Tag Archives: Peace

Reading scripture:

I enjoy the study of the scriptures, but when life is stressful and my mind struggles to focus, digging in can be difficult at best. With this fight against cancer we are in, focus is especially difficult, so God laid it on my heart to simply read His Word. I’m not to worry about how long it takes me or how much I get done in a day. Nor am I to fret if my mind wonders as the word prompts thoughts and prayers over things in life. I’m simply to trust the Lord to commune with me through His word, bringing my heart to rest all with Him.

I’ve read through the scriptures many times in my years, so I excitedly began my journey in January of last year as our battle with cancer began. Numerous years ago, a Sunday school teacher recommended a 5:1 method of reading: 5X through the New, 1X end to end. It goes like this:

1. John through Revelation
2. Matthew, skip to Acts through Revelation
3. Mark, skip to Acts through Revelation
4. Luke, skip to Acts through Revelation
5. John through Revelation
6. Genesis through Revelation
Repeat 1-6.

I read 5 times through the New Testament last year. How peaceful I found just reading God’s word to be on my weary heart. In January of this year I started with Genesis.

Reading from end to end straight through can be difficult. Books like Numbers and the Chronicles of the kings, with long genealogy lists of hard to read names, and repetitive job/exploits descriptions are taxing on my brain. So rather than straight through, I’ll read a book in order, then I’ll read a minor prophet book or a NT letter, then back to the next book in line. Sometimes, like with 1 Chronicles, I have to read two books simultaneously, a little in 1 Chronicles then I read a little in Romans. I finished Romans, and now I am finishing up 1 Chronicles.

My goal is 3-4 books each month, which should have me finished by end of year. I divided the Psalms into thirds, each third counting as 1 book. And I read through Psalm 119 separately, reading through it numerous times, a segment each day, praying for God to open His Word to me and me to Him.

Though a lot of the OT hurts my heart for the people then and now, I still find great peace in the reading of God’s word. Reading God’s word with a heart open to align with Him brings God’s peace to rest on the sincere seeker, despite the storm tossed seas of life.

The Practice of Focus

MY sweet husband, in pain, says, “This is the worst day yet,” as he struggles to move. Then he begins thanking me for my care for him. That’s my husband: realize the struggle, but focus on the blessings in the midst of it.

The Apostle Paul of the Holy Bible encourages us to realize the importance of contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4). One of the greatest aids to contentment when trouble screams for our attention is the practice of focusing on the blessings all around us, being grateful for the good that trouble seeks to rob from us. Learning to see the beauty in life and taking time to smell the roses helps us walk a life of contentment in the midst of pain.

Oh, Those Bath Days!

Today is Missy’s bath day. She is too big to bathe in the sink, and too heavy for me, getting her out of the tub: plus, my knees don’t handle that well any more, so off she goes to the vet for a spa day every 2 weeks.

Getting her ready to go is not a problem. She hears her leash come off it’s hook, and the excitement is on. She loves a good road trip and pulls me readily to the car. Seated happily in Johnny’s lap, she eyes every site and takes in all the smells.

This morning, as I pull into a parking spot, she starts sniffing the air vent like crazy. Obvious recognition in her eyes, her happy face drooping with every breath, she glares at me, “I don’t like where you parked!” I know that’s what she said.

Getting her reluctant body out of the car, I sit her down and the battle is on. She wants back in the car immediately! When that doesn’t happen, her goal becomes that of getting me to change course. Fighting her over the threshold, she wearily follows me to the desk. While I take care of business, she stands like a pointer, leash taught, making sure I know where the door is and begging, “Please! Help me.” Little does she know that she stinks, and my nose keeps me pointed toward her bath.

This morning, as our ritual dance at the desk plays out, she suddenly grabs my attention with some extra exuberant tugs on the line. Looking back, she points intently at the door. A woman, just stepping to the door, reaches the handle and pulls. Missy’s excited eyes and joyful tug scream, “Hurry! The door is open. Now’s our chance.” 😂

Missy is a lot of laughs for us. She is so expressive and so smart. But there are times when we know what is best for her, so we fight to get her where she needs to be. It is the same with God and us mere mortals. We so often tug against something God is leading us to, not liking the discomfort of getting there. I wonder if He laughs at us like we do Missy.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”

I don’t know if you have ever read Jeremiah. It is worth the read, if not. In it, God calls His people to willingly go into captivity, promising those who do will find His faithful presence and provision while going through a designated timeout from their destiny because of corporate sin. Many, the prophet Daniel being one, went willingly and found God’s faithfulness. Others, like the King of the day, refused to willingly follow God’s path. Most of them lost their lives  the King lost his eyes, his freedom, and his throne. Kicking against goads God sets in our path only hurts our feet. And, as Missy will tell you, fighting the Master’s pull only chokes us down. Better we go willingly into the Father’s plan.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

That’s a promise. God is faithful to His Word. Question is, do we believe and trust Him, even when the road gets rough? If we choose faith and a willingness to walk His way, we will find ourselves shining like gold and smelling like a rose on the other side of the difficulty we dread.

Greetings, Mighty Warrior of God

“…The LORD is with you, mighty warrior…. Go in the strength you have…” – Judges 6:12-14.

“The Lord with you” is the strength of the mighty. Nothing will be impossible with God. Even contentment in every circumstance is empowered in those who remember “the Lord is with you”. He will get you to His plan for you as you trust in the Lord and do the good He strengthens you to do. So press forward, Mighty Warrior, and have a BLESSed day!

Necessary Fires

Read 1 Peter 1:1-9.

“…In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” ~ verses 6-9.

The thing that stands out to me as I read this is the word “necessary”. It says the trials God allows are only allowed IF NECESSARY, and that necessity has a glorious purpose: that some greatly needed “revelation of Jesus” come out of the fire with us.

The trials and tribulations God allows to touch the lives of His people He only allows out of necessity, in order to reveal Christ to and through us. For that to happen, does that not mean that Jesus is in the fire with us, even though we can’t see Him for the smoke and heat burning our proverbial eyes, and the flames blocking our view?

Take courage, Beloved of God. You, who are the “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” are not alone. God will bring Glory’s good out of the flames of adversity.

Look at what this says and be filled with the confidence of Christ.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” ~ Romans 8:28.

“I AM THE LORD”

Today, as I read through the Scriptures, I am reminded of an insight found in Leviticus last week. As I read that book, I realized that God began telling Israel of all He expected of them. On one directive after another, He ended the command with the reason for obedience being simply, “for I am the LORD.” If God is LORD, we obey. It is that simple.
 
As I underlined one “I am the LORD” after another, I found 51 such proclamations. The last two grabbed my attention with rejoicing as God put the shoe on His own foot. Speaking to Israel about the fact that failure to obey would lead to exile to foreign lands, he tells them:
 
“Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; FOR I AM THE LORD THEIR GOD. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I AM THE LORD.” Leviticus 26:44-45, NASB.
 
One of the 51 times that I marked as being the same as saying, “I am the LORD,” gave definition to God’s proclamation of LORDship as He commanded, “revere your GOD” (25:43). God still today expects us to prove He is our LORD through our obedience, but He also still knows the responsibility of LORDship. Second Timothy 2:13 tells us “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” Like with Israel, though we may well have hard consequences to face for actions against His LORDship, He is still God. He remembers His LORDship, to keep His promises, and He will do what is best for us even when we fail Him.

Ever Present Peace

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Paul often opened and closed his letters with a blessing of peace and hope of the realization of God’s presence for the reader. He knew it was vital for the heart of the person to trust the presence of the Lord in life and circumstance so they would walk in the peace of God.

Peace disturbed signals that the mind’s eyes shifted focal point, turning from trust in God and His presence in life to the problems inherent in life’s difficulties. Peter sank when his eyes shifted from Jesus to the enormous waves coming at them, faith disturbed by his eye’s understanding of the situation. As a baby learning to walk, falls when looking away from the outstretched arms of the parent, so we find ourselves stumbling through life when we fail to fix our eyes on Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Trouble in life is often overwhelming, for when in the midst of it, it is difficult to see the path through it. Turning eyes to God, knowing He sees and knows all fully, while trusting His greatness that far exceeds any trouble, quiets the soul. Realizing His closeness to us, His presence in our day-to-day lives, His trustworthiness toward us who look to Him, brings His gift of peace and the assurance of His hand made ready to move on our behalf. Looking to Him stills us so that we may know God and receive from Him the wisdom needed to face the storm. With eyes on Him, we hear the voice of the Lord speak to our storm, “Peace! Be still” (Mark 4:35-41, KJV).

~*~

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” ~ Hebrews 13:20-21.

See also John 14:1; 23-27; Hebrews 13: 5, AMPC; Psalm 37:3-9; Psalm 46.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 12

“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ …’”  ~ Exodus 33:18-20, NASB.

God’s goodness toward us, His giving to us a personal and intimate knowledge of Him, and His grace that meets our need: all are aspects of God’s glory-revelation. Last on this list of visual representations of God’s glory is His compassion toward us.

“…and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion. …”

Compassion ~ Deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the wish to relieve it. God does not like to see our suffering, and so, He is compassionate toward us.

Trouble is part of living in this world that is most often in stark contrast to God and His ways. As long as we live this earthly existence, trouble will touch our lives; and more so as the day of Christ draws near.

Evil increasing and people’s hearts growing cold toward any aspect of God’s reality is what ushers in the coming Christ. As people wax cold toward God, closing their hearts to Him, Christ will come to remove those who are His from this mess, and apocalypse will have its way. Until then, trouble will increase, touching us more frequently and with greater devastation as this world decays and the day of Christ’s return for us draws near. That said, how is God’s compassion revealed?

“It is of the Lord’s mercies (lovingkindnesses) that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23, KJV (NASB).

The Lord’s compassions toward us keep us from being consumed by the trouble found in this world. Instead, He uses such to strengthen our faith to trust Him more; leading us to greater depths of repentance and surrender to more of Him, strengthening our resolve as He grows our likeness to Him. God’s compassion produces heart-peace in us when life’s storms hit, that peace that passes understanding, amazing the heart of the recipient. Father’s compassions equip us with wisdom to weather every wave and stand firm in the harshest winds.

We are in this life with a purpose set by God: to partner with Him in making His glory known. Therefore, God does not always remove trouble from us, but His compassion helps us to stand so that we fulfill His purpose in allowing the trouble to touch us. Light shines brightest when contrasting the dark.

No matter how bad the waves of trouble may rise above us, we can trust God’s faithful compassions to protect us from the destruction difficulties seek to bring to us. This world of trouble will not consume us as long as we rest securely in His grace that works His good for us out of every wave on the tossing sea of this life.

Whatever storm you are in, beloved, watch for God’s provision: not 089putting Him in a box of what you think He is doing and should do, but trusting His will, His way. His lovingkindness is with you to provide for your every need out of His compassionate mercies that fail not. He amazes the heart and mind of those who sincerely wait upon and watch for Him in earnest expectation and hope of the glory He will reveal.

The Cure For Destructive Fretting

One thing God’s Spirit said to me this weekend that I sure wish I had written His wording down, goes something like this: “Just because someone is busy with life does not mean that they are free from fretting while they do it.”

072The thing I understood immediately upon perceiving that thought from Him is this: we can push ourselves to get busy in an attempt not to think about the things that bother us, the things we are trying to surrender or think we successfully surrendered to God, believing thinking about other things ends the fretting. However, when the stress over the things we are concerned about dictate or fuel our actions or eating, we are truly in the heat of destructive fretting.

I am one who stuffs my face when stressed and fueled by fretting. A friend cleans and scrubs everything in sight: TWICE. Her activity would appear more healthful than my eating would, but both are destructive. They do not alleviate the stress, but often add to it.

Our Pastor’s wife tells us that when she is stressing something, the best place she can be is working in her garden. Tending to her flowerbeds help her to get peaceful. Therein lies the difference between my friend and my habit during stressful times and our Pastor’s wife. Her activity leads her to embrace peace, aiding her to let the stress go, refreshing her and strengthening her to deal with the trouble. My friend and I feed the stress with our frenzy, wearing ourselves out, weakening our bodies, leaving oneself ill-equipped to deal with our issues.

I am so grateful God spurred this pondering in me. Life is hard on several fronts right now, and though I am trusting God’s promises for the things going on, quickly turning to Him when tempted to fretful thinking, watching earnestly for His hand to move, the stress has me out of control in my diet. Since hearing the word behind me instructing, “This is the way, walk in it,” my diet is better, my activity more peace oriented, and I feel better (Isaiah 30:21).

Beloved, what are you stressing? If it is something for which God is giving direction for addressing, do the things He says and watch to see what He will do. If it is something that you can do nothing about, check the power behind your actions. Is the fuel behind your activity an agitation that just increases the stress? This too is fretting. Fretting is destructive enough without adding fuel to the fire through our activities.

God’s word in Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (NLT). Rejoicing 073with confidence in the hope God gives and learning patience as we wait on the Lord increases peace and destroys fretting. Find that place where distraction leads to peace.

I’m not talking the local pub for too much ale, nor any other place where addiction is fed; this too is a destructive action fueled by fret’s stressing. Where are you able to live life to the full, enjoying where you are in peace, while trusting the Lord with the things that are hard. What helps you leave things with God while continuing a life lived in His peaceful pastures? Let that be the place from which you watch for the Lord to deal with the issues that tempt you to fret.

Destructive Heart Issues

I miss my daddy. I have missed him for a long time. You see, my dad was the most loving, caring, giving man I have ever known. He would give the shirt off his back if it would help. And he was often trusting of others to his own harm. He tried to see and think the best of people.

It was not until his elder years that I was also introduced to his insecurities and hurts. He had many hurts in his heart because of things others did or did not do. And those hurts sat there, hidden, until he could hide them no longer.

In his latter years he became increasing less trusting, and the bitterness that came of the festering heartache became more evident. For those closest to him, his bitterness and anger and suspicious nature became difficult to see day after day. His lack of ability to trust and his bitterness that came out more and more incessantly through his words, facial expressions, and actions began to erode his relationships. It was the saddest thing to me, to see this very sanguine tempered, outgoing man, close himself off more and more from life and from people who loved him.

Such is the way of anger, bitterness, and contention. It is destructive, and it robs us of life and love and joy and peace. And, as we observed with my daddy, it robs us of who we are and always have been. Bitterness and anger robs of the ability to see things as they truly are. Lack of trust leads to slanderous statements given out of obscured observations. The one who is hurting becomes the one who hurts.

I am not telling you this to put my daddy down. I love my daddy. Father took him Home last November and freed him from the pain and heartache he carried. And Father graciously removed the pain and heartache that has such potential to rob me of the memory of the man I knew my daddy to be. He has replaced the hurt and heartache with memories of the good days, freed me through His Spirit-given ability to forgive. And in the areas where daddy’s obscured accusations crushed my heart, God has filled me with understanding that He knows the truth and I can stand before Him with confidence when my day comes to meet Him in the air.

I do tell you this to bring you to alertness over your own heart. Hurts and heartaches need to be dealt with in right ways that free us from anger and bitterness. Having courage to address issues with those we are hurt by; having ability of Spirit to forgive “for My Own sake” as Father forgives, so we can let it go and continue on in relationships unhindered by bitterness, anger, etc. (Isaiah 43:25): These are vital skills to develop in our day.

I urge you, if you are one snared by such destructive heart issues to seek sound counsel from godly people who can help you grow past the hurt to healing in Christ. In the words of Paul, I implore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32.

Relationships can be hard work, but broken relationships brought about by inability to forgive and show grace are destructive to all concerned, and mostly to the one bearing the grudge within themselves. If you are in such a state, I pray the Lord will equip you to love, forgive, and live life to the full in good relationships with those who so long for that love connection with you.

The Righteous Lot of God

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. WHEN HE HAD MADE PURIFICATION OF SINS, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they” ~ Hebrews 1:3-4.

The Righteous Lot of God does more than just keep laws. These are the people who, like Jesus, walk with God step by step. Psalms 1 comes to heart as I think on the person who is numbered among the righteous lot of God’s possession.

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather” ~ AMP.

The righteous walk and live:

1. In the counsel of the godly.

When my children were teenagers, everyone ran around shouting “What would Jesus do?” They wore WWJD jewelry and wrote the initials on walls. It became the watch-word for the youth of my children’s day and it carries on still today. This is the heart of the righteous lot of God’s possession, to find the path of the godly, keeping company with people of godly character, and seeking after godly counsel.

2. Taking action to right the wrong, leaving the company of the ungodly.

Scripture warns that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The righteous will not stand by and watch someone do evil to another, but will take action to stop the evil. The righteous realize when someone is given over to evil intent, and, however much they may love the person, they choose to disassociate from them when they are given to the practice of sin, in order to protect their own heart from following after folly. The breaking of the bonds of fellowship with those given to sin is not out of hate toward the person, but out of love for God that desires us to keep our heart from evil. If keeping company with a friend in this life constantly causes us to fall away from God and His ways, it is better to break it off with the friend than to fall away from God.

3. Finding peaceful pastures in which to dwell.

There is no peace around people who are constantly negative and spouting off in judgmental accusation toward others. Our political climate right now is a perfect example. I watch enough news to know what is going on so I can make informed decision as the need arises; but when I sit and just listen to even Christian news programs, hearing the rhetoric over and over about the day’s difficulties, it leads to a heart of contempt toward others. Some of the godliest people I know can sound off with fervent hate toward leaders of nations because they constantly feed their souls with the news that breeds disdain for those in power. I don’t believe this is what God has in mind for the righteous lot. We are to be people who look to Him, feasting our hearts, minds and souls on Him and His word so we enter into peaceful pastures where He can lead us to righteous paths.

Verse 2 of Psalms 1 says, “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” It does not tell us to meditate on the day’s events or the struggles of life day and night. Proverbs 29:18 warns:

“Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he” ~ AMP.

If we want to enter peaceful pastures, we cannot do so with minds full of the frailty of life and the difficulties of our day. It is only found when we enter into the redemptive revelation of God, knowing who He is and what He has done and is doing on our behalf. True righteousness belongs to those who know:

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” ~ Romans 8:22-24.

Sin is a reality in the world. Focusing on it does not make us righteous. Instead it hinders righteousness as it robs us of the peace we have in Christ when we give focus to the things of God: His word, His will, His way, and the testimony of light He desires we have within us. The darkness of this world will only be dispelled by the Light of God in us. That light is dimmed by contention and contention comes with the worries of life and clinging to our desires instead of to God.

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” ~ Philippians 3:8-9.

Jesus is our righteousness. When we sit with scoffers, feeding our souls with the day’s news items or the constant complaint from those never given to think on the things of God’s choosing (Philippians 4:8-9), letting our hearts be brought to turmoil, we forget who we are in Christ and fall to behaving out of a fleshly, worldly, demonic value system that dims the light of God in us. Focus on the turmoil in this world brings us to fighting for our right and clinging to our possessions. Focus on God and on Jesus. Be filled with the Spirit of God. Then the light in us, which consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, will pour forth to bear witness in the world, dispelling the darkness around us, and breeding peaceful pastures in which to dwell (Ephesians 5:7-10).

Father, we live righteous lives not because of our own goodness, but because of Yours. You grant us righteous status through our relationship with You in Christ, therefore we behave righteously in all things as we feast on You. Thank You that in Christ, You impart true righteousness to us for the sake of Your glory, and You empower us to live it. In feasting our hearts, minds, and souls on You and living Your ways out into our world, Light dispels the darkness around us. In associating with those of like value system, we protect our hearts from evil. And in taking counsel from the godly, we are helped to the righteous paths by which we walk and live as the righteous lot of God, chosen to be Your witnesses for such a time as this. Grant us right thought and right focus that we may feast in You and find peace that passes understanding in the day of trouble and help to weather the storms of life, choosing right and true paths for our feet.  In Jesus, amen.

“But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]” ~ Psalm 1:2-3, AMP.