Peace Fruit

Peace Through Trust in Him

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

I haven’t tied this blog to current events, because that’s not really my purpose here.  However, today, April 15, 2013 there was death and chaos and what was supposed to be a celebratory and invigorating annual event in Boston, Massachusetts at the annual running of the Boston Marathon.

We struggle at times like this to understand the “whys” behind events like these and reconcile them with our faith in God.  It can be difficult to maintain spiritual peace when we observe and hear about tragedies big and small.  Chaos descends and disrupts our sense of well-being   Can we really trust God no matter what happens?

Human words and philosophies and platitudes fail in situations like these.  We instead have to trust God’s word.  I found a few passages as examples:

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.” Psalm 103:8  We trust that even in the midst of unexpected death and loss that there is mercy and grace.

“As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”  Psalm 103:15.  At times like this we are reminded that human life is transitory and that we should be ready to meet God any time, any place.  Just as a marathon runner trains diligently to prepare for his race, so we should prepare for our spiritual race to end of our human lives by building up our soul and spirit and telling others about Christ.

“The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.:  Psalm 103:19.  We can take from this passage that even when live seems out of control, God is still at the helm and supremely sovereign.

We don’t find our spiritual peace through the absence of tragedy in our lives.

We find our greatest peace when we can feel God’s presence in our lives in our darkest times.

We can pray for those impacted in Boston that they seek the peace that can only be found through relationship and trust in Christ and Christ alone.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Fruit of the Spirit

Peace Through God’s Permanence

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

If you stop to consider the things that concern you from day-to-day, you will probably see that many of these things are of temporary importance.

You have a deadline of some kind coming up at work, or company is coming for dinner and you need to clean up, or your drivers license is getting ready to expire.  One year from now, you probably will not be able to remember what pressed upon your mind today.

Yet we often elevate these deadlines to gods in our lives, only to discover that just as soon as we meet one deadline, another emerges and we seem to just go from deadline to deadline.

Of course personal responsibility for our work and lives is of great importance to both our survival and reputation, however many of the things we agonize about are of little eternal value.  Personal possessions wear out, break, get lost or diminish in value.  Accomplishments in our careers are recognized and then often forgotten.  The vacation that was supposed to be the “experience of a lifetime” turns out to be overrated.

So many things clamor for our attention and this can lead to anxiety over what we may be missing.

As we prioritize our lives, we can cultivate peace by focusing on things that have eternal, permanent value.

Those are things that draw our attention to God.

Things that draw our attention away from God can be thought of as gods with a little “g,” and those are the things that we must view through the lens of impermanence.  As we live and enjoy the world and all it offers to us, recognize that “they are all vanity; their works are nothing; their molten images are wind and confusion.”  Isaiah 41:29.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

Peace Fruit

Cultivating the Peace Within

 

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

Who does not want a calmer, more peaceful mind?

Have your circuits ever been entirely overloaded with too many thoughts, anxieties and things to do?  As different forces in your life pull you in various directions, it can be difficult to know where to focus our attention.

But if we are cultivating our “peace” fruit of the spirit, we will know that it is during these times that we need to quiet our minds and focus on God and His mighty power to center our thinking.

Some people think that it is a stretch that the God of the universe would have time or concern with the thoughts of my overwhelmed brain and my particular to-do list.  That is one reason why our God is so amazing-He wants to be invited into those parts of our lives so that He can order them and our lives can reflect HIS glory and His peace.

Let’s invite God into our scheduling and planning and see what His thoughts are before we move forward.    So many personal development and “success in life” books talk about planning, committing and focusing.  All are necessary components to success, but unless we are on our God-ordained path it might feel as if we are spinning our wheels.

So if the chaos of your life is overwhelming, take some time to invite God in and show you what should disappear, be minimized or restructured.  With those things that are left, ask Him to show you how to better accomplish those tasks for His glory, with a design in mind of cultivating a peaceful spirit.

Tie all activities back to God and His purpose for your life.

“I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.  I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes:”  Psalm 101 2-3.

Peace Fruit

Peace Even Though All Your Stuff is Gone

“Having shod your feet with the READINESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.”

Ephesians 6:15

In the last devotional we read about King Hezekiah crying out to God for healing, in spite of receiving a death sentence.

We saw Hezekiah’s deliverance  after he fervently prayed and sought God’s mercy.

Both the death sentence and the message of mercy were delivered by God’s obedient prophet Isiah.

We see Isaiah communicate both messages in a straightforward way, without much fanfare, eloquence, apology or hesitation.

In Isaiah 39, we read that King Hezekiah is healed from his illness and that people from everywhere have sent him gifts and treasures to acknowledge his miraculous recovery.  It seems like a genuine and heartfelt celebration.  When people come to see the King, he joyously shows his guests the wonderful presents he’s received from so many friends and well-wishers.  He holds nothing back.

I do not think Hezekiah was showing off to his guests, but instead he was showing how God’s mercy and abundance had rained down on him when he was close to death.

And then along comes Isaiah who seemingly always has some big pronouncement to make-“you’re going to die,” “you’re going to live,”-so we don’t expect anything less this time.

Isaiah asks the king what he’s shown to his guests.  The King replies that he’s shown everything and  held nothing back.

Isaiah then says words to the effect that everything he’s got, including his inherited treasures from relatives “shall be carried to Babylon.  Nothing shall be left.”  (Isaiah 39:6).  The prophet further states that Hezekiah’s sons shall be taken away to be Eunuchs in Babylon.

Imagine this scene…you are happy and rejoicing and along comes the prophet of doom.

(I imagine he wasn’t invited to too many parties and celebrations).

How was Isaiah walking out the gospel of peace?

As intimated yesterday, it was through obedience in communicating the message God gave him and trusting God for the rest.

And in Hezekiah’s response, we see evidence that bears out God’s faithfulness.  Hezekiah says: ” Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken.  He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.”  Isaiah 39:8.

This is the peace that comes from the truth of the gospel.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Peace Through A Death Reprieve

 

“Having shod your feet with the READINESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.”

Ephesians 6:15

In Isaiah 38, the prophet Isaiah informs King Hezekiah that he should get his “house in order” because the king would be dead soon.  Imagine having to be the bearer of that message.  Yet, Isaiah was obedient to God as he delivered the news.

Hezekiah then cries out to God for a reprieve and prays for God’s mercy.

Isaiah is then told by God to communicate to Hezekiah that God has heard his prayers and will grant him another fifteen years to live.

Hezekiah then gives praise and glory to God for giving him those additional years and says:

Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

Isaiah 38:17

It is pretty easy to imagine the peace Hezekiah experienced when God heard and answered his prayer.

But imagine Isaiah, first having to communicate the dire message, and then having to withdraw it.

There is no account of Isaiah hesitating to deliver either message.

He walked, in peace to give both the dire and the pardoning message.

We cannot always choose our message, but to walk in the context of the gospel of peace, we must sometimes deliver bad news and trust God to deal with the final outcome.

Sometimes people ask us what the bible says about something and we know that the answer will be difficult for them to hear.  That should not make us any less willing to communicate the truth, knowing that often it will lead to earnest prayer and, many times changed lives.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

peace

Peaceful Feet and Encouraging Words

“Having shod your feet with the READINESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.”

Ephesians 6:15

Have you ever been faced with a situation where you felt unprepared?

I face those situations almost daily-where I have to pause, breathe, pray, think and speak while wondering if I am messing up!

But if my feet are rooted firmly within the gospel, I will always be ready to communicate some component off peace with Christ.  This does not have to be a complete gospel presentation.  It can be a well-timed word, smile or e-mail.  It can be an offer to help someone with something that is troubling them.  It can be praying for someone else.  It can be reminding someone that even though they may be experiencing difficulty, God has not abandoned them.

As we continue to walk through, experience and cultivate the “peace” fruit of the spirit, for the next several days when you are faced with a dilemma or difficult question, why not try “peace” as a solution?  The peace of Christ can heal any form of human suffering.  The healing may not always take the form that we would like or design in our own minds, but it is always there and possible.  And for believers, the ultimate peace of Christ comes when we see Him face-to-face.  We can get a taste of His Kingdom when we communicate the gospel of peace and invite others to join us there.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

Peace Fruit

Peace Through Not Listening to Noise

“Having shod your feet with the READINESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.”

Ephesians 6:15

As you walk, what are you listening to?

Many people today are plugged into headphones or ear buds as they walk around.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

But if you are one of these people, what are you piping into your ears?

Is it loud, pulsing and chaotic music?

Or is it soothing, uplifting and pleasant?

Or maybe you walk around without headphones or ear buds but always have background noise on at home or at work or in the car?

Again, what are you listening to?

Are you listening to angry people pontificate about all that is wrong with the world?

Are you listening to things that highlight or glorify things God speaks against?

Maybe there are people around you who continually try to convince you that the sky is falling, things are crumbling around you and you should give up or run for cover.  Doubt and fear may begin to creep into your life, thoughts and spirit.

Even if you have all noise turned off from radio, television, internet or other people, what do you hear in your spirit?

Is there turmoil and disruption?

Is there worry and anxiety?

Someone cultivating the fruit of peace in their lives listens to God as he or she goes about their daily lives and tasks.  Such a person focuses on the step ahead, and not 100 steps down the path.

“God, what would you like me to do this minute, this hour, this day?”

God’s voice is the one you should tune into as you walk in peace and focus on the next step down the road that you, uniquely, are walking.

“The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waves, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”  Psalm 93:4.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

peace

Peace Means Knowing You Speak from A Safe Place

“Having shod your feet with the READINESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.”

Ephesians 6:15

Maybe you shy away from discussing the peace available through faith in Christ because you don’t feel safe doing so.

There may be some superficial validity to that fear.  Our world is sometime quite hostile to the gospel.  Maybe you have talked about your faith before and experienced rejection or persecution.  Maybe these past experiences have discouraged you from continuing to share.

Yet, we know the importance of talking about our faith in Christ and want to be obedient.

Think about this:  when you proclaim the name of Jesus you are speaking from a place of safety whether you feel it or not or whether circumstances confirm it or not.

When we speak the name of Jesus, we are coming from a place of supernatural spiritual safety.  Maybe the response you get to talking about Jesus is hostile.  Yet, your message is one of peace.  Know that the seed has been sown when you speak Jesus’ name to another person.  They’ve had light cast on the source of perfect peace.  Missionaries who have died proclaiming the peace of Christ were immediately ushered into his presence!

You can then step away knowing that no matter the outcome, you have been obedient to talk about the source of your peace with God and the Holy Spirit can be counted on for the rest.  This is why when we feel the prompting to talk about our faith, we are safe in doing so.

He will take care of the outcome and consequences.

Be willing to step forward if called.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Peace Means Having Your Feet Ready!

“Having shod your feet with the READINESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.”

Ephesians 6:15

Feet may not be the most attractive part of the human body, but there is a strong case to be made that they might be the most useful part, for it’s by our feet that most of us move from point “A” to point “B.”

Think of a day when you’ve had a lot of walking to do, but you chose the wrong pair of shoes!

What happened?

Most likely, at the end of the day, you’ve had painful blisters.

This can happen to either men or women.

Most of us have probably have a pair of well-broken-in shoes that we always go to when we know we have a lot of walking to do. A day of marathon walking is not generally a day to be breaking in a new pair of shoes.

So it is the same when we are thinking about being ready each day to communicate the gospel.  Are we comfortable  or uncomfortable doing it?  Are we prepared or unprepared?  Are we willing or unwilling?  Are we willing to walk across the room or travel across the world to talk about Jesus Christ?

Be prepared to follow Him wherever you are lead to talk about the gospel of peace!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Walking In Peace Means Sharing the Gospel

“Having shod your feet with the READINESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.”

Ephesians 6:15

What actions do we need to take when we seek to cultivate the fruit of peace in our lives?

You would think that “peace” means retreating, staying silent  and stepping back from difficulty.

It can mean that, depending on particular circumstances.

However, one thing we must always be willing to do is share the source of our peace, which is Jesus Christ.

Peace in an indiviudal’s life truly begins when they establish a relationship with Christ.  Other, more superficial peace can be attained through rest, stress-reduction, exercise and time management but those are simply things we do within our own strength and do not insulate an individual from the world’s unpredictable difficulties.

While we need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit when talking about our faith, we should also not be unduly fearful either.  Be willing to introduce the topic, assess the person’s responsiveness and be willing to revisit it in subsequent conversations.

You will have more peace when you communicate the source of your peace with others.  Specifically, you will have less regret at the end of your life about lost opportunities.

As it says in Psalm 91:1 “Rest in the shadow of the Almighty” as you talk about the source of your peace.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie