bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

The Addition of Peace

The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
    from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
    from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 25:8

As I write this, we are only a few weeks away from Christmas.  Around this time, we frequently see the phrase, “Peace on Earth!”  But like so many popularized snippets in the Bible the meaning can be confused when interpreted from a worldly point of view.  “Peace” so often means a lack of something – strife, war, noise, chaos.  But in God’s universe, it is an addition of something.

The misconstrued meaning of God’s peace

Having grown up in San Diego I had the fortunate experience of learning to sail.  As a Girl Scout, I started out in small, one-man sabots.  Eventually, I became skilled at sailing catamarans and larger sloops.  I’ve even been a crew member on an old sailing ship which sailed the 31 miles from Long Beach Harbor across the ocean to Santa Catalina Island.  What an amazing trip!  On many of those sailboats you’ll find what’s called a set of lifelines.  They run from stem to stern along the edge of the boat.  Its purpose? To be used as a last chance handhold before plunging into the water.

That’s how I see God’s peace brought into our world and more specifically my life. Peace, as brought about by the coming of Jesus, is not the lack of something, it’s the addition of our new lifeline. God promises throughout the Old Testament that He will send His messenger to wipe way our tears and to bring us salvation. And when Jesus arrived, so many people misunderstood His purpose. It was not to become an earthly king and conquer all our physical adversaries. He came to teach us that His ways are higher and His love for us so great. You see God doesn’t always want to change our circumstances, but He always seeks to change us. When we study how Jesus handled strife and chaos and follow in His ways we live in peace.

Peace I leave with you; 
my peace I give you. 
I do not give to you as 
the world gives. Do not 
let your hearts be troubled 
and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

This bringing of His Peace – the incarnation of Jesus – was more clearly defined for me this year.  About 11 months ago, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  I love my mother-in-law as my own mom.  She has taught me so much about Jesus and His ways.  She has shown me grace when I didn’t deserve it.  She has provided a warm and loving place for me to land when life has been too much.  I had been praying fervently for a more positive diagnosis.  

So that day, I went for a long walk through our nearby, secluded canyons and yelled out loud at God.  Yes, I yelled at the Almighty.  I pleaded with Him to not take her from me yet.  My heart, mind and soul were the opposite of peace.  And like the boat lifeline, He suddenly placed Himself between me and going off the deep end.  His Holy Spirit stood square in front of me and reminded me that death is not the end.  He showed me that when the day comes for my beloved mother-in-law to leave this world it would be a joyous one for her.  You see, she would be reunited with her own mother.  He showed me a picture of the two of them playing their favorite card games, teasing each other, and laughing their heads off.  And it made me smile.  It filled me with joy.  

I had accepted God’s peace.  There’s the covenant agreement.  He sent His Peace On Earth in the form of His Son.  And I accepted it.  I frequently try giving it back, but less and less as I place my trust more firmly in Him.

This year of 2020 had been very difficult for many.  As a Christian I have grasped a hold of God’s lifeline so often to stay in His peace.  It’s important for us to remember that God wants us to live in today, not yesterday or tomorrow.  So, when we dream blissfully about how much better 2021 “just has to be,” we make the mistake of missing out on how good God can be for us right now.  We miss out on the opportunity to live in His peace.

There has never been a year in the history of the world, after Eden, where there was not disease, strife, war, death and pain.  And 2021 will be no different.  But God’s promised peace is our lifeline.  It will guard our hearts and minds.  No matter the dark seas on either side, we can rest in the knowledge of His love and our eternal salvation.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Amazingly Interrupted

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:1-11


I think a lot of us feel like 2020 has been one giant interruption in our lives.  We had beautiful weddings planned, vacations to experience, new jobs on the horizon, a blossoming business, a full retirement schedule.  And then February descended upon us.  To put it mildly it’s been one giant cluster.  Recently, I saw an Instagram post by the Christian women’s group Proverbs 31 that addressed our need to rely on God during these tough times.  One of the commentors posted a very distraught list of what she has been dealing with, including the loss of a loved one.  She said she was having a hard time seeing God in the middle of everything.  And yet He is right there if we truly know His character.  He’s the one interrupting our plans.

In the verses today Simon, an experienced fisherman, had just pulled his boat in after a long, hard, unsuccessful day of fishing.  He sat and listened to Jesus as he preached to the masses on the shore.  Suddenly, Jesus asks for a ride out away from the shore to better speak to everyone.  I’m sure Simon had a mix of emotions.  Here he was, probably dead tired but still might have been honored to have the famous rabbi use his boat.  And then Jesus really interrupted his plans to get home, have dinner and finally get some sleep.  The experienced fisherman was quite sure that another few hours out on the lake would produce nothing – he should know he’d been a fisherman on that lake all his life.  Jesus wasn’t even from a fishing family!  But something about the rabbi made Simon comply.  And as the story finishes, we see Simon and the other fisherman completely interrupting everything about their lives and deciding to become disciples.

God frequently tries to interrupt our “bright ideas” and “best laid plans.”  The question for us is when we hear or feel His Holy Spirit urging us to take a new direction are we like Simon, willing to comply?    Or are we like the rich king, unwilling to give up what we have and know?  So many of us say we want God to speak to us but do we really?  

A couple years ago I was amazingly interrupted by Jesus.  I worked as an administrative substitute in our local school district.  I was very busy.  And I wore that busyness as a badge of honor.   I had jobs assigned five days a week.  And then Jesus interrupted me.  He urged me, through a vision, to take specific action each week and feed the homeless for a year.  This was not in my plans.  But it was something I had asked for.  I had been praying for growth in my trust in the Lord.  I kept asking for direction.  Feeding the homeless in our large downtown was never on my radar.  What also wasn’t in my plan was giving up working a few days a week to accomplish Jesus’ vision for me.  It was an amazing interruption. 

 

He said, “Do this for me.”  And I did.  The lessons I learned during that year were ones that no sermon or Bible study could ever teach me.  My patterns of worry, distrust, control, over-planning, pride, feeling alone, all were tested.  It was never about feeding the homeless.  It was about God finding a way to snap me out of destructive patterns – interrupting me and re-setting me.

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.

Job 42:12-13

I’ve told many people about this experience.  And, at the same time I tell them they should pray for something equally amazing to interrupt their lives.  So many of them either look scared or even voice their fear of such an occurrence.  That’s why I ask, “Do you really want to hear from God?”  Because I can almost guarantee that what He says to you will be unexpected and will challenge you to interrupt your life.  But like Job whose life was severely interrupted, the amazing blessings you receive will be immeasurable.  God has interrupted my life a few more times since my vision. And each time has brought me closer to Him. I urge you today to pray for interruption.  To pray to do God’s work.  To pray that He asks to guide your boat out into the open water.