Peace Beyond Understanding

As I was sitting in church one morning I heard the preacher say, “peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of conflict”. I don’t remember much else of the sermon; however, this phrase stuck with me. As I continued to think about this statement, I found it to be more and more true.

We often see people going through terrible circumstances and wonder how they have peace through them. A husband left to raise young children after losing his wife in a car crash which only he survived- how does he find peace? A young couple over their heads in debt- how do they find peace? Parents losing a child too young- how do they find peace? A family that goes to bed hungry every night- how do they find peace?

Many more circumstances try to steal our peace throughout our lives, but they only succeed when we let them. Peace is having complete trust in God. Peace is resting assured in God’s promises. Contrary to secular belief, peace is not a problem-free life. Rather, it is a life lived with confidence in Christ Jesus our Lord. People can find peace in terrible circumstances only when they know that God has them in His Mighty Hand. Only when they trust in their hearts that He is in control can they have this incomprehensible peace.

Next time a problem arises that tries to take your peace remember that peace is the presence of Jesus in the midst of conflict. He will meet you right where you are if you seek Him. The pain may not subside but peace beyond your understanding will come. The Holy Spirit will fill you with comfort and peace. Trust in God. He is always in control.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

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Keep Dreaming

There are two types of people in the world: realists and dreamers. Realists look at the world and see it for how it is. Dreamers look at the world and see it for how it could be or how they want it to be. One type of person is not better than the other; both have their pros and cons. Ideally, we would all have the perfect blend of a realist and a dreamer but unfortunately we don’t. Lucky for us, God knows the necessity for both types of people in the world and made us all different so that we could balance each other out.

I’m a dreamer. I always have been and I always will be. Therefore, I’m familiar with the pros and cons of being a dreamer. Dreamers have a positive outlook. As I said, they choose to see the world as it could be not as it is currently. They watch the news and hold on to that one story that brings hope. They have high expectations. They still believe that one person can make a difference.

On the con side, they are easily disappointed, or at least this dreamer is. Like I said, dreamers often have high expectations for themselves and others. They anticipate these expectations to be met. When they are not met and reality sets in, dreamers lose some of what they hold on to so tightly- hope. Unfortunately, with high expectations  (or any expectations at all) sometimes comes disappointment. Why? Because people are flawed. No one is perfect. We’re going to fail. We’re going to fall short. We’re going to let each other and ourselves down. Disappointment is just a part of this life, and whether it’s big or small it still causes pain.

So what’s a dreamer to do? Stop having expectations to avoid disappointment? Stop believing there is still hope? Stop dreaming? No. God makes dreamers for a reason. Disappointment is unavoidable. It is something we have to learn to deal with. We are not to let it tear us down and distract us from our goals. Dreamers can afford to take a lesson from the realists and understand that evil does exist. Dreamers need to look at the world and recognize that it is sinful and imperfect, but they must not stop believing that one person can make a difference. After all, one person already did- His name is Jesus. And Jesus has already told us, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Are you a dreamer? Do you believe that you can make a difference? Is disappointment plaguing you and causing you to lose hope in that belief? If so, from one dreamer to another, don’t let it. Chances are you’ve already made a difference in a life, and that life is making a difference in other lives, causing a rippling effect. And remember, the disappointment caused by situations or people not meeting your expectations is likely just what God intended. So keep dreaming. One day the world will be all as it should be.

Not a Lost Cause

Is there someone you know today that you wish you could change? You wish that you could alter their thinking,make them kinder, or stronger, or wiser. You’ve tried every which way possible and all attempts have failed. You see so much potential, but you are told it’s a lost cause and change isn’t possible. All hope is lost and you have given up. Have you been there? Are you there now?

There is hope because with God all things are possible, even change in the most stubborn of people. Look with me in Jeremiah 32:17.What does it say? NOTHING is too difficult for God. He made the heavens and the earth; He spoke them into being. You and I can not bring about change in others on our own, but Our God surely can. All we need to do is come before Him with a clean heart and ask Him to intervene on the behalf of others. Change may or may not happen over night, so we are to pray continually.

There is someone you know who is in need of change today. You may not even know what to pray, but God gave us His Word for guidance in these times. Join me today in following the example  Paul gave us of how to pray for others in Colossians 1:9-14 and insert the person’s or persons’ names where you see parentheses (the brackets are used to denote paraphrasing). “For this reason also, since the day [I] heard of it, [I] have not ceased to pray for (    ) and to ask that (   ) may be filled with the knowledge of [Your] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that (    ) will walk in a manner worthy of [You], to please [You] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of [You]; strengthened with all power, according to [Your] glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the [You], who qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For [You] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of [Your] beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Prayer brings about change. Seek God and trust Him to work in the lives of those you love for their good. Remember nothing is too difficult for God.

The Great I Am

Isn’t it amazing how you can read a verse or verses in scripture time and time again, and one day those same verses take on a whole new meaning? This is why we call scripture the Living Word. It is potent. It is pertinent. And it is always true.

I had heard and read several times the words in Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses,’I AM WHO I AM'”. Nothing really struck me those times, nor did I really understand what God meant. But as scripture has a way of doing, the words jumped out at me when I heard them another time and I finally understood the meaning.

Moses had made up his mind to obey God and go to His people in Egypt. However, he was concerned that when he said the God of their fathers had sent him the Israelites would not know who this God was. So, he asked God what he was to tell them. God instructed Moses to tell them, “I AM has sent me to you”. I found it strange that God used that name to refer to himself instead of the names we often hear like your Heavenly Father, the Holy One, Almighty God, Sovereign King, Lord of All, etc. This is when God opened my eyes to understand what this name “I AM” truly means.

The name “I AM” encompasses all that God is. Every name that we call God is enveloped by the name “I AM”. I AM the Savior. I AM the Healer. I AM the Lord of All. I AM the Holy One. I AM Almighty God. I AM the Maker, the Creator of All. I AM the Sovereign King, Eternal King, King of Kings. I AM the Redeemer.

Whatever we need God is. When you are hurting and lonely God says, “I AM the Comforter”. When you are weak God says, “I AM your strength”. When you are afraid of the future God says “I AM the Sovereign King; I AM in control”. When you feel defeated God says, “I AM the Great Encourager”. When you are broken and can’t seem to pick the pieces God says, “I AM the Healer”. There is nothing He cannot provide. He is truly the Great I AM.

 

 

Who Inspires You?

Not too long ago I was asked in an interview, “Who inspires you?”. My immediate answer was my dad. I was surprised that I didn’t even have to think about this answer. It just kind of shot out of me the minute I was given the opportunity to reply. And now as I take the time to think about my answer it still remains the same, with the addition of my mom, my grandparents, my siblings, Granny Rogers (my great grandmother whom this blog was inspired by), and above all my Lord Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what kind of response my interviewer expected, maybe a well-known war hero or a highly achieved businessman like Bill Gates. Though their stories of sacrifice and success are inspiring, I find more inspiration from the little things that I get the privilege to witness everyday. Little things like waking up long before it’s light out to cook breakfast for a group of volunteers or to attend a Bible study. Things like giving up time and wants to serve and give to others. Things like knowing just the right moment when someone needs a hug or to hear I love you. Things like remembering to say thank you and appreciate others. Things like handing down prayer journals, Bibles, and devotional books so that others can share in your Christian journey.

Let me just stop and talk about that last “little thing” I just mentioned. Granny Rogers died when I was just a baby, but I still got the privilege of knowing her. How you ask? Through the Bibles and prayers and devotions she left behind. In these beaten up, torn books browned with age I discover Granny’s struggles, blessings, and faith in Jesus Christ. I learn from her journey as she walks with me through mine. It is such a great blessing and I bet she had no clue of the impact it would continue to make in her offspring.

That being said, I encourage you to start keeping journals. Write your struggles and successes, prayer request, revelations from God, and all the rest in the margins of your Bible. Underline your favorite verses. Write out your thoughts on the margins of your devotional books and record heartfelt, honest prayers in a journal. Most importantly save them for yourself to reflect back on as well as for future generations. The more torn and ragged they are the better- that means they have been used. Trust me, it is the greatest gift you can give someone you love.

I was blessed beyond measure with family that inspires me to be better than I was yesterday and to glorify the Lord in service to others. I understand that not everyone’s family life is ideal. There are a lot of broken families out there and inspiration is the last thing some may find in family. However, inspiration can always be found in Our Lord who forgives when forgiveness is undeserved, who loves the unlovable, who rescues the abandoned, who reaches out to the forsaken, who restores the broken, who overcomes the enemy, who died for the unrighteous.

Who inspires you? What inspires you? It’s okay if it’s a sports star or famous figure. It’s okay if it is not a family member. But if the Lord Jesus is not on your list, some things need to change for your benefit. Ask the Lord to show you some inspiration from Him today and He will be faithful to do just that!