“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27, NLV
In today’s world it is virtually impossible to avoid stress. Almost everyone is carrying some amount of it, in varying degrees. Many find it increasingly difficult to simply survive in the world we live in. You’re probably stressed out right now. That’s okay. It’s understandable. So is everybody else, according to a study released recently.
The study measured the forty largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, focusing on six factors that cause or are caused by stress: high unemployment, long commute times, long work hours, limited access to health care, poor physical health and a lack of exercise. And, I live in the fourth most stressful city in the nation. No wonder I am stressed out, but at least I have good company.
In desperation, people are seeking relief for their problems through any remedy they can find. Our culture is inundated with self-help books, therapists, time-management workshops, massage parlors, and recovery programs (to name just the tip of the iceberg). Everyone talks about returning to a “simpler” way of life, but no one seems to even know exactly what that means, or how to attain it.
Many of us cry out like Job, “The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.” (Job 30:27). The problem is that people are looking for all the right solutions in all the wrong places. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus’ gift is a gift that the world cannot give. It is a peace that surpasses all human and worldly understanding. The Bible is the only self-help book that can give you true inner peace and overcome the stress of the world. So, if you are stressed out, follow this simple formula: Read five psalms and one chapter of Proverbs each day and you will discover true peace and overcome the stress of the world.
Question: What has been stressing you out lately? Have you been bringing these things to God in prayer?
Take today’s next step: Learn how to let go of anxiety
We love to worry, don’t we? We say we don’t however, our actions and our speech tend to contradict what we say about worrying and about what we believe about worrying. This is the human nature in us – it is our flesh and our sin acting out. Jesus taught us not to worry and Jesus is the mouth of God. So if God tells us not to worry, why do we still worry?
Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
I could have good cause to be a worrier today for yesterday I fell down our basement stairs. Thankfully I have no broken bones yet I banged myself up pretty good. I could fret about loss of money from not being able to work for a few days and I could worry about bills and things I want and need to do….or….I can read the scripture above and realize that God does care for me and is taking care of me right now.
This is one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible, for worrying is something the Lord has been transforming upon my thoughts on for several years now. I used to worry about everything, which would lead me to trying to be in control of everything; or it would lead me to throwing in the towel and giving up, letting the worries of life consume me. Praise God, He loves us more than we can comprehend, and has never intended for us to worry, for He truly does care for us.
Please take time to read the above scripture again, and let His word soak deep into your heart. Let Him comfort you, and give you His peace and rest today. Do not worry but seek His Kingdom, seek His presence, seek Him and in Him you will find peace and rest for today. He will care for you and provide for you, trust in Him, believe in Him, and abide in Him today. Thank you Jesus.
Father, Here are my worries. [List them] Please take them into Your hands and carry them, they are too great a distraction for me. Help me to only hold on to my thoughts of who You are, my knowledge of Your love, my certainty of Your presence. In Your name I pray, Amen.
Question: What worries do you have in your life that have a hold or bind on you?
As much as I enjoy watching playoffs for my favorite sports, it occurred to me that more important than March madness, the Stanley Cup playoffs, Superbowl Sunday or the World Series is what the Bible says about gladness and it is not for a month, but for eternity. The Bible says a lot about praise and gladness. Here are a few:
“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” Psalm 68:3
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.” Ecclesiastes 3:12
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.” James 5:13
Indeed the Bible gives great reason to be glad, happy and cheerful. What greater joy can one have than knowing that he has Jesus in the heart and the Holy Spirit as a constant companion? Best of all is the absolute certainty of spending eternity in heaven with God Himself and with all the saints that have gone before and to greet those yet to come.
Life is not a game to win a trophy that tarnishes. Life is a relationship with a risen savior and a ticket to heavenly eternity. Now that is something to get glad about!
Questions: Did any of the above verses speak to you? How can you choose gladness and cheerfulness today?
Take today’s next step: Learn to recognize the voice of God
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)
“Papa, I can hear God’s voice in the wind.” That statement came from my 6-year-old grandson. We were on a walk crossing the grassy hills leading down to the beach on the Washington coast. The path was not clear, and we had to zigzag along to avoid watery patches. It was really windy when my grandson said, “Papa I can hear God’s voice in the wind…and he says he will help us find our way.” What wonderful thoughts innocently offered by a child!
First, that we can hear God’s voice in his creation. Romans 1:20 says, “ For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” God can be seen and understood through the wonder and beauty of His creation, whether through the rushing wind, the rolling waves or the rustling grasses.
Second, that God will help us find our way. For my grandson, wandering through the tall grass and small sand dunes on a windy day was causing some level of distress. Somehow in his grasp of the situation, he was not so confident in his papa’s sense of direction, but knew that God somehow had us in His sight. It is a comforting thought to know this. Luke 12:6-7 reminds us that God indeed looks after us. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
As you walk through this day, listen for God’s voice and be confident that He knows where you are right now and can show you the way! We just have to listen and be willing to follow where He leads!
God, Thank you for Your promise that I am worth much more than a sparrow. You see me and You are guiding me. Thank you for Your presence, for Your strength and for Your peace. Keep me close to You so I am not tempted to run ahead of Your plans. Amen
Question: How do you seek God in times of confusion?
Take today’s next step: Be an encourager – become a mentor.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)
When we are followers of Jesus darkness should not characterize our lives. Oh, it will come to try to darken the doorway of our hearts but we can choose our response.
In one of the daily readings in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young she explains what happened when Eve turned her attention away from all the blessings she had, to focus on what she didn’t have. “That negative focus darkened her mind and she succumbed to temptation.”
She left thankfulness behind! Thankfulness is so much more than “having an attitude of gratitude”! It is a protection from darkness. It is a discipline. It’s actually a weapon in our spiritual warfare arsenal.
When you sense the shadow of darkness at the door of your heart by discouragement or dissatisfaction (two of the biggest things that try to rob us of the Light of Jesus within us) stop and send thanksgiving to the door.
Jesus says that when we follow Him we will not walk in darkness.
Where are the shadows lurking that want to darken the door of your heart and mind and draw you away from the Light? Send Jesus to the door and rise up with thanksgiving in your heart. It’s a discipline. It’s a sacrifice. It’s a weapon. Use it today!
I thank You that darkness need not cast it’s shadow over my heart and mind today. Thank you that You are the Light of my life. Thank you that You lead me and guide me and strengthen me when I fix my eyes on all the wonder of who You are. Grant me the insight and the wisdom to lift my voice in thanksgiving today for You are my God and I am Your child. Whenever darkness seeks to encroach upon me may it be my call to lift my heart to You in praise. In Jesus’ strong name I pray, Amen.
Questions: What does “sending Jesus to the door” look like? What practices and habits do you have to keep darkness from characterizing your life?
Music is an instrumental (no pun intended) part of our society today but we as believers often overlook its importance of it in our life in Christ Jesus.
King David was gifted with the talent of music. Undoubtedly, God enjoyed the music that David and others wrote and played for their songs are a part of the book of the bible called Psalms. God even had men assigned as musicians as we see in 1 Chronicles 6:31-32 (ESV): “These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there. They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order.”
Music was not just a part of the Old Testament either. Following the last supper, Jesus and all the disciples come together and sang: “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Matthew 26:30 (ESV)
Music can be a powerful act of worship and reverence to God when it sings of His living Word and Truth. Music is a tool in which to help us keep our mind and thoughts on our Lord.
Sadly, it can be hard for us to keep our mind on God throughout the day. Unless something triggers us to think of Him, we tend to go through our day without paying Him attention, let alone praising and worshiping Him and worshiping Him. Let us use music to remind us of His great truth and not neglect our God.
God, forgive me for not focusing on praising you as much as I should. I want to honor you with the music that I listen to. Help me to integrate worship into my life more. My desire is to praise you in truth and spirit.
Question: Is music that glorifies God a part of your daily routine?
Take today’s next step: Learn how to pray the promises of God.
“And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” (Genesis 21:1-2, NKJV)
God is always faithful to His promises. His word is absolute truth. We can be assured that God will not see His word return void when He sends it out to achieve important purposes in our lives.
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Have you given up hope in a promise that God has made to you because you have not yet seen its fulfillment? Abraham waited over thirteen years from the time the LORD his God first promised him that he would have a son to his wife Sarah until the birth of that son, Isaac. Most would not believe this was possible for them in their advanced age; in truth, both Sarah and her husband laughed when God told Abraham that He would later return to them and Sarah would bear them a son.
However, the LORD God does not lie, nor can He do so; for it is not in His character to be dishonest. Almighty God not only tells the truth, He is the truth: “If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, Amplified Bible)
Again, this is revealed to be so in John 3:33: “Whoever receives His testimony has set his seal of approval to this: God is true. [That man has definitely certified, acknowledged, declared once and for all, and is himself assured that it is divine truth that God cannot lie].” (Amplified Bible)
We can always count on God’s word to be completely pure and trustworthy, no matter how long it may take to see His promises fulfilled in our lives. What is most important for us to realize is that the timing of the LORD never fails to be perfect. In addition, because He is omniscient and can see infinitely far into the future – and we, obviously, cannot – we are wise to place our trust in Him, knowing that His ability to judge what is best for us is so much better than our own.
The LORD our God will never let us down. Yet, sometimes we ask for things that are not in our best interests; or, we make a request that, if it were to be granted at that specific time, would be hurtful to us or to someone else. So the LORD, in His infinite love and wisdom, says, “No,” or He tells us we must wait. Unfortunately, when we do not trust in Him, we can interpret this response, this failure to meet our desire for immediate gratification, as a sign that God does not care for us. In our disappointment, we falsely believe that Jesus does not love us, or that He has abandoned us.
However, if we are willing to align our faith with the Bible instead of running with our emotions and impatiently demanding to have our own way, we will soon become grounded in the truth of the Father’s faithful love in Christ Jesus and His devotion to never leave us or forsake us.
Let’s listen with all our hearts to the following verses and drink deeply of our Father’s tender loving-care for us:
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16, Amplified Bible)
“‘For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed,’ says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, Amplified Bible)
“He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews 13:5, Amplified Bible)
May we respond with gratitude, hope, and deep-seated faith to these promises from our merciful and gracious God, declaring in agreement with Hebrews 13:6, “So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?’” (Amplified Bible)
Lord Jesus, we come before You, asking that You grant us confidence and immovable hope in the promises You give us in Your word of truth. May we be assured that You never can and never will lie to us, and that You desire only the best for us, O God. When we do see painful things happen in and around us, O LORD, may we have the bold faith to state with assurance the words given to the apostle Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We thank You, Lord Jesus, that we have been called according to Your good purpose, and we declare our love for You, even as we thank You for Your amazing love for us. We pray these things in Your holy name, Christ Jesus, amen.
Questions: Do you have difficulty believing that God will fulfill His promises in your life? Why or why not? Which of His promises have you seen God faithfully bring to fruition? What biblical promises are you claiming for yourself or a loved one at this time?
“Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:60-62
My curiosity got the better of me as I rode the back country roads in Germany through small towns and villages. Why was there a rooster rather than a cross adorning the steeples? Getting an answer that was more than a guess initially proved to be difficult, but finally someone explained it to me.
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” Later, Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, nervously, watching the Roman soldiers who stood nearby.
Then a voice said, “Weren’t you with Jesus of Nazareth.” Peter said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and hurried off toward the porch. As he strolled toward the porch the rooster crowed. After awhile the same little maid saw him again and said to the soldiers nearby, “This is one of them.” Again Peter strongly denied the claim of the maiden. Then, after awhile the soldiers approached him and said that he was surely a follower of Jesus because his speech proved him to be.
This time Peter cursed and said, “I know not this man of whom you speak.” At that moment a rooster in the yard crowed again! The sound of the rooster came shrill and loud, leaving a shudder running down Peter’s back. Then Peter called to mind the words of Jesus which stated clearly that he would deny Jesus three times before the cock would crow the second time. Peter couldn’t put this out of mind. The more he thought on the words of the Lord the more disappointed in himself he became until the big fisherman had to hold his face in hand and break into sobbing.
How the Lord must have loved Peter, looking beyond his cursing and denials, giving Peter a sign of repentance when He would be taken away from him and unable to forgive him personally. The shrill sound of the rooster’s call worked upon the conscience of Peter as much as the Savior’s voice would have. The call of the rooster had become an extension of the voice of the forgiving Christ.
For this reason, the rooster has become a symbol of an aroused conscience and a reminder of a forgiving God. Peter was a symbol of personal failure who asked Jesus for forgiveness and through redemption rose to greatness. The rooster is a reminder that we live in a fallen world and the humanity in each of us fails God, but God can forgive, redeem and renew. The greatest impediment for living a glorious future for most people is a guilt ridden re-living of our past, but through Christ the past can be washed away and all things can become new.
Don’t let your past deprive you of God’s plan for your future. Listen to the roosters in your life. Think of the great Apostle Peter and what his life might have been without the proud strutting rooster who spoke for Jesus in His absence.
Question: When are you most tempted to sin by denying knowing the Lord, and why?
We all have a story that God can use. Learn how to share yours.
Take today’s next step: Live a Spirit-filled life
“And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:27-28, ESV)
When God gave up His son Jesus, He showed His power and awesome might. The Creator of the universe would save His people by becoming what He had created. The Creator became the created – He became flesh, He became man. He would walk among us, live like us, suffer like us, and be tempted like us
This second Adam would restore to all people from all nations what the first Adam had broken. Jesus (meaning Messiah in Hebrew or translated to Savior) Christ (meaning anointed), would willingly shed His blood as an innocent man. He would do this in order that His blood, this blood of the spotless lamb, would allow death (the penalty for sin) to pass over all who would believe and trust in Him.
Jewish days are not like our days. They have and still do start from sundown to sundown, not from sunrise to sunrise. On the first day of Passover, in the evening of the day of His crucifixion all of Israel was sacrificing their lambs. Little did they know that the greatest sacrifice of all time was taking place for them. Little did they know that the blood of the Son of God was bleeding for them and for all people, for all time.
The blood on the cross would be shed in order that death would now pass over all of Gods people for all eternity. What was broken in the Garden of Eden was now repaired by the blood of Jesus. Now all people could become God’s chosen people and come back into His very near and intimate presence. We can all now experience God just as Adam and Eve did in the garden. What power God had put in the blood of His one and only Son! Hallelujah!
And so we continue to celebrate the Passover as instructed by our Lord, our God; and we remember the freedom He has bought and paid for us. Remember the power of the blood and what it has done for you. Believe in the power of the blood and partake in the Passover of our Lord, our Savior, our God.
God in Heaven, There are no words to properly say thank you for the gift of salvation. Help me to live my life in a way that honors Your sacrifice each and every day. Amen
Question: Do you believe in the power of the blood? Do you live like you believe it?
Scripture Reading: Luke 8:26-39
I would definitely rate some Gospel stories as PG, maybe even 14+. I vividly recall my first experience watching the Jesus Movie as a kid. I held my breath as Legion came on the scene. “Look out! Don’t get out of the boat!” I almost shouted to the disciples as I saw that hell-crazed host of a thousand demons lurking behind a bush, ready to pounce on anyone who stepped ashore.
But then Jesus stepped ashore and He’s not just anyone. He’s the tamer of seas. Like a thunderbolt touching ground, He strikes fear into the heart of everyone. In the disciples, it’s reverential awe at the authority of their Lord; in the demons, it’s terror of eternal torment in the abyss, and in the townsfolk, it’s fear of Jesus disturbing their comfortable lives.
Jesus had been performing miracles all over Galilee, but these people decide to miss out: “the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.” (Luke 8:37) They’d rather insulate themselves from the influence of this messianic radical from across the sea. “Preserve the predicable; play it safe.” That’s their motto. Is it ours as well?
And as a gesture of grace, Jesus turns the delivered man into a neon billboard in the center of town: “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39) Everyday they will see this man, hear his story, remember how they turned Jesus away, and hopefully, invite Jesus back to transform them as well.
It’s easy to call them fools, but I would probably have felt the same: “With one word, this prophet pacifies the lunatic we couldn’t keep shackled with chains. Then he destroys our herd of swine. What will he demand of us if we invite him into town? He could take control and change everything.” (Luke 8:26-39)
Yes, He certainly would change everything if invited.
Unlike many Christians today, the Gerasenes actually counted the cost of inviting Jesus in. They knew they couldn’t fit Jesus into their religious box. The only option was total surrender to this eradicator of demons, a pledge of loyalty to a Lord they couldn’t control. Do we take Jesus’ lordship that seriously?
What they didn’t understand was just how incredibly good Jesus is. They saw the unpredictable, untamable, and all-powerful Lord, not the Lord of all compassion who was just waiting for a chance to lavish blessing on them.
Will you renew your surrender to Jesus today? Hand Him the reins without condition? Give Him permission to change whatever He wants? Trust Him to be good?
Here’s a prayer to express that commitment:
Lord Jesus, I want you in the centre of my life and commit, through your power, to serve and obey you any time, anywhere, at any cost, to do anything.
Questions: Are you able to pray this prayer? If not, what’s holding you back?
Love can be dangerous. When you aim high and love lets you down, the fall is far.>Watch