Love & Peace

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9‭-‬21 ESV

I’m struggling this morning. Watching the protests last night right in my own city, seeing violence and looting happening, breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see the damage that has been done to people’s property – people who had nothing to do with any of it, having their lives destroyed by others who decide to be both judge and jury and find everyone guilty.

I’ve been in protests. I believe that peaceful, non-violent protests can be effective. There’s no way, really, that I can understand a life lived in abject poverty, but that isn’t what these protests are about. I’m white, so, no, I’ll never understand what it is to be black (or brown or red or yellow). I’m a woman, and I do know discrimination. I’ve been discriminated against for being white, and for being an American. I have lived with prejudice against me. Respect is an attitude that doesn’t seem to be taught much anymore.

We are all guilty. Every single one of us. We are guilty of prejudice, we are guilty of judgment. We all do evil. We are guilty of discrimination. There are times when protesting injustice is necessary, and coming together in solidarity to protest an injustice goes back to the beginnings of these United States. There are no excuses for vandalism. Vandalism doesn’t solve anything, and it hurts those around us, our neighbors and families.

I’m struggling with the upheaval and chaos facing my country. I’m crying for the losses of so many innocent people. Join me in praying for the people who want to see change, that they will understand that violence is not the answer. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Every Good Thing; It’s Simple

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27‭-‬30 NASB

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7‭, ‬9‭-‬10 ESV

“But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart , ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss ?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart ” – that is, the Word of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as LORD, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is LORD of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” So Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:6‭-‬13‭, ‬17 NASB

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NASB

Is there a simpler, more easily understood way to say it?

Forgiven

“If You, Lord , should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.” Psalms 130:3‭-‬4 NASB

This reminds me of this phrase: Because I say I am a Christian doesn’t mean I’m perfect (far from it!); it just means I am forgiven.

There’s a song the Newsboys sang called You Are My King, and this is the beginning verse.

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily left heaven and accepted living as a human, and then died as our sacrifice for our sins, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t voluntarily hung on that cross, forsaken and condemned, where would we be today? If Jesus hadn’t conquered death and hell, and walked away from the tomb, where would we be today?

It is because of His sacrifice that we live.

Have you accepted that? Because of Jesus, all of my sins are forgotten! Without Jesus, there would be no peace in my life. I pray that you find that peace today!

Enough

“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 your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15‭-‬16 NASB

“O Lord , You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” Psalms 139:1‭-‬3 NASB

You know, I just can’t come up with anything today that can add to these verses. They are enough; JESUS is enough. He is all we need. AMEN.

I Am No Longer Bound By Fear

“But I rejoiced in the LORD greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-13 NASB

We can’t control what is without us, but we can control what is within us. Contentment is dynamic; it is not complacency or settling, but in very circumstance and every situation, it is glad submission to God’s providence. Contentment isn’t based on the “if only’s” – not “when you have” but what you have in your heart. The LORD wants us to have it through all the circumstances of life, whether in plenty or in want. It has to be learned over a lifetime, by experience and hard work. “All things” means the ups and downs, the fluctuations of life, ALL the circumstances of life, and it comes from the One Who is constantly pouring His strength into me. It is up to me/you to stay in contact with Him. Contentment does not come from WHAT we have but from WHO we have, because to be content is to be satisfied, and we gain it with the sufficiency and adequacy of Christ. Both abundance and loss will pass. GOD is the ONLY constant in life.

“He only is my Rock and my Salvation, My Stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” Psalms 62:6 NASB

I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of GOD.

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the Power that works within us, to Him be the Glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

In Time of Need

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NASB

“In time of need.” That’s where God is with His Strength. Right when we need it. He isn’t flexing His muscles to intimidate the enemy as He walks alongside me. He isn’t running around, roaring and posturing. I see it more clearly, now. The LAMB is my constant companion, always with me as a comforting presence. The LION is there, unseen and unheard, until I need Him, and then He is with me, protecting me and lending me His strength.

“In time of need.” What a simple, yet profound, statement.

The Peace of GOD

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The LORD is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD. And the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4‭-‬7 NASB

Shakespeare wrote in his play Macbeth: “Double, double toil and trouble….”

Sometimes that’s how the world feels to me, all caught up in a witches brew of trouble. Since the Garden and Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, that’s exactly what the world is. A cauldron of evil, orchestrated by the enemy of God. Even as I write, people are falling ill, succumbing to diseases, victims of accidents and of evil deeds and persons. People are dealing with financial issues. Think about the women trapped in abusive relationships, the children caught up in the slavery of the sex trade. It’s an ugly world. So what can I do? What are Christians supposed to do? Paul tells us.

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” Philippians 4:4‭

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, …..” Philippians 1:18

Still worried? With this pandemic of COVID19 and worldwide social distancing and quarantining, it’s easy to worry. If you’ve been following me for long, you know I’ve struggled financially for some time now. It’s somewhat ironic that with so many thousands of people losing their jobs and having to drastically reduce their spending, that mine is somewhat level. I feel your pain! I know what it is to struggle, and how easy it is to fall into the enemy’s arms of worry and despair. It’s more importantly now that it has ever been that we lean on the LORD.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:6‭-‬8 NASB

Do I still worry? Yes, because I am human, and a sinful being. It’s hard to let go of things and allow God to do the work He intends to do. I want to direct His Hands. What a disaster that would be, if He allowed it! My absolute best decisions pale to nothing next to Him. Let the Peace of God enter your life by allowing Jesus into your heart, accepting Him as your Saviour. It may not change the circumstances, but it will definitely change your heart and mind and spirit!

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 NASB

Rest your heart and your mind. Allow JESUS the Victory over death He claimed over 2000 years ago! He is Risen; He is Risen, INDEED!

Worship the Creator

“Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 66:1‭-‬2a NASB

Who are we to question the Creator? Who is man, to build fancy buildings and claim that they are GOD’S house? How do we become so arrogant as to believe that something we put together is sufficient for Him?

I have been blessed to be able to travel some in Europe, and see some of the stunning, soaring architectural features of many cathedrals. I’ve been in the backwoods of middle America, and in the Southwestern states, and witnessed majestic churches and humble adobe ones. The awe that I felt was the same for all. Stepping into a building that is dedicated to the LORD brings a sense of worship to me. I have felt His Presence.

BUT.

I have felt the majesty of my God even more profoundly out in His Creation. Have you ever stood on the edge of a mountain at sunrise, or sunset? Have you witnessed the unspeakable grandeur of the Grand Canyon? Have you stood in a creek at daybreak, witness to His creatures waking to a new dawn? Have you been in a field, listening to His breath as it brushes across your skin? Watching clouds as they appear to boil up on the horizon, or been caught out in a summer rain shower? It amazes me that anyone can see these things, and still refuse to acknowledge our Almighty God!

For all of history, man has been trying to impress God with buildings. I’m not against church buildings. They serve a necessary purpose for the gathering together of fellow believers. It’s when we try to out-majesty the Majesty of our God that we often begin to go astray. Are we trying to impress God, or people? I’m not against pretty churches. I attend a pretty (in my opinion) church. I have enjoyed visiting God’s church buildings across the U.S. and Europe. I’m just afraid that we get too caught up, sometimes, in “going” to church. Especially now, in this weird time of social distancing and not being able to join together in our usual manner, we have the opportunity to observe God in His Creation and worship with Him there.

If you are able, take your online worship outside. Use our Savior’s beautiful creation to enhance your time. I think He will be pleased with us. Even my humble backyard is a part of His glorious world.

Fearful?

“Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. I said to the LORD, “You are my LORD; I have no good besides You.” The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips. The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalms 16:1‭-‬2‭, ‬4‭-‬5‭, ‬8 NASB

Are you worried about your health and safety because of this virus called COVID19? Are you fearful that the world as we know it is ending?

I will say this. Yes, the world as we have known it is over. We can’t go back. I’m not convinced we should want to. My fears aren’t because of a biological “bug”. I’m much more concerned about the actions of people, and especially of those who are “in charge.” Government, whether it’s your local town or those in Washington, doesn’t easily let go once they have taken over something. Is it necessary for the powers that be to pass resolutions to order people to stay at home except for going out for essentials? Apparently so….. but for the criminals, and those people who consider themselves above the law, will it make a difference? Probably not, and those are the very people who are creating issues for the rest of us. Politicians have turned it into a political issue. I’m talking about both sides of the aisle.

“The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips.” We are so busy bartering for all of our everyday gods that we have forgotten the GOD Who is in control.

I will continue to protect my family and my home to the best of my ability, but I will not fear or be intimidated by the enemy’s actions.

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalms 118:6 ESV