Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

Constant Joy

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

  ~~  Psalm 100 (KJV)

This is one of my favorite psalms. In the first place it says “make a joyful noise” not “sing sweetly on key.” The criteria for our singing is joy, not musical ability.

But no one can be joyful all the time, can they? That depends on where your joy lies. If the joy of the Lord is your strength, then you can be joyful all the time. God is always with you. If he is the source of your joy, nothing can change it.

When things seem blackest, we can praise the Lord for who and what he is. He inhabits the praises of his people. No matter what circumstances surround us, he is unchanging and always sure. If your security is in him, nothing can shake it.

This truth allows us to be grateful to God for who and what he is, no matter what happens around us or to us.

So at all times and in all seasons, we can bring a sacrifice of praise to him. Blessing his name for who he is.

That sacrifice of praise will hold you together in the roughest of times. It draws you closer to him and reminds you of all his power and righteousness.

In a time when I thought I would drown in grief, the old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, came bubbling up out of my middle. While the grief was still there, I had an assurance that it would not overwhelm me, that with God’s help I could get through it.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

For that I was and am mightily grateful.

Father, God,

Thank you for being our peace and our strength. Remind us at all times to come to you with praise and thanksgiving so that we may always be blessed of you.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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Are You Weary?

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

~~ Matthew 11:28  (KJV)

Do you find yourself working harder and getting nowhere? Are you spinning your wheels to no avail? Sometimes we need to work smarter, not harder. Jesus knew that some of us would find ourselves trapped in the rat race.

Sometimes it’s because we take on more than is our true responsibility.  Some things are beyond our control. We are not responsible for them.

Some things are within our control. We are responsible for them. Our job is to learn the difference and behave accordingly.

Let’s look at the two following verses.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.       ~~       Matthew 11:28,29 KJV

Yoke is an interesting word. It is the connector between a pair of working animals to keep them in tandem. But the two animals have different functions even when yoked together.

When I was a child, my grandfather hired George, a man with a pair of horses, to plow what we lovingly called “the north 40”, a section of the city block which he owned and planted to corn and other vegetables every spring. I was fascinated watching the pair of animals, but I noticed that they did not move exactly in tandem. So I asked George what the difference was. He told me the horse on the left was the starter, but the horse on the right carried the load.

horses

At his “gee-up” the left horse moved first to overcome the inertia of the plow, but as soon as that initial inertia was diminished, the other horse pulled slightly ahead, carrying the brunt of the weight of the moving plow.

That is a picture of the relationship between us and God. God lets us make our own decisions. We can go where ever we want to. But the moment we turn to Him, our load is lightened. We have to take the first step, but He carries the load after that.

Jesus’ yoke is the word of God. Following the precepts of the word will lighten our burden. You see, our job is obedience. Then God is responsible for the results.

Father, God,

Keep us from the sin of arrogance, thinking that all depends on us, when it really depends on you. Grant us the wisdom to accept Jesus’ generous gift of salvation and peace.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Fret Not

Psalm 37 sets forth a pathway of power. It is filled with things to do and not to do.

Look at the times it says “fret not” and at the imperative sentences that begin with “trust,” “commit”, and “delight.”

1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

The progression is simple. It mirrors our growth in the Lord. First we come to a saving faith by believing in him. Trust in the Lord.

Then we get so excited about him that thoughts of him take over our lives. We talk about him constantly and find great joy just being in his presence.

After a while we realize that all we have is not ours, but his. So we commit our lives and our goods and our business dealings to him.

Eventually we learn to rest patiently in him, knowing that all things will come to fruition in his good time, not on our earthly timetable.

Then we can cease from wrath and anger. Those emotions come when we think someone has spoiled something we were entitled to. We are entitled to nothing but a relationship with God. All else is negotiable.

At that point, we can be still and know that he is the sovereign Lord of all the universe.

Father, God,

Help us to move from belief to trust to commitment to rest in you. Grant that we may be swift students and able practitioners. Help us to cease from all futility and know that you are the sovereign Lord, that we can cease our fretting because you have our best interest at heart.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Be Still and Know

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah.

~~ Psalm 46 (KJV)

David’s psalms carry us through the diversities and adversities of life. He touches all the seasons from elation and praise to persecution and despair. This psalm, however, shows us the power.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, people would say to me “You’re so strong. I don’t see how you do it.”

And my answer was “I’m not strong. I simply know where to lean and that makes me look strong.” This is where you lean. On God. No matter what is going on around you, remember Him. Look to Him. Lean on Him.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. Quiet your heart; cease striving. It all adds up to getting your heart and mind quiet enough to hear His small whispers clearly enough to heed them.

Be still… Even when chaos seems to reign, God is still in charge. He is the salvation we need so desperately.

Look at His awesome power. Look at the detailed care He takes in creation. Look at His power over the actions and affairs of men.

Truly every knee shall bow before Him. Praise His name.

Father, God,

Thank You for speaking to us in the stillness. Help us to quell our fears and calm our excitements to be able to hear You better.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Grief and Hope

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

~~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)

Grief comes to all of us from time to time. The loss of a friend or family member, loss of a job or precious possession, or wayward children can grieve us. Somehow, I seem always to have known that such grief is temporary – a reflection of our personal emotions at a specific moment in time – not a permanent condition.

It might have been Doctor G. who quoted the phrase “grieve not as them who have no hope.” I was absolutely certain that it came from this passage of scripture. But I could not find those exact words in any of the translations on biblegateway.com. That quote might just have been a paraphrase rather than a quote. At any rate, the sense is certainly from this passage.

Doctor G. stood as godfather at my baptism in the Lutheran church. He was a rock-solid foundation in my life. A spiritually wise man, he taught me many things. But more than that, he infected me with the joy of the Lord and an educated faith in Jesus.

He was a Bible scholar, a student of the word, and a poet. On my twelfth birthday, he gave me a scrapbook which he had put together with his own hands. And he wrote this poem about him and me and heaven. It’s long, so I’ll just quote the pertinent verses here.

You are twelve years old today, dear,
And I’m past seventy-three.
With back to back we’re dreaming,
But it’s different things we see.

You look AT the golden sunrise,
See dream castle in the mist:
It’s the road ahead for you, dear –
Life at its borning best.
___

I look THROUGH the golden sunset,
With its beckoning promise bright
To a day without a sundown,
Where it’s always day – not night.
___

And when you have passed the Sunset
To the day without Sundown,
When Life’s pilgrimage is over,
And you’ve won your victor’s crown;

I’ll be at the gate of heaven,
With glad heart to see you come;
Glad to welcome you, my daughter,
Into our Eternal Home.

~~ HWG

His knowledge of the word and my faith in his always telling me the exact truth – pleasant or unpleasant – gave me the assurance that this life is not all there is. I can grieve a loss, but it doesn’t decimate me.

My friend was the sister in a family with two brothers. She lost first one and then the other. At the funeral of the second brother, I went to hug her. Her grief was not only obvious, but it was painful to see. There was an element of hopelessness in it that I had never seen before. She could not be comforted.

Paul doesn’t say here that we don’t grieve. We simply do not grieve as those people who have no hope of Christ and the resurrection – no hope of heaven.

Father, God,

Grant that we may always keep our eyes upon You, not on the attractions of this world. Let us see with the eternal perspective the ultimate good in Your will, no matter how it looks from an earthly perspective.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Day of the Lord

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. ~~ Focus verses: II Peter 3:1-13

Our world today is in a real mess.

We have deliberately forgotten to teach our children the truth of the scriptures. We teach, instead, theories of men as if they were proven fact.

We extrapolate scenarios from flimsy evidence. But the ultimate victory for the enemy of our souls is that we strive to make man the measure of all things.

God sets the standard. His measuring rod is the one we must live up to.

Peter answers the question about the slowness of Christ’s second coming. It is because God is graciously giving us the opportunity for all to come to the saving knowledge of Christ. He is not willing that any should perish.

But do not be deceived. He will let each of us reap the fruit of our own beliefs and actions. If someone persists in unbelief and ungodliness, He will not interrupt the logical consequences of that belief and action.

The picture he paints of the second coming is frightening. It comes suddenly, with a roar of the heavens. The earth is destroyed by fire.

How interesting!

Fire is what separates the gold from the dross. Fire is a purifying element. It burns the temporary to ash that is scattered on the air. But what is valuable remains.

I work with precious metal clay. If I choose a hollow shape for the piece I am working on, I create a papier mache type form the size and shape of the hollow I wish to create. I can make a ball of this papier mache and form a lattice work with the precious metal clay all around it.

I let it dry and then fire it in the kiln. The papier mache burns away to nothing, and I have a hollow globe of silver lace to work with as a jewelery element. I didn’t want a papier mache ball covered with silver lace. I wanted a hollow ball of silver lace. The fire removed the dross.

Our lives must be the righteousness that survives the fire. We are to be the pure gold and silver of God’s creation.

In the new heaven and new earth, all will be righteousness and peace, but the righteousness of the new heaven and new earth will be those who have been righteous here and now.

Father, God,

As we travel through this journey of life, help us to burn away the dross in our lives. Teach us what is holy and righteous. Grant that we may seek only Your righteousness all our days.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  ~~  John 1:1-3 (KJV)

In most cases, it’s better to begin at the beginning.  So we start at the beginning of the Gospel of John. We start with the Word. In this case, the Word refers to Jesus.

Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father. Equal with the Father in creative power, there was never a time when He didn’t exist.  As we anticipate the celebration of His incarnation, we need to remember that Jesus is more than the baby in the manger. He is eternal. There was never a time when he didn’t exist.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  ~~ Genesis 1:1-3

The Word, the Word of God, the Bible, Scripture. This is our point of contact  with Jesus. We have His words. As we study them, meditate on them, commit them to memory, we come closer to the mind of Christ.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; ~~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

As we line up our thoughts and actions with the mind of Christ, we find a peace that defies circumstance. In a world of violence, we can rest in God’s sovereignty. Nothing happens without His knowledge. Nor without His provision.

Our sight is generally limited to this temporal world. He sees things in the eternal. There is no tragedy in this life that He cannot redeem in the eternal. We may not see that redemption this side of heaven, but it’s there none-the-less.  And it can be a comfort if we let it.

Father, God,

Help us to study Your Word in order to understand Your thoughts. Grant us the vision to see and the hearts to accept what You would teach us of patience and eternity.  Help us to focus on the Word as we anticipate celebrating the incarnation of Jesus.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

PS: If you want an example of the difference Christ can make in your life, I would direct you to Doc Lynch’s post for today as well. You can find it here.

PPS: I wish you all the joys of the season, the joy of

  • knowing Jesus as your Savior
  • furthering an intimacy with God as you read His word
  • serving the temporal body of Christ in this world
  • resting in His love and provision
  • His salvation

May this Christmas season be your best ever.