The Blessing of Being Still

God cares for the pelicans

This morning my mind is beset by the turmoil of this world. At every level anger, greed, lying, and pride inflict our country. National trust is eroded by the leaders who should preserve and cherish it, and even religious leaders trade truth and justice for political gain. On top of this no one knows how much we have been manipulated by our enemies using social media to push lies and distrust. Our anxiety surges with each news flash. Into this cacophony we are given words to meditate upon:

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:10-11

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The stillness and peace we long for doesn’t come with one reading of these verses. It takes time before God with thanksgiving, until finally you can say:

I have stilled and quieted my soul; Psalm 131:2

Gray Day

Gray Day

Sometimes the view is obscured

I awoke this morning feeling lost and lifeless. On such gray mornings I need a big dose of Hebrews 4:26.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Followed by Romans 15:13.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Usually it takes some time for the Son to burn off my grayness. Fortunately my coming before the throne is not about my feelings, but about trusting in God’s grace. 

Coming Before the Throne

Before the Throne

At Heaven’s gate

Trying to write, but I am so uninspired and sleepy.
Trying to pray for a good friend who has terminal cancer, but I am so lifeless in prayer.
Trying to live for my Lord, but I am so weak and easily tripped up.
How wonderful is my great high priest who sits enthroned at the right hand of God.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

My soul soars to His mercy seat and I fall before Him in thanksgiving.

Flying Through the Morning Mist

Morning Mist Along the Wenatchee River

Flying through the fog of fear

Life is like this scene along the Wenatchee River—shrouded in fog. I am often unable to see clearly to know what lies ahead. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, encourages us to to move forward not letting our past sins and fears bind us and prevent our advance.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,…” Phil. 3:13

So I made my own list of the things I need to forget:

Past sins and failures that have been forgiven.
Past ugliness and pain.
Fear that I don’t have what it takes to keep going.

Trouble is to forget I need to replace my fears with something that encourages, and clears the fog of uncertainty as I move forward. This is why I also need to remember:

Jesus Christ died for my sins, and now I am new in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus loves me and is my faithful shepherd. (John 10:11)
God is building me up in Jesus to do good things. (Ephesians 2:10)
Nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39)

When you can’t see ahead moving forward depends on what you let your mind dwell upon. (Phil. 4:8)

Recapturing Innocence

Innocence

Oh, the peace of innocence

Often, when I try to pray, past memories harp at me about why I’m unworthy to go before God. Only when I pray trusting in the power of Jesus to forgive all my past and future, am I able to enter the peace of God’s presence. Placing my faith in the His grace, and the power of Christ’s blood is the key. God’s love then quiets the cacophony in my head and brings me to innocent communion with Him.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.         –Ephesians 3:12

I need the Lord’s help to remember the sufficiency of His grace. I need the Lord’s help to forget the ugliness He has forgiven. I need the Lord’s help to live for Him in the innocence He gives.

The Land of Miracles

Mount Rainier-Berkeley Park

Berkeley Park, Mount Rainier National Park

Berkeley Park is a place of flowers and mist, a peaceful place for healing of the soul.

Have you ever prayed for healing? This appeal to God is little scary for me. It is even scarier when the prayer is for a child with a life threatening illness. I am scared because I don’t know if my faith measures up to what is required. Can I muster the faith required, or will one little deviation, one little doubt, one little slip cause the miracle to crumble? That is what one father worried about when he asked Jesus to heal his son.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”                Mark 9:17-24

This man knew the faith needed to heal his son was beyond his ability. I think it is beyond most people’s ability to summon that kind of faith, even the disciples couldn’t do it. But Jesus healed the boy because He is the author and perfecter of faith and interceded with God on behalf of the man and his son.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

I may not have what it takes, but I can go to my high priest, Jesus, and pray: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Knowing that brings peace to my soul.

Grace and Peace

Winter Along Icicle Creek

New snow, new day, peaceful and serene along the Icicle Creek

The scene is the Icicle Creek near Leavenworth WA. The photo was taken the morning after a snow fall in early winter. All is at peace with only the rushing of water for background music. I like to think of this moment as God’s salutation to me:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every letter in the New Testament begins with this greeting. The reason is grace and peace go together, with the gift of grace comes the gift of peace (see Romans 5:1). But I have to admit, often in accepting God’s forgiveness, I fail to also receive His peace that comes with it. Instead my mind falls into old ruts that rob me of the fullness of grace.

These are my ruts. I am sure you can add others to this list:

Grace and “Don’t let it happen again!”
Grace and “What a mess you’ve made.”
Grace and “You’re no good.”
Grace and the temptation to give up on myself.
Grace and fear.

Truth is I need help to receive all that God wants to give me. I need His help to put down the cacophony of lying voices in my head. I need His grace applied not only to forgive my sins, but also to let His peace rule in my life. Quite simply, I need grace upon grace.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Therefore, as you live by God’s grace don’t let your thoughts lie about the conditions of His grace. Instead ask for grace upon grace, so that you can walk in the peace that God has for you in Jesus Christ.

Grace, like new fallen snow, covering everything with His peace.

Grace Like Falling Snow

skier sleeping lady

Snow flake upon snow flake bringing winter joy.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:16

Thank you Lord, that Your grace is not a one time gift, for I would have used it up long ago.

Thank you Lord, that Your grace goes beyond the forgiveness of my past sins to include my future.

Thank you Lord, that grace is also about the assurance of Your presence in my life, that You will be with me in all that takes place (O Immanuel).

Thank you Lord, that by Your grace, You want to change me from what I am, to what You want me to be.

I praise You that this miraculous transformation happens by Your strength not mine.

Thank you Lord, that Your grace soaks up what I have spilled, not just in my life, but also in the lives of those I have hurt.

Thank you Lord, that grace will never lose its power with use, or become dull with time.

Grace upon grace springing up eternally from Your fullness to my wholeness.

A Prayer Plagiarized

snow covering a meandering stream

Pure peace, and gentle rest, wrapped in love for us to enjoy.

The LORD’s Prayer given to me.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13

My prayer given back.

Deliver me from lust, and lead into into love.
Starve my stomach, and feed my heart.
Forgive what I have done, and reveal in me what You are doing.
Remove my shame, and drench me with Your grace.
Help me let go of my worry, and lead me in the pasture of Your peace.
Drown my pain with the hope of Your glory.
Remove the curse, and anoint me with joyful blessing.
Let me forget where I have been, by the power of whose I am.
Cover me with thy presence.
Rescue those I love, and bring us together in Your goodness … forever!

Peace and Quiet

PeaceI have stilled and quieted my soul  (Psalm 131:2)

I cannot do this alone.

I need someone stronger than my fears.

I need someone to take away my gnawing guilt.

I need someone to forgive and remove my regret,

To quiet my shame.

Someone to quell the ugliness I have seen.

Some one who will lead me by quiet waters,

To restore my soul to innocence.

I need the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace.