Monthly Archives: March 2013

Patience

The War for Peace

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

One thing I’ve realized in writing this blog is that the fruit of the spirit aren’t for the faint of heart.

The image of fruit conjures up something luscious, sweet and flavorful, but doesn’t feel too imposing.

And the fruits of the spirit themselves are so appealing! Love, joy, peace….

But the process of cultivating them often takes us to the very opposite end of things like love, joy and peace.

When we think about the BRUTALITY of the cross, part of what is so marvelous about it is that God used it to BRING US PEACE.

We have the kind of peace that can only be attained through the most grueling and costly war imaginable-the pouring out of God’s wrath on one so innocent, on His own SON!

Often to maintain peace within our human world, we know enemies have to be beaten back!  They have to be met with such force that they realize they cannot win.

The hard battle for peace has already been fought and won on our behalf by Jesus Christ.  He beat back sin and death and made a way for us to have eternal life.

It’s a bloody, brutal and beautiful peace.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

peace

Peace Through Explaining Good Friday To A 5-Year-Old

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a five-year-old daughter.

In the last two years I’ve felt that I needed to stretch her understanding of Easter beyond bright eggs and bunnies.

She gets a good foundation in Sunday School, but I’ve struggled with explaining the actual crucifixion to her, for fear of her becoming terrified or overwhelmed.

But, yesterday on the short drive to pre-K, (less than 5 minutes) the Spirit led me to tell her it was Good Friday and that it was the day Jesus was killed.

She already knew that He died and rose again, but yesterday I made sure she understood that He didn’t just DIE, but that He was KILLED.  I told her that people killed Him because what He was saying made people mad.   I told her they nailed Him to a cross and that He died. (“That’s TERRIBLE,” she said).  And then I told her they buried Him and that he rose again on the Third Day and walked around and saw His friends and that after that He went up to Heaven where He lives now with God.  She interprets that as Jesus “springing up” out of the ground like a budding flower, which I love.

Yesterday at school, a tree was planted in honor of one of my daughter’s classmate’s fathers, who died almost a year ago.  I was able to explain that her friend’s dad is with Jesus, and that her own “pop” (Grandfather) was there too.  She understands that as being “Over the Rainbow,” which is fine with me for now as well.  Her class sings that song in honor of people they’ve loved who are no longer on earth.

So, within 5 minutes, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and obedience to His prompting, I was able to communicate and remind my daughter of what Easter is really about-besides fun, eggs, candy and bunnies.

This reminded me again of how hard-fought MY peace with God was and the immeasurable sacrifice that Christ made on MY behalf, so that my daughter and EVERYONE can have that same peace if they declare with their mouths, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead, they will be saved.

 

Peace Fruit

Peace Through False Accusations

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

Have you ever been blamed for someone else’s mistake?

How did you respond to it?

Did you relentlessly try to “clear your name”  or did you stay silent? Or some response in between those two?

The effort you exert to rectify the mistaken blame is probably somewhat proportional to both the consequences that attach to the conduct you’ve been blamed for and the affection you have for the real perpetrator.

Imagine that you were being blamed for the sins of the entire world, although you yourself were completely without sin.  And imagine that you were being sentenced to die as the consequence.  Further imagine that the poeple you were dying for didn’t even know or appreciate what you were doing.  In fact, they were jeering at you, ridiculing you and brutalizing you.

Certainly you would be protesting or trying to defend yourself in some way.

But we see Christ submitting and surrendering out of love for people that hated and rejected Him.

And it was all to purchase our peace with God.

His side pierced.

His bones crushed.

For our peace.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Peace Fruit

Peace Through the Suffering Savior

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

As we have certainty that Christ took on the griefs and sorrows of the world on the cross, we see that immediately following this assurance, we get a prophetic description of how people received His willing and loving sacrifice.

People did not hold Him up as the Savior of mankind.  They did not respect Him or worship Him.  To the contrary, they held him in low esteem,  They saw him as “stricken”-He was barely able to move and had been scourged and ridiculed.  He was in great distress.  He was on His way to die! Surely the Son of Man would not come in the form of this pitiful character.  Who would want to identify with such a person?  People thought that God was being just in punishing Him so severely.

Yet He was the most innocent and perfect of Men even as the sin of the whole world was given to Him to suffer and die for.

Perfect peace with God took the form of this suffering Savior.

Reflect on the meaning of that in your life today!  How will you live differently because of Him? How will you demonstrate to others the peace of Christ?

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Peace Because He Knows How You Feel

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

“But you don’t know how I feel!”

Maybe someone has said that to you when you were trying to comfort or support them through a difficulty. And when they’ve said it, it’s stopped you in your tracks, because maybe they’re right.

If they have cancer, and you never have, how can you understand what it’s like?

If they are getting divorced, and you are happily married, how can you really relate to what they are going through.

Sure, you can try to pull out something in your life that might, in our examples, resemble the equivalent of cancer or a divorce, but the truth is something is lost in the moment you realize that the person is right.  As much as you may want to help and support them, you lack the insight that comes from having an equivalent experience.

But what about Christ?

How can he understand our trials?  Cancer wasn’t what killed him, and he was not divorced.

So does that disqualify Him from being able to identify with our problems, suffering and emotional and physical pain?

No.

Because He experienced it all.  Imagine unloading every sin, every trauma, every loss onto Christ.  Imagine giving it to Him to carry along with the cross.  “Here, Jesus, take this death, take this affair, take this unkind word, take this arrest, take this indifference to you and CARRY it for me.”

And He takes it willingly with Him, even though He is beaten and exhausted and will soon collapse under the weight of it, only to be nailed to it, still CARRYING everything you unloaded on Him.  And FEELING everything you unloaded.  And combine your load with the load of every other human being.  And he took it.

So we have In Christ not someone who looks at our suffering and loss having experienced none of it.  He does not stand a safe distance away and offer to cook a meal or pay a bill.  He reaches right into our souls and says, “I know how you feel.  I’ve felt it and much more.  So trust me-trust me.”

Trust Him for Peace,

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Patience

Punishment that Buys Peace

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

As we begin examining the spiritual fruit of peace, for me as I write this it is holy week.  It’s obviously one of the most significant celebrations on the Christian calendar.

It seems therefore only right that we look at the cost of our peace with God through the sacrifice of His own  son.

It is difficult to think about all the graphic pictures that we have all seen depicting the crucifixion   The nails in His hands and feet, the crown of thorns, the anguish and pain on His face as the blood ran down.  He endured that punishment so that we might have peace with God.

Stop for a moment and restate this….He endured that punishment so that YOU may have peace with God, not only now, but in eternity.

Think about the role of punishment or consequences in our own lives.  If a punishment truly “fits the crime” it carries with it three components that matter here:

1.  It makes the offender realize the severity of the offense;

2.  It requires the offender to somehow pay back what he may have stolen or otherwise “pay his debt to society” by losing his freedom for a period of time;

3.  When the time of punishment ends, there should be restoration of the offender.  The slate should be wiped clean and the air should be clear.

So in the brutality of Christ’s punishment, we see the ugly and abhorrent nature of our sin.  We also see that Christ paid off the eternal debt of our sin on the cross.  Finally, in Christ’s resurrection we see that He is restored to life and our sin debt cancelled.

Although I’ve stated more than once that this study is primarily focused on edifying Christians who have received Christ as savior, I’d be remiss if I didn’t reach from off this page and hold a hand out to you if you have not received this peace yet.  He was brutally punished for all of the sins you’ve committed before and will commit in the future.  Bought and paid for with drop upon drop of blood.  If you are struggling against seen and unseen forces in your life that make you feel vulnerable, unstable and weak, take the peace of Christ that He wants you to have right now, no matter what you are going through.

Receive Christ today and allow Holy Week and Easter to have new meaning in your life.

We’ll move more deliberately through these verses in Isaiah this week.

As I leave you today, contemplate the peace of Christ.  Receive Him in your life if you haven’t before.

If you’ve received Christ, take time to thank God for the peace you have now and forever, read the Gospel of John, and find a church and share your decision.  Know that you now have the fruit of the spirit in you and cultivate them daily!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Joy to Peace

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

 Have you noticed as we have reflected on joy for the last forty days that the “joy”  that manifests itself as a fruit of the spirit is a kind of joy that differs from the world’s version of joy?

One interesting thing about scripture is that it always sets our expectations for what a word means in the world’s vernacular to the side and invites us to experience a newer and deeper meaning.

Just as many in the world derive great pleasure from eating and drinking, we see that this variety of “joy” in the world is really just self-indulgence and produces no real benefit to our lives or to the lives of others.  It’s taking pleasure where it can be found, acknowledging that tomorrow we may pay a price.

But when we pursue the fruits of the spirit and re-define what our lives should be focused on, we find ourselves making different choices and walking down paths that might not make sense to other people.  We may go against the grain and we might not always even know the reason why.  We may opt for the more difficult choice-one littered with obstacles-because we feel God’s leading.

Have you ever had a time when you KNEW for sure you were at the center of God’s will?  What joy did you possess at that moment?  Imagine having that joy daily.  It’s possible when we set aside the world’s definitions of success and happiness and inviite God into our daily choices.

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand.”

Psalm 84:10

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

peace

Joy In Experiencing Today

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord it shall rejoice in His salvation.  Psalm 35:9

 Have you smiled yet today?

Or are you a bit overwhelmed by everything you haven’t done yet?

Have you procrastinated away the day?

Or maybe it’s early in the morning when you are reading this.  Do you look forward to the rest of today with hopeful anticipation of both receiving and passing along God’s blessings?

Maybe it’s late at night when you are reading this and you are still awake because you are consumed with worry and anxiety.

Can you take a moment to rejoice in the now of your existence?

Can you appreciate the reality of your salvation this minute and consciously ask God to show you all the blessing you have?

Think of a “slide show” with pictures of everything that represents your blessings.  Run through the slide show in your mind.  Maybe you can reflect back on a time when He drew you out of a deep pit or elevated you beyond where you thought you “deserved” to be.

Focusing on current blessings and maximizing the “now” of what we can do to fully praise and serve Him will add to your spiritual joy!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Joy in Prosperity OK

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider that God has made the one side by side with the other, so that man may not find out anything that shall be after him.

Ecc 7:14

There seems to be a great deal of conflict about money among many people today, but especially in the Christian community.  Should we really try and avoid money for fear that it will corrupt our souls?  Or is our lack of money something that makes us bitter and resentful of others?

We’ve seen the downfall of many churches and people of God once money comes into the picture.

As I look at this scripture from Eccelsiastes, I think that Solomon had the right perspective.  We know he was a wise man and was extraordinarily wealthy.  But we also know he saw it as empty and transitory in terms of giving his life and his eternity meaning.

Does it seem to you that Solomon is saying that God will always keep us on our toes so that we don’t get too comfortable in our lives?

Do you feel like you are in some kind of danger if you get too comfortable?

This does not only apply to financial comfort.  It can mean spiritual comfort, physical comfort, career comfort or relational comfort.  At any point the wind can get knocked out of us.

The question is, how will we respond?

Will we acknowledge that God is the source of everything and pray for spiritual joy no matter what?  Will we mine through our experiences to find the lessons that bring joy, insight and perspective?

Will we share what we learn with others!

Don’t be afraid to enjoy your life and your blessings, just know that your spiritual joy does not depend on them!

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Peace Fruit

What’s Real Joy?

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Isaiah 9:2

This blog has shied away from my personal stories.  I have shared some minor details here and there, but I did not want this blog to become about “me” because I want it to be about “Him.”

However, yesterday was my birthday and I found myself writing this instead of my “usual” blog post here.

It reminds me of the transitory nature of human or experience-based joy.

The deeper we go with God, the nature of our joy changes.

So, here’s what I wrote yesterday!

About  fourteen-years ago tonight I turned thirty.

In Paris.

Mais oui.

This was the restaurant.  

Amazing time.

I have the little nosegay bouquet I got that night from the waiter in a vase on my fireplace along with other meaningful dried bouquets.

The vase they are in is one I got from my dad.

It’s one of the few gifts he ever actually shopped for himself so it’s meaningful.

Understanding the never-ending needs of daughters, no matter how old they get, he usually just gave me money or Ann Taylor gift certificates.  I was always appreciative.

Then one day, a few years after Paris, he helped me move as a newly single girl into the first house I ever owned by myself.  His job was to transport my CLOTHES from point A to point B.  He had a Ford Expedition at the time that was packed with nary an inch to spare with many a garment purchased with said gift certificates and at that time he said he was NEVER giving me another one.

The vase followed soon after as a sort of house warming gift.

More years passed and at one point the vase contained my dried bouquet from my second marriage, with the Paris nosegay added.

More years passed after Paris.

In 2010, I spent my birthday in Arcadia, Florida at a hospice house.

My dad was there after a long fight with cancer.

The sweet nurses had heard me say I liked red velvet cake a few days before and one of them baked one from scratch.  My dad had said he liked German Chocolate, so another nurse baked one from scratch. They brought them in with candles and sang to me.  So we ate homemade cake and watched videos he’d had made of slide photographs from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Just he and I and some cake and videos of him as young man with the world on a string.

And then I got a flower bouquet my husband had sent.

He’d remained at home to take care of my daughter.

I left the bouquet in my dad’s hospice room.

It was an amazingly hearty bouquet.

It was by his bed, still lovely,  when he passed away ten days later-March 31, 2010-Good Friday.

I took a flower from it when I left the hospice house for the last time with his things.

Today, my 30th in Paris seems like a lifetime ago.

A long way from Paris, but closer to home and wealthier in spiritual joy.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie