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Be Still and Know

shallow focus photography of open book beside blue ceramic cup
 
Psalm 46:10-11  Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 

God has a lot of competition in this world.  There are even times when He has competition in our lives.  What is it for many?  For some, their own intellect supersedes God.  For others, their talent replaces God.  For still others, it may be their accumulation of possessions, their positions of power, their achievements and success, their own perception of indispensability. 

In Psalm 46, we are reminded that God utters His voice and the earth melts.  We are told that God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth, that He breaks the bow and shatters the spear.  He gives us these assurances not to win the competitions. He gives us these assurances out of love, and to comfort us when we realize that we have been wrong about whatever else might be God.

In the First Commandment we are told, “You shall have no other gods.”  That’s law.  God has earned the right to demand this of us because of Who He is and because of what He has done for us.  But wrapped in this commandment is a fatherly gift, given for our own good.  Why should we have no other gods?  Because they will all fail.  Intellect, talent, power, success, popularity, indispensability, all of these will fail in truly being God, in truly giving what only God can give.

In our society today and the circumstances in which we’re living, amid confusion and fear, we realize many things.  Perhaps one of the most important realizations is that we are not God, and that nothing we have is greater than God.  “Be still and know that I am God.” 

Prayer: O Lord God, we confess that in our lives we often find things to compete with you as God, and in our world, so many alternatives are found.  Comfort us with the certainty that you are God, the Lord of Hosts who is with us, the God of Jacob who is our fortress.  Amen.

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Finding Peace

green ceramic mug beside book
 

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1

Peace.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and think of what peace would look like in your life.  Is it hard to imagine?  No stress, no chaos.  Sleep…plenty of restful, uninterrupted sleep.  Relationships with family and friends that are healthy and whole.  A calendar that has plenty of time for relaxation and fun.  A checkbook with a cushion for life’s surprises.

Ok, back to reality!  Peace seems so elusive doesn’t it?  Anxiety – that I can picture.  Craziness _ that I can point you to in my life.  But peace?

Then again, maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way.  And maybe, just maybe, the kind of peace that we need happens in the middle of the stress and chaos, the anxiety and the craziness.

Paul want us to know that we have peace with God.  Because we’ve been justified by grace through faith, we are no longer enemies of God.  By His death and resurrection, Jesus has made us right with God!  The Creator of the Universe is on our side; the Lord of all calls us “friend.”

Does that mean the chaos and stress disappear?  Nope.  “In this world you will have trouble” says Jesus, “but behold I have overcome the world!”

Peace in the midst of chaos.  That’s what we have.  And that peace with God puts the chaos in perspective: it can separate me from God’s love.  So, at the end of the day, I can rest my head on my pillow knowing that I am good with God.   It is well with my soul.  And that is all I need.
Merciful Father, sometimes I’d like for you to take all of the chaos and stress out of my life.  And yet I know that it’s that chaos and stress that you often use to draw me closer to You.  Give me strength to endure whatever troubles I face, and in the midst of those troubles, give me the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that comes from knowing Jesus my Savior.  And in this world of trouble, point my heart always to that Place where troubles will be no more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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God’s Love Is a Gift

Love scrabble tiles on book page

1 Peter 1:22-23. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God.
 
In our society, no matter when we grew up, we have learned that if we want something, we have to work to get it. Perhaps a memory you had growing up was expressing to a parent that there was something you wanted. But instead of your parent just going out and getting it for you, they suggested that you work for it. Maybe they told you to save the money you get from doing chores, or to go mow some lawns in the neighborhood, or even get a job. After all, that’s how we get the things we want. We work for them. I teach at a college. Suppose a student came up to me and said, “I want an A in your class.” “Done,” I might reply. “You’ve got it!” No, probably not. Instead, I’d tell them to work hard, do all the assignments, study, read, and all the rest. You’ll get what you want if you work for it.
 
But there’s another influence in our lives as well. When it comes to the most important thing we could have, we know that it comes freely, as a gift. That you and I are destined for eternal life is not a result of how hard we work or how much good we’ve done. It comes as a result of God’s love for us, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the gift of faith that God gives. So that while we operate in one way when it comes to getting things in this world, you and I understand another way when it comes to the gifts of God.
 
So, why is it that we love others, serve others, do good for others? According to societal rules, it’s so that we’ll get something out of it. If I do good for someone else, then perhaps he or she will do something good back to me. But those aren’t our rules, and they weren’t Peter’s in our reading. The reason we love, serve, do good for others is not because we are earning good from them or from God. It is a natural response to God for all that He has given to us. We love, serve, do good, because we have been born again through the living and abiding Word of God. God has given, we respond with love toward Him and others.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, may we be motivated daily in our love and service toward others not by what we might gain, but by the love you have already shown. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


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Love

selective focus photography of You Are Loved book
 
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”  I John 4:7-12

John loves the word love. He uses it more than any other apostle, or prophet for that matter.  It’s found throughout his Gospel, and here in I John he uses a form of the word love 44 times! 
 
And for John, love has its foundation in the word “sent.”  Love is that God “sent His only Son into the world.”  Love is that God “sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

And – you’ll recall – the most famous of all of John’s love verses:  “For God so loved the world, that He sent His One and Only Son…”  (John 3:16)

God’s love for the world caused Him to send Jesus.  And this, in fact, is how we know what love is!  We are forgiven and granted eternal life because God sent Jesus for us!

And now, Jesus sends us:  “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  (John 20:21)

You are a “sent one.”  Sent to do what?  Love.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love with the care, compassion, and forgiveness of Jesus. So ask yourself today:  How can I thank God for showing me what love is? How can I love my neighbor today?  Since I am sent, where should I go?

Gracious Father, we can’t help but thank and praise You for showing us what true love is by sending Your Son to die and rise for us for the forgiveness of our sins.  As You sent Jesus in love, now He sends us with love.  By Your Spirit, help us to show that love to our neighbor today and every day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 
 

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Praying

man holding his hands on open book
 
Colossians 4:2-3  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…
 
Paul gives us an idea of something we should add to our prayers.  And perhaps you already do this regularly.  These days, God’s people are doing a lot of praying.  We’re praying for those who are suffering.  We’re praying for ourselves that we may remain healthy.  We’re praying for more effective treatments and even a vaccine.  We’re praying a lot these days.  But here’s something we might add.  In Colossians 4, Paul is asking for prayers that doors might be opened for the proclamation of the Word.

Paul had a lot to pray for too.  He was writing to the Colossians from prison.  Paul was probably praying for release.  He was probably praying for the long awaited audience with Caesar.  He was probably praying for himself, that he might have strength.  But here, he is encouraging people, when they pray for him, to pray for opportunities.  He wanted opportunities to share the Gospel.

There are so many Christians who are like this.  There are those Christians in the hospital who hope for a roommate in their hospital room.  A roommate?  Yes, they want a roommate so that they could lean toward that person and give good news of Christ.  A faithful woman named Judy, confined to a wheelchair would get a new caregiver every few months on purpose.  Why?  So that she’d have someone new with whom to share Christ. 

In our current environment, there is much to pray for.  But how uniquely you and I are positioned to bring Christ into such confusing times.  Perhaps the opportunity to do that could be added to our daily prayers.
 
Prayer: O Lord God, in the midst of all we are asking from you, please open a door for us so that we may share the Good News of Christ with others…especially now.  Amen.

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