Shalom


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John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The Hebrew word shalom is often used as a greeting, and the word means peace. That’s a nice sentiment. But, there is always something that causes us to fret, to lose our peace. This week it’s been the stock market, but it can be weather, illness, broken relationships, and job loss – to name just a few. How can we embrace the peace Jesus gave us in John 14:27? Perhaps one reason is that we don’t fully understand the peace of God.

For my quiet time this year I’m using the One Year Devotions for Women, by Ann Spangler. The theme of the devotional is God’s Peace. Below is a quote from the January 7th entry:

“But what exactly is peace? When most of us think of peace, we think of an absence of conflict or the sense of tranquility we sometimes feel after a walk in the park or a day the beach. But the Hebrew word shalom is far brawnier than the English word for peace, encompassing these ideas and more.  Shalom contains the idea of completeness. It is the sum of all the blessings God can bestow – healing, prosperity, soundness, well-being, good relationships, perfection. It is what happens when God shines his face on you, when he turns toward you in all his greatness and brings you good.”[i] (Emphasis mine).

To be sure of the accuracy of the author’s claim I verified her definition with the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. The word shalom is so much more than a greeting. The word shalom is a powerful blessing!

We all struggle to remember to embrace the peace Jesus gave us. Try to remember the full meaning of the gift of shalom, so you truly feel the peace of Christ.

Numbers 6:23-26

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

‘The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.'”

  Shalom.

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Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

[i] Devotions for Women, Ann Spangler, Tyndale, 2012, Day 7.

Thankfulness – Day 23


 

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Almighty God,

You created all things. In your wisdom you created the animals. Many animals have become our pets. Thank you for the gift of these faithful companions. You gave us these animals to bring joy to our lives. We praise you for your wisdom and generousity.

Genesis 1:28

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 Luke 12:6

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Psalm 36:6

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

Thankfulness – Day 15


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Holy Lord God,

Today we thank You for a time to gather together to worship. You alone are worthy of our devotion. We give You praise, honor, and glory because we love You and acknowledge You and Your wonderful works and blessings. Fill us with Your presence as we lift our voices in praise to You today.

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Psalm 29:2

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

Psalm 132:7

“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”

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Scripture: www.openbible.info

Images: Google Images

Oblivious to the Blessings


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I was living an almost charmed life.

My adopted home town was a very safe and livable community where everything I wanted or needed was nearby. The schools my children attended were great. I had wonderful, close friends, and a good job. I was a member of a significant church that reached out to everyone and had programs for all types of people. I lived in that community for 20 years. I expected life to always be that way. I thought I had a grateful heart, but looking back, I was oblivious to how fortunate my circumstances were.

This past summer we moved to another state. My expectations were that we would live in a similar community and attend a church similar to the one we just left. I thought I would find a job quickly and make new friends easily. I expected life to be the same, I would just have a different address. The truth is, it’s been an adjustment.

Thinks are different here, not wrong, just different. It is more than the names of streets and where to shop, the local culture is different too. It’s a way of life that in some ways doesn’t value what I took for granted. This difference has made me appreciate all I had even more. I was truly blessed living in in that small community in Texas. At the time, I didn’t see, and certainly didn’t appreciate, how God was showering me with His Love all the time I lived in that other city. He was feeding me, nourishing my soul. He blessed me in so many ways, but most of all, He blessed me with Himself.

Now that I am not experiencing the same circumstances I feel like my spiritual life is parched. I’ve been thanking God for what I had, and have asked Him to relieve the drought I am experiencing now. But that request is wrong. There’s a passage in the Old Testament explaining that when there is drought do not lose confidence because God has blessed you with deep roots.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

This passage reminds us that God will keep us filled, despite difficult situations. But the passage goes on to instruct us to bear fruit in every season, even during a dry spell. I can’t (and shouldn’t try to) recreate the same situation I was in. Instead, I should use my experiences to be a blessing to others. I didn’t realize it at the time but our great God was preparing me to go out into the world to do just that. Luke 6:45 tells us, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  God filled my heart. Now it’s time to share what I was given.

Someday I will experience abundance again, but this time, I pray to not be oblivious to the blessings God sends my way. James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” It doesn’t matter what the situation is, God is all I need.

May the Lord richly bless your day as you share your blessings.

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Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Images: google images.

A Life Verse


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 Deuteronomy 11:18 (CEV)

Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them.

I have heard Pastors and other Christian leaders talk about finding a “life verse.” A life verse is more than a favorite verse; it is the verse that speaks directly to you in a remarkably personal way. With more than 31,000 verses in the Bible the task seemed overwhelming to me, so I put it off. I wondered how one verse could speak to my life now, and ten years from now.

Still, it’s a concept I wanted to explore further. Over time, I read articles and blog posts from various Christian authors. There was no shortage of advice, but still, I couldn’t pick one verse. As I reflected on what verse to select I thought I should pick a verse that I could quote while sharing the gospel, and to give myself encouragement. I googled “Top Memory Verses” and read over 100 suggested verses. Several would have worked as a life verse, but I was not drawn to any one particular verse. There were also personal struggles going on in my life, which made the decision more difficult.

It wasn’t until I set out to read the entire Bible that I found my life verse, tucked away in the book of a minor prophet – Zephaniah. Part of Zephaniah, chapter 3, discusses the blessing of restoration for God’s people. It also points to Christ’s millennial kingdom. As a young adult I ignored the Lord. Although I regret my foolishness, this verse reminds me of God’s great love and forgiveness, and His ability to make great change in anyone’s life, even after disobedience. It also points to a future of hope.

Zephaniah 3:17 (GNT)

The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you.”

What’s your life verse? If you don’t have one I encourage you to find a verse that speaks to you so personally, you find it a special treasure.

Blessings on your day.

 

Image: Google Images

Fresh Bread


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“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35

The aroma of warm bread just out of the oven is enticing. People love the smell and look forward to savoring freshly-baked breads. To experience its full flavor, bread should be eaten soon after it is baked. Stale bread, bread that has sat for a few days, is unappealing and usually tossed in the trash. That’s why bakeries and restaurants bake their breads throughout the day – everyday.

To keep our faith fresh and appealing to others, we must constantly feast on the words of Jesus Christ, the bread of life. That’s not always easy to do. Our lives are busier than ever. Finding a few minutes alone with our Lord is difficult, but so rewarding. Tasting and savoring a bit of Scripture every day nourishes us spiritually.

One thing I have noticed about devotionals is that each day’s reading focuses on just a few verses, and a short narrative. The Bible is so alive and relevant that we can read just one or two verses and be spiritually nourished for the day. It’s amazing to me how these few verses each day speak to my spirit.

We don’t eat just once or twice a week. Instead, we enjoy regular meals to maintain our strength. Our spiritual health depends on receiving regular nourishment too.

 Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord and reflects on his teachings day and night.” Psalm 1:2 (GW)

 

Blessings on your day.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

Pi, Nature, and God’s Love


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Today is 3/14/15. Some have decided to call it Pi day (π), after the number. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is equal to 3.14159265358979323846… (the digits go on forever without repeating). π is infinite. Perhaps the reason this equation goes on forever is circles have no beginning and no ending. When I consider this mathematical concept I’m reminded that our Creator and His perfect love are infinite. God wants us to know this fact. So, our Creator has placed in nature ways to help us get to know Him. I discovered one of these ways when I opened up my Bible to read Genesis 1.

 Genesis 1:1–5

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

 Genesis 1:16–19

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

What? Back up! If God did not make the sun, moon, and stars until the fourth day, what was the light on the first day of creation? I went back to verses 1–5 again. The light was there first. Then, God spoke everything else into existence. I had to know more.

As I explored the concept of light, I came to know our glorious Creator in a most remarkable way. Stick with me through a little technical jargon. It will help us understand the many meanings of light and how those meanings help us understand the attributes of God. I promise you will be rewarded for your time.

  •  The Speed of Light. Light travels very quickly, 186,282 miles per second.[i] The photons of light travel in a straight line, and go on (theoretically) forever. Consider how far light travels from distant galaxies. Light is infinite, just as God and His love are infinite. Light is coming to us in the fastest and most direct way possible—that is a straight line.[ii] God is available to us in the fastest and most direct way possible too—with just a prayer.
  •  Visible Light. The light we can see is part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. This spectrum is radiation and is divided into types of waves. EM radiation carries energy, called photons.[iii] The waves we can see are visible light and are between certain frequencies near the middle of the EM spectrum. Jesus is with you even though you can’t see Him.
  •  Color. Each frequency is a different color. In 1670, Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated that white light is composed of all the colors of the spectrum by refracting sunlight through a prism.[iv] White light is the presence of all color, so light is the exclusive source of color in the world. When light disappears, color fades.[v] Colors are made of wavelengths. When we see colors we see the wavelengths of light that are not absorbed by the object.[vi] Black is the absence of color,[vii] or the absence of light.
  •  Sight. Without the gift of light, sight would be meaningless. The ability to see begins when light enters your eyes.[viii] Without God’s gift of light, there would be no sight.

Back to Scripture. In John 1 we learn more about light and “the beginning.”

 John 1:1–5, 9

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

Light is a metaphor for our Savior. This metaphor is used early in the life of Jesus. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to present Him at the temple on the eighth day, as required by Jewish law and tradition. In Luke 2:25–32 we find Simeon, a righteous and devout man, enlightened by God. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,

 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

 

In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” This light goes on forever, just as the love of God never ends.

Once we understand that Jesus is light, and light is infinite, we begin to better understand the attributes of God. When we turn to the end of the Bible, in the last chapters of Revelation, we get a glimpse of the New Jerusalem, our heavenly home and we see that light comes from God.

Revelation 21:22-24

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

 Revelation 22:5

“There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”

Take a look at math, science, and nature. What other ways is our Creator expressing himself?

May your day be filled with infinitely beautiful, life-giving, and loving light

Adapted from: Follow the Light, Week One, by Julie Garro, Crossbooks Publishing, October 2013.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

 

 

[i] Brown, T., & Spilman, A.K. (2013). Light. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from
http://www.worldbookonline.com/pl/infofinder/article?id=ar323260

[ii] Wood, Robert, Physics for Kids, 1990, Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA

[iii] Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition, s.v. “light,” accessed July 26, 2013,http://library.eb.com.arlingtontx.idm.oclc.org/eb/article-9110443.

[iv] Domski, M. (2013). Newton, Sir Isaac. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from
http://www.worldbookonline.com/pl/infofinder/article?id=ar390180

[v] Lauber, Patricia, What Do You see and How Do You See It? Crown Publishers, New York, NY 1994

[vi] Domski, M. (2013). Newton, Sir Isaac. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from
http://www.worldbookonline.com/pl/infofinder/article?id=ar390180

[vii] Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition, s.v. “color,” accessed July 26, 2013,http://library.eb.com.arlingtontx.idm.oclc.org/eb/article-9273736.

[viii] Lauber, Patricia, What Do You see and How Do You See It? Crown Publishers, New York, NY 1994