|beneath the Jacksonville pier a couple of days ago|
The daily news is so troubling that I find it hard to consistently write as though I am unaware of what is really going on.
I love to share recipes, funny stories, and some of my better cell phone camera photos with my readers. It's a form of creativity and relaxation for me.
But my primary purpose for blogging is not entertainment but edification. I want to give my readers words to encourage and strengthen as they face the harsh realities of life. The fun blog posts serve that purpose to a degree but they don't necessarily lead to soul contentment.
The bad news is hitting us more frequently and getting more personal. It's not so much 'out there', away from us, as it used to be. Our personal safety is at greater risk in this country as a whole than probably ever before.
I find myself seeking mental and emotional sanctuary more often, a place where I feel safe, where the unsettling noise of the world is shut out (or at the least, dimmed considerably).
Just sitting quietly in a small room is a help, but then the disturbing thoughts seek to take over. Our most frightening battlefield is the mind; that is where the enemy of our soul works the hardest to bring us down. I will be honest and tell you that at times he has had success with me, as he has with all of us.
But that is not what God wants for His children. He is peace and He created us to be at peace. How do we get that peace?
First of all, we have to be at peace with God Himself. There is no lasting peace without a relationship with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. What does that mean?
It means that at some point in our life we admit to God that we are a sinner and in our own strength we can never make up for the ways we have fallen short.
It means that after this admission, we thank God for sending His son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price (to take on the punishment we deserve) for our sin. That's what Jesus did on the cross when He was crucified.
We accept that Jesus took care of our debt for us, humbling as it is. We ask Him to come live in our heart and teach us to live from this time forth for His glory.
Just that in itself is HUGE. When this transaction with God is done in complete sincerity, peace will come. The Holy Spirit will come to live inside of you with a resulting joy and peace such as you've never known before. The Holy Spirit is God in you and God is peace.
That's it. You don't have to do any good works to appease God. His salvation is by grace, it's a free gift that we accept with humility.
As we begin this new relationship with God, great comfort will increase with Bible reading. Here are some verses I read and quote to myself when my peace is threatened:
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.
You will keep in perfect peace those
whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.
As we look at the troubled events all around us, I keep in mind something else Jesus told His disciples. It's instruction and encouragement about the last days before He calls His people to be with Him in heaven:
Learn the parable from the fig tree:
when its branch has already become tender
and puts forth its leaves,
you know that summer is near. Even so, too,
when you see these things happening,
recognize that He is near,
right at the door.
Today is the right time to seek real and lasting peace with God. Then no matter what happens, we will have the assurance that He will bring us through to the other side where all will be well.