Tag Archives: Peace

Numbers 34; Psalms 78:38-72; Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
    for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4, NLT)

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year.

But for those who are righteous,
    the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
    and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
    our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
In the night I search for you;
    in the morning I earnestly seek you. (Isaiah 26:7-9, NLT)

And I can’t imagine walking this road without the Lord. I praise Him on the path. I praise His provision. I praise His name. His Word woven in heart and mind these past ten years studying–I’m so grateful.

12 Lord, you will grant us peace;
    all we have accomplished is really from you. (Isaiah 26:12, NLT)

Mrs. Ward* was a sister at first sight. And even though she struggled to get her thoughts out (a stroke), her hands were quick to lift in praise at the name of Jesus, and her praising words spilled out fluidly when other thoughts stuck and jammed. She was discharged yesterday, and I’m thankful for the quiet moments before she left that we could say goodbye.

I never would have imagined the events that have taken place in my life this year, but through it all, I am vigilant to look for God. And He is there. Peace giver. Road smoother. Rock. I hand him the things that overwhelm, and He carries them. He gives me rest. And on days where the fight is an enemy speaking condemnation, defeat and inadequacy over me–he sends me a sister in Christ, who otherwise struggled in conversation, to speak love, blessing and encouragement over me.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (1 John 4:9-17, NLT)

The sweet tears we shed, the joy. His Spirit, the proof. Her words, His love, lifted me on a difficult day.

Oh, thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

*Not her real name.

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Numbers 23; Psalms 64-65; Isaiah 13; 1Peter 1

Numbers 23 was written for a people prone to squeezing the life out of living. It’s written for me. Self imposed to-do lists are usually far longer than what can be humanly accomplished in one day, and (I confess) are often, how I define success that day. I joke that I don’t want to miss a thing out of life, but then if left to my own devices,  miss what is most important.

My inclination is to do, not to be. My family knows when I am on this train. Once my daughter looked me square in the eyes and said, “Mom, you’re not here.” And she was right; my brain was chasing the next squirrel up a tree. Somehow, I never catch the squirrel.

God knows that this endless doing never satisfies;  He commands his people to STOP, set themselves apart (consecrate) and rest. He appointed festivals and “holy convocations” and warned the people that if they refused to deny their inclinations that they “would be cut off from the people.” Numbers 23:30.  It seems to me that is exactly what I do to myself, when I refuse to rest in God and keep up my futile chase of doing. All this striving is really a fear that God won’t meet me if I stop my talking, stop my doing.

Enter the Word of God to cleanse, refresh and restore:

You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.  ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. the grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ 1Peter 1:23-25

When I stop moving and listen and look, God opens up my heart and does a work within that I don’t understand. His presence fills the restless, greedy places and there is peace:

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it:  the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.  Psalm 65:9-13

The Psalmist describes a place inhabited by a people who are following God. On another level, he describes the human heart, when God is allowed access to the land within.

Lord, you know my inclination to go and do, but you call me to come, be still, and enjoy the Sabbath rest you have prepared for me . Forgive me when I have chosen distraction over you. Thank you for your patient, steady call to come and rest in your presence. Thank you for the healing rain of your grace and the joy that springs up within my soul at you goodness. You are mine and I am yours. Amen.

Kathy

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Leviticus 1; John 20; Proverbs 17; Philippians 4

End your quarrel.

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. Philippians 4:2-3, NLT

Keep joy.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Philippians 4:4-5, NLT

Don’t worry.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Think on good things.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8, NLT

Practice, practice, practice.

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9, NLT

Hebrews 12:1-3 is an anchoring verse to me. Yet, I can’t tell you how often I find myself being tripped up by sin that entangles. Some wounds are slow to heal. Some thoughts hound and hammer. Worries are wrapped in what-ifs, instead of shattered by prayer and thanksgiving. I have never felt more defeated or downcast as when I loosed my grip on hope–the very circumstance in which I needed to cling to hope tighter. (Oh, like Thomas, show me the wounds; let me touch the scars of your hands.)

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3, NLT

My heart and mind cannot afford to gaze at doubt. Some thoughts only lead to slowing me down and tripping me up. Lord, thank you for moving so powerfully in my life. Help me to keep these bullet points of truth top of mind.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Exodus 16; Luke 19; Job 34; 2 Corinthians 4

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, “who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

2 Corinthians 4 is a warm Spring breeze blowing through the open window of a house that has been closed up for the winter. It brings life and renewal, song and sunlight. There’s a new fragrance coming into the house that pushes away the stale air.

This gospel is not about me; it’s not about me clenching my jaw and willing myself to be good enough, effective enough and (the Lord knows) busy enough. This gospel is about Him and his goodness, his love. The gospel transforms the humble and broken; it brings them to life:  life in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I can breathe again.

Here’s my manna from heaven, what feeds my soul: God has deposited within me this eternal weight of glory. It is not of my making nor because I deserve it. It is God’s idea and by his good grace that he invites me to put aside my sorry attempts at self righteousness to be dressed in the very glory of his Son.

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

It’s been the Father’s desire that his people know and enjoy this glory throughout history. He wants us to know and enjoy the peace that only He can provide. In Exodus, God longs for the Israelites to be satisfied, but too often, like me they insist on having their way and refuse his command to honor his provision (they gather too much or too little manna) and don’t embrace his Sabbath rest. This human rebellion grieves Jesus so deeply that he weeps over Jerusalem saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” Luke 19:42.  And then he enters the very city and ministers to those of us who are so insistent on our not needing him; we end up crucifying him.

But anything I throw at Christ has been conquered by his love for me. This is the love that breaks the power of sin and death over me. This is my eternal weight of glory.   When I accept his love for me and rest in it, I am changed. The peace that he longs for me to possess is mine.

O Lord, may I respond to your transforming love with a full and grateful heart. Help me to recognize on this day the things that make for peace. Thank you for your love and kindness towards me, an undeserving sinner who rejected you. But here I am, and you call me yours. You are my glory and joy forever.  Amen

Kathy

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Job 1-3; Psalm 29; Revelation 10

Psalm 29 (ICB)
God in the Thunderstorm
A song of David.

1Praise the Lord, you angels.
Praise the Lord’s glory and power.
2Praise the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord because he is holy.

Yesappa,

You are glorious, full of power. I’m in awe of You. You are worthy to be praised. You are good. You are holy. You are full of righteousness. I lift my eyes to You and raise my hands in worship. I open my ears and my heart to You, trusting in Your grace, Your mercy, Your love.

3The Lord’s voice is heard over the sea.
The glorious God thunders.
The Lord thunders over the great ocean.
4The Lord’s voice is powerful.
The Lord’s voice is majestic.

I listen for Your voice in everything. I listen in the midst of moments of stillness. I listen in the midst of the tempests of life. I can find You in the quiet, yet Your voice is loud. I can find You in the thunder, yet Your voice is tranquil. Your voice can be heard no matter where I am. Your voice reverberates truth in my heart. Your powerful voice gives strength to me in my weakness and comforts me when I am feeling low, reminding me that I am Yours, I am the daughter of the King.

5The Lord’s voice breaks the trees.
The Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes the land of Lebanon dance like a calf.
He makes Mount Hermon jump like a baby bull.
7The Lord’s voice makes the lightning flash.
8The Lord’s voice shakes the desert.
The Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9The Lord’s voice shakes the oaks.
The leaves fall off the trees.
In his Temple everyone says, “Glory to God!”

Your voice makes the earth respond to Your commands. With one word, You can build up. With one word, You can tear down. Your voice changes things; it changes the world around me. Your voice changes me, changes my heart.

10The Lord controls the flood.
The Lord will be King forever.
11The Lord gives strength to his people.
The Lord blesses his people with peace.

You are in control. Nothing is too big or too small. You are King. You will reign forever in the heavens and on the earth. Your name will ever be praised by Your creations.

You are more powerful than the storms in my life, thunderstorms that threaten my safety. You give me strength to withstand. You give me strength to overcome. Your peace that surpasses my understanding rests on me and Your truth brings triumph.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings,
Julie (juliet2912)

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Jeremiah 37, 21, 34; Psalm 79; James 5

The space between spiritual blessing and divine conviction: what am I doing when there? Working five days per week yields structure, routine, and purpose for me. Yet, come Friday, I’m like a child brought to the playground, letting loose of his father’s hand, running off to play. Well, almost. In reality, on Friday afternoon I eat a meal that I didn’t make, take up residence on the couch, and basically waste time dozing off and on while a mesmerizing box pours nonsense into my depleted, vulnerable brain. I started this habit several years ago when I lived alone and was suffering from loneliness and sadness.  It was my way of forcing the noise in my head to die down and the tension in my limbs to relax. Somewhere in this space, I hoped to find peace. Not unlike the drugs of addiction, really. A chemical solution to a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual problem, drugs anesthetize the hurt and pain or ignite and explode the numbing depression.

This space is, of course, a false interlude before the crashing realities return. Take for instance, the promise of peace when King Zedekiah commanded people to free their Hebrew male and female slaves, brothers to their Hebrew masters. God commanded that Hebrew slaves were to be freed after six years of servanthood, and for a brief time the masters let them go. Yet, it wasn’t long before the people were rounded up and taken back as slaves.

What went on between that time? Where did these Jewish slaves go? What were they doing? Did they lie on the beach each day, just thankful for a day without stress? Did they spend their days visiting family and eating home-cooked meals, or did they start projects around the house?

You may think my wandering thoughts are mundane and of little consequence, but let me ask you, “Do you look for that personal space where you can just do nothing if you want?” Why?

Why do we feel the need to get away? Why do we become weary? What disturbances in our world destroy peace in our hearts and why? James 5 has an interesting take on that space between suffering and salvation. Verse 7 – 8 says, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

This Scripture explains why on the morning after Friday’s down-time that I feel sick at my stomach (too much spicy food?), condemned in my spirit (seeking peace from a box on a stand?), confused in my mind (professing one thing, but doing the opposite?), and depressed and/or anxious in my emotions (wasting time, wasting energy?). I did not wait with the expectation that God may come right then. I did not establish my heart by seeking God’s instruction.

Well, one more Friday has vanished along with the regrets of a life that would have been better spent eating the Word which is sweeter than honey, looking for all that is lovely and uplifting, and waiting on God’s instruction for the night (might be sleep, could be holy visions…).

So I pray Psalm 79:

Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us… Help us, O God of our salvation…For Your name’s sake! So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.

I ask, Lord Jesus, that I learn to wait with hopeful expectation of Your very presence, and to participate in the sweet joy of living in peace with You now, and definitely next Friday!

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Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

This past summer I went through my email inbox and cleaned house. Daily, the inbox was so full that if I missed a day of checking or deleting, I was overwhelmed and consumed in no time. So many things in life already vie for my attention that it seemed like I was losing my focus–and I want to be intentional in my relationships (my family and my friends right in front of my face), in my service (at home/work, at church and wherever God leads) and in my walk with the Lord (seeking him, growing closer to him, obeying him). The subscriptions were a symbolic mental hustle. I needed to pare down.

The scriptures in Jeremiah make me think on what happens when priorities get shuffled. How the Lord will speak, but a life can be so distracted or a focus otherwise engaged, that He gets put aside. Where a people pursue conflicting interests and worship other things, a merciful God calls out, “Stop!” and they can’t hear. Or worse, they burn the warning.

In James 3, controlling the tongue–and I think long on influences (what I read, what I watch, what I hear, what examples I imitate, whose advice I seek, whose company I keep) and I put these before the Lord for his guidance.

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18, NLT.

A summer favorite blogger advised (against burnout by) sorting through the to-do for the essentials and then cutting out extras until there was peace. This is where I find myself, looking at the non-negotiable activities of this season and committing to those, building from there–being careful not to tip the scales in favor of burnout and hustle. For me, at least, God is harder to hear in the overwhelm.

Father God, when I read these scriptures, I see how easy it is (and how costly!) to lose sight of you, to get so far off track (preoccupied or busy) that your voice is drowned out. Lord, I put before you my thoughts, my relationships, my dreams and my actions for your guidance. Help me to discern what is good and fruitful and pleasing to you.

Courtney (66books365)

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