Tag Archives: peace

3 things that keep us in the peace of Jesus  

i was reminded this past week that Jesus was born into chaos and was at peace in the midst of chaos…He indeed is the Prince of Peace.   we could all benefit from some of that.

months ago i was blessed by a meditation on philippians 4:4-6 in a particularly stressful time of life and in light of this season and in view of the tensions of these days i revisit these truths.

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

1. uncovering joy

–  it’s easy to get out of touch with Jesus in the busyness and the pain of life.  that’s why the ancients had spiritual exercises to keep them in step with Jesus.  One helpful exercise is called the prayer of examen.  If has two parts.

– The first part is called the examen of consciousness (uncovering joy):

  • ask God “God, how have you shown your love for me today?” (this is the essence of joy in Jesus)
  • pay attention to what God reveals
  • rejoice in Jesus for what he shows you

***as i’ve been asking God to reveal his “joy moments” to me, God’s been reminding me he loves me through my sons.  as amos hugs me and nathan smiles at me i am receiving God’s assurance that he cares for me, even when things aren’t going as i’d like.  this gets me back in touch with the joy i have in Jesus.

“5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6A Do not be anxious about anything…”

2. uncovering anxiety.

–  the word for anxious here can be related to “merizo” meaning to be drawn in different directions.

– anxiety IS not Gods will for you.  He said don’t be anxious about anything!!

–  here the second part of the prayer of examen can be helpful: examen of conscience (uncovering anxiety).

  • knowing we are in the Joy of Jesus, we can ask God “God, please reveal to me the root of my anxiety or any offensive way within me”.
  • pay attention to what he reveals
  • surrender that anxiety/twisted thinking to God.

***a while back i started feeling pain in my jaw.  i have been grinding my teeth.  through counsel and prayer I was able to uncover the anxiety. the situation with youth group was just the surface.  what was at root of my stress was my fear of failing as a leader.  i was not trusting in God but myself.  as that was uncovered i was able to deal with the root of my anxiety.

“6b but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

3. thanks to Jesus

– sometimes we’re trying to pray but we’re so caught up with the issue being thankful is the last thing in our mind.  this keeps us from peace and it drives us back to anxiety.  that’s the problem we only see the issue and not Jesus.

– i’ve learned a third prayer that i’ve found to be really helpful for me to focus in on a Jesus.  this is why this prayer is particularly helpful if one is struggling with habitual sin or oppressive thinking.

– this final exercise is called quietening prayer: its a habit one can develop that helps give thanks and center in on an aspect of Jesus, to build within us a reminder of his presence.

  • pick an aspect of Jesus.
  • do a breath prayer: “(breathe in) thank you Jesus, (breathe out) you X”  (ex “thank you Jesus, you are my peace”).
  • be open to anything he reveals.

***often in work and in life i find myself going on “auto-pilot” and before i know it i find my self in bad spaces and so wound up with pressure. an aspect i love about Jesus is that although there were so many demands upon him he was never busy. so when I’m getting worked up about something i take a deep breath and pray “thank you Jesus, you walk with me.” i am brought back to balance with the assurance of not only his presence, but that he offers to walk with me until i’m home…with Him.

day 14: incarnation (God as a human)

Isaiah 11:1-9; John 1:14; John 8:12

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump ofJesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” – Isaiah 11:1-5

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” – John 8:12

the artist joan osborne once asked in a song “what if God was one of us?” God actually gave us an answer: i was and i am…his name is Jesus of nazareth. it is a wonderful and terrifying mystery that God became a human being. so it begs the next question: what was/is He like? well if we use the scriptures listed above we learn that at the very least:

1) He has insight and understanding into ALL things. His discernment goes far beyond physical sensory perception…He sees beyond appearances. He does not make decisions like men do. who really knows anything to the heart, really, except God himself?

2) He really likes being in awesome reverence of God. its strange because even though He is God, He delights in God, and reveres God. maybe this means He has a totally right view of Himself, He is at total peace with himself. who has total insight, even into themselves, and still has total respect for themselves and are at peace with it?

3) He focuses on the poor and the meek. with all this power and authority, this is who He spends time with and lives among? its preposterous…it hurts our pride…its true…precisely because men wouldn’t do that. who, having all the authority and power of the world at their disposal, would give themselves to the poor and the nobodies?

4) His words have such weight people can die from just being in its presence. forget about that dos equis most interesting man in the world…He IS The Man in the world. people are cut to the quick by His words. no one can escape them. we’ve tried to hush them up, ignore them, or get rid of them for over two millenia…they just won’t die. whose words mean anything these days…who actually sticks to them…who actually has any authority to carry them out?

5) He is righteous and faithful. who is righteous and faithful? stop. ’nuff said.

6) He is full of grace and truth. He does not lie…He cannot lie…
He only speaks and lives the truth. yet, even though He knows all the truth about all of us, He overflows with the ability to give us good when we deserve the worst. whom of us pour forth only truth and always chooses to offer grace?

7) He is the guide to life. who can make the guarantee that where they are leading is absolutely the right way? only God who walked the way Himself first.

for reflection i’ll ask the same question joan osborne asked: “…if God had a face what would it look like / and would you want to see / if seeing meant that you would have to believe…?”

thank you Lord for showing us yourself.

day 13: illuminator

Isaiah 9:1-7; John 1:4-5

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined…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, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” – Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5

we may be alive but He is the source of true Life.  we may see light but we are in darkness without His Light.  His Light is the common image in both passages.  when light illuminates darkness it brings hope…guidance…warmth…life.  He is the Light of the World…we only reflect Him.  He may have come as a child but even then He was not only Son (Prince of Peace), but Father (Everlasting Father) and Holy Spirit (Wonderful Counselor)…God Himself (Mighty God).  darkness has not won.  darkness cannot win for of the “increase” of His reign of peace “there will be no end.”

in what ways is He shining His light into our lives even now…bringing hope, guidance, warmth, life?  how can we hold onto His truth and allow His peace to reign in our lives?

thank you Lord that you are the light of our lives

day 11: identification

Isaiah 63:8-9; Luke 2:1-20

“For he said, ‘Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.’  And he became their Savior.  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” – Isaiah 63:8-9

“‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,’Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” – Luke 2:11-14

out of His love, He rescued us.  He had to become our Savior.  but it cost Him so much to do so.  to love us He would have to become us…and take on all our pain.  “in all their affliction He was afflicted“…i have to really meditate on that.

one, in order to become our Savior He had to become a human…the Creator would humble himself to take on the form of His creation…in the midst of all its frailty.  second, He became a child, dependent and weak in the eyes of mankind.  third, he was born into poor conditions, in a food trough for animals, to parents in a seemingly scandalous position, as the father was not the biological father of the child.  fourth, he was born to die…a fascinating insight from fructenbaum reveals that the “swaddling cloths” was probably not the regular baby clothes of a child (otherwise why would it be noted as a sign or something unusual to distinguish this child for the shepherds to find?) but the other meaning of the word: burial clothes.  to add to the likelihood of this interpretation is that stables, with mangers for animals, in these days were actually caves…caves also used to bury people in.  burial cloths would thus be kept in caves.  so when Jesus was born he was wrapped in death…literally and figuratively.  in order to save us jesus would be wrapped in burial cloths and buried in a cave after his death.  He would be laid low so we could be “lifted up“.  what affliction of the human experience did he not know or experience at some level?  then there is a very common misreading of the angels’ announcement…it does not say “peace on earth”, it says “on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”  He gives peace not to a land but He gives peace to people.  to think he is pleased with any of us is amazing.  yet He places his favor on us because He offered us this peace even though it meant He would be “afflicted” and knowing that “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” (isaiah 53:5c)

how much must He love us that He humiliated Himself so much to do so?  how can we bring our afflictions to Him, remembering that He has experienced afflictions personally?

thank you Lord that you loved us enough to identify with us