Got Peace?

imagesGot peace?  Peace is something lots of people are talking about today, but very few seem to actually experience it.  The harried hustle bustle of the season leaves many of us in a heap of holly jolly this time of year….sucking our thumbs, rocking back and forth singing jingle bells in the corner while we go over our Christmas list ….one last time to make absolutely  sure we haven’t forgotten anyone and that every child has exactly the same amount of gifts to open….EEEK!  Aaaaah Christmas….It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  

Yes! Christmas is in fact the most wonderful time of the year, but not because of the tree or the lights or the gifts.  All of those things are the way we celebrate, not what we celebrate.   At Christmas time we light lights and trim trees and bake cookies and buy gifts because we have something incredible to celebrate… the birth of the Prince of Peace.  It’s so funny that we would celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace by, well, driving ourselves crazy LOL  If we take a moment and focus on the Christmas gift God gave, it puts so much into perspective.

God gave us the best Christmas gift ever…He gave us His one and only…His best…  Jesus.   Jesus made a way for us to have peace with God again.  Jesus came as a defenseless baby and grew into a man who would willing sacrifice himself.    He would make one final sacrifice for sin, once and for all.    God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world,  but that through Him the world might be saved.   ( paraphrase John 3:17)  God sent His one and only to bring peace….not peace -sign- peace but peace with God.  Through God’s Christmas gift to us, Jesus, we can be friends with God again.

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace Isaiah 9:6 HCSB

Jesus brings us personal peace, because our ultimate fear is taken off the table, fear of death.  God’s great gift, Jesus, is the way in which we have eternal life with God, not separated from Him….but with Him.   Got Peace?  Not the peace the world gives, but the peace of Christ.

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Forward

38e41c83bccee3c12cf3252047e9a405I find myself either romanticizing “yesterday” or regretting it, both of which rob me of my best “today”.   Either, “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now I need a place to hide away oh I believe in yesterday “( old beatle fan?)….  or I get stuck regretting the missed opportunities, or the hurts I’ve inflicted, or rehearsing my mistakes.  Either way there’s no future in gazing into  the rear view mirror of life.

In fact,  looking in the rear view will cause you to fear the future if your gaze gets fixed there.  You begin to let your experiences dictate your expectations.   It takes faith to move forward.   The only reason to look behind you,  is to keep from hitting something you’ve already passed….learn from your mistakes and then move on.     The rear view mirror is only for going backward, and who wants to do that???   I’ve decided that all the best stuff is yet to come…forgetting what is behind, I’m reaching forward to what is ahead.

Just trust me…hehe..you’ll get into huge trouble if you’re trying to drive forward while looking in your rear view mirror ( I’ve been putting on lipstick and can tell you from personal experience…it’s not a good idea) .  God gives us grace and strength and power to move forward, He feels so strongly about forward,  that once you’ve confessed your sins, He” remembers then no more”….so you can move forward.

“13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13&14 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

 

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Thirsty?

The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.  Proverbs 11:25

Page 14_credit Goodshot forward slash thinkstock_webAre you thirsty?  Is there an area of your life that you just feel is dry? … spiritually dry or emotionally dry or financially dry?  Think with me for a moment.  Is it your marriage?  Is it feeling a little like the scorched earth right now…dry, parched, dusty?  Maybe it’s your job or your relationship with your family.  Or maybe you’re bank account looks a lot like the Mojave….tumbleweeds blowing through.    Or maybe you’re like I used to be, experiencing the dryness of a life lived without Christ.  The “is-this-all-there-is-to-life” kind of dry.

The bible gives the craziest remedy for our parched places…. be generous and go water somewhere else.  Sounds crazy right?

Be generous.   Don’t just do a generous act, but be a generous soul.  Live to give.   Give to other people the very thing you’re needing.  Need friends?…be a friend.  Are you sitting back waiting for people to come to you?….go to them first.  Reach out and be genuinely interested in them….be generous with compliments and you’ll never be without friends.   Feel left out at church? at work?  Look for a place to serve people, you be the one to make sure no one feels left out.  When you “water” others,  you’ll be “watered” yourself.  Financially dry? You know what I’m about to say ….wait for it….. Give some money to someone else.  Yes!  Be generous with the very thing you feel you’re lacking. God rewards generosity.  Live to give.

Go against what feels natural.  If we wait until we feel generous we never will be.  Our natural tendency is to hoard the little we have,  so that we’ll have enough, but God’s economy works in the opposite way.  It takes faith to give away the very thing you think you’re in need of, but faith pleases God.  It takes selflessness to be more concerned about someone’s need than your own, but selflessness  pleases God.    Be more concerned about others’ thirst and you’ll find that you always have a cool drink of water on a hot dry day.  Live to give,  and the maker of the universe will make sure you always have plenty to give away.  You, generous soul, will be made rich, in everything, by the richest one of all.

Here’s the promise God makes to us….The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.  Proverbs 11:25

 

 

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Snorkeling in a creek

hope-handDo you ever feel hopeless?  Hopeless about a situation or relationship or just life?  Maybe you’ve been financially strapped for so long that robbing Peter to pay Paul seems like business as usual.  Or maybe your marriage is awful and you can’t even remember what you ever saw in him, and now there are kids and a house and a van and laundry and dishes and and and….. Or maybe you’re sick and the report wasn’t good….. Maybe you just feel a little hopeless,  or a lot hopeless. 

If we look at situations from an earthly, here and now perspective, it’s easy to become discouraged.  But when we look at our lives through a spiritual, heavenly lense we begin to see a whole different world of possibilities.  

Have you ever gone snorkeling in a creek?  You might be a redneck if…..LOL  Well, I have, in fact, been creek snorkeling. We were vacationing at a friend’s  cabin at Leatherwood creek on Kentucky Lake.  The water wasn’t even waist deep and if felt kind of silly to be putting on snorkeling equipment, but our friend had told about how awesome it was, so we thought “why not give creek snorkeling a shot?”  To our surprise , it was absolutely beautiful under there.  Tree roots sheltered tons of fish, mud from the creek bottom looked all billowy and other-worldly.   You would be shocked at all that goes on beneath the surface of a creek.   It’s a whole different, beautiful world, just one foot below the surface,  the water explodes with life.  What you couldn’t see at all from the surface becomes visible.

We live in the here and now, but God’s existence is timeless and His perspective is eternal.  There are so many possibilities that we can open our eyes and hearts to when we focus on God’s ability instead of our own.  The Lord is working on your behalf and will work all things together for good….even that which does not feel good.  Believe that God is able to work your circumstance for good,  even when you can’t see how anything good could possibly come from it.  Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.   God calls himself “the God of hope”.  God himself will fill you with joy and peace….as you believe in Him.  God’s promise to you is that you will overflow with hope.  Not a drop of hope….but overflowing hope as you believe in Him.   There’s so much more happening than just what we can see on the surface…..strap on your mask and snorkel the creek! 🙂 

Romans 15:13Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Need a mood elevator?

I don’t know about you but sometimes I can get a little down.  Not depressed exactly, just not quite myself…..blue.  I can usually trace it back to lack of sleep, or stress.  I get worn down by the world and allow my mind to wander…. wander to thoughts that I typically guard against.

If I think about what i’ve been thinking about, I usually realize that I’ve been allowing negative destructive thoughts to creep in.  The thoughts then begin affecting my mood and if not checked, actions will follow.  Decisions will be made on the basis of how I feel, words will be spoken out of the negativity.  This path never goes anywhere good.

There is a  scripture in  the book of Isaiah that is a natural anti-depressant….a prescription for that “bluesy” feeling.  When you start making a mental list of all that’s going wrong, or all that someone else has that you don’t,  make a different sort of  list instead.  A list of what you’re grateful for, for the way God has blessed you.  Instead of dwelling on your problems, or your shortcomings, or your “not- enoughs”;  dwell on God’s lavished- compassion, His extravagant love.   Before long, you’ll begin to feel the mood lifting because the negative thoughts have been spiritually papered-over with Truth.   The reality of how blessed you are  will begin breaking through the blue.  Here’s a powerful thought that literally stomps negative thoughts: He didn’t send someone else to help us….he came himself.  Jesus, the one and only, as this verse says God HIMSELF.  The one who painted the sky, came for me himself….now that truth,  my friends,  is the most AWESOME mood elevator ever.  Think about….dwell on that for a while…that’ll put a spring back in your step…Wow!

Isa. 63: 7-9a

I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
    all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
    his great goodness to the family of Israel—
Compassion lavished,
    love extravagant.
He said, “Without question these are my people,
    children who would never betray me.”
So he became their Savior.
    In all their troubles,
    he was troubled, too.
He didn’t send someone else to help them.
    He did it himself, in person.

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My own personal savior

Luke 2:10-11 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today,  in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

” I bring you”  Wow, it always amazes me that The Good News of the bible is for me personally.  I bring you, Lisa, good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Insert your own name in there….I bring you, _________, good news…. Awesome huh?  Do you have problems?  Are you sad about anything?  Well,  God has some good news for you…… yes…..you.

Do a little exercise with me ….pretend that someone calls you and says “You just won a million bucks!! ”  Yes!  YOU LISA,  HAVE WON A MILLION BUCKS!!  WHOOPPEEEE!!!  Whoo hooo!!!!   You start thinking about all the ways your life is about to change!  Woweee!!!! All that debt…. PAID OFF!  Mortgage???  GONE!  Doesn’t that feel great???? Are you excited???  yes yes yes!!!

Well the good news of the Bible  is a million times better than a million bucks!  God himself calls it … good news that will cause great joy  The good news is ….the God of the universe in the form of a baby reached down and said “I love you”…..I love you to death.

Today,  in the town of David a Savior has been born to you….Lisa, Linda, Susan, Sam; he is the Messiah, the Lord.   He came to save us from our sin.  When I first heard this,  my human nature said “I don’t need saving,  thank you very much”  but I stopped defending myself , let down my guard and realized that God was just trying to love me.   I still have problems, mess up and get sad,  but I live in the presence of  and am carried by,  the Most High God.  The one who gave me the Good News is for me.

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Mostly what God does is love you

Ephesians 5:1-2

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

When I started to better understand that ” mostly what God does is love you”,  I was able to trust Him with my dreams, desires and destiny more fully.  I wasn’t approaching God as the fun-hater, but rather as the one who loved me best.

I can trust His precepts  even when I don’t understand them,  because they come from His  complete and utter love for me. tumblr_m5gzniNQVS1ro54pzo1_500  If you live as a christian long enough,  you’ll come up against a place or places in the Bible that, in your heart of hearts, you don’t really agree with or understand.    Maybe it’s the part about  “don’t give up meeting together”,  when people at your church seem to let you down and you want to back up from church all together.     Maybe you’re single and you can’t imagine not having sex with someone until you’re married….then how will you ever get married in this sex- with- anyone- you- want culture????    Maybe it’s “obey your leaders, they keep watch over you as men who must give an account” and you disagree with your leaders  and are pretty sure you’re smarter than they are.   It’s hard to trust God when you don’t see how His word could possibly work…hard, unless you know that He loves you.   His precepts come from this abject and complete, wanting-the-best-for -you love.

When I know that mostly what God does is love me, supremely and perfectly, even to the point of giving  up his one and only son for me, I can trust Him even when I don’t understand His ways.  I can just keep company with Him and learn a life of love. 

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