Tag Archive | peace

An Easter Reflection

© Depositphotos/ kevron2002

“It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.” Luke 23:54

Isn’t it interesting that the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the Sabbath?

It’s Saturday, a holy day. For the Jewish people, Saturday is the Sabbath. People go to the temple and there is no work done.

Jesus is dead. He’s been crucified. Just a few short days before, people were shouting His praise on Palm Sunday. He was their King come to save them. And over the course of the week, everything changed.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday everyone is going about their business. The Passover is coming and there are preparations to be made. Jesus is still teaching and His messages are bold and convicting. He appears steadfast and confident, unwavering in His purpose. Of course He’ll succeed. The Jewish people will soon be freed from their oppression.

Thursday comes and Jesus is betrayed and arrested.

“Wait. What’s going on? Who’s been arrested? How can that be? I thought…”

By Friday, Jesus has been convicted. He’s nailed to a cross to die a criminals death.

“NO! This can’t be happening! He was supposed to become King. He was supposed to save us. How do we move forward? How can we move forward? Everything we had hoped for is gone. Is there even any hope left?”

Saturday comes and so does the Sabbath. Nothing can be done. And even if something could be done, they can’t do it. The law doesn’t allow it. All they could do was seek God, go to the temple and wait.

Did the disciples of Jesus go to the temple? Or did they remain in the upper room, quiet and afraid, uncertain of their fate should they show their faces?

Regardless of where we are or where we go, one of the most holy things we can do is seek God and wait on Him. When everything is falling apart around us, or seems to be, we seek and wait. We pray and trust.

On Friday, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And He’s right. There’s nothing left for us to do, but rest.

And then Sunday comes. Answered prayer. Truth revealed. A miracle. Hope is restored in a way even better than we could have imagined!

Too often though, we want to skip from Friday to Sunday. We want instant answers and results. And while the truth of what God does on Sunday solidifies the foundation of our faith, our faith is grown on Saturday. And sometimes, Saturday lasts a long time, much longer than we like.

This is a constant pattern in our life. Everything is great. We see a bright future ahead so we go about our business assuming we know how it will all work out. Then, out of no where, we are blindsided. We don’t know what’s going on, how it happened, or what to do next. Time passes. We do what we can feeling like it’s not enough, feeling like there’s no end in sight. And then, God breaks in. Something changes and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is renewed.

As Christians, this week, Holy week, is our state of living all wrapped up in each day. We know Jesus is King and has come to save us. We go about our business in this world steadfast and confident, unwavering in our faith, boldly teaching and preaching through the power of Christ in us. We prepare because the hope on which we wait could come at any time. And when times get tough, almost unbearable and there’s nothing else we can do, we seek God. We rest in Him. We pray, trust and wait.

Sometimes the weight of God’s word, His glory revealed through His word is heavy. I can’t speak. I can’t think. I can’t process. In the presence of the Lord, Isaiah recognized His sinfulness. He thought for sure He was done for. Daniel lost all strength and felt completely helpless. He trembled in the presence of God’s messenger. Saul, on the road to Damascus, fell to the ground at the flash of light and the voice of Jesus. Even the Apostle John, who had walked with Jesus on earth, fell as though dead in the presence of the transfigured Christ.

This is my struggle: to get the words out when the weight of God’s word overwhelms me. It is so good, and it is so, so important. I had meant to post this going into Good Friday. Maybe it’s good that I didn’t. Maybe it’s good that we don’t just get on with our day once Easter is over, the dishes are done and the crowds have gone home. Every day is Holy. Every day is an opportunity to consider and reflect on what “Sunday” will bring.

Something to Consider…

As you think about the different days of Holy week, where do you find you spend the most time?

  • Are you looking to the leaders of the world to solve your problems?
  • Are you going about your business assuming you know how things will turn out?
  • Are you feeling like your unsure of what’s happening in your life, like you’re trying to hold on, but are losing control?
  • Maybe you’ve lost hope and feel defeated. You don’t see a way out.
  • Maybe you’re unsure of what to do next, where to go or what to do.

Jesus is returning. A new Sunday is coming. How does this truth affect how you spend your time? How does this truth change the day in which you live?

May you know and believe, seek and trust, while finding your rest in Jesus. We can live every day in the reality and truth of Easter.

 

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Rooted and Established

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)

© Deposit/sonerbakir

© Deposit/sonerbakir

In Christ, the Spirit of Christ lives in you. You are in Christ. Christ is in you.

Do you see how fighting God could make you frustrated? You’re one with the living God and you’re trying to work in opposition to Him.

It’s not that you don’t understand God, at least in part, it’s more that you do. You realize deep down what it’s going to take to follow Him fully. You realize what you’re going to have to give up, what will be sacrificed in your journey with Him. And less than money, position, influence or relationships, but more of your pride, excuses, vices, comforts and conveniences.

But here’s the deal: fullness of life comes from God, not these other things whether material or self-satisfying attitudes and motivations.

When we hold back even one part of our heart from the saturating living waters of the Holy Spirit, we lack fullness. Our relationship with God can seem stagnant, but it’s not. It’s always moving. We are always moving. He is the same. He is constant. We are always moving closer to Him or farther away. We can choose to let His fullness invade our hearts or we can close off more and more pieces to Him. Because when we find reasons and justifications to keep one area closed, we’ll find reasons and justifications to close Him out of others.

Even a tree planted by streams of water, a tree that has no mind, knows that it’s best to grow deep roots into the ground that’s saturated with water. And it’s best to be saturated with the Spirit.

Streams of water move. The Spirit within us moves.

Ground saturated with water from streams has a fresh supply of oxygen. The stream feeds fresh water in while pushing old water out the way our lungs pump oxygen into our blood and our hearts move it through every part of our body. And just like our bodies know how to dispose of toxins, this flow of water in the ground allows for drainage of anything that may hinder the growth of the tree.

The stream flushes the ground and the Spirit flushes our hearts.

A heart saturated with the Holy Spirit has a fresh supply of God’s fullness. The Spirit brings all of God’s goodness and glory into our hearts and we can tap into this fullness through the roots we grow. When the Spirit reveals those things in our hearts that are damaging or harmful to us, we need to let the Spirit remove them. We have to let go and stop fighting Him.

God’s resources are unlimited. He will never run out of what we need to live, move or have our being in Him. As He empowers us with His strength through the Spirit, we learn to trust Him more. Our roots grow deep. We choose Him sooner, we choose Him first. We look to Him to satisfy rather than other people, other things or our surrounding circumstances. As we come to understand how deep His love runs, we realize our roots will never outgrow Him. His love is long and wide. There is nowhere He won’t go to find you and no pit too deep for Him to pull you from. How high is His love? Higher than any cloud, any star. Higher than the most powerful telescope can see.

This is the love that loves you.

When you allow your heart to be saturated with Him, every dark and secluded corner filled with His light and love, there will be nothing that can bring you down. He will establish you in a firm foundation and strengthen you with His strength that stands for eternity.

Something to Consider…

Does the understanding of God’s great love for you escape you? Do you feel like you have too many questions and not enough answers? God wants to you to ask your questions with a willingness to listen. He wants you to know Him in the depths of your heart. He is strong and His love for you can handle any question you throw at Him.

Do you have a hard time letting Him into the deep recesses of your heart? Does the thought of what He will reveal worry you? He already knows what’s there and He knows how to bring healing through the living waters of His Spirit. As cool water refreshes our bodies, His Spirit refreshes our hearts and our souls.

Every success and accomplishment along with every difficult decision or situation will cause you to choose where your roots will grow. Find your satisfaction and fullness of life in Him.

Where Wisdom Comes From

“Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” Job 28:20, 23-34

© DepositPhotos/nature78

© DepositPhotos/nature78

I received a phone call from my daughter not long after she left the house this morning. Since few people actually pick up a phone to talk anymore, my radar went up and I was instantly concerned. Yes, it turned out that she may be having car problems.

Ugh.

She has places to be and she’s not close to home. Our coming days are full so we need to deal with this now. Of course, my concern for her safety is always high on my list of priorities.

I’m not a mechanic and my answer to any car issue is to bring it in. I don’t know what the problem is and I don’t really want to know too much. I just want it fixed. I just want her safe. It’s so good that others know so much more than me!

Since she was almost to her destination, I told her to go. I called the repair shop, made an appointment and then started processing how we would work out all the details. In the middle of everything I continued to feel a bit wound up and stressed. I can have a tendency to panic and I want that to be different in my life.

So I talked with a friend. Not just any friend, mind you. A friend I not only trusted, but one who I knew didn’t panic. One who I knew had dealt with car issues. One who I knew would give me some straight answers with common sense.

And she did.

Sometimes there are practical issues and situations in our lives where we need concrete answers and decisions in the moment. And then there are times when we need an overall shift in our thinking, our emotions and our way of understanding our situation.

This is what Jesus does.

Did His car break down? No, because He didn’t have a car. He didn’t have a donkey either. And when He needed one, He asked to borrow someone else’s. He reached out and asked for help. God had already ordained the response.

There really isn’t a situation in my life that Jesus hasn’t experienced in His own way. He understands completely and if I’m willing to ask for help, He will comfort and encourage me. He will guide me to the people who can help. He will help me shift my understanding and perception of a situation not because it’s changed, but because He’s already brought about a resolution.

He is the resolution and the response to every situation.

Something to Consider…

Does this situation seem petty? In the middle of all the hardship, troubles, and chaos in our world right now, does this seem so very insignificant? In comparison to other issues, I’m sure it is. But how great is it that we have a God who is truly just as concerned with our small and petty issues as He is with our big and overwhelming concerns.

What small issues in your life do you try to handle on your own? How can trusting God in the small and petty help you learn how to and be able to trust Him in the big and overwhelming worries of your heart?

Difficult working conditions, strained family relationships, oppressive governments, unfair opportunities and general day-to-day problems…Jesus has seen it all. He has overcome it all. Will you seek His wisdom and His way today?

Peace Like a River

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.'” Isaiah 48:17-18

Ebro River passing trhough Miravet, Spain

© DepositPhotos/ nito103

I know many people who want peace, more peace, deeper peace. And yet, they go about life doing the same things they always have. They react and respond the same as every other day. They point the finger, play the blame game, and justify their actions. All the while their insides are turning upside down, tossed like waves of the sea.

They say, “God, give me peace!”

The truth is they don’t really need more peace. They need to learn to grow and mature in the peace they already have. And so do I.

We can choose to operate in agreement with the Spirit of God living inside of us or we can do things our own way. As I was writing in my journal this morning I prayed that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

God can make that happen all on His own. He doesn’t need anyone to do it for Him or help Him in order for it to happen. But, one way it happens is through His people. He uses His people to show the world His will by living His way according to His Spirit in us.

So, if I want God’s will done on earth then I need to be in alignment with His Spirit. And this doesn’t just mean in agreement with my thoughts. It can be really easy to simply say, “Yes, God, change this world. I want your will to be displayed in this world and I want those who don’t know you to start acting like they do.” Because often, this is really what we want. We want everyone else to start acting the way we think they should according to how we understand God and then we will experience true peace.

It’s really easy to quarterback from the cheap seats and tell others what they should be doing. But peace doesn’t come through the actions of others; peace comes through our own actions. If I’m going to be in alignment with God, then not only my thoughts, but my own actions and words need to be in alignment with God as well.

Peace comes from obedience, personal obedience. Peace doesn’t come when we are satisfied that others are being obedient. Peace comes from us seeking God, His kingdom and righteousness, and willingly doing what His Spirit prompts us to do.

God warned Cain that He had the option to do what was right in his relationship with God or he would end up doing what was wrong in his relationship with his brother, Abel. We are no different.

Our ability to pay close attention to God, to listen to God first doing what He says, will go along way in our ability to love others and have peace in this world. And when we do, God will restore us. He will refresh us with living water. Our own well-being will no longer be subjected to the external circumstances around us, but will be secure and steadfast in the power and sovereignty of our Redeemer and our Lord.

Something to Consider…

What is your definition of peace? Where does yours come from? Nothing in this world will satisfy completely. Everyone will fall short and everything will fade, decay or perish at some point. You will always run out of what you need when you rely on this world.

Rivers move, they are not sedentary. They navigate the terrain with ease and grace. The water gives to the bumps in the riverbed, but it keeps on moving.

What “bumps” keep you from being obedient to God? Fear, pride, or complacency? Only God can completely satisfy. When we trust in Jesus, He gives us His Spirit to help us know God’s will AND DO IT. Be obedient and experience His peace fully.

Quiet and Still

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.'” Psalm 46:10

DSC06926As I’ve gone through the different seasons of my life, there is always a word or phrase that God gives me to help me understand what He wants to teach me.

A few weeks ago my prayer request was that I would be able to relax in Jesus. I want to cast my cares, unload my burdens and stop trying so hard. I want to let Him have His way rather than me try to do it all correctly…whatever that means. I want to trust where He leads me, the understanding He gives and just do what He says rather than question and weigh everything.

It seems like I’m always at war with someone; sometimes God, at times myself.  My flesh screams for its own way. I want others to acknowledge me. Others want me to give my allegiance to them, not God. All the while, ultimately, I just want to know the right way to go.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you experience any of these same feelings?

God wants me to stop fighting and trust Him. God wants you to stop fighting and trust Him. So how do we do that?

Be still. To be still is to be free from turmoil and commotion. It means we are to relax, let our shoulders down, our hands fall and stop struggling and striving. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to sit and not move since this is something we can and should experience at all times. But it does mean that when we want to fight the battle, we can choose to stop and let God take over. I try so hard to make so many things happen, but God will accomplish His purpose regardless of what I, of what we try to do.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

Know He is God. This sounds easy enough but really, do I know God? Do you know God? He made us and cares for us. He is our good shepherd. He comes after us and brings us back to Him. If we really believe God, then we know He really does care about and is in the details of our lives. When we trust what God says, we will stop trying to earn His favor and feeling the need to prove ourselves. He sees and knows exactly who I am and what mask I’m using to cover my shortcomings and failures. He is willing, and really the only one able, to help me take down that mask and He will still love me unconditionally. He loves you unconditionally when you trust Him as well.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

Cut others some slack. Fear of judgment is one of the main reasons I struggle. I’m always sure some will think I’m not holy enough. Others will think I think I’m “holier than thou.” No one will ever be satisfied. But really what this says is that I am always comparing myself to others which means I’m judging my holiness against another. I judge their holiness in order to understand and be comfortable with my own. But we are each a work in progress. I’ve seen some people be transformed quickly in their relationship with Christ while others have taken some time. I myself am at the slow end according to my own time table. What I’ve come to understand though, is that the less I worry about others, the less I’ll worry about myself. The more I assume good of others, the more I will believe others assume good of me. As people who know God, our desire should be that others know Him as well. Jesus came to reconcile us to God and in this, we can be reconciled to each other as well. We can stop fighting God and we can stop fighting each other.

Something to Consider…

Do you feel like you most often fight God, yourself, or others? What would those relationships, even how you see yourself, be changed if you stopped fighting? For this to happen, what would need to be different about the way you think? As you practice being still, let God have space to move and speak in your life, your day and your relationships.

Do you feel like you know about God or really know God? There is a difference. Jesus came to make God known and it’s through our relationship with Him that we are reconciled to the God who loves us, the God we too often fight against. To whom would you like to be reconciled? As you learn to live reconciled to God, He will help understand and experience what it means to be reconciled to others. Ask God to help you know Him so you can reflect Him in your relationships with others.

In Every Season

Depositphotos_10073264_xs (2)

© Depositphotos.com/menz11

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 8:5, 3:11, 3:1

I’ve been going through a season. I’m on the quiet side when I first meet people, but my husband, children and best friends would say I’m anything but quiet. I can talk for hours, days even given the right circumstances and people. I have an opinion about everything and I am more than willing to tell you if you really want to listen.

There are three things of which I’m certain: Jesus Christ is Lord so I submit my entire life to Him, my marriage is a lifelong covenant so I seek to move forward with my husband in unity, and God loves my children even more than I do so I can entrust them to Him. Every other opinion is subject to change and I willingly admit I don’t have all the answers even if I speak like I do.

But I’ve been going through a season of silence. My last blog was nearly 3 months ago and that was more of a response out of an assignment than my actually having something to say. I have no desire to add to the noise of the world just because I can.

So why am I breaking my silence now?

PRAISE!

When everything feels hopeless, Jesus gives us hope. When everything seems lost, Jesus provides the way.

There is a season for everything. There is a proper time and a proper procedure for everything. And in obedience to Christ, we can walk in whatever season we find ourselves.

And since there is also a purpose to every season, I’ve learned a few things in this season of silence.

Prayer is better than simply talking. As I said, I can talk it up with the best of them. But simply talking about our problems, concerns, stressful situations, and even our joys and celebrations only goes so far. In laying out in the light, openly and honestly, all of our “talk” before God, we actually engage with the One who can do something about our circumstances. We ask God to join us in our struggles, we ask to join God in His solution. We thank Him for what He has already done, what He is currently doing, and for what we trust He will do in the future.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

Silence encourages us to listen more. When we aren’t so busy talking, we can listen with more intention. We can hear the people around us. We can be present in their lives and respond as needed to them. Because we pause to engage with God, if we really want to join Him in what He’s bringing about, we need to be able to hear what He has to say. We need to be able to respond in accordance with His character if we really want to see the fruit of what He is able to do in and through us.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8

 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

Peace comes when you realize there’s only so much you can say. I admit, I want to try to talk people into understanding, agreeing and complying with my ways. Even more so, I want to talk people into understanding, agreeing and complying with God’s ways. But that isn’t something I have control over. Only God can change, move and transform someone’s heart and mind bringing it into alignment with Him. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can cause someone to call out to Him in their deepest need and trust Him to respond. And only the power of the Holy Spirit through a relationship with Jesus can give me the peace to know when I’ve said enough and trust Him with the rest.

“The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.” Isaiah 32:16-17

Something to Consider…

What season are you in? Do you struggle to find God in your situation? Do you assume things will always be this good? Regardless of what season you find yourself experiencing today, know that God is only a prayer away. He hears you when you talk to others, but He really wants to talk with you Himself. Ask Him to join you. Choose to join Him.

Do you ever feel like you just talk too much? Like you’ve said it all and you’ve said it to everybody? Before we know how to do anything, we learn and practice. If you have a tendency to struggle with quiet, with silence, set your mind to learn to listen. Practice what you hope others will do for you. Give God space to speak so your ears can be fully attuned to what He has to say.

Summer Days, Winter Nights

conceptI’m sitting here on this beautiful summer day thinking about Christmas. Why? Because that’s just how fast time seems to pass.

Life is busy. In Minnesota, summers are busier. We have three, maybe four months to enjoy the warm temps, warm water, and not have to layer up just to get the mail. We cram weekends “up north” into our schedules, do everything we can to get to “the lake.” In some ways normal life seems to stop and our outdoor summer life kicks in. Now, don’t get me wrong. We like our winters, too. Just not that many of us like them as much as summer.

I lived in southern California for 18 short months and it wasn’t like that there. Summer or school year, so much of it seemed the same. There seemed to be a natural flow from one time of the year to the next with no dramatic shifts. I love the seasons of Minnesota, but there was something quite peaceful about our So Cal life.

So as summer begins to draw to an end (August begins this weekend, school the end of the month) and our summer thinking turns to fall activities, winter will be here before we know it. The changing of the seasons works that way. Different times in our lives distinctly marked out by the weather.

And if we’re not careful, we let our lives be directed and guided by what’s going on around us rather than by Who is in us. We let our actions be determined by the season we are in, rather than by the One we belong to.

Christmas is one such time when the ways of the world can quickly overshadow what we say is truly important to us. We make decisions because of what’s expected rather than because we believe it’s the right thing to do. We act as if this holiday is all about us when others don’t respond to or hold the holiday in the same regard as we do whether they are friends, family or complete strangers.

We forget that it’s all about Christ. We act in a way that doesn’t accurately represent who He is to a lost world. We expect others to conform to our way of thinking when we ourselves, those who claim to know Christ, have not conformed to His way of thinking. We have higher expectations of those who don’t know Christ than we have for ourselves.

Jesus had something to say about this:

“Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.'” Luke 11:46

And He says something about Himself:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

We can’t expect a world to come to us to find Jesus if we are doing all the same things they are. We can’t expect a world to come to know Jesus if we make it hard for them see and know His gentle and humble heart.

So what’s the answer?

We keep Christ at the center of our hearts, lives and activities. We find our joy, peace and strength in Him. And we remember that He came as a gentle and humble baby, not for His own benefit, but for ours and for others.

Our hearts need to be open to His leading at all times, but it seems like we need to be more aware of what’s truly in our hearts when the spotlight shines on us more brightly…like at Christmas. What will your heart tell others about Jesus? What will others learn about Jesus because of your words and actions? Choose to make this Christmas different. Choose to prepare your heart for the coming Christ so that the world may know and believe.

Something to Consider…

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason

Being intentional in our relationship with Jesus is necessary at all times. It’s easy to think that just because we are involved in ministry, work for or go to school in a Christian environment, or we are in a season that is focused on Jesus, we will have a heart set on Him in all we do. The world creeps in and we can be easily distracted .

What steps will you take this Christmas to be intentional in your relationship with Jesus? He is gentle and His burden is light. Help others know Him this way.

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!