wants us to live in turmoil.

God wants better for us. Let’s, like the watchman, be on the lookout. Morning is coming, but also the night. God is still in the business of blessing His obedient children. He is still the powerful, loving, just God who hasn’t forgotten us.

Keep your eyes on the sky, your heart in tune with your Creator.  There is joy today. There is peace today. There is hope today. Yes, there are challenges and heartaches and sickness and injustice. But never forget that time marches on. What we face today will be ancient history tomorrow. Morning is coming, but also the night.

I love twilight. Most of the pictures I choose to put as my heading on this blog are of sunsets. The one I’m using currently was taken a few weeks ago when my family and I went on a sunset dolphin cruise. After a hectic day of chasing the kids around, of going to the beach, of putting out little fires when someone had the iPad too long, this boat ride was a time to unwind and take in God’s amazing creation. It was peaceful and absolutely beautiful. A perfect end to a wonderfully chaotic day.

There is every reason to praise God today and every day. Watch for it!

July 16; Stop Trying So Hard

2 Kings 18:3-7, 20:20-21; 2 Chronicles 29:2, 32:32-33; Isaiah 24:1-27:13

When I read Isaiah’s words I see Jesus, the Rock eternal, the upright One whose life, death, and resurrection makes the path of righteousness level, and who makes salvation a wall and a rampart that protects His children.

So many religions require their followers to do certain things, to suffer in certain ways, to make sacrifices in order to attain favor, or god-likeness, or whatever the goal of that religion is.

On the other hand, Jesus says: “Here, let me do that for you.”

In other religions people can be at different levels, different stages in their pursuit of heaven or actualization or enlightenment.

Jesus says, “Believe in me.”

Salvation Jesus’ way is a gift, not something you strive for or earn. In Jesus’ economy we are all equal. No one is saved more than someone else by virtue of a series of completed tasks.

Ask.

Receive.

That’s it. No matter who you are. And if you’ve done that you know there is such peace and rest given to us. When we finally stop trying so hard to earn that unattainable goal, and allow Jesus only be our goal, we can rest in His grace.

Isaiah has so much to say about this. I hope you’ll read it and see Jesus, see how He cares for His children, how He shows grace to the wicked in order to bring them to Himself. Let Him speak to you about your relationship with Him in 2019.

Then rejoice with me in the truth of 26:3,

You will keep him in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 24-27; Perfect Peace

On a scale of 1-10, where would you put the level of your peace of mind? How would you rate the peace you have deep in your soul, even if life is challenging right now? Listen to what Isaiah tells us in 26:3:

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (emphasis mine)

Do you wonder what perfect peace really is? Oh, you might have peace about your eternity as a born-again child of God. You might even have a general sense of peace knowing God is in control, and that He does all things well.

But what about that broken relationship? Or the sin you know you should repent of? Or that heavy decision you have looming over your head? Do you have compartmentalized peace, or perfect peace?

Isaiah says perfect peace comes from a steadfast mind. To me that means focus, intentionality, not getting side-tracked by people, or doubts, or fear. I think a steadfast mind is a choice involving Bible study and prayer, resisting temptation, seeking first the kingdom of God.

If I lose my focus on God, and begin to look at circumstances, or people, or sin I’m like Peter who walked on the water until he took his eyes off Jesus, and noticed the water. (Matthew 14)

Isaiah doesn’t just tell us where perfect peace comes from, he tells us how it can be ours. “…because he trusts in you.” Do you trust God? Really?

Peter didn’t just trust God from the boat. He got out of the boat, walked toward Jesus, with his focus on Jesus. That’s the picture I get from this verse in Isaiah.

Perfect peace comes from the Prince of Peace. It’s a gift for those who trust God, and whose minds are steadfastly focused on the Savior. Perfect peace is supernatural, not attached to circumstances, health, wealth, lack of war. Perfect peace is God Himself.

And it’s perfect!

October 14 – Calming The Sea

Matthew 13; Luke 8

Jesus calmed the sea. In the middle of a violent storm, Jesus spoke a word and calm came over the water. A boat full of frightened people, tossed by waves and in danger of dying were saved.

I can’t help but think of Hurricane Matthew as I read these verses, and I certainly reminded God of them when I was praying during that storm. But God seems to be asking me to look beyond calming waters.

The real miracle is when Jesus calms individuals in the midst of the storms of life. When the death of a loved one doesn’t steal our joy. When a devastating medical prognosis doesn’t shake our faith. When the loss of a job or a relationship doesn’t shatter our hope. When a hurricane is pounding your house, and you can still trust God with the outcome. When “worry” isn’t part of your vocabulary.

The real miracle is the peace that is beyond understanding even in the darkest moments, in the roughest waters of our lives.

March 25 – A Rest From War

Joshua 9-11

These chapters tell of Israel’s taking of the Promised Land. It involved wars, and fire, and hangings, and destruction. Then in 11:23 we see that finally the land had rest from war. But it hadn’t been easy. And it didn’t happen over night.

11:18 says, “Joshua waged war a long time with all the kings.” God had promised the land. But the land needed some serious cleansing. They had to purge the evil before the Jews could live there.

My spiritual Promised Land is mine for the taking, too. It’s there God promises to never leave or forsake me, to live in my heart, to bless and keep me. But, just as with the Jews, there is some purging I must do.

I need to repent of sin, flee youthful lusts, love God with all my heart and soul, cleanse my hands and purify my heart, fight the good fight, put on the whole armor of God. And, just like with the Jews, God is going to fight for me.

God will help me rid my life of sin that so easily entangles me. When I allow God to come in and stand with me against our enemy, there is victory. Then I, too, can live in this world resting from the spiritual war Satan has declared on my soul.

With God I can be more than a conqueror. With God I can know the peace and rest that comes from abiding in Him, living in the Promised Land.

God Bless America! Why?

Do you pray that God will once again restore the United States of America to a nation under God? Why do you? Why is it we want our leaders to once again recognize and honor the One True God? Is it so we won’t have to fear imprisonment for loving Jesus like some in our world fear? Is it so that the USA will be restored to its former position of military and economic superiority? Is it so our children will not have to suffer at the hands of ungodly men?

Hezekiah got me thinking with his prayer concerning an enemy who was threatening to destroy Israel. First, he acknowledged that all the other gods in the world were not gods at all. Then, in Isaiah 37:20 we read that Hezekiah prayed the following:

“Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are the Lord, You alone.” (I added the bold print)

If you are praying for our country so you can be comfortable in your pew on Sunday morning, save your breath. God is intent on saving souls, even those who consider themselves enemies of the United States. He went to the cross for Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, those intrenched in ISIS, and those who simply ignore Him. And he wants them to come to Him no matter what it takes. “God so loved the world…”

If Americans elect leaders who fear God, who are intent on honoring and obeying Him, He will bless. Look how many times he did that for Israel in the Old Testament. And, if God blesses this nation as a result of our obedience, the rest of the world will have to sit up and notice. They will have to admit that the God of the Bible is the One True God. And hearts will turn to Him in response.

That’s got to be our prayer. If God can reveal Himself through a nation that turns to Him, I pray it’s us here in the USA. And if the nations will turn to God through our suffering, may God give his people the strength and ability to suffer gladly for His sake, so that the people of the world see Jesus.

Hezekiah reminds me that it’s not about blessing a nation for the sake of a nation. It’s about blessing a nation for the sake of turning hearts to the Savior.

I am challenged to make this my prayer:

God, bless America so that other nations will recognize and turn to You, too.

Peace!

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. (John16:33)

I am a child of the 60’s, a Baby Boomer, raised in the era of hippies, the Beatles, and ‘All We Need Is Love’. A common greeting back in the day was, “Peace”. Our country was at war, and it wasn’t a popular war for many. You saw the word ‘peace’ or its symbol on the sides of buildings, on book bags and necklaces, and on t-shirts. It was everywhere.

People longed for peace and looked for it in drugs, in sex, in throwing out the rules, in themselves, and in Eastern religions. But the 60’s were far less than peaceful.

Jesus said his words were spoken so that in him we could know what real peace is all about. A person might calm themselves, find their ‘center’, repeat a mantra to experience a form of peace. But the source of true peace can only be found in knowing Jesus.

Life is hard. Things aren’t always fair. Bad things happen. And Satan is attacking. But Jesus tells us to cheer up. You see, he has overcome the world! And those of us who stand with him stand on the winning side.

Peace in the midst of a storm. Peace when the doctor’s report is devastating. Peace when the career hits the skids. Peace when a relationship crumbles. Peace that has nothing to do with circumstances, and everything to do with Jesus.

A peace beyond the world’s understanding.

Peace.

Hard Hearts and a New Year

The Bible tells us some hearts have become so hard against God that they will never come to him. (Read Revelation 15&16 for example). Prosperity, health, times of peace don’t draw them to the Savior. Poverty, sickness, and times of war don’t either. Some people are so tightly in Satan’s grasp they don’t even recognize the countless ways God is trying to get their attention.

In John’s vision, people watched the destruction of the Great City, Babylon. (chapter 18) Once the rich and powerful center of everything, the city received God’s wrath in a day. The neighboring towns and the merchants watched the destruction and said: That’s too bad. I feel sorry for that city. Now who will buy my wares? (from 18:11)

That got me to thinking. The world thinks they know what love, success, happiness, and contentment are. Satan has manufactured a pretty good imitation of God’s blessings. But in the end, those things which produce a false security, won’t hold. In the end, those people will be like the merchants, alone and ruined, and crying: What about me?

Life is not just the days we walk on planet Earth. It is forever. You will always exist.

One day, those who have humbled themselves and accepted God’s grace, the forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus, will stand together and enjoy the best party ever thrown. The rest will find themselves alone, in darkness, crying in a loud voice: What about me?

2014 is almost behind us. It’s that time of year when many people reevaluate their lives, when they look back and think, What if?, and when they look ahead to a new year, a new start, a clean slate. I pray that as you do, you will consider your heart’s condition. God is trying to get your attention. Do you recognize it? Do you respond? Are you sensitive to his voice, or is your heart so hardened by sin  that you don’t even hear it?

Some good things will happen to you in 2015. And so will some bad things. In all that happens, look for what God is saying to you. Trust him. He won’t let you down.

Heavenly Father, some who read this blog are burdened by the events of 2014. Some have lost loved ones, some have faced physical challenges, some are lonely and afraid, some are confused and disheartened. I pray that all of us would check our heart’s condition. May we begin this new year humbled before you, repenting of our sin, accepting your grace, and determined to have hearts that are sensitive to what you have for us in 2015. Go with us God, as you have promised. May you find us faithfully obeying you, loving you, and spending time reading and learning from your written Word.   May our hearts be softened so you can mold us into the people you would have us be. Bless your people, Lord, and make us a blessing to others. 

December 16

Philippians 3&4; I Timothy 1&2

Who has never been worried or anxious about something? I know I have spent more than one sleepless night fearful of what lay ahead. My mom’s cancer diagnosis, dad’s loneliness after her death, a loved one’s rebellion, a troubled student at my school. I changed school districts early in my career and fretted about that decision for weeks. 

Someone said, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” It’s true. I can honestly say not one minute I spent worrying about any of these things accomplished anything good.

Paul tells the believers in Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (4:4) He reminds them the Lord is near, then says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:6&7)

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say worry is a sin. But it steals the peace and becomes a wedge between me and the God of peace. It is a symptom of my heart’s condition and a clue that I don’t really trust him like I say I do. 

So what do you do when the problems of life begin to mount up and you find yourself worrying about the future? Here is what Paul tells us:

1.  PRAY. And not just a prayer that asks God for something. Pray with THANKSGIVING. Never lose sight of all the things you have to be thankful for, even in the midst of trying times.

2.  THINK. Or maybe, change what you are thinking. As human beings we have the ability to control our minds. Use it. When I worry, my thoughts are consumed by the problem. I turn it over and over in my mind. I consider all the bad things that could happen. I toss and turn because I imagine all the possibilities. But Paul tells us to think about the following instead:

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, things that are excellent or praiseworthy. THIINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS. (taken from 4:8)

When worry starts to creep into your thoughts, give it to God, pray and thank him for your blessings, then change your thoughts to things that glorify God. The result, according to Philippians 4:7, is that God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. He will protect us from worry! Then in 4:9b, “And the God of peace will be with you”.

No worry there.

Dear God of Peace, thank you for wanting us to know your peace. Forgive us when we take hold of the reigns and worry about the future. May your children learn to pray about it all, thank you for your blessings, then change our thinking to things that encourage us and bring glory to you. Help us, Lord, to trust you. Really trust you with every detail of our lives. We praise you for peace in the midst of the storm.