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Jehovah Shalom

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In a world dominated by chaos, peace is a hard thing to find. Fear is easily bred when you think of all that is going on today. Cities and countries are going bankrupt. Debts are rising. Diseases are rampant. There is very little in this world anymore that is stabile. When the future is uncertain, it’s easy to lose hope. I choose to not let the events of this world control my inner peace. What seems out if control in this world is still under God’s control.

In the book of Judges, chapter 6, Israel was in the same condition. Chaos reigned in the land. There was no hope. While Gideon was threshing wheat in secret, an angel appeared and said, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you” (Judges 6:12 NLT). Gideon’s response was like many of ours would be. He asked, “If The Lord is with me, then why have all these bad things happened?” They talked some more and then Gideon asked for a sign that the angel was from God. After seeing the sign, Gideon was terrified, but God said, “Don’t be afraid.” Gideon built an altar to God and called it Jehovah Shalom (The Lord is Peace).

Don’t be afraid. That’s God’s word to us today. Don’t let fear grip your heart, your mind and your life. We are not meant to live in fear because God has not given us a spirit of fear. It’s not in Him. He is the Prince of Peace and that’s what He wants to give you today. Peace. He doesn’t want you so consumed by the chaos and instability in your life that you lose your focus. When you have peace, you can focus on what matters and make the best decisions.

Jesus said in John 14, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me… I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (verses 1, 27). His peace is not like the false peace that we find in the world. I call it “false” because the peace the world gives is temporary. His peace is eternal. It passes all understanding and it is sufficient for you.

I don’t know what all you are facing right now. I’ve had my fair share of trouble, stress and chaos in my life. I’ve also been guilty of allowing those things to take over my mind and to get me off track. I’ve learned to trust God and to allow His peace to reign in my life. I don’t live in a utopia. I still have chaos, stress and trouble all around me. I choose to trust in Jehovah Shalom now to bring peace to my life. I don’t allow those things to control my mind. What may have caught me off guard did not catch Him off guard. He knows my future and can guide me best. He knows yours too and offers you peace. Will you trust Jehovah Shalom with all you’re worried about today?

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Opening Doors

Life can seem like a series of doors that you have to walk through. Some are open and some are closed. Sometimes you walk through an open door only to find a closed door behind it. That’s always frustrating to me. Does that mean I shouldn’t have walked through the open door? Am I in the wrong place? Should I turn around and look elsewhere? I don’t think so. Jesus told us to knock and the door would be opened. Jesus also told the story of a person who had a visitor show up in the middle of the night. He didn’t have any food, so he went to his neighbor’s house and knocked on the door. There man told him it was locked and that were in bed. The first man kept knocking until the other person came and opened the door to give him what he wanted.

When you’ve walked through an open door that God has led you through only to find a closed door, don’t panic and turn around. Knocking on closed doors is a faith builder and a prayer enabler. If you’ve knocked a while and nothing has happened, ask God to show you if you need to keep knocking or to open your eyes to see an open door you’re not seeing. God is in the habit of opening doors for us, and the doors He open can be shut by anyone. He has ordered our steps and leads us in His paths, but that requires that you and I are willing to move from where we are to where He’s taking us. As He opens doors, you and I must walk through them. I like to pray, “God, close the doors I’m not supposed to walk through, and lead me to the open doors you have for me.”

Here are some Bible verses on open doors.

1. Strive to enter through the narrow door [force aside unbelief and the attractions of sin]; for many, I tell you, will try to enter [by their own works] and will not be able.

Luke 13:24 AMP

2. Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.

Luke 11:9 MSG

3. There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.

1 Corinthians 16:9 NLT

4. To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He has the key that belonged to David, and when he opens a door, no one can close it, and when he closes it, no one can open it. I know what you do; I know that you have a little power; you have followed my teaching and have been faithful to me. I have opened a door in front of you, which no one can close.”

Revelation 3:7-8 GNT

5. For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened.

Luke 11:10 AMP

Thanks to @roanlavery for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

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Greater Things Ahead

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Man, they have it all. I wish I had their…”? So many times we look at what people have and identify with the end result without stopping to think about what they went through to get there. We want the reward without the work or the struggle. There’s a saying, “The greatest overnight successes were twenty years in the making.” Most of us face our battles and struggles in obscurity. Others don’t see that part of our story. They see us years later after we’ve endured and are enjoying the fruits of our labor. What we forget is that without the struggle, there is no success.

God wanted to promote David from shepherd boy to king, but he wasn’t ready. David faced years of struggles between being anointed king and taking the throne. He was chased by the current king. There were people he knew that betrayed him. He lived in a cave in an inhospitable desert. He fought several battles with very little rest. He had a lot of struggles because God uses them to prepare us for our future. We can choose to complain about the things we face or we can lay them at the feet of Jesus and push through them knowing there is something more ahead.

In Psalm 55:22 David wrote, “So here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you” (TPT). Our struggles are meant to strengthen our faith in God so we are prepared for what’s next. We can either get lost in the pain, bitter in the disappointment or we can find strength to keep going by giving it to God knowing He’s with us through each battle. The greater things God has for you, the greater the struggle you will go through, The great news is you’re not alone and you don’t have to do it in your strength. Lay down your worries and trust that God is at work and in control.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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Hope Returns

There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been desperate for hope. When I was in my early twenties, my mom was in ICU at the M.D. Anderson cancer center. I remember we were living in that holding room for families. Each family in there lived day to day desperate for good news. Some families got it, but most of us didn’t. We were tired, exhausted, mentally drained, and were looking for a ray of hope that might mean our loved one would walk out of there.

To be without hope is a dangerous place, yet so many of us live there. Our lives seem to have no future, and we just want something we can believe in to brighten up the darkness a little. The writer of Lamentations was there too. He was in a desperate place having lost everything. As he recounted his trouble in chapter three, he then wrote in 3:21-22, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue” (GNT). His hope returned when he took his eyes off his situation and focused on God.

I love what he goes on to write in verses 25-26. He says, “The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—.” God sees us in our hopeless darkness. Looking back, He used hopeless times to shape me and to polish me. Trusting God when you can’t see a future is hard, but be patient. The Lord is good and is working things out for your good. Hope will return because God has not forgotten you.

Photo by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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God’s Supply

After the Israelites left Mount Sinai and were headed to the Promised Land, they grew tired of the Lord’s provision of mana. They began to complain about it to each other and then openly. They wanted meat. They began to fantasize about the meat they had in Egypt while they were slaves. The Lord told moses that He was going to provide meat for all of Israel, not for a day or two, but for an entire month. He said He would provide so much meat that they would get sick of it. God was upset that they were rejecting Him and longing to go back to their old life.

After the Lord spoke this to Moses, he struggled to believe God could provide that much meat. He reminded God how many people they had, how little meat their food resources were and where they were. I love God’s response in Numbers 11:23. He said, “So, do you think I can’t take care of you? You’ll see soon enough whether what I say happens for you or not” (MSG). The next morning so many quail descended on the Israelites that no person took home less than 50 bushels of meat. God went above and beyond what Moses could comprehend.

The question to us is: Are we looking at our problem, with our resources, in our situation wondering how God is going to come through? Sometimes God uses what we have, but don’t limit Him in what He can do. Don’t you think He can take care of you? Remember, Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (AMP). God can multiply what you have or supply your need out of His supply. Trust God to meet your need. He can take care of you. Just believe.

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The Faithfulness Of God

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

I’m not sure why I am constantly surprised by the goodness of God. There are times where I am just caught off guard at His faithfulness. I look at my life and I see all of my short comings and wonder why God would choose to bless me and to pour out His love on me. I know that I am unworthy of any gift that He gives, yet He still opens up the windows of Heaven and pours them out.

I think that’s one of the areas where it is hard to understand God because our minds try to rationalize Him as a human with human behaviors. We know the we are spiteful and hold grudges and we expect Him to. When He doesn’t, it blows our mind. I love how the psalmist put it in Psalm 36:5 when he said that His unfailing love is as vast as the heavens and His faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. It is so deep and so wide that we can’t begin to understand it.

I always want to rationalize it and understand it rather than to accept it and abide in it. I want to break it down and figure it out instead of just trusting in it. I think David understood it. He knew of the power that God has to forgive and forget. He relied on it and knew he was in trouble without it. You wonder how can an adulterer and murderer like David be a man after God’s own heart? Well it’s because he understood God’s ability to forgive and to forget.

It’s beyond me how God does it. I try to be a man after God’s heart and I fall short. I try to be like Him and I find I’m more like myself. I try to do what He asks and I end up doing what I want. I start off working hard to please Him, but in the end, I do what pleases me. That’s where God’s faithfulness kicks in. 2 Timothy 2:13 says in the Amplified version that even if we are unfaithful and untrue to Him, He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.

How is that possible? How can God remain faithful and true to us when all we seem to do is our own thing rather than His? It’s who God is. He is a God who loves us more than our doubts, our mistakes, our short comings and our fears. He is patient and kind. His love knows no end and is not conditional. He is not human and is not limited like we are. Once we remove those human characteristics of who we think He is and accept His divine nature, we can begin to get a glimpse of who He really is.

There were several in the Bible like David and Paul who got a glimpse of that. I don’t think it is reserved just for them though. God wants to open Himself up to you and me to give us a glimpse of who He is. We fight and push back because we think we are unworthy, but it’s when we finally realize how unworthy we really are that He has us right where He wants us so He can show His faithfulness and love. Don’t push back away from it. Swim in that river of his love that is as high as the clouds and is as vast as the heavens. Accept that you aren’t worthy and trust in His love for you anyway.

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Trusting In God

I’ve often heard stories of how pilots have to trust their instruments even more than their sight. Many of the plane crashes you hear about are because they didn’t trust the instruments and tried to do what they thought. Their eyes often deceive them and they make decisions based on false information. Great pilots have learned to completely trust their instruments no matter what. They also rely on the person in the control tower for updates and instructions. If they’re going to have a safe flight, they must learn to trust.

To me, being a Christian is a lot like being a pilot. We can’t trust what we see (or can’t see) in this world. Too many of us crash at times because we fail to trust God fully and we try to live our lives based on what we think. We must stay in constant communication with God, and we need to trust that He can see the things we can’t. When we live life fully trusting in God, we make our decisions based on what He says, not what we think. Our eyes can deceive us, but God never will.

Here are some Bible verses on trusting in God.

1. Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.

JOHN 14:1 AMP

2. The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG

3. Commit your works to the LORD [submit and trust them to Him], And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].

PROVERBS 16:3 AMP

4. You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3 GNT

5. Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.

Proverbs 3:5 TPT

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