Peace Is A Virtue

God’s Love tells us that He wants a relationship with us that knows no bounds. We find Joy in understanding that no matter what happens to us, we rejoice in the fact that we have that relationship that saves us. So what happens next? The Third Fruit of the Spirit is Peace.

Once we have the first two as prevalent parts of our lives there is a sense of peace that overcomes us in everything we do. Yes the stress of the world can get in the way but with God those times of stress are meaningless in the greater scheme of living.  

Peace begins in the heart. It is the inner sense that is produced by the Love and Joy that comes from God. It is the calmness needed in times of turmoil so that the devil cannot take control of the emotions and cause anger and pain. Peaceful hearts produce peaceful minds.

What does Scripture say about peace?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20

When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7

 Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Job 22:21

Jesus reiterates His Father’s Words and speaks of peace.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We find peace in the Word that flows through our hearts and minds. This peace is a virtue that all Christians should have. It conquers the evil one even when he thinks he has won. When we are persecuted, it is the inner peace that gives us strength even to the point of death. It is better to die knowing Christ than to live and not know Him.

How can we find this peace that helps us get over worries, anxiousness, and other thoughts and emotions that are dangerous to our spiritual and physical health? Look to the Lord in all your sorrows for He will release them from you. In Him you find Joy without seeking it, and Love without earning it. All you have to do is believe, have faith, trust in Him, follow His ways, and you will find peace.   

Brothers and Sisters I urge you to rid yourselves of the ways of the world that cause undue stress, anxiety and persecution. Peace is a characteristic of the Image of God that has always been within us. Once the peace of God is solidified in our hearts it becomes a natural behavior. Peace is the Fruit of the Spirit that helps many express their faith to others and expand the Kingdom.

Pray for the peace of God to enter all who know Christ as Lord and Savior so the world will know peace through us. With Love and Joy in our hearts share the Word and bring the Kingdom.

Be Blessed,

 Rob, Servant of God      

Before Anxiousness Becomes Anxiety, Talk to the Great Physician

Do you ever get that feeling of uneasiness when you are faced with a change? Do situations cause so much worry that your whole body and spirit are effected? It is quite normal to have certain feelings but when you become obsessed with certain events that trigger your body to shut down, there is a problem.

Anxiety and the state of being anxious are similar but very different. You see anxiousness is a temporary thing that goes away after an event. Anxiety is a mental state that becomes part of a person when left untreated. The unfortunate thing about anxiety is that any stressful event can cause an attack even when the stress is controllable.

God provides direction and treatment for the state of anxiousness to avoid anxiety. All over the Bible we see a call for peace and patience that He provides.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Because we are human, we try in vain to remedy problems in ways that we can understand. When the remedy does not include prayer and giving oneself over to God, we lose sight of the truth in the situation (most are temporary things) and ourselves.  

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety is a matter of the heart. It is an attack on our faith and trust in God. The devil likes to take us on paths that cause us to forget God and this one affects every part of our being so we cannot be the light that God wants us to be.

We have this tendency to stress over situations that spin out of control when others place us in situations that they cannot control themselves. Instead of doing the right thing and taking control they burden someone else. If one is already suffering from anxiety this only makes matters worse. The right (but sometimes hard) thing to do is to tell the person to take care of the situation themselves. We cannot solve every problem that is why 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

By this we are to,

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

And Peter reminds us:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:6-8

Paul reminds us how to stave of the stress and anxiousness before it takes us over.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

See the world has got nothing on the healing comfort provided by the powerful presence of God in our lives.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

All this to remind you that the world can throw many things our way and give us troubles that we cannot handle. God knows this and is there to help us through. He uses people to help us by calm and happy words of encouragement, provide the shoulder, boost our confidence, and many other ways. More importantly, God provides us with a way of communication that comforts us, eases our hearts and minds through prayer and reading His Word.

If there is a situation that you are thrown into be careful not to overburden yourself. Ask the persons involved to do what they know is the right thing to do even if it causes a little pain and suffering. Remember, pain and suffering is meant to be a temporary state, not one that rules over us. Do not worry or stress over situation that are truly out of your control or you risk unwarranted physical and mental discomfort. Think before reacting in a way that causes more undue stress on yourself and others. Do not bring someone else into a situation that you can actually take care of yourself.

Brothers and Sisters, take your burdens to Jesus. He will comfort you and enable a solution. He is our strength when we are weak and can help us through the fire so we come out with the invisible burn marks of learning. We are meant to be caretakers but we must remember to take care of ourselves and the best way is to keep our eyes fixed on God.

Be Blessed,

Rob, Servant of God

Rejoice

Just about every Christian before Hymnals were replaced by screens knows the old children’s song that proclaims, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice”. That is actually based on Philippians 4:4-6, “Rejoice in union with the Lord always! I will say it again: rejoice! Let everyone see how reasonable and gentle you are. The Lord is near! Don’t worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.”

How beautiful the sound of rejoicing especially when we know in truth that through God nothing is impossible. But what does rejoice mean? The transitive and intransitive verb meanings are: to give joy to, and to feel joy or great delight. But to rejoice in something means to have joy. Joy is an emotion which Christians possess that is given by the Holy Spirit.

A great example of receiving Joy and the rejoicing that comes is found in Acts when Paul and Silas are accused of ruining a person’s livelihood that depended on a demon possessed fortune telling slave girl. They called out the demon from her and she was freed from the sin. Here we catch up on the situation:

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” Acts 16:22-35

What an example of joyous faith in suffering. How great is our God that freely showers us in His Love and Joy no matter how much we suffer. The jailer was ready to die from the embarrassment of dishonor yet he was saved because of the joy in his prisoner’s hearts. Their example turned him and his family to Christ. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.     

I Will Praise You In This Storm

Refuge from the Storm

God protects all His Creation in many different ways. These four birds have found shelter with us and have taken up residence for about six months now. Last night there was a pretty good storm that went through and these four found comfort in knowing they are protected with us. It is amazing the little things God provides for the smallest of His creation for they do not worry.

Delight in the Lord

The Psalms sing of many different situations and emotions. One reoccurring theme is the Joy of the Lord. Joy in the Lord is our strength when we are weary and downtrodden with the world. Joy in the Lord is what keeps us afloat when the world around us is sinking. The Psalms open up with Joy  

 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1 ESV

I want to focus on the second verse for a moment. More specifically on the word, delight. What does it mean to have delight? The dictionary definition says to “take pleasure in” something. It is a synonym of joy, happiness, and other gladness terms. So in the context of the Scripture above we are to take pleasure in His Word, meditating on it day and night. The Word of God is the only that that gives us true pleasure in this life.

Delighting in the Lord grants us the happiness that is beyond our understanding. It supplies us with the calmness needed to make it through the day even in our worst moments. This Delightfulness keeps our spirits right and overrides fear in the world.

The third verse expresses the firmness and fruitfulness of one who delights in the Lord, following and sharing the Word. Having this joy, even in dry land, guides us with living water to grow and fruit spiritual prosperity.

Just as there are different descriptions that define the fullness of God’s Love; so are there many ways to describe the Joy that is found in the hearts of mankind which is a fruit gifted by God to share and grow others. What we do with these gifts is a choice we have to make on our own but joy without God is meaningless, and fruitless.

Fruit of The Spirit 2: Joy

The second Fruit of the Spirit is Joy. But what is joy? Miriam Webster describes joy as a feeling or emotion such as a state of happiness or a source or cause of delight. But what is joy from the Spirit perspective? Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he creates in us the desire to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.  

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3

Why Joy in Times of Despair?

The timeframe that James was writing was filled with much suffering on many levels with persecution coming from friends, family, and authorities. The people that did not understand and had only known the world or were stuck on traditional religious practices could not fathom the hope, joy, and love that they were feeling due to the Salvation from sin provided by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Many Jews did not want to believe that their Messiah had come and that He died because that was the plan. Their rejection was the world’s Salvation.  

As Christians (even today), we are prone to suffering because we are separate from the world. So when we are met with trials, temptations, and persecution, we see the beauty that comes from the results even if we are not the recipients of the good that comes from the bad.

Joy is a Reflection of the Heart

Joy, the outward showing of the inward elation that is felt when we think of Jesus and what He has done for us. It is the heart pounding, blood pumping feeling that happens when we talk about Jesus in our lives. It is the calm that overcomes us when the world just isn’t in our favor but we think of Jesus and smile. It is our understanding that God’s Got This and we can relax knowing that all will be okay.

The Emotional Cure  

When a bad day happens (and they do happen) the usual thing is to pour out our hearts to a sounding board, usually a spouse/significant other/parent/sibling/best friend. Somehow that does actually make us feel better. Why is this? The healthy relationship that we have with others who are willing to listen. This is the earthly equivalent of God’s desired relationship with us. When we pray there is a peace that comes over us especially when we hear that still small voice.

Joy    

The most beautiful feeling in the world.

JOY

What is this thing we call Joy?

Joy is the extreme happiness we receive when we Love.

Joy is the Encouragement we were given so that we can continuously Worship.

It is the way that we remember the birth of Jesus Christ.

Joy isn’t all about the earthly things that we receive from others.

It is the Spiritual self reminding us that we can be Joyful in all things we do.

Genuine Love

All throughout the Bible the writers speak of the many different descriptions of God’s  Love. His Love is described as loyal, undying, unconditional, reckless, amazing, everlasting, and much more. This morning I want to discuss another way His Love is described and taught that in a way that we can do the same. I am speaking of His Genuine Love. Paul wrote to the Roman believers:

Don’t let love be a mere outward show. Recoil from what is evil, and cling to what is good. Love each other devotedly and with brotherly love; and set examples for each other in showing respect. Don’t be lazy when hard work is needed, but serve the Lord with spiritual fervor. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in your troubles, and continue steadfastly in prayer. Share what you have with God’s people, and practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you — bless them, don’t curse them! Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be sensitive to each other’s needs — don’t think yourselves better than others, but make humble people your friends. Don’t be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but try to do what everyone regards as good. If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people. Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to God’s anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, “Adonai says, ‘Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay.’” On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For by doing this, you will heap fiery coals [of shame] on his head.”  Romans 12:9-20

Early Rome Community of Believers

The Word and the Way found itself in Rome. At first they were a community ignored by the Emperor and the Senate but during the tyrannical rule of Nero, Christians were blamed for the fires. This caused a great many people to be persecuted and martyred.

Paul found himself in jail numerous times for stirring up trouble. While a loyal Roman citizen would see it that way, Paul and the believers knew different. With the persecutions happening almost daily, Paul wrote to encourage the people and keep their mind on the truth of Jesus.

Let Your Love Be Genuine

This portion of Romans is literally how we are to love our Father, Savior, and one another in a nutshell. Love is not just a face we put on like make up in the morning, it is the deep inward expression from our hearts that have been convicted to care for others before ourselves. This is one of those portions that really does not need deep explanation as it speaks plainly and clearly what and how we should be.

In this portion Paul tells them that they should remain faithful to the teachings through thoughts and actions of loving kindness. We are not to sit back and let others do the work when we are all commissioned to do the same. While Jesus taught us to love our enemies, Paul tells us to also bless them through our love. He teaches that we are all on the same level being that no human is more important than another but accept our lot in life treating everyone with the same humble heart. If someone wrongs you do not return with harmful words or behaviors but instead envelope the person with the Love of God through your actions and words.   

I Know it is Hard

Look, I know the difficulties in this age to be what God desires of us to be but if they could do it back then when their actions led to their deaths, we can do it today. What is the worst that can happen to us? Yes in some countries it does mean death but in other countries it means jail, lawsuits, loss of business, etc. If we lose everything then we have gained more than the person(s) that caused it will ever understand. Yes it will be hard but we are not being literally fed to lions or being run through by a sword. Have patience, continue to love no matter the cost, keep your eyes on the prize (as Paul puts it), stay in the Word and the Word will guide you. But mostly, Love one another just as He has loved us.

Be Blessed,

Rob, Servant of God  

God With Us

fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

God speaks to us in many ways. His Holy Spirit is the conduit through which He guides us and provides the way to communicate our prayers so that even when our mind and lips cannot say the right words, God knows what we mean to say. When we fear something in the world, Jesus takes our hand to guide us through it. We do not face fear alone.

God’s righteous right hand is Jesus for He sits at the right hand of God. It is Jesus who we put our trust in to get us through the times of fear and failure. Jesus is the embodiment of the Word so that we could have a model on how to live a life pleasing to God. The Scriptures are the written Word that we keep on our hearts and we are to live by the example of Jesus.

God’s great Love for us is the reason He cares so much for us and wants to abide with us. How wonderful it would be if everyone knew God’s Love and the life that Jesus leads us through. It is because of Jesus’ great sacrifice that we have the open line of communication and God is with us. He strengthens us when we are weak. He picks us back up when we fall. He is our God, our Father, for we are His children. Blessed Be His Name.

Brothers and Sisters, remember that God is always with us. He is our source of life and guides us. I hope that each of you have a blessed day to and tomorrow and every day forth in Jesus. God’s Love be with you all.

Rob, His Servant    

God is Loyal in His Love

The Love Fruit of the Spirit has many qualities. To understand that God’s Love is what we are supposed to show others, we need to see how His Love was (and is) understood and the effects when it comforts the soul. One of the best books that shows His Love is Lamentations. In it, Jeremiah speaks of  God’s Loyal Love while remembering God’s Grace and Mercy on our lives.

My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love (Grace) of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will 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 wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes and let him be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love (Mercy); for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3:17-33

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. He was the youngest person around the time of the diaspora and exile to be called by God. The hearts of the kings, princes, and priests in Jerusalem had grown so cold that Jeremiah was often thrown into a pit, mocked, and shuttered out of their hearing. The pain and suffering was so bad that He had lost hope but as we see in the Scripture above, the Spirit working in Jeremiah guides him and reminds him of God’s Grace and Mercy through the showing of His Loyal Love (Chesed) for His Chosen People even though they disobeyed.

Even though Jeremiah’s heart was tormented and afflicted, he remembers that God’s Grace never ceases and is present especially to those who seek and wait for Him. Jeremiah’s Hope returned to him as he recalls that God is present through all afflictions and that no matter what the world does, God is there.  

This passage ends expressing God’s Compassion and Mercy. How wonderful that we are freely given God’s Love. Without Compassion and Mercy we are lost to the world of sin. Without His Grace we cannot be saved. It is up to us to choose to receive and bask in His Love or embrace the world and permanent separation from God. The world today only sees glimpses of His Grace and Mercy through certain acts of kindness. We need to show the world more than glimpses but live it every day. If God is our portion then we must share it not just keep it for ourselves.

God’s Love for us is the model we must strive to emulate daily. Are you willing to share it?