Friday, January 13, 2017

Searching for. . . Peace

Image result for peace of jesus


            “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV)

            Each time I hear of a bombing or a shooting, my heart becomes heavy for a short time. Those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks, the magazine and the multiple sites in 2015, those who became victims in Nice, Berlin and in Turkey at the end of 2016, those who were in that night club in Florida all come to mind. And I can’t forget the bombings of 9/11/2001 in my own nation. The metropolitan city of Indianapolis call 2016 the deadliest year in its history. The city of Chicago had 29 people shot in one night, several of whom died. 
            Concentrating on all these could have tended to bring me down. If I didn’t have the Lord, I would have gone into extreme sadness.

            For several years now, I have chosen one word to guide me through each year. Last year my word was humble. God humbled me through the experience of my broken ankle and the ensuing rehabilitation.

            After a lengthy search and a quantity of prayer, I have chosen my word for 2017. That one word is Peace.

            I intend to aim my search inward as I try to discover personal peace in my heart. My prayers for others will be that they find peace for themselves and for each of them to find interpersonal peace with others.

            I long for those who live in my neighborhood, with whom I transact business, and those who assist me with my health needs, to come to know Jesus Christ, to love Him and to follow Him.

            I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all of Israel. And, yet, I realize we won’t have world peace until Jesus Christ comes again. I remember a hymn I learned at church camp many years ago.
                        Let There be Peace on Earth

            Let there be peace on earth,
            The peace that was meant to be.         
            With God as our Father, brothers all are we;
            Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.1

            Dear readers. My prayer for each of you is that you find the peace of God in your hearts. And that you are able to reflect that peace of God to those around you.
            I will share my discoveries and my thoughts with you later in the year.

1.      Let There be Peace on Earth-- written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller in 1955. It was initially written for and sung by the International Children's Choir created by Easter Beakly and Arthur Granger of the Granger Dance Academy in Long Beach, California. The song's composers led a number of rehearsals for the children's choir from 1955 to 1957, and the song continues to be the theme for this group of children who represent a host of nations and who sang in Washington, DC near the White House in 2002.[1] Jackson, who had been suicidal after the failure of a marriage, later said that she wrote the song after discovering what she called the "life-saving joy of God's peace and unconditional love." Wikipedia accessed 1/4/2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rest for the Land

Image result for Sabbath Years for Israelite Lands 

January- Rest, Refresh

“The Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am giving you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the LORD. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year, the land is to have a year of rest.” Leviticus 25:1-5 (NIV)

            God established Sabbath years for the land He gave to His people. In this instance, the Hebrew people did not follow God’s direction. God told them to do as He said forever. It took them going into exile for 70 years before they got the message and instituted the practice. I found it interesting God told the Israelites this early on in their time in the land He promised them.
            In Leviticus 26:32-38 God tells the people, in detail, what they will go through if they fail to observe the Sabbath years for the land. God outlines what He has to do in order to teach them the lessons He has for them.
•           He will lay waste to their land.
•           He will scatter His children among other nations.
•           He will draw His sword and pursue them.
•           Their cities will lie in ruins.
•           THEN the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time the people are in exile.
•           Those who are left in the land will be extremely fearful.
•           The Israelites will not be able to stand before their enemies.
•           The Israelites will perish in the foreign lands.
•           The land of the enemies will devour the Israelites.
•           Those who survive will waste away because of their sins or those of their fathers.

This is not a pretty picture. But God felt it was necessary to do in order to teach His children obedience to His instructions.

We as His children need to learn to obey God, even when it comes to finding time to rest and refresh our bodies, minds, and hearts.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Celebrating What God Has Given

Image result for Celebrating God  

January—Rest, Refreshing

“So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of rest and the eighth day is also a day of rest.” Leviticus. 23:39-40 (NIV)

            The Lord God institutes the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The Israelites were to pick choice fruits from the trees and give thanks, rejoicing before God for seven days. I find it interesting that God told them to rest on day one of the feast, and on the first day after the festival. ALL those born in Israel were to participate in this celebration.

            This festival was to remind the Israelite people that their ancestors had lived in tents and temporary houses during their wilderness wanderings. It seems the Israelite people, much like people of today, forgot their heritage and the stories of how they came to be where they were. This was to be a lasting ordinance.

            As we opened our Christmas gifts, my husband emptied his stocking and found a big orange in the toe. Our son found one in his as well. He had told me a story about his childhood and getting fruit and a few peanuts in one of his the socks that his dad had hung up for him and his sister. Back then, some people didn’t get very much more than that on Christmas. Hubby related that story to our son.

            The first Christmas I was on my own, I wanted a Christmas tree but I knew I didn’t have money for ornaments. I had the idea of using candy canes and those red stick-in bows on the branches. Some years, I remind myself of that time in my life by purchasing those boxes of a dozen candy canes and giving them to people. When I worked at a library, I gave one cane to each child I waited on. (I asked them to wait until they got home to eat them. But some had their own way of doing things.) This past year, I hung some on our stockings and then on my little tree.  I need to tell others my story about this custom.

            Like the Israelites, we modern people either go through the acts involved with a holiday, remembering why we do them, or we choose to do it but not remember the history at all. But the important issue is that we are rest, remember, and give thanks to the LORD.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...