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By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. Romans 5:1 (CEV)

Have you ever been in a lake on a windy day? When you are on the surface your body is jostled about be the waves. But dive down deep and the world becomes still. Almost eerily still. Sometimes you don’t need to go very deep to experience the calmness below the surface, but the deeper you go, the more unaffected by the surface you become.

That’s peace. The inner peace we all seek for our souls. Within the heart of every human being there is a desire to be at peace with the heart, the seat of emotions. When that peace is gone we seek earnestly to fill the void it left behind. The thing is we are all born with that void. That deep longing to belong, to be loved, to be accepted, to be…at peace.

So from a very young age we begin the journey. At first the peace we seek is elementary. We want our diaper changed, our nap and our bottle. Then, repeat.

As we get older our demands become more pronounced. We want toys, we want friends, we want ice cream for breakfast. We want, in essence our own way. The desire for our own way is the foundation for our search for peace. The Bible has a word for that demand for our own way: pride. Sounds like harsh word, but in our most honest moments we have to admit it’s the driving force for our search for peace. We’ve been duped into believing that peace comes when we are satisfied and we are satisfied when we get what we want.

Satan’s initial revolt against Jehovah God was summed up in two words, “I will”. We’ve been saying the same thing ever since in more subtle ways.

I will be treated like a king/queen by my spouse.”

I will be treated rightly at my job.”

I will be allowed this spot in the parking lot.”

I will be promoted before the guy that started last week.”

I will have the latest toys and gadgets.”

The problem is, as long as we look to ourselves and those around us for the peace of our heart we will never enjoy the peace we seek. We’ll be like the boat on the surface of that lake, being tossed by the waves.

Peace of the heart, the inner peace buried deep within the soul can only come when we have peace with our God. That kind of peace only comes when we have come to the Father, confessed our sin (regardless of how small WE think it is), and repented (changed out attitude). Then, as we grow deeper, as we go deeper into a relationship with Christ, we gain more of the peace that so often evades us. Just like the swim at the lake, the deeper we go into Jesus, the less the wind of change will affect our peace.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I confess to you that although I’ve known about you, I’ve still struggled to find peace. My guilt, my demands for my own way, the mistakes of my past continue to haunt me. Forgive me for trying to find peace on my own. Let me go deeper in you and find the peace that only comes through you. Amen.

She answered, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “I also don’t judge you guilty. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.” John 8:11 (NCV)

When Jesus stood before the woman caught in the act of adultery, he held in his hands the power to forgive or condemn. Not based on the law, for according to the law her guilt was established. Her condemnation rested in the fact that he was God.

Still, when he asked her who condemned her, the answer was “No one, sir”. Her accusers were gone, only Jesus remained. And in his eyes the woman didn’t see condemnation, she saw forgiveness. Imagine what a relief that must have been. One moment surrounded by her accusers with death imminent, the next, alone with Jesus!

Mankind is so ready and willing to condemn us for our sin, especially those steeped in religion. There is no feeling so painful as being guilty and surrounded by those intent on reminding us of our guilt. Human forgiveness is often dependent on our ability to prove ourselves worthy; or proof of a change in our lives; or our asking forgiveness.

The adulterous woman had no opportunity to prove herself worthy of forgiveness. The law was clear. There were no second chances. There would be no waiting period on Jesus part to see if life-change occurred. His forgiveness came without a single word from the woman. No record of her remorse. No record of a single word spoken by her until Jesus asked “Who condemns you?”

I’ve heard a million sermons on what Jesus wrote in the sand that day. The words written in the sand weren’t nearly as important as what was written on the heart of the woman. Not condemned. Forgiven. Free of accusation. Clean. Valued. Loved. Those are just some of the words that come to mind.

Whatever Jesus wrote in the sand that day isn’t as important is what he writes on our hearts everyday of our lives. He didn’t come to condemn you. He didn’t come to point out your faults or remind you of your failures. He didn’t come to punish you. He came to forgive you and grant you mercy and grace.

Your past isn’t important. Your current situation has no bearing on his love and willingness to come to you to heal you. The most important words Jesus has for us are written on our hearts, and they are written in his blood. It’s time to let go. It’s time to move on. He’s engraved your freedom on your heart with his hand.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I fail so miserably and so often. I’m still haunted by the scars of my past, still reminded by the enemy and other people that I’ve failed. Thank you for the words of forgiveness engraved on my heart. Empower me to live in the freedom you have given me. Amen.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6

Have you ever wondered what heaven will be like? Ever thought about what we, as Christ-followers, will do for eternity? Eternity is a long time! Will we have jobs? Will we recognize our loved ones? Will we have any recollection of earthly events, or see earthly events from our vantage point?

Even though I don’t have answers to those questions there are some things we can be sure of. We can be sure we’ll see Jesus. I can’t wait for that. I figure I’ll sit at his feet for the first one or two million years and just worship him before I venture out to explore the place.

We can be pretty sure we’ll feel at home there. Jesus says he’ll have a place set up for us in his Father’s house. While I’m not entirely sure I know how that will work out, I think once we cross that line from today to eternity we’ll feel completely at home.

The Bible tells us there will be no death, no illness, no gender gap or generational gap. We’ll all live in complete and perfect harmony. Isaiah gives us the examples of mortal enemies like the lion and the lamb laying together in complete harmony.. The same with the leopard and the goat and the calf and the lion.

What will cause enemies to live together in peace? A little child. That little child is Jesus. He was there at creation when they were created. Paul tells us he is the glue that holds this entire universe together! Perfect peace has its origin and its power in the leading of the little child in the manger. The baby that grew to be king. King over death. King over sorrow and sadness. King over guilt and shame. King over my enemies.

We won’t likely see peace in our world for some time. Jesus says things will get much worse before they get better. Someday, though, if we hold Jesus as our Lord and Savior we’ll know what perfect peace is. Peace from finances. Peace from relational conflict and political upheaval. Peace from illness and worry. Peace from sin and guilt.

Until then, the sustainer and creator of peace lives within each of us. It’s unlikely that any of us will be able to exert enough change on planet earth to bring world-wide peace. But we can work towards peace in our own little corner of the world. Go ahead. Start a peace chain by praying for your enemies. Commit your worries and fears and feeling of inadequacy to the one who can bring peace in the midst of the storm. Someday we’ll live in a world of perfect peace, but until then do what you can to bring peace to your corner of the world.

PRAYER: Father God, I don’t know what it will be like to live in heaven with you for eternity. There are some days when I struggle so much here on earth that I long to ‘come home’ to you. Thank you for the peace that you promise me in eternity. Thank you that you can bring some of that peace to my world today. Empower me with your Spirit to sow thoughts of peace in my world where ever and however  I can. In Jesus name, Amen.

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12

Grace is what keeps us going when the enemy slams us to the ground. What’s even harder to deal with is the fact that often times we get slammed to the ground as a result of our own stumbling. The bruises we inflict on ourselves are often the most painful and hardest to recover from. This can be especially true when we fall as a result of the same sins, the same mistakes, the same bad choices on what seems to be a regular basis.

The enemy wants us to forget about grace. He wants to hold us down and keep us from getting back into the battle. What motivates us to pick ourselves up and try again when we know we have a good chance of failing once again? What keeps us from listening to the voices of guilt, shame and embarrassment?

For the football player it’s just plain determination. Ever seen a player get slammed to the ground by a person from the other team and bounce back up and make the play? His tenacity refuses to let the pain of being ‘taken out’ by his aggressor stop him from succeeding. He shrugs off the possibility of further attack and moves on.

For the football player it’s tenacity, but for us as Christ-followers it’s grace that keeps us going when the enemy slams us to the ground. It’s grace that soothes the painful bruises of every fall, heals the wounds of wayward desires and reminds us that we can succeed because of Jesus love and forgiveness. Grace is the source of courage for everyone who chooses to follow Christ. Grace is the lens through which our Father watches us.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds his readers that God continued to try to work with his stubborn people, but they continued to rebel, continued to ignore his pleas for relationship and continued to go their own way.

Then Jesus came and everything changed. Because of Jesus sacrificial death on the cross and his triumphant victory over sin and death, God can have the relationship he has always wanted with us. Grace seals us so that when we fall we can get up and continue on.

If you have stumbled in your walk with God. If you are afraid to get up and try again because you are sure you will just get slammed to the ground again, remember that God’s forgiveness not only takes away the guilt of poor, rebellious choices, it gives us the confidence and courage we need to have the spiritual tenacity to get up and get back in the ballgame. 

Don’t let the enemies of guilt, shame, embarrassment and religion hold you down. Don’t listen to the constant reminders of your failures. The forgiveness you have in Jesus Christ empowers you to live victoriously. Remember that God looks at you through the perfect lens of Jesus’ forgiveness.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for grace. I praise you for the fact that because of Jesus I can be completely forgiven. Help me to live in the confidence and courage grace gives me to live life the way you want me to live it. Let grace empower me with courage in the midst of my stumbling. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalm 37:25

Age and experience are life’s best teachers. All the books we read and the classes we take give us great foundational ‘knowledge’ but wisdom comes from experience. David saw his share of heartache and hardship during his life. He experienced the pain of losing family and friends. He lived the shame and embarrassment of being ‘caught in sin’. He had his share of victories and endured his share of defeats.

Yet in all his pain and frustration, during all those times when others failed him, or he failed others and God, David knew that he could trust God. Why worry when you are alone on the hillside, tending sheep and the bear and wolf attack. God is there. Why worry when the enemy giant mocks your God threatens your nation? God will fight for you. Why dwell on past mistakes, regardless of how embarrassing? God forgives and heals.

I wonder if, when David wrote this verse, he had a bit of an epiphany, a revelation from God. I can see him now, sitting up on his palace roof looking out over the city. He sees the homes of the wealthy. He sees the homes of the destitute. Over there is beggars lane where the blind and the crippled wait for alms.

Then, it hits him. He looks towards heaven and in an attitude of awe and worship he says, “You know Father, now that I think about it, those who follow you are never forgotten. You remember those who struggle with life physically, emotionally and spiritually. You remember those who have found out the secret to successful living. Why worry?

David’s revelation is one we can all ponder as we travel this journey of life. I like to think of Psalm 37 as the ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ Psalm. As we go through life it can be frustrating when we see people who reject God and seem to prosper while those of us who try to follow him struggle with health, relationships, finances and doubt.

David’s message is the same to us today. God loves you. He has given everything of value to you. He didn’t ask you to clean up your act. He doesn’t require a down payment before he’ll forgive you. He knows the mistakes you made in secret. He knows the doubt and rebellion you will have in the future. Still, His promise of love and forgiveness is true.

We may not have all the things we want in life. But if we commit to growing in relationship to him, He will provide for us. Don’t worry about tomorrow. The one who made tomorrow loves you dearly and has everything taken care of. Ours is not to worry, ours is to trust His promise to provide in His way, not ours.

PRAYER:  Father God, I thank you for your promise to provide for me. I confess to you that I struggle with worry and doubt. I make life harder for me with some of the decisions I’ve made and that keeps me from resting in you. Forgive me for the poor choices I make. Empower me with your Spirit to trust you completely. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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