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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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Tears and Hope

November 2nd, 2016

Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory.

Through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Tears and Hope.”

Have you ever had nothing to hold onto except hope in a distressing situation? For too many that seems to be the rule rather than the exception. When hope rests solidly on the Word of God and your faith in that, hope is sure and steadfast.

Last week was challenging. I last wrote to you about a steadfast hope that we have in Christ. Little did I know that the same morning I would receive a call that our grandson Parker, just twenty-one years old, had died in an automobile accident. The news was devastating. Yet the words about “Steadfast Hope” were tried and proven true. God has been faithful and His Word is ever sure. The Blessed Hope of which Paul wrote is nearer and dearer than ever before. Our family is grateful for the loving words of encouragement and faithful prayers of so many friends, the ministry of our church, our faith in Christ and His Word, and the grace and faithfulness of God has sustained us these past days. Rather than writing last week, I set aside time to be with our family as we grieved together and began the healing process.

Our family has grieved individually and collectively because of this tragedy. Pain has been our companion and part of our conversations these recent days. And I believe that God has grieved with us over the death of Parker – our grandson, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend. We are a family of faith. We do not grieve apart from hope; we do not hope apart from Christ. As Paul wrote confidently, “I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NLT. We sorrow, but with the sure hope of the believers’ resurrection. Read Titus 2:12-13 KJV.

Having said that, I cannot imagine the inconsolable grief of those Paul describes as, “at that time you were without Christ . . having no hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12 NKJV. Without Christ. Without hope. Without God. In the world. The world is a tragic place without God in it. By the grace of, God we enjoy a Godly heritage of five generations with expectation of that extending until Jesus’ return. In this recent ordeal, our faith has been tested, but has proven steadfast. As our son said, “Our trust has been tested but our trust in God remains sure.”

As we stood beside our grandson’s body in the ER and trauma center, weeping and trying not to do so, the grief and sorrow felt unbearable, the tears uncontrollable. Saying a final good bye to a grandson is something I never expected to do, yet my pain does not compare with the pain of my son and his wife saying a tearful farewell to their young son. In those moments, I believe the Holy Spirit comforted my heart with this thought, “Tears are often the voice of prayers spoken from the heart.” I certainly have discovered that tears are the language of the heart. Tears communicate a depth of emotions that words often do not. Tears release pain in ways language cannot. Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to experience “the peace of God that passes understanding.”

A personal note: I would appreciate your prayers as we minister in four services this Saturday evening and Sunday morning at Cathedral of Faith, 2315 Canoas Garden Ave, San Jose, California, with Pastor Ken Foreman. The teaching will also be Live Streaming on their Online Campus, Sunday, 10 AM, West Coast time. Go to: http://cathedraloffaith.org/live?parentnavigationid=25879, Online Campus. Due to travel and ministry responsibilities, I may not be publishing EDL until my return home . . Blessings!

Christian Communications 2016

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Godly Wisdom

April 8th, 2016

“The Lord [is] wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Isaiah 28:29 NIV.

A volume of knowledge is not as valuable as a portion of wisdom.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Godly wisdom.”

Life can be complicated, even perplexing. To navigate the myriad of situations and circumstances that will confront you, you need wisdom and discernment. No one of us possesses all the knowledge that life will require. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is significant, but together, wisdom and knowledge produce invaluable understanding. A volume of knowledge is not as valuable as a portion of wisdom. Gain knowledge but store up wisdom. There is one and only One true source of wisdom. James, the apostle, was clear, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NIV. Why would anyone first look elsewhere? Ask God for His wisdom. I have learned three practical elements of Godly wisdom.

(1) A Word from the Lord. Wisdom begins with God, and is best defined as, “The ability to see your situation from God’s point of view.” Isaiah described God as, “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Isaiah 28:29 NIV. Pause and reflect on that description of our God, “magnificent in wisdom.” God will always have a word of guidance for you. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV. When life requires wisdom and direction, turn first to Scripture and prayer. “The Scriptures are able to make you wise . . given by inspiration of God, and is profitable . . that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:15-17 NKJV.

Look for Godly principles that provide insight and wisdom that applies to your situation. Wisdom is found in personal application of Godly principles. Normally, a Word from the Lord is recognized through your earlier discipline to know and love His voice through a lifestyle of prayer and regular and respectful attention to His Word. The more comfortable you are with the Scriptures, the more readily you will hear and understand God’s voice. But often there are two additional components to receiving and clarifying Godly wisdom.

(2) Objective counsel. Life is not a solo journey; there are times you will need input and wisdom from others. Our inevitable subjectivity benefits from the balance of others to best discern what God is saying. Confidence in another’s counsel rests upon a proven history of relationship and trust. Be discerning. Others can reassure, redirect, clarify, or caution you as a counter balance to the foolishness or fears in your own heart. Godly wisdom is easily recognized when you know what to look for. “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 NIV. Wisdom may come through others but comes from God.

(3) Subjective perspective. I was taught that, “Those who fail to learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.” God can and will speak to you. Your perspective is unique in the process of your discovery of Godly wisdom for your present circumstance. Apply yourself to learning from life; be attentive and observant; learn from yours and others’ mistakes.

Today, I pray for you to seek God’s wisdom and discern His will and ways.

EDL wisdom verse graphic

Christian Communications 2016

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Listen and Learn

July 29th, 2013

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”  Proverbs 1:5 NIV

Listening is a requisite entrance to learning, and learning is a life-long practice.

My thoughts and comments today advise, “listen and learn.”

I am blessed with a patient wife. Her steadfast love and enduring patience toward me may be the major contributing factor to our celebrating our fiftieth anniversary later this week. Her challenge seems to be the brief but inevitable gap between the first words she speaks and the first words to which I listen. She must grow weary of repeating herself. My problem is not a hearing disability; the likely difficulty is my listening deficiency. My guess is that I am not the only one so afflicted. “Can I hear an amen?”

Why do people find something as simple as listening such a challenge? Too many conversations could be described as, “Two people more interested in talking than either is in listening.” As a young boy, I remember my father asking, “Allen, do you know why God gave you two ears but only one mouth?” I momentarily pondered his words to pose an answer, only then realizing his question was rhetorical. “It’s so you will learn to listen twice as much as you talk.” I probably am still learning that application.

Solomon offered simple, practical counsel; “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance for understanding . . the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Read Proverbs 1:1-7 NIV. The principle is equally applicable naturally and spiritually, but his focus is on attentiveness to matters of spiritual discipline and development: “. . for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and direction to the young . .” Verse 2-4 NIV. Any and all of those could be invaluable to your everyday life.

According to Solomon, listening is the practice of the wise and increased learning is their reward. Two things are true: (1) Listening is a requisite entrance to learning, and (2) Learning is a life-long practice. If you listen to the wise, you will learn; if you learn from the wise, you will become wiser. “For whoever finds [wisdom] finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8:33-35 NIV. I love this verse, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power and a man of knowledge increases strength.” Proverbs 24:3-5 NIV. I want your life and mine to be “filled with rare and beautiful treasures” of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and strength.

When you aren’t listening, you aren’t learning; when you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing; when you aren’t growing, you aren’t wise. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25 NIV.

My prayer for you this day is that you listen for God in your heart and learn His wisdom.

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Troubled Waters

September 12th, 2012

“Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go . . to the other side.” Matthew 14:22 NIV.

In the midst of troubled waters, you will find God’s presence and protection there.

My thoughts and comments today are about “troubled waters.”

When things aren’t going well, it is easy to panic, afraid you must have done something wrong. And when all is comfortable, you might incorrectly assume it is because of God’s pleasure. Life is not really that simple. Smooth sailing does not mean you are in the will of God; nor do troubled waters mean you are out of the will of God. In the will of God, you may experience either at various times. Trouble is sometimes unrelated to present cause and effect.

James, the brother of Jesus, gave wise counsel when experiencing troubled waters: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! . . you will find you have become men of mature character . .” James 1:2-5 J.B.Philips. Whatever the origin of your storm, you will find God’s presence and protection in its midst. God never promised a life without pain and difficulty.

Matthew relates the most interesting story following the miraculous feeding of the thousands on Galilee’s shore. It begins simply enough, “Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go . . to the other side.” Matthew 14:22 NIV. The problem arose midway across the lake. One of the frequent storms roared down on their small boat until these seasoned fishermen were seriously afraid. Jesus had sent them ahead of Him while He remained ashore and prayed. They were just obeying Jesus’ direct words. As human as are we, they must have assumed nothing could or should happen to them when they were “just following orders.” But storms are no respecter of persons – good or bad. I wish that were not so, but it seems to be.

Obedience doesn’t guarantee calm seas. During the darkest hour, probably at the height of their fear, “At three o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water.” Read Matthew 14:22-34 NLT. Jesus came to them! He always will. And He came with authority over the very thing that threatened them. During the storm, they needed to remember Jesus words on the shore, they were to get in the boat and “go on ahead of Him to the other side.” The other side is your destination. In troubled waters, look for the Savior, not at the storm.

God’s will is found in obeying and trusting His words. Jesus’ intention was not a disastrous journey. His will for them was on the other side; the waters were to take them where He sent them, not to drown along the way. Let me accent my words again, “In the midst of troubled waters, you will find God’s presence and protection there.”

Fearful times neither mean you have done something wrong nor that you are in the wrong place. It just means you are not yet safely where God is bringing you. On the other side, good things are waiting. Read Matthew 14:32-36 NIV. With Jesus alongside, the seas are calmed; a new and greater revelation of Jesus’ person and power is revealed; you are brought where amazing things happen in others’ lives and your own.

My prayer for you today is that you will look for God in even the darkest times.

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