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The Secret to Great Peace

Young woman sitting near wheat field, reading.

Great peace have those who love your law,
    and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

A great inner peace is something that all of us want to experience, yet it seems that few actually enjoy this beautiful reward in their own personal life. Why is it? Why don’t more of God’s people experience this precious tranquility? Could it be that the secret to great peace is actually found in delighting in the Scriptures? The psalmist reminds us that those who love God’s law have great peace.

Maybe you are familiar with people who pour over the pages of scripture and live with a daily inner peace despite the challenges they may face. Perhaps it is because as they reflect on God’s written word, their minds are reminded of His unfailing love. They are reassured of His power and strength to care for their every need as they find their hope in the Bible. Yet someone who doesn’t invest in getting to know the Bible is not able to live by that same sort of reassurance.

Isaiah wrote:

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
(26:3)

As our minds are focused on Him through the reading of His Word, our faith can’t help but grow and flower into a perfect peace. Jesus spoke about peace when He said,” These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, so if we look once again at the first phrase of Psalm 119:165 and insert Jesus’ name, we see it with a fresh joy. “Great peace have those who love Jesus.” Let us love the One who came to give us peace with God and peace within our hearts when the storms of life come our way.

Thank you Lord, for giving us a great peace that only you can give. My friend, will you join me in reading His Word each day and delighting in His love and care for you?

For more about reading God’s Word, check out Becoming a Woman of the Word.

Be the Church

Young tourist in London on Westminster bridge having fun on a fall or spring day

The Christians who have turned the world upside down have been man and women with a vision in their hearts and the Bible in their hands.   T.B. Maston

            Often we talk about going to church and sitting in church, but perhaps we should talk about being the church. What exactly does it look like to be the church? Cannon Ernest Southcott (founder of the “home church” movement in England) said, “The holiest moment of the church service is the moment when God’s people—strengthened by preaching and sacrament—go out of the church door into the world to be the church. We don’t go to church; we are the church.” As we are strengthened by the work of our local churches (the visible church), let us go out into the world and live out the love we have received. Our job as Christ’s body, the church, is to show the world what Jesus love looks like in word and in deed and to speak His truth in love.

John said it plain and clear, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1John 4:7-12). When we demonstrate Christ’s love, we are truly being the church. We are his hands, his feet, his heart, his mouth. The world will be drawn to Christ, not by our perfect words or our incredible church services. They will see Christ through the love we have for one another.

Ravi Zaharias writes, “For those who follow Jesus Christ, our message to the world must be clear. God transforms the heart and mind and we become his children and his ambassadors.” This week, consider how God wants to use you to be a light shining in the darkness. Where does He want you to go? Who is He calling you to reach, to help or to serve? May His love flow through you, so that a hurting world may know a living Lord.

Let you light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father.  Matthew 5:16

Prescription for a Healthy Heart

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Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Hoping to be a little more heart-healthy? When the Bible mentions our heart, it is essentially referring to the spiritual part about us where our emotions and desires reside. “Heart” is mentioned over 300 times in the Bible. Since our heart can easily be swayed, Scripture warns us to guard it because everything we do flows from it. In a practical sense, how do we do that? How do we keep our heart from being led down a dark path away from God?

Theologian Sinclair Ferguson offers this powerful prescription for guarding our heart.

First, I must guard my heart as if everything depended on it. This means that I should keep my heart like a sanctuary for the presence of the Lord Jesus.

Second, I must keep my heart healthy by proper diet, growing strong on a regular diet of God’s Word – reading it for myself and meditating on its truth, and being fed on it in the preaching of the Word.

Third, I must take regular spiritual exercise, since my heart will be strengthened by worship when my whole being is given over to God in expressions of love for and trust in Him.

Fourth, I must give myself to prayer in which my heart holds on to the promises of God, rests in His will, and asks for His sustaining grace – and do this not only on my own but with others so that we may encourage one another to maintain a heart for God.*

Finally, I would add that memorizing God’s Word helps us maintain a healthy heart. As the psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

I want to have a strong and healthy heart, don’t you? Let’s commit to this life-long prescription.

Click Here for my latest book, Becoming a Woman of the Word.

*Adapted by Providence Presbyterian from Sinclair Ferguson’s Catechism of the Heart

Inviting the Conversation

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When is the last time you opened up a healthy and loving dialogue with someone who doesn’t share the same views as you? Jesus wasn’t afraid to engage in conversation. He asked questions. He loved and did not condemn. He showed us what it looked like to engage with the culture by reaching into the lives of people who needed His love.

The apostle Paul encouraged similar healthy conversation. In his letter to the Colossians he wrote, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” How do we speak the truth of God’s Word, while lovingly reaching out to the culture around us? We must be both gracious and wise in what comes out of our mouths, recognizing that those who do not know Christ do not see life through the same perspective.

Theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer wrote, “Each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting.” Often Jesus answered a question with a question. Questions can help us get to the heart of the matter and lead people toward truth. Recently I had an e-mail dialogue with one of my readers that went something like this.

            Reader: Do you think ___________________is a sin?

Me: Why do you want to know?

Reader: I want to know if God is mad at me.

Me: Why do you care if God is mad at you?

Reader: I want to know if I am disobeying Him. I don’t want to feel far away from Him.

Me: If you care about what God thinks about you, then you don’t need to know what I think about that sin, rather you need to know what God says about it.

I then led her to the passage in Romans 3 that reminds us that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We all have a sin problem, and yet God in His loving-kindness provided the solution to our sin problem through Jesus Christ. I led her to passages in the Bible about Jesus, so that she could understand His love and mercy, as well as His righteousness and His desire for your life. You see, we need to lead people to the love of Jesus first, because without Him, picking out this sin or that sin is meaningless and unfruitful. When someone is inquiring about sin, they either sincerely want to know what God thinks about sin, or they are trying to get you to say something so that they will feel offended (and sadly this is usually the case).

The message of the Bible is simple: We all fall short of God’s glory, and we all need Jesus. Our objective is to argue less and point to God more. Often our words can be misunderstood or not received in the spirit which we give them. The most important thing we can do is to refrain from surface-level disputes and instead get to the real issue of the heart. Ask questions, listen, engage in conversation, and lovingly lead people to the core issue of Christ’s love. Remember how Jesus handled the woman caught in adultery? The Pharisees brought her to Jesus wanting Him to condemn her. Jesus wisely and gently responded by pointing out the fact that all have sinned. We all need Jesus. Our job is not to cast stones at sinners; our job is to point to the gospel of salvation.

Instead of condemning, let’s choose to be engaging. Our first objective is to live biblically and examine our own hearts and motives, repenting and seeking the Holy Spirit’s help in living righteous lives ourselves. As we humbly reflect the love of Jesus in our words and actions, then we have the platform to lovingly share the gospel with a world that desperately needs Him. Are you willing to step out and touch the people who are different than you, just as Jesus did? It all comes down to asking ourselves, “Am I willing to take the time to engage in conversations and build relationships with those who need Christ?” Let’s get the conversation started.

This is an excerpt from book, Becoming A Woman of the Word.

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My prayer for America

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As we celebrate Independence Day this week, let’s also be diligent to pray and seek God’s mercy  and blessing for this great nation. My prayer for America is that we will return to our roots founded in the Bible. Daniel Webster, in his address delivered at Bunker Hill on June 17, 1843, said:

 To the free and universal reading of the Bible… men are much indebted for right views of civil liberty. The Bible is a book… which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow man.

I believe America will return to strength, when it returns to believing, accepting and obeying the principles in God’s Word. The truths of the Bible are timeless.

  • The Bible reminds us that God is our creator and that every human life is valuable.
  • The Bible teaches us the attributes of God.
  • The Bible teaches us how to live and how to interact with others.
  • The Bible teaches us about our sin and about God’s mercy and redemption.

So here’s my prayer:

Father, we praise You because You are good, You are love and You are holy.  Forgive us for we have strayed from Your Word and Your commands. Forgive us because we have placed our heart’s affection on the things of this world rather than the One who created it. We have forgotten your ways and replaced them with our own ways. We have lost our understanding of You because we have failed to read Your Word. Revive us Lord! Bring us back to You and draw us back to Your Word. Heal our land and have mercy on us. Restore us and bless us, so that we may once again be a nation shining brightly for You, one nation under God.

#ReturnToTheBible It begins with us. Take time to get to know the Bible. Don’t depend on someone else to tell you what it says – read it for yourself.