In a world filled with hate…

…may I reflect the LOVE that is unconditional.  Lord, help me!  May I love as You have loved us.  You bestowed Grace and Mercy upon us, ALL people, through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  May I not be selfish with that Love!  May I overflow with what You have given me so that others too may know Your Love!

Where is the blame in these acts of violence?  Society?  Laws? Politicians?  Human Nature?

Where does it stop?  How does it change?  With more gun laws?  With more hate?  With more discrimination?

No.  It starts with me.  It starts with MY HEART, MY MIND.  Lord, if I am to love You with all my heart, all my mind, all my strength, all my soul, then I must love what YOU love:  Your creation, Your people, Your promises.

We as the human race are so broken.  We are prone to sin, to lie, to hate.  It is only through CHOOSING to love that we can overcome those natural tendencies we have.

In the midst of differences, LOVE.  See the beauty and interconnectedness through our differences.  Each of us is a thread in a vast tapestry.  Each of us, as tangled as we may be, add color and texture to the final Image of Grace.  We NEED the different colors, textures, and facets in order to see the Image of Christ in each other.  So LOVE.  Honor.  Extend grace and mercy.

And go.  Encourage others to do the same.

Whatever we do, readers, we do to and for Christ.  Be a vessel.

“Peace”

The Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study this morning had us diving into four specific verses.  So I am going to share what I posted to the OBS blog and then go a bit deeper after that.

From the OBS Blog:

O- Both my thoughts and external factors interrupt me.  I have such an active brain!  And I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old….And I have a husband….so interruptions here happen all the time.  But we get by.

B- Each of these verses speaks of peace.  When we gather in the name of Jesus, we find His peace.  And we find opportunities to build each other up, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable.  Which verse speaks loudest to me?  Good question!  Colossians 3:15-16, I think, because of how embedded this passage has become in my life over the last 6 years.  “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”  This to me is the image of gathering together to praise our mighty God for what He has done for us through the cross, the empty tomb, through Jesus Christ, His Son!  We are called to, as it says in Colossians 3:14, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything in perfect harmony.”  I love the ESV for that word, harmony, in this passage.  Not unity, not as one, but in harmony.  Sweet, musical harmony.  Can you hear it?  The bass, baritone, tenor, alto, second soprano, and soprano voices blending together singing in perfect harmony about the love and power and grace of God???  Each time I meet with Him, that is what I hear.  That is what I want to shout from my soul!

S- I feel like I am already making a habit of gathering together to encourage and uplift, to praise God together.  What I would like to do is find ways to be a source of Biblical encouragement daily, at work, at home, at the store, wherever I am.  So, Lord, may I be obedient to Your promptings!  Show me who I can encourage at work.  Let me be a beacon for You, for Your Grace.

Now to go DEEPER:

Let me share the four verses I was reflecting on in the “B” section above:

John 20:19 “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.'”

Colossians 3:15-16 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Romans 14:19 “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”

Proverbs 1:33 “…but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

Do you see how each of these passages speaks to peace?  And more than that, most of them speak of gathering together.  Fellowship.  We truly are not meant to do life alone.  Fellowship, encouragement, motivation, accountability, and harmony are essential to this journey!  (That is my opinion, anyway!)  If you don’t have the face-to-face fellowship, find some online!  That is the awesomeness that is social networking today.  We can feel so trapped and alone, especially if we are unable to move, drive, walk, etc.  The church I attend is a Network Church for Life Church in Oklahoma.  And I attend here in Illinois!  If you do not have a church home, check it out!  Here is the link:  http://www.life.church/

Explore the churches around you if you can get out and about.  If you go to one, give it 2-3 weeks in a row (unless God really speaks to you otherwise) to see if it is a place you can worship.  Then stay or move to the next!  Ask questions, go deep.

I have to speak to peace now.  Peace does not mean freedom from hardship and it does not mean an easy path.  Peace means assurance that whatever it is you are facing is surmountable.  It means Jesus is walking the path (mountain) with you.  We never walk alone, even when we feel like it.  So Proverbs 1:33, when it says “without dread of disaster” means that we walk through fire without fear because God is with us.  Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the fiery furnace and came out unscathed, that is God walking with us through life.  There are situations, sometimes daily, that have the potential to burn us deeply.  We get scarred, cut, bruised.  And God makes us stronger through it.  He purifies us.  He teaches us.  He equips us to help someone else through that same fire.

So we are not called to a life of perfection, but to a perfect eternity.  The hardships we face here deepen our peace and our reliance on God through Jesus Christ.  We are called to live a harmonious life with those around us.  We are not identical, but our lives will blend together in a beautiful symphony of sound in the presence of the King of kings.

And we walk this life together.  Cling to that truth.  Someone out there is listening.  Always God, and many of us as well.

May you find peace in the fires around you through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Verse of the Day

I went to Bible Gateway this morning, and read the verse of the day:

 

Verse of the Day

[ Love Your Enemies ] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:43-45 ESV

Do you know which part of this verse stood out to me?    The last half of the last sentence:  …and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  It took me back to my Adolescent Psychology class my sophomore year of college, where my professor said something like it does not rain on one roof alone.  This really got me thinking about blessings and tragedy, and why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.  Being “good” does not mean life will be easy and free from tragedy.

Being “good” does not mean blessings will flow freely.  Even when I am being my absolute best, I am still not “good enough” to cleanse myself from sin, to be holy enough to be in the presence of the most holy God.

If I am to love my neighbors AND my enemies, I need Jesus.  Those enemies, the ones who hurt you over and over again, who seek to see you fail, yeah, those are the ones Jesus is talking about in this verse.  LOVE them.  My strength alone to love them will fail me every time.  So I pray for them.  I pray for God’s strength to allow me to love them.

In the midst of the ups and downs of life, I am reminded that no matter what, I am the Lord’s.  He gives me strength to do all things through Christ.  (Philippians 4:13).  What He calls me to do, He will equip me to do.  If He calls me to face a downpour of tragedy (which He has before), He will give me the strength to withstand the storm.  If He chooses to allow me to face a downpour of financial blessing, He will give me wisdom and discernment on how best to share the blessing.  If He asks me to find the blessings in the mess of a storm of turmoil, He will give me eyes to see.

In the midst of chaos and tragedy, there is something amazing about facing it as a Christian.  There is hope.  There is peace.  There is eventually the revealing of the blessing buried within the mess.  James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  This is my hope when the rain comes.  To His truth I cling.

M2C Blog Hop Week 3: PEACE

P31 OBS Blog Hop

#Peace ~ Is it possible to make #peace with the realities of our bodies? How?

I am coming to terms with my body.  Slowly, we are reaching an understanding.  I want to say I am fighting to overcome Diabetes Burnout, but I feel like that is a losing statement.  So, I am learning about the physical needs of my body, learning that there is more I need to do to care for my body because I have type 1 diabetes.  I am learning this all over again.  I knew this once upon a time, and cared for my body for years.  Even just two years ago, while I was pregnant with my son, I took great care and caution.

The Lord has been revealing much to me the last few weeks.  It is not the shell of my body that needs caring (though I still do shower and comb my hair, brush my teeth, etc.).  It is what is within that needs the TLC.  What I put into my body matters.  After decades of Nutrasweet and other artificial sweeteners, I have cut almost all of it out of my diet.  When I go grocery shopping, I am not buying candy bars any more!  I did buy sugarless gum last time, and I am not chewing it as frequently as I did in college.  Progress!  We are not going out to eat as a family very often.  We’ve been 3 times this last month, and one of those times was for our son’s birthday celebration.  We are cooking and eating family meals.  I haven’t had regular family meals in forever!  I love it!

And more than all of that, I am getting up in the stillness of the morning to spend time with God, with His Word, with Made to Crave, and with blogging my reflections.  I have my cup of coffee, black, beside me, the backyard full of snow to my left, and a mosaic of the Loaves and Fish from the feeding of the 5000 on the wall beside me.  God provides!  He IS Jehovah Jireh, the GREAT PROVIDER!  He alone provides the #Peace that surpasses all understanding.  He alone fills me with hope, desire for Him, the wisdom and knowledge needed to implement what I learned so long ago about physical health, and helping me apply those same concepts to my spiritual health.  He is my Great Physician.

One passage of Scripture that comes to mind when I am dwelling on His Peace is Psalm 42:

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation[c] and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

When I am depressed, when I am lost, when I am in a state of unrest, I turn to God.  He is my HOPE, my STRENGTH.  He alone defines me.  In His definition of KARA, I can be at PEACE.  He defines me as His daughter, His creation, His masterpiece.  Yes, I am a masterpiece!  And the finished masterpiece is the day I stand before His throne, covered in the blood of my Savior, falling down to the floor in worship of Him.  Until then, I am on the Potter’s wheel, being formed, shaped, centered, and even trimmed, cut, and broken to get the impurities removed.  It is not an easy process, and it is a worthy process.  Lord, have your way with me!

 

Jeremiah 18:1-6  The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

In Your Word, Lord, I find peace.  In Your Presence, Lord, I find hope.  You are my strength, You are my everything.  May my desire for YOU continue to grow, and the things of this world fade into darkness.  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”  ~Amen.