Pure Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:2-6

How in the world can I count these trials as joyful? How?

God also says in Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

So now I can have peace with God too? These trials seem like they couldn’t possibly produce joy nor peace?…or perfection or hope?

YET…God’s Word gives me Truth. So I know that these things are possible. I have not written in this space for quite some time, but God is using the circumstances of Kenneth’s death to show me His love, His people, His little children, His body of Christ, His kindness, His glory. He is showing me that although my heart may hurt from this deep loss, it can also overflow with so much more because He is my joy. He is my love. He is my kindness. He is my all. Dependence upon the One Who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent gives me all. I lack for nothing.

I have not hidden away from the world. I have not walked away from His will for my life in Christ. I have not been too disobedient (not much that I am aware of!). I am walking with the One Who saved me from the pit. I am holding close to my Savior because He is. He is alive and risen. He has given me His Holy Spirit to dwell within me. And I am His, walking in the Spirit. I am filled with a joy that is incredibly remarkable.

Is that not amazing?

He fills me with pure joy in the midst of sorrow and struggle. Do you know what else He does? He builds me up. He grows me in His character. He molds me to look more and more like Him. Is that not beautiful? How grateful I am for His love for me. Oh, my sweet Lord. You are changing me day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Thank You, Sweet Jesus.

when you meet trials of various kinds,… James 1:2b

Trials come. Trials can be of all types…physical, emotional, mental, financial, marital, death, and everything else under the sun.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

I am not perfect and will not be until I pass over the Jordan River into Heaven, but each step of obedience here on earth brings me another step closer to both perfection and Heaven. Christ is molding me to be more and more like Him while I sojourn here. I am the clay and want to be. I desire that molding more and more now too. That is what boggles my mind…that I, willingly, want Him to mold me which takes trials. No vessel is perfect, needing parts redone again and again. The Potter has much work to do on me. I choose to allow Him to form me and make me. I also choose to stay close to Him so that I may endure the current trials and those on ahead.

ὑπομονή

hypomonē

steadfastness, constancy, endurance

in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

patiently, and steadfastly

a patient, steadfast waiting for

a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

NKJV: But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

NIV: Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

NASB: And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Other Scripture with the same Greek word: ὑπομονή

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

Matthew Henry wrote: “The graces and duties of a state of trial and affliction are here pointed out to us. Could we attend to these things, and grow in them as we should do, how good would it be for us to be afflicted! One Christian grace to be exercised is joy: ‘Count it all joy.’ We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavour to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God. In them we are conformable to Christ our head, and they become marks of our adoption. By suffering in the ways of righteousness, we are serving the interests of our Lord’s kingdom among men, and edifying the body of Christ; and our trials will brighten our graces now and our crown at last. Therefore there is reason to count it all joy when trials and difficulties become our lot in the way of our duty.

Faith is a grace that one expression supposes and another expressly requires: ‘Knowing this, that the trial of your faith,…’ verse 3; and then in verse 6, ‘Let him ask in faith.’ There must be a sound believing of the great truths of Christianity, and a resolute cleaving to them, in times of trial. That faith which is spoken of here as tried by afflictions consists in a belief of the power, and word, and promise of God, and in fidelity and constancy to the Lord Jesus.

There must be patience: ‘The trial of faith worketh patience.’  The trying of one grace produces another; and the more the suffering graces of a Christian are exercised the stronger they grow.”  *

Jesus, my Lord, I come to You, seeking Your face. I want to be near to You, to know You more and more with each passing moment. Is that possible, Lord? How can it be when I am in physical pain, emotional loss, sorrow, spiritual vacuums, and other trials? How can I focus upon You when these trials distract me so? Yet, Lord, You rain grace over me in joy, love, hope, faith, patience and far more than I could even ask. Thank You, sweet Jesus. You reign in my heart. That is what has changed me as I experience trials, Lord. You!…Your Spirit indwelling this earthly vessel. Your graciousness abounds. Thank You for keeping me close to You. You are the One Who generously gives. You are merciful and faithful, Lord God Almighty, overflowing with love for me. I want to grow in the Truth, in the knowledge of You. I want to grow in grace, too. I want to reflect You to the world in which I sojourn. May I be strong through the trials and tribulations so that I may be more like You. Give me wisdom that I would know how to walk through these times. In Your Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

But 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. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

Graphic: Daily RCL Bible Reading Devotional @ http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/2016/05/22/daily-rcl-bible-reading-devotional-may-22nd-2016/

Graphic: http://access-jesus.com

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

* Matthew Henry Commentary on James 1

Graphic: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery

Christ is Christmas

It is nearing Christmas and I cannot seem to gather any get-up-and-go to write a post.  It just is hard this year.  It is not that I am avoiding Christmas as I am NOT!  I revere the birth of Christ, my Savior.  I am celebrating Him with each day.  I just can’t seem to write a whole post.  So I shall not.  Just a bit this day! 

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I hope to be back here more steadily in 2019.  I pray that I walk in obedience to the call of God.  

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As most of you know, life has taken a huge turn.  The death of Kenneth, my husband of twenty-five years, changed everything.  I am handling life fairly well.  I seek God at most every turn and with each step.  I need Him and He is with me.  He has never left me not forsaken me…and He won’t.  I went to visit my sisters in August in California.  This past month, I went to see Kenneth’s sisters, one in the Houston area, one in Southern Alabama.  I was gone for two weeks driving all the way.  I spent two hours each week for 13 weeks at GriefShare, a wonderful caring, biblically-based grief group with a leader and co-facilitators, a workbook and video series, along with discussion and sharing.  I am also becoming more involved in my new church, in Bible study, meeting so many precious people. 

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As I grieve, both inwardly and outwardly, I am being healed from the inside-out.  I thank my God for His grace and His mercy.  This is a process and probably a long one!  I thank each of you for praying for me, for loving me, and for caring about me.  Many of your comments and private messages have blessed me so.  Thank you, sweet friends. 

I wish you each a Christmas filled with the love and peace of our Savior, Christ Jesus. 


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

Merry Christmas

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Image/graphic:  https://rustyrev.wordpress.com/2010/12/25/did-the-christmas-message-find-you/

On Being a Widow

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I would call becoming a widow (widower) going through deep waters.  AND then God promises to be with me (you) during these deep-water times.  Absolutely beautiful and so very reassuring.

WIDOW!  A word I have never given much thought to for myself, but the reality is that I am one now.  I saw (and sensed) my mother become one when she was only 46 with three girls ages 13, 10, and 7 to raise.  But me?  I am into this new pathway for a wee bit over one month now at age 70 with no children, no grandchildren.  The precious peace that Kenneth and I felt during the last five months has continued to envelop me, keeping me held and gently rocked.  I cry and know that God is okay with all of my tears.  I know that His plan included this loss as part of my life.

YET…it is not easy.  I miss Kenneth so very much.  Then there is all the paperwork, changing titles, probating the will and…and….  On top of all that stuff, there are buckets of tears!  And not just from the eyes but from this heart.  It is hard Those three words say it best!

Yet, at the same time, I sense the joy of the Lord, His strength, and His love abounding in my life.  He is bringing the right people onto my path.  He sends me to a church Sunday that rained peace all over me.  He is blessing me with the peace that passes ALL understanding.  I love Him so.  I may not comprehend it all so, but I certainly will not turn any of this away for it is my journey.

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my Salvation.  He only is my Rock and my Salvation,
My Stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.  Psalm 62:1-2

Behold, God is my Helper;
The Lord is the Sustainer of my soul.  Psalm 54:4

To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my Defense,
My God of mercy.  Psalm 59:17

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my Refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works. 
Psalm 73:28

“Behold, God is my Salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my Strength and my Song,
and He has become my Salvation.”  Isaiah 12:2

Oh, how these verses tell Who God is to me…He is all of this and so much more.

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The LORD will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.  Psalm 15:25

אַלְמָנָה

‘almanah

a widow; also a desolate place:—desolate house (palace)

A widow is most often described as a woman who has lost her husband by death and has not remarried.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;
He upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.  Psalm 146:9

“Leave your fatherless children,
I will preserve them alive;
And let your widows trust in Me.” 
Jeremiah 49:11

God cares about me, about us.  He did before I became a widow and He still does.  Praise You, Father.  Praise You. 

Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.  Isaiah 1:17

In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 1: Seek opportunities of doing good: Relieve the oppressed, those whom you yourselves have oppressed; ease them of their burdens.  You, that have power in your hands, use it for the relief of those whom others do oppress, for that is your business.  Avenge those that suffer wrong, in a special manner concerning yourselves for the fatherless and the widow, whom, because they are weak and helpless, proud men trample upon and abuse;….  Speak for those that know not how to speak for themselves and that have not wherewithal to gratify you for your kindness.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  James 1:27

I do not consider myself weak.  I can stand up for myself…sometimes.  I can be gullible…sometimes.  Right now, as a one-month-old baby in this new widowhood, I am vulnerable.  I know that because it is hard.  I have just lost my dear Kenneth, my husband of 25 years, this man who loved me as unconditionally as any human being can.  He cared for and about me like no one else.  So I truly am vulnerable and must look to my Lord.  Focusing my eyes and the eyes of my heart upon Jesus is what I am doing.

When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.   When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.  Deuteronomy 24:19-21

God planned for widowhood.  He knew and still knows what needs to happen for them.  I think of the many widows and orphans in the world today with so many wars and such violence occurring all around this globe.  I do not consider myself one of those precious women or those innocent children.  I have so much more than they do, it seems.  I have a roof over my head and know that I have a meal.  Many of those widows are so strong in the midst of their huge struggles.  God knows each of our needs.  He knows from whence we came and where we are headed.

Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.  Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.  But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.  1 Timothy 5:3-6

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She sets her hope on God.  Oh, how I desire that for myself.  I pray, Father, that I walk the path that You have chosen for me, a straight and narrow path.  I rejoice that I have You to trust, to hope in, to love and to cherish.  Oh, I am so very grateful.  I have no parents alive now and have no children.  I come to You for You are my Redeemer.  Guide me each day, reminding me Whose I am.  Be with those widows and orphans in Africa, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so many other areas of this world.  Provide for each one in ways that will direct their eyes to You. 

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  1 Peter 5:10

Father God, I praise You even in the midst of my sorrow.  I was so very blessed to have Kenneth for 25 years, yet I miss him so.  I know that he is free from the body that was decaying.  I know he is with You.  I know those things in my head, but my heart still is filled with pain and sorrow.  And this heart is also filled with joy because You are my Husband.  You are the One I trust.  You are my Hope and my All, Lord.  Oh, how very blessed I am. I thank You for being willing to perfect, to confirm, to strengthen and to establish me as I grow in You for the rest of my years.  The strength I have is because You are my Strength.  You are my Shield and Protector.  You are my Peace, my Jehovah-Shalom, my Healer, Jehovah-Rapha, my Provider, Jehovah-Jireh, my Shepherd, Jehovah-Raah.  Thank You for being my All.  I am eternally grateful to the One Who is Present, my Jehovah-Shammah. In the Name of Christ, I pray.  Amen.  

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Graphics:

#1:  http://godisheart.blogspot.com/2013/09/when-you-go-through-deep-waters-i-will.html

#2:  https://armyofcompassion.me/2014/09/13/lesson-2-one-god/

#3:  https://quotesblog.net/best-famous-hope-quotes-2015-hope-quotations/

 

 

Every Purpose Under Heaven

 

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I continue to be woven by the hands of God through all of life’s circumstances, events, conversations, precious time spent with my husband.  God is so merciful.  He allows hard, yet quilts it with the downy feathers or soft rabbit fur as for a nest.  He gives us His grace in portions, some small, some huge.  He is so fine and so beautiful.

As many know from my last post, my husband, of almost 25 years, has been diagnosed with Lymphoma.  He has chosen to be under hospice care, and to be ushered into Heaven in God’s perfect timing.  Kenneth served in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Infantry Division during the Vietnam War.  He was exposed to Agent Orange which could very well be the cause of this cancer.  Life is fragile any day and especially when one fights in a war.  We see affects today with our soldiers coming home from Iraq, Afghanistan, and so many other places these days.  There are prices paid when one serves this country in the Armed Services.

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For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.  Psalm 139:13-16

God created each one of us.  He made these bodies so magnificently…just think about the mechanics of all of the working parts, the symmetry between those parts, and the details of each part…the skin, the heart, the eyes, and all.  We have been built by The Master Craftsman, Architect, Creator….The Master Weaver.

My husband’s already frail body has a cancer.  He has chosen not to fight it for many of his own reasons, but the real reason is God.  He is calling him Home.  Each night, while in the hospital, God came.  He would be there with Kenneth in the quiet, in the dark.  Kenneth knew and waited, listened, believed.  On the surface, Kenneth was there in the hospital waiting for answers from the doctors.  In the depths, the real answers were coming from the LORD.

I saw Christ in Kenneth more clearly each morning when I came to visit.  I was affected dearly by what was happening to my husband.

We have been home from Houston for about six weeks.  Kenneth and I are continuing to feel God’s Peace and, now, His purposes for us.  We have new mornings for which to be grateful.  We share precious time together.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.  Lamentations 3:22-26

We are more in love than when we got married which is hard to imagine.  We were so crazy in love 25 years ago.  We are growing in the LORD each and every day, growing closer to one another too.

Kenneth has begun teaching me things I will need to know when I am a widow.  (Yes, that is hard to write, think, say, yet, unless God has a miracle in store, I am headed that way.) He is working on small projects as he is able so as to make things better for me.  He is so delighted to have these tasks to do, not only for me, but to give him purpose for each day.  He came home to die, yet only God knows the number of days for Kenneth.  To while away the unknown number of days sitting around or lying in bed is not good for the soul…if one can help it.  Purpose of heart, purpose of mind, purpose of being are vitally important for life.  Kenneth is very much alive today.  He is being held by God.  I am in His arms as well.  Each day is a learning experience and one not to be missed.  Our eyes, ears, and hearts are wide open for this time.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

[A time for EVERY PURPOSE under Heaven…we are living this right now…right now on earth…under Heaven.  Thank You, LORD.]

Ecclesiastes 3-1 To Everything There Is A Season Under Heaven brown

A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;

A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;

A time to tear,
And a time to sew; A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;

A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Beautiful words to embrace.

Our time together is precious.  We do not know the number of days.  We only know that This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  [Psalm 118:24]  Today is the day to be God’s creations together.  He is giving us daily gifts.  When Kenneth’s days are up, I will truly be sad; I will miss him so.  He is so good to and for me.  God blessed me with this man.  So we take today.  Today is holy ground.

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”  Exodus 3:5

God could also bring a miracle.  And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

Father, I lift my voice: “Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.” [Psalm 28:2]  …the innermost place of Your sanctuary.  Father, You have given Kenneth such insight, love, and kindness.  He shares it with me and I am so blessed.  Thank You, LORD.  I pray Your watch-care over him every day, all day.  Hold me close and never let me go.  EVER, Abba Father.  I ask You to guard my heart.  Guide me upon Your path for my life.  I thank You for loving us so.  Thank You for giving us these many years together.  And should there be more, I thank You and praise You now.  As we have been praying all along, LORD, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  I pray in the Name of Your Son, my Savior and LORD.  Amen.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

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http://eweniquelyewe.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-bit-of-weaving.html

http://ejdodson.blogspot.com

Knowing-Jesus.com: https://images.knowing-jesus.com/i/ecclesiastes-3-1-to-everything-there-is-a-season-under-heaven-brown-4101

https://www.embeddedfaith.org/embedded-faith/tweetspiration-thursdays#.Wp3GcyHw-Uk

 

God’s Peace is More

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.  John 20:19-20

εἰρήνη

eirēnē (Greek)

ā-rā’-nā

  • a state of national tranquillity
  • exemption from the rage and havoc of war
  • peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
  • security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
  • of the Messiah’s peace
  • the way that leads to peace (salvation)
  • of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
  • the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

Peace” in nearly every dialect of Aramaic is “Shlamah”.

In Jewish Aramaic,

   שלמה

Northwest Semitic: Ancient Aramaic:

ܫܠܡ

 

Hebrew:

שָׁלוֹם

shalowm

  • safe, i.e. (figuratively) well, happy, friendly
  • also (abstractly) welfare, i.e. health, prosperity, peace:—× do, familiar, × fare, favour, friend, × great, (good) health, (× perfect, such as be at) peace(-able, -ably), prosper(-ity, -ous), rest, safe(-ty), salute, welfare, (× all is, be) well, × wholly
  • completeness (in number)
  • safety, soundness (in body)
  • welfare, health, prosperity
  • peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
  • peace, friendship
  • of human relationships
  • with God especially in covenant relationship
  • peace (from war)

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When we think of peace, we usually limit the meaning to calm, tranquil, quiet, stillness of one’s soul.  Yet, in looking through the myriad of meanings, I am gaining a whole new perspective on what Jesus blesses us with when He says, “Peace be unto you.”  He wishes health and prosperity, happiness and harmony, rest and reconciliation, welfare and well-being, kindness, wholeness, friendliness, safety, just every type of good.  Every blessing which is of Christ is for us through Him.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

“When our LORD speaks peace, He creates peace, because the words that He speaks are always ‘spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63).  Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “…My peace I give to you…”—a peace that comes from looking into His face and fully understanding and receiving His quiet contentment.'”  Oswald Chambers *

…looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrew 12:2

Jesus walked in obedience to His Father.  He endured the worst possible path, yet rests duly by His Father, knowing the Peace, the Love, the Grace that can only come from the Father.

I reflect.  I see more clearly that obedience to my Father is my way to His Peace.  I may endure harsh realities or uncomfortable situations, but when walking with Jesus as He wills me to do, I am united with my LORD.  His gifts of simplicity, clarity, unity are born through the Holy Spirit and not through my desires.

 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.  Psalm 18:36

I have peace in my steps for I have confidence in the life I have with Christ.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

Then Israel shall dwell in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens shall also drop dew.  Deuteronomy 33:27-28

His arms hold me.  His support, comfort, strength, and provision are pieces of this peace that I am searching for.  My LORD is this peace in all ways.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.  Revelation 1:17-18

He touches me.  He tells me to not be afraid.  I can rest in Him for He is my Salvation, my assurance, and the tenderness that I seek.

Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,….
Isaiah 32:15-18

 

Oh, that I could live and walk in Your ways, O LORD.  But I am me.  I fail and fall.  I crumble under stress at times.  I belittle myself.  I am not perfect here upon this earth.  Yet my desire is to be obedient.  Holy Spirit, continually guide me in the ways that I should go.  Be near.  I want to know this peace that is You.

I pray peace for this world, for this country, Father.  We are so in need of Your peace now.  People are torn asunder by storms, war, fear, drugs, divorce, so many other reasons.  May we each and all walk in obedience to You, only You.  This seems like an impossible request, but nothing is impossible for You.  I ask You to turn all hearts to You.  One day soon, before it is too late, may Your peace rain upon us and reign in our hearts, my Father.  In the Name of the Prince of Peace, I pray.  Amen. 

 

*from 8/26 devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers

Harmony

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A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.  A psalm of David.

How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!

For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.

Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.  Psalm 133:1-3

יַחַד

yachad

properly, a unit, i.e. unitedly:—alike, at all (once), both, likewise, only, (al-) together, withal

In Hebrew, the word for harmony is often translated unity or all together.

C. H. Spurgeon writes this of Psalm 133:2:

“In order that we may the better behold brotherly unity David gives us a resemblance, so that as in a glass we may perceive its blessedness. It has a sweet perfume about it, comparable to that precious ointment with which the first High Priest was anointed at his ordination. It is a holy thing, and so again is like the oil of consecration which was to be used only in the Lord’s service. What a sacred thing must brotherly love be when it can be likened to an oil which must never be poured on any man but on the Lord’s high priest alone! It is a diffusive thing: being poured on his head the fragrant oil flowed down upon Aaron’s head, and thence dropped upon his garments till the utmost hem was anointed therewith; and even so doth brotherly love extend its benign power and bless all who are beneath its influence. Hearty concord brings a benediction upon all concerned; its goodness and pleasure are shared in by the lowliest members of the household; even the servants are the better and the happier because of the lovely unity among the members of the family. It has a special use about it; for as by the anointing oil Aaron was set apart for the special service of Jehovah, even so those who dwell in love are the better fitted to glorify God in his church. The Lord is not likely to use for his glory those who are devoid of love; they lack the anointing needful to make them priests unto the Lord. “That ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard.” This is a chief point of comparison, that as the oil did not remain confined to the place where it first fell, but flowed down the High Priest’s hair and bedewed his beard, even so brotherly love descending from the head distils and descends, anointing as it runs, and perfuming all it lights upon. … Christian affection knows no limits of parish, nation, sect, or age. Is the man a believer in Christ? Then he is in the one body, and I must yield him an abiding love. Is he one of the poorest, one of the least spiritual, one of the least lovable? Then he is as the skirts of the garment, and my heart’s love must fall even upon him. Brotherly love comes from the head, but falls to the feet. Its way is downward. It “ran down,” and it “went down:” love for the brethren condescends to men of low estate, it is not puffed up, but is lowly and meek. This is no small part of its excellence: oil would not anoint if it did not flow down, neither would brotherly love diffuse its blessing if it did not descend.”

With the turmoil and hatred and violence we see all around this world, I am drawn to this beautiful word, harmony.  I so desire that we ALL could live in harmony.  I want to see everyone as my sister, my brother, my friend.  I want love to filter through each one of us to all.  Oh, I have these wishes and hopes for all who live on this earth.  Am I asking too much?

Jesus said these words to His Father before it was His time to go away from His disciples, from this earth:

I am in them and You are in Me.  May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.  John 17:23

He desired this for us all.

In the Greek, the words harmony and unity draw Christ into this oneness.

εἷς

heis

one, adhere to Christ to make one person, gather together into one

I love this word picture of adhering to Christ…making us one person.

Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight.  Romans 12:16

Living this way does not mean everyone must be exactly alike or think the same thoughts.  God created us each as His own creation.  He wove us in our mother’s womb as one-of-a-kind.  Our skin, hair, facial features, bodily shapes, talents…everything about us are one-of-a-kind.  So living in unity or harmony is to be who God created us to be…our very selves, yet walk in the ways that God would have us go.  He asks us to be kind and love one another, not just to those we want to love…but all.  We can love yet not like an action or behavior of another.  We are to forgive, to wipe the dust from our feet, to turn the other cheek, bless them through the image of Christ that we are to portray.  May we see them as He sees them, I pray.

Music is made up of many notes along scales.  There are flats and sharps, minor keys and major keys.  There are white keys and black keys on a piano. When music is played or sung, it can be harmonious.  The sounds are beautiful from high to low.  The music notes are individual but together, they get along, melding together into one piece.  Each note does not get huffy about another and go their own way.  They work together in one accord.

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As people, we should want to live as musical notes, united in the outcome of every beat.  We should want to sound beautiful together.  This should be like our way of living…in harmony.  God wants to see His children living in unity, in one accord.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15:5-6

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:14

Oh, these things are hard, yet, in Christ, they are not because the Holy Spirit is our guide.  Depending upon Him gives us strength, ability, and love so that we can bless others, speak the Truth, love as Christ loves.  Jesus said:

“I can do nothing on My own.  As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 5:30

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothingJohn 15:6

Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing…NOTHING!  It is through Him that this harmony, unity can happen.

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“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  For whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  1 Peter 3:8-12

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  Ephesians 4:11-13

Father God, I lift up this world to You.  There is so much discord.  It saddens me and hurts too.  I want all to be under Your umbrella, sweetly receiving the oil of brotherly love.  I want each of us to walk in Your ways and to know that You desire peace among us.  I am sorry for things I may say or do that hurt You.  I am saddened for that which I see around me whether it be on media or between people at the store.  Oh, that I can praise You for Your grace and love cropping up here and there around this place I am calling home now.  There is some brotherly love, care and kindness, respect and politeness.  May it grow and envelop this city, this state, this country, and this world.  May we live together as one…all in one accord.  I pray in the Name of Your Holy Son.  Amen. 

 

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The God of Peace Carries Me

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.  Romans 15:33

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These few months have brought such change for us, such blessings, such stress, such hard work, and such joy.  We have sold our home of 23 years, traveled to the area we hoped to move, found a house, set that into escrow, traveled to relatives where we could stay for a while in Texas and Alabama, and back for escrow closing.  In the midst of those things, we ordered inspections, emailed and talked with our realtor often, set start-up dates for utilities, and so much more.  The sweet house we bought was not left clean so we had major cleaning to do while we lived in it…in order to live in it!  We moved in with two mattresses and eventually two patio chairs.  Two weeks later the POD was delivered and emptied.  Now we are unpacking boxes.

For two almost-seventy year olds, we are making it, box-by-box.  In between, we are changing banks, getting new driver’s licenses, buying new things that were old and decrepit, but still needed.  We love our multi-cultural neighborhood, this sweet town of 35,000, and the lovely, tall, green creations of God called pine and oak trees.  The lushness of East Texas is special after living on the Gulf Coast for so many years.  I always wanted to return to Oregon but this part of Texas will replace that desire.  The Pacific Ocean will just have to wait on my arrival for another day…probably a heavenly day.

Amidst all of this, God is my constant.  He is my still, strong source of peace.  He is the God of peace.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

Such gifts we are given in our belief.  No matter what the circumstances look like, the calm waters of Christ surround me and still my spirit.

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You keep him in perfect peace

whose mind is stayed on You,

because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 26:3

Father God, thank You for this blessed time that Ken and I have shared as we looked to begin a new chapter in our life together.  We have shared our time with two precious sisters of Ken’s.  We have been led by You to a neighborhood that is surely blessing us already.  We trust You for all of our needs in these times.  Please direct our steps.  We lean on You for comfort and strength.  We rest in You for the peace that passes all understanding.  And it truly is beyond comprehension, LORD, but it is of You and I know that.  I love You so and have felt Your Presence all the way…over the miles we’ve traveled…in the steps taken.  You are the God of Peace in Whom I trust.  In the name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.