Devotional Thought for Today – 04/22/2021

I have a very early morning doctor’s appointment with the local Pain clinic for my back and neck so I will not have time to write the next in our series this morning. Here is an excellent devotional from Grace to You ministries that was in this morning’s inbox.

Drawing Near

Risking True Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

True peace exists only where truth reigns.

People often define peace as the absence of conflict, but God sees it differently. The absence of conflict is merely a truce, which might end overt hostilities but doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. A truce simply introduces a cold war, which often drives the conflict underground, where it smolders until erupting in physical or emotional disaster.

James 3:17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.” Godly wisdom, purity, and peace go hand- in-hand. Peace is wisdom in action and is never established at the expense of righteousness. It brings righteousness to bear on the situation, seeking to eliminate the source of conflict and create right relationships. Feuding parties will know true peace only when they are willing to admit that their bitterness and hatred is wrong and humbly seek God’s grace to make things right.

Some people equate peacemaking with evading issues, but true peace can be very confrontive. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” That may seem to contradict Matthew 5:9, but it doesn’t: Jesus knew that sinful people have to be confronted with the truth before they can experience peace. That can be a painful and difficult process because people usually have a hostile reaction to the gospel before they finally embrace it. Even believers will sometimes react negatively when confronted with God’s truth.

Being a biblical peacemaker has its price. You can expect to upset unbelievers who openly oppose God’s Word as well as believers who compromise its truth for the sake of maintaining “peace” among people of differing doctrinal persuasions. Some will call you narrow-minded and divisive for dealing with controversial issues. Some will misunderstand your motives or even attack you personally. But that’s been the path of every true peacemaker— including our Lord Himself. Take heart and be faithful. Your efforts to bring peace show that you are a child of God.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God for the boldness never to compromise His truth.
  • Pray for those you know who are suffering for the sake of the gospel.

Edited Slightly from Source: https://www.gty.org/library/devotionals/drawing-near

Daily Devotional – “O Holy Night”

Hillsong - O Holy Night - Lyrics - YouTube

Mark 12:31-33


CONTEXT

If one reads Mark Chapter 12 we find that the lessons preceding this one v.28-34, begin in verse 13 and continue through verse 30.  There are in most modern translation two headings breaking up the text v.13-17 Paying Caesar Taxes and v.18-30 The Sadducees ask about resurrection. 

In each case the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes were trying to trap Jesus into saying something that would be against the Jewish Law, unfortunately they were including laws made by man in it. 

Our text deals what has become Universally known as The Great Commandment.


HYMN 

I still remember the first time I heard the Hymn “O Holy Night.”  It was 1960 and Nate King Cole (See Below) released his version on Columbia records which my mom bought and played on our new RCA phonograph. 

There was something about his smooth baritone and the lyrics  

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

As I have grown older I realize there is SO much more to this grand hymn. Today I want to concentrate on just verse three and the lyrics in our main text: 

 Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace.

Biblically I understand that there can never be true peace on earth unless all mankind were to renounce evil and repent of their sins declaring Christ Lord and Savior.

Yet that knowledge does should not mean we stop PRAYING for both that peace along with the morality and civility that proceeds it.

To that end I offer from the Matthew Henry’s Prayer  Devotional the following:

O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and establish the righteous – you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God. Psalm 7:9(ESV) Spirit many to rise up for you against the wicked and to stand up for you against evildoers. Psalm 94:16(ESV)

Let the Deliverer come to Zion and banish ungodliness from Jacob; Romans 11:26(ESV) and let the filth of Jerusalem be cleansed from its midst by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of burning. Isaiah 4:4(ESV)

Let all wickedness shut its mouth; Psalm 107:42(ESV) and let the infection of that plague be stayed by intervening judgment. Psalm 106:30(ESV)

Let those who are struggling against sin never grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:3-4(ESV)

Remove the spirit of uncleanness from the land, Zechariah 13:2(ESV) and change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that they may call upon the name of the LORD. Zephaniah 3:9(ESV)

Set us high above all nations in praise and in fame and in honor by making us a people holy to the LORD our God. Deuteronomy 26:19(ESV)


 

Our Deepest Need at Christmas

Our Deepest Need at Christmas

He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.—Micah 5:4–5

December 18, 2020

There is a peace that must happen before there can be peace on earth. There must be peace between us and God. Our unbelief and his wrath must be removed. That is our deepest peace—and our deepest need at Christmas…

READ MORE > > 

Christmas Truce of 1914

AmericanMinute.com – William J. Federer

Christmas Truce of 1914 & selected Presidential Christmas Greetings “So CHRISTMAS becomes the only holiday in all the year…”-FDR –

When the First World War began, British women suffragists sent an Open Christmas Letter “To the Women of Germany and Austria” imploring peace as the first Christmas of the war approached.

Pope Benedict XV, December 7, 1914, begged for a truce, asking: 
“that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang.”
These requests were officially rebuffed…

READ MORE  > > 

Daily Devotional – No Peace

165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165

 

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

Psalm 119 is certainly all about God’s Word; His commandments, laws, precepts,  call or define them as we may they are the ethical, moral and in some cases legal rules by which God says man should live. Note I said man should live, not must live, for we know man is INCAPABLE of living out these rules on his own accord. Man (apart from Christ) will always turn to his internal unethical, immoral and illegal sin nature and never be at Peace

The bible has a lot to say about Peace. Most of the time for “Christians at least we hear or read verses that are encouraging and uplifting, promising peace to us who are faithful. 

The word Peace in various forms can be found in the KJV of the Bible some 400+ times. In Dictionaries – Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology we find the following: 

The Meaning of Peace. In English, the word “peace” conjures up a passive picture, one showing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a personality free from internal and external strife. The biblical concept of peace is larger than that and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means “to be complete” or “to be sound.” The verb conveys both a dynamic and a static meaning” to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” The noun had many nuances, but can be grouped into four categories: (1) salom [l’v] as wholeness of life or body (i.e., health); (2) salom [l’v] as right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant (see “covenant of peace” in Num 25:12-13 ; Isa 54:10 ; Ezek 34:25-26 ) and, when related to Yahweh, the covenant was renewed or maintained with a “peace offering”; (3) salom [l’v] as prosperity, success, or fulfillment (see Lev 26:3-9 ); and (4) salom [l’v] as victory over one’s enemies or absence of war. Salom [l’v] was used in both greetings and farewells. It was meant to act as a blessing on the one to whom it was spoken: “May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory.” As an adjective, it expressed completeness and safety. In the New Testament, the Greek word eirene [eijrhvnh] is the word most often translated by the word “peace.” Although there is some overlap in their meanings, the Hebrew word salom [l’v] is broader in its usage, and, in fact, has greatly influenced the New Testament’s use of eirene [eijrhvnh].


BREAKDOWN:

Great peace – The Hebrew Word Shalowm  translated Great peace almost does not do it justice. It would be hard to put an English word here for the Hebrew means fullness, without need or want. Some translations (Bereans, CSB, NASB) translate it Abundant Peace, even that leave us with an expectation of possibly more. 

Maybe the best way I could describe it would be Complete Peace, one so full you need no thought of anything else. 

have they which love thy law: – Note the Psalmist (and scripture backs them up) makes it clear that this type of fulfilling peace only comes to them that Love the Law of God. You can’t be a Burger King Theologian, taking only the laws and commands of the Bible you like and having God your way.

and nothing shall offend them – Again this is another of those KJV words I love not so much because is makes perfect sense but because it made me research it true meaning. I had to think why would God’s laws offend me. Well the Hebrew word here is  Mikshowl, and means more like something that would cause us to stumble or fall from faith or in this case Peace (fellowship) with God


APPLICATION:

If following God’s laws is the recipe for Complete Peace, disregarding  or ignoring God’s laws is the recipe for No Peace

All one has to do is to look at the chaos, riots and unrest in the street across America today to realize that true peace has evaded the hearts of those people. 

So what are we, that is those who are at Peace with God to do? PRAY, pray not for peace which may seem like a strange thing to say but peace can not come as long as the heart and soul of man is corrupt. No PRAY, for revival, PRAY for another Great Awakening, PRAY for the very Souls of those who hate the Laws of God. 

 

Abounding in Hope

Abounding in Hope

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

The seemingly sudden onset of the coronavirus pandemic has brought a time of trouble. The past few months have been difficult for many people in our country. Millions have lost jobs or suffered a reduced work volume and consequently face fearful financial uncertainty. And while the economy will no doubt rebound, it’s likely there’ll be turmoil for the tens of thousands of small businesses that won’t recover and must retool and refocus on other ventures. Small churches might not have the resources to maintain contact with their congregations under mandates to shelter in place or limit group gatherings, resulting in a trend for those members to participate in online worship with larger churches.

It’s not yet clear just how all of these restrictions will change our lives and social interaction with each other, but we who are privileged to be a part of the Lord’s Kingdom shouldn’t be anxious about the future. The Scriptures offer precious promises from God to His people that we can rest in during times like these…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

Approaching COVID-19 from a Biblical Perspective

Approaching COVID-19 from a Biblical Perspective

by Dr. Gary Dull**
Originally posted on the Christian Post website HERE.

In the past few weeks, people all around the world have become familiar with coronavirus (COVID-19), which has resulted in great fear and concern by many. And just when we think we have learned all there is to know about COVID-19, a new day comes, and we find out something else that results in even greater concern. Only God knows how serious this virus is and how many people will be infected by it in the near future.

As a pastor, I have had many come to me with concerns about how COVID-19 can and should be approached. In addition, I have received numerous suggestions from various ministry, medical and governmental sources offering guidelines to adapt what eventually may bring a resolve to this tragic worldwide situation.

I thank God for those in the medical science field who are searching for a solution to COVID-19. I am also grateful for political leaders who are attempting to provide direction that will keep the general citizenry informed, calm and peaceful. But I realize that those of us who are in pastoral ministry have a great responsibility before God to provide the spiritual leadership necessary to guide America through this tragic circumstance.

Certainly, there is no lack of secular advice being given as to how to approach COVID-19. But I believe the ultimate approach should be from the biblical perspective that presents God’s way of dealing with this issue. Yes, we need to look at COVID-19 through the eyes of a biblical worldview.

One passage of Scripture to consider is Psalm 91, which teaches how God takes care of His own. Take time to read all 16 verses of this precious passage. To summarize the psalm, we are told that those who belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ dwell in the inner sanctum of the presence of God, who protects them as a mother bird cares for her young under her wings. The promise is that no evil shall befall them because God will keep them in all of their ways. Through God’s grace, love and mercy, He will “set them on high” and show them his salvation that involves the deliverance through whatever may come their way. This applies to COVID-19 and all other trials of life.

Realizing God’s promise to provide for His own as taught in Psalm 91, and then trusting God to keep His Word, as He always does, will erase the greatest of all fear, anxiety and panic in the hearts of the deeply concerned.

So how does one get to the place of trusting God and seeing His provision? Perhaps remembering the following facts about God will help.

    • God is in control. So depend upon Him to do what is right.
    • God has a purpose. So watch for Him to work.
    • God will provide. So trust in Him to deliver.
    • God has a mission. So declare His truth abroad.
    • God has a remedy. So praise Him for what He will do.

Even though there is a lot of advice being given in the world as to how to approach COVID-19, the sooner one focuses on Who God is, what God expects and how God works, and then is convinced of the fact that God causes, allows and directs all things according to His sovereign plan, the more one will experience the strength, hope, peace, comfort and confidence that only God can provide.

As Philippians 4:6,7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Yes, those who follow that comforting admonition from Scripture will surely experience all the provision of God that is needed to face COVID-19 or any other troublesome issue that will come upon us in life.

Remember the words of the old hymn written by Civilla D. Martin that says:

“Be not dismayed what-e’re be-tide, God will take care of you.
Beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

“Through days of toil when heart does fail, God will take care of you.
When dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you.

“All you may need he will provide, God will take care of you.
Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you.”

**Gary G. Dull is executive director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, board member of the American Pastors Network and co-host of APN’s “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program. He pastors Faith Baptist Church of Altoona.

Attacking Anxiety

The following 14 Part series by John MacArthur and staff at GTY explores the biblical answers to Anxiety, Doubt and Worry. Along with  God’s Sovereignty and the Believer’s response. 

 

 

 

  1. Unshakable Peace Believers often find themselves living in contradiction to the world, and we should. The runaway anxiety and constant fear that grips so much of the world does not have the same hold on us—or at least, it shouldn’t. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at anxiety from a biblical perspective, …
  2. The Only True Peace Any anxious Christian would love to have this prayer offered on his behalf: “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
  3. Casting Your Cares on God A prideful heart cannot find rest in God’s sovereignty. A person who values his or her own plans, opinions, and desires above all else has nowhere to turn when worry creeps in. In fact, pride paves the way for an anxious heart.
  4. Humility vs. Anxiety The apostle Peter was a worrier. He worried about drowning when he was walking on water, even though Jesus was right there with him (Matthew 14:29-31). He worried about what was going to happen to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, so he pulled out his sword and tried to take on a battalion of Roman…
  5. Replacing Worry with the Right Focus God’s Word is clear—believers are not to be given over to anxiety. But it’s not simply a cold, abrupt command to stop worrying. Scripture is clear that we shouldn’t focus on the plans, needs, and uncertainties of tomorrow, but it’s also clear about where our focus should be instead.
  6. The Folly of Worry in Light of Our Future Much of our anxiety is born out of concerns and uncertainty regarding our future. We get caught up in our plans and programs, overlooking the blessings of today and obsessing over uncontrollable details on the horizon…
  7. The Incompatibility of Faith and Anxiety If you worry, what kind of faith do you manifest? “Little faith,” according to Jesus (Matthew 6:30). If you are a child of God, you by definition have a heavenly Father. To act like you don’t, nervously asking, “What will I eat? What will I drink? What will I wear for clothing?” is to act like an un..
  8. What Flowers Teach Us About Worry God is sovereignly in control of all things. That fact alone ought to dispel much of our anxiety. And when we consider the Lord’s fatherly care for His people, we see just how foolish, unnecessary, and impotent our worry truly is.
  9. Bird Watching and Beating Worry One of the most hopeless aspects of unrepentant sinners’ lives is that they have no answer for anxiety. They’re forced to put their hopes in flimsy, fallible plans and institutions. They aren’t able to rest firmly in the unchanging promises of God—they have to ride out every wave of calamity, every …
  10. What Did Jesus Say About Worry? You probably remember the “What Would Jesus Do?” trend from the late ’90s. It seemed everywhere you looked, plastered across T-shirts, hats, jewelry, and all kinds of other merchandise, the WWJD slogan was a blithe, shallow reminder to live up to Christ’s moral code…
  11. Observing God’s Care Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective, Sherlock Holmes, is one of the most intriguing creations of literary fiction. He is, quite simply, extraordinary. His famous cohort, Dr. John Watson, is ordinary, at least by comparison. Watson has often been erroneously portrayed as a bumbling fool, but…
  12. John MacArthur on Anxiety and God’s Sovereignty It should be clear by now that unchecked anxiety isn’t good for you. It’s a sin expressly forbidden by the Lord, so there is the spiritual cost to consider. But it’s also harmful to your health, your productivity, and your relationships. It wreaks havoc throughout your life, and as we saw yesterday,…
  13. Worn Out by Worry Worry is a common temptation for all of us. The source of the anxiety might vary from person to person, but no one is completely immune. For some, it’s even a favorite pastime, occupying large portions of their days by troubling over their doubts and fears about the future.
  14. Overwhelmed by Anxiety? Anxiety, fear, worry, and stress are familiar words in our day, and familiar experiences to many. More and more we’re hearing of an extreme form of anxiety referred to as a “panic attack.”

Great Peace

There have been many, many, many attempts at creating peaceful accords between nations, cultures etc. since the fall of man. All have ultimately failed!  

Man on his own, apart from Christ, never truly is capable of peace. We have all heard folks make the grand statement ‘I just pray for world peace.’ Really does the bible even instruct us to do that? Actually no, the bible instructs believers to Pray for peace in Jerusalem, Psalm 122:6-9, and no where else are we told to specifically pray for peace. 

Let us look at some BIBLICAL things regarding peace and the Christian Life:

    1. Romans 12:18 we are called to live peaceably as much as is possible
    2. Matthew 5:9 peacemakers are blessed people
    3. Hebrews 12:14 We are to strive for peace with everyone so that they may see Christ in us 
    4. Romans 8:6 Worldly or things of the flesh do not lead to peace only things of the Spirit of Christ
    5. John 14:27 The same peace that Christ had on earth through His life, death, burial and resurrection is available to all true believers
    6. Philippians 4:7 God’s peace is so marvelous, it is beyond our understanding  
    7. One of my Favorite Scripture Verses:

Logos.com

Mucha paz tienen los que aman tu ley, Y no hay para ellos tropiezo. (RVR 1960)

I can’t speak for you but I like the idea of GREAT PEACE in my life. What do I have to do to achieve this? Love God’s Law, 1 John 5:3 makes it clear the love of God is established in obedience to His laws. The 10 Commandments along with the Greatest Commandments are what I am speaking of here. These should not be a problem for a true believer, as it should be our desire to glorify, honor and please God in all we do. 


C.H. Spurgeon Exposition Psalm 119:165

Great peace have they which love thy law. What a charming verse is this! It dwells not with those who perfectly keep the law, for where should such men be found? but with those who love it, whose hearts and hands are made to square with its precepts and demands. These men are ever striving, with all their hearts, to walk in obedience to the law, and though they are often persecuted they have peace, yea, great peace; for they have learned the secret of the reconciling blood, they have felt the power of the comforting Spirit, and they stand before the Father as men accepted. The Lord has given them to feel his peace, which passed all understanding. They have many troubles, and are likely to be persecuted by the proud, but their usual condition is that of deep calm — a peace too great for this little world to break.

And nothing shall offend them, or, “shall really injure them.” “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” It must needs be that offences come, but these lovers of the law are peacemakers, and so they neither give nor take offence. That peace which is founded upon conformity to God’s will is a living and lasting one, worth writing of with enthusiasm, as the Psalmist here does.

John Bunyan

Nothing shall offend them. They that have this character of God’s children, will not the stumbled at God’s dispensations, let them he never so cross to their desires, because they have a God to fly unto in all their troubles, and a sure covenant to rest upon. Therefore the reproaches cast upon them, and on the way of God, do not scandalize them; for they have found God in that very way which others speak evil of; they are not so offended by anything that attends the way of God, as to dislike or forsake that way. Nevertheless we must take heed that we be not offended.

Robert Murray M Cheyne, 1813-1843.

“Learn the true wisdom of those of you who are new creatures, and who love God’s holy law. All of you who are really brought to Christ are changed into his image, so that you love God’s holy law. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart”: Psalm 19. The world says: What a slave you are! you cannot have a little amusement on the Sabbath — you cannot take a Sabbath walk, or join a Sabbath tea party; you cannot go to a dance or a theatre; you cannot enjoy the pleasures of sensual indulgence — you are a slave. I answer: Christ had none of these pleasures. He did not want them: nor do we. He knew what was truly wise, and good, and happy, and he chose God’s holy law. He was the freest of all beings, and yet he knew no sin. Only make me free as Christ is free — this is all I ask. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

 

 

Take Heart

Some “Christians” think they are exempt from suffering and tribulations. This is not what Christ said, in fact if you are not “suffering” for your faith Romans 8:18James 1:2-41 Peter 5:10 its probably time to check if your faith is real. But Glory to God, Christ has overcome this world and we can find peace and comfort in Him.

Logos.com

Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

 Estas cosas os he hablado para que en mí tengáis paz. En el mundo tendréis aflicción; pero confiad, yo he vencido al mundo.


Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture

John – PEACE AND VICTORY – John 16:33.