Category Archives: Peace

Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 1st Week of Advent – Day 6

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.
For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree. -Zechariah 3:8-10

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The great news of Zechariah is that the Branch of Jesse, the descendant of David, the Servant King of Israel, would be coming to His people, and in a single day He would manage to remove all the sins of His people.

Through this Branch, all people will be able to come together in peace and love, living by the fruit of the Spirit in all facets of life and relationships.

This is not simply some feel-good story, but the source of the peace we celebrate at this time of year.

It is also the hope that we will one day see this fulfilled completely. It will be fully realized when our Lord returns to reign on Earth for eternity.

Lord of hosts and Righteous Redeemer, thank You for taking our sin upon Yourself and reuniting humanity with You. Guide us in bringing Your Kingdom to this world.

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Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 1st Week of Advent

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Welcome to the first week of Advent!

Tradition holds that the first week of Advent reminds us of the importance of prophecy and that we are desperately in need of a Savior. The Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament – reveals much through the Prophets and Wisdom literature and poetry.

If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;
If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:
Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away:
And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.
And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.
Job 11:13-18

We first need to see our need for cleansing from sin. Then we need to remember that, through Christ, we have already been cleansed of our sin.

This knowledge gives us hope.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Therefore, we no longer wait, as Israel did, for an unknown Savior. Rather, we wait for the return of our Lord, when all misery, pain, and tears will cease. He shall reign as God and Lord over a remade and perfect Creation.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Heavenly Father, we have sinned against you, but You sent Your Son to save us from our sin. Thank You for revealing Jesus’ first coming through Your Prophets of old and His immanent return through the Apostles. Give us a grateful heart and a sense of urgency to spread this Good News with the world with humility and grace.


Am I disabled by the fear of what you think of me?

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There is a fear that paralyzes me. It is the concern about what you think of me. It can be very disabling.

Will I post this on Facebook and Twitter?

Will I speak out at work?

Why am I afraid?

The answer is staggering. I don’t trust God is why. If I did trust God, I wouldn’t care what others thought of me. The only opinion that would matter would be God’s.

God has promised to be with me. If God is with me, who can be against me?

The fear of human opinion disables;
    trusting in God protects you from that.

Source: Proverbs 29:25 MSG – The fear of human opinion disables; – Bible Gateway

Jesus the Messiah, by his atoning death, resurrection, and heavenly intercession for believers, is the unique liberator from fear. The apostle Paul encouraged the Romans by informing them that in their conversion to the Messiah, they received the Holy Spirit, not as a spirit of fear and bondage, but as the spirit of adoption, whereby they could address God as “Abba”.

This is the word by which our Master Jesus addressed his heavenly Father and which Christians, by virtue of their adoption into the family of God, may also use in speaking to God. Recipients of God’s love have received a dynamic force for casting out their anxieties. A sense of God’s intimate love inspired Paul to say, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31).

Unwarranted fear may harm the efforts of the people of God. Jeremiah was warned by God not to fear the faces of his opponents lest God allow calamity to befall him. Similar calls to courage were given to Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, and to a great many others. We realize that even godly people are tempted to fear and may be temporarily overwhelmed.

So, God repeatedly counsels his people not to succumb to that temptation. He tells them to heap their anxieties upon the God of their redemption, whose care for his sheep is infinitely great. Faith, then, is the indispensable antecedent of fearlessness as seen in the words of Isaiah: “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Is 26:3). The psalmist repeatedly stresses the role of faith in conquering fear (37:1; 46:2; 112:7).


Trust THE King

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass. -Proverbs 19:12, KJV

Let’s keep this short and … sweet … today.

No one likes to make the leader of a nation upset, because it could be really bad for your freedom and/or health.

But we must also remember that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, is the King of Heaven.

If you fail to believe in His lordship and sovereignty, that He is the Son of the Living God who sacrificed Himself for our sin, then you are under His wrath and should fear His mighty roar.

However, if you have faith in Christ, you can know true peace and find yourself refreshed each moment in His grace.

Trust the King. His love, mercy, and grace are everlasting and oh so sweet to the soul.


Peace and Strife

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. -Proverbs 17:1 KJV

The last time I wrote on this verse, I talked about the families of close friends of ours who had lived with my wife and me.

Once again, I am going to talk about a friend who had lived with us.

This (grown and middle aged) friend had a girlfriend with grown kids of her own. Naturally, he was over at her house regularly. Both of them are devout Christians and attend church regularly.

However, her children pursue very worldly lifestyles, and when living at home were quite selfish, lazy, and confrontational when their wants and needs were not met to their expectations.

Our friend began telling us that he almost hated going over there. Rather, he liked coming into our home, because there was an air of peace that he did not feel when her kids were around.

We did not always have the greatest food, but he could sit in peace. We set high expectations with grace, but still with firmness.

Which home describes yours? Is your household one the promotes peace or one full of strife? Do you tolerate worldliness in your home or combat it with biblical teachings?


Richly Blessed

Proverbs 31:22

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. . . .
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. (KJV)
22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. (NIV)

The virtuous woman, the excellent wife, the amazing woman we all want to find. Unless you are a woman, in which case these are adjectives you probably want to hear said about you.

This woman is valued (v. 10) because she is trustworthy (vv. 11-12), wise and hardworking (vv. 13-19), and compassionate and caring (vv. 20-21).

She can also rest comfortably and dress in dignity.

While this can mean that her “coverings” mean financial security and her “silk” or “fine linen and purple” can mean financial prosperity, I offer another meaning.

Truly Blessed

The virtuous woman can sleep in comfort and security because she trusts in the Lord. All of her wise and hard work comes from “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord“, specifically “the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

The virtuous woman is dressed in dignity, though not necessarily because of her clothes. Instead, it is because she can say “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

People can see her wisdom, good works, and righteousness, and they respect her. She is clothed in royal robes of heavenly righteousness.

Her blessings are not because she is such a devoted wife and mother who cares for others and works hard. Her blessings are because she is all of these for her Lord and God.

Heavenly Father, may every man and woman seek Your glory and to please You above all else. By Your Holy Spirit guide us in all righteousness.


Cursed Curses!

Proverbs 26:2

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.”

Curses!

I recently watched a funny scene from the movie Despicable Me. Vector, the really bad guy, had stolen a stolen shrink ray and was playing with it in his bathroom (lavatory), and that’s when he purposely shrunk his toilet. He then proceeded to mock the toilet like it was a defeated enemy. When the shrunken toilet popped off the water line, Vector yelled, “Curse you, tiny toilet!”

Curses are as old as mankind, I suppose. They have been around long before Vector, Scooby Doo, Endora (Samantha’s mother), or the literal witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7). The first curses recorded in the Bible can be found all the way back in the book of Genesis. There God cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14), the ground (Gen. 3:17), Cain (Gen. 4:11), and even the anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7). So, it would seem that the earliest curses came not from witches, but from God.

However, when God pronounces a curse, it is usually a denunciation of sin (Nu. 5:21, 23; Dt. 29:19–20), His judgment on sin (Nu. 5:22, 24, 27; Is. 24:6), and the person who is suffering the consequences of sin by the judgment of God is called a curse (Nu. 5:21, 27; Je. 29:18).[1]  On the other hand, men use curses as tools to bring something about. However, the difference between a curse from God and a curse from man is capacity: man’s is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Capacity

Those who spew out curses typically have no ability to see them come to fruition. In Eccl. 8:4 we read: “Where the word of the king is, there is power.” In other words, a king can pronounce a curse on his subject’s land or life and have the ability to make it happen. But for most people, “damning” someone is pretty useless.

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I once made a video depicting a monkey puppet making fun of evolution. The video asked the question: “What do you get when cross a monkey with time?” The answer was, “A man? No, just a monkey.” Immediately I received hate mail and curses from atheists around the globe.

On other occasions I have written about my views on marriage, which have brought even more hateful language, and even threats. The curses came by the boat load and generally read like this: “I hope you get sick and die!…go to hell!…damn you!” But therein lies the point of today’s proverb – cursed curses are useless.

Causeless

Solomon said, “the curse causeless shall not come.” Therefore, we should not fear the curses of fools, for they do not have the capacity bring about the end result. They presume upon a Power beyond their own to bring about the judgment they declare, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Let the witch doctor cast spells; let the voodoo doll be stuck with pins; let the curses come from Hell itself; they will fly by me like sparrows on the wind, for they are as powerless as the cursed fools who send them.


[1] J. A. Motyer, “Curse,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 248.