Peace of Christ

Is peace missing from your life? Have you been pursuing peace without finding it? Have you found peace for a short period of time, and it does not last? Have you turned to the One who can bring lasting peace into your life?

Many of us will say we seek peace. We will try all sorts of options. We may try yoga. We may give meditation a try for a while. We may even spend time in prayer but grow tired of it or get busy and no longer make time for it.

Inner peace can be a challenge to acquire and keep. Often, we will feel at peace when things are going our way. That peace will only last for a short while. Sooner or later, there will be a disruption in our life and our peace will be fractured.

Lasting inner peace can only come from the One who is the Prince of Peace. We only acquire lasting peace when we fully submit to Him. It is part of the good news of Jesus Christ. As we submit to Him, seeing this world as He sees it, and seeing the larger picture and plan of God do we acquire lasting inner peace.

Accepting lasting inner peace from Jesus is more than a simple mental exercise. It requires us to give our heart to Him. It requires full submission to Him. Yet, as we submit, we acquire the inner peace our spirit’s desire. We acquire the peace of Christ.

I pray we all pursue the peace of Christ. I pray we submit to Him with our whole heart. I pray each of us commit to spending time in prayer each day, asking God to provide the inner peace our spirit’s desire. Submit to God. Acquire the peace of Christ. Acquire the peace you desire.

Acts 10:36 “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”

Hope of the Heart

The hope of our heart is the hope of Jesus Christ. What does that mean? Is there power in our hope? Is our hope in the power of Jesus? Why should we continue to hold on to the hope we have in Jesus?

Jesus and His power is the genesis of our hope. It is because of what He has done for each of us that we put our hope in Him. It is because of the promise He gave us that our hope is strengthened and made solid.

Jesus has promised an eternal inheritance, one that is more glorious than anything we can imagine. Our inheritance is to live with Him in eternity in a perfect creation of His. It is the perfection we all long for in the here and now. Are we willing to hold on to our hope while living in this broken world to inherit the perfect creation Jesus has waiting for us?

How can we trust in God’s promise? We can trust because we know that He raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. Jesus told His disciples this would happen…and it did. Jesus told His disciples He was going to return to the Father…and He did. Jesus was given power and authority over all creation. He rules the nations—both now and for eternity.

We may sometimes question whether God is in control or not. That is due to our inability to see the whole picture. We have a narrow and short-sighted view of the world and all that is happening. Unfortunately, we also pick and choose from who and where we acquire our perspective…and too often it is not God’s.

Yet we can continue to put our hope in His power, His authority, His dominion, and His promises. Our hope will continue to carry us through the tough times, the good times, and the times we simply don’t know where to turn.

I pray we all hold on to the hope of Jesus in our heart. I pray we believe in His authority and rule. I pray each of us believe God will deliver on His promises in His time. Seek your eternal inheritance. Trust God’s promises. Put your hope in Jesus. Hold on to your hope. Believe Jesus rules over all.

Ephesians 1:18-21 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hopeto which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Hope of Abraham

Waiting can make holding onto hope very challenging and difficult. The longer we must wait, the more difficult it becomes. We are an impatient people. Holding onto our hope may even become too challenging for us.

But holding onto our hope is more rewarding than any other thing we can do. It is our hope that gets us through the tough times. It is our hope that carries us on when we don’t want to go any further.

As we see in today’s passage, Abraham held onto his hope and was rewarded. Abraham’s hope was put in God’s promise and God delivered on His promise. Though both Abraham and Sarah were well beyond childbearing age, God gave them the son He promised them. Can you imagine how often Abraham and Sarah were ready to give up?

Sarah became impatient and offered her servant to give Abraham a son. But God ultimately gave Abraham and Sarah a son of their own, though they waited for more than 15 years for God to deliver on His promise. What promise are you waiting on? How long have you been waiting?

At the same time God made His promise to Abraham, He told him his offspring would be in a foreign land for four-hundred years. Can you imagine what Abraham thought? He was about to start waiting for a son. He might have been wondering how long he would have to wait.

We are waiting for Christ to return. We don’t know how long we will continue to wait. We do know that by holding onto our hope, we will spend eternity with Him. We can reasonably assume it won’t always be easy. Yet we can also believe, with our entire heart, that it will be more than worth it. We can believe that God will deliver on His promise to us just as He delivered on His promise to Abraham.

I pray we all hold onto our hope in God’s promise. I pray we wait patiently for Christ’s return. I pray we continue to believe God will deliver us into His presence for eternity. Hold onto your hope. Believe in God’s promises. Continue to wait. Wait patiently.

Romans 4:18-21 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Hope of Advent

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is on its way. The scramble to get bargains is on. Finishing off the shopping list is top priority. After all, most of us have already had our Christmas decorations up for a couple weeks.

For many Christians it is also the time for our tradition of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. The waiting is both past and present. We look back at the waiting of the Jews for the Messiah to come. For many, that is their only focus during Advent.

Yet, we also wait today. We wait for the return of Jesus Christ. We wait for the final fulfillment of God’s plan. Much like the Jews waited for hundreds of years after the prophecies about the Messiah, we have been waiting for nearly two-thousand years since He promised He would return. Perhaps that is why we have become cynical and even lost interest in the wait.

Traditionally, the four Sundays of Advent cover four different topics or subjects. The first topic covered is hope. Just as the Jews put their hope in the coming of the Messiah, we put our hope in Him who came and will come again. Jesus came to give us hope. He has been and continues to be the reason for hope throughout history.

Matthew quotes from the prophet Isaiah in today’s passage. The prophecy was written more than five-hundred years prior to the birth of Jesus. Matthew states in the verse just before he quotes Isaiah that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.

What does this mean to us today? We can solidify our hope in God’s promises. As God promised the coming of the Messiah hundreds of years before Jesus walked this earth, He has promised that Jesus will return. We can trust God to fulfill that promise, just as He fulfilled His earlier promise. Our hope is built on His promises.

I pray we all strengthen our hope in Jesus through His promises. I pray we trust Him to fulfill His promises. I pray each of us will hold on to our hope in Jesus and look forward to His return. Put your hope in Jesus. Strengthen your hope through evidence of fulfilled promises. Trust Jesus. He never fails.

Matthew 12:18-21

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,

the one I love, in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him,

and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

He will not quarrel or cry out;

no one will hear his voice in the streets.

A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,

till he has brought justice through to victory.

In his name the nations will put their hope.”

Are You Thankful?

Are you thankful? Do you live a thankful life? What does a thankful life look like? We all get caught up in our daily lives of school, work, parenting, sports, and watching too much TV. Today’s society needs something occupying its mind every moment of every day and we wonder why we can’t sleep at night. We want continuous entertainment and wonder why we have no peace. We are continually on the go and complain of never having time to take care of things at home.

Here’s a cure you might consider, take time to be thankful. Set aside time to thank God that you woke up this morning, for the food you ate, for the clothes you wore, for the house you live in, for the warm bed you have, for the electricity you have, for the job you have, for the ability to learn, for the ability to speak, for the ability to think, for the ability to see, for the ability to read and understand, for your families, for your relationships, etc., etc., etc.

You see, when we live a life that is thankful, we recognize that God provides everything for us. He provides for all our needs. When we live a life that is thankful, there is no room for complaining, there is no room for quarrels, there is no room for satan to put evil intent in our heart. God will fill your heart with His Spirit, with His principles. When we live a life that is thankful, we see others as God sees them. We see them as His children. We love them as He loves them. We pray for them and their struggles, often seeing ours as insignificant in comparison.

We just had our Thanksgiving Day celebration. Many of us spent time with family and friends. But, did you really open your eyes and see them as God sees them? Were you really thankful or were you just ready to eat? I pray that each of us will live a life that is thankful, a life that reflects God’s great love for us.

Psalm 107:1

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

his love endures forever.

Philosophy On Life

How do you view the world? What is your philosophy on life? Do you know your philosophy, or do you simply follow the current trend? Is your philosophy one that has been built over years? Have you ever taken time to identify it and how you came by it?

Whether we realize it or not, we all live by a philosophy on life. Many of us do not consciously think about it. It is just how we are. We don’t question it. We don’t attempt to change it. We simply follow along, many times blindly.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-25, Paul gives us some real meat to chew on. In just a few verses, he lays out a philosophy for life and encourages us to follow it. His philosophy is steeped in God’s commands and guidance. I’m sure that many of us will agree with much of what Paul writes. However, I’m also sure some of us will disagree or have some heartburn with one or more of Paul’s advisements.

Agreeing with Paul’s advisement may not be our problem. In fact, for many of us, I’m sure it isn’t. Our issue is with adhering to them. We may agree we all should live in peace with one another but have a hard time doing so. We disagree with one another, or someone does something we don’t like, and peace goes out the window.

We may agree being patient with one another is good, especially when we want others to be patient with us. Yet, we struggle with being patient with others. It is especially difficult when we have instructed someone on the right way of doing things and they repeatedly do them wrong.

We may agree that rejecting evil is something we all should do. Yet, we have our favorite sins. And when we are tempted to act on that sinful behavior, we find it extremely difficult to resist. We may even justify it in our heads by reminding ourselves that Jesus will forgive us.

All these are reasons to pray every day. We need to pray for God to work in our lives to mold us into the person He would have us be. Of course, it won’t happen overnight, though God could do that. Instead, He uses life’s situations to teach us lessons and guide us to the destination He has in store for us.

I pray we all seek to follow a philosophy of life according to God’s will. I pray we read Paul’s philosophy, which came from God. I pray each one of us prays that God will mold us into the person He wants us to be. Follow God’s guidance. Build your life philosophy around His. Ask God to make changes as He sees fit in your life. Be willing to be molded by God.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Peace, Encouragement, Thanks

Does peace rule your life? Or is your life full of upheaval, drama, and uncertainty? Do you admonish with psalms or with a sharp tongue that cuts deep? Do you do everything with thankfulness in your heart?

Many, if not most, of us will say we long for peace. Yet we often do little in pursuit of peace. Instead, we rebel, react negatively, and complain about almost anything. We gossip about one another, creating discontent whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Peace is only achieved with effort. Self-control is a key ingredient for peace. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Fruits of the Spirit only grow within us as we submit to God and His will for our lives. Therefore, the first step in achieving peace is to commit to following God’s commands, guidance, and direction.

Admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and songs may sound a bit weird to us. But think about it for just a moment. If you correct someone with a positive, uplifting tone, they are less likely to take offense and more likely to make a positive change themselves. After all, would you rather someone yell at you for doing something wrong or take time to show you the right way with encouraging words?

Accepting the Holy Spirit into your life and allowing Him to make a positive change in your life will lead to true thankfulness. As we become truly thankful for all God has done and continues to do in our lives, we do everything in God’s name, giving Him thanks at all times. Giving thanks compounds itself, making us more thankful as we continue to recognize all God’s blessings.

I pray we all honestly pursue peace. I pray we strive to correct others with encouraging words. I pray each one of us welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives and become thankful for all God does for us. Pursue peace. Encourage one another. Admonish one another with positiveness. Welcome the Holy Spirit. Give thanks to God always.

Colossians 3:15-17 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, givingthanks to God the Father through him.

Give Thanks

What are you thankful for? Have you spent any length of time thinking about it? Or have you taken for granted all who are in your life and all you have? Where do you believe all your blessings came from?

As we begin this week, many are preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. Frozen turkeys are being thawed. Pumpkin pies are being made. Homemade egg noodles are being rolled and cut. A feast is being fussed over to make it just so.

For many of us, Thanksgiving means overeating and enjoying gathering as a family. We stuff ourselves with food, take a nap while watching football, and wakeup to eat again. The holiday is family, food, and football—even if not in that order. But how thankful are we?

We Americans trace this holiday back to the pilgrims and their thankfulness for their first harvest in the new world. We may even decorate our homes or foods with images of pilgrims and turkeys. Yet it is hard for us to comprehend just how thankful those pilgrims were to harvest a bounty of food that long ago fall to sustain them through the coming winter. After all, we can simply run to the nearest grocery store to get food when we want it and likely have days’ worth of food stored in our pantry.

The more we have, the less likely we are to be thankful. We become self-reliant. We begin to believe we do not need anyone else. We forget God has blessed us with everything, including our family, jobs, homes, and even the very air we breathe.

Much like Paul states in today’s passage, I encourage each one of us to give thanks to God for everything. Speak kindly to one another, giving thanks for one another. Sing and make your heart merry, praising God for His blessings. Be filled with the Holy Spirit, recognizing how blessed you are by God. And, of course, do all of this in the name of Jesus.

I pray we all thank God for everything. I pray we give thanks for God’s blessings. I pray each one of us will pause to thank God from our hearts and through Jesus Christ. Give thanks to God. Thank Him for everything. Think about your blessings. Praise God. Be Spirit filled.

Ephesians 5:18b-20 Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Kingdom of Priests

How well do you know God? Do you know, fully understand, He has existed for all time and will continue to exist beyond time? Do you know Jesus has created God’s kingdom through His sacrifice?

It is difficult for us to wrap our minds around infinity, eternity, forever. God existed before time began. He exists throughout all time. He will continue to exist when time has ceased. Time was created by God when He created all things.

Jesus came into time to be our perfect Savior. Through His sacrifice we have been saved from ourselves and from eternal damnation. Jesus did not come to merely save us but to make us the kingdom of God. Each person who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior is part of the kingdom of God.

In addition to being part of God’s kingdom, we are priests. There have been many news stories on priests and we all likely hold priests to a higher standard. That being so, we are also held to a higher standard because we are priests of God. Our purpose as priests is to serve Him.

That is where to issue arises, isn’t it? We don’t want to serve anyone but ourselves. Yet serving God is the very purpose for which we were created and saved. Serving God does not mean we must serve in a way that is not natural for us. In fact, God has created each one of us with talents by which we are to use to serve Him. He has gifted each of us with intellect, strength, and abilities for the purpose of carrying out His will in this world. He created each one of us to play our part in his plan.

I pray we all hold ourselves to a higher standard. I pray we see ourselves as priests who serve God. I pray each one of us recognize we are to play a unique part in God’s plan. Know that God exists both outside of time and in time. See yourself as a priest. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Serve God with the talents His has gifted you with.

Revelation 1:4b-6 Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

The King Who Reigns

How do you look at Jesus? Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen that He is the Word of God that became flesh. We have seen Him as the Creator, being there at the beginning. Is there more we need to know?

Jesus is the head of the church. Does that mean He makes the rules? Yes. In fact, He has already made the rules. God gave the Law to the Jews before Jesus came to the earth. Jesus fulfilled the Law. He summed up the Law when He gave us the two greatest commands—love God, love your neighbor (Matthew 12:29-31).

In part, Paul was stating Jesus was the head of the church to counteract the beliefs in Colossae. The traditions of the time were to worship Greek or Roman gods. There were multiple temples to multiple gods. Paul was differentiating Jesus, putting Him above all the others.

We may think this is unimportant to us today. Yet we put many other things above Jesus in our lives. We passively worship Jesus while spending more time learning about other people or building our own temples.

Paul goes on to bring up the subject of Christ’s resurrection. He died for us but was raised from the dead on the third day. He walked to the earth after His resurrection for several days. He did so, not only to save us from our sins, but to be the King of kings, Lord of lords. He now reigns over all.

Jesus is the head over His church, the body of Christ, and King over all. He not only reigns today but will continue to reign forever. The choice before us and everyone else in this world is to follow Him and be on the winning side or don’t follow Him and lose forever.

I pray we all choose to follow Jesus. I pray we believe Jesus is the King who reigns. I pray each one of us see Jesus as the head of the church, the body of Christ. Choose to follow Jesus. Believe He is King. Believe He is Lord. Know that Jesus is head of the church.

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.