Perfect Peace

Trust in the Lord! God has heard your prayers! Rest in God!

Does it seem like you have been praying forever for your situation, or the salvation of a family member, or the challenges one of your friends are facing?

Be Encouraged! The day is coming when you will see God at work, and then you too will declare from the depths of your heart, with joy “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them” (Luke 1:68).

Waiting for God to answer our prayers is hard, for we live in a society that is based on instant gratification, fast food, fast cars, and rapid transit. Our patience is tested when we find ourselves waiting, especially if we are waiting for an answer, or when we find ourselves or a loved one in pain and are waiting for a way out. Yet when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus didn’t say that their prayers would be answered instantly. Instead Jesus told them to persist in prayer, to ask, to seek, to knock.

In your waiting for God to answer your prayers, you aren’t alone. There is a long line of believers before you who have had to wait for God to answer their prayers. Anna and Simeon prayed patiently every day until they were nearing the end of their lives before they saw the baby Jesus, God in the flesh (Luke 2:25-38). God allowed them to catch a glimpse of the beginning of the answer to their prayer – the baby Jesus. But they did not live to see how God was going to fully answer their prayers – they did not live to see how God’s plan of salvation was going to be worked out.

Why God has chosen His timing, and His way of answering your prayers, may well remain a mystery until you cross over into Glory. However know this, God is faithful, and just as He answered Anna’s and Simeon’s prayers, He will answer your prayers! In the meantime, in the midst of what is happening in your life cling to this promise that:

God will keep in perfect peace 
     all who trust in Him, 
     all whose thoughts are fixed on Him! 
Trust in the Lord always, 
     for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. (Isa 26:3-4)

The People God Uses

You have a unique role in advancing God’s Kingdom. In fact each person that God has created has a role in advancing God’s Kingdom. Yes even those who today who do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord, are used by God in someway to advance God’s Kingdom and to influence and shape your life so that you become the person God created you to be. This truth is vividly portrayed in the Christmas story. The birth of Jesus would never have been the fulfillment of prophesy without God involving a diverse group of people with various beliefs or lack of faith.

God used people with doubts.

God worked a miracle in the lives of Zachariah an elderly priest and his Elizabeth wife who are past child bearing age so that they would become the parents of John the Baptist.Even though Zachariah is standing in the Holy of Holies – in the very presence of God – he doesn’t believe that he is receiving a message from God.

God can use you today, even with your doubts. God hears your prayers! In faith, cry out to God to help you overcome your unbelief (Mark 9:24).

God used young people with faith.

God chose Mary, an ordinary teenage virgin and Joseph her fiancé, a simple carpenter to be the parents of Jesus. In faith Mary chooses to glorify the Lord and rejoice in God. Their hands would change a baby’s diaper. Their son’s hands would have nails driven through them for our sins.

Like Mary and Joseph,don’t let anybody look down on you because you are young, but set an example for other believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Tim 4:12).

God used pagan leaders.

God could have chosen any number of people of faith to tell Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem to have their baby. But God chose Caesar Augustus, a ruler who does not know or acknowledge God to issue a decree that caused Joseph and Mary to have their baby in Bethlehem.

The decisions that your company makes which have affected your life are constrained and directed by our all-knowing, all-wise Heavenly Father. Praise God for them,for God has used their decisions to bring you to where you are today, and this is exactly where you need to be today if you are being obedient to God.

God proclaimed the good news to people at work.

God chose to proclaim the birth of Jesus, good news of great joy, to shepherds going about their day to day work, doing the same jobs that their families had been doing for generations.

You can experience peace and joy today in your workplace because our Redeemer lives.There is no temptation that you experience in your work today that Jesus hasn’t experienced.

God used wise men who needed directions.

There were men, who God had gifted with wisdom, who followed a sign in the stars to Jerusalem seeking to know where the “king of the Jews” was born. Even with their wisdom they still needed to ask for directions to get to Bethlehem.

There is nothing shameful in seeking the wisdom and knowledge of those around you. Just test what you hear to ensure that it is in alignment with Scripture.

God used pious religious leaders who lacked faith.

God used the pious religious leaders who knew off the top of their head the prophecy as to where Jesus would be born to give directions to the wise men. Yet these priests lacked the faith to believe for themselves that this miracle would happen in their life time, and didn’t even bother to check it out.

Listen to the co-workers, managers, books, and other people God has blessed you with so that you can develop the skills to do all that God meant for you to be. Don’t pre-judge what they have to say based on whether or not they are people of faith.

God used a jealous, scared leader who reigned with fear.

God used King Herod, a jealous King, who was afraid that a baby would take over his throne to drive Mary and Joseph to Egypt so that the prophecy would be fulfilled that “out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1).

In your life, there will be leaders who do not acknowledge God or fear God, and their actions will shape your destiny. Remember that they have no more authority than what God has granted to them. Allow God’s perfect love for you to drive away all fear that you may have. (1 John 4:18)

God used a man of faith who patiently held on to God’s promises.

Like Abraham, Simeon, an elderly ordinary righteous, devout man had received a promise from God and patiently waited for it to be fulfilled. As a result he had the privilege of bestowing a prophetic blessing on Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

With hope walk boldly towards your future! God holds your future securely in his hands. God will use you to be a blessing to other people.

God used a woman who knew the difficulties of life.

Anna had only been married for seven years before her husband died. After that she faced the struggles of living as a widower in Jerusalem. Because she remained faithful, fasting and praying, God granted her the immense privilege of being in the temple at the right moment, to hold Jesus in her hands.

Today Jesus lives in your heart. Your peace rests in Jesus. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world. (John 16:33).

Give thanks for each person God has brought into your life.

Father we thank you and praise you for each person you have brought into our lives. We thank you for the way they have shaped us into the men and women that we are today. Give us ears to hear what you are saying to us through each person, and each circumstance in our lives. Speak through us your words of truth into the lives of those around us. Amen.

Joy

Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy! (Luke 2:10)

Your heart can be filled with great joy today as you contemplate with unshakeable faith what God has done, who God is, and what God will do in the future.

Joy can only be found in God. Joy is a divine spark that entered your life at the cross, when you acknowledged your need for Christ and cried out for forgiveness. Joy will continue to be your constant companion as you are obedient to God.

Joy is not a cheerful disposition, happiness, or positive mental outlook on life. Joy is rooted in the heart and soul of those who are God’s children.

The direst of circumstances or the worst kind of events can’t extinguish or dampen your joy. Look beyond your circumstances and confidently wait in hope and love for Christ.

Don’t let Satan steal your joy! You forfeit your joy when you pursue selfish desires, choose to think about all the things that you don’t have, or are envious of others. Sinful pleasures, evil passions and selfish cravings destroy joy. The god of personal opinions cannot offer you joy.

When you let your curiosity or pride try to undertake the fruitless task of trying to understand the mysterious ways of the all wise, all knowing God, you are allowing Satan to rob you of your joy. Instead with simple, childlike faith trust our sovereign God and joy will pour into your heart.

With joy you can go about your work in peace. You can face long work days, stressful jobs and office politics with joy only when your eyes are fixed on Jesus.

Although you may struggle with insecurities, depression, anxiety, a need for approval, or a drive for significance, you can rejoice today because you are God’s child. God is your glory and strength! You will be overjoyed when God’s glory is revealed.

Give thanks today with joy because the Lord your God is with you, and takes great delight in you!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil 4:4).

Hope

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Ps 46:1)


You can face today with a living hope! With hope you can walk boldly towards your future because God holds your future securely in his hands. God will faithfully fulfill all his promises. With hope you can soar on wings like eagles; you can run and not grow weary; you can walk and not faint.

Your hope is the active source of your strength to overcome temptation. Your hope gives you the courage to face the hostile forces of guilt, shame and death. Your hope rests in the reality of God’s victory over evil through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and God’s gift of the Holy Spirit.

Because you have hope, you can show and love and compassion to other people without expecting anything in return, for you know that you have everything that you need in Christ.

Be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble (1 Peter 3:8)

There are people around you who live without hope; people who are filled with feelings of guilt, loneliness, shame and unworthiness. Before they will grasp the wonder of the hope of Christmas, they need a safe place where they can share and process their story. Everybody has a story to share. One of the best gifts you can give your co-workers or customers this Christmas season is the gift of your presence quietly listening to their story.

Imagine the conversation you would have had if you had come alongside a single, visibly pregnant young lady as she traveled from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea. Imagine her telling you her name was Mary and the amazing story of her pregnancy.

I wonder if anybody took the time to listen to the story of a homeless young couple with a newborn baby when they arrived in Egypt? If they had, they would have heard an amazing story of the birth of their child; a story about wise men, angels and shepherds. They would have heard a story of a terrible tragedy as the family escaped from Bethlehem.

Let your face sparkle with love as you listen to someone’s story with compassion. Listen with your eyes, giving your undivided attention (in a culturally appropriate manner). Listen with your ears, hearing carefully the words that aren’t spoken. Listen with your heart showing that you care.

Having a confident hope that God continues to act on behalf of his people, offer to pray. Pray with expectation, believing that just as God answered your prayers, God will intervene in their lives.

Your hope will sink deeper into the streams of living water flowing from God’s presence as you listen to someone else’s story.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (1 Cor 1:3-4).

Good News of Great Joy

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people (Luke 2:10)


Your prayers have been heard! God’s promises will be fulfilled at the proper time. The word of God will never fail! The day is coming when you will say “How kind the Lord Is! The Lord has done this for me.” You have nothing to fear, the Lord is with you! The Lord’s hand is upon you! Exchange your fear for peace and joy – The Savior – yes the only one who can deliver you from your sin, the Messiah, was born in Bethlehem.There is no need to worry – He is risen from the dead!

Lay at the foot of the cross your past,your shattered dreams, your wounded heart and broken toys. Allow Christ to fashion you into the person he created you to be. Surrender yourself-centeredness your pride, your dreams, your hopes and fears to the Lord of the universe and you will find peace and joy. Exchange your self-pity, regret, guilt, remorse, resentments and frustrations for glorifying and praising God. Then you will know the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.

Hallelujah! He is Lord in each and every situation that you find yourself in today. He is Lord wherever you go. If you rise on the wings of the dawn, or settle on the far side of the sea God’s hand will guide you, and his right hand will hold you fast [1]. Don’t allow yourself to be cheated out of peace and joy by planning and preparing for every contingency so that you cannot hear the baby born in Bethlehem say to you “I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope [2]. Firmly and confidently place your future where it belongs in the hands of your Savior and Lord.

Merry Christmas!
James Bruyn

[1] Ps 139:9-10
[2] Jer 29:11

Servant’s of God

Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you! (Luke 1:28)


What a privilege it is to be a servant of the Lord, to know that you have a unique contribution to make in God’s Kingdom at this time, in this place. What a privilege it is to be a servant of the living God, right here, right now in the midst of your everyday, ordinary life experiences. God did not choose you because of your job, your skills, your financial status, your marital status or where you live. God chose you to be His servant and has filled you with the Holy Spirit because He created you and because He loves you.

God is mindful of you. God has done great things for you. God takes the initiative morning by morning to show you His mercy. God has given you sufficient grace for where you are right now in your life. God will bless you with sufficient grace for what lies ahead. You don’t need to have all the answers, trust that God knows all the answers.

Today you have a choice – you can focus on all that has to get done between now and Christmas, or you can thoughtfully reflect on what you hear God is saying to you today through his Word. You can choose to worry about what lies ahead next year or you can choose to humbly trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises to you. You can choose to be troubled about all that is broken in this world, or you can choose to glorify the Lord.

And Mary said: 
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. 
From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. 
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; 
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 
to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46-55) 

Prayer
Lord our spirits rejoice that you are mindful of each one of us. You have done great things for each of us, forgive us for the times when we forget or are blind to what you have done for us. Thank you for your mercy, and the mighty deeds you have done. Keep us humble, purify our inmost thoughts. Amen

Merry Christmas!

Immanuel, God With Us

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Matt 1:23)


God is with you! God is with you today in your meetings, during your phone calls, over lunch and coffee. God is with you while you do each task of your job. Your value, your significance and your hope comes from doing what you are doing with God, for God’s glory. No matter how mundane your life may be, in continual communion with God, your life is elevated to sacred heights. [1]

Enjoy the immense privilege of God being with you right now. In your Spirit freely callout ‘Abba, Father’ and know that God hears you. Since Christ is at your side you can trust and obey God. Humbly allow the potter to shape you according to his divine will into the person he created you to be. Make a fresh start today with God at your side. God will strengthen you so that you can turn from sin and resist temptation. God is your hiding place from temptation in a hostile world. The Lord, God almighty is upholding you with his righteous hand.

Who is it that is with you? The Lord of heaven and earth is with you! The God of peace, grace, truth and light is with you. The loving, holy and righteous God is your constant companion. God delights over you with his whole being and freely gives you true riches and treasures. God hears your prayers and is providing exactly what you need for this moment.

Allow God’s presence to fill you with joy, celebrate God’s righteousness and the eternal pleasures that are at God’s right hand. Be strong and courageous! God is with you! God will never leave you nor forsake you! Live a grace filled life without shame, seeking no reward, fearing nothing, being afraid of no one. Live your life with boldness, joy, love, power and gratitude. Freely give. Freely forgive. Freely love. Enjoy each moment of this day basking in God’s presence.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. (Ps 23:4-5)

Prayer 

May the god of love and peace be with you, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.


[1] Jethani, Skye, With¸ (Nelson books, 2011) p. 150