Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace


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I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

What picture does the word Peace paint in your mind?

For some it is a beautiful ocean scene with emerald blue water and rolling waves that softly glide onto white sandy beaches. Yet, for others it means a rustic log cabin set back in the piney woods with a creek gently flowing out front. Maybe for you it is a grand mountain range with deep, vast canyons and majestic mountains that seem to reach the sky.

No matter what picture comes to mind when you think of peace, it can never compare to that moment when God’s peace sweeps over your weary soul. The most beautiful landscape you could imagine could not compare to the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that only Jesus can bring.

Have you experienced that peace? I surely have many times.

Oftentimes when we think of peace, our minds tend to also picture a worry-free setting. We are quick to assume that peace means a lack of trouble. However, as I was reading in Acts 12 this morning, I came across a verse that caught my attention. In my mind it painted a rather unusual picture of peace. Acts 12:16 tells us, “And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.”  

In order to fully grasp this picture of peace, let us go back just a moment and examine what is going on in this passage. Prior to Peter being imprisoned, he has had to endure seeing his fellow disciple, James, put to death at the hand of Herod. Now Peter finds himself imprisoned,no doubt facing the same fate that he has just watched James meet.

Now, we can continue our discussion on peace. Does the word peace come to mind when you read this story? Understandably not. So, how is it possible that we find Peter sleeping in this passage? Peace, Friend. It is because of that peace that passes all understanding that Peter can find himself chained between two guards, seemingly facing death, yet he sleeps.

I dare not say that I would handle such a situation the same way. Recently I have been going through some trials much less than imprisonment and death, and still I find myself worrying. Complaining. Fretting over things of which I have no control. I forgot to choose peace. I chose to place my focus on my problems rather than giving them to God and resting in His Peace.

Friend, I am reminded this morning that peace is a choice. Peace should not rely on our circumstances. Peace can not and should not be measured by our surroundings. We, like Peter, should choose peace in the middle of even the most dire situations. Peace can only be found in Jesus. You see, when we take our focus off of our problems and put it on Jesus, then and only then can He give us the Peace that we see in Peter. We can rest, right in the middle of our trial, knowing that God is working for us.

Will you choose peace today? Will you choose to stop looking at all that is wrong around you and focus on the One who holds you in His hand? It is a choice. Today, I choose peace. I choose the peace that passes all understanding. I choose to rest in Jesus today. I pray you will do the same.

 

 

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Your Past Does not Define You


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“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:18-19

Do you ever reminisce? Do you like to sit with family or friends and talk about the way things used to be? Maybe you discuss experiences you have had or lessons you have learned?  Does your past ever trip you up? Maybe there are things that you would rather forget.

I would say I fall into both categories. I love to sit with family and listen to old stories being told. I enjoy the memories that go through my head as my brother and I reminisce about our younger years at home together. I laugh with my husband as we remember our dating years. Yet amid all the fun memories there are many I would rather not speak of. There are sections of my past which I am happy to leave right where they are. There are even some over which I still trip from time to time.

One of my favorite parts of a new year is the feeling of freshness that comes with it. For me it is like turning the page in a book and beginning a new chapter. Sure, you can go back and visit the previous pages if you would like, but oh the excitement that comes with the many blank pages that lie ahead, just waiting to be filled! The possibilities are endless.

Many times, however, the devil wants to steal that joy from us. Yes, he wants to hold us back, to bind us down. He reminds us of our mistakes. Often times he tortures us with our past. You see, satan has no hope. He was given a choice many, many years ago and he made it. His fate is sealed. Now he wants nothing more than to keep you down, to hold you back. Remember friend, the devil is the father of all lies. (John 8:44)

I want to encourage you today with these words. Your past does not define you. No matter what you have done, or what your past may hold, God loves you. He sent His Son in order that you may have a future. When you confess your sins and give it all to God, He makes all things new. He wipes your slate clean and gives you a fresh start. (Psalm 103:12) What better way to start a new year than with the realization that you are God’s child? The plans He has for you are amazing! (Jeremiah 29:11) Do not let your past failures hold you down any more. Do not allow the devil to fill your head with lies. Hold fast to Jesus and the promises that He has made you.

Will you commit with me right now to put the past behind? Can we lay down the weight of our past mistakes and boldly walk into the future that God has for us? My prayer for you today is that you will take hold of the hand of Jesus and allow Him to lead you to the things He has waiting for you in this new year. The possibilities are endless if we will let go and let God.

 

 

 

 

 

Step Out in Faith


Photo Credit: DBackwoods

Photo Credit: DBackwoods

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

FAITH- such a small word, yet it seems to be one of the hardest concepts for humans to grasp.

 

EXAMPLE:

1. We can not see the wind, yet we believe ( have faith ) that it is there.

Why is this true? Possibly because even though we can not see the wind, we can feel it when it blows.

If I am standing outside and a breeze comes through, I can feel the wind on my face and know that the wind is blowing.

If I am standing outside and the wind begins to blow, the trees begin to sway, and the sky grows dark, I can not see the storm coming, but I trust the evidence that I feel, and I seek shelter.

 

I believe that the same is true with our faith in God. We can not see God, but when He moves we can feel it. Sometimes God comes to us in a still small voice, and sometimes He comes to us in a mighty, powerful way! Either way, if we will step out in faith and listen for His call, He will guide us in the direction we need to go.

One of my favorite people to read about in the Bible is a man named Elijah. You can find the whole story here: ( 1 Kings 17-19:14 )

Elijah was a prophet of God. He had seen God work many, many times in his life. He had seen God work miracle after miracle:

1. Elijah is fed by a Widow ( 1 Kings 17: 9-16)

2. Elijah heals a child ( 1 Kings 17: 17-24 )

3. Elijah calls fire from Heaven ( 1 Kings 18: 19-39 )

Even after all of these miracles by God, Elijah finds himself in a scary place. There is an evil woman named Jezebel who, hearing that Elijah has had all the prophets of Baal put to death, sends word that she plans for Elijah to be killed. ( I Kings 19: 1-2)

For fear of his life, Elijah runs and hides. He goes so far as to ask God to just go ahead and let him die right there.

God, of course, being the great God he is, does not let him die. Instead  God provides food for him.

Elijah then travels until he comes to a cave where he decides to hide. You see, Elijah is discouraged and ready to give up, but God is not done with him yet.

God comes to Elijah while he is in the cave and asks him why he is hiding there. I can almost hear Elijah as he tells God all of his troubles and complains about how bad things are.

What happens next is my favorite part:

God tells Elijah to get up and go stand on the mountain. When Elijah does, God shows Himself to Elijah, but not in the way you would think. We read in I Kings 19: 11-12:

“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord;

but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

Elijah had the faith to do what God had said, and God came to Elijah, in a still small voice. It was then that Elijah realized that God was not finished with him. You see, God had great things planned for Elijah, but he could not do those things as long as he was hiding in a cave. Elijah had to step out in faith and listen for the voice of God. When Elijah stepped out in faith, God revealed Himself to him and then was able to use Elijah to do even more great and mighty things.

I do not know what kind of trials you are facing today. I do not know if you have a “Jezebel” chasing after you, but I can promise you this: God has not left you. He has not forgotten about you. God has great plans for your life. You have to be willing to step out in faith first though, just as Elijah did.

“You will never accomplish what you do not have the faith and courage to attempt.”

I want to encourage you today. If you are facing hard choices, if you are wondering where God is leading, or if you are tired and ready to give up, step out on the mountain in faith! Seek God and His will for your life, and then be ready to move when He tells you to move.

God’s Word tells us this:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,

and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

Hebrews 12:1

 

I pray you find encouragement in these words today! I pray that you will remember the story of Elijah, and how God used him in great and mighty ways. Step out in faith, and you will be amazed at the things God will accomplish through you.

God bless you, friend.