Archive for January, 2011

A Message of Peace

“You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all.” Acts 10:36 NRSV

MP900432733[1] Peter was in a tough and tenuous situation. He violated Jewish law by stepping into a Gentile’s home. He was surrounded by a crowd of strangers, and had no idea why he was there.

Once he entered the house, Cornelius told of an angel that had visited him. Then Peter is told the crowd was there to hear his message. All of a sudden Peter understood why he was there, and he told them all about Jesus.

Peter’s words brought a message of peace to those gathered in Cornelius’ home. He told them peace was sent to the Jews in Jesus Christ. As he continued, he realized that Jesus’ peace was not for the Jews only, it was for everyone!

Jesus’ peace is for everyone!

Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace. Jesus brings peace because he is the Lord of all. As Lord, his authority puts down every enemy. His truth destroys every argument. His Spirit heals every hurt, and unites all who follow him under the banner of peace. With Jesus as Lord, there is no need for conflict. God’s will is done, and love is the order of the day!

MP900430642[1] What Peter wanted these Gentiles to know was that with Jesus peace is possible. Peace between God and humankind, peace between man and woman, peace between brother and sister, peace between friends, peace between enemies, and peace between nations, that is what God wants.

With Jesus peace is possible!

That’s a refreshing thought! It must have been a surprising thought for this crowd. Cornelius was not a man of peace. He was a Roman soldier trained for war. As such, he was Peter’s enemy. But all Peter had to talk about was peace!

The message of peace is one that I need, and I know our world sorely needs. Peter knew God wants to give peace, a peace that passes all understanding. But that peace is only possible through Jesus Christ!

The more we allow Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, the more barriers will begin to fall, strife will cease and peace will reign!

God’s message for you is the message of peace!

Prayer:

Giver of Peace, bring your peace into my life. Let your love rule in heart, your truth guide my mind and your peace fill my soul. Then make me an instrument of your peace. Use me to spread the love of Jesus so your kingdom might come and your peace reign over all!

Amen.

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Avoid Spontaneous Combustion

Strife is stirred up by the hot-tempered. Contention is calmed by those slow to anger. Proverbs 15:18 adapted

MP900390445[1] In the certain industries, people work around combustible materials and explosive gases. In those places safety is the #1 concern. Everything possible has to be done to protect the workers. Of course the key to safety in those situations is prevention. The focus has to be on reducing the risk of combustion and explosion.

Relationships can be just like those combustible environments. Angry, temperamental people can spark conflict in a flash. All it takes is little misunderstanding, and they explode. That is the wrong kind of person to be in a relationship with. For some, it creates a dangerous environment, which threatens their safety and well-being.

abstract fire on blackWise people understand the dangers of spontaneous combustion. They recognize the  havoc a hot temper can cause. So they are careful to not throw gasoline on the fire. They don’t fight back with anger. They know that fighting fire with fire can explode into a disastrous situation.

Wise people are slow to anger. They don’t purposely aggravate a situation. They don’t look for ways to cause trouble. They are the kind of people I want to surround myself with.

What I find is that when I am around those who are slow to anger there is a calm, even in stressful times. My life is tough enough. I don’t need to be around angry people who stir up problems and set fires. I need to partner with those who work hard to prevent conflict, and who respond to life’s stress with patience, love and Christ-honoring action.

You may be in a combustible situation, and you may not be able to change your MP900442246[1]environment. The key is to surround yourself with people who will work hard with you to prevent the kinds of explosions that break relationships apart and destroy lives. Those who put the love of Christ into action can reduce the risk of strife and bring calm to even the most difficult times.

Why not keep yourself near those people?  Why not do all you can to reduce the risk of spontaneous combustion!

God In Action: Moses

The Bible reveals God in action and our response to what God does. The Bible uses words to describe those actions and responses. Phillip Prescott Parham uses paint.

This is the third in a series that shares his images of epic events described in the Old Testament. I encourage you to read the verses given, then reflect on these powerful designs. You can click here for a link to the artist’s website.

God & Moses:

The Burning Bush: Exodus 3:1-6

Mt. Sinai: Exodus 19:16-25; 20:1-21; 31:18

Moses in the Cleft of the Rock: Exodus 33:12-23

Wise Requests

Dreaming and Happy Wise people make wise requests. They don’t ask for things they don’t need. They ask for the things that will make their lives better, their faith stronger and their relationship with Jesus Christ deeper.

Using some of the thoughts expressed in Psalm 15, which was written by one of the wisest men in the Old Testament, let’s pray a prayer today for the things we need most.

My Lord and my God,

I am so thankful for Your presence in my life, and the blessed fellowship I enjoy being close to You. As I walk with You today, help me to do all the things You would have me do, and to be the person You created me to be.

Let my daily walk be blameless. Help me to always do what’s right. Let my heart speak the truth, and train my tongue to refrain from slander, boasting and deceit. Guide my actions that I might help and not hinder, build up and not tear down, and love all who cross my path.

Let me always honor my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to do everything in my power to support the poor and protect the innocent.

My God, guide me today, and every day by Your love. Keep me in the shadow of Your grace. Let me never be moved from loving and serving You!

Amen.

Praying & Trusting

…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 NRSV

MP900177811[1]I pray because I trust. I trust that God hears and cares. More importantly, I trust that God can and will act, and that God’s action will always be good!

Trust is the unspoken assumption of prayer. We pray because we trust.

Today’s video illustrates that truth in a simple and powerful way. Click here to watch it. Then let’s its message encourage you to continue trusting and praying!

A Generous Portion

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10 NRSV

MP900442347[1] Think of all that God has done for you. Remember the troubles the Lord has delivered you from. Look back and see just how far God has brought you as a follower of Jesus Christ. Then, give praise to God for all the grace and goodness you have received. Raise a song of thanksgiving and shout for joy!

But don’t stop there. Ask yourself whether or not God is finished with you yet. Has the Lord given you your share of blessings and moved on to others in need? Certainly not! God is not finished with you yet. God’s love for you is everlasting. God’s mercies and blessings are renewed every morning. God’s plan for you extends on into eternity!

God isn’t finished with you yet.

Just read what God said to his people in Psalm 81. They had experienced God’s blessings in ways that almost defy belief. Their history was marked by miracle after miracle. Still, God continued inviting his people to come to his banquet table, and to find food for their hungry souls. Through the psalmist’s words, God let his children know there were good and perfect gifts just waiting for them. They just had to open their mouths and be filled.

The truth is that God is in the blessing business. God’s resources never run dry. Even today God is ready to give you more than you could ask for or imagine. In fact, according to the psalmist, God is ready to give you as much as you can hold. Now God wants you to open your mouth as wide as possible, so you can be filled to the full! There certainly is no stinginess in God’s Kingdom!

You can be filled to the full.

Simply stated, the Lord cares for and abundantly blesses his children. God is looking for hungry souls who turn to him daily for sustenance and for strength. God is longing to bless those who will delight in him!

MP900443617[1]Are you hungry for blessings? Are you hoping God will heap your plate full of loving kindness and mercy? Well, you’ve come to the right God.

Now make yourself available to God. Come into God’s presence, and take your place at his banquet table. Tell the Lord what you need. Then open wide and receive today a generous portion of the grace that gives not just life, but life more abundant!

Just Open Wide & Receive!

Prayer:

Gracious God, Your goodness know no bounds. Your love is from everlasting to everlasting. Thank you for your blessings. They are too numerous to count.

You have provided for me, guided me and brought me to today. Continue now to fill me with the blessings of your grace, and lead me into the tomorrow you have prepared for me!

Amen.

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Avoid Misunderstandings

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son on Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. John 6:52-53 NRSV

Great success is often followed by major setbacks. In terms of popularity, after feeding a crowd of thousands, Jesus was at the top of the charts. MC900351599But it didn’t take long for people to become disillusioned and antagonistic toward him. Jesus’ fall was mostly due to a simple misunderstanding. He tried to get the people see that he was the Bread of Life.

The problem was that people heard his words, but totally missed his meaning. Isn’t that how misunderstandings happen? We listen, and then interpret things from our own perspectives. We don’t give others the chance to open their worlds to us and explain what they really mean.

MP900408938[1] I don’t want to walk away from anyone because of a misunderstanding. Today’s passage reminds me I need to slow down and not rush to judgment. I need to take a moment to see things from the other person’s perspective. Then, once I have heard and clearly understood the full meaning of what I had been told, I can decide whether I agree or disagree.

I see lots of people talking, but see very few really taking the time to listen. That was the problem in Jesus’ day, and still is ours today. Maybe that’s why there are so many partisan divides in our society and broken relationships in our families.

If nothing else, 2011 is a great time to learn from past mistakes and do things differently. If you find yourself confused by Jesus’ words, and hurt by what others say, maybe you can begin pausing before reacting. Maybe you can give yourself the chance to see things from a different perspective.

As you do, I think you will find you will react to JesusMP900399830[1] less like the Jews of his day, who turned their backs on him, and more like his disciples, who drew closer to him. You will also find your reactions to what others say becomes more loving, and in the end much more Christ honoring!