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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

I have heard serene and beautiful places described as a “little piece of heaven”.  It may be a pristine beach with tumbling waves glistening in the moonlight. A vast mountain vista or a bubbling creek under the canopy of shade trees. But it is ONLY a piece. It cannot replace the inner peace that comes from Heaven.

Why? Because where we live and move and have our being is time-bound.  Our world is ever changing– minute to minute, second to second. Weather can affect that serenity. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and blizzards ravage the earth. Human progress can affect it as well. Bulldozers can topple mountains and oil tankers spill black gunk into the water, coating everything. And even if the serene views remain intact, our human emotions can discolor it. When we are angry or depressed we often block out birdsong and sunshine filtering through the leaves. No wonder cartoonists depict a dark cloud over the head of their characters. If there is one thing that is definitely not constant, it’s our mood.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

This peace that passes all understanding, as Paul describes it, is not affected by change. It is constant, eternal, and unmoving. It doesn’t come and go, or ebb and flow.  It is there like a solid foundation that is unshakeable even in times of turmoil. You can cling to it and know it’s not going to crumble.  This peace only comes from anchoring our hearts, minds and souls into the living waters of our faith in God. It transcends whatever is happening in our ever-changing world, because His peace is not of this world. It is Heaven-sent.   In John 16:33, Jesus said, “…in me you can have peace.”

Two words that sound the same but are so different.

The first one, pIEce – where the IE stands for I Enjoy – is fleeting. It can be gone in a moment.

The other is pEAce  – where the EA stands for Eternal Access. For the believer, it is always there, no matter what.

Which will you choose to bask in?

 

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 For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God. Baruch 5 :7

ID-10082551This passage in my daily reading hit me in the way a punch in the gut snatches your breath. Scripture talks of making paths straight. What does that mean? I am learning.

Earlier this week as I headed for my apartment complex just south of one of the busiest malls, the traffic mimicked rush hour in Los Angeles. Trying to merge into the mess,  after waiting for several minutes my foot slipped off the brakes and my car edged forward to “kiss” the back bumper of the one in front of me. A very belligerent young woman jumped out and began to confront me.

I hate confrontation. Being raised in a family of perfectionist lawyers, I used to be the first to jump to defend myself. Then I’d stew for days over the injustice of being confronted. No, make that months, sometimes years.

But this time I profusely apologized and suggested we move to the parking lot to exchange information. She agreed, but as soon as I put my car in “P” she started in on me again.  The more angry and cutting she became the quieter and more calm I  became. She refused to tell me her name or give me her info, so I quietly took my phone to the back of her car and snapped a few shots of it, showing proof that no damage had occurred. Then I took some of her to record her ranting movements in case she claimed whiplash. The whole time she  scolded me to put it away and challenged why I  wouldn’t obey her.

I quietly and sweetly replied I did it to record everything for my insurance agent. Finally, I guess because I wouldn’t confront her or escalate the nasty mood she tossed in my face, and because I wouldn’t hop on her roller coaster ride of  anger and bullying,  she finally shut her mouth. She glanced at the cross around my neck, scoffed, and peeled out into the parking lot back into the snail-paced traffic. I bowed my head and prayed for her, my heart hurting that such a young person could already be so soured and skeptical, bitter and unforgiving. I asked God to touch her.

A whisper responded, “I just did, through you.”  I realized how the Holy Spirit had guided me into a peaceful state despite her emotional tirade. In the midst of biting verbal abuse, I remained like the old deodorant slogan- calm, cool and collected. No mountainous surges of  hurt and anger at her stabbing words. No blood pressure rises and plummets at her derogatory name calling. Over the past month I had begun to steadily read, study and pray more in the morning before starting my day. I guess it has altered my perspective.

God worked in me to level my emotions.  I walked safely that day, strong and upright, and gave God the glory.

ID-10056738We are entering what many consider one of the most stressful times of the year. Funny, how it began as a way to celebrate” Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Mankind”, isn’t it?  Yet with the holidays come  not only joy and frivolity, but economic worry, the unrealistic expectations of a greeting card time with family, and an onset of blues over the ones who are not here to join us this year.  Couple that with not eating right, over-partying, and dashing around to find the perfect gift for everyone, and it can become a time bomb waiting to explode.

Or not.

I hope you recall my tale when your day threatens to roller coaster. I pray you will take time out to let God level your emotions so you can reflect His loving light this season. Let Him lower your hills and fill your valleys with His mercy and grace so that no matter what, you walk confidently in a quietly in His shadow. May He make your paths straight and envelop you in His peace, despite the chaos swirling around you. And may that leveled attitude draw others to realize you have something they want. That is the perfect gift you can give this year.

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garden of grace

 

 

Along the river bank at my family place in the Texas Hill Country is an old cypress. Long before my birth, it’s trunk was bent in half by a raging flood. Yet, it’s not only lived but thrived. Its shady limbs continue to stretch out into the waters.Some reach high towards the sky. Each year it bears fragrant cypress balls, and is a celestial highway for squirrels. In times of flood and storms, it is a refuge for the birds.

Christians are not immune to tragedy in this broken world. But, as Rick Warren says, even then, we can still bear fruit because we are grafted into Christ’s loving strength and merciful grace.

“…do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Romans 11:18-19

Others see there is hope in our eyes not washed away by our grief-stricken tears, Even in our deepest sorrow, there is a peace. And that, my friends, speaks volumes without one whispered word.

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ID-10057677In the bustle of what can be the holidays, the temptation to overspend and regret it later, and the crowded confusion of lights, music and noise that fills the stores, it is easy to lose the true reason for the season. But tucked into a message to the Roman Christians two thousand years ago is the key to keeping Christmas what it should be – a time to draw nearer to God as we recall Him drawing nearer to us in the form of a babe lying in a manger.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by
the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.( Romans 15:13)

We hear those words this time of year – hope, joy, peace. We hear them in Christmas carols, read them on greeting cards. The first Advent candle is for hope, the third for joy, and the fourth reminds us of the angels singing, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.”

If we ever hope to truly have a merry Christmas, then we must let the merriness grow in our hearts and not let the outside world taint it. Because we have hope through our Savior for eternal life later and for guidance now, we can have a joy that is not dependent on good cheer, highly caloric foods and the latest gadget in the electronics department or jewelry design from the diamond stores.  And once we experience that ebbing joy that comes form the Holy Spirit, we can find peace in the midst of  all the cacophony that can be the holidays.

So when the season starts to crowd in, take two steps back. Find a quiet place, even if it is in your parked car, and ask the God of hope to refill you with His joy. Let the power of the Holy Spirit flow through you and bring you that peace that no one understands, but everyone wants to experience.  Then, maybe, just maybe, you can bring joy to others– especially the frazzled shoppers and store clerks, hope to those who are not having a merry Christmas due to grief or hurt, and peace to all you meet.

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Our riverI’m a river rat – born and raised. Last weekend I was blessed to have time off so I could head back to my river, the Guadalupe, which meanders through the Texas Hill Country like an emerald-green ribbon. Quiet ripples coax you along its path, splattered by occasional shallows and rapids which are tame by most standards, but great for novice kayakers like me. I’d never been in one until my sister persuaded me to give it a try.

What a peace. Immersed in beauty, I floated along, the kayak barely making a sound as it skimmed the waters.  There I was, home! with the sun on my back and with someone I dearly love right beside me, telling me what to do and encouraging me to keep trying.  It reminded me of what it must have been like for Eve and Adam to walk in the Garden with God – before the Fall.

Then, the sky opened up and peltered soft rain, popping the water with thousands of diamonds. Through the sun’s rays we could see the rain making a thin, veil-like waterfall as it cascaded down onto the shore.  What an image of God’s mercies – after the Fall. Because His Son, our Lord went to the Cross, we are washed anew in the outpouring of His love.

I always find God on the Guadalupe. Where do you find Him?

Will you share that in the comments?

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I found God today in a post of Truth Media’s Christian Women Today. I have been writing for them for years, but so do some very God-given talented women, and men. Today Kristi hit the nail on the head and it pierced my heart.  She stated that when we worry, it is stating our problems are too small for God. Wow. That put’s it into perspective, does it not?

You can read her whole devo by clicking here http://powertochange.com/blogposts/2012/10/22/worry-the-final-frontier/

One verse I always come back to, and have throughout my life, is Matthew 6:25 – Be ye not anxious about your life, what ye shall eat, or drink or about your body what ye put on.  We hear that worry will not add another day to our lives. In fact medical science shows it takes them away.

Worry stagnates us in a pool of inaction. We cannot move forward. It is similar to cud that a cow chews – over and over and over. It keep returning. The more we mouth it the bigger it seems to grow until it begins to gag us.  It can consume our moment, our day and our lives if we let it.

The opposite of worry is faith-filled peace. That is when we grasp a smidgen of an idea of how majestic our God really is. He is bigger than our problems. He is mightier than whatever evil is present. He is more aware of the present and future that we can ever be. It is as if He has the view from Mount Everest and us from an anthill.

Yet we all worry, don’t we? Perhaps that is why there are so many Biblical references to not worrying. What is your favorite “don’t worry ” verse?

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