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Peace

Isaiah 48:22 (ESV)
22 “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”

There are two main words in this verse that we need to examine to understand what the Lord is saying.
The first word is peace, “salom” in the Hebrew. It means peace, prosperity, completeness, safeness, salvation, health, satisfaction, contentment.
The second word is wicked, “rasa” in the Hebrew. It means wicked, unrighteous, i.e., pertaining to being evil, with a focus on the guilt of violating a standard.
Now that we have exposed the two main words in the verse, the Lord’s message is clear. Simply put, the person who does not meet God’s standard of righteousness is wicked in God’s eyes and since the only way to meet God’s standard of righteousness is to have a personal relationship with him, the person who does not know God has no peace. He may think he has peace and may even be able to achieve some contentment in his life, but when he is alone with his thoughts he recognizes that something is missing. He asks himself, “Shouldn’t there be more to life than what I am experiencing?” I believe that is one of the main reasons why we see so much vanity and striving after the wind in our culture today. People are trying their best to fill the void in their soul with any number of things, but none of them will ever suffice.
The Lord himself is peace and the giver of peace. Jesus said in John 14:27, “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. (ESV)” Once again, true peace comes from knowing God. Anything else you may call peace is just a poor counterfeit.
So what exactly does that mean to us?
First, if you have been striving for but not finding peace, you can have it today.
If you already know God, thank him for the peace he gives you and ask him to bless you with it today.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for your peace. Please grant it to me in every area of my life as I walk with you today.

Rest Assured

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:17–19, NASB95)

Rest assured. I like that phrase. Let’s dissect it and I think you’ll see why.
First of all, let’s examine the word rest. It conjures up images of stillness, sleep, respite and relaxation. Think of a time when you rested. Maybe it was at the end of a long, hard day; or after a particularly difficult and energy sapping activity. Resting reminds me of lazy Sunday afternoons not doing much of anything but recharging my batteries and getting ready for the week ahead. Resting is being comfortable and replenishing one’s energy.
The next word in that phrase is assured. Some synonyms for assured are guaranteed, certain, secure, positive and indisputable. In other words, when we are assured of something, we know it’s going to happen.
So let’s weave those two words together into a rope that we can hang on to when the hard times come.
The first thing we have to realize is that even God’s children are going to experience trouble in their lives. It’s not always the result of sin, although it certainly can be, for our Heavenly Father will allow trouble into our lives as a form of discipline. So if you know of something going on in your life that is causing a rift between you and the Lord, the very first item of business is to confess the wrongdoing and get the issue cleared up. If you don’t know of anything, then ask the Lord to reveal any unknown faults that may be the cause of your trouble. King David had a formula for asking God to take inventory of his heart: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NASB95) Since the Lord wants to have unhindered fellowship with us, he’ll answer quickly and decisively so you can take care of the problem.
But what if we have no known sin in our lives and the Lord does not reveal to us any unknown sin? What do we do when the way is blocked by pain and hardship and the burden is so heavy it seems impossible to take even one more step? First, we can rejoice that the reason for our hardship is not disciplinary, then we can turn our attention to the matter at hand.
It’s time to rest.
A broken heart makes you feel like dying. Like there is nothing more to live for. The pain and betrayal are more than anyone should possibly have to bear and life as you knew it is over.
It’s time to rest.
A crushed spirit leaves you weary and depressed. Discouragement sets in and you are struggling through a dense fog of despair.
It’s time to rest.
But how can we rest when things are so bad? When the way looks hopeless and there is no end in sight? How can we rest in the turmoil of trouble?
You can rest because you’re assured.
You can rest because you’re assured that the Lord hears your cries for help. So cry out and rest.
You can rest because you’re assured that he feels your broken heart. So draw close to him and rest.
You can rest because you’re assured that he will deliver you from your despair. So reach up to him and rest.
Two small words big enough to conquer any doubt, fear or burden.
Bad times will come, we know that without a doubt. But we can rest, assured that the Lord will deliver us.

The Test You Should Never Give

(Exodus 17:2 NIV)
2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”
7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

There are two ways of testing God. The first way is to call into question his power and goodness, the second is to presume upon his mercy and grace when we sin.

This passage gives us an example of the first way. Because the people did not have water, they questioned God’s existence. It’s interesting to note that God had led them to the place of no water (Exodus 17:1). He provided water for them at that dry place just as He had given them food. To make His power even more convincing, He brought the water from a most unlikely source – a rock (Exodus 17:6). Are you in a dry place in your life? Don’t make the mistake of doubting God’s goodness or His power to work in your situation. Look for Him, listen to Him and trust Him. He will see you through.

The second way of testing the Lord God is found in the statement, “I can do anything I want because God has to take care of me.” Even though that may be an extreme example, we’ve all been guilty of the same sentiment. Any time that we intentionally step out of His will, we are presuming upon God’s mercy and grace. Are you engaged in willful, disobedient behavior? Don’t make the mistake of presuming upon God’s grace. Repent of that sin and return to the One who died for you.

Father, please forgive us for the times we have put you to the test. Help us, Lord, to trust your power and love always and never presume upon your mercy and grace.

Dressed for Success

(Ephesians 4:22–24 NIV) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

This morning was like most other mornings. I got up, ate breakfast, read the Bible, got dressed and drove to work. There was, however, something in the passage I read this morning that caused me to rethink the idea of getting dressed.

There is more to getting dressed than putting on the clothes we plan to wear for the day. There is a spiritual aspect to being well-dressed for the day as well. Every morning when we wake up, we are clothed with our old nature. We don’t want to go out into world clothed with the old nature,  because of all of its sinful desires and motivations. So just as we wouldn’t go to work or school dressed in what we wear to bed, we mustn’t start our day until we change out of the old nature.

The first step in changing spiritual clothes is to renew our attitude. A good start is to spend a couple of minutes realigning ourselves with our Heavenly Father before ever getting out of bed. And then, before we begin working on the agenda for the day, spend some time reading and meditating on his written Word and letting it sink into our hearts and minds. Finally, it’s clear from this passage that putting on the new self is an act as deliberate as changing clothes in the morning. How do we do that? I think it’s as simple as a short prayer:

Lord, as a deliberate act of my will, I set aside my old nature with all of its sinfulness and ask you to clothe me in your righteousness and holiness. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to walk in step with Him today. Amen.

If we make it a habit to deliberately change our spiritual clothes in the morning, we’ll always leave the house dressed for success.

The One Who Can Raise The Dead

(Ephesians 1:19–20 NLT)
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

A black hole is an area of space that has such a high mass that even light can’t escape its gravitational pull. Some would say that there is no greater power in the universe than that displayed by a black hole. But what about the power required to bring the dead back to life?

If you’ve been to a funeral, it’s possible that you’ve seen what death is like. The body lying in the coffin had no pulse and no respiration. The person the body represented would never walk or talk again. No more feelings of joy or sadness; no more sensations of pleasure or pain. The body was totally, completely devoid of life and there was nothing anyone could do to change the state of the person laying there.

That’s the state Jesus was in when they took Him down from the cross and put Him in the tomb. He wasn’t in a swoon or a coma; He was dead. Yet three days later He walked out of there. God the Father allowed His Son to die so that he could bring Him back from the dead, and He makes the same power that He exerted to bring Jesus out of the tomb available to all who believe on His name.

So, what does this resurrection power mean for us? Think about your greatest fear. That which you fear is not stronger than the One who can raise the dead. What’s the biggest problem in your life at the present time? No problem is bigger than the One who can raise the dead. Are you in bondage to an addiction? The chains of addiction are no match for the One who can raise the dead. Has God given you an assignment that you feel you cannot accomplish? You don’t have to be able; He who can raise the dead can enable you. Whatever your situation, trust God to unleash His resurrection power in your life today.

Almighty Father God, we come to you today in our weakness asking you to release within us your resurrection power. Fill us, free us, enable us and embolden us, we pray in Jesus’ name.