Tag Archives: peace

God Does Not Ignore Those Who Ignore Him

I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other.
Isaiah 42:8

Whether people love God, hate him, or deny his very existence, they should be aware of this fact: God does not ignore attempts to usurp his place.

The number of people who choose to deny that God exists grows daily. Likewise, the number who so trivialize God’s role in their lives that he might as well not exist. God is out of fashion Continue reading God Does Not Ignore Those Who Ignore Him

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Bible Meditation

Open Bible

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge.
                                                                                    –Psalm 17:7

  • Who needs refuge? Do you need refuge? What problems, troubles, worries and fears drive you to seek refuge?

In verses leading up to this one, the psalmist said,

As for the deeds of men—by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
                                                                                    –Psalm 17:4-5

  • What is the psalmist claiming about the way he lives his life? What is he avoiding? What does he seek to do?

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.
                                                                                    –Psalm 17:6

  • Where does the psalmist get his guidance to know what is right and good?
  • Congress is currently considering passage of the Equality Act. If it passes, the consequence will be that no business may refuse to participate in a gay wedding due to religious conviction that the business owner must not participate in sin. Furthermore, this act includes a clause that forbids the business owner to appeal to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act for protection against the accusation of illegal discrimination. Does this act make you feel afraid? Where will you seek refuge if it becomes law?

 

 

 

A Verse For Meditation

Torah ScrollSince we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

  • Can you remember a time when you felt desperate for peace? Why did you not feel the peace of Christ? What brought that peace back to you?
  • Do you ever feel confused about what is right and then do the thing you know was wrong because …? What do you do about that when you finally admit to yourself that you did the wrong thing for the wrong reason? What does this verse promise you with regard to your failure? What do you do about your failure?
  • When you listen to the news, it always contains reports of someone’s wrong-doing. Do you ever worry about the peace of the wrong-doer? 
  • Government leaders at all levels are sometimes guilty of doing the wrong thing for wrong reasons. When the wrong-doing becomes known, they may confess or they may resist discovery to the end. How do you feel about their wrong-doing? Do you think their wickedness is different from your wickedness in some way? What is the difference between being justified before God through the blood of Christ and being responsible to make amends or endure punishment at the hands of human justice?
  • Have you ever escaped human justice for a wrong you know you did? What did you do about it? When you have peace with God over your wrong-doing, how does that affect your actions to reconcile or amend or make good a wrong you have done?

Read news of the persecuted church at Living on Tilt the newspaper.

Everybody Needs More Time

It is a twenty-first century mantra that nobody has enough time. Multi-tasking is an essential skill, even for young children, and in any group of people, if you listen, you will hear a persistent theme – I didn’t have enough time, I don’t have enough time, I ran out of time.

                I say these words, too. If only I had more time. Yet it is well known that nobody has any more time than anyone else, and none of us can manufacture time no matter how hard we try. What’s more, we don’t have any more or any less time than our parents or grandparents. Contemporary advances in technology have truly not given us any more time. Further, because we don’t have enough time, we are under terrible stress.

                Stress is a killer. Doctors say that many health issues either originate in stress or are exacerbated by stress. People can be stressed by fear, inappropriate expectations of themselves or others, and by a perceived need for more time. In an attempt to deal with the issue, personal organizers have become popular, but for some, the organizer is simply a place to record with terrifying orderliness the ultimate depressing truth that they don’t have enough time.

                Where does time come from? How can we get more of it? Why is time such an oppressive taskmaster?

                Time is a gift of the God who created the universe. The reality we all see, hear, taste, touch and smell is an environment bounded by time and space. Try as we will, we cannot be in two places at the same time, and despite our use of the word “multi-task” to suggest that we can do two things at the same time, we actually cannot. Multi-tasking is only very fast switching between two or more single tasks. We are at the lowest level completely single-threaded. And nobody has longer threads or more threads than anyone else. When we stress over what we experience as a deficit of time, we are actually saying that we think God short-changed us.

                Nobody will ever likely be more stressed than Jesus’ disciples the night he was arrested. It is hard to imagine what could produce more stress than the terror of imminent arrest, torture and gruesome execution. We all want to think that we might have been more faithful than the disciples who ran away when Jesus was arrested, but the evidence of people’s faithless behavior in various situations over the past two thousand years makes it quite clear that everyone is capable of falling away when things get scary.

                Jesus knew what was coming, and he knew that his “time” had run out for earthly ministry.  The night before he was arrested, he gave his disciples a gift they would need when they was Jesus dragged away. They would be saying, “If only we had more time with Jesus,” but there wouldn’t be any more. He gave them a gift that would transcend their stress as they realized that for them, time had come to a halt. When we feel stressed, even if our stress is not about imminent death, we, too, can claim this gift as Christ’s followers. The gift he gave to his disciples is a gift for each of us, too. That gift is peace.

                Peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you. I do not give as the world gives. Don not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.  John 14:27

                This gift is the gift we all need in order to see the gift of time for the richness that it is. The God who created the universe out of nothing by the word of his mouth, is not stingy with time. The God who fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish has not short-changed humanity by giving us only 24 hours each day. There is plenty of time. The God of abundant provision has provided more than enough time. We do not need to be stressed. Lately God has led me to think about time a great deal, and he has led me to understand that there is plenty of time to do what he has called each of us to do. Plenty of time.

                It has been a while since anyone said to me, “Take your time,” but I remember how it feels to be given that gift. God is saying to me now that he wants me to give that gift to other people.

There was a time in my life when I shopped for groceries by walking to the grocery store, buying my groceries, and taking a cab back home. The people at the service desk in the store called cabs for customers, and all I had to say was, “Would you please call Joe for me?”

                When Joe arrived, I had to unload my grocery cart into his trunk. I always wanted to get the job done quickly and not delay him. I usually managed to spill cans or boxes out of my grocery bags in my hurry, but every time, he said, “Take your time. There’s no rush.” When we arrived back at my home, again I tried to unload my things hastily. Joe always said, “Take your time. Don’t worry.” It was a true blessing to be given time to complete my task without feeling I had imposed on him.

                Lately, I realize that everybody needs that gift. As a Christian, I live in relationship with the Creator of time. Just as God provided manna for the Israelites, God gives me new time every day. By his grace, I am called to share that gift with others. It is easy to do. All I need to say is, “Take your time. There is no rush.” Just as Joe gave me the time and freedom to unload my groceries without rushing and breaking eggs and crushing my bread, I can give other people the time they need, the time they almost certainly believe they don’t have.

                I can’t make more time for myself or anyone, but as Christ’s representative in the midst of daily life, I can give time away like the disciples who began handing out bread and fish at Christ’s command. They all knew they started with not nearly enough food for five thousand people, but somehow there was enough. When I trust Christ and start giving away time, there will always be enough.

                I have plenty of time to listen to an elderly man who is wandering the docks with a crystal block in his hand. He comes up to me and says, “Do you know what this is?” and I say, “No. What is it? Tell me about it. Take your time.” We sit down, and he explains that he made this very beautiful but very functional piece of hardware to be “jewelry” for his wooden sailboat. I remember that Christ has given me perfect peace and that he is Lord of time. I have time to listen.

                I have plenty of time to call my two elderly aunts who live alone and endure the health problems that go with advanced years. I can listen to their stories and share my own, because there is enough time and to spare. When they stumble over the details, I can say, “Take your time. There is no rush.”

                At the checkout line, a frazzled woman with a child in her cart and two others calling, “Mommy, Mommy, can we get candy?” is rummaging in her purse for her credit card. She looks up at me and says, “I’m sorry. I’m so clumsy today.” I can say, “Take your time. There’s no rush.” I can pass to her the peace Christ has given to me, and I can give her the gift of enough time to take a breath and pay her bill and shush her children without fear that I am checking my calendar to see how late I will be to my next meeting.

                I give my order to the fast-food cashier, who discovers someone else took the last bag of fries just as she reached for them. She turns to me and says, “I’m sorry. It will be a couple of minutes.” I can say to her, “Take your time. There’s no rush. The peace of Christ be with you.” Then I can go wait my couple of minutes and hope her day is a bit less stressed because she just received the gift of more time.

                God is telling me that my word for today is “Take your time.” The God who dwells in eternity has infiltrated the world of time and space and given me so much time that I have time to give away to others. When I do, I will remember that Jesus said, “Peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you. … Do not let your heart be troubled.”

                I am the servant of eternal God who created time. Eternal God calls me to live in his frame of reference – eternity. When I think like God, I can give time away to others and know that I will not run out. I can say, from the center of God’s love, with perfect peace, ‘Take your time.”

A Hymn for Meditation

hymnalPeace Like a River

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

He lives – oh, the bliss of this glorious thought.
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to his cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

                        By Horatio G. Spafford 

  • The hymnwriter uses the image of a peacefully flowing river for the experience of peace within. He contrasts that to the image of a ship tossed in a huge storm at sea representing unsettled times. Do these images make sense to you? What image do you like to use for feeling either peaceful or distressed?
  • The hymnwriter believes God wants him to feel at peace no matter what is happening. What do you think God wants? Are you able to feel at peace when you hear that secular thinkers believe Christians are spewing hate when they say that the will not vote for gay marriage? Are you able to feel at peace when a Muslim says that Americans are evil for allowing women to uncover their hair?
  • Where does the hymnwriter think his troubles originate? Can you think of examples of Satan’s buffeting in daily news or in your own life? When someone says that Christians are hate-filled bigots who want the privilege of pushing other people around, would this hymn point you to a response? What fundamental truth gives the hymnwriter assurance in facing his difficulties?
  • What is the power base of the hymnwriter’s confidence in the face of challenges? After working through his options, what is the hymnwriter’s ultimate response to adversity?