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PEACE (2)

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:14-22
 
“For he himself is our peace…” (verse 14)
 
Peace is something we all seek, all desire, and all need. Yet, it is often the one thing that escapes us. Our troubled world at large seems devoid of peace. Our families and personal lives also seem devoid of peace.
 
However, yesterday’s devotional shared that peace has been promised. From the reference in Isaiah, we saw it is given to the one who places his trust in the Lord. He is the giver of true peace. Here in Ephesians 2, Paul states that as a fact — “he himself is our peace.”
 
Peace is a gift, so there has to be a giver and a receiver. The Lord is the one who offers us real peace.
 
In these verses, Paul has been speaking about the work of the cross. As a result of Christ’s death for us, we can be saved, made alive, brought into a relationship with Him, and so on. Also, one of the benefits of Calvary is the experience of peace, and the results of that peace are explained right here. It brings us near to God (verse 13) because He has broken down the barrier that separated us from God. And it makes us new (verse 15) because He has reconciled us through His death.
 
This is the message He declares: peace is possible for all men through Him and through what He has done.To know Christ then is to know peace. As we seek more of Him, we will experience more of His peace in our lives.
 
In Isaiah 9:6, the Messiah is called “Prince of Peace.” And, according to the next verse, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” The purpose of His coming was to make possible the experience of His peace in our lives.
 
Today, if you make Him the focus of your life, and seek to know Him more than ever before, I believe that you will experience more of His peace than ever before.


PEACE (1)

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 26:1-21
 
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (verse 3).
 
Every morning I leave my house around 6.15 a.m. to come to the office. As you can tell, I am a morning person. I love the quietness of that time. Driving into the office, I listen to the news on BBC radio. Most mornings, the news I hear is not very encouraging.
 
For example, today I heard of the crisis in Europe, where the displaced of Syria are concerned. I heard of children in parts of Africa who are starving with little relief, and of war here and killings there. Sometimes, I will hear about an earthquake that has killed many or some other tragic event. The news certainly gives me much to pray about.
 
This morning, I was thinking of the great need for peace across our world. Our world longs for peace. People need peace in these troubled times, and yet it seems absent. But as I look in Scripture, I am reminded that the Lord promises His people peace.
 
One of those promises is here in Isaiah 26. The prophet Isaiah, speaking to God’s people in troubled times, gives them God’s promise of peace. Peace is God’s gift to us, and He is the one who promises to give it. Notice that it is described as “perfect peace.” Paul describes it in Philippians 4:7 as a peace that “transcends all understanding.” It is this peace that we need so desperately today.
 
But how is it possible? The secret to this perfect peace has a condition, according to today’s key verse: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). The King James Version reads, “whose mind is stayed on you.”
 
Peace comes to the one whose eyes are on Jesus in the midst of troubled times. It is promised to the one who trusts not in people, circumstances or situations, but in the Lord. So today if you desire to experience the peace of God, shift your thinking away from the things that are happening all around, and fix your thoughts on the Lord.
 
He is your peace. The perfect peace of God can be yours today.


THIS IS A TEST

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19
 
“Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering” (verse 12).
 
Last night, at our evening service, I spoke on the difficult subject of suffering. In Judges 6:13, Gideon asks four very important questions about suffering and wondering where God is in the midst of things we do not understand.
 
Suffering is a very perplexing subject. All of us have questioned the purpose of it, and tried to find answers for it, but for the most part, those answers evade us. So what do we do with questions about suffering?
 
First, we need to understand this subject is addressed in Scripture. In the Old Testament, Job deals directly with it. And verses like Isaiah 43:1-5 speak directly to it. In the New Testament, each of the writers, at some point in a gospel or letter, refer to this topic.
 
Peter speaks about “painful trials” (or suffering) in 1 Peter. He endeavors to help us understand that suffering is a time of testing in which God is refining us. It may seem as though something strange is happening in our lives, but in reality, God is developing greater Christlikeness in us through our suffering.
 
Later in the next chapter, Peter shares what to do with the issues we wrestle with: “Cast all your anxieties upon him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We can give our perplexing situations over to God because He really does care for us.
 
So in the midst of your suffering today, there is a God who understands, who has a perfect plan for your life, and who really does care for you. He is perfecting His plan in your life, and in time, you will understand that no experience is wasted; it really is making you more like Jesus.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOUR MAJESTY

Scripture Reading: Daniel 2:17-23
 
“He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them” (verse 21).
 
It has been said you can take an Englishman out of England but you cannot take England out of an Englishman. I am proving that to be true as I think of my country today and the whole of Great Britain.
 
Today is Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday, and there will be many celebrations across the country. Last year, she become the longest reigning monarch, and now, she reaches another great milestone in her life. She is a very gracious and godly lady, and my country has been extremely fortunate to have had her as Queen. But as the years advance, many people wonder how much longer she will be able to guide our country in the manner she does. That is something known only to God.
 
The verses in Daniel 2 make a very important point about rulers (whether a queen or a president); they are allowed to rule only for the time allotted them. The text is very clear that it is God who sets up rulers in their positions, and God who removes them. That should be a comforting thought for Americans in this election year. God has a plan, and He has a person to fulfill that plan. As we prayerfully seek His guidance, I believe this country will be led to elect the person who should become president.
 
So what is our responsibility as Christians to those who rule us? I think Paul answers that question in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, when her urges us to pray “for kings and all in authority.” So today, as I wish my queen a very happy birthday, I want to fulfill my responsibility to pray for her. Equally, I want to pray for this great country of America, as its citizens seek a new leader, that God’s will be done.


NEW EVERY MORNING

Scripture Reading: Psalm 113

 “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised” (verse 3).
 
I just completed my early morning walk. I try to walk about 2 miles each morning before I begin my day in the office; it gives me time to think and pray.
 
This morning, as I walked, I watched the sun rise in the east. It was beautiful to see, and it brought the promise of a new day with new opportunities. It also reminded me of some many of the wonderful promises of God, such as the one from our key verse this morning. I also thought of Lamentations 3:22-23 “… his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”
 
Today is certainly a day filled with new opportunities. First of all, opportunities to praise God. As we remind ourselves who He is, and all that He has done and continues to do for us, praise should be the very essence of our day.
 
Secondly, opportunities to remind ourselves of His faithfulness to us. Every day gives us new experiences of His love and grace, and today is no different.
 
Finally, this day gives us opportunities to trust Him. We can trust the Lord with all that concerns us. We can prove that His grace will be sufficient for us, and grace for this day’s needs will be given to us. Jesus reminded us in Matthew 6:34 that “each day has enough trouble of its own.” So we should not worry about tomorrow, but allow ourselves to prove Him today.
 
So take the opportunities of today and turn them into a blessing — not only in your life but in the life of someone you minister to. Have a great day!


RENEWED HOPE

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:28-49
 
“… we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (verse 21).
 
The broken bread was a symbol of His care and of His presence; but now we need to consider a third symbol, a symbol of His purpose.
 
Before Jesus revealed Himself to the two people who resided at the home in Emmaus, they had shared with Him their broken dreams and shattered hopes. They had really believed that Jesus was the deliverer, that He had come to set His people free. But, in their minds, the cross had put a stop to all that. Their hopes and dreams now fell in a heap at their feet. Their disappointment was obvious.
 
When they finally recognized Jesus, as he broke the bread, their hopes and dreams were restored in an instant. And it was all because He had risen again, and they knew Him.
 
Today, your hopes and dreams may lay shattered at your feet. There may be many reasons for that. Perhaps you are responsible, or maybe you had no control over the situation. Regardless, Jesus is the Great Restorer, and once you recognize Him and invite Him into the situation, He will begin to restore what is shattered and remake what is broken.
 
These two people began to understand there was a purpose in all that had happened. There are no mistakes with God.  As you begin to feel His presence and know His love and care for you, you too will begin to understand that no experience in life is wasted. He has a plan and purpose for you, and many times, He is working that out through your pain.
 
So it is time to trust the One who is in control today. It is time to believe that He has a plan and purpose for your life, and part of that plan is to give you renewed hope.
 
“It is true! The Lord has risen…” (verse 34)


HIS PRESENCE

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:28-35
 
“Jesus himself came up and walked along with them” (verse 15).
 
It is amazing how Jesus can take charge of life’s tough situations and turn them around. This is exactly what He did for the two people who lived in Emmaus.
 
First of all, He walked with them; and then He listened to them. He went to stay with them, and suddenly He revealed Himself to them. He did that, you will remember, from our previous devotionals, through the breaking of bread. I shared with you how I felt this was symbolic as it had been when He broke the bread with the disciples.
 
At the Last Supper, the broken bread symbolized His broken body on the cross. The symbolism here, however, was somewhat different. Yesterday, I suggested that the breaking of the bread at their table was a symbol of His care and concern for them. Now I would like to take it a step further and suggest that the breaking of bread was a symbol of His presence.
 
One of the great concerns they had — and they discussed this as they talked together — was that Jesus died, and their hopes and dreams for the future were shattered. Part of that meant they were going to miss Him; they had gotten so used to Him being around, experiencing the joy of His presence, listening to His words, and now that was over. Or was it? When Jesus broke the bread, He was reminding them that they were not alone. He was with them, now in His resurrected presence, just as He had told them.
 
What a joy for us to realize today that, no matter what may be happening in our lives at this moment of time, we are not alone! Jesus is with us! There are so many promises in the Scriptures that assure us that God is with us, and as we realize that today, even the toughest situation will be turned around through the power of His presence. The One who said, “I am with you always” is the One who is with you and I now.
 
And He always will be.


THE BREAKING OF BREAD

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:28-35
 
“Then the two told what had happened on the way and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread” (verse 35).
 
Now we know how the two people in their home in Emmaus recognized Jesus. They had been in His presence, listened to His words, experienced His care and concern, and yet had not recognized Him until suddenly, over a simple meal, He broke bread. In this moment, their eyes were opened.
 
Can you imagine what that moment meant to them? They were certainly excited enough to run all the way back to Jerusalem, and that wasn’t just down the road. They had just walked from there, and now they ran all the way back to share the news with the disciples. “It is true! The Lord has risen…” was their message, and then they shared how they recognized Him when He broke the bread.
 
The breaking of the bread was very symbolic. In the upper room, Jesus had taken bread and declared, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). However, I am not sure these two knew about that moment with the disciples, but maybe they did. Anyway, they certainly knew the symbolism of the breaking of bread when He did it in their home.
 
Several symbols come from this moment. Let me suggest that it was a symbol of His care. These people, on this day, were filled with grief and confusion. They longed for someone to care; someone to understand. Then along came Jesus. As He talked with them, they became aware of His care for them. Then, when He accepted the invitation to share a meal at their table, another symbol of His care took place.
 
When Jesus broke the bread in the upper room, symbolic of His broken body on the cross, He was really saying, “See, this is how much I care for you. I care enough to die for you.” And when He broke bread in their home, He was saying, “See, this is now much I care for you; enough to be here with you and share in you sorrow.”
 
He cares for us today. That is the promise of 1 Peter 5:7. Whatever is going on in the your life, you can take the promise and live in the reality of it, for He surely cares for you.


THEY RECOGNIZED HIM

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:28-35
 
“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him …” (verse 31).
 
Many speculate as to what suddenly opened the eyes of the two people in Emmaus to the reality that Jesus was dining with them. He had joined them on their journey home from Jerusalem, and they had not known who He was. He had conversed with them and shared Scriptures, and still they did not recognize Him. And now He was a guest at their table, and they were still blind to the reality of His presence.
 
They were just like us, so often, especially in difficult times. We ask Him to be present, but we don’t feel His presence. We ask Him to help, but we don’t recognize His help. We feel so alone, and yet He is with us all the time, just as He promised He would be.
 
So what was it that opened these two characters’ eyes to Jesus’ presence? The way He gave thanks? No, it was not that. Did they catch a glimpse of the nail marks in His hands? No, it was not that either. Maybe it was the way He sat at the table — a gesture or a look? No, it was none of these things.
 
In fact they make the reason clear when they finally get back to Jerusalem and share with the disciples. According to verse 35, “Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”  It was in the simple act of breaking bread that their eyes were opened.
 
It may be today, in the simple things of life, that you will recognize the presence of Jesus, for He is surely with you. A raindrop, or a flower; the shape of a cloud or the glimpse of the sun. Something at some point in time will open your eyes to the reality of His presence.
 
Just as He promised, He is with you always.


HOME

Scripture Reading: Luke 24:28-35
 
“So he went in to stay with them” (verse 29).
 
The little home in Emmaus, which a few days earlier had been a place of peace and rest, now seemed like a place of sadness and tragedy.
 
The couple who lived there had just returned from Jerusalem, where they had witnessed the unfolding of this tragedy. Jesus had been crucified — He was dead. They had talked about it all the way home — what it meant, how everything had suddenly changed. A stranger had joined them on the journey, who seemed to know nothing about what had happened. But as they shared with him, they felt better, so they invited him to stay in their home that night. He did, and that’s where the next miracle happened.
 
Sometimes our homes, which should be havens of rest and quiet, can become places of sadness and tragedy.  Sometimes they can be war zones of tension and argument, even places we dread coming home to.
 
However, if you invite Jesus to become part of your home, no matter what is going on, things will begin to change (like here at the home in Emmaus). As Jesus sat at their table, He was served a meal. As He gave thanks and broke bread, somehow reality hit them. Jesus wasn’t dead; He was very much alive and in charge. He was in their home, seated at their table, enjoying their food. What a difference that reality made to them! Peace and calm returned, hope for the future was given, and their home became the place it was meant to be, all because they invited Jesus home.

Invite Jesus to be not just part of your life, but part of your home as well. Involve Him, share with Him all that is going on, and you will discover that He is alive and that He is interested in everything that is happening to you. Once He comes in to stay with you, miracles will take place.