Here we are in a new season, a new year. No better time for a new devotional series. Right? As many do, I always ask God at the beginning of a new year for a focus word. Two years ago it was the word: TRUST. Last year, it was the word BELIEVE. Both of those words developed into my last devotional series SHE believed; Developing a Foundation of Trust in God. As I learned what it meant to trust God, I began to Think on Truth, Remember and Rest, Unload my cares, Sing and Serve, and be Thankful. Beyond putting those things into practice, God challenged me to really BELIEVE his promises for my life – just like Sarah in Hebrews 11:11: “She believed that God would keep his promise.” Not just give lip service to them.
So I am not surprised that my focus word for this year is….TRUTH. As last year wrapped up, I was already leaning toward the idea for my next series: Digging Deeper. In fact, I had made the cool little graphic you see here with the shovel and all. As my hubby and I travelled to the Passion Conference in Atlanta last week, I shared with him this idea and image. I told him how I would love to dig deeper into God’s promises in this next series. He liked my idea, but thought the title and image could be stronger. So we tossed some ideas around and left it to discuss later.
Then, something cool happened. God sent Christine Caine all the way from Australia to an arena of 60,000 college students in Atlanta to confirm the very thing that God had laid on my heart. Just for me. Well, not really, but y’all! She even brought a shovel and dirt and a well as a visual illustration for her message. It was so very good. I encourage you to go watch/listen to it HERE.
Christine shared how like Isaac in Genesis 26, we need to pick up a shovel and begin to dig out the old wells that are stopped up with debris and junk. So that out of these wells can flow the Living Water to a lost and broken world. She said we are in a generation where anything the old generation did is not cool, but that old wells can produce living water too. “You can deconstruct what you want, but don’t deconstruct yourself out of believing the foundational truths of the Word of God. Let’s make a decision we are going to dig deep…we have to start digging deeper.”
At that moment I may have elbowed my hubby in the side and said, “See, Digging Deeper! I think I need to stick to that title and graphic. It is confirmation.” Of course, it is not about my title or graphic. It is truly about digging deeper, understanding and believing, the truth of God’s promises that will transform our lives. But, I do love how God reached down in that moment to confirm what he had already placed in my heart.
Believing the foundational truth of God’s word is essential to our faith. When the world tells us there is no absolute truth. When Satan wants to twist the truth into lies. When we want to compromise the truth to fit our needs or feelings. When we have a tendency to misquote or misuse scripture. We need to know the real. absolute. truth of God’s promises. Not just what we think it means. But what does it really mean and how can we apply it to our lives.
I believe with all my heart that the reason we live dry, defeated, discouraged lives is that we do not feed on the truth of God’s word daily. We may go to church on Sunday, or listen to a podcast here or there, and get a good helping of the Word. But that one meal can not sustain us spiritually for the rest of the week no more than eating one meal could sustain us physically all week. We want to hear from God, we want to know Jesus, yet we fail to open the Word of God daily.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Louie Giglio said later in the evening at Passion 2020, “If you want to turn a new page in your life this year, start turning pages in the Book.” Get in the Word, the Truth.
The Word is Jesus…speaking to us from the beginning of time.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14
“He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” Revelation 19:13
The Word guides us, shapes us, encourages us, challenges us, convicts us, changes us, comforts us. The Word. The Truth.
I see it on the faces of people as they walk through the doors on Sunday morning. Tired, weary, parched, hungry.
They need to feast on his Word daily. They need to drink of his living water daily.
Not just them. I need to feast and drink, too. Not just on Sunday. Every. Single. Day. I need to be digging deeper into the truth of God’s promises.
Taking a quiet pause. Sitting with the Word is sitting at the feet of Jesus.
I rarely skip a meal.
But, I may skip the most important nourishment for my soul.
When we spend time in the Word, when we dig deeper into the real truth of God’s promises…
We find life
Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
“He is the Word of life.” 1 John 1:1
We find freedom
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
We find salvation
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16
We find holiness
“Make then holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.” John 17:17
We find direction
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
We experienced a terrible drought in the south at the end of this past summer. The effects can still be seen all over. Trees that are normally evergreen are now brown, dried up, dead. Lakes with levels so low that boat docks literally sit on dry ground.
Our souls can also become so drought-ridden, so dry, so parched, so discouraged, so dead…. when we aren’t drinking from the living water of Jesus.
Instead, like the Psalmist “who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night,” we too can be…
Like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields is fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither –
whatever they do prospers”
We find refreshment, refuge, restoration, redemption, refinement, revival, rest, and revelation. And, So. Much. More. When we start turning the pages of the Book. When we start sitting at the feet of Jesus. When we take a quiet pause. When we start opening the Word of life. When we start Digging Deeper.
In this next devotional series, we will be exploring the truth of some of our most favorite promises in God’s word. We will look at original definitions, context and some commentary so that we can begin to fully understand and believe the truth of God’s promises for our lives. Let’s get digging!
Just Gimme Some Peace
Peace. It is elusive sometimes. We want it, but don’t know how to get it…
If you are like me, we often equate peace to a feeling. A feeling that comes when we are stress free, worry free, trouble free, unafraid.
Or maybe you work really hard to have peace. You try to perfect every little thing. Control every situation and everyone. Hoping to somehow manufacture peace.
Peace does not equal easy.
Peace does not equal perfect.
Peace means much more than that.
As I shared in A Message for Christmas, Jesus said this:
“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
After that blog, I got to thinking. What is this peace really? And, how can I get it? To find the answer, I started digging deeper into the truth of this promise.
Let’s first look at what it is NOT…
Jesus said that he does not give as the world gives. What does that even mean?
The “world” in this verse in the original Greek means “the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ”. (Strong’s/Blue Letter Bible) Jesus doesn’t give in the same way.
The “world” is further defined in John 16:33 where Jesus also teaches about the peace he gives.
“I have told you these things: so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)
The “world” here in the original Greek is the same word as in John 14:27. However, the “world” is further defined to mean “the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce (attract powerfully away) from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.” (Strong’s/Blue Letter Bible)
1 John 2:16 tells us “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (NLT)
It seems that so many times the peace that I am pursuing is not necessarily the peace that Jesus wants to give me. The world gives goods, riches, advantages, pleasures, achievements, possessions, and pride that are hollow, frail and fleeting. Have you, like me, ever said…”If only I get that job or promotion. If only I get that new home or car. If only I have a good hair day or could get those last 10 lbs off. If only my kids get straight A’s in elementary school or in the best colleges when they graduate or at least not to get in trouble one more time in kid’s church (not that this ever happened to me)? Then, I will have peace!” That is not the peace Jesus gives.
The world also gives trouble. John 16:33 tells us: “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” (Strong’s(AMPC) Have you, like me, every said…”If only I didn’t have that trial. If only I didn’t have that stress. If only I didn’t have that frustration or worry? If only I didn’t have _________. Fill in the blank. Then, I will have peace.” That is not the peace Jesus gives.
“God’s Word doesn’t promise an escape or a life free from trouble….God doesn’t promise us easy; He promises us victory.” Scarlet Hiltibidal
The peace that Jesus gives is a gift. It is not as the world gives. In John 14:27, he said, “My peace I give you.” What is required for a gift to be received? It must be opened. This peace has two parts. Vine’s Concise Dictionary defines peace (eirene in Greek) as the sense of rest and contentment.
the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God. (rest)
and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is. (contentment)(Strong’s/Blue Letter)
This peace comes first through salvation. “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”John 3:16 (AMPC) So we fear nothing from God because we have this hope that is a “strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” Hebrews 6:19 A soul at rest. We can not expect to open the gift of peace without first surrendering our life to the Prince of Peace.
Secondly, peace comes through contentment. Content means to be satisfied, be sufficient, be enough – independent of external circumstances. This same peace can be found in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God and the PEACE of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” We can’t expect to open the gift of peace in our lives without contentment. Contentment comes through thanksgiving which ultimately results in peace.
“Thankfulness creates gratitude which generates contentment that causes peace.” Todd Stocker
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” Anthony Robbins
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” Helen Keller
Paul understood contentment, too. “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
So you see, when we start digging deeper into the truth of God’s promise, we find that peace is more than life without trouble, trials, and tribulations. Peace is more than promotions, possessions, pride, and pleasures. No matter what the world throws at us. No matter what the world gives or doesn’t give us. We can find real peace. We can unwrap the gift of peace that only Jesus gives.
The tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God, and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.
Putting It Into Practice
We are sinners in need of a Savior. “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 ESV He is our hope. He is our anchor. He is our peace. If you have not surrendered your life to Jesus, I would love to talk to you. Please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Read Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 4:35-41. Both of these passages involve a storm. Jesus walking on water in one storm joined by Peter. And, Jesus asleep during a storm in a boat with the disciples. Finding peace in the middle of our storms is not easy at times, especially if you tend to be a worrier like me. We have to keep our eyes focused on Jesus like Peter did when he walked on water. Unlike Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus. And, we have to go to the source of our peace, to the one who can calm the wind and waves in the middle of our storm like the disciples. The best way to do that is by being consistently in the Word and Worship. Consider starting your day with a quiet pause in the Word. Add a few minutes of Worship music while getting ready to head out for the day or in the car on the way.
Cultivate contentment by starting a gratitude journal (you can even do it in your notes on your phone or grab a spiral notebook or I bet there is an app out there). Begin each day by listing several things for which you are thankful. Did you know research has shown that whatever you set your mind on the first few minutes of each day wires your brain for the rest of the day? Why not start by wiring it with gratitude which leads to contentment and ultimately leads to peace.
**photo: John Bogna @unsplash.com