The Peace of His Presence…

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Psalm 131:1-2 (KJV)

1 Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.

Do you hurry through your quiet time so you can get to other things?

If so, consider the values Jesus modeled for us in His practice of setting apart time to spend with His Father.

Solitude.

Though the Lord was constantly surrounded by people as He tended to their needs, He also understood His own need for seclusion. Often, after an intense period of ministry, He would retreat from the crowds—and even His disciples—to pray in private.

Safeguarded time.

No matter what else was going on, Jesus made it a point to protect periods of time so He could rest in the Spirit, focus on His relationship with the Father, and build up His physical and emotional strength. Even when people were clamoring for Him, Jesus made it a priority to safeguard this time, knowing that His ministry would flow from it.

Stillness.

What does it means to be still? Psalm 46:10 calls us to stillness with these words: “Cease striving and know that I am God.” To learn this perpetual inner peace, periodically stop everything you’re doing, and simply let your soul become aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In today’s reading, David described it as the state of a “weaned child” who is at perfect rest and happy just to be in his mother’s arms.

If you make these a priority, you will reap tremendous benefits.

Doing so may seem challenging.

But when you quiet your heart before the Lord, you’ll discover how much you need the peace of His presence.

It is a priceless gift.

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Riches of Greater Worth…

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2 Peter 1:1-4 (KJV)

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

When we place our trust in God, we can be assured that He provides for all of our needs.

Here are a few of our blessings we receive from the Lord:

Forgiveness.

When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, your sin is washed away. This refers not only to all previous sin but also to the sin you have not yet committed (Eph. 1:7).

Freedom.

Christianity is the only religion in the world that offers freedom from a works-based righteousness. This means that we do not have to earn the Lord’s favor. He loves us perfectly and has made provision for our complete salvation through His Son. All we have to do is accept this loving gift of grace (John 8:36).

Union with God.

We don’t worship a distant deity; we praise a loving Father who knows every detail of our lives. Ephesians 1:13 reveals that we are “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit.” This means we are forever joined to the Father. Read Ephesians 1:1-14 closely and count all the times that the apostle Paul uses the phrase “in Him”—you will see the great emphasis he placed on his relationship with Christ.

Eternal Life.

If you have been sealed in God, then you are forever bound with Him. He has you in His grip, and nothing can pull you away (John 10:28-29).

Money is fleeting, yet it is the god to which many people bow.

The Lord has riches of greater worth for you.

Whether you are wealthy or not, do not let your material possessions keep you from accepting your riches in Christ.

There is surely more value in what God has to offer.

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Maintaining a Thankful Heart…

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Psalms 9:1-2 (KJV)

1  I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

We are given amazing privileges when we trust in Jesus.

Recalling these promises is a good way to maintain a thankful heart, even when facing challenges in other areas. Consider four such blessings:

  1. Christ’s gift of salvation.

No matter what trial we’re facing, it is microscopic next to the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. The cross was a steep price to pay, but the Savior willingly took our place in order to offer us forgiveness and eternal life.

  1. Assurance of God’s love.

The Lord cares for us unconditionally—that is His very character (1 John 4:16). Unfortunately, the storms of life can cause us to question this, but Romans 8:31–39 unequivocally tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

  1. Answered prayer.

We have the awesome privilege of talking to the Father about anything burdening us—and He never grows tired of listening to His children. Our omnipotent, omniscient God is not only able to help us in any situation; He also knows the best possible way to do so.

  1. A personalized plan.

The Lord has a will, plan, and purpose for our lives that He will accomplish if we obey Him. No one is exempt from adversity, but we can trust God to bring good from everything He permits to come our way.

Hardships, temptations, and tests will touch us all, but the Lord allows difficulty for a reason—even when we don’t understand why (Rom. 8:28).

Therefore, submit yourself to the Father, thank Him for His wisdom, and be confident that He will accomplish His purposes for you.

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How Appreciative Are You?

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (KJV)

16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Today’s passage instructs us, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (v. 18).

That directive might seem easy when life is going well. But if painful situations arise, expressing gratitude can become difficult.

It’s interesting to note that this instruction to thank the Lord in all things was written by Paul—the apostle whose loyalty to Christ earned him severe persecution.

You might wonder how he was able to be grateful to God.

While many situations weren’t to his liking, Paul knew that His riches in Christ Jesus far outweighed any earthly discomfort.

Consider the blessings he so valued, which are available to all believers.

First of all, we are invited to have a personal relationship with the one true God—the omniscient and omnipresent Lord of all creation.

Second, our Creator loves us with an everlasting and unconditional love. Third, He sent His Son to die as payment for our sin debt so that we could spend eternity with Him. As a result, when we place our trust in Jesus, we are freed from the fear of death.

And the list of blessings keeps going: God adopts believers as His children and seals them with His Spirit (Eph. 4:30).

He has a plan for every life—and bestows special gifts and empowerment to make it happen. He also promises to meet every need through His limitless resources (Phil.4:19) and provides His Word and indwelling Spirit to guide us.

No wonder Paul was grateful! Today, make your own list of reasons to give thanks, and be sure to count Paul’s blessings as your own.

Let God know how appreciative you are.

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The Strength to Endure…

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Psalms 119:65-72 (KJV)

65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
69 The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

During special holidays, we typically express gratitude for God’s blessings.

But did you ever consider thanking Him for something that doesn’t seem like a blessing—such as a trying circumstance you want Him to remove or change?

A grateful heart is most precious to God when, humanly speaking, our situations don’t warrant giving thanks.

By making four foundational decisions, we can begin to see the value of our adversities and respond with appreciation.

Believe and trust the Lord. 

Only by viewing life from a scriptural perspective can we understand His purposes in our trials and trust His wisdom in allowing them.

Accept the situation as coming from God

—either directly sent or permissively allowed. If we truly believe He’s working for our good (Rom 8:28-29), we can choose to receive each difficulty as coming from His loving hand. Then we can say “Thank You.”

Submit to God in the circumstance. 

Although we may not like the situation, knowing that God “[is] good and does good” (v. 68) allows us to confidently place our lives under His authority.

Draw from Him the strength to endure. 

No one has the ability within himself to endure hardships with gratefulness. Only by relying on the Lord can believers go through adversity with an appreciative heart.

Now, think about that circumstance you would like changed, and with a new mindset, offer this prayer to God: “Lord, I accept this situation as coming from You.

In faith and trust, I place myself under Your loving authority, and draw from You the strength I need to endure with gratitude.” 

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Filled With Joy…

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Psalm 100 (KJV)

One of the earliest truths a child learns in Sunday school is that God is good.

The simplicity of these three words masks the depth of such a remarkable attribute of the Lord. He is absolutely perfect and holy, which means that He alone is the standard of all righteousness. And since the expression of the Father’s goodness is revealed in His actions, all that He does is just and right, because He cannot violate His own nature.

Also, God does not change.

Therefore, it is His character, not our behavior, that determines how He deals with us. This means He is good to us even when we are living in rebellion. As a loving heavenly Father, He responds to our disobedience with discipline, which is designed to restore the broken relationship rather than crush the wayward child.

The Lord’s goodness is expressed in a multitude of ways.

He is our Creator, and we are His people.

Every breath we breathe is given to us by God.

As our loving Shepherd, He watches over us and provides for all our needs. But the greatest expression of divine goodness is the cross of Jesus Christ. What humanly appeared to be the ultimate in cruelty and unfairness was the only way to rescue mankind and prevent eternal separation from the Lord.

Believing in God’s goodness is one of the pillars of our faith.

This truth fills us with joy in happy times and grounds us with confidence during periods that feel hard, unfair, or painful.

When we don’t understand what the Lord is doing, we can trust His heart and know that He cares for us.

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The Source of Our Peace…

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Colossians 1:15-20 (KJV)

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Before we knew Jesus Christ, our life was full of godlessness and wickedness—we had self-seeking ways and stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8).

Like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed.

When we came to faith in the Savior, all of that changed.

We were rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into Christ’s kingdom (Col 1:13). Every one of our sins—past, present, and future—was forgiven.

Divine justice was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s wrath upon us was removed.

We became a new creation, washed clean by Jesus’ blood (2 Cor. 5:17).

Now that sin’s power over us has been broken, we can live in accord with God. He sent His Holy Spirit to be our personal guide in this new life, helping each of us experience Christ’s peace (Rom. 8:6).

We also can look forward to an eternity spent in heaven, where righteousness, tranquility, and joy abound (Rom. 14:17).

The story of the prodigal son’s return is a picture of our reconciliation with the Lord (Luke 15:11-24). The son had chosen to leave his father, living instead to please himself. Repentant, he eventually returned home; his father joyfully greeted him and forgave him, and there was harmony between them.

God has done all this for us.

Our unity with the heavenly Father came at a great price—the sacrifice of His only Son. Christ gave His life for us so that we could be reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). Christian lives are to testify that Jesus is the source of our peace.

Does your life communicate this message?

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Addressing Culpability and Guilt…

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John 8:1-11 (KJV)

1  Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2  And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3  And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4  They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7  So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Guilt over doing something that violates the conscience is a normal emotion.

However, living under a cloud of remorse for no discernible reason is not.

The Lord designed feelings of culpability and regret to serve as a reminder that a person has done wrong and needs to repent.

But Satan twists those emotions to imprison men and women: Those living in shame often lack self-confidence and feel uncertain of God’s love.

Good guilt—

The Lord’s effective tool for prompting repentance—is a gift that helps us find the right path.

However, the devil encourages false guilt, which involves taking responsibility for things outside our control and then suffering self-condemnation for not changing the outcome.

This unhealthy type of guilt is also a widespread problem for those in legalistic churches or lifestyles.

Self-condemnation stunts a relationship with Jesus by keeping us from authentic, satisfying interactions with Him.

Instead of enjoying the peace of God, people who are trapped by shame often fear His rejection and feel driven to prove their worth. Their guilt even colors how they see themselves: Rather than saying, “My action is wrong,” they say, “I am bad.”

Jesus did not come to accuse or condemn us. Christ restored our souls and made us righteous before God.

If our Savior forgave the woman caught in an adulterous relationship (John 8:11), just imagine how ready He is to take your shame away, too.

If you still carry any guilt, surrender it to Jesus today, and He will give you freedom.

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