Tag Archives: peace

(Psalm 32) There Is Joy

Have you experienced the joy of sins forgiven? There is nothing like it, is there? Guilt gone, replaced by peace. Shame replaced with joy. Lies replaced with Truth.

Yet sometimes sin creeps in and begins to steal our peace and joy. We put smiles on our faces and lie to ourselves and others that we’re fine. But the truth is not in us.

Day and night God’s heavy hand of conviction is upon us, our strength, our resolve to follow God is drained. It isn’t until we confess our sins and receive the grace of God’s forgiveness that we can once again know the joy that comes from being absolutely clean.

Therefore, let everyone who is faithful pray immediately. (vs 6)

We must not let sin gain a foothold. The moment God brings a sin to our awareness, we must pray immediately. The longer we wait, the easier it is to wait, and the harder our hearts become the harder it is to repent.

Look to God who says, “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” (vs 8)

Then, with David we can “be glad in the Lord and rejoice.”

There is joy for us who have been made clean by the precious blood of Jesus. I pray that you will know that joy today.

(Psalms 3-4) Prayers Morning and Evening

A morning prayer from Psalm 3:

I have challenges today, Lord. Some people say I can’t win, that there is no hope for me. “Loser!” they cry. But they don’t realize that You are a shield around me. If my enemy plans an attack on me today, he has to go through You first. I can be confident knowing that I am in Your care. So God, defeat my enemy Satan today. Punch him in the face. Knock his teeth out. I can face today because my salvation comes from You!

An evening prayer from Psalm 4:

You did it, Lord! You heard my prayers and were gracious to me today. People around me follow lies, they love what is worthless, and condemn me because I don’t go along with them. They don’t understand that what I have with You is worth more than anything they consider valuable. Let them see the beauty in knowing You. I can go to sleep tonight in peace, trusting You. You are my safety and my joy.

Our Conduct (Philippians)

I imagine we all can agree our world is changing. People live in constant fear. Tempers flair. Families are forced apart by government and even by political opinion. The US is imploding. It looks like we are on the brink of defeat, not from some outside military force, but from within ourselves.

Then I hear God say through Paul:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (1:27)

What does that mean? How are we who know the Savior supposed to conduct ourselves during these uncertain times? I want to share with you some verses Mom underlined in her Bible here in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It pretty much answers those questions.

2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.

So, does this mean we wear masks? Maybe. Do we speak truth instead of promoting hysteria? Probably. But I think more importantly this tells us that we should not merely be satisfied with our own ticket to heaven. I honestly think God is more interested in whether or not we share the Gospel, than whether or not we wear a mask. I think it’s more likely that God is telling us to reach out to lost people, even if it means we’ll be rejected, made fun of, mistreated, or worse. Telling people about Jesus isn’t always convenient. We should do it anyway.

2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Read verses 6-11 if you want to know more about that. Having a humble, servant’s attitude is so contrary to today’s Me First society. Yet that is what God requires of His children.

2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing.

Pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Just don’t miss the word, “everything.”

3:1 …rejoice in the Lord!

We can get so caught up in the climate of fear and anxiety we miss the real joy that comes from a relationship with God Himself. Our circumstances might not give us reason for joy. But the Lord does! Rejoice in the Lord!

3:13-14 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Forget the past. Don’t hold grudges or try to even the score. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Focus. Focus. Focus. Press on by being that humble, obedient servant God intends for you to be. Jesus is ahead! Keep moving toward Him.

4:5 Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Sadly, some people equate gentleness with weakness. There is a difference. Be strong in the Lord while you show love to one another. Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. Share Jesus with kindness and firmness. I’m pretty sure few people are saved by someone thumping them on the head with a Bible.

4:6 Do not be anxious about anything.

Yes, not even COVID. Not even socialism or communism or China or the stock market. Anything means anything. Do not allow anxiety to possess you.

Paul goes on to tell us:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:7)

Does the world witness the peace of God in you? Or are you wringing your hands like those who have no hope? God is telling us we can have His peace. Do you trust Him? Prove it.

Most of us Christians would say that our desire is to be the people God wants us to be. Most of us want to by used by God to win people to His saving grace. Most of us, I would think, want to live lives worthy of the precious Gospel we received through faith in Jesus.

Living that life isn’t easy nor convenient. Sometimes we get it right, other times we fail miserably. But Paul reminds us:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (4:13)

You can live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. You can do it all through your relationship with Him!

Then…

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Conduct worthy of the Gospel might not be easy or politically correct. But it comes with benefits, my friend. It comes with all the glorious riches in Jesus!

Doesn’t get better than that.

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.