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“I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NCV

It will happen all across the world today. Some places will have seen it by the time you read this. In a variety of ways, places and circumstances, ‘the ball will drop’. As people watch it drop they will celebrate the dawn of a new year.

Some will use this as a new beginning. Old habits will be left behind forever (or temporarily at least), diets will be started (or restarted), resolutions will be pledged, prayer vigils for world peace, eradication of hunger, and a variety of other causes will be staged.

But in all the hysteria, in all the celebration, lurking in the corner of people’s minds will be the monster called fear. Oh, he may lay low for awhile, a day or two, just to make you think that things really will get better. But he’ll be back. He may come in the way of a terrorist attack or natural disaster for a world-wide effect. He may come more subtly too. You could lose your job this year or a loved one or…the inevitable, this could be the year others lose you.

I don’t mean to be some Debbie-downer and spoil your celebration today. I do really hope that each of you will have a happy, blessed and safe New Year. There is one way we can all assure ourselves of a happy New Year regardless of what goes on around us and that is to claim the promise Jesus gives us.

Jesus was well aware of what lay ahead for his disciples when he made this promise. He is well aware of what is in store for you this year too. When Jesus promises peace his promise isn’t for external peace, but for a peace deep inside our soul. It’s a peace that comes to us regardless of the external events of our lives.

So, while I sincerely wish all of you a Happy New Year, my real prayer for you is that you will have a Peaceful New Year grounded in the fact that Jesus Christ loves you, gave his live for you, and promises that no matter how bad things get in 2012, he knows what lies ahead and promises to walk with us along the rugged, painful and sometimes terrifying journey. Jesus is the only real source of peace you will ever find and ever need.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus you’ve heard all the prognostications for 2012. Better yet, you’ve been there and back. My prayer for this world is that we will find the peace you have promised by putting our trust in you. May each of us live a life of peace grounded in you so others will find the way to peace with you as well. Amen.


All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And my glory is shown through them. John 17:10 (NCV)

From the beginning of time Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the one who created the universe and all that is in it has had one goal in mind: to shine through you. His every thought, his every action has been directed towards making you shine! In Jesus eyes, it really IS all about you.

Imagine that! Think about how important that makes you. Think of all the other things Jesus could have been thinking about. Yet, as he was kneeling in the garden, just hours from being brutally executed for your sin so that you could be pardoned, his final thoughts were for you.

He doesn’t ask for a reprieve although he certainly could have had it. He doesn’t ask that everyone will remember all his wonderful miracles. He asks that the glory he and his father share would shine through you. Amazing.

What does that look like? What does it look like when his glory shines through you? For Moses it meant that his face shined so brightly and intensely that the people asked him to cover his face in their presence. He didn’t even realize his face was glowing but the people did.

For Jesus, on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:27-36) we are told that his face changed and his clothes began to shine. The experience for those looking on was so great they wanted to build shrines there so they could always come back and remember what they saw.

I don’t know what his glory shining through you might mean. It might mean you finally forgive yourself for the harm you’ve done to others. It might mean you forgive someone for the harm you’ve done them, for your sake, not theirs. It might mean you forgive God for not doing things the way you wanted him to.

His glory shining through you isn’t something you can do on your own, it’s something that naturally occurs when you’ve been with Jesus. His glory shining through you isn’t something you see when you look in the mirror, but it’s something others see when they serve you at the coffee shop, or meet you on the street or cut you off in traffic.

When Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago he came to show his glory through you through new life. When Jesus died and rose from the dead he came to show his glory through you in forgiveness. He didn’t come to glorify himself, or even the father. He came because it’s all about you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I’m in awe today as I contemplate the meaning of this verse. I’m so thankful that you love me so much that you only think of me. I’m so burdened the weight of life, so worried about tomorrow. My thoughts center on what I can see, touch, feel and hear on earth. Help me to show your glory. May others know I’ve been with you by my actions, my words and my deeds. Amen.


They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. Acts 1:14 (NCV)

Deep down inside we’ve all wanted to be accepted by our families. Our play often revolved around doing things ‘like mommy did’ or ‘like daddy did’. There are things we’d pick up on and emulate that now, looking back, probably weren’t the things our parents would have wanted us to notice, much less practice.

There are times when our desire to seek family acceptance can be a positive thing, but other times when that desire can impede our own success and keep us from using our gifts the way God wants us to. Following the footsteps of parents or siblings may or may not be the best practice.

It would have been interesting to see the dynamics of Jesus’ family as he was growing up. History tells us that he was about 30 when he entered the ministry and only ministered for about three years before being brutally murdered. That means that most of his life was lived in the ‘family setting’.

While each of us wants the approval of our family, the reality is that sometimes we have to set aside ‘what the family wants’ for what God wants. Those are hard words as it’s sometimes a fine line between following God and rejecting family. Jesus knew the importance of setting aside the desires of his earthly father for the desires of his Heavenly Father.

In the same way, the ultimate goal for each of us is to do the will of our Heavenly Father. We are called to use our gifts, our finances and our time for his glory. Hopefully that means our decision to follow God will meet with the favor of our family, but there are no guarantees.

At one point in his ministry Jesus’ family comes to speak to him. It was a pivotal time of his ministry and he wasn’t about to be distracted by earthly things. He looked around him and said (my paraphrase) ‘Look around you. Do these people. These are my family. Those who do the will of my Heavenly Father are my family!’

Was Jesus advocating rejection of family? No, he was teaching a principle to follow. If doing the will of the Father contradicts the desires of my family, I must choose Christ. I must do it prayerfully. I must do it gently and with great patience, grace and love. I must do it without bitterness, anger or condemnation of my family. But I must follow Christ.

There is no indication that many, if any of Jesus’ family followed him in ministry. We catch glimpses of his mother Mary from time to time, but it wasn’t until after his death that we see his brothers mentioned in Scripture. One became a church leader inJerusalem. Others were missionaries. His patience with family eventually paid off.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, these are hard words for me. I’d never really given much thought to the family dynamics you were a part of. There are times when I want so much for my family to see my point of view in following you, yet they seem to turn a deaf ear to the truth. Help me to follow you and be graceful with my brothers and sisters who have yet to see the light of your love. Amen.


And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever. 1 Peter 5:10 (NCV)

I was at a conference on church leadership a few months back. The keynote speaker had just recently published a new book. In his presentation he told us about some of the struggles that he’d had between his college years and the present.

Then, he and his wife were living in a one room apartment in which they shared the kitchen and bathroom with their landlord. The basement ‘apartment’ smelled bad, they continually battled mold and rodents. It was cold and damp in the winter and cold and damp in the summer.

Now, he’s speaking around the world to executives of some of the most profitable companies in the world. While I have no idea what his financial situation is now, I’m quite sure he’s better off now than in the apartment days. At the end of his presentation he directed the over 200 of us to his table where there were several piles of books. He told us how much the book was and then made a statement that went something like this, “There’s a basket there by the books for the cost of the book. There are order forms in case you’d rather order it later. But if you don’t have the money today, take the book. If you can pay me later, thank you. If you can’t, I remember the ‘apartment days’ and how hard it was to make ends meet. Take the book as a gift from me to you. God Bless!”

With those closing words he left the stage. He’d given a wealth of good information in his presentation, but to me at least, the most powerful words he spoke were at the end because those were the words of grace.

Too many times in our lives we ask ‘Why?’ We do good things with a sincere heart. We pray earnestly and humbly for God to change relationships, improve our business, or heal the disease in a loved one. When he doesn’t respond as we hope we get angry, bitter, and resentful. “What good does it do to serve him when he does this stuff to me?” we say either to others, or inside ourselves.

Think for a moment of the words in 1 Peter 5:10. The “God who gives ALL grace…” Not just some grace. Not limited grace. Not conditional grace. Conditional grace isn’t grace at all because grace by its very nature is unconditional. Peter, the man who denied Jesus knew better than most. God’s grace is given so we might endure. Grace is ours so we can be strengthened, encouraged, lifted up and one day, rewarded. For now, our trials make us stronger so that we may make others stronger in their journey.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. Even though the trials I’m going through are difficult, I thank you for them because I trust you enough to know that these trials will make me stronger so I can strengthen my brother. Forgive me for my grumbling, my worry and my complaining for they are signs of a lack of trust. Empower me to live for you. Amen.


Although I grew up in the church, I came to a point in my life when I lost everything, including my faith. I didn’t lose faith in God or any of the great doctrines of the church. I lost faith in me. I finally came to the realization that the journeyof  faith wasn’t about my success or failure, but about grace. I’m convinced that there are many who are in the place I was in, having given up on God (and/or themselves) and believe God has given up on them. Built with Grace Ministries is about my passion to share the victory we have in Christ with those who are struggling in their walk. I welcome any opportunity to share my message at retreats, conferences, worship services or other events. If you would like to talk about how we can minister together I invite you to email me at: mdfisk@gmail.com. Further information on the ministry can be found at www.builtwithgrace.com.

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