Praying for Peace

peace

Perhaps you’ve experienced times recently where the peace of God seemed absent from your life. His peace which passes all understanding seemed to elude.

In such times, fellow pilgrim, the problem is that you’ve allowed your feelings to get in the way of the faithful God in your mind. Your struggle isn’t with the lack of His peace, or power, or presence, but ignorance or unwillingness to take Him at His Word.

Jesus said: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).

If your heart is in turmoil, child of the heavenly Father, today isn’t the day to pray for peace in your life. God has already blessed you with all the peace He is (Ephesians 1:3). The One who stood in the boat during the storm and spoke the simple word: Peace, be still (Mark 4:39), has already implanted His peace within you. Jesus – the Prince of Peace – dwells in you permanently. Where He is, there is His peace also.  Instead of asking for peace, pray for greater faith to believe in the sufficiency of His Word.

Spiritual Drift

blister

I didn’t intend it, nor did I know it was happening. Slowly, the top of my foot was rubbing against the inside of my new shoe.

We were out for a walk in the beautiful Silver Falls State Park. The trail runs a breathtaking 9 mile loop through dense, old growth timber, and along the route are 10 of the most remarkable waterfalls you’ll ever see. It wasn’t until I got home, took my shoes off, and propped my old peds up on the coffee table that I discovered the blister on my toe.

I drained it, loosely bandaged it, and then prepared myself mentally to have to pop it again in the morning. It wouldn’t hurt much, but it would be sore for a few days.

A blister occurs when your skin gently, but consistently, rubs against something, causing the layers of skin to separate and fill with fluid. The friction is both unintentional and often unnoticed until it’s too late to prevent it.

The second chapter of Hebrews begins with a warning. Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away (Hebrews 2:1). Spiritual drift is a very real threat to the life of every Christian; before long, we can spiritually drift far from where we ought to be – or need to be.

Drift is like a man fishing from a boat, who fails to notice that he’s adrift from where he needs to be. He simply goes with the flow and soon finds himself shipwrecked upon some rocks or headed over a waterfall. Spiritual drift may not lead to eternal death, but it will lead to spiritual dearth (1 Timothy 1:19).

Many things may contribute to the unawareness of spiritual drift from truth: laziness in spiritual disciplines, failure to submit to careful Bible teaching, familiarity which breeds unconcern, self-righteousness which is the evidence of pride.

The answer is to know, follow, and strongly tether ourselves to the things we have heard in the Word of God. God’s Word always leads in only one direction when properly taught and studied: toward Jesus. He is a soft cushion, protecting the tender spirit from blistering friction and a steadfast an Anchor for the soul from spiritual drift (Hebrews 6:19).

Let Your Light Shine

light-bulb-300-wide

It’s our custom in the morning to eat breakfast together, pray, and then read a small portion of Scripture and share out thoughts on it. On this morning we read the words of Jesus:

You are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14)

I asked my wife, “Are you going to let your light shine today?”

She thought a moment, then with a glint in her eye answered, “If Jesus is really in me, I can’t hide Him.”

High-Five!

Blood Moon Rising

blood moon

Dr Harold Jefferies used to say, “She who marries a fad will soon be a widow.”

Do you remember the 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 hoax? How about the Y2K meltdown?

The latest fad in popular Christianity is the “Blood Moon.” It’s the idea that a series of lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015 are prophetic events.

The fad was begun by a man named Mark Blitz, who teaches that true Christianity requires a conversion to Mosaic Judaism, that Sunday churches are apostate, and that only those who follow Messianic Judaism have a relationship with God. Are your proverbial “red flags” flying yet???

Blitz wrote in his book, Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, “This could be the final curtain call before the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible.”  [Notice the “could” provides a great deal of wiggle room for a false prophet.]

Then John Hagee, a Texas mega-pastor, jumped on the bus. His claims about discovering the blood moon concept have been debunked and his blood moon dates don’t match the historical record (here). It’s a multi-million dollar money-making fraud.

The Biblical passages Blitz, Hagee, and other others use to formulate the “blood moon” fad are Joel 2:30-31; Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12-17. A careful reading of Joel 2:30-31 and Matthew 24:29 in their context show that the events recorded in the Scriptures accompany the Second Coming of Christ to judge the nations of the world and establish His Millennial Kingdom over the whole world. These are all events – according to the passages taken in context – AFTER the Great Tribulation period.

The heavenly signs described in Revelation 6 occur during the Tribulation period.

All three passages also state that the sun will go dark. But who cares about Biblical accuracy. Right?

Those who understand the distinction between Jew, Gentile, and Christian (1 Corinthians 10:32), also comprehend the distinction between God’s plan for Israel and His plan for the Church. God doesn’t hold the Church to Israel’s calendar of events.

After faddists have unscrupulously made their money off Biblically ignorant and illiterate people, they either disappear or catch the next fad. The best way to avoid being deceived by fads and cults is to actually know the Bible. When a fad has failed and gone, what remains is God’s Word, faithful and true.

The Jesus said, “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not follow after them (Luke 21:8).

Only the Good Die Young – 2 Kings

Only the Good Die Young

We consider death to be an ending rather than a beginning, and a bad ending at that; but whit if God looks at the death of His people differently than we do? What if the death of His saints is precious to Him?

The popular American phrase, “only the good die young” actually goes back to the ancient Greeks. The historian Herodotus (445 BC) relayed a story in which two young men carried their mother to a festival in a cart which they pulled. When they reached the festival, the mother prayed her goddess to repay her sons with a great honor. The goddess Hera then struck the two sons dead. Thus was born the phrase, “Whom the gods love dies young.”

The Bible says that only God is good (Matthew 19:17) and that among mankind, there is none who does good, no, not one (Romans 3:12). Everyone is a sinner in need of a Saviour, and rather than being “good”, we are deserving of eternal death, which is the wage of our sin (Romans 6:23).

If being good has nothing to do with death, why do some people die young?

Sometimes God takes His people to Heaven “early” by our perceptions, to spare them some great evil they would otherwise be exposed to later in life (2 Kings 22:19-20).

The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness (Isaiah 57:1-2).

God looks at our lives differently than we do. We think of the here-and-now while God looks from the portal of eternity. Whether young or old, while we grieve the loss of ones we love, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15).

Trapped in My Own Thoughts

Anxiety

One sentence stood out as I read the devotional book with my wife this morning. Sarah Young wrote, “Anxiety wraps you up in yourself, trapping you in your own thoughts.”

I think it’s part of my nature as a firstborn child. I used to micro-manage my day. I would lay in bed at night and plan out conversations I might have the next day. I would consider all the possibilities of all the things that would – our could – take place. I’d save every little thing, convincing myself, “Someday I might need this four inch piece of string.” I couldn’t help but consider every contingency, certain that potential danger was lurking behind every corner. I wanted to be in control; maybe I unconsciously needed to be in control.

What I didn’t realize about this natural compulsion was that it is the dictionary definition of anxiety:

full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried; solicitous; earnestly desirous; eager; attended with or showing solicitude or uneasiness; anxious forebodings.

Anxiety is wrapping myself up in myself. It is being trapped by my own thoughts.

Thankfully, God has given to me a new nature, and I’m learning to trust Him rather than to be wrapped up in the sin of my worries.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness …. and do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:33, 34).

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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

 

I Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby

1 yr old

Me at first birthday

I was rather young at the time of my birth, so my memory is a bit foggy of those early events. The doctor said my mother was present at my birth, yet while I was growing up she repeatedly asked, “Were you born in a barn?”

My birthday is coming up soon. Since I don’t want to be deluged with gifts, I’ll just say that it’s within the next 365 days. As I look through the “Baby Book” my mother so carefully put together for her firstborn, I discovered that I was special! In the Book are locks of hair from my first 5 birthdays, napkins from the baby shower, and a Certificate of Dedication from my church. Most interesting are the things my mother wrote about my growth and achievements.

  • At 9 days my mother wrote that I “went to a Bach concert and was awake the whole time without crying.”
  • At 2 months I “crawled off our bed and fell on the floor. He just cried a little bit … He sloppers constantly.” I was eating cereal.
  • At 4 months I was walking in a walker and “he loves paper, especially books. Richy spent the 4th of July at Grandpa’s and watched the fireworks from the roof of Grandpa’s new duplex. He spent one day with Grandpa on the truck and was held by a Negro woman.”
  • At 5 months I was saying words like “da-da”, “good”, “dink” and “yeah.” My mother wrote, “He’s been going to Sunday school class for a month now and is real good.”
  • At 6 months I was walking and “tries to eat everything we do but can’t without any teeth. He loves french fries, Coke, and candy. He acts so grown up we sometimes forget he’s a baby.”
  • At 11 months I was writing with pen and paper, putting away my toys, feeding myself and drinking from a cup on my own. “He reads books and papers like he knows how to read.”
  • At 19 months I was fully potty trained.

I must have reached full maturity shortly after my first birthday because my mother stopped writing.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

Listening

listening

Before my phone sounded the alarm this morning, announcing the start of another day, I laid in bed listening. Most times I lay there and hear nothing but deafening silence, but today was different.

Outside I could hear cars and trucks travelling much faster than the posted limit of 40 miles per hour, drivers hastily on their way to somewhere to begin hurrying again home.

On the wall I heard the battery operated clock steadily and methodically ticking away at the seconds in every minute and hour.

Through the window at my head was a bird, with all it’s ability, creatively chirping out a new song of welcome to a new day.

The world outside was speeding about as usual. Time was marching forward without regard to anything else. Nature proceeded as it does every other day. I, however, in that moment, needed to pause in a prayer of thanksgiving to the God of all these things, and so much more.

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

A Snail’s Tale

snail

Herbert and Hobart were twins. Almost.

They’d spent every minute of the three months of their lives together. They liked the same things. They did the same things. They went to the same places. Kinda.

Every morning when the sun came up, Herbert would open his eyes, move over to the bright pink wheel in the center of his home and begin running around and around and around.

Hobart would wake at the same time as Herbert, only he didn’t have a wheel, he’d just move to the edge of his house and swim around and around and around.

All day long the two best friends, a hamster and a goldfish, kept busy going. They had so many places to go and things to see in their little world.

One day as the two brothers were making the circuit around the world, Hobart noticed something odd outside his glassy home. He stopped swimming to stare. Herbert stopped running in his wheel and tumbled to the wood shavings on the floor of his home.

“Hey, what’s up?” the hamster protested as he turned to see what his twin was so interested in.

Hobart ignored his brother and rose to the top of his fishbowl. Taking a big gulp of air he called out, “You! On the wall! What are you doing?”

The snail on the wall stood still in his thin trail of slime. Turning his antennae, he saw the two twins on the table, each peering over the edges of their glass houses.

“I didn’t see you fellas there. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Solomon and I’m on my way up the wall to the window. I’ve dreamed about a big-wide world out there just waiting to be discovered. More snails than I could ever imagine. This adventure has taken me three days so far, but I’m on my way. See, I spend the day climbing up the wall and then each night I slide down a bit, but I’m certain to reach the window sill in a few days.” Solomon couldn’t resist adding, “Then the world’s my … oyster!”

The twins looked at each other and sneered. “Up the wall.” They both laughed simultaneously, Hobart’s gills choking on a wave stirred up from laughing so hard. “That’s nonsense! A world waiting to be discovered. We’ve seen and done everything there is to see and do.”

Herbert, however, was a bit more curious than his twin. “You mean you climb up the wall a bit … slide down a bit … then keep climbing? What’s the point?”

 

Discouraged – 1 Kings

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Elijah stepped from the greatest moment of spiritual success. He’d confronted the evil of King Ahab, and through a mighty miracle from Heaven, God revealed Himself to everyone present in a way that no one could deny.

Then Elijah climbed atop a mountain and prayed for God to end a three-year drought. Again, in miraculous fashion, God heard Elijah’s prayer and brought a rainstorm that ended the supernatural drought.

At this point, we’d expect Elijah to be reveling in God’s might and filling the air with thankful praise. Instead, the prophet is running for his life, fearful of a threat made against him. Elijah’s despair overwhelms him. This man, who only a day earlier had prayed and fire came out of Heaven and then prayed again so that a drought ended, crawled under a bush in the wilderness and prayed, “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (1 Kings 19:4, NLT).

Elijah forgot the greatness of God in the midst of his circumstance.

As Elijah waited, he had a revelation of the greatness and majesty of God, reviving his faith (1 Kings 19:11-12). It’s difficult, when you’re laying under a bush in despair, maybe evening wanting to die, to hold patiently in faith and wait for God; but when you do, God reveals Himself anew, reviving the spirit and refreshing the soul. That still small voice is ever speaking, reminding you, Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind and earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12).