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A Peace that Surpasses Understanding

December 13th, 2017

Where Christ governs, peace is found.

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a peace that surpasses understanding.”

Peace is most precious to those who are without it. But true peace is elusive for many because, though they long for it, they do not know where such peace can be found. Our world is much like the world into which Jesus was born. Armies, hostilities, occupying forces, political and religious divisions were all the order of the day, then as now. Rulership was imposed by the strongest upon the weakest and the most brutal upon the most vulnerable, as today.

Yet Jesus came from the Father and was declared by angels as the Prince of Peace whose arrival was into exactly that kind of troubled world. “Suddenly a great company of the Heavenly Host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’” Luke 2:13-14 NIV. Peace will never come by the force of men’s armies and political alliances. The Bible speaks of three expressions of God’s peace which Jesus gives that the world cannot.

Most importantly and foundational to all peace, there must be peace with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Read Romans 5:1-2 NIV. Such expressions of peace are only available to the one who has accepted Jesus’ invitation to live at, “peace with God,” surrendering to living life on God’s gracious terms, without hostility toward His Law and will.

There is peace from God. That comes only from Jesus, Who said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you, not as the world gives, neither can it take it away.” John 14:27 NLT. Peace from God is when a supernatural tranquility rests in your heart without regard to difficulty and distress.

Also, there is the peace of God. This peace is experienced as an unexplainable measure of well being and contentment that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Read Galatians 5:19-25 NIV. Those attributes are in stark contrast with those who live apart from the peace of God, as evidenced by, “discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions.” There is no earthly experience of peacefulness that compares with God’s peace, which is the very expression of His own character and conduct.

Imagine with me a time and place where it will truly be said, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:7 NIV. When will that time come, and where can that be found? Where Christ governs, peace reigns. Isaiah foresaw a day in which it would be true. “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV. The answer is simple and clear. Where Christ governs, only there will true peace be found. Until you are at peace with God, you will not be at peace within yourself, will not find peace of mind, nor can you live at peace with others.

Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is knowing the living presence of Jesus, whatever the doubts, distress, or dangers of the moment. Peace does not come from your surroundings. Peace does not come from all men being in agreement. Peace starts in your heart, when you make all things right with God. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “’Peace, peace, to those far and near,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will heal them.’ But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” Isaiah 57:19-21 NIV.

This promise can be your confidence; “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You.” Isaiah 26.3 NKJV. My Christmas wish for you can be stated in the words of the Apostle Paul. “Now may the God of peace be with you all.” Romans 15:33 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be enveloped with enduring peace that cannot be disturbed.

Christian Communications 2017

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Stand Fast

January 19th, 2017

Posture evidences inner attitude

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand.” Ephesians 6:11 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today urge that you, “stand fast.”

Posture reveals a lot about a person with or without their awareness: intimating comfort or discomfort, confidence or reluctance, humility or arrogance, benevolence or malice. Posture evidences inner attitude. But consider a different, more important facet of posture, more spiritual than physical. The Bible distinguishes between the outward man of the flesh and the inward man of the Spirit. “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NKJV. Time spent on your knees empowers faith and obedience. Standing is a posture of faith, expressing preparedness and availability. God’s Word has much to say about the Christian’s spiritual posture.

Stand fast in faith. Circumstances will challenge your posture of faith. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong . . And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NKJV/Romans 14:4 NIV.

Stand strong in adversity. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore . .” Read Ephesians 6:11-18 NKJV.

Stand strong in righteousness. The opposition and persecution of the religious leaders could not dissuade Paul, “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand.” Acts 26:22 NKJV. Trust in God’s strength, not your own. “My help comes from the Lord.” Psalm 121:2 NKJV.

Stand steadfast in prayer. “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12 NKJV.

Stand sure in grace. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 NKJV. God’s grace is the singularly strong place to stand. Stand fast in Christ and His finished work on Calvary.

Stand fast in freedom. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV.

Stand in awe of God. Your view of God determines and supports everything else about your personal faith. “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” Psalm 33:8 NKJV.

Stand still in God’s promise. Before an uncrossable sea and an invincible army behind, and with the promise of God in his heart, “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.’” Exodus 14:13 NKJV. God has a great victory for you if you will reject your fear and stand fast in His promises. “That [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Read Ephesians 3:16-19 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to always stand in the strength of the God’s Word and Holy Spirit.

Christian Communications 2016

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God’s Extraordinary Grace

October 18th, 2016

The greatest gifts come from the benevolence of grace.

edl-grace-defined

“It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith.” Ephesians 2:8 TEV.

My thoughts and comments marvel at “God’s extraordinary grace.”

Diligent people have an almost incurable work ethic, which comes with the assumption that the measure of reward correlates to your measure of effort. The belief that you will receive what you earn and get what you deserve seems inbred. But is it not true that sometimes you get more than you deserve while at other times you receive less than you earned? Paul observed, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as a debt [owed].” Romans 4:4 NKJV.

Gratefulness seldom results from your own efforts and hard work; true and enduring gratefulness results from recognizing the unmerited grace that has been shown to you from God and others. “If by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace.” Romans 11:6 NKJV. The greatest gifts come from the benevolence of grace. You don’t earn grace; you simply, joyfully, and gratefully receive it.

“In our union with Christ Jesus, God raised us up with Him to rule with Him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of His grace in the love He showed us in Christ Jesus. For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift.” Read Ephesians 2:5-10 TEV. Grace is God’s initiative of your salvation; faith is your response in acceptance of His gift. See Romans 5:1-2 NIV. “For without faith it is impossible to please God, for He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV.

The Apostle Paul marveled at what he could only describe as, “the extraordinary greatness of [God’s] grace,” whereby you and I have been saved by God’s grace. You and I could not deserve such an invaluable, indescribable gift nor could we ever earn it by our efforts. Paul recounts the shameful history of himself and ourselves, “spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sin . . destined to suffer God’s anger.” Ephesians 2:1-3 TEV. Paul then describes our indescribable God, “God’s mercy is so abundant and His love for us is so great . . He brought us to life with Christ. It is by God’s grace that you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 TEV.

Neither your worthy achievements can negate your need for God’s grace nor can a shameful past remove you from the reach of His grace. Because of God’s love, we each require and receive His grace when we reach out in sincere faith to the Savior Who died for our sins. Don’t hesitate. If you need grace today, reach out in faith to Jesus. “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 NKJV.

Salvation, as are all gifts from God, is by extraordinary grace received in obedient faith. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to embrace grace in its fullest measure.

Christian Communications 2016

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What’s in a Name?

December 30th, 2015

“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NKJV.

Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “what’s in a name?”

A secure sense of identity is important. Names have significance. My first name distinguishes me from others in my family. My middle name honors my Dad. My last name identifies me with generations that preceded me and will follow me. Your name identifies you, connects you to your history, and differentiates you from others. I have friends who have legally changed their names to honor their cultural heritage or to better reflect their new life in Christ. In Scripture, God considers names important. When God chose to send His Son into our world, His name was not left to whim or chance, but deliberately chosen by God.

To Nazareth, an angel was sent to the young virgin, Mary, as well as Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus . . for He shall save His people from their sins.” Read Luke 1:26-35/Matthew 1:20-21 NKJV. Jesus’ name, “Jehovah Saves,” perfectly describes His purpose on earth. “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” Acts 10:43 NIV. All who call upon the name of Jesus find forgiveness and release from the power of their sins. Jesus came with singular purpose: to do the will of His Father, to reveal the heart of God, to declare the power of the Kingdom of God on earth, and to bring redemption from sin. “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Read Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV.

Gratitude and pleasant memories accompany names of family and friends dear to me. Yet there is no name more loved and gratefully recalled than the name of Jesus. What’s in a name? Everything, when it is His name. Be clear about this; “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. See Acts 2:21 NKJV. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NLT.

I know of no greater declaration and assurance than the unchanging nature of Jesus and His power to save. Romans 5:1-2. There is a wonderful promise of redemption and renewal in Christ, “To him who overcomes I will give him a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 NKJV. Awaiting you is a name that only God knows, that will perfectly describe who you have become because of His abundant grace. Your past is forever forgiven and your future is eternal. “That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to hold the name of Jesus in the highest regard and reverence.

Christian Communications

Brass Stamp

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Second Chances

January 14th, 2013

In Christ, God extends grace to all.

“Bring [Mark] . . he is profitable to me for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11 KJV

I love the Bible’s true-to-life examples. Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, was a young man traveling with Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journey. For unexplained reasons, Mark left them to return home. Acts 13:13. His departure was not acceptable to Paul, causing a strong disagreement when Barnabas wanted again to bring his younger cousin. Acts 15:36-40 NIV.

Paul’s feelings were strong indeed, Mark being described as having “deserted them and not continued in the work.” Vs. 38. Mark needed a second chance Paul was not willing to give, feeling further investment would be unprofitable. The Bible is silent about how reconciliation happened but later from prison, Paul asked Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for He is profitable [helpful/useful] to me for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11 KJV.

Any of us may have felt disappointed in someone as Paul did, or felt as lost and alone as Mark might have. Do you need another chance, or is there someone who needs that from you? Paul’s writings are peppered with plentiful references to grace. I wonder if time and his growing discovery of the awesome grace God had shown him opened his heart anew to Mark and others. I love Paul’s endearing letter asking a second chance for Onesimus, Philemon’s run away slave, who met Jesus through Paul’s testimony: “Who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me . . no longer a slave but more . . a beloved brother.” Philemon 1:11/16 NKJV. I want it to be true of me that I was, “profitable for ministry.”

Second chances are not optional; they are necessities. Everyone needs them. Why? Because everyone has a flawed history. Of all the things common to us, imperfection is a certainty. Try as you will, sooner or later and usually sooner, you will make mistakes and when you do you will need a second chance, or a third or fourth. “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man.” James 3:2 NIV. Who would dare claim to be perfect?

The Bible is clear about our common history. “If we claim we have not sinned, we make [Jesus] to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 1 John 1:10 NIV/Romans 3:23 NKJV. In Christ, God extends grace to all. To the Christ-followers in wicked Rome, Paul marveled at God’s grace: “. . being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 NKJV. Those words necessitate careful reading and thoughtful reflection.

Maybe you think you don’t deserve grace; well, you don’t and never could. Grace is freely given, not earned or deserved. Maybe you’re afraid to ask others to forgive you; or you can’t forgive yourself; or you won’t believe God would forgive you. Nothing you have done should disqualify you from a second chance, except refusing to accept it. It’s never the perfection of the clay on the potter’s wheel that guarantees success; it’s the wisdom and determined skill of the potter’s hands. Read Jeremiah 18:1-4 NLT.

Paul wrote of sinful and shameful behavior in Corinth that would make the average person blush, “. . [who] will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV. There’s a reason grace is amazing! In Jesus, you are not what you were! Romans 5:1-2/Ephesians 2:1-10 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that your life is profitable to God and others.

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