A Message of Peace:

Dear Friends, if you are trying to push through your day to day with a troubled heart, I pray that God’s peace would overshadow all the trouble you are feeling. Jesus often spoke of peace; when He calmed the storms and when He appeared after His resurrection. Peace is something that many search for, but it can only truly be found in Him. Peace is something God wants us to experience, so I pray that your sorrows will melt away and dissolve in His peace today. That all your hurts of a troubled heart will disappear into His grace.  I pray for God’s mercy to fill the gaps each of us need filling.  I pray for peace in your home and out.  I pray for peace in your coming and your going.  I pray that in the midst of everything, God would send a revelation of peace just for you.  In the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

“The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” – Numbers 6:26

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” – Ephesians 2:14

“Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3

 

 

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“Getting a Closer Look”

 

Photo by Roberto Delgado Webb on Unsplash

Once, I was traveling out of town and the hotel we were staying in had one of those beauty magnifying mirrors that swing out on an arm.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  They get up close and really personal in your face.  What you thought you looked like in a normal mirror became something totally different in this magnifying truth teller.

I often avoid those mirrors because there’s only so much truth about my face I want to see.  But, looking into these things a whole world of pores and things that seem to come out of nowhere all of sudden can’t be ignored.  The eyebrows need more manicuring than once thought.  Things need to be plucked, covered, or taken care of to present this face to the world before I left out that day.

As I said, I always avoided these mirrors but I must admit when I stepped back to see the final results I was more than pleased and fully intend on having one installed in my bathroom at home.

How often are we afraid to take a closer look at ourselves?  Not our face per se but at things like the inner man, our life, and our relationship with God.  Are we too afraid of what we’ll find when we look too closely?  Do we not want things revealed to us that may have gone by without a closer inspection?

God wants the best for His people but sometimes the best means we have some stuff that needs to be plucked and dealt with first.  We have to seek the beautifying of His Spirit in order to step back and see the glorious final results He has for us up ahead.

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. . .” 2 Corinthians 13:5

 

“Be A Teacher”

Image by Brian Propst from Pixabay

“We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He has done,” Psalm 78:4

As a parent, I value what my children are being taught, not only in school but in life.  I care about what they see and hear, and what information is being processed in their minds.  Our age of technology has a lot to offer.  A lot of ways to take things in but, as with food, everything that goes in is not good for you or your children.

Over and over again in the Bible, we see the importance of passing the wonderful truths on that we have learned.  I don’t care who you are.  I don’t care what your socioeconomic status is or what is your educational background, there are valuable experiences in you that come from living this life, things worthy to be passed on, to enrich another’s life with what you have learned.

The cool thing about it is there are others who may not be in your family but can still reap the rewards of what you have lived through.  They can glean off of what you have personally gone through to gain a better understanding of the world we live in and the God we serve.  You have something valuable to teach those all around you.  Your life becomes the classroom.

“Shewing to the generation to come.”  What can you show them?  Are there pitfalls that one can avoid if they follow your advice?  Are there mountains another can summit by walking in your example?  You, yourself, have learned some stuff along the way.  Why not leave something along the pathway of this journey (Hansel and Gretel), for another to follow?  Don’t hide it, show it!  Don’t keep it all for yourself, mentor another.  Give them a good foundation to start off on.

Don’t think within yourself, “I have nothing to offer.”  You have lessons learned from your whole life.  God saw value in you, to bring you through this far.  Let your life lead those who are coming behind you.  Breadcrumbs, if you will, on the road to help another find their direction.  Each of us has within us the ability to be a teacher.  To live a life others will want to follow.  To teach others the lessons learned.  You have a voice, literal or not, let it be heard.  Don’t shake your head at the generation coming after you.  Show them there is something better.

Let them know why you praise God the way you do.  Let them know of “His strength, and His wonderful works that He has done!”  Let them know!  “Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence,” (Isaiah 62:6).  We are losing a generation of believers – NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE QUIET!  Let the truth of your faith ring loud.  If you don’t do it, then who will?  Who will you leave the job to?  Isn’t that the problem now?  The responsibility of who should do this is being shuffled around leaving no clear pathway.  I say we all need to stop the shuffling because this is not a game of cards.  This is about life!  We all need to be more active in our individual roles as teachers, models, tutors, mentors –  no matter what you call it, actively seek to be a participator and not a spectator.  Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.  There’s a lot of potential in those coming after us.  Potential that none will ever see unless someone is willing to teach them the way.

“You Are Loved by the King!”


Text Free Image by chiplanay from Pixabay

You, my friends, are so very much and incredibly loved by the King of all the universe.  There is so much that we face on a daily basis that tries to speak contrary to the blessedness we have in Him.  But, my God loves you with an undying love.  His heart is tied to His people.  His people need only to rest in the promises of His mercy, grace, power, and authority that makes their hearts soar on the wings of the hope we have in Him.

Today doesn’t have to be ordinary.  Today doesn’t have to control you.  Today doesn’t have the final say about your destiny in life.  When it all boils down to it, you have a reason to rejoice because your heavenly Father’s eye is on you.  He has marked you for greatness in Him.  You are covered and shielded by His love.  Therefore, let your heart be glad in the majesty of your Savior.  Let your soul celebrate because no matter what it looks like, you are a cherished vessel and you are loved by the King of all!

“We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

 

“Decorated in Glory”

Photo by Ariel Besagar on Unsplash

Being called to the front of the assembly to receive awards of excellence was one of my greatest joys in my private elementary school.  One year I excelled in every category, so instead of receiving multiple name calls of recognition – I was given one all-encompassing award.  I remember not liking it one bit.  An over-all award meant specifics were not being named in front of my peers and others, and I didn’t have the pleasure of playing the role of jack-in-the-box in my seat with my constant popping up and down to receive individual accomplishments.

As we get older in life we realize every achievement does not need to come with applause or recognition (at least, not here on earth anyway).  But, in heaven, your works are going to be rewarded.  You and I are going to be decorated in glory.  These rags of humanity will be replaced with robes of righteousness.  As a soldier being medaled for victories, we shall be adorned and dressed in the finest of the heavenlies, telling our story of overcoming.  We made it through and now He speaks, “My reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be,” Revelation 22:12.

Take heart.  What you do today may escape the notice of man but the eye of the Lord sees it all.  And, when we get to that heavenly city we will have all the recognition we will ever need.  For it is there we receive the greatest thing no earthly prize can give: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” Matthew 25:21, 23.

And, that’s all the glory one needs to be decorated with.

“SHINE!”

Photo: Pixabay/Merio

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and
more unto the perfect day,” Proverbs 4:18

Some days are glorious and some days are not.  Some days you need an umbrella and some days sunscreen.  Some days call for winter scarves and gloves, and some call for shorts and gear for swimming.  Some days are bright and beautiful, while some days never seem like they come out of the dreary season.

I would venture to say that this world is in a dreary season no matter what the temperature is outside. But you and I, we bring a taste of something better in the midst of all the gloominess. We are like the sun breaking through the clouds giving people a glimpse of hope. Our lives are as a “shining light” showing people a better way to live.

Turn on the local news in any city and most likely it is riddled with violence, tragedy, and suffering. Very rarely are there any good deeds or acts of kindness spotlighted. It seems the longer the world remains the tougher times get. The epidemic of sinfulness that began in the Garden of Eden keeps spreading and infecting men and women everywhere.

Oh, but the “just.” Those who are made right in the eyes of God we don’t walk the way of the world. We glow differently! We sport in our being the essence of the ultimate light, our Lord Jesus Christ. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” (John 8:12). We have the “light of life” and we shine!

Proverbs 4:18 goes on to tell us that we shine “more and more unto the perfect day.” While we are in Christ we are getting better and better, and as a result, our light should be shining brighter and brighter. How else would this world ever get a break from always viewing the dreariness of life if we don’t shine?

Our “paths” make a difference. The things we do and the things we say show people something wonderful that they’re not used to seeing. The way we carry ourselves and our dispositions make people wonder, “What’s gotten into you?”

The light of Christ, that’s what! I can’t help but shine!

When we shine people become attracted to us like a magnetic pull. The more they see the more they may want to know what makes you glow. Then, they, in turn, may want to learn how to glow, too.

No matter what the thermometer says or what the temperatures are predicted to be.  No matter if we have sun or not, warm or cold temperatures, you can still be that ray of light shining in someone’s life today.

SHINE ON!

 

God Gets Personal!

 

Photo: Pixabay/StockSnap

Omnipresent and personal, those words are kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?  Yet, that’s what God is known as.  He is never kept within the walls of the status quo erected by the human mindset anyways.

Yes, omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) and personal (individually based)  are contradictory in the finite statement of the human mind, but not in the loving nature of God.  When we think of omnipresent we think of God’s work as being far-reaching.  He can extend His love, power, and authority through an infinite number of channels to touch an infinite number of lives all at the same time.  Yet, the heart and life of each individual soul are precious to Him.  You and I are a special creation to Him.  Fashioned uniquely.  Designed particularly to be you.  And, loved personally.

This is a role only God can fill.  He can govern the universe while at the same time lean in close to hear from you; paying special attention to just you.

So, if you feel lost in the vastness of all that is going on in your world today, be encouraged.  The same God that is running everything also has His eyes focused on you personally.  The same God that is everywhere all at once is reaching specifically to your heart.  And, there He gets personal with you.

 

“Learning to Let Go!”

Learning to let go

 

Once, I took a much-needed vacation with family and friends.  I haven’t had a real one in years.  Every part of me, inside and out, needed a break from schedules, routines, and the normal day-to-day.

During this vacation, I was privileged to do and experience things I haven’t before.  Two of the things especially of note were the zip lines and the quick jump.  Both required jumping from the top of a high platform or rock wall and both really stretched me out of my comfort zone.

Don’t get me wrong; zip lining was a blast, but in order to get down off the landing platform I was attached to a sort of supportive rope that would grab you and lower you gently as you made your descent.  In order to activate the rope, the instructor told me to just step off.

Huh?!

Watching others from the ground it didn’t seem that big of a deal but standing on the platform for yourself was a whole other story. It was higher than it appeared and I am not too fond of heights, to begin with.  Standing there looking down the instructor repeated her directions: just step off or jump.

Just step off or jump …???

With my eyes, I saw the rope catch and lower each person that used it.  It never failed to do its job.  But, my body had trouble taking that leap of faith.  All I simply had to do was let go and depend on the equipment to do its job.

A lot of times we face difficulties and challenges in life, things that stretch us way out of where we are used to being.  Then, we are asked to trust God; to just step out and depend on Him as our unfailing equipment.  Often our response is the same as mine standing atop that platform.

Huh?!

The mind knows all the promises of God.  The heart has digested His Word and has been filled with His Spirit, yet to just step out and let go  . . .

It’s a lot harder than we first imagined.  To let oneself freefall into trust where you have absolutely no control but to lean on Him takes courage.

But, this is the kind of courage and trust that makes our heavenly Father’s heart swell.  Knowing that our confidence is so strongly planted in Him, we just hold on and depend on Him to take us down from those high platforms of life – well, let’s just say, that’s all He ever asks from us is to lean and depend on Him.

Every challenging story in the Bible and every hero in the great hall of faith (Hebrews 11), each one started with that one-step-of-faith moment; one learning-to-let-go experience, trusting wholly in God for the end results.

Are you facing a challenge today?  Are you being stretched beyond your comfort zone?  Do you have goals that seem too big for you to accomplish by yourself?

You don’t have to do it alone.  Let go, and let God.  See where the end results will be in Him.

As far as those high platforms for the zip line and quick jump, I eventually sat down and scooted off.  No flash or show.  The rope was activated and did its job.  The point is I did it, in my own way, and let go.

Step off and let God’s power be activated in your life today.

“God Wanted More!”

Photo: Pixabay/geralt

When we think of the vastness of God’s power stretching from history to history, and eternity to eternity it can leave one with an awe-inspired feeling.  As I read through the Word I am always left in amazement the strategy and planning God did to bring certain events into place, including our salvation.

When God first called Abraham out to establish a people for Himself through him, God did not rest in the satisfaction of just having one people or nation as His.  He wanted it all.  He wanted the world.

Isaiah 49:6 tells us, “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”  Instead of the words “light thing,” the New King James Version says, “It is too small a thing” which means the same thing but shows us a deeper level of God’s plan and His heart.  It wasn’t enough for God to be content with the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, to touch and affect the lives of a single race or family.  God wanted more!

God’s thinking for salvation was too big in scope and depth for His heart to settle for reaping the souls of just a single kindred or nationality of folk.  As far as His love (which can never be measured by human standards) reaches – that’s how far He wants to grab a hold of people and love them as His own.  He couldn’t rest with just saving some, but He wanted the sum of humanity to have a chance to experience this awesome deliverance.

God always wanted more.  His intention was that all the families of the earth be exposed to this offer of salvation (see Genesis 12:1-3).  I don’t know about you but I’m glad God wasn’t satisfied with “some.”  In His high degree of love for people, His thinking was bigger.  Because of that, everyone has the opportunity to be in the “sum” of the saved; to be a part of that heavenly number if they will answer His call.

You, my friends, are the “more” that God has always wanted.  You were always in God’s plan.  You were always on God’s mind from the beginning.  You have always mattered to God and He wants you in that heavenly number.

“Dealing with Contentions in the Midst of Blessings”

Photo: Pixabay/ThePixelman

“And Abimelech said unto Issac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we,” Genesis 26:16

Oh, how wonderful we feel when God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessings into our lives, Micah 3:10. It feels good! And, it doesn’t matter if the blessing is material, physical, spiritual or emotional, if there is something that God wants to do that is special for us, we take joy in receiving from the goodness of our heavenly Father.

One of my favorite verses that keeps me in check and reminds me of just how awesome He is in this area is Matthew 7:9-11. In the verses before these Jesus is teaching His disciples a few of life’s lessons. He just assured them of the “ask, seek, and knock” principle of prayer. Then, to make sure they understood how much the heavenly Father cares He further explains, “Or what man of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

God knows how to give good gifts! The problem with that is everybody is not going to like you for it. Everyone is not going to be on your side. There will be one, if not more, that will be standing in the corner, grimacing every time God decides to shower you with some of His goodness. It’s sad but true!

Human nature can get almost primal in this area. If you throw a bone to a pack of hungry dogs, what will happen? Only one dog will actually catch the bone, but the others will be on a continual mission to take it from him because they want it for themselves. They’re hungry for it. They want to be fed, too. It’s not fair that the one got the blessing and the rest didn’t. And so, another dog will try to latch onto it to yank and pull it away from the original owner. Another also steps in and tries to get it from the previous two. And on, and on it goes. Until one is successful to lie hold of it and run to safety.

I’ve seen this play out with seagulls also. You throw a piece of bread out for one and suddenly there are what seem to be a hundred gulls thinking they can all survive off of that one piece. They swoop down to grab the bread and try to fly away with the prize, only another has his eye on it and does the same. It becomes a never-ending circle of desire and wants that moves to the contentions of, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” Swoop! It’s mine!

The same scenario played out for Isaac. God was keeping His promise that He made to Abraham and his son was reaping the rewards of it. God had truly blessed Isaac. “Then Isaac sowed in the land and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants…” (Genesis 26:12-14).

He was blessed! But, the remainder of verse 14 clearly states that not everyone was happy about it. It says, “And the Philistines envied him.” They then put into motion a plan to try to hold down his blessings. “For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth,” (Genesis 26:15). As they stopped up the wells their hope was to stop the blessings.

Afterwards, the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, just out and out told him, “We don’t want you here anymore – get out!” If they can’t stop the blessings then they don’t want to be around you while God is blessing. Why? Because it hurts to see some receive and some don’t. Humanity doesn’t like it like that, unless, of course, they are the ones on the receiving end of it.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of this fence: the side of being blessed and the side of watching others get blessed. Oftentimes, I didn’t always understand, but that’s just the way it was. Like it or not, I have to believe in God’s sovereignty over it all. Did it always register right away? Um, no. For I am human also and don’t always see things as God does. (If I’m going to write about it, I have to be totally honest about it.)

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that as God moves on our behalf to elevate us and bless us, that contentions can arise. What do we do then? First and foremost, is to trust God. After being kicked out, Isaac went from one well to another, there was always a fight with someone about it. Isaac could’ve gotten ticked off, but he kept trying to find where God was leading. Just because you are blessed by God doesn’t mean you can settle anywhere. You have to be where God wants you in order to continue to grow in Him. That requires trust.

Eventually, Genesis 26:22 tells us, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not…  For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” If one keeps following the leading of God, God, in turn, will put you in a place where the gifts and blessings He has given you will thrive. You are not going to just flourish anywhere. You have to be where He can ensure your growth.

If that weren’t enough, God made those that hated Isaac to be at peace with him. “We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee… let us make a covenant with thee,” (Genesis 26:28). They came to him. They sought him out to seek reconciliation. How did it all end? Very good, I might say. “And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace,” (Genesis 26:30-31). All grudges and animosity were gone and peace entered in.

The Bible says, “the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water,” (Genesis 26:32). This was refreshment for the body and soul after dealing with such contentions. I think that means he was finally where God wanted him to be, in mind, body and spirit. The water didn’t come until the covenant for peace was made.

When God blesses there will sometimes be contentions to deal with from others. But, we too, have a responsibility in the midst to try to go as God leads us and to still keep the peace.