Promise of Peace

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: “Thus says the Lord who made the  earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Along my spiritual walk, there have been many moments where I felt uncertain, scared, lost, and worried about my future.  I wasn’t in a literal jail but felt imprisoned in my mind, heart, and actions. Our earthly life is full of trials, temptations, and worldly desires that blur answers to questions that can make you lose sleep and concentration and leave you wondering what the future holds.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who seemed lost in many ways with questions about everything.  The only answer I could provide was Him.  Based on past experiences, it wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear.  But, it was the truth.  The only person that can provide anyone peace is our Lord.  The one who formed this earth and us.  Our Lord.  It wasn’t until knowing, understanding, and most importantly, believing in our Lord’s promise of restoration and eternal life with Him that will you have the answers to all the questions.

Our Lord says, Call to me and I will answer and tell of great and hidden things.  

We need to pray. Pray with the knowledge of His specific promises of answered prayers. God wants to be involved in our lives always.  He wants to answer every question we have.  Just ask.

Psalm 91:15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.

Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Confused

Today’s Reading: Acts 19

One of the enemy’s best weapons is confusion.  When we are confused, we are unable to see things clearly.  It disrupts our decision-making process, often resulting in choices that are irrational and inconsistent with our core beliefs.  Many times, confusion is produced by the people around us.  We are continuously barraged with differing world views and alternative belief systems.  Want proof?  Take a closer look at today’s reading.  Did you notice in verse 29, “the whole city was in confusion?”

To understand the city’s confusion, we need to look back to verse 23.  Up until that point, Paul was actively spreading the word of God.  Acts 19:20 says that the Lord’s message Paul presented was “spread widely and had a powerful effect.”  Clearly, lives were being changed.  Not everyone, however, was happy about this.  In fact, a man named Demetrius was suddenly worried about the impact that these new beliefs would have on his business.  To combat this, he developed a strategy.  He knew, that it would be easy.  All he had to do was confuse people.

Demetrius starts with the economic conversation, encouraging them to consider the consequences of slowing sales.  It was enough to spark some fear, but not enough to start a rebellion.  To intensify their reaction, he adds confusion by suggesting that the magnificent goddess, Artemis will be robbed of her “great prestige.”  This was all it took.  The people were sufficiently overwhelmed by these significant changes.  The fear it stimulated caused their anger to boil (v18).  It wasn’t long before full on rebellion occurred and “everything was in confusion” (v32).

The sad reality is that we are subject to the same confusion.  J.I. Packer elaborates on this.  He says, “we are so consumed with great thoughts of man that we only have room for small thoughts of God.  Second, we are confused by modern skepticism.”  Is it any wonder that it’s one of Satan’s preferred weapons?  Thankfully, the Spirit who lives in us, is greater than the spirit who lives in this world (1 John 4:4).  When we arm ourselves with His truth, we win.  I have found a very practical way to avoid confusion.  It comes from remembering who God is and who I am.  The following affirmations, despite their simplicity, are powerful statements that bring clarity, hope, courage and refreshment.

I believe that God is who he says he is

I believe that God can do what God says he can do

I believe that I am who God says I am

I believe that I can do what God says I can do

God’s Word is alive and active in me

I believe God

 

In Due Time..

Today’s reading is Luke 1.

Have you ever felt like you were doing everything the right way and following the Lord’s will but the one thing you want to happen does not? Maybe you keep getting passed up for that promotion at work or your business just won’t take off. Or even worse, you or a family member aren’t getting better from an illness. You are probably wondering why all is happening to do you when you are trying to do everything the way God wants. Why is He not “rewarding” you?

In Luke 1:6-24 we read of the birth of John the Baptist.  John’s parents Zechariah and Elizabeth face a struggle some reading this have probably faced..they want a child and can’t have one. In fact, we are told not only did they both come from a blessed lineage, but they both walked blamelessly and followed the Lord’s commandments and will (Luke 1:6) themselves. Yet, they could not have a child they yearned for and were getting very old likely past the age where anyone could have a child. Jesus tells us in this world we will face troubles and sorrow in John 16:33. Being a believer and follower of Jesus does not mean life will be easy and that we will get everything we want exactly when we want it. However, waiting does not mean God is not working and doesn’t have something bigger planned for you. In this case, Zechariah and Elizabeth give birth to John the Baptist who was filled with the spirit of Elijah and who would prepare the way and point people to Jesus (Luke 1:17). He even has the honor of baptizing Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). Does God always give us what we want? No. Often times, in fact probably most of the time, He has a different plan than what we want. But, His plan is always better..even if we would have never chosen it ourself. God can do big things in time through life as He does here in the birth of John the Baptist and also through death as He did through Jesus. Have you ever looked at the bottom of a crocheted piece? It looks like a big mess! But flip it over to the other side, and it looks beautiful. The bottom side is how we see life..a big mess and not getting what we want..but what God sees is His bigger and better plan on the other side.

Let us pray..

Lord, please help ease my anxiety when I don’t get what I want. Help me remember that being a follower of You does not mean life will be easy and is not what You promised. You did everything right and did not sin, yet no one suffered more than you. Help me remember that the Father’s plan is bigger and better than my plan…perfect in time. Help bring me peace and trust in You no matter what I face. Thank you for you forgiveness, grace, and Resurrection. Amen.

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid; what can anyone do to me? 7. It is the Lord who helps me, and I will see my enemies defeated.  8 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on people. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on human leaders.

I’m not sure what you have planned today.  Maybe you’ve just had a chance to read this, and your day is coming to a close.  In either case, you, as I reflect on Psalm 118, I’m reminded that as we believe and trust in the Lord, it is quick to lose sight that no matter time of day or task at hand, our Heavenly Father is always on our side.  When you truly believe and trust Him as the center of your life, you can live without fear. How awesome it is to know right now we can live every moment without any worry when we live in obedience.

Often, my lack of trust and wisdom throughout years and even in recent moments have led me down many dead-end roads. Times of complete self-absorption that goes opposite of where the Lord is asking me to be. He takes me through hills and valleys that remind me of my desire and need to put more trust in Him for every aspect of my life. Along this journey that includes being a parent, He has led me to a daily prayer asking the Lord to have His will with my life and to help me to show His love for Him in my actions and words. More Him, less me!

I think of the father in Mark that was asking Jesus for help with his son. He says in Mark 9:24 Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  — Help me in any unbelieving time Lord. Or times where I think I have it figured out without your

The people-pleasing days and moments can come calling daily.  Pray, Listen, and take the next step. He is by our side!

Have a blessed day.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Hebrews 11:6

1 Corinthians 2:5

Praise = Peace

Gratitude, meditation, spiritual practice… trending ideas and buzz words that are all rooted in the Word, and not at all new concepts in the early church or with Christ followers today. So what exactly does the Bible say about gratitude, and how do we apply it today?

A frequently quoted scripture can be found in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, where he encourages them to be anxious for nothing, but in everything give thanks. Paul tells them this is because God is at hand (Philippians 4:5). Meaning, because the Lord is working on our behalf, because He is near to us, we do not have to worry. Instead, through prayer and thanksgiving we approach God with our needs, and His peace will fill our minds.

What a powerful encouragement! Because God is working, our act of thanksgiving not only glorifies the Father, but it covers us in peace! The act of gratitude comes back and blesses US!

As we’ve spent the past few months journeying through the Psalms, have you noticed the theme of David’s heart of gratitude? So much praise and worship for who God is, what He has done, and what He will do in the future. Our Psalm today (Chapter 86) carries this same message, and I’m drawn specifically to verse 12.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

With my whole heart. What would that look like in my life? Do I surrender my whole heart, my entire being, when I practice gratitude? Am I able to fully devote my praise to the Lord? Or is my thanksgiving a half-hearted routine muttering of niceties? Have my thank you’s become mannerly and procedural, lacking zeal and true joy? Are they genuine or are the obligatory at times? Does the splendor of His creation or the undeserved grace I experience ever get old? 

Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, details her experience and learning of gratitude in the small and everyday, and the joy it brings. She shares that through the expression of gratitude for the life we already have, we come to know how wildly loved we are by God. This is part of the joy process that brings overwhelming peace.

I believe the Bible gives us formulas like this to unlock the fullness that God has for us. David shows us all through the Psalms how he was afraid, he was pleading for shelter, seeking forgiveness, and at the same time, he would break out in song and prayers of gratitude. David knew that when he wanted peace, he gave God praise.

Here’s something we can be grateful for – a God that instructs us! Not only is He the source of overwhelming peace and joy – He tells us how to get it! A heart wholly grateful for who He is and what He has done.

Lord, thank you for the steps to experience your peace. You are an amazing provider! I ask you to help me surrender any parts of my heart that aren’t fully praising you. Show me the little corners I might be holding back or allowing to be distracted, or want to control. You alone can bring full joy and peace! Amen

 

 

Adoration and Thanksgiving

Today’s reading is Psalm 30.

Sometime in the last few years I was reminded of the acronym A.C.T.S. when it comes to prayer.

A –  Adoration

C –   Confession

T –   Thanksgiving

S –   Supplication

While I’ll admit my prayers should probably be more conversational with God, I do think this has really helped my prayer life by reminding me the things I should be talking with God about. All of us probably have a tendency to focus on 1 or 2 of these areas in prayer more than the others, and if I had to guess I would say it would probably be confession and supplication. Those are both really good things to talk with God about. We must recognize and confess that we are a sinner asking for forgiveness, and God tells us to ask for what we want in the Bible (Matthew 7:7-11). I think often times we are good about asking God about what we want for others but feel guilty asking God for what we want ourselves. However, God wants us to do so when we ask with the right intention. He wants our whole heart, and He knows He has it when we ask Him for what we want so there should be no guilt in that. With thanksgiving coming after confession in this format, it also reminds me to thank Him daily for His grace on the cross as I thank Him for other blessings.

Adoration is not a part of my prayers and conversation with God that comes as natural to me. However, this helps remind me daily that He is Alpha, Omega, Almighty, and Creator. What do all these names indicate? They indicate that He is in control….in a world that seems out of control. This has been extremely helpful..especially in the last year. I can imagine that during times like the Civil War, The Great Depression, World War I and World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War with protests people probably thought things couldn’t get any crazier and worse right?  Many likely even thought this was the end of our world and Jesus was coming….or maybe the end of the US as we know it at least. One could argue it’s worse now than then and that our country’s division and direction is also worse than it’s ever been. Is it? Maybe. But one thing is for certain, due to the internet and social media and a phone with both in our hands most all of time, we are constantly bombarded with negative information making it seem like the world can’t get any worse. Expectancy Theory says that which we focus on expands. It consumes our thoughts. As a result, the negative news we are exposed to 24/7 will cause us to focus and think even more about those negative things and even other bad things. Never has it been more important remind ourselves consistently that God is in control…He’s Alpha, Omega, Almighty, Creator, and whatever other of the many names God has that remind us of this. I believe that starting our prayers with this changes our conversation with God and our recognition of His provision and role in our lives and in the other parts of our prayer life.

As I read Psalm 30, what really jumped out to me was David’s adoration and thanksgiving to God. Remember Expectancy Theory…if we focus on adoration and thanksgiving to God in our prayer life…our positive thoughts that He is in control and gratitude for all He does will consume our mind and this peace will permeate through our lives changing the way we live drawing others to Jesus as well.

You have turned for me my 

mourning into dancing;

you have loosed my sackcloth

and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your

praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give

thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:11-12

The Advent Path for God’s People

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5

40 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Happy Tuesday Bible Journal family,

December 1st, 2020. Our last month of this very different year! Let’s continue our daily journey through Advent and the promises found in Isaiah that point to the celebration of the birth of our Lord.  In verses 1-2 written by Isaiah, it provides us a promise of hope and comfort in a time of unease. How are you feeling today?  Anything have you uneasy this morning? I know I could share a few things if you had time. But instead of letting these feelings grab hold of me and pull me under I can find some timely rest in the assurance of our Lord who promises hope, joy, peace, and comfort while already paying the price for all our sins. Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

In twenty-five days, we will celebrate the birth of our Lord through Christmas.  We can celebrate today and every day to come the victory has already been won through His life, death, and resurrection.  Our comfort can be found in the words spoken to Israel and us. He reminds us “comfort, comfort, my people“.

Isaiah 40:3-5 provides us with a visual and a reminder about preparing a way in our lives it’s the holiday season to focus on the greatness of our Lord.  We are not alone right now or ever.  Does it feel like you are metaphorically walking around a desert (even though today’s weather by me would feel like a tundra), are you in a valley seeking to try to peek over a horizon? Possibly you are standing on the top of a mountain now wondering how will I ever get down? Or maybe just this year has felt like you have been traveling down a rough path.  Take a deep breath.  Take time to read through these promises we are finding every day in His words.  Promises that say that even in 2020 God has us.  That we have traveled some roads during this time and made many mistakes.  This advent can be a reminder that Jesus came to this world born in human form to live a life for an example of us, but also died for us to live and one day be again with Him in His presence.  This advent more than ever before can provide hope and comfort that our Lord is right by your side every on every rough path, valley, or mountain saying prepare the way. I’m coming back one day for you! What obstacles are standing in your way? Don’t try to face them with our own pride.  As children of God, we must prepare a way for Him.  What an opportunity we have to show others our love, hope, and trust in Him this advent season.  Proclaim the coming of our Lord this start of advent! Have a blessed day.

Dear Lord,

We are all in need of comfort. We know that our only true comfort comes from you. As we live out each day in this Advent season help us to recognize and praise you for the love and sacrifice you made for us.  We love you and pray for us each to draw closer to you and the comfort of your love for us.  Amen

Enjoy this song on this brisk morning.

Our Peace

Our world has changed over the past few months. Currently, we are dealing with social and racial issues that are splitting the country apart. COVID-19 has changed the economic, physical, and emotional tides of the country. Each day, in the United States, we hear on the news about everything that is going wrong in the world around us.

Many of our families live in fear and dismay over the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other concerns going on. Each one of us is shaken and made to rely on something in their lives for hope and peace.

During all the uncertainty, I keep listening to Christians and Non-Christians’ uncertainty of what the future could be. Each one of us depends on some type of faith. I believe that during all this time, that Christians should portray a peace that passes understanding.

Ephesians 2:14 is our verse today. It says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”. Paul is speaking to the Ephesian church and is addressing the disagreements within the church. He addresses this issue by saying that, Jesus is our only true peace, and He is the only thing that can solve all their issues going on. Also, in Christ Jesus, we are made brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, as brothers and sisters, we must represent the sacrifice that Christ has made for us and rally together around that.

How does this disagreement that the church in Ephesians helps us understand peace?

Dictionary.com defines peace as “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:”. As stated above, we can see that we are far from peace in this country and world. There is only one way to obtain true peace, by putting your hope and faith in Christ Jesus for your salvation. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you that in me you have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world”. Our peace is found in Jesus!

Each day we fight, disagree, backstab, and worry all out of the fear of the future. We are looking for some type of utopian society. Because of sin, that isn’t possible, but with Christ, we do have a peace that will surpass all understanding. See Jesus paid for our sin on a cross to provide us the peace in our hearts that we yearn for. The peace that Jesus provides, is the understanding that we have a Savior and God, who loves us so much that the Father sacrificed the Son to pay for all the sin in our lives so that we can live with Christ in eternity.

In the current season of life that we are all living, Christians need to unify under one banner, the cross of Jesus Christ. I encourage each of you to keep your hope in Jesus Christ. Life isn’t easy and there will always be some amount of uncertainty. However, when we are able to band together as believers, we gifted with the Holy Spirit that strengthens us. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no distinction that Jesus makes.

Our peace is stronger together as Christians. I encourage you, now is the time to reach out to Christians and Non-Christians, that you know you disagree with on topics. Pray with them, share the Gospel with non-Christians and Christians alike, share a meal together, and overall be together and unify under Christ Jesus, who provides a peace that passes all understanding.

God of Peace

As we explore the God of Peace together today, what comes to your mind with the word peace? Take some time and think about how you would define peace.

In English, the word “peace” conjures up a passive picture, one showing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a personality free from internal and external strife. The biblical concept of peace is larger than that and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means “to be complete” or “to be sound,” according to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

This definition makes me think of words like Perfect. Whole. Righteous.

What does peace feel like to you? Physically? Close your eyes and think about what God’s peace feels like.

I feel a huge inhale and an audible exhale. A release of every muscle and tissue. Hands open. Eyes closing and letting go of the clutter in my mind. An overwhelming sense of calm and perfection. A smile across my face and sun shining down and warming me.

I believe we are created in God’s image, with a desire for peace, a searching for His wholeness to consume us. One day we will be made perfect and live completely whole in His peace. Can you imagine it?!

Are you currently in a season of searching and seeking peace?  Ready to give up the worries and anxiety that we are surrounded by? I don’t know what is stealing your peace today, but lately I know I need:

        • His steadiness for my spiraling
        • His shield for my storm
        • His strength for my struggle
        • His saving grace for my sin
        • His sovereignty for my self-reliance
        • His sanctification for my shortcomings

In order to have more of His peace, I need to draw closer to Him and His ways. I loved Jon’s encouragement yesterday to Cry Out to the I AM! He will rescue us with His peace – the world can’t offer anything close!

Our God isn’t just the author of peace – He also tells us how to have His peace in our life. He wants us to live fully in His peace and He tells us how to do it! Do you believe – truly believe – that living with God’s peace in your heart, is a choice? Do you believe that you can choose to have more peace in your life? His word tells us it’s true, will you join me in clinging to this truth and choosing peace? Let’s start together, today!

When scriptures tell us to “let” something occur, I like to replace that with “allow”. Let’s do our part in all of this ALLOWING:

Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.  John 14

Let the peace of God rule in your heart. Col. 3:15

Think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise…and then the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:8

When you break down piece by piece and put Phil 4:5-7, in your on words, we learn that because God is working, we have no reason to be anxious:

God is here! Pray with gratefulness and ask our Father to meet our needs. His peace – which is greater than anything we can even understand – His peace will protect our hearts and our minds – in Jesus!

Rejoice, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances… hold fast to what is good and abstain from evil, and the God of peace will sanctify you. 1 Thess 5:16-23

Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with another, live in peace. 2 Cor 13:11

Those that love your law, have great peace. Psalm 119:165

The Bible is full of instructions on how to have His peace in your world, while living here in this world. Make your own list of actionable steps from scripture, to have more of God’s peace. I’d love to hear what scriptures have helped you have more peace. The more we spend in His word, focus on Him and what He has for us, the less we focus on ourselves and the unrest of this world.

I will leave you with this final beautiful picture from Isaiah 55:

“For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Ancient of Days

When you hear the word wisdom, what image comes to mind? Is there a specific person you think of?

Today’s title or attribute of God we are focusing on is the Ancient of Days from Daniel 7:22 which reads, “until the Ancient of Days came, and judgement was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the Kingdom.” I must admit I wasn’t too familiar with this title for God and had to do a little more research, but Daniel uses this title 3 times in Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:13, and Daniel 7:22.

The 7th chapter of Daniel is his prophetic vision showing God the Father ultimately rules over eternity and will accomplish this through the son of man (Daniel 7:13). This chapter is significant because Jesus uses the title of the son of man for himself more than any other name. The son of man approaches the Ancient of Days in verse 13 and the Ancient of Days is described in verse 9 as not only having clothing white as snow, but “the hair of his head like pure wool.” This gives us an image the Ancient of Days which seems to represent (not a literal picture though) God the Father as an older man with white hair. I also think of the references to God the Father as “Alpha and Omega” and “him who is and who was and who is to come” from Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:8. These, verses along with entire chapter of Daniel 7, and God’s title of the Ancient of Days remind us the God is ruler over all and no matter what terrible things we see or experience in our lifetime, He will ultimately claim victory (Daniel 7:27). In this life, we can live with the peace of knowing we fight from victory…not for victory (Isiah 26:3).

At the beginning I posed the question about what image or person comes to mind when you think about the word wisdom. These days we all seem to know someone who has experienced dementia or Alzheimer’s in old age, and unfortunately, I think we now lump many of the elderly into a group that many would even call senile. However, if God the Father is described in the image of the Ancient of Days as an older person with white hair, let this be a reminder that much wisdom can be gained from the elderly who have learned and experienced far more than we have in our younger years. Near the end of 2018, I wrote a post called Angels We Have Heard in Brooklyn about 93 year old Thomas King who spoke so much wisdom and inspiration to us while on a mission trip at exactly right time. Sadly though, Thomas told us when his church recently recognized him for his years of membership, they would not even let him speak…although his wise words to us cut sharply like a knife to us. As we go forth today, let us not only remember God the Father’s sovereignty as the Ancient of days and learn from Him through the Word, but let us also remember as we interact with the elderly the words Job 12:12 which read, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” We can learn from them as well