“Peace on Earth”

Sin has destroyed peace.  Circumstances try to overrun peace.  Emotions can’t seem to grab hold of peace but, if this time of year teaches us nothing else, it’s that peace is still a very real thing to not only seek after but to find.

The Savior was born for peace.  He came to reconcile, restore, and offer peace to mankind of the likes they never could have else wise imagined having.  His peace is not commercial and it’s not superficial.  The peace of Christ is an inner peace that comes from knowing that even through the hardest trials of life, God’s love for each of us is so magnificent that He offered us this great gift, the best Christmas gift we could ever hope for, through His Blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace should not be so elusive for the heart to behold.  While the Shepherds were in that field on that holy night, the chorus of the angels rang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” (Luke 2:14).  Peace is part of the salvation package; it’s part of the gift we have received through Him.  While it may not always seem like it or even feel like it, in Christ you have a peace which, “passeth all understanding,” and this peace “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:7).

Your life hidden in Him is something beyond human comprehension.  You are cemented in a joy that cannot be moved because the One who holds your hope cannot be moved.  Your Redeemer came as a babe and reigns as Victor and He, being the Author of your salvation, is not only your eternal reward in heaven, but He is your peace on earth today.

Father God, Help us through this season.  Not just the holiday season, but these seasons of life that we find ourselves wrapped in.  There are so many questions of why that we may not always understand.  There are circumstances that often we just cannot figure out.  Thankfully, You know it all together and you didn’t ask us to try to know the beginning from the end because You already do.  You asked us to have faith and just rest in the peace that Your Son has already given us.  For many, this time of year is very hard.  For some situations, we can’t begin to imagine the hurt and confusion one carries, so we stand and pray that people everywhere would feel a refreshing of Your peace in their lives today.  AMEN!

“…But Lord, I Thank You!” – Word For Life Says

Job 1:20-22 “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

Anytime we see a “…” in a sentence it expresses a train of thought and direction or a transition if you will.  That “…” is very important to this message.

Times of transition can be good and bad.  When one is engrossed in unpleasant circumstances a nice change of pace can be just what the doctor ordered.  It breathes new life into you and lifts your spirits high making you feel as if you are on cloud nine.  At the same time, when one is entering times of affliction, lack of any sort of substandard anything compared to what they are used to, the feelings of dread and just suffering through take over.

There are different seasons that everyone goes through in life.  There are times of joy and there are times of pain.  While we don’t mind dealing with the seasons of joy and happiness that come our way, a whole other story could be told for the times of pain and suffering we encounter.

There are seasons, even for the Christian, that come that are not too pleasant.  There are times when the people of God had to endure trials and tribulations.  There are episodes of turmoil that have wiggled their way into our families, our lives, our jobs, and our finances.

Sometimes difficult and new stuff pops up out of nowhere, things you weren’t looking to happen in this season of life, and it has blindsided you and caught you off guard.  There may be things that surprised you and now you just don’t know which way you are going.  The road hasn’t always been easy to travel.  We are looking for the new.  We need a transition.  We are in need of a “…” moment.

It’s time to move from the victim mentality and don a praise mentality.  It’s time to move from the feeling defeated mentality to no matter what’s going in my life, “…Lord, I just want to thank You” mentality.

A praise mentality says no matter the situation we are going through I still have a reason to worship.  We still have a reason to lift our hands in utter adoration!  We still have a reason to fall to our knees in prayer!  We still have a reason to believe His grace and mercy is at work in our lives!  I still have a reason to say, “Thank You!”

Job is one of the most figurative Bible characters who we surmise as suffering outside of Jesus Christ our Savior.  So, I figured if anybody can teach us how to be thankful despite what we’re going through it could be Job.

Job was a man whom God describes in the Bible as being upright and perfect, Job 1:8.  He is known for turning himself away from the path of evil, not giving it a foothold in his life.  Yet, in his righteous living, he was still susceptible to being tested in some of the worse ways possible.  He lost everything from possessions down to the very people he loved the most in life.

Job’s experiences can be summed up in that one word: suffering. Job knew suffering.  Job knew what it was like to love and lose; to have and to have not.  What’s more is he lost everything at the same time, piling traumatic event after traumatic event on till he thought his heart couldn’t take any more (read Job 1-2 for greater detail).

Sitting in a pile of ashes with seemingly nothing left, could he at least find comfort in the good word of a friend? Will they speak encouragement to help him carry the weight of his burdensome troubles?

The answer sadly is, “No.”  His friends started out with good intentions but by the time they reach chapter 4, Job’s friends became what is known as “miserable comforters.”  They decided to chime in with their opinions of what was right and wrong.  This was where their attempts at comfort went downhill.  They berated Job and blamed him for all that he was going through.

Job literally had no one and the weight of the world was upon his shoulders, but his response to his trials is what blew my mind away.  When things first began to unravel for him, in the verses we read in chapter 1 he shaved his head, fell down on his face and he worshipped.

The words that came out of his mouth were of praise and thanks.  He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

That word “blessed” is synonymous with celebrating God with praise in spite of.  That word blessed is acknowledging God is good no matter what the circumstances around me say.  That word blessed is also translated in the New and Old Testament to give thanks!  “Blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job, with his shaved head of sorrow and humble spirit, gave God thanks amid the sorrow he was going through!

His response reminds me of Psalm 34:1 where the psalmist proclaimed, “I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be in my mouth!”  I will thank God always and I will never stop celebrating His goodness!  I will show God gratitude always and I will never stop lifting Him up.  I will appreciate God even in this and I will never stop recognizing that He and He only is God of my life.

Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  My always for all things may not look the way I want it to right now, but Lord I thank You, is what he’s saying!  I am not saying thank you because I like problems, but I am saying thank You because I know the God I serve.  I am saying thank you because He is working on the inside to change things on the outside.  I am saying thank you because God is setting us up for a future that is glorious in Him!  Therefore, “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I am in Christ; therefore I give thanks!  I have been washed by the blood, therefore I give thanks.  Yes, life hurts sometimes and yes, the walls come crashing down sometimes, but I owe God a praise.  I thank God for seeing me through every trouble, every storm that blows my way!  “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

Job’s response went even further than this.  In Job 19, he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives.”  Things were not exactly turning in his favor.  At that time, his today didn’t look any better than his yesterday.  His friends are still in his face challenging him with their accusations.  But, despite his personal persecutions, he emphatically declares, “I know . . .”

Knowing speaks of assurance. A declaration of knowing tells doubt there is no place here for you. “Know” is certain that this is what it is. And, what he is certain of is “my redeemer liveth.” God is alive and will always be alive. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8).

“He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”  Job knew that God was and is the end-all of all authority, victory and power. Standing upon anything denotes mastery and dominion of said object.  Job knew where his trust lies.  In God who is victorious: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him,” (Psalm 68:1).  Paul, speaking of Christ said He, “hath put all things under his feet…,” (Ephesians 1:22).  Even this.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”  There is hope beyond the here and now. Physically, it didn’t look good for Job. He had “sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown,” (Job 2:7).  He, in dealing with the pain of his body and the pain of his heart must have thought there is not that much more time left. At one point of desperation, things had gotten so bad, Job prayed for death (see Job 6:8-9).

Despite it all, he knew that there was a better day beyond the corruption of his flesh.  His body, when the time came, would lie in the ground and the worms would have their way with him, but he looked forward to another glorious time when “in my flesh shall I see God.”  Things were hard for Job, but in his speech, you can still see his faith alive and active in what he believes: and he believes GOD!  Therefore, “I bless God!  I give God thanks!”

Job teaches us how to respond to God in midst of trials and troubles.  He may have been down, especially when his friends attacked him, but he still recognized God for who He is.  He basically transitioned his mentality to shift his focus from what was before him to the God who can save Him.

Yes, he grew weary and even questioned why he was going through what he was going through.  Who wouldn’t?  But, through it all you still see his faith in God come to the forefront in the midst of his story.

In the end, Job was blessed with a double portion of blessings.  God testified of Job to his friends.  God spoke up for Job and said, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath,” (Job 42:7).

It’s not too late for God to turn it around and to testify on your behalf.  The week of Thanksgiving is here, and this year is not over yet.  There is still room for a blessing.  And, even if not – if God never does another thing for us, can we say, “Lord, I thank You?”

At the end of the day, as hard as it may be sometimes, we must transition our thinking and say “… But Lord, I thank YOU!”

 

“Today is a new day of GRACE!”

Friends, almost from the time I opened my eyes this morning, grace has been on my mind. As soon as I started my day, I really felt God telling me that today is a new day of GRACE. While we hear it often, I think we take it for granted what that really means. God has chosen to favor us with this fantastic gift. No matter what yesterday looked like, it could have been the best day ever or the worst day, but it isn’t today. Today, when we woke up, we woke up to something new, and wonderful, and fresh, and gifted to us directly from God. We woke up with grace. Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t He lovely for smiling on us in such a way? Good and bad days will come and go, but it is God’s grace that will keep us through it all. May you all have a wonderfully, blessed Saturday filled with the grace of God.

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” (Psalms‬ ‭90:17‬).

It all happens through the beauty of His grace and favor at work in our lives.

“Seek God First…”

God knows what we really stand in need of; He knows the good that will help us the most. Seek Him first, with a heart of faith, and let Him work out the blessings that come to us. Even the strongest of the strong will eventually know lack but they that trust in God, shall not want any good thing! “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” Psalm 34:10

“When the Father speaks…”

There is a lot of inner dialogue that goes on and there is a lot of outer dialoguing that goes on.  The inner dialogue comes from the person within.  It talks to oneself sometimes words of encouragement, and that’s okay.  But, when it begins to express doubt, confusion and rehearses hurt repeatedly, it becomes a dangerous voice causing one to lose out on some of the best stuff God has for them.

The outer dialogues we hear daily comes from the voices all around.  Again, sometimes one may hear words of love, but when these voices speak criticism, discouragement, and put-downs, their words need to be silenced and replaced because they are not doing anything to one up or to help along the way.

Any voice, inner or outer, which speaks contrary to the words of the Father, must be made to shut up.  When the Father speaks, His is a heavenly dialogue, and what He has to say far outweighs any word on earth.

When the Father speaks His words are power.  “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God,” (Psalm 62:11).  Every other speech will fail and grow weak when it meets up against the strength of what He has to say.  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12).

When the Father speaks His words are fulfilling.  “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,” (Isaiah 55:11).  In the sea of worthless words that drown the hearing of this world, God’s Word can be trusted to do what He said He would do.  It will succeed at everything spoken of it.

When the Father speaks His words are truth.  False speech seems to dominate this world.  Whatever the platform, people are careless and deceitful with the words that they throw around.  But God’s words are dependable and faithful.  They are “truth” (John 17:17) and His words don’t lie (Numbers 23:19).  “For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth,” (Psalm 33:4).

When the Father speaks His words are life.  Jesus said, “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life,” (John 6:63).  Not only are His words filled with life-giving power in the here and now, but when He speaks they are words of eternal life (John 6:68).  For those who believe in His Word, it will provide them with everything they need to live.

And, when the Father speaks, it is forever.  “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever,” (Isaiah 40:8; see also Matthew 24:35).  There will never be a time when His Word will not be.  All the inner and outer dialogues that take place daily will eventually pass away.  But, everything declared in His Word, shall be forever.  It’s not going anywhere.  Therefore, we can stake our very lives on it, live by it, and hope in it.  Because, when the Father speaks, His Word will always be there for us through it all.

Today, when the Father speaks, let His voice be louder than all others and let His words be the strength for your day.

“Think of His Grace!”

It amazes me how quickly we, as humans, and operating in our human nature, want to write things in the story of others that God never intended, nor did it come to His mind.  We tend to write negative responses in the lives and the stories of others while forgetting that the very grace that was poured into our life, can be poured in another as well.

When we were in our messes; when we, as individuals, were outside of the will of God, God didn’t give up on us.  He didn’t give things in our story that were not going to work out for our own good.  Rather, in His grace, He made a way for our personal redemption.  In His grace, He wrote a better ending to our story than we could ever imagine.

Before you judge another or look down on someone because the season they are in right now doesn’t look right to you, remember the grace that was once shown to you, and freely extend that same grace to another.

God’s grace is a beautiful thing and without it, none of us would be here today, and none of us could make it.  None of us had the power to save ourselves.  None of us was capable of doing for us what Jesus did.  But God’s grace stepped in our lives and He raised us out of the muck and mire of our sins.  He lifted us out of our personal ruts and restored us to something wonderful and with purpose.

Think on God’s grace today.  Let it be that gentle reminder of what God has done for you, and let that motivate you to share this same grace toward another.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8.

“God’s Got You Covered!”

 

Do you ever feel opened and exposed during the trials of life?  Do you ever feel that the enemy has free pickings when it comes to your heartache?  Well, he doesn’t!  The enemies of this life may chase you, hunt you down and all together seek to make your life miserable, but the enemies do not have the last say over anything.  God, in His complete sovereignty, has you covered!

If anybody knew about being constantly chased by enemies seeking to take their life it was David.  Saul, in a jealous pursuit, saw something special in David, the favor of God, and wanted to destroy David.  There were days when David may have felt like giving up.  There were days of hiding in caves and pretending to be a mad-man to seek solitude in other countries.  But, through it all David dealt best with his enemies through prayer.  He declared who his God was and committed his trust to Him.  In Psalm 140:7, “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”

To be covered means to be concealed and to be protected.  The battles of this life may at times make us feel that we are an open target to everyone who can’t stand the favor of God on us, but be of good cheer, God’s got us covered!  “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever,” (Psalm 125:2).  And, if God is like a mountain surrounding us then there is no adversary that can break through the covering He has over us.  It may feel like we are on the run sometimes but God is still that protecting force that “covered my head in the day of battle.”  Commit your heartaches, your battle and your enemies to God and let Him be your covering today.

“May I help you?”

“After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet …” John 13:5

 I wonder if anyone in our day and age really understands the concept of service.  Does anyone really grasp the meaning of what it is to serve another?  If you’ve recently gone to a fast-food restaurant or a big box store or any consumer outlet where things are acquired, purchased or eaten, you know what I mean.  The lack of good customer service drives me away from some establishments regardless of how cheap their prices are.

I remember when one of my daughters, who was a teenager at the time, was working her first job in a national fast-food chain, and how much the idea of good customer service rang out to me by what I witnessed there.   At this establishment where she worked,  they would take servicing the customer very seriously.  If it was raining outside, some of the employees were on post at the front door, umbrellas in hand, waiting to assist patrons to and from their cars who didn’t have one.  This company did many small things and details that let people know that they mattered to them and they were important.

Although things like this are considered uncommon in our day, what those employees did really spoke to the fact that they were at that place of employment to work according to that company’s standards.  Every day they were urged to step outside of themselves to assist others.  Oh, if more would catch on to this concept!  But, the infectious, self-serving mentality, which permeates this world’s culture doesn’t allow people to see or even consider others over themselves.

That is far from the teaching Jesus laid out for those who would follow Him.  He has given us many examples to follow but the one that really sticks out to me  is Jesus stooping to the level of the lowliest servant in the house and performing duties that were detested by all in that day,  “He began to wash the disciples’ feet.”  Can you imagine what those feet must have looked like after walking many miles in sandals?   Can you imagine what they must have smelled like?  Yet, He took a towel and wrapped it around His waist, took feet in hand and began to carefully administer this duty to them.

We all know that Jesus always considered and worked for the betterment of those around Him.  He did this to the point of laying His life down on the cross for the sins of the world.  But, what Jesus showed them on this occasion, was a one on one lesson with those who would be responsible for carrying the gospel to the world.  He showed them that there are everyday occurrences where one can serve, where one can put another before themselves.

We are so thankful for the many areas of missionary work that go on throughout the world.  Those who render themselves to such service are able to reach the unreachable and set up foundations for Christ in far off lands. But every day, right where you are, there are opportunities to let the love of Christ shine in this dark world.  The world is already used to seeing the inconsiderate side of man, so now it’s time for the church to rise up and show them the loving side of God.  How?  Through our service to them.  Through everyday occurrences where you show somebody that you value them.  Oh, how would that make them feel?  I’ll tell you.  It would make them feel loved!

It makes people feel as if they matter also.  That someone cares enough to let them go first in line, or take your right-of-way in traffic.  These are little things – but, can I tell you, little things done in great numbers make a great impact.  If each of us would show the character of Christ’s service and stop placing so much focus on other things, I think we could make a tangible difference in this world.  It would still be an infectious cycle. Instead of the world’s disease permeating the church, the church could infect the world and really show them how much Christ loves them.

“God Knows Best!”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isiah 55:8-9

We all want the victory in life, but we don’t always know how to go about doing it.  There is a right way and a wrong way of getting things done.  If you have ever purchased one of those DIY furniture kits, then you know what I mean.  If the directions are followed incorrectly, often we will end up with a product that doesn’t look the picture describes or a product that doesn’t function as it should.  One misstep in the procedure of putting it together can really derail the end result.

So it is true in life.  We can see in our minds how this or that will work out, but the process it takes to get there is a little more obscured.  We know how we want the end to look, but allusive is the way to get there.  And despite what the world shouts, there is a way that is right, holy, and just.  There is a way that is not hidden or playing hide and seek.  It is God’s way!  And sometime human nature has a hard time letting go of their own way to take on His perfect will for their lives.

There is this beautiful word called “omniscient.”  The word itself means to be all-knowing and the only one to whom that can be referred to is God Almighty.  The Bible tells us multiple times and in multiple ways of the infinite understanding of God (Psalm 147:5); that He knows everything there is to know and to be known (1 John 3:20).

So, why am I telling you all of this today?  Because all of us deal with times, situations, and decisions where we simply don’t know.  We barely know how our story starts, let alone each step necessary to walk through the process to reach the finished end.  But, God does.

We are told to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct our paths,” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We are told to let go of our own perceptions or preconceived ideas and notions and lean in complete trust in God, and what He knows, and let Him guide through all of those processes we are so struggling with.

Whatever we are undertaking or engaged in, do not be overcome or feel overwhelmed with what’s before you.  Lean on God.  There is so much in this life that we carry the full weight of when God is offering to take some of the weight off of you if you will just trust Him to do it.

Trusting Him is not passive, it’s a walk of obedience.  It is following His way all the way through.  Abraham, a great man of faith, didn’t become that way by just saying he had faith.  He was given the privilege of that title because the faith he had in God caused his steps to walk in obedience in His will for his life (Genesis 12-25; Hebrews 11:8-10, 17-19 ).  Trusting that God knows best is actively walking out one’s faith in obedience, and depending on God for the final results.  It is not just quoting that His ways are higher than ours; it’s knowing and believing they are and leaving the outcome of everything we are dealing with; all of those times, situations, and decisions in His more than capable hands because God’s knows best.

Our victory begins and ends with knowing above all else, God is in charge of our story and He knows best.  All we have to do is follow Him.