“Peace in this…”

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

And the fruit of peace is sown in peace of them that make peace,” James 3:15-18

Thinking about peace today, and a very specific kind of peace, the peace we find ourselves needing when trying to make certain decisions.

Decisions that truly once made will impact our life forever, we do sometimes have the opportunity to change our minds about something that we had either decided to do or not to do, and sometimes the hottest battle fought is in making a decision period.

As a new Christian, I had always heard the question, ‘Well, do you have peace about it?” as the answer often given to those seeking life choice advice from the “Old Sages” and sometimes my own answer to life’s questions has honestly been, “Maybe… yeah, I think so.”

So how do we know, how do we really know that the choice were about to make is going to be the right choice for this season in life?

And I do say season because as life changes and as the seasons of life change also, what seemed dreadful yesterday could be a blessing today and what seemed the perfect sunshiny path yesterday could be an uphill walk during a hail storm today.

So life changes, we change but the sovereignty of God never changes. As his word teaches us, He is eternal, self existing, and sovereign and nothing about him ever changes.

The same God that created Adam and Eve, and forgave them for their sin and delivered the oppressed and made a way of escape for those enslaved by the Egyptians , and then went on to rescue us all through the blood of his Son,  the promise of eternal life now ours forever if we will only accept it

He is the same and only God and he is the only one who can answer our questions and “lead us in the paths of righteousness” as stated in Psalm 23. He leads us in those good paths for his name’s sake, and not only because we bare his name and are representatives of him and his holiness, but also because he genuinely loves us and wants nothing but the best for us.

That was the hardest struggle for me, the hardest thought that had to be surrendered, like so many, I always felt that while God was awesome and I admired Christians I knew, but in my thinking, they were just born “that way”, they were just “special” people that God adored while I, on the other hand had just been “born bad” and ignorantly thought I had no hope,

That is the big lie that satan tells so many to keep them bound by his lies.

Because through Jesus we all have hope.

But even after you accept Christ, the enemy and this world can still try to steal your joy, your happiness, and most of all your peace by whispering confusion concerning the paths you should travel.

As the thought to write this post came to mind, I wondered what would be the best example of this kind of faith and this kind of peace that we will always need to use as a comparison when choosing those paths and making those decisions.

Now I have used this story before, I have written for eight years, including the two that I wrote for a church,an undertaking that in fact, led to this, so it goes without saying that after that kind of time, usually a Bible account has been used already, but the awesome thing with God is that often he will show you something different in a verse that you maybe feel like you have read hundreds of times, but he always has something else he wants you to “get” if he keeps leading you back to the same one.

But for me, for us, for this post, this is the most perfect example among the many that we are given through the pages and accounts of the Bible.

If you know this story, please bear with me, and if you are not that familiar with it, please as you read, get the mental picture of this, as it happened, in your mind, which will be “blown” when the full image of the kind of faith this lady had is revealed.

We will pick this up as Pharaoh had ordered the midwives to kill all the Hebrew male babies, but as these ladies feared God they would not, and we’ll pick up at Pharaoh’s next move.

“And Pharaoh charged (commanded) all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.

And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.

And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark (basket, little “boat”) of bulrushes, and daubed it with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags (reeds) by the river’s brink.

And his sister stood afar off, to wit (know) what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark (basket) among the flags, she sent her maids to fetch it.

And when she had opened it, she saw the child; and the babe wept. And she had compassion on him. and she said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.

Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?

And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother.

And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, TAKE THIS CHILD AWAY, AND NURSE IT FOR ME, AND I WILL GIVE THEE THY WAGES. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.

And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses (literally means, Drawn Out); and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.” Exodus 1:22, Exodus 2:1-10

Isn’t that just mind blowing? The hand of God in this was amazing! Now of course we know that because we have read the book… but Jochebed, the Mother of Moses, had no way of knowing how that story would end nor did Miriam, his sister as she watched over him, as this tiny little three month old baby was floating in the Nile River!

But God knew, God knew exactly how this was going to go down and that this little baby he had sent to this earth for the purpose of being drawn out of that river he would one day use to draw his people out of Egypt and just as the Nile did not take him under, neither would the Red Sea, as God’s plan for this child included the literal dividing of that Sea.

Absolutely amazing when you think about it, the fact they did not know, just believing, believing with an incredible faith that it would be well. And we are not told at any point that God spoke to her or that he sent an angel to instruct her, we are only told this…

Hebrews 11:23:” By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of (by) his parents because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.”

God gave them peace that is how they knew, that is why they were not afraid. God had given that knowledge in their heart and soul that everything would be fine, no matter how scary it looked.

And can you imagine, making a basket, by hand, to put your baby in and then putting that baby in a river?

The only way she could have done it at all is for God to have given her peace otherwise she would have been overwhelmed by the “What if’s’… What if the pitch doesn’t hold? What if water seeps in? What if it capsizes?, What if he is eaten alive?

And what about the ‘What if’s” concerning her daughter? “What if someone sees her watching and discovers who put the baby there?, “What if something goes wrong and she is injured trying to save the baby?” “What if Pharaoh’s daughter suspects that this was the family of her tiny foundling?”

You know what she did! She had to have known, especially when a little girl just happened to be there to offer to find someone to help her take care of the baby.

Talk about the right place at the right time, can you imagine if the soldiers or taskmasters had been the ones to find Moses, they would have surely killed him and if they had saw Miriam hiding, they would have killed her also and would have attempted to find the parents so they could kill them too for disobeying Pharaoh’s command, and I don’t know if she just had a completely different heart or if God had softened it, I personally believe she was cut from a different cloth, since God had chosen her in advance for this job, when we are told that she had compassion on him when she heard his cry and you can almost imagine being there as she said “This is one of the Hebrew children”, which to me, reads as if it would have been laced with sadness and regret, because even in her own power, she still would not have had power to stop the slaughter of these babies or change any decision made by Pharaoh.

Either way she would have had to have known that Miriam was related to the baby and that this woman she was going to fetch was actually his Mother, and to me, it is priceless when she tells her to “Take this baby”, she let her keep him, wean him and actually paid her for doing it and when he was old enough she brought him into Pharaoh’s palace as a prince.

That my friends is why of all the stories of miracles and faith we could have read, we read that one, sometimes in life, things can look good but not quite feel right while other times it can look hopeless but somehow feel like it is the perfect place to be.

And those who should be against you are not always your enemy.

It’s all in the peace God gives us and even concerning your own quandary that you may be struggling with today, think of it like this, with our beginning verse, if there is strife, envy, any negative feelings tugging inside of you take that as your answer, no matter how good something seems, if you can’t “get any peace” with that decision than it means that for whatever reason, even if seems like it is a good thing, it is however not going to be a good thing for you.

While another decision may seem like the worst mistake you could ever make but yet you feel peaceful in that decision, than that is the right choice for you.

So whatever you are facing today, life change, career change, moving to a new location, ending or beginning a relationship, seek God, seek his peace for you and then honour his guidance in your life…even if it looks like you will never reach your desired “location” by choosing that path, if God prompts us, choose it, because in reality only he knows the way we should ever go.

God bless you, till next time, with love, mercy, and that peace today and for your tomorrow… and what is that peace?

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Φλογιζω NBJ 2021/ Reverend Nina Brown Johnson

 

If you only knew…

“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it IS that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” John 4:19

Pretty familiar story there, she stopped by the well and Jesus ran a quick perception test on her. Technically,  she “knew her place” as a Samaritan, and for the intent and opinion of “man” and she knew that the Jews (which Jesus was and still is) had a complete distaste and contempt for the Samaritans and would not want, let alone actually ask  for anything from her or her people.

So hopefully now that we are thinking in that vein, we’ll back this train up and backtrack to the beginning of the story. 

“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, ( Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.) He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee.

And he must needs go (he needed to go) through Samaria.  Then he cometh to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave his son Joseph.

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied in his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water; Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat (food.) 

Then saith the woman unto him, How is it, that you being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” John 4:1-9 

That brings us up to speed on the starter verse.

So many in the Bible, story after story of those who were approached by what they would feel was an unapproachable God.

Think about it, He came and walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening while they still inhabited Eden.

My all time favorite (that I have probably used far too many times) but Genesis chapter 18 tells the story that so perfectly captured just how perfectly, and supremely gracious God is, when he and the angels came down to check out Sodom and Gomorrah and he wanted Abraham to feel “kept in the loop” as to what would soon happen and as Abraham knowing what went on in those cities and wanting to save the life of his nephew Lot who lived there, he started his “bargaining” with God, asking him “if they be fifty righteous found in the city” would God spare it? And each time God answered, “Yes.”

Each time Abraham asked God again, lowering the number because he knew how bad they were but desperately wanted to save Lot, so he went all the way down to twenty. And finally Genesis 18:32-33: “And he (Abraham) said, Oh let the Lord not be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure (perhaps)  ten shall be found there. 

And he (God) said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.  And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left off communing  (speaking with) Abraham: and Abraham returned to his place.”

All through the Bible, through miracles (like with Moses), through angelic visitations such as, Jacob, Joshua, Hagar, Manoah and his wife,  John’s father Zacharias, Mary, and many others. Through spoken encounters, and by dreams and visions to his prophets, ALL through the span of time, he has made himself to be approachable to us.

And it is up to us to be obedient to that approach.

I love the story of Elijah and the widow, (1 Kings 17:8-16), we are told that this takes place during the famine, a famine God had been sustaining Elijah through by having  ravens feed him and a brook provide water, but when the brook was allowed to dry, it meant it was time for Elijah to move on, comfortable or not, time to go, again obedience.

So God tells him where to go and that he had commanded a widow to take care of him, if you notice in that story, when he met the widow she was gathering sticks for a fire, so he asks for a drink, and as she is going to get him a drink,  he then called to her to ask for food, she tells him she has basically nothing but a tiny bit of flour and oil, and that she was going to prepare the last of their food and her and her son were going to eat it and then die.

So once he asked her to make his food first and then for her and her son, she agreed, I personally believe that was the moment when her obedience to the prompting of God in her heart brought forth a miraculous blessing from God from that obedience.

For her and her house, not to mention the prophet, God supernaturally sustained her and her house until the barren times were over.

But think of that, what if she had not been open to prompting of God in her spirit? God had told Elijah in advance taht she would take care of him and yet she told Elijah she was going to prepare food and die. God had already put the blessing their and god has already prepared her heart to act upon his will.

Now to the lady at the well, she is a good example of this, and I truly feel that many of us suffer from our OWN self-image issues, feeling that we would never be good enough are kinda like the lady at the well when Jesus approached her, her first response was shock, shocked that he would even speak to her and more shocked again, that he would ask anything of her, because the treatment she had received from his “people” had been anything but kind.

Sometimes I truly think many have a hard time coming to Christ and accepting salvation, not because of him or salvation itself but because of the ridicule and mistreatment they have suffered from others.

And wrestling with the “good enough-ism” when we will NEVER be good enough, nor are we expected to be, because HE IS more than good enough to cover all of our sins.

So maybe up to this point your life has held a kind of  “snap before you are snapped”, and “get them before they get you”, kinda philosophy because when you buy into the lies of satan and convince yourself, in your own pain, that “the God-stuff” and all that “Jesus loves me” business is just not real… or that he is not approachable for you, it is very easy to throw away your today, your future, and your eternity and for what?

He IS real, but how could you possibly KNOW the reality of an invisible being while your mind is trapped in a blinded, cynical world?

How can you possibly KNOW whether or not He does love you IF you have never opened the door and let him in long enough for him to tell you that he does?

Just like this lady, who didn’t begrudge the water she just couldn’t believe she was approached for it by someone whom she mistakenly believed hated her.

How many do you think prejudge God’s thoughts toward them?

Without ever understanding that we can NEVER even know his thoughts or understand his ways, because as the Bible teaches us “His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts” and all the human attributes of grudges and prejudices that we ascribe to him, without KNOWING him are just wrong and are not even in his character.

Just as this lady THOUGHT she would be naturally misjudged and automatically hated, she did not have a clue WHO she was talking to. And so many today are falling to that same misguided mindset!

Jesus KNEW who she was! He KNOWS who you are, and He KNOWS who we all are!He went on to tell her all about her life and save her.

He KNEW what was going to have to happen to those sinful city’s when he spoke with Abraham and he KNEW exactly how many he would find there, and just like all the other references, and many others that could be used as examples, HE KNEW the answers BEFORE he asked the questions.

He is God, He knows all these things, he knows the beginnings, the endings, and all that goes in between.

He knows the number of the hairs on our heads and the moment that our hearts will beat the final beat.

And he is so different from us because he created us, not the other way around and even though he came to earth as human, he is still NOT a human.

And it in is that graciousness, beauty, and mercy that he does approach us in life, he sends his word, he sends his messengers, and even now in this present day, he STILL sends his angels, and he will send his own Spirit. 

And Psalm 19:3: “The heavens DECLARE the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”

All the heavens, all of creation bears proof of a magnificent Creator and despite all the intelligence insulting nonsense taught contrary to this truth, we are still are born with a need to reconnect and an internal knowledge in our hearts and our souls that scream out that there IS more to this existence and that there IS more to life than simply death!

Who would ever want to believe that there is nothing more?

IF THIS, these lives, blessed or not, rough or not, was ALL we would ever know as existence, no one should EVER get out of bed, they should lay there and simply give up because that would be the most morbid, depressing state!

Believing that there is no hope, no love. nothing eternal!

BUT there is so much more!

And until you know Jesus you will never understand what is it to truly be ALIVE.

Until you know him, his peace, his supernatural provision (which never ceases to amaze me in my own struggles) and most importantly his plan for your joy, you ARE missing everything.

And you are missing a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with the absolute King of heaven and earth, who wants to heal you, deliver you, and let you know that no matter who you are, what you have done, or what others have said about you THAT he loves you and wants to show you things that the human mind cannot even begin to comprehend!

IF you only KNEW the one who can turn your night into day, scatters every demon, and breaks every chain, turn your ashes and tears to beauty and laughter.

He will rock your very soul and he will restore you and his mercy will turn your upside world perfectly upright.

IF you only KNEW who were missing… you wouldn’t miss out on him.

Young or old, black or white, all nations, all people, there ARE none who have not been approached and offered this blessed gift, the gift of Jesus Christ, we are not promised the next breath, but we ARE promised an eternal existence, either in heaven or in hell.

Like it or not we ARE forever, we WERE created to be eternal and eternal we WILL be. And maybe you still feel like, “crazy Jesus fanatics” (as we are often called), “think they know everything” but you know what, we ARE not fanatics.

Have you ever thought about this, everyone that witnesses Christ to you now, was once on the other side of that fence!

No one is born saved! We have all sinned, most of us also have thought once or twice about that “crazy Jesus fanatics” talking to us about God in our pasts!

But now the only separation between us is that we CHOSE to listen to them and took to heart the thought of “Hey, maybe there is more, maybe there is hope.”

And invited him into our life and accepted that salvation and now we thank him for those people who loved us enough to share the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel. 

So as he stands knocking at the door of your heart, as creation bears witness to his majesty, and his messengers, and witnesses are sent to you, know this, HE IS approaching you, accept him, get to know him before you decide whether or not you need him in your life.

We are nothing without him, we will never know TRUE freedom, true joy, or true peace until we are connected back into the one who breathed our very life into us. Don’t miss out on that because you will have missed it all.

1 John 4:19: “WE LOVE BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.”

Love & Peace till next time, have a blessed week!

Φλογιζω Σαλπιζω NB 2018