Today’s Texts and Thoughts of Encouragement
“So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and the acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable and faithful to His Word.”
The Throne Room
“The funniest thing happened
On the way to God’s Throne Room.
I was rushing to get there
And in my nervous rush
I stumbled over five interruptions –
Fell flat on my face, in fact.
I managed to pick myself up
Bruised and ruffled
Then five minutes later
I banged my whirling head
On a wall of resentment.
Next thing I knew
I stubbed my toe
On a jagged rock of self-pity
But was that enough? Oh no!
I had to spill a bottle of fresh tears.
By now I wanted to ignore my appointment
But I’d missed yesterday too
So I wearily trudged on.
Ragged and worn I knocked
With what boldness I could muster.
Frankly, I felt very uncomfortable.
But what do you think happened!
God Himself calmed my quivering heart
He removed all the barriers
Erected by my self-indulgence
He forgave me completely.
The with incredible gentleness
‘Had you asked
I would have carried you
All the way.’”
Ruth Harms Calkins
Keep Me Faithful
Today’s Study Text:
“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace.”
“The Prince of Peace” – Part 1
“The Bequest of Peace”
“When Christ came into the world, peace was sung, and when He went out of the world, peace was bequested.”
Do I feel awash with a spirit of peace right now?
What are the events and things in my life that I feel disrupt the peace promised by Jesus?
“Peace is always beautiful.”
“Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee;
All things are passing;
God never changeth.
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.”
Teresa of Avila
One routine “happening” every Christmas is that our mailbox is always filled with catalogs. These printed pieces contain tantalizing pictures of everything imaginable. And the descriptions are written in such a manner as to encourage potential shoppers to purchase another needless gadget that a few years later will most likely be set aside for something newer!
However, among all the catalogs, there are always a few that I must admit are favorites with Dorothy. Such is a small booklet size catalog called Bas Bleu. Please don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an advertisement for the catalog. However, this mailing piece is the source of the quote I used today penned by the famous American poet Walt Whitman. In fact, this poem along with a tremendously serene picture of a snowy, moonlit night with two chickadees perched on the branch of a pine tree served to be the catalog cover. If you guessed that this scene drew me in, you are absolutely correct. And just in case the words “bas bleu” may have thrown you off as they did me the first time I received this catalog, “bas bleu” is French for “blue stockings” which happens to be what the French call a literary person. As you may well have guessed by now, this catalog features books and other literary items and in fact, books of quotes and prayers that I have found to be a benefit in writing our daily devotionals came from Bas Bleu.
I share this information because the quote, “Peace is always beautiful” really touched my heart. Several days before the end of the year, I read a note from a dear lady who said, “Our neighborhood has about 20 older houses with occupants who are a wide-variety of nationalities. Usually all 20 of us put out Christmas lights but this year, we just didn’t feel like it.” Then she went on to list some of the tragedies that had occurred in all their lives. And this didn’t include all the events on our tiny planet we call earth. Everyday I’m reminded how very small this globe is for some disaster can happen on the opposite side of our world and immediately my thoughts will turn to Transformation Garden family members who may live near or very close to a part of the earth where a calamity has struck.
One of the many wonderful gifts about the Garden family is that through our bond-of-prayer we are linked more tightly than even many family members. What happens to one of us, touches all of us.
As I pondered my own hopes and dreams for the coming year, Walt Whitman’s expressive words about peace struck a cord in my heart and maybe in your heart as well. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up tomorrow to a world at peace? I know it sounds like an imaginary idea. However, in my personal study about what the Bible and other followers of Christ have said about peace, this seemingly mystical gift, I came upon these words spoken by Mother Teresa whose life-long ministry and devoted love to the world’s forgotten and abused are an example for all of us! “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
I must admit these words stopped me as I began to think about ways I can, in my own life, be a catalyst for peace. However, I’m not talking about some temporary peace treaty that is not worth the paper it is written upon. I’m talking about the “peace” that you and I as followers of the “Prince of Peace” have been promised by Jesus Himself.
Just a few hours before Jesus was crucified, knowing full well that His death would demoralize the closest to Him here on earth, Jesus encouraged His followers with these inspiring words found in John 14: 22:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid.”
In the midst of immense sorrow and conflict – turmoil and despair – Jesus told His children, “Peace I leave with you.” This means that you and I have been given this eternal gift even when the world looks the most frightening and unsettled. As one of my favorite authors, Grace Noll Crowell penned in her devotions:
“No life can be completely sheltered and protected from anxieties and cares and fears. Sorrow comes to everyone in time, burdens must be borne by all, and there are those to whom life seems to be one long, hopeless struggle against apparently inevitable pain. The clouds obscure the sun – clouds so leaden that it seems there can never be a rift in them to let the light shine through. Yet peace can be theirs; indeed it often is theirs in a radiance that is like the light of a lamp breaking through the darkness.”
To be honest, these words gave a real lift to my pain-ridden body. This past year has been the physically toughest for me since our car accident. And much to my sadness, my wonderful doctor retired (which he deserved!) But praise God, when I felt as if I wouldn’t find another caring physician, God made certain that after several attempts to find a good doctor – He had just the perfect “team” of people for me and as one of physicians said, “After hearing about your accident and seeing all the deformities you suffer with each day, our group considers it an honor to care for you because you haven’t let this get you down.” (He just didn’t know what was behind my phony smile at that moment!) However, his compassion put wind in my sails as I knew without a doubt, my Father in heaven was in control! And indeed, this is exactly why Jesus encouraged all of us with the hopeful message that His peace was left for us, even in our most pain-filled moments or troubling financial situations or in the midst of family turmoil.
As our study text today reveals, during a time of great turmoil in the lives of God’s children, the prophet Isaiah was sent a message from heaven – the “Prince of Peace” was coming. Yes, it was going to be in the future. The people alive when Isaiah penned these words had only to hope. But you and I know that “A Son was given.” Today you and I have the reality in our lives that the Son came to earth as promised. And He brought with Him all of heaven’s love. He brought all of heaven’s peace – no wonder the angels rejoiced. And we can too!
But here’s the great news for us who live in a world that isn’t peaceful. When the Son returned to His home in the glories of heaven, He didn’t leave us empty-handed or empty-hearted. He promised that His peace would fill us – always. No matter what we face. This gift is what we call a “bequest,” it was His legacy or as the dictionary defines the word “bequeath” – a gift handed down, left by will. And it is this gift of peace that I pray each person in our Garden family will claim in the coming year. For as the prophet Isaiah reminded God’s children thousand of years ago, “You will keep him (her) in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he (she) trust in You” (Isaiah 26: 3, N.K.J.V.).
In his book, Then Sings My Soul, author Robert Morgan shares the story behind the hymn, “Peace, Perfect Peace.” The words to the hymn were written in 1875 by Edward Bickersteth an Anglican minister. His son later shared that during his summer holiday, his father told his children, “I have written you a hymn,” and he read the words of “Peace, Perfect Peace.”
Interestingly, “the first line of each verse asks a question, referring to some one or other of the disturbing experiences of life, and the second line of each verse endeavors to give the answer.” As Pastor Bickersteth’s son noted, “I doubt if my father went many days without receiving from different people assurances of the comfort and help which the hymn had been to them.” I will close today’s devotional with the beautiful words of this beloved hymn:
Peace, Perfect Peace
“Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus: this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.
Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.”
“The quiet, reverent acceptance of the will of God is the highroad to peace.”
Grace Noll Crowell
Riches of the Kingdom
“O my God, bestow upon us such confidence, such peace, such happiness in Thee, that Thy will may always be dearer to us than our own will, and Thy pleasure than our own pleasure. All that Thou givest is Thy free gift to us, all that Thou takest away Thy grace to us. Be Thou thanked for all, praised for all, loved for all; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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