The following letter is in response to a request from someone who wants to know, "How may I find peace in all that I do?"
Your request is awesome... "Peace".When the apostle Paul would write a letter to one of his groups, he always began it the same way... "Grace and peace be to you".For years, I read that hurriedly thinking it was nothing more than a greeting to begin the letter.Then, I looked more closely."Grace" always precedes "peace" in each one of his writings.So, I studied the two words and this is what I learned.
GRACE… is God's unconditional love to us, undeserved, unmerited in any way.It is all Him, not us, but His act which has given us everlasting life.That must come as the first message in the morning when we awaken, and the last one we hear as we go to sleep at night.Once we fully comprehend the depths of His love, His ability to give us His most precious gift, His own flesh and blood, then everything else pales in comparison.So, it is possible for us to find...
PEACE... more than a state of mind; it is a way of life.And it comes to us because our circumstances do not matter as much anymore, certainly not as much as giving your only child up on the altar of sacrificial love, as our Lord did.
Life will always be hectic, and sometimes out of control.But God's grace will help us to rise above the mundane activity and find meaning to everything that happens to us, both good and bad.It will not always be peaceful around the Christian, but the Christian will always be at peace…
“Don't fret or worry.Instead of worrying, pray.Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 - The Message)
There’s one guarantee in life, change is going to come – in our job situations, marital status, and our health or in other relationships – with friends, loved ones, or coworkers. Nothing remains the same. Life is full of ups and downs and reality isn’t always kind.
Many of us have attended the “school of hard knocks” – sometimes through our own decisions and sometimes through the decisions of others. How we react to these situations directly correlates to our relationship with God.
We may temporarily give in to anger, fear, or doubt. We may curse our situation and we may actually wonder why God has allowed us to walk through the fire.
I can’t explain the reasons, but I do know that He will use our circumstances for His purpose – bringing us into alignment with His plan for our lives. We are sometimes required to face unpleasantness to gain what He has in store for us.
Contrary to popular belief, my cup isn’t about the things of this world – my earthly address, the latest gadgets, the model car I drive, my title or position or how things may look to others.
Despite my condition, I can still experience joy and contentment. There is an opportunity to have an attitude of gratitude and true thankfulness in ALL things – even in the most difficult situations. Why? Because there is a rainbow after the rain and a silver lining after the dark clouds.
He continues to provide my needs – maybe not in the way I envisioned; He woke me up in my right mind this morning; I haven’t missed any meals; I have a roof over my head; my car still gets me from point A to point B; my job covers my bills; I am rich beyond measure because I am His child!
I can witness his handiwork to others when I sing His praises in church; I can smell the roses in the garden or the strong coffee in my cup; I can hear the laughter of the children on the playground at the neighborhood school or the birds chirping as they come to my bird feeder; I can enjoy the hugs and smiles of my grandchildren or the warm greeting of a long-time friend; I am thankful my cup is half full!
GospeLines Prayer: I delight in the Lord knowing that He has made a way when I couldn’t even see a path. I am thankful that He has illumined that path before I stumble more frequently.
In those difficult times, I thank You Father, for still being there for me. I can’t anticipate how You will guide, only that You will guide me!
Thank You for making my cup half full!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, June 4, 2008
"Life in the Valley"
The year was 1660. John Bunyan was thrown into jail for preaching an unpopular Gospel. For 12 years he lingered there entirely cut off from the rest of the world except for his family and a few friends who visited him. Yet if John Bunyan were here to testify, he would say that this was a time of deepening faith. Why? Because, God gave him faith equal to his needs. It was during a second imprisonment that Bunyan wrote one of the most influential books ever written--the spiritual classic, PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. (Copied from Ron Newhouse, "Daily Devotions")
What man had intended for suffering, God used for something good.Our Father is like that, you know?He has the uncanny ability to use our worst days to teach us a fabulous truth. Walking in the shadows of despair and confusion is difficult, but it would be unbearable if I didn't believe that God was going to turn it around and show me something I needed to learn.When you are having a tough time and can find little reason for thanksgiving, look beyond the moment and discover a lesson that would remain hidden if you never spent time in the valley.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I like being on the mountaintop because it is there that I feel closer to You.But it is only from spending time in the valleys that I can fully appreciate what Jesus did for me when He exchanged heaven for earth.Let others see Jesus in me by the way I endure the bad times, as well as how I celebrate the good times.Amen and amen.
All quotes from children who are trying to understand parents.
How about these words (or something similar)?
“I took geology in college and this creation stuff just doesn’t fit with modern science...”
“It just doesn’t make sense to me...”
“I wish I could properly evaluate and bottle it…”
All quotes from people who are trying to understand God.
God knew that our egos would cause us to struggle because our flesh doesn’t like to admit that we don’t understand or that someone else knows more than we do.That’s why Isaiah was inspired to pen these words:
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord.As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 – NIV)
Since we’re stuck with our fleshly bodies and minds, what are we to do?How are we to reconcile worldly knowledge with the Words of God?By Faith!
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command.” (Hebrews 11:3 – NIV)
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” (Hebrews 11:7 – NIV)
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.” (Hebrews 11:17 – NIV)
Jesus went so far as to bless those who by faith, believe, even though they have not seen with their own eyes; or, in today’s terms, those who do not understand with their own intellect.
“…Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 – KJV)
Like Thomas, we will face decisions as we go through life.We will have to choose between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of the Word.When faced with those choices, remember Jesus’ words…
“…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” and choose the Word.
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
"Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God."(Isaiah 50:10)
Darkness comes to everyone, even the strongest believer.To deny this is to betray our humanity for which Christ sacrificed Himself in the cruelest of ways.To acknowledge our own frailty relieves us of guilt and frustration.Beloved, Jesus is never more radiant than when you seek him from the dark places.
Charles Spurgeon had this to say about it:"Darkness…can it fall upon a child of God?He is a child of light; shall he walk in darkness?Not in darkness in the sense of ignorance, and sin, and death, but in the sense of gloom and sorrow.Saints may have much of it.The heir of heaven sometimes knows midnight.But if he be with Jesus, following Him as his leader, then he is in a safe condition."
Many who have traveled those temporary valleys of despair have done so in shame, thinking they were alone in their travail.No, you are not alone!Others, if they are not in your company now, they will be.Life is like that.We share this hope, however, that Jesus can pierce the silence and loneliness of every human predicament.Never tire of seeking His light, for He is nearby waiting to save you from that pit of emptiness.Hallelujah!Never give up!Never!Never!Never!
GospeLines Prayer:Awesome Creator, who spoke the day and night into existence, walk with your servant when the sun is bright and illumine my path when I am sightless. When my way seems dark, let your presence shine as a beacon of everlasting hope.Amen and amen.