Peace of Christ

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” – COLOSSIANS 3:15 NASB

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – PHILIPPIANS 4:7 NASB

Peace. What a wonderful word. Sometimes, when I hear it, I have to chuckle as I recall the idealized thoughts of teenagers – “I want to see peace on earth; Give peace a chance; All the world needs is love, love, love…..” Sure, sure. Who doesn’t want all the fighting and evil to go away? It’s a nice thought, granted, but is it realistic in the world we live in? Unfortunately, no. As a follower of Jesus Christ – not as a Christian who is defined by the world – I believe it is for us to speak out:

“…… but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness …..” – 1 THESSALONIANS 2:4‭-‬5 NASB

When I allow the Peace of Christ in my heart, it allows me to more easily see the evil, manipulating ways of the world, and enables me to speak out against it. His peace teaches me to be content in my circumstance ……. and I continually work on that!

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the Will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – ROMANS 12:2 NASB

Control

Control. The one thing I think everyone wants in their life. Instead, God gave us free will. I was reading the other day and came across a passage that really says this well

“I didn’t have control over what anyone else did. And while God could control anything and everything, He had given His creation the freedom to choose. God could intervene, but then He’d be no more than a master puppeteer. A puppet couldn’t love back. And that was what God asked. His children had to choose whether they’d love Him enough to obey or whether they’d go the other way. I had to accept that God gave everyone the same freedom.” Haley, Design On A Crime by Ginny Aiken

I don’t have control over anyone else, or over what they do, and trying to control them only hurts me We can choose to follow God’s teaching, taken from His Word, or we can choose to attempt to control our lives. He allows that choice, and I believe it saddens Him more than we can imagine or comprehend when we choose the path away from Him.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12‭-‬15 ESV

Choosing to forgive someone takes the power away from them, and makes their actions weak and incapable of hurting us any longer. Years ago, I heard a song on the radio during a time of deep despair and at a time where my life was completely out of my control. These words are deeply meaningful. It’s called The Key, sung by Steve and Annie Chapman. This is just a tiny taste:

“Now don’t you know the offender

Is rarely the one in pain

Instead the one who will not forgive

Is the one who wears the chains.”

http://www.steveandanniechapman.com

Hope it helps you a little.

To Sum It Up:

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” (“Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.” – PSALMS 34:13‭) – 1 PETER 3:8-‬10 NASB

Peter uses these verses (including v. 11-12) to summarize chapters 1 and 2, and the first few verses of chapter 3. He was writing to a group of exiled Jews who were living far outside of their homeland (“foreigners, aliens, and exiles,” 1 Peter 1:1, depending on the translation), who were under pressure because of their status (1 Peter 1:6). He wants us to see that there is a good life for us here on earth, regardless of the problems we are facing. When we follow these suggestions, our hearts are able to enjoy the good in our lives rather than being focused on whatever is happening externally. The psalm Peter quotes, Psalm 34, was written by King David after he had to pretend madness in order to escape from those who were prepared to kill him (1 Samuel 21). We don’t have it so bad when we look at things in context!

We always have a choice as to how we react and resond to the events in our lives. We can choose to see the good and love life; to enjoy what we have, or we can endure it, or we can attempt to escape it. I’ve tried enduring, and it is just that – enduring. No joy. Escaping doesn’t work, either. I promise you, no matter how you try to escape, distance or mind-altering substances or food or sex or shopping or work, it is all right there, still the same! Choose joy, because it is a choice! I was recently having a conversation with a pastor about my current situation (it isn’t all that pretty….) and I ended it by saying that I am very blessed. He expressed some surprise, saying that few people say that. I choose joy, because I have lived the alternatives, and I don’t like them. I’m not a saint! I admit to being depressed and feeling sorry for myself at times, but then I look around and see others who have it so much worse than me. If you are struggling, stop looking at what you don’t have, and see what you do have. It can be eye-opening. Don’t miss the good life GOD has given you!

Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – JOHN 10:10 NASB

Choose JESUS and choose Life Abundant!

Disclaimer: I often use my notes from our pastor’s sermons (with his permission). Dr. Hitchcock brings the gospel alive for me, answering questions I have and bringing more questions to my mind. The thoughts I carry away cause me to read and research the scripture and Bible commentaries, and I always come away with something new! If you would like to hear the original sermons (without any mistakes I might bring!), go to Sermon Archives at http://faithbibleok.com/ The Good Life – we are currently in the Still Standing series by Dr. Mark Hitchcock. We are truly blessed with all of the Bible teachers and books and commentaries that are available for us.

Insulted, Gossiped About, Lied To

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11‭-‬12 NIV (Red Letters of JESUS!)

I want people to like me. My feelings are hurt when people gossip about me and spread lies about me. Sometimes the hurtful things said are true and many more times they are lies. Either way, words hurt. Does that mean it’s okay for others, and especially people who claim Christianity, to use the gossip for their own entertainment? When I am insulted, persecuted, and lied about, I’m just supposed to turn the other cheek? I’m supposed to Rejoice??? This is what JESUS says to us about it:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and Glorify your FATHER in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14‭-‬16 NIV

Once we choose JESUS, we are no longer of this sinful, corrupt world. Why then do we continue to live as though we are still part of this world? As Christians we shouldn’t want to be a part of the gossiping and lying and back-biting, yet the people who have professed the CHRIST are often the worst about doing them. What’s up with that? Perhaps we need to pick up our Bibles and do some searching …..

There’s a song by David Crowder called Red Letters and it ends like this:
Thank You, God, for red letters
When the ground began to shake
The grace of God started falling
And I became a free man that day
The prison walls started falling
And I am a free man today

Have you read the Red Letters? Has your ground been shaken; have your prison walls fallen, have you received the Grace of the ALMIGHTY GOD and embraced your new freedom? It is an incomparable experience. It is truly the Peace that passes all understanding.

“He [King David] said: “The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my GOD is my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation. He is my Stronghold, my Refuge and my Savior— from violent people You save me. “I called to the LORD, Who is Worthy of Praise, and have been saved from my enemies.” ” – 2 Samuel 22:2‭-‬4 NIV

Delighted!

We all have places, people, and things that bring us delight. Babies laughing, puppy and kitten antics, majestic views, beautiful flowers and trees, music, food, children, spouses, friends, loved ones. These things, these delights, as much as we enjoy them and search for them, are all momentary and fleeting. On the opposite side, we also have our fears and frustrations, especially when when we are struck with physical, personal, or monetary crises. When disasters strike the righteous person, we question why. Why does the Almighty, Omnipotent GOD let His people suffer, but He allows the sinners and the lawbreakers, the evildoers, to (apparently) prosper?

I fervently believe that we will have it explained to us one day; the day we stand face-to-face with our LORD JESUS. Meanwhile …… it is important, critical, that as followers of the CHRIST we study and absorb His Word. There are numerous promises in both the Old and New Testaments that everyone will receive a final judgement in front of the Throne of GOD. The enemy of the LORD, the Father of Lies, the instigator who brought evil into our world, will receive his due – and it will not be pretty. All of the fallen, both people and supernatural beings, everything natural and supernatural, will receive their condemnation at that time. Read the Revelations of John! This is what I know to be true:

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.” – Psalms 37:4‭-‬9 ESV

One day soon, Psalms 37:9 will come to pass. All evil that exists will be washed away and removed from earth, and those who have chosen to follow the LORD will be rewarded with a new home – one where heaven and the true, the real, Holy City will actually reside here on earth with us! My conclusion? Fretting and worry on our part indicates that we don’t think GOD can handle the little stuff. I’m guilty, too! Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” – Psalms 37:7 ESV

I know, easier said than done! There’s a song done by Natalie Grant that pretty well sums up what often we do instead of waiting and placing our reliance on the LORD. What do you think?

When we stop trying to contain GOD, then we are able to delight in Him! Amen!

Serenity

Serenity …… seems like an impossible goal.

I think just about everyone knows the first two lines from the “Serenity Prayer,” “A prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The best-known form is: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” (Source: Wikipedia ) It was originally published in 1951, but it may have been written as early as 1934. First adopted by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), it has become permanently linked to the recovery movement.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

(Read more: https://www.lords-prayer-words.com/famous_prayers/god_grant_me_the_serenity.html#alcoholics#ixzz5cgsk4Dvz )

The words as written are not in the Bible, but it is certainly based on


scriptures, starting with the Psalms and into he New Testament, here are a few of the supporting scriptures:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. The LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.” – Psalms 121:1‭-‬2‭, ‬7 ESV

” ….. Fear not, for I AM with you; be not dismayed, for I AM your GOD; I Will strengthen you, I Will help you, I Will uphold you with My Righteous Right Hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 ESV

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

“But the Wisdom from above is first Pure, then Peaceable, Gentle, open to reason, full of Mercy and Good Fruits, Impartial and Sincere.” – James 3:17 ESV

I challenge you to read the complete prayer again. Commit Psalm 121 to memory – it’s only 7 verses. If you have trouble memorizing (as I do!), then take the first two verses of both the Psalm and the prayer and memorize them. Write them on index cards and place them around the house where you will see them frequently. Some suggestions: the bathroom mirror, your dresser, by the coffee pot or teakettle, in your lunch, or in your workout bag. On the dash of your car. Make it fit your lifestyle! As the Apostle John wrote, I add as a benediction to us:

“Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27 ESV

( https://www.lords-prayer-words.com/famous_prayers/god_grant_me_the_serenity.html )

A Spicy Christmas

I opened my box of spices this morning! (Remember, I’m still unpacking and organizing from my move 😁 ) It was an insulated box, and the moment I lifted the top, the wonderful aroma of all the spices drifted out and enveloped me in warmth and memories. Cinnamon and nutmeg reminded me of my Grandma and my Mom making our ‘Christmas pudding’ and loads of cookies. We always had Apple Pudding, a cake-like dessert redolent with apples and cinnamon, and lots of assorted cookies…. add in vanilla and nutmeg and allspice; turmeric and chili powder, and the room becomes a tumult of spicy smells.

All of this reminded me of our SAVIOUR and the gifts that were brought to welcome Him to our world. Frankincense, an aromatic resin used as an ingredient of the incense burned in the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, as a symbol of the Divine Name. Myrrh, another aromatic resin was brought to JESUS. It was also used in the Temple, both as a part of a consecrated incense and as an ingredient in the Holy anointing oil. I believe they were brought the CHRIST child to Glorify Him as the Divine LORD, and in preparation of His Body for His death.

From http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html :

Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. The gift of frankincense to the Christ child was symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, analogous to a burnt offering. [Myrrh] was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion (Mark 15:23). Matthew 27:34 refers to it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. The baby Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who would believe in Him.

The Magi, or the wise men of the East as they are popularly called (Matthew 2), brought gold to JESUS along with the Frankincense and Myrrh. In that time, gold was used as currency, jewelry, and for decorating. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold, and many of the accoutrements of the Tabernacle and the Temple were made of gold (Exodus 25; 1 Kings). It was a symbol of royalty and divinity, so it was quite an appropriate gift for the CHRIST-Child, the King of the Jews. By receiving the gold, Joseph was presented with the funds He would need to take his family to Egypt, as King Herod set about his massacre of all the baby boys in his kingdom, also known as the “Slaughter of the Innocents” (Matthew 2).

As we breathe in the wonderful, spicy aromas of this season, take time to worship the Baby Boy, the Son of GOD; the One Whose birth brought all of this about, and eat a Christmas cookie for me!