Tag Archive | Bible Study

Perfect Peace Is Found In Jesus

Last Friday I started this month’s topical Bible reading study by Rachel Wojo, entitled Perfect Peace: Planting My Eyes on Jesus. Today, I want to share a few insights I’ve gained from the Scriptures through this week’s study.

Life is full of of peace-stealers, of people and circumstances which in the natural definitely do not lead to peace. Today’s reading in Psalm 120 is an example.

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue? A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree! Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!” Psalm‬ ‭120:1-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So what do we do when we find ourselves around people who by their lifestyle show a hatred for peace? Or when we face stressful circumstances that take away our peace? There’s only one answer, and it’s given in verse 1 of this Psalm: turn to the Lord in our distress, and cry out to Him. He cares about what we are going through, and He will answer us.

Walking in peace – especially in circumstances or relationships that do not promote peace – requires a purposeful decision. Much of the battle for peace is waged in our minds, so we need to learn to take our thoughts captive in obedience to the Word of God. Lies need to be replaced with truth.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4-5‬ ‭

Next, walking in peace requires power beyond our own. God has not left us to our own resources in this decision to walk in peace. Jesus is our source of peace.

“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 ‭

There is only one requirement to receive this peace Jesus offers us, and that is us being IN CHRIST. That simply means we have accepted His sacrifice on the cross as payment in full for our own sin. Because of faith in Jesus’ death on the cross, we are forgiven and brought into a right relationship with God. And the peace that comes from our standing in Christ can sustain us and give us hope and joy, even during times of turmoil or suffering.

I also learned this week, that MEEKNESS and PEACE go hand-in-hand. Psalm 37:11 says,

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”

The biblical concept of meekness is often misunderstood in our culture. Meekness is not weakness. It is not resignation to circumstances we are powerless to change. Biblical meekness is an active and deliberate acceptance of whatever circumstances God has permitted to touch our lives, whether they be desirable or undesirable, based on the understanding that God is in control and He will work everything in our lives for our good and His glory.

This doesn’t cover the verses I read this week, but these are the points that stood out to me during my daily study times. If you are doing this study with us, feel free to share what God most strongly impressed upon your heart in the comments. And choose during this weekend and upcoming week to stand against the peace-stealers you are currently facing, renew your mind daily in God’s Word which is truth, and walk in biblical meekness. As David said in Psalm 29:11, may the Lord give you strength and may He bless you with peace regardless of what you are currently walking through.

Advertisements

Peace in the Storm

Laurie Shoquist Miller, blogger at God-Living with Chronic Illness, founder and leader of the Facebook encouragement and support group God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness, and a dear friend, shared this post on our group’s Facebook page, where we are doing Rachel Wojo’s June study Perfect Peace: Planting My Eyes on Jesus. With her permission, I am blessed to share it with my readers.

A while back, on a particularly stormy day, I was supposed to take a plane ride for a destination which I can’t even remember today. I do, however, distinctly remember how black and thick with condensation the clouds were, and how scared I was to think of flying through a storm like this one.

I’m not really a fan of flying, but I can get the job done with a little dramamine. But when you add in thick, black clouds, lightning, and heavy turbulence, I need something far stronger than dramamine to get through it.

I’ll never forget this particular airplane ride because as we took off there was nothing we could do to avoid this storm. The plane just kept going up, up, up, right into the dark, thick clouds that soon surrounded us. The pilot continued to go up, up, up through the sporadic lightning and rain that came down in torrents upon us. I knew we were in for a bad time as the plane shifted in mid-air with the powerful turbulence.

To my amazement, within what seemed like only a few minutes, we were bursting right through those dark, heavy clouds into the airspace above them, and all I could see was sunshine floating on clouds which looked like a bed of cotton balls below us that seemed to continue on forever. The darkness, lightning, and torrential rain were gone, almost as if they had never existed.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: Even though we might be in the thick of a storm where all seems lost and fear reigns in our hearts, God lives above those storms in our lives. God looks down upon the storms, and HE REIGNS over them. Even though they seem huge, and we’re not sure how or when they will end or what damage they will do, we must always remember that the God who loves us dearly also reigns supremely over the storms in our lives.

God will give us strength and peace to get through the darkest and most difficult of times as we REMEMBER that He still reigns over the storms. To access this strength and peace, we must FIX OUR EYES ON THE TRUTHS that He is Lord of the flood, and that it is actually His glory that thunders over the mighty waters. We must REMEMBER that God’s power and strength are bigger than the biggest storm we are experiencing and that He will carry us through.

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;

the voice of the Lord is majestic….

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

The Lord gives strength to his people;

the Lord blesses his people with peace.”

(Psalm 29:3-4, 10-11 NIV)

During the very next storm, when your child (or grandchild) is crying out in fear at the thick rain and powerful lightning, remind her that the booming sound which follows the lightning is actually the glory of God thundering majestically over the storm (see Psalm 29: 3-4). Read the above verses to her and reassure her that she does not need to be afraid because God is powerful over the storm. Have her draw a picture of the storm, and while she draws, help her memorize these verses so that these truths will help her next time, too. During future storms, make it a game to see who can be the first to correctly quote these verses.

Let this song remind you of these truths during the storms of life:

A New Month, A New Topical Bible Reading Plan

For a couple years, I have been using the monthly topical Bible reading plans published by Rachel Wojo, and this month’s plan Perfect Peace: Planting My Eyes on Jesus is especially appropriate to where I’ve been walking in recent months. My desire is to do at least one blog post per week during June sharing some of the things I’m learning from this study. If anyone is interested in doing this study with me, here is Rachel’s June Bible reading plan.

In the midst of a time of trying to find answers to explain recent irregularities in my blood tests, walking in God’s peace has been a challenge. It’s been a daily battle not to give in to fear. Last July and again in February of this year, my alkaline phosphatase levels have been elevated. My doctor suspected this was due to a new bone problem, so she ordered a full body bone scan with contrast. The test revealed no new bone disease that would explain the lab results.

Then, she felt the next most probable problem was disease or obstruction in the liver or pancreas. So I had a barium and IV contrast CT-scan done of my liver and pancreas done last Friday. This was especially scary, because my doctor had mentioned the possibility of cancer. But again, I was given a clear report of health from this test. This was a huge relief, but at this point we still do not know what is behind the elevated levels.

Next Friday, I’ll be taking the next step in the diagnostic process, an appointment with my gastroenterologist to discuss the results of the CT-scan in more detail and to schedule a colonoscopy. And the following Friday, I’m scheduled for a bone density test, which my doctor said is due and should be done to rule out the one other possible area of trouble with my bones.

Unlike most of the health issues I’ve faced in the past, this new one isn’t causing any outward problems. But there has been a battle – a spiritual battle in my mind against fear. So this month’s topical study on the peace we find in God’s presence is especially fitting.

Day 1: Psalm 29:1-11 (I’m using ESV throughout this study unless otherwise noted)

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” Psalms‬ ‭29:3-4

‭‭The voice of the Lord – and His very presence – is above the waters that threaten our lives. This reminds me of the first part of Isaiah 43:2.

“When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…”

Psalm 29 ends with these words. They are a great reminder that God is still on His throne, that He has been and continues to be in charge.

“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!” Psalm ‭29:10-11‬ ‭

Father, today I remind myself that these latest health problems I’m facing haven’t taken You by surprise. You are above these choppy waters I’m going through, still reigning on Your throne of grace and love. Thank You for a doctor who won’t let this go until she rules out all of the major issues that could be causing this irregularity in my blood work. Thank You that the two most likely and most serious problems have now been ruled out. Continue to teach me how to take hold of Your peace and rest in You as I walk through this storm in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

When We Face Circumstances Beyond Our Control

All of us know what it is to feel overwhelmed by things that are happening in our lives over which we have no control. I was there yesterday, from some relatively simple circumstances that caused me to feel out of control.

It was time to file the quarterly sales tax report for my husband’s video production and editing business, a task this month that simply involved paperwork since during this quarter all of our projects were for tax exempt organizations. No big thing. A simple matter of logging onto Quickbooks, running off the income report for the past three months, then filling in the report and sending it.

Simple, and not a problem to fit it in my already busy day. I thought. Not so. Thanks to Microsoft’s recent Windows 10 update on my computer that has a very annoying feature of running updates whenever it wants to do so.

I had logged into Quickbooks, loaded the needed report, and was about to print it so I could file the sales tax report when Windows locked up Quickbooks and started uploading updates. Over three hours later, I finished a project that should have taken fifteen or twenty minutes at the most.

Situations that cause us to feel out of control, whether a relatively minor one such as the one I faced yesterday or a major problem for which we have no solution without God’s help, can cause us to feel frustrated and overwhelmed and make unwise choices. Yesterday, I dealt with the frustration I was feeling by setting aside the diet boundaries I’ve been using to lose some weight and comforted myself with some cookies. Only a small detour from one of my goals for 2018, but not one I wanted to repeat.

So I took some time this morning to prepare my heart so I wouldn’t repeat the poor choices I made yesterday. I knew the proper response in such a situation was to turn to the One who is in control, to the Lord, and receive His help and strength. In the process, I came across the following list of Bible verses from one of my favorite bloggers, Rachel Wojo, which I found helpful to meditate on when we feel frustrated and overwhelmed with circumstances beyond our control. I invite you to join me in using these verses to help you respond with wisdom to the next overwhelming situation you face.

http://rachelwojo.com/10-bible-verses-for-when-you-feel-overwhelmed/

Night Is Coming: Are You Ready?

This morning began in an unusual way for me. I learned yesterday afternoon that my expectations for today had been changed because of a variety of circumstances, and I would be spending the day at home. So my plan was to sleep a little later than usual, get up in time to open the door for the nurse who works with our special needs son David, and have a relaxed day at home.

But my plan wasn’t God’s plan. Around 6am, I woke up suddenly with a clear word from Scripture on my mind. While I spend time daily memorizing and reviewing verses from God’s Word, this was not a passage I recall purposely memorizing. But I immediately recognized it as some of the words of Jesus. I grabbed one of the Bibles on the headboard of my bed and quickly found the verse in the gospel of John.

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4

These words were spoken by Jesus to His disciples, as they were walking along the road at His side and saw a man who the passage tells us was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus a question, and He answered them with the following words.

“‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’” John 9:2-5

Then with sensitivity to the will of the Father and compassion toward the blind man, Jesus reached out and did the work of God for that day and time.

“Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”  John‬ ‭9:6-7‬‭

Now that I had looked at this verse in the context of which it was originally spoken, another question come to mind. Why did God speak these words to my heart this morning? After all, I am normally actively involved in the work God has called me to do. My regular routine this morning would have included teaching our adult Sunday School class about the importance of prevailing in prayer until God answers. My upcoming week will be filled with ministering to the needs of other ladies through my personal blog and the Facebook support group I help lead for Christian women who live with the challenges of chronic illness. I don’t believe God is showing me He has more work for me to do.

What stands out to me from these words of Jesus is the final phrase: “night is coming, when no man can work.” The words stirred in me a sense of urgency to be about the work God has called me to do, not allowing other less important things to distract me from God’s purposes for my life. For me personally this was a call to focus on getting my priorities in order, not to waste the time I have left with the things that have little or no eternal value.

If you have not yet fully surrendered your life to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, this is a call to not put off this decision any longer. As Jesus began His earthly ministry, He spoke these words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark‬ ‭1:15).‬ ‭If this was true at that time, how much more so is it true today. Don’t wait even one more day if this is the decision you need to make.

If you have accepted Jesus as your Redeemer yet recognize you are not measuring up to what God desires for your life, heed the warning of Acts 3:19-20, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord ...” While it is still the daytime, we are called to turn away from sensuality and gratifying the desires of the flesh and begin walking in the righteousness we have been given through the work of Jesus on the cross (Romans‬ ‭13:13-14‬), to seek first the kingdom of God above our own kingdoms and comfort (Matthew 6:33).

And finally, these words are a reminder that Jesus will be coming back to earth soon and our time to complete the work He has given us to do will be over. In 1 Thessalonians 5, right after the verse that speaks of the day of the Lord which will come as a thief in the night (verse 2), we find these words which remind us how we are to live during this time.

“For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:5-8‬ ‭

‭‭‭‭

People Get Ready Jesus Is Coming, by Crystal Lewis

Lord I’m ready now
I’m waiting for Your triumphant return
You’re coming so soon
This world has nothing for me
I find my peace and joy solely in You
Only in You
I want the world to see that
You’re alive and living well in me
Let me be a part of the harvest
For the days are few
You’re coming soon

So People get ready Jesus is coming
Soon we’ll be going home
People get ready Jesus is coming
To take from the world His own

There’s a day that comes
When we will be divided right and left
For those who know Him
And those who do not know
Those who know Him well
Will meet Him in the air
Hallelujah
God is with us
Those who do not know
They will hear “Depart, I knew you not”
For my friends you see
There will be a day when well be counted
So know Him well, know Him well

People get ready Jesus is coming
Soon we’ll be going home
People get ready Jesus is coming
To take from the world His own
People get ready Jesus is comin
Soon we’ll be going home
People get readyJesus is coming
To take from the world His own

 

Learning to RALLY

Life with chronic illness – or any of a variety of the many trials we face as a part of life on this fallen earth – can be difficult. And poor choices that open a door to the enemy make it even harder.

I’m currently doing a study of Rally: A Personal Growth Bible Study, written by Barb Raveling, with a Facebook group I’m a part of. I highly recommend this book.

“Do you ever wish you could escape your problems? Just jump on a ship and sail across the ocean?” If your answer to this question is yes, this study may be just what you’re looking for.

From the back cover of the book:

“The Bible tells us to count it all joy when we encounter trials, but that’s hard to do. It’s easier when we remember that trials have the potential to help us grow. Unfortunately, we’re often so busy stressing and obsessing that we miss out on growing.”

The focus of this Scripture based study is on learning to “slow down, take a deep breath, and spend some time visiting with God about your current struggles.” Barb gives five steps God’s Word teaches us, which form the acronym RALLY.

R – Renew your mind.

A – Ask Him for help and accept what you need to accept.

L – Let go of your have-to-haves.

L – Let go of “if only” and make a plan.

Y – Yay God! Thank Him in all situations.

Everything Beautiful Bible Reading Plan, Week 5

Spring is now here, with the natural beauty that is a part of this season beginning to brighten our world. As March comes to an end, and we bring this Everything Beautiful Bible Reading Plan to a close, let’s focus on preparing our hearts for the most important celebration of the Christian year, Easter.

Day 25: 1 Samuel 16:1-7

The same year I was born, the movie Easter Parade, starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, came to the big screen. As a child, I recall, my focus at Easter had nothing to do with the true reason we celebrate this holiday. My focus was on outward appearance – usually on the frilly new dress and shiny dress shoes my mother bought for me to wear to church on Easter Sunday.

Today’s Scripture opens our eyes to the truth that people look at the outward appearance. As this was my focus on Easter as a child, it is a trait common to mankind. But our God is different. He looks at the heart. As we prepare for this week’s Easter celebration, let’s turn our focus onto what God is looking at, our hearts. Take time today to ask yourself, “What does God see when He looks at my heart?”

Day 26: Matthew 23:27-39

Am I more concerned with how I appear to people than I am with how I appear to God? People are easy to deceive. They believe what they see outwardly is a reflection of what is within the heart. Our good deeds look great on the outside. But God can see through our outward veneer into our hearts. And He is the One we are called to please.

Romans 2:13 tells us, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Okay, we are to obey God’s law. There’s only one problem with that. As men and women with a sin nature, perfect obedience to God’s law is beyond our ability. Isaiah 64:6 says of our best attempts as living righteously: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

‭‭But our loving and gracious God provided a way for this requirement to be met. He did so by sending His perfect Son to earth, to live as a man and to pay the penalty for our sin. Through Jesus’ life and death, He fulfilled God’s law. When we come to Him as our sin-bearer, accepting His sacrifice as our own and surrendering our lives to Him, He clothes us with the robe of righteousness – His own righteousness, which is now counted as ours. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”‭‭

Day 27: Psalm 72:12-18

As we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the resurrected Lord this Easter, let’s also remember Jesus will one day soon return for His own. Then He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. And all nations will be blessed through Him.

‭‭

Day 28: Job 12:7-13

On Good Friday, we remember the day Jesus became our Passover Lamb. He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. He is the One Who by taking the punishment for our sin brought us peace (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭53:5‬ ‭NIV). He is Immanuel, God with us, and we are safe in His hands.

Day 29: Psalm 145:1-9

One of my favorite ways to start my daily quiet time is to focus on some of the character qualities of the great God we serve. It’s helps me to shift my focus off of the circumstances I’m walking through and enables me to see them from a new perspective.

Psalm 145 reveals that the Lord is great, that His greatness is beyond what our limited minds can comprehend. He is our majestic King. And perhaps my favorite, He is filled with unwavering love and compassion toward His people.

Day 30: Psalm 119:12-18

Lord, Your Word is my delight. Neglecting Your Word is like neglecting to eat, because it is the spiritual food that sustains me. My prayer each morning is that You will show me truth as I open my Bible my eyes will be opened to the exact things I need for this day. And I know of no thing more beautiful than God’s Holy Word. As our pastor said in a recent sermon, “Scripture is beautiful – and it is true.”

Day 31: Isaiah 60:1-9

Light – one of the themes of my blog and what our Lord Jesus Christ came to bring – is a beautiful way to close this month’s focus on beauty. Darkness hides beauty, while light exposes it. Let’s learn to walk in the light, as He is in the light.

And this brings this month’s study of Everything Beautiful to a close. On this Easter Sunday, I want to end with a song about our beautiful God, who gave His life for us and is now our resurrected Lord! Because He lives, we can live also.