Seeking Peace

seek-peace-and-pursue-it-2Some people live their lives wildly chasing dreams that eventually leave them feeling empty and hollow.  I thought of this yesterday when I read five words from Psalm 34: Seek peace and pursue it.

As I thought about this verse, it occurred to me that a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction is the result of what we pursue in life.  The writings of Paul validate this statement:

  • Romans 14:19: Pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another
  • I Thessalonians 5:15: See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
  • I Timothy 6:11: Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

It’s been said that whatever catches your attention, catches you.  Have you been ensnared by the false hopes of groundless dreams or have you captured the peace of God that is beyond human reasoning?

As you start a new week, I hope the words of Peter will encourage you to focus your thoughts on the peace of God. He said: Seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer (I Peter 3:10-12).

Blessings: Have You Counted Yours?

countWhen was the last time you paused and counted the many blessing that you have?  Have you taken the time to heed the old hymn and “name them one by one?” These are the questions I asked myself after reading Psalm 68:19: “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

A survey of the Psalms will reveal several verses that remind us of God’s many blessings:

  • Psalm 1 speaks of relationship: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
  • Psalm 2 speaks of faith: Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him
  • Psalm 28 speaks of prayer: Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
  • Psalm 31 speaks of God’s kindness: Blessed be the Lord, For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
  • Psalm 32 speaks of forgiveness: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
  • Psalm 33 is a promise: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

I’ll close with this link to Count Your Blessings. I hope the song will become a symphony as you reflect on the times God has blessed you.

A Precious Name

nameWhen I reached for a book on a shelf of my library, I grabbed the wrong book.  I have to admit, I find myself doing this more frequently since I started wearing trifocals.

As I placed the mistakenly retrieved book on my desk, it randomly opened to and old hymn: Take the Name of Jesus with You.  I know the words of the song by heart and find pleasure in its joyful refrain of Precious Name Oh How Sweet.

In the Old Testament, names were declarations that characterized a person, a promise, or a relationship with God. Here are a few of the many names of God:

  • EL SHADDAI: God Almighty (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2,5)
  • YAHWEH-JIREH: The Lord Will Provide (Genesis 22:14)
  • YAHWEH-ROHI: The Lord Our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
  • ELOHIM: God, Creator, Mighty and Strong (Genesis 17:7; Jeremiah 31:33)
  • YAHWEH-RAPHA: The Lord Who Heals (Exodus 15:26)

David may have been meditating on the names of God when he wrote Psalm 9:10: Those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

As you contemplate the week ahead, I encourage you to do two things:

  • First, use this post as a Monday through Friday mediation; and, focus on one of these names of God for the next five days.
  • Second, read Psalm 33:20-21 at least once a day and use it as a prayer of thanksgiving:

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.

Q and A Session

q and aWhen you encounter a unique life experience, begin a new job, or you’re introduced to a new concept, do you find yourself with more questions than answers? If so, a question and answer session can be helpful.

Isaiah 40:28 is a verse that begins with two questions that are followed by a soothing answer: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; and, there is no limit to His wisdom and understanding.

While we’ll never know everything, there is to know about God, we do know that He is faithful and capable to meet our needs.

Think about it:

  • God is not bound by time; He’s everlasting.
  • God’s strength is never exhausted; He never grows faint or weary.
  • God is all knowing; there’s no limit to His wisdom and understanding.

Psalm 147:5 summarizes my comments, and it’s a good verse to reflect on; so, I’ll close with it: Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.

Grace: God Is Able

water-from-wellWhen I lived in the farming community of Hazelton, Kansas, I enjoyed the slow pace of life, and the many wonderful people I met there.  One of the few negatives was the water. Because it was so bad I carried a water jug in my truck, so I could fill it at an artesian well.

When I read 2 Corinthians 9:8, I think of that refreshing free-flowing well of cool water:

God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

Grace was a theme of emphasis with the Apostle Paul, and it’s one of the feel-good doctrines of the Bible that people like to discuss.

Grace is a small word, but its five letters contain truth of epic proportion; and, its spectrum is as colorful as the rainbow.  Consider a few of these:

  • Grace is available to help you grow as a Christian—2 Peter 3:18: Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.
  • If you have the can’t-do-blues, God provides empowering grace—2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
  • There is an extra portion of grace available to the humble—James 4:5-6: He gives grace to the humble.
  • You can confidently ask for it—Hebrews 4:16: Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

The most important aspect of grace and the one on which the preceding stand is saving grace—Romans 5:1-2: Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.

The grace that offers you peace with God, might be the missing peace that will solve your life’s puzzle.

Amazing Grace is a beloved hymn that was written by  John Newton, and he spoke of the power of grace: I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am.




Leaders: Some Rise and Some Fall


thumbs upIf you take a causal walk down the self-help aisle of most book stores, you find shelves stocked full of books on leadership.  A common principle in many of these books is the need to study the lives of leaders.

To accomplish this, you can thumb through the pages of the Bible where you will discover a long list of leaders.  Some them are polished and practical; others are hopeless and hapless; but, the stories are fair a fair and balanced account that opens the door that reveals the skeletons in their closets.

Two of the better-known leaders are Saul and David.  Saul, the first king of Israel, could whip most anyone, but his ego got the best of him.  Samuel, the priest, issued a stern rebuke and no-holds-barred reprimand to King Saul: Now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee (I Samuel 13:14).

The man after God’s own heart was David, and he knew the key of his strength would be a dependence on God.  David said: You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3).

Like David, we can and should, look to God for strength and guidance:

  • Psalm 5:8: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.
  • Psalm 25:5: Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.
  • Psalm 23:2-3: He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
  • Psalm 143:10: Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.

When you begin to trust in the goodness of God, you hear the rhythm and cadence of His voice and begin to walk in step with Him—He leads; you follow.

Solomon said, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Are you a King Saul who continually tried to prop himself up with his own wisdom; or, are you a David who found a life of blessings by trusting God and letting Him direct his paths?

Who has your ear? Whose voice are you hearing?  Which path in life are you walking? Are you following God’s lead?

There’s Something About Those Eyes


In one of my recent excursions through the pages of the Psalms, I noticed three verses that had a least one word in common. You can read them below, and see the word for yourself:

  • Psalm 119:37: Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way
  • Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law
  • Psalm 19:8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

When I read these verses, I see the first two as prayers to help us reshape our focus and to gain a fresh perspective on life—to turn away from what’s wrong and to open up to what’s right.  The third verse is a recognition of what’s right, rejoicing, and radiating or enlightening.

There’s a fourth verse that also has the word eyes in it, and it’s one that’s reassuring:

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry (Ps.34:5).

This verse reminds us that God watches over us and that His ears are open to our prayers.  This verse gives confidence that:

  • In times of fear, we can still trust God: The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe (Proverbs 29:25).
  • When our world is crashing down on us, we can be confident that He is still present: Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us (Psalm 62:8).
  • When we can’t seem to shake our worries and anxieties, we can find peace in God: You will keep perfectly peaceful the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you. “Trust in the Lord forever for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.(Isaiah 26:3-4).
  • When we seem too weak to persevere, God is our refuge and strength: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore, we will not fear (Psalm 46).
  • When life seems full of roadblocks and detours, we can look to God for guidance: Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Let me know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You (Psalm 143:8).

Even though he and his fellow believers were suffering extreme persecution during the reign of the sadistic Nero, Peter said: God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5:6-7).

Whenever you are tempted to give up, you have two choices: You can either throw-in the towel and quit, or you can toss your cares to God and let Him help carry your load.

Impossibly Possible

possibleLet me pose a question to you; it’s a question that is tucked away in the prophetic works of the prophet Jeremiah: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me (32:27)? Is there anything that God can’t do?

To most people who believe that God is omnipotent and that He is all-powerful, the quick and easy answer is a resounding, “No!”

As you think about your answer, I offer the following:

  • God can’t get tired and His wisdom is never diminished: The Lord is an eternal God, the Creator of the whole earth. He does not get tired or weary; there is no limit to his wisdom. ~Isaiah 40:28
  • God can’t break a promise: My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips. ~Psalm 89:34
  • God can’t remember the sins He chooses to forget: I am the one who blots out your rebellious deeds for my sake. ~Isaiah 43:25
  • God can’t lie to you: God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? ~Number 23:19
  • God can forsake you: Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. ~Deuteronomy 31:6
  • God can’t forget you: Aren’t five sparrows sold for two cents? God doesn’t forget any of them. Even every hair on your head has been counted. Don’t be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows. ~Luke 12:6-7
  • God can’t stop loving you: I love you with an everlasting love, so I will continue to show you my kindness. ~Jeremiah 31:3

The next time you get down in the dumps and feel as though God has abandoned you, I hope you’ll review this list and remember this final thought: Before you were ever aware of God or thought about loving Him, you were already the object of His love.

God is Listening

prayer-faith-god-stonesIntrovert or extrovert, I’m not sure which category best describes you.  Even though I am an extrovert, there are moments when I take pause as an introvert.  If I walk into a room full of people I don’t know I may be less likely to speak, and I may wonder:  Do any of these people care about what I have to say?

While you may wonder if people care about what you have to say, that should never be a concern with God: Jesus was always interested in His disciples, and He intently listened to them—He wanted to hear them speak and to tell Him what was on their hearts.

With God, eloquent speech is not a prerequisite to being heard.  He is attentive to our prayers, and they have the fragrance of incense to Him (Revelation 5:8).

The Gospels are a record of God hearing prayers and responding to the needs of people.  Jesus listened and responded to the cry of a man who was born blind, and he intervened in the lives of the cripple, the deaf, the prostitute, and the leper.

Society had turned its back on each of them, but Jesus listened and welcomed them.  While others rejected them, Jesus listened and loved them.

The Psalms have a lot to say about the care of God for His people and His response to their prayers:

  • Psalm 8 remind us that God is mindful” of us: We are on His mind of God and in His heart.
  • Psalm 5 encourage us to begin each day with God: My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up
  • Psalm 55:17 indicates that we should speak to God throughout the day: Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.

God listens, and He extends this invitation to you: Call unto me, and I will answer you (Jeremiah 33:3).