Tag Archives: Peace

Genesis 32-34; Luke 10

I spent a lot of years stuck in patterns, rhythms, relationships. When I was finally unstuck, I wondered why I hadn’t chosen freedom sooner. In these verses, I see freedom.

Esau had plenty of reason to be angry. I wouldn’t have blamed him at all. In fact, I’ve often wondered about Esau and how he must have wrestled with his past/family. Jacob knew he wronged his brother. He had good reason to be afraid of seeing him. Jacob sends offerings ahead of himself, a peace offering of sorts.

Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.

Genesis 33:8-11, ESV, emphasis added

Esau’s statement, “I have enough, my brother …” this is freedom.

When Jesus sends out the 72, he’s not about making them stay until they’ve convinced everyone. He gives them permission to move on, and not be stuck somewhere. Even their peace will return back to them if they are not received. They don’t have to feel like they’ve failed. They have peace.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’

Luke 10:5-11, ESV

It’s interesting to me that a lawyer would ask Jesus these questions. That someone who so deeply valued rules, parameters, and justice would want to know the exact terms to live by. He was stuck in the details.

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” … 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Luke 10:29, 36-37, ESV, emphasis added

Having been one who has hosted gatherings, I know how easy it is to get stuck in the task and the details that sometimes I miss the point–I miss out on the joy of gathering and spending time together because of distraction (and frustration).

40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:40-42, ESV

Thank you, God, for freedom and peace. Thank you for cutting through resentments, performance, and the details we’ve puffed up that somehow make us ineffective, to show us how to live free, to love, to have peace, to be unstuck. Thank you for mercy. Life is so much fuller living unstuck.

Courtney (66books365)

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Acts 2:14-4:37

Repent is the first word that caught my attention. It has been on my mind in recent readings, and I wonder why I don’t read more about repentance from other resources.There’s ownership and accountability in repentance. It’s a turning away–a choice.

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

Acts 2:27-30, NIV, emphasis added

Lord, I need your word. I need my mind renewed daily.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:8-13, NIV, emphasis added

I (formally) met a woman the other day. She was so friendly. Her eyes were bright. Her enthusiasm was sincere. I had seen her interact with others before, and when she left me, her parting words stayed with me, “Peace be with you.”

Her smile. The joy. Those words. Who does this … on a Monday … in a cafeteria? And I felt astonished (and grateful, and seen, and blessed).

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Acts 4:31, NIV, emphasis added

Lord, I feel the retreating call of winter, to hunker down at home when pressures and bustle and impatience seem at a frenzy. I want to draw closer to you, and these Scriptures stir a longing in me to live emboldened and courageous. Maybe courage starts with a whisper–peace be with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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John17:14 – 19:42

I make it a point not to watch movies that are too real about murder, mayhem, and gore. I confess that the Agatha Christie mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, or Midsomer Murders are among my favorites for a dose of psychological thrillers, and I do like a great war or historical movie now and again. But when I saw the heading for John 18, my heart sank: “Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane.” Always, my throat tightens and my stomach churns when I read the devilry that superseded Christ’s death.

And Jesus knew what was coming. Still, we who live would like to know how to stop this train heading towards a broken track spanning the gap between this life and the next. I am more aware of my thoughts about death now that I’ve lived long enough to have mourned the passing of my grandparents, stepfather, mother in-law and father in-law, and even my precious daughter. Friends younger than I have already left this life, and now I must acknowledge that my mother is ‘slipping’ in her vigor and ‘letting go’ of what used to be of importance to her happiness. No, the train is unstoppable.

Yet Jesus did not just accept the inevitable. I’m not so foolish as to think that He was joyful about His prophetic death but knowing…really knowing that the end was near inspired the most tender love letter we have from Christ. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world…and [I desire] that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” Excerpt from John 17:24, 25.

I recently hit a deer while driving to work in the early hours of morning. I thought about the poor creature that had no clue, as he crashed into the side of my car, that he could not race across this lonely stretch of interstate. I cried miserably. But I had to keep up my wits as I drove on, not wanting to stop where there truly was no source of help and willing myself to pay attention to the sounds and feeling of the car for damage. It was not until later, in the brightness of the morning sun, that I began thinking about an outcome in which I, too, went crashing out of this life.

Being held tightly by my husband, hearing the catch in my granddaughter’s throat as she asked worriedly about any injuries, seeing the startled gazes of co-workers, reminded me that living in this time and space is a fragile existence, at best. How then can each moment, each day, and if so ordained by God, each year of life be meaningful? The ‘looking back’ at my life or the ‘what would you do if you only had one day to live’ exercises are not so interesting to me, especially since I do not have power or control over the past or the future. Yet, it was in the moment I glanced at the poor creature hurling himself toward my car that the one thought, the most meaningful thought, I had was “Jesus!”

There was no time to ask for anything from my Lord. Only time to say His name. And I could feel my heart slow down. Whatever happened next was unknown, yet inevitable and accepted. That is what death is like for we who love God and are called His children. One last breath here and the next in His presence. I still do not want to experience any means of dying, but I am at peace with knowing that the name of Christ Jesus will be on my lips at the very end. And what a comfort this is to me.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for You knew not only what awaited You in Your suffering, but that glorious peace to come in Your resurrection. You have given us those same promises of resurrection and peace. I am awestruck tasting the evidence of Your promises. Whatever we suffer on earth will not compare to being in Your presence. What joy there is in being loved by You!

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Ezekiel 28-30; John 10

God is just. When he sends word to the prince of Tyre, he explains the fault and the consequence. And I am most effected by how the attitudes of the heart can be such a trespass against the Lord.

In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god!
    I sit on a divine throne in the heart of the sea.’
But you are only a man and not a god,
    though you boast that you are a god.
You regard yourself as wiser than Daniel
    and think no secret is hidden from you.
With your wisdom and understanding you have amassed great wealth—
    gold and silver for your treasuries.
Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich,
    and your riches have made you very proud.

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
Because you think you are as wise as a god,
    I will now bring against you a foreign army,
    the terror of the nations.
They will draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom
    and defile your splendor!
They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die in the heart of the sea,
    pierced with many wounds.
Will you then boast, ‘I am a god!’
    to those who kill you?
To them you will be no god
    but merely a man!
10 You will die like an outcast
    at the hands of foreigners.
    I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” (Ezekiel 28:2b-10, NLT, emphasis added)

God’s heart was for man. He wanted the best for man. I find this passage a tender grief and grievous contrast between the life the Lord offered and the life man chose.

You were the model of perfection,
    full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty.

13 You were in Eden,
    the garden of God.
Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone—
    red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone,
    blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper,
    blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald—
all beautifully crafted for you
    and set in the finest gold.
They were given to you
    on the day you were created.
14 I ordained and anointed you
    as the mighty angelic guardian.
You had access to the holy mountain of God
    and walked among the stones of fire.

15 You were blameless in all you did
    from the day you were created
    until the day evil was found in you
.
16 Your rich commerce led you to violence,
    and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace
    from the mountain of God.
I expelled you, O mighty guardian,
    from your place among the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was filled with pride
    because of all your beauty.
Your wisdom was corrupted
    by your love of splendor.
So I threw you to the ground
    and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings.
18 You defiled your sanctuaries
    with your many sins and your dishonest trade.
So I brought fire out from within you,
    and it consumed you.
I reduced you to ashes on the ground
    in the sight of all who were watching.
19 All who knew you are appalled at your fate.
    You have come to a terrible end,
    and you will exist no more.” (Ezekiel 28:13-19, NLT, emphasis added)

Jesus explains abundant life–he is the gate. He is the shepherd. He watches over, protects, and provides for his flock. He loves them (to death!), and they love and trust him.

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:7b-18, NLT)

I think of this selection alongside the previous one–of things given on the day we were created. How sin, arrogance, pride, greed, haughtiness, unbelief–all the things that can come between us and a pure and rich relationship with God. It starts in the heart.

24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:25-27, NLT)

Lord, I focus on you and keep you center of my vision. It’s so easy to be distracted by polarizing points, the next great fear or concern, or even when the good and great things happen–to be fed full of the reward to lose sight of the provider. Be my center. Be my focus so I’m not distracted or diverted down wrong paths. Gate and shepherd–you are truly all that I could ever need.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 4-7; Hebrews 3

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. This is how you are to deal with those who sin unintentionally by doing anything that violates one of the Lord’s commands.” (Leviticus 4:1, NLT)

I read through the Lord’s instructions to Moses in Leviticus 4-7. They are thorough. They are lengthy. So when I get to Hebrews 3 and the mention of Moses in comparison to Jesus, the connection is fresh.

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.

But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. (Hebrews 3:106, NLT)

The scriptures go further to warn against a hardening of the heart against God.

That is why the Holy Spirit says,

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled,
    when they tested me in the wilderness.
There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
    even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
10 So I was angry with them, and I said,
‘Their hearts always turn away from me.
    They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. (Hebrews 3:7-13, NLT)

It caused me to think on things that would harden my heart in any event–and can I keep a hardening heart in one area of my life from hardening against God?

I’m so thankful for Jesus, who took my sins, washed me clean with his sacrifice. I can lay them down before him, the intentional and unintentional and tangled mess, and he still calls me loved. He still calls me daughter. He still calls me forgiven. He is my high priest and my hope.

Courtney (66books365)

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