Tag Archives: Peace

RESTING IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST

LORD, LET US DRAW NEAR TO YOU

The sunbeams were softly touching my face while I was sitting outside early in the morning. The birds were serenading me with beautiful songs as I was slowly and intentionally breathing in the cool air. There were drops of dew on the flowers and plants reminding me of the refreshment that comes in communing with Christ. His love enveloped my soul and the presence of the Lord beckoned me to draw close to Him.

In my heart, it was as though Christ was speaking these words, “Arise, My love and come into My arms. You have stolen My heart, My bride. Let My love wash over you and let Me be the only desire of your soul. Let Me sweep you away into My embrace and carry you into heavenly places.”

After a morning of stillness, I was refreshed once again by the love of Christ and ready for a new day of living in Him.

There is no other love as perfect as the love of Christ. Though we may seek to find pleasure and rejuvenation in other places, only Christ’s love can satisfy us and refresh us. Jesus promises us if we come to Him when we are weary, we will find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).

May we seek to draw closer to Christ’s heart and let His love renew our spirits every day.

 Beloved Jesus,

Thank You for refreshing our souls with Your love. Thank You for the beauty You have given us through song birds that sing and flowers that bloom. Help us to draw near to You every day. Let us carry this message of Your beautiful love to a broken world that so desperately needs You. We love You and are waiting for Your return. We pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace.”

Song of Solomon 4:9

Grace and peace to you,

Amy

This devotion is a piece I wrote in 2012.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY HOME TO YOURS

Christmas Decor - 2015 (8)

As I sit here in the quietness of my home, I’m pondering the real meaning of Christmas. I’m pausing to breathe in the love of Christ and set aside the things I think I need to do.

I believe if we could stand face to face with Christ at this moment, He would be saying: Slow down. Savor this moment of life. Put aside your concerns and simply rest in My love. I was born to bring great joy to the world and to bring perfect rest for your soul. I long for you to take hold of the abundant life I came to give you.

I can imagine the perfect Christmas gift for us to give Christ would be our acceptance of His gifts to us—love, peace, joy, hope, faith, and the never-ending list of heavenly treasures.

May your Christmas be filled with all of the glorious riches Christ has to offer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank You for the gift of Christ. Thank You for sending Your son to save the world from darkness. Thank You for all that He gives us and how He enables us to live with an abundance of hope, joy, peace, and love. Let us take hold fully of the gift You have given us through Jesus Christ. Let us meditate on Your great love and celebrate our amazing Savior. Oh, how we love and adore You, our Redeemer. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.”

— Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT

LIGHT FROM THE LORD

I was gazing out the window noticing the winter weather as I was writing notes on Christmas cards. The wintry day caught my attention with the bareness of the trees and lack of sunlight. It was noticeably monotone and drab in my back yard where it is usually vibrant with life and color.

I noticed the stark contrast between the drabness outside and the joy and brightness in my soul. As I pondered that distinct difference, words began flooding into my spirit. The thoughts of the wintry day reminded me of what life would be like without Christ.

Apart from Christ, we would be destined for a wintry life.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth this week, let us all remember why He was born. He came to give new life.

His love is a gift that breaks into the dark places of the soul and brings forth light. He strengthens us when we’re weak. He fills us with love when we’re loveless. He soothes our sorrows when we’re mourning. He heals the heart when it’s broken. He restores the broken things and makes beauty out of our mistakes.

He is the redeemer of every painful trial we’ll ever face.

God brought forth Christ the Messiah for all people, so that we could live abundantly in hope and peace no matter how dark it becomes in the world. His light overcomes all darkness. The love of Christ is the best Christmas gift we’ll ever receive.

Lord Jesus,

Let us be keenly aware of Your love and light this Christmas. Let us rejoice over the gifts You have given us through a loving relationship with You. Amen.

 “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” —Ephesians 5:8

A NEW SONG

grandfather and grandson with cloud

It was during the early morning hours. I felt weak and restless as I was facing a challenge in my life that seemed impossible to overcome.

With tears rolling down my cheeks, I bowed down at the feet of the Father. I cried out for strength. I prayed, “Father, the obstacles on the path laid out for me feel too big.” His warm embrace enveloped my heart as His love washed over me. His Spirit soothed my soul and the sweetness of His presence encircled every ounce of my being. His words flooded into my spirit.

 “Child, nothing is too big for Me. I’ll never ask you to do more than I created you for. Rest in Me. Rest in My love, rest in knowing there is nothing I’ll ask of you that will ever be too big. My grace is sufficient for you. In your weakness, My strength is made perfect. Arise my child. Let me put a new song in your heart. Let My love lift you up and carry you.”

As His loving words permeated my heart, my soul was restored in an instant. He breathed new life into my spirit and strengthened me. Joy replaced the tears. Peace covered me and made me ready to begin a new day with a new song in my heart—a song of joy for celebrating the love I had found in my Father’s arms.

With the love of God, and His strength—life is made beautiful. He carries those who completely depend on Him.

Lord, 

I lift up each one reading this prayer. Surround her with Your peace and give her a new song in her heart today—a song of joy and a song of hope for all the great things You have in store. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

— Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God”

— Psalm 40:3 (NIV)

 This post has been revised and edited from a piece I wrote in 2009.

THE SECRET PLACE OF GOD’S LOVE

Psalm 91

On a summer day in 2008 when I was working at a nearby country club as a server, I was taken by surprise when fear tried to grip my heart. A new man had been hired and I could see darkness all around him and tremendous hurt in his eyes. My discomfort grew when he began spilling out words that sounded more like lines from a scary movie than words a person would speak to their co-worker. I had an eerie feeling in my gut whenever I was near him.

After several days of working with the new employee, I was feeling a tremendous burden as I faced my fears. I was seeking God for answers, seeking to know whether the vibe I was discerning was truly accurate. While praying with my family about the situation, I paused to allow the tears to flow as my spirit felt compassion for this man who desperately needed Jesus.

For as far back as I can remember I battled with fear of bad guys. I thought there was a monster living under my bed when I was a little girl. I remember being tormented, as I lay awake in my bedroom of our very old house. I would hear noises in the attic, and I would want to sleep close to my mom and dad. As I grew older and grew closer to the Lord, my fears subsided. But occasionally, invasive thoughts of bad things would come back to visit.

The unsettling words of the man at work stirred up fear and were taunting me enough that I knew I had to pray fervently. I prayed over and over for this co-worker to be drawn to Christ’s heart. Praying for the man wasn’t enough to sooth my spirit though. I needed to hear the voice of the Lord. I needed His comfort and His Spirit to show me I was being cared for in the midst of my feelings of uncertainty. I needed the heavy burden to lift off of me.

I asked the Lord to speak to me and encourage my heart. I went to the altar for prayer during our worship service. My spirit was longing to know I had nothing to fear and to know I would be safely shielded in the shadow of God’s wings. After my friends at church prayed for me, I felt better, but I was still battling with unrest in my spirit.

Later in the day, after I arrived home from church, I began sorting through a pile of scarves I had left on my bed earlier while scurrying to find the right one to wear that morning. Then while putting the scarves away, I noticed a camouflage-colored bandana in the pile that had some words imprinted on it resembling a poem. I had never looked closely at it or noticed the words before. It had belonged to Mimi, my grandmother. I didn’t really like the colors of the bandana, and I had no real sentimental attachment to it, but for some reason I had brought it home after she passed away the year before.

After having the bandana tucked away in my closet for over a year, I realized that the words were actually Scriptures, and I felt compelled to read the verses.  I sat down on the edge of my bed and began weeping with a powerful sense of relief as I savored the words.

 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
“With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.

 — Psalm 91 (NASB)

While wiping away my tears, my burden lifted, and my spirit settled into a warm, peaceful place. It’s hard to describe the magnitude of my relief. The verses in Psalm 91 were special to me because they had ministered to me many times before.

There is a song we used to sing at church that has the words of this Psalm for its lyrics. The song and verses have always melted my heart—speaking directly to the unsettled places inside me.

As I read each word of the Scriptures on the bandana, it was as though Christ was sitting there holding me tightly saying, “See, Amy, I will take care of you; I am showing you that I will.” Discovering some of my favorite Scriptures written on a scarf was a sweet personal touch from Jesusstraight from His heart to mine.

While holding the bandana my memory was jolted and I thought of a time in my childhood when I was shopping in a department store with Mimi, and I had gotten separated from her. I was probably about five years old. I can still envision myself standing there with a saleswoman feeling panicked and frightened. Thoughts were racing through my head. Would I be okay? Would I find my grandmother?

Can you imagine the magnitude of my relief when I saw my grandmother’s face after being separated from her? The emotions were overwhelming as I ran to her and embraced her. I felt the same emotions on the day when I stumbled upon the words of Psalm 91 on Mimi’s bandana. I felt warmly held in my Father’s embrace, with an overwhelming sense of love and protection.

Even though it’s been nearly six years since Christ used a scarf to melt away my discomfort and fear, I am still resting in the words of Psalm 91, and I pray those Scriptures over myself and my family each day. Every time God comes to my rescue, my heart falls deeper in love with Him.

The Lord amazes me with His ability to encourage His beloved children. He reveals His love in so many unique ways. Knowing Christ intimately brings us lasting joy and contentment that cannot be snatched away by the circumstances surrounding us.

Jesus is the One who satisfies the soul. He calms us in a chaotic world. He shows us that there is solace and serenity waiting for us. When we run to Him in despair, we find peace. When we run to our Father’s arms—the sacred dwelling place—we are hidden in the beautiful, secret place of His love.

This piece was originally written in 2008.

A Christmas Prayer

Winter

Father, I thank You for the gift of Christ. Thank You for sending Your son to save the world from darkness. Thank You for all that He gives us and how He enables us to live with an abundance of hope, joy, peace, and love. Let us take hold fully of the gift You have given us through Jesus Christ. Let us meditate on Your great love and celebrate our amazing Savior. Oh, how we love and adore You, our Redeemer. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

4 TIPS FOR KEEPING CHRIST THE FOCUS OF CHRISTMAS

Keeping Christ in Christmas

The very essence of Christ is peace, yet we often let the celebration of His birth be filled with stress and chaos. I remember a time many years ago in my twenties when I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off during the holidays and ended up with a pounding headache and so much stress that I barely enjoyed Christmas. That year, I began rethinking my priorities and started making big changes in the way I celebrated Christ’s birth. I put together a list of some ways to truly enjoy the holiday season.

Let Peace Rule the Holidays

To keep from getting swept away in the whirlwind of holiday festivities, we can first set our hearts and our minds on the real purpose of the season. We are celebrating the birth of our Saviorthe Lord of peace who gives us His peace at all times and in every way (2 Thessalonians 3:16). His peace can rule in our hearts and in our holidays as we pray daily and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit. In Luke 11:13, it says, “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Simply asking Christ to be with us is all it takes to live and walk in His peace during the holidays and during all our days throughout the year.

Make a List of Priorities

If we make a list of what is most important for us as individuals and then stick to those things, we won’t fall into the trap of getting over-extended. For me personally, my priorities are maintaining a peaceful household, spending time with my family, and carrying on a few Christmas traditions like having an Advent calendar and decorating a gingerbread house.

Don’t Try to Keep Up With the Jones’

It can be so easy to compare ourselves to others and what they’re doing. Just because someone else has the greatest light display in the whole town, doesn’t mean we need to have one too. I actually love and enjoy those beautiful light displays. But I know that with having a full life as a mom, I don’t have time to place an award-winning light display on my home. For me, decorating for Christmas is low on my priority list. I used to spend hours and hours decorating my home. Now, I simply put up a Christmas tree and a few other simple decorations. Decorating in a simple way can be beautiful, yet saves us a great deal of time and energy. For simple decorating, I love the ChristWreath.

As followers of Christ, our identities are in Him, not in what we own or what we accomplish. If we are tempted to play the comparison game, we can pray for contentment, and God will grant us our desires, so that we can maintain our true priorities.

Keep the Gift-giving Simple

Giving at Christmas time represents who our Father in heaven is. He is the Giver and we want to carry out the nature of our heavenly Father. However, we don’t need to stress over it. Every year, I am tempted to worry. Thoughts will fill my mind as I begin shopping. Will I find the perfect gift for every family member? Through prayer, I resist those temptations of worry.

At the times when we don’t have the finances for gift-giving, we can give home-made gifts, write love letters to our loved ones, give our time and talents…on and on the list goes. There are countless ways we can give without stress. In our family, we have decided to minimize our giving to each other and give instead to people who are truly in need.

The Spirit of Christmas is with us always so we can spread our gift-giving throughout the year. This helps us to focus on the birthdays of our loved ones, rather than making Christmas the only time to give.

Do you have any tips for keeping Christ the focus of Christmas?

I pray that your holidays will be happy. May you have a peace-filled and stress-free Christmas season.

The photograph was taken in my neighbor’s yard after a beautiful snowfall several years ago.

THE ABUNDANT LIFE

John 10.10

During one of the hardest seasons of my life I learned the most about abundant living. My husband had been laid off from a good job, I was working tirelessly to make ends meet and life was very stressful. I wanted desperately for my circumstances to change.

While battling hardships and trials, I sought the Lord for the answers to my problems, and He diligently answered me. He led me to a Scripture in the Old Testament that jumped off the pages when I read it.

Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, and live.”

In these verses, I found the answer to what my heart longed to know. The word ‘circumcise’ is derived from a Latin word meaning, to cut. In the midst of excruciating trials, it felt like my heart was being circumcised. God was cutting away the things inside me that were hindering me from fully loving Him and fully living life. The process was, at times, excessively painful. But ultimately it led me to the abundance my soul was longing for.

Everyone wants to live abundantly. The Bible says that Jesus came to give us life, and to give it more abundantly (John 10:10). Yet how many people truly tap into the abundant life that Christ offers? Could it be the way we view our lives, or what we equate happiness with? For a season, I was seeking abundance in the wrong places, which led to more disappointment.

In God’s infinite grace, He took me through a season of testing because He wanted to lead me to the true source of abundance.

Are you in the midst of being pulled and stretched? Do you feel as though life is caving in around you?

To be rebuilt, a house needs to be torn down first. It can be an excruciating process. Do not lose heart. God is building a beautiful house out of your life. He uses every loss and every struggle for our good. Nothing He allows in our lives is in vain. He uses it all.

The things in my past, that were the hardest to endure, are what led me to the abundant life in Christ—a life of genuine joy and peace—that is not determined by things or circumstances.

Through the hardships, God gave me a new heart—a heart that rejoices because of His love.

It really is pure joy for a child of God to face trials because we know that no matter what is happening, Jesus is walking along beside us, carrying us, allowing us to bask in His great love at all times and in all circumstances.

Jesus is everything—when we know this, then we know that any other good thing we have in life is only the icing on the cake.

Lord, I thank You for the abundance of joy and peace that You give to us. Help us to look to You as our only source. Let us be content in all circumstances and know You are all we really need to live abundantly. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5 (NASB)

SACRED MOMENTS SWINGING BY THE TREE

Amy's Pictures 802

As a young girl, I lived next door to my grandparents for several years. Every day, after school, I would spend my afternoons hanging out at their house. They lived on a beautiful piece of land in North Georgia surrounded by rolling cow pastures and mountains in the distance. The beauty at their house was magnified by the peace and serenity in the atmosphere.

As I grew older, I realized the peace at their home came from Christ and His presence. My grandfather, whom I called, “Poppy” was a praying man. He was left fatherless when his daddy died on his tenth birthday. Without an earthly father, he turned to his heavenly Father to fill the void in his life.

Poppy’s love for Christ influenced me.

Some of my greatest memories as a child are of the times I sat in a wooden swing that was positioned in front of a big old tree. I would sit for what seemed like hours with Poppy by my side, along with one of his cats nestled in between us. As the cat purred, and the old swing screeched in the wind, I could feel the Spirit of God and the peace that came from within Poppy’s soul.

I tasted the presence of God in those sacred moments swinging by the tree. My spirit was touched and a desire was born in my heart to seek after Christthe one and only way to find true peace.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Tree.” Today, it took me twenty extra minutes to write this piece. This post was written in loving memory of Alvin Harper (1916-2012).

The above photo of my grandfather’s swing was taken shortly after he passed away. I now have the swing at my house and will always be grateful for the legacy of prayer that Poppy left behind.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Last

Amy's Pictures 934

I had heard people proclaim, “I’m mad at God!.” But I had never experienced it myself until one summer evening. I had felt abandoned by the Lord at times, but this was different. I laid my head on my pillow one night and said, “Jesus, I’m mad at You.”

There was a breakthrough I needed in my life and it just wasn’t happening on my time table. So I blamed it on God. After several minutes, I fell asleep.

I woke up eight hours later thinking, “How ridiculous for me to be mad at Jesus. He’s the only One who can truly rescue me. Being mad at Him won’t help anything.” Within minutes of waking, I prayed, “Lord, forgive me for my silliness. Please forgive me for being mad at You.”

Right there, while lying in my bed, I said, “Lord, I surrender everything to You.”

Previously, I had surrendered parts of my life to Him and had been following Him for years and years. This was different though. It was a defining moment for me. It was the last time I ever tried to do things without His help and guidance.

And guess what? I received the breakthrough I was waiting on within weeks. At last, my life was permanently on the course that leads to abundance and beauty, leaving disappointment behind forever. I realized the day I surrendered everything to my Creator that I am free at last to live in His abundant peace forever until Christ returns.

“The thief only comes to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (NASB)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Last.”  Today, I wrote for about nine minutes, trying to find a good stopping point.

Photography Credit: Christa von Borstel