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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When Peace is Difficult to Find


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“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:14

Are you having trouble finding peace this Christmas season?

Oftentimes Christmas is thought about as a time of joy and laughter and presents. However, my heart has been burdened lately for the ones around me who are hurting this Christmas season.

As I sit and think about those who will be spending their first Christmas without a loved one, I wonder how they will find peace. Then, my heart is touched by Romans 15:13 which reads: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Friends, this verse reminds me that peace can only come from God. It is not found in any present. Peace can not be bought or made. Peace comes from knowing that no matter what we are facing right now, God is in control. You see, the only way to know true peace is to know its source, Jesus Christ.

I want to encourage you today. If you are facing trials this Christmas season that are making it difficult for you to find peace in your heart, look to Jesus. He is the giver of peace. If you will allow Him to come in and fill you with his love, peace will come as well.

Let us remember to pray for those who are hurting. May God wrap them in His comfort and bring peace to their hearts today.

Looking for Direction


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And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Are you restless? Are you looking for direction from the Lord? Do you feel like you should be making a move but are unsure of which way to go? I want to encourage you today with a few verses that always bring comfort to my heart.

I know it is difficult when you feel like you should be moving but God’s will is not clear. Sometimes God wants us to step out in faith yet other times He tells us to wait. How can we know what we are supposed to do? We need to pray. We need to seek direction from God and allow Him to lead us. There are many promises in the Bible on which we can stand.

Here are a few of my favorite verses about seeking God’s will and direction. I pray they are an encouragement to you as you seek God’s direction for your life:

  • James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

I believe that the first things we should ask of the Lord when we are seeking direction is wisdom. So many times we simply do not know what we should do. We feel in our hearts that we should be moving yet we do not know where to go. I encourage you to take time to seek wisdom that can only come from God.

  • Psalm 25:4-5 “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Psalms is full of great verses on seeking God’s will for our lives. After we have asked God for wisdom let us ask Him for direction.

  • Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

In this verse we are given instructions on how to find God’s will for our lives. We are told to search for it. We can rest in the assurance that if we seek then God will be faithful to open the door and show us where we should go.

  • 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 straight your paths.”

What comfort my heart feels when I realize that I serve the One who will direct my paths. I do not have to wander around, hoping that I am going the right way. I am told to trust the Lord, even when I do not understand where I am going.

  • Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”

As humans we often want to figure it out ourselves. God gives us this freedom, however, if we are wise we will seek His direction. Many times God allows us the room to “make our own way.” What I mean by this is that He gives us room to choose what we will do inside His guidelines. We must be careful to earnestly seek God’s will before we make any decisions concerning our lives. You see, God has a perfect will for us. If we are careful to stay within His will, we are sure to find true peace and happiness.

  • Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is one of my favorite Bible verses to think upon when I am facing a decision. My heart feels such peace when I remember that God has a plan for my life. He has not left me to wander around this world trying to find my way. No! He has a plan for my life.

Friends, I know that there are times when we feel like we should move. I also understand that these times can be full of doubt and worry. I pray these verses I have shared with you today will bring some comfort in uncertain times. Remember, God loves you and He has a plan for your life. Seek wisdom, seek direction, and allow God to guide you. He will show you the way He wants you to go.

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength


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“Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 

Has life knocked you down?

Have you lost your joy?

Friend, all throughout our lives we are going to face trials. These trials will try to steal our joy. They will take the wind out of our sails.

When we find ourselves in these situations, we often wonder how we will ever get back up, how we will ever survive.

I want to encourage your heart this morning. You are not defeated. You are not alone.

Today’s verse tells us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

You see, life is more than we can handle. The day to day struggles that we face are too much for us. The sudden blows that come from the devil will surely knock us to the ground.

The good news is that we do not have to stay there. We have a source of strength, and His name is Jesus.

When life hands you a situation that you can not bear alone, Jesus is there. The joy that can be found in knowing Him and serving Him is enough to pick us back up and dust us off.

Having Jesus in our hearts does not guarantee us a life free from struggles. However, knowing Jesus and having a relationship with Him brings a peace and a joy that can get us through these difficult times.

Do you know Jesus?

Do you have the joy of the Lord in your heart?

I want you to know, today, that Jesus loves you. He is standing, with arms stretched wide, waiting for you to run to Him.

Will you choose Jesus today? Will you let the joy of the Lord be your strength?

Fighting an Unseen Battle


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 “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 

 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 

 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

Colossians 3:8-10

As I sit here this morning and ponder these verses, I feel the need to share with you the burden that has been on my heart.

I was trying to think of some clever story I could tell, or some fun analogy I could use to grab the attention of my readers, but I feel this morning that I need to just say what is on my heart.

Friends, we, as Christians, are under attack. I am not talking about an attack from some foreign country, or from our government. I am talking about a spiritual attack that we can not see, yet one that is all round us.

 We are told in Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

I firmly believe that the devil knows his time is coming to an end and he is fighting with every trick he has left in his book to destroy Christians.

If we do not open our eyes to these tricks, we are putting ourselves in danger of being defeated.

You may read the verses that I have chosen for today and ask, “Why did you choose these verses to talk about an attack by the devil?”

Friends, the devil wants to use us to defeat each other. You see, the devil in himself has no power, but if we allow him to, he will use us to do his dirty work.

The devil knows that if he can get us as Christian brothers and sisters to turn on each other then his battle will be won for him. He knows that we will defeat ourselves. We need to wake up to this reality and realize the threat that we are under every day.

Our verse today warns us against the very things that the devil wants to use to defeat us. He wants us to be angry, and to fight and bicker with each other. He wants us to talk about each other and lie to each other. He wants to cause discord between God’s people.

This is why we are told to put off these things. We can not grow together as Christians and encourage each other as long as we are holding on to things such as this.

We go on to read in Colossians 3:12-17:

 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

These are the things that we need to be sharing with each other. Instead of anger we need kindness, meekness and long-suffering. Instead of talking about each other and telling lies about one another we need to be loving each other, forgiving each other, and encouraging one another.

Ephesians 6:13-18 tells us:

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

In order to live as Christian brothers and sisters we need to put on the whole armor of God. This is the only way that we are going to be able to stand against the devil and the things he uses to defeat us every day.

We as Christians need one another. We need each other’s friendship, and prayers. We need to hold each other up and defend each other, not fight with one  another and tear each other down.

I would ask that you commit to pray with me about these things as we stand together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray these verses have encouraged your heart today. Yes, the devil fights hard against us, but as long as we are under the shed blood of Jesus Christ, there is no fiery dart that can harm us. It is vital for us as Christians to recognize the things that the devil wants to use against us, but to also understand the things with which God has equipped us to stand together.