Peace

Road Sign Walking Sign Crosswalk Sign Crosswalk

Willing to Yield to Others

My wife and I play a card game with some friends about once each month. The game is called “Hand and Foot.” It’s an exciting game, in part, because it is not directly competitive, unlike so many card games. You don’t directly play against the other team. Instead, you and your partner play to earn the most points that you can. The game ends when a team has played all of their cards. Then each team counts their points, and the team with the most points wins.

I see in this game the nature of the Christian community. No believer should try to advance by pushing others down in the Church. Instead, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. We seek to help, give, and sacrifice, not out of some competition but to emulate Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Many card games are based on taking others’ cards or blocking a player’s progress. This approach has no place in the body of believers. We are to rejoice when good comes to a fellow believer, and we are to morn when sorrow comes to fellow believers. There is no seeking to find advantages. Jesus watches us, and we must give an account to Him of what we did with the life He gave us.

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

Not to get too odd, but we know that quantum physics is the antithesis of the standard physics model. Likewise, the Christian life is baffling to non-believers; the way we live just doesn’t fit the rules of this world. Our life in Jesus compels us to see people differently and to respond to people differently. We are not competing against anyone. Instead, we are willing to yield to others when it’s for their good, even if yielding is costly to us.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:17-18 NLT

I pray that every believer seeks to be a peacemaker, for peacemakers are not peacekeepers. A peacekeeper is a person that works to soothe and weaken people that are at war with each other. But, a peacemaker acts in faith to expose poisonous lies and covert destructive actions. We all see its true nature by bringing wickedness into the light. We know what Jesus said about lightness and darkness:

…that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Acts 26:18

So, let’s be that person that seems odd. The person who loves the unlovely, helps those who have been sidelined by life, and yields to that @#$% driver in front of us that’s being a real #$%@! Sorry, let me try that last part again. Let us yield to that morally vacuous driver in front of us that’s being an absolute archetype of human evil. There, that’s better. 😉

Image by Roy Harryman from Pixabay

Castle Fortress Architecture Clouds Alcazar Segovia

Peace is Found in Trusting Jesus

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27

Medieval Europe

I recently watched a documentary about life in Europe during the centuries after the turn of the first millennia (1000 AD – 1500AD). I was fascinated by the “Millennials.” 😉 The old guard had their fears and concerns about the younger generation’s ideas. Millennials seemed to be striving for more individual freedoms, yet, the old order wasn’t sure if it wanted society to change. The Millennials wished to keep the benefits provided by the status quo, but they also wanted more liberty to participate in commerce.

During this time, the ideas of personal property and personal commerce began to be birthed – crazy Millennial ideas, right!? Make no mistake; royalty owned the people of their estate. A person couldn’t leave the lord’s estate without permission, and even a tree could not be cut down without approval and payment to their master.

Medieval Loyalty

Nevertheless, it served the lord’s needs for his people to be self-sustaining and loyal. Loyalty was essential because his people were his army. He only maintained a small standing army, but every man had to join the fight when trouble came. The lord didn’t provide any weapons. Each man had to use his own pitchfork, wooden hammer, and scythes as weapons. However, if a man proved to be exceptional in battle, his lord would reward him with a sword.

One aspect of the Middle Ages (Dark Ages) that never was clear to me was the selfless loyalty that many people gave to their king or master. A man called El Cid continued to give significant payments to Alfonso VI, the king of Castile and León, in medieval Spain, long after Alfonso VI had banished Ei Cid from his kingdom. You would think El Cid would have turned his back on Alfonso VI. Instead, El Cid never stopped calling Alfonso VI his king. In this historical account, I gained an insight into Jesus Christ, my Lord.

Peace is Found in Trust

We know that we each owe Jesus our total and complete loyalty 1. However, we may take for granted the comfort and peace of mind that we gain when we absolutely trust Jesus2. Even though our peace is found in our trust in Jesus, the truth is that we may not always know how to trust Jesus3. With that in mind, find a place where you can commune with Jesus and ask Him to help you with your doubts. You can pray, “Jesus, thank You for saving me. I give You my total loyalty; lead me in the life you want me to live.”

Jesus is the only one that can bring true peace and comfort into our lives4. If we are saved, we have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, living in us.

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”

John 15:26

Jesus is an endless source of love and mercy5, but we may not recognize this because we are too busy worrying about the troubles in our lives and around us6.

We are His, the sheep of His pasture7. Can we trust Jesus when we receive devastating news? Yes, He is our Lord8. Can we trust Jesus when politicians and scoundrels vandalize our nation? Yes, Jesus is our King9. Can we trust Jesus when the life we’ve loved is pillaged and ransacked? Yes, Jesus is God10.

By placing total trust in Jesus, our Lord and Savior, we can know that in Jesus, all things do work together for good11. Living each day with Jesus is how we can receive the comfort we need12.

Image by ELG21 from Pixabay


Matthew 10:33
Isaiah 12:2
Mark 9:24
Romans 14:17
Lamentations 3:22–23
Philippians 4:6–7
Psalm 100:3
Romans 10:9–13
Revelation 19:16
10 John 1:1
11 Romans 8:28
12 Matthew 6:34


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Confused Angry Expression Face Gesture Male

Don’t you understand even yet?

Today, I was caught off guard while reading Matthew 16:5–12. This is the account of the disciples misunderstanding what Jesus meant when He warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees to which Jesus asks, “Don’t you understand even yet?

The Disciples Worry

In response to Christ’s question, the disciples began to worry about not having anything to eat – they had forgotten to bring bread (v5). They discussed this predicament while traveling by boat, so they obviously couldn’t do a door-dash. With the thought of bread on their minds, they were baffled when Jesus suddenly told them to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (v6).

The disciples focused on food while Jesus was focused on fulfilling the plan of His Father. Rabbit Trail: I asked myself if my default response to every question was first spiritual and then physical? You can guess my answer.

Now back to Jesus and His disciples in the boat.

The Disciples Misunderstand

Jesus has just warned His disciples – the ones upon whose shoulders the growth of His Church would soon fall – to beware of the yeast (leaven) of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Their response had been to huddle together to figure out how to tell Jesus that they forgot to bring bread. At this point, Jesus sternly asked, “Don’t you understand even yet?

Forgive my very loose paraphrase of what Jesus next says in v9–11. Jesus says, “Get your head in the game. I can bury you in bread, so why are you asking Me about bread? That makes no sense.” From the disciples – silence.

Our Patient Lord

Then Jesus shows His patience. “So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” (v11) Now His disciples were in tune, sort of, with Jesus. They understood that Jesus meant that they should guard against false teachings because they can quickly grow and permeate what the Church teaches (v12).

Good News

We should not worry about the things we need – food, clothing, shelter. What we do need is to keep our thoughts fixed on God (Isaiah 26:3) – whose mind is stayed on thee (KJV)

Many things can plant worry in us, but we don’t have to let them. Our God is El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient God. We’ll keep focused on doing the work that Jesus assigns us and let the world worry about itself.

Image by Mario Ohibsky from Pixabay


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a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears


But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. – Matthew 5:39

Allow me to comment about the “slap” that Jesus says we should endure. Here Jesus is speaking about personal slights of any kind. The slap (or the “smiting,” as the KJV has it) does not necessarily have to involve physical violence.

Even in our day, a “slap in the face” is a metaphor for an unexpected insult or offense. So, did someone insult you? Go ahead and let him, Jesus says. Turning the other cheek does not imply pacifism, nor does it mean we place ourselves or others in danger. Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek is simply a command to forgo retaliation for personal offenses

The truth in this verse is simply this, that the disciple of Christ Jesus, when he or she has suffered wrong, is to remove from his or her motive the natural desire to retaliate or accuse.

“Suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord’s keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving.” – Matthew Henry’s Commentary


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sign that says "thankful"

Peace and Thankfulness

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

The above passage of Scripture was recently the Verse of the Day, on BibleHub.com. God’s timing is perfect. I needed that verse. This year I needed to be reminded to let Christ’s peace rule my heart, and to be thankful!

Spiritual Atoms

Jesus is ready to send His unique peace into each believer to rule our hearts. Sign me up! I need a steadier hand than mine guiding my life. Family pressures, financial pressures, social pressures, ad Infinitum lend themselves as so many voices telling me what to accept as right.

I thank God for the Scriptures 1that tell me what is right. And I have Jesus, the Son of God, who is my righteousness2, and the Holy Spirit within me to guide me3, to gird me, and guard me as I walk where He leads. In all of this and more, I am to be thankful to God. How could I not be?

Peace and thankfulness are like two spiritual atoms. Just as sodium and chloride (NaCl) are two atoms that, when combined, form a molecule commonly known as table salt, likewise, peace and thankfulness, when combined in the abiding presence of Jesus give us lives that are full of joy and impactful to others for Jesus.

Thanksgiving

We are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. I enjoy it because it compels each of us to search our hearts to find whom we give our thanks. If Jesus isn’t actually first on our list, then we need to go back to the cross of Jesus and be reminded of the sacrifice that He gave “for the joy set before Him4.”

Over our Thanksgiving meal we share and develop companions – the word companion comes from the Latin words which means with bread. There is something special about sharing a meal with others. Throughout the Bible, we see example after example of people sharing meals and even God sharing meals with people.

Abraham shared a meal with the pre-incarnate Jesus5, the elders of the tribe of Israel shared a meal in the presence of God6, the Last Supper of Jesus7, and the list goes on. God blesses these occasions.

Therefore, let all of us “Give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God toward you in Christ Jesus.8

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

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1 – 2 Timothy 3:16–17 NIV
2 – Philippians 3:9
3 – 1 Corinthians 6:19
4 – Hebrews 12:2
5 – Genesis 18:1–2
6 – Exodus 24:9–11
7 – Matthew 26:26–30
8 – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears


“For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn”

Ernest Hemingway

Much lore now surrounds this six-word story, accredited to Ernest Hemingway. So much has been made of these six words that the story now stretches around the world with countless book clubs holding annual six-word story contests, with the first and most well-known contest in Key West, Florida, Ernest Hemingway’s home where he allegedly gave this answer to a journalist.

So, what would your six-word story be about Jesus? To get things rolling here’s two of mine.


The Lamb of God saved me.
In Death, Thought Lost, Arose Victorious.

Gary

Include your six-word story in the comment section!


The story must present the truth about Christianity in a positive light. I reserve the right to remove any comments that are not appropriate for this site.


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a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears



 These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.” 

Leviticus 27:34

This is the final verse in the book of Leviticus. Read this verse to anyone who says, “If there is a god, that god does not care about their creation and certainly is not involved in the affairs of humanity.” (This is a common belief of an agnostic.) I can find nowhere in God’s Word where is say, “I don’t care anymore about my creation. I’ve got greener pasters to tend to.

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

a bubble floating in the air

Bubbles

Okay, I have a confession to make. When I was a young boy, I liked bubble baths. I know, from birth, I should have been hard as nails, but when I was five, maybe even six, I loved playing in a bubble bath. Whew. Now that that’s off my chest, let’s continue.

When I played in a bubble bath, I carried out nautical maneuvers that made Admiral Nelson’s strategy for the Battle of Trafalgar to be both insipid and uninspired.

Bubble Study

I also studied the bubbles. Each had rainbow sheen, and they seemed to float effortlessly while each bubble easily joined with other bubbles. It is this aspect I want us to consider today.

Based on my study of the Bible, I am convinced that each Christian should live as a bubble. I don’t mean we should live in a bubble as that’s contrary to a command of Christ’s (John 17:15).

Bubble Traits

We should be easily moved by the Holy Spirit (John 3:8). The cares of life should not weigh us down or chain us to the death in this world (Hebrews 12:1).

We should be transparent, like a bubble. People should easily see through us and see Jesus. We should not carry darkness in us that blocks the light (Matthew 5:16). For Jesus is the light of life (John 8:12). Our lives should not be as a bucket that blocks the light of Jesus (Matthew 5:15). And we should not have anything in us that distorts the light of truth. Sin clouds our transparency, so that must be dealt with quickly.

As a bubble, we are covered by God’s promise, the promise God made and established by the rainbow (Genesis 9:13). In God’s promise we are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1)! We live within God’s promise.

Just as bubbles easily move about, they also easily congregate (Hebrews 10:25). One connects with another and a third connects with both. Soon, these bubbles coalesce and become a congregation, shaped by their Master’s hand. That first bubble is still in there, but it’s not what is apparent. What is apparent is a congregation that remains nearly weightless, still able to be moved by the breath of the Master.

Bubble Assassins

And when the time comes, our bubble pops, but not without a remnant. When our bubble pops, the rainbow promise that has held the bubble in its visible form deposits its promise on the thing that caused its demise (Acts 7:60). Our bubble is no longer visible, but what it was is simply not seen (2 Corinthians 5:8). It has left its promise upon its assassin and has been transformed into its new life, a life in unison with all the other bubbles that went before it (Hebrews 12:1).

Bubble Story

Yes, there is a message for us in bubbles. No matter what we look at, if we really look, we will find Jesus.

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pic of an approaching storm

Storm On the Horizon

God made You and I and all of humanity in His image. One facet of God’s image in us is our trinity; we are body, soul, and spirit, which is an image of God, for He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

My prayer today, for every Christian, is this: I pray that the Holy Spirit would embolden my spirit to influence my soul to defeat my flesh. We can pray this because:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Romans 8:26-27

As Christians, we are set apart

How different is the life of a Christian from that of the unsaved (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet, many times, we forget who we are. We fail to give our worries and fears to Jesus, even though He is in us.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

 Revelation 3:20

When I was reading my Bible this morning, I came across the event in Mark 4:35-41, where Jesus calmed the storm. I was once again reminded how easily we become focused on a problem and wait until it seems all is lost before we turn to Jesus, even when He’s so close at hand.

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Mark 4:38

Peace

As Jesus so often does, He “rebuked the wind and said to the sea,Peace! Be still!’ Perhaps you see a storm brewing on your horizon, or maybe the storm has already encompassed you. Throw your worries upon Jesus. He’s strong, and He commands even the wind and waves. Ask Him to speak to your storm.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

So, if we have received Jesus and are alive in Him, let’s not wait until we are in the midst of a storm before we cry out for help from Jesus. Instead, while the storm is still on our horizon, let’s pray in the anointing of the Holy Spirit “because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

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sleeping baby

I Need Some Sleep!

The elusiveness of sleep

Sleep is something that usually doesn’t receive much consideration until you can’t.

In my early years, for half a decade, I worked the night shift, from 11:00 PM until 7:00 AM. During those years, the primary topic of our work conversations was “How much sleep did you get?”

Now that my wife and I are older, sleep has again become a topic of conversation, especially for my wife. She sleeps like a baby; she wakes up every two hours and cries! Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement, but not by much.

Help from God

As bondservants of Jesus Christ, many of us have prayed back to God the words in Psalms 4:8:

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Few of us are adept at sleeping while standing, so we find lying down helpful. If we don’t have our spiritual ears open, we can miss God’s blessing in this small verse. From this verse, we may think that God is just telling us that we can sleep because He imparts His peace to us, and that is true, but that’s not all.

Finding rest

Tossing and turning do not a restful night make. Going to bed with a cluttered mind or a mind that doesn’t have an off switch can make sleep elusive, if not impossible. So, in Psalms 4:8, God gave us two promises that come from a single truth.

“For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” The Hebrew word that is translated as safety means “A place of refuge.” If we are children of God, then “we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)” in safety. We may well be facing dangers and difficulties, but nothing can drag us out of our place of refuge in God.

The precision of God

I find comfort, not only in God’s provision for us in this passage but also in God’s precision in this passage. Notice that in this Psalm, David tells us that in peace we lie down and in peace we sleep, and in both of these, we have God’s peace because we are in God’s refuge – we are in a safe place.

God is a precise God. If we lie down in turmoil, if we find ourselves making to-do lists, if we are running scenarios of what may be, then we have not entered into God’s refuge. We all know that worry is worthless, its never changed anything.

God’s refuge is available to all of His children

Yes, many medical conditions can steal our sleep – I have sleep apnea. So we should not heap condemnation upon ourselves if we have a sleep disorder. But even if we struggle with a medical problem, we still need to enter God’s refuge each night. He is our safe place, so enter in!

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