Prince of Peace

It was her first pregnancy, but heaven knows it wouldn’t be her last. And this babe she was carrying was called the Son of the Most High. His birth had been prophesied many years earlier, but no one knew the timeline. He wasn’t expected at this particular moment in history. And Mary definitely wasn’t expecting to be expecting the Savior of the world. Ever. She just wasn’t. And neither was her future husband, Joseph. Sure. They were planning to marry and have a family, but family before marriage just wasn’t acceptable. It was unthinkable with serious consequences.

Even the mystery surrounding the conception brought division between Mary and Joseph. She knew she was a virgin. But, in the moment, she couldn’t just prove it to Joseph. And he had every right to suspect her of being unfaithful. It was a quandary of even the most modern of times. Pregnancies didn’t just happen without consummation. But this is exactly what happened. And it was difficult to explain. And even more difficult to prove.

Joseph could have had Mary put to death for this act of adultery. It took a miracle of trust and faith for Joseph to move ahead in the relationship. But he stepped forward to claim her as his wife, even when he could have stepped out of the picture. Although this child conceived supernaturally would not have his DNA, the child would be counted in the family line of David. It may not make sense to those of us on earth. But to an all-knowing, all-seeing, always present God, it doesn’t have to make sense to us in order for it to be right and true and good. God had spoken.

If Mary and Joseph knew the prophecies about Jesus, they would have known that he was to be the Prince of Peace. But in those moments of confusion and chaos, perhaps peace wasn’t their first thought. Mary. Confused about being pregnant while an unmarried virgin stood to lose her life. Joseph. His thoughts went to divorce because his betrothed was pregnant with a child not his. But as they each privately stepped back and listened to the words of the angel, the plan made perfect sense. Oh. In future days, confusion and chaos would return as their news spread to an unsuspecting world. But in their private moments, they each came to the acceptance and understanding of something far greater than themselves. Confusion and chaos could wait for another day. Today. In this quiet moment. Peace reigned in their hearts. They were at rest with God’s plan to allow them to parent this God child. They would move forward with God leading the way. There was no turning back.

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:31-33


For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6


Also. If Mary and Joseph knew the prophecies surrounding the promised Messiah, they would know that the government would rest on his shoulders. What does that even mean? Having something resting on your shoulders seems to be a very heavy burden to bear. An unbearable yoke. Yet it would be on him. How does a Prince of Peace carry a heavy burden and proclaim peace? Jesus would lay down his will and accept the authority to rule on earth as it is in heaven. He would have full responsibility of bearing the sins of all the world. He would suffer and die for the sins of all mankind. That is a heavy burden to bear for a mere mortal. But he was God Incarnate.

He would be called Wonderful Counselor. And who isn’t looking for a wonderful counselor these days? Certainly those in Bethlehem were. And yet. They didn’t know that the new baby born in an unnamed stable was their Wonderful Counselor. Little did they know that he would rule the world. The name of Mighty God points straight to God himself. Jesus would do things only God could do. And as Everlasting Father, he pointed to eternity. His wouldn’t be an earthly reign. His would be eternal.

Jesus is the originator of peace. But in a world full of chaos and confusion, peace seems to elude us. And the reason peace eludes us is because we’re not looking to the originator of peace. We’ve trying to find peace and fulfillment in things of this world. Not eternal things. And so we’re constantly on the hunt for peace. It always seems to be around the corner. But the plan for eternal peace begins with Jesus Christ. His heavy burden of dying on the old rugged cross for our sins brings the peace to each of us as we bow and repent of our sins. The peace that knows no ending does not have to be elusive. It can be eternal. If only we turn over the chaos and confusion and control of our lives to him. The peace will reign in our hearts. And we can truly call him our own personal Prince of Peace.

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

God is Able

Life is hard for a lot of people right now. Just watch the news, and you’ll see a senseless war that’s been going on for far too long. Thousands of people have been killed. Millions more are homeless. And still the fighting continues. Cities are decimated. Lives are changed forever. Will the madness ever end?

In the greatest country on earth, we are in shambles. Someone leaked a very confidential piece of information earlier this year, and we’re even more unsettled than we already were. People are on edge. Whose right is more important, yours or mine? The born or the unborn? The markets have been tanking, while gas prices have risen. Interest rates are rising. We’ve been warned of shortages. Famine in some parts of the world are expected in the coming years. We wonder what this world is coming to.

And then even closer to home, we have someone who’s received a diagnosis that has shaken them to the core. Someone else has lost their job. Others are having difficulty making ends meet. And yet the sun comes up every morning and sets each evening. So we keep breathing in. Breathing out. And life goes on. Even if it’s hard. Life goes on.

A billionaire who once was the leader of the free world has announced he’s once again running for office. Many opinions float amongst us about that issue. Another billionaire just bought the largest social media platform. He’s unblocking all types of once censored information and blocking others who track his whereabouts. He’s causing heads to spin. He’s recently announced he isn’t suicidal. Just in case. And a third billionaire has been arrested for one of the greatest financial frauds of all times. Only time will tell what’s on the horizon for him and his victims. Do these men think their money can buy the safety and comfort of the world? Don’t they know that the Savior of the world has already been born? And he was killed by those deeply opposed to him.

We ask why all this is happening? Why now? Why?

Should we be afraid? Are we headed toward really difficult times? Will lives be at risk? Will we face a recession or depression? Or another lockdown? Will mandates become the norm? Are those some of the many questions swirling in people’s heads these days? Is this what we will call normal from here on out? People are anxious and unsettled, because life continues to throw twists and turns never before navigated.

Oh. There was once a large group of people. A nation. And they were afraid. There were headed on a journey to places unknown. God told them not to be afraid. He would fight for them every step of the way. He had fought for them as they were foreigners in a land for four hundred years. Now he was delivering them from slavery. And he had a magnificent plan laid out for them. All they had to do was obey him.

All they had to do was obey God.

He went before them as they traveled through the wilderness. He performed miracles in front of their eyes. He made a path in the middle of the river so they could walk on dry ground. He provided food when there was none. Their clothes didn’t wear out throughout this forty year journey. God was with them every step of the way. He provided for all their needs. All they had to do was obey him.

All they had to do was obey God.


Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20


Oh. These people weren’t perfect. They complained. They disobeyed. They did their own thing. They turned from God. And they were punished. They learned the hard way that obedience always pays. God must be first. It’s that simple.

God planned to move them to the land he had promised them. He was with them throughout the journey. He knew the land they would settle in had everything they needed. Plenty of space for everyone. Plenty of food. Plenty of land for the livestock. Their new homeland was filled with abundant goodness.

God also knows our lives on this earth. He knows when we struggle to trust him. He knows when we’re fearful. He knows when we turn from him. He knows when life seems too much to bear. He has plans for us that are far beyond our imagination. But he also requires our obedience. God is able to provide abundantly more than we could ever hope or imagine. We must trust him, not only in the good times, but also in the trying times.

All we have to do is obey God.

Even during uncertain times, God is with us. We will be fearful when we face the unknown. We will be consumed with the cares of the day. But God is our refuge and strength. God’s abundance doesn’t necessarily mean material wealth or happiness. It means God is with us through all of life’s unexpected turns.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalms 46:1-3

If we’re God’s child, we are surrounded by him. So why do we fear when troubles come? He goes before us and he goes behind us. He paves the way. He fights for us, so we are to be still. We don’t need to fight. We are to obey. We must let God direct us. Our problem is that we want control. We want to be in charge of making decisions. We don’t want to follow God. We want to be God. And that can’t happen. That won’t ever happen.

So in our attempt to pave our own way, we forget that God is able through his mighty power to accomplish more than we could hope or imagine. He will walk with us through the darkest nights. He’ll be beside us when the waters surround us. He is in control. Always and forever.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord ! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19

God is able to do so much more than we can imagine. But he only does those things that fit within his purpose. He could calm the raging storms of our lives right now. He could turn the tide in these uncertain times. He could heal every sick and hurting person. He could open doors that are closed. He could right all the wrongs that have ever been done to mankind. I’m not saying he won’t do these things. But he will if they fit his plan and purpose. And if his plan is for his people to go through deep trials and testing, then he will be with us. He won’t leave us to suffer alone. Oh sure. Suffering is hard. Pain is unbearable. Loss is unfathomable. But God is good. And God is good all the time.

We must separate our hard times from God’s goodness. In our difficulties, God is still good even though he allows those difficulties. He will walk with us through the storms of life and through the fires of oppression. He is the one and only holy God.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord , your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:2-3

Don’t Be A Copycat

When I was in the seventh grade, a boy asked if anyone in our group was religious. Someone said I was. I quickly responded. No. Not because I knew the difference between being religious and being a Christian. But because I didn’t want to be seen as different. I wanted to fit in with the others. I didn’t want my group of friends to abandon me or mock me. They never had before. But would they now that my “religious” status had been spoken out loud? I didn’t want to find out. I just wanted to be like everyone else.

The same happens today. We call ourselves Christian yet we blend in with unbelievers so well that no one knows the difference. We don’t stand out as having different values or beliefs. We live as close to the line as we can get and try to call ourselves holy. But. Christians can’t move back and forth across the line when it’s convenient or comfortable. We must live on the side of holiness regardless of what it costs us. It won’t be easy. It won’t be popular. But it is biblical. 

Perhaps we only call ourselves Christians in private, because we don’t want others to think less of us. We don’t want them to start watching to see anything unusual in our behavior or speech. We don’t want to seem odd. We just want to fit in and be like everyone else. We want to be accepted. All the while wearing our blurred out Christian label. Oh. We’re wearing the label, but we don’t want others to see it.

We can’t disguise ourselves as Christians and expect God to call our behavior good. God knows us as we truly are. He knows our intentions and he knows our thoughts. Even if only our thoughts are wicked, God knows. But what we don’t realize is that even if our actions are good, our intentions may not be. We try to be the type of person we think others expect of us, all the while seething with hatred and resentment on the inside.

Let me just say this. Satan is not your friend. When we clothe ourselves in the approval of others. When we share on social media our shiny, almost perfect looking lives that match the world’s, we’re only fooling ourselves. The God who created us sees us for who we really are. We can’t pretty up sin.

God will transform us into a new person if we open ourselves up to his guiding hand. He won’t steer us down the wrong path. That’s what Satan does. And we can’t mix up the two. And we can’t intertwine them. They will lead us down totally separate paths. One is destructive. The other, although hard, is good and pleasing and perfect.


Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:2


As believers, we are set apart to God. If we’re copying the behavior of those who aren’t believers, what sets us apart? What makes us different? Do we assume that our lives will look the same as everyone else’s after we become Christians? Shouldn’t we be different from those who don’t call themselves Christians? What is it about a believer that is different from a nonbeliever?

God calls us to be holy, because he is holy. So what does that mean for us? What does that look like?

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

Are we up for the task of living a holy life?

If we don’t read the Bible, we don’t know the Bible. And if we don’t know the Bible, we don’t know God. So it’s no wonder that we copycat the behaviors of those who are unbelievers. It’s no wonder we look and act and think like them. Because we’re not looking and acting and thinking like God. We run away from Him when we run toward the behavior and customs of the world. We don’t refuse to bow to the idols of today’s culture. We give in to the ideas of today’s society. So we can fit in. How can we fit into today’s culture and still fit into heaven when God calls us into eternity?

We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Satan will try to outsmart us if we aren’t familiar with his evil schemes. He will manipulate us into believing bad is good and good is bad. All we have to do is scroll through social media and it stares us in the face. Watch the news and see all the evil swirling in our midst. And some people applaud it. Do we recognize the difference between Satan’s temptations and God’s direction?  

so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11

When we deliberately choose to follow Satan’s lead, our hearts will harden to the will of God. It won’t be an overnight hardening. It will be gradual. And it may not be noticeable. Until one day, the veil over our eyes and heart is so heavy, we’ve walked far away from God. Oh. The veil can be lifted if we call on our Lord and Savior to forgive us. We can walk in his path of forgiveness. But it’s an intentional daily decision to follow God’s ways. And it will look nothing like Satan’s lies.

But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:14-18

Satan is the god of the world.  That doesn’t mean he controls it.  He is under God’s authority and God has him on a leash.  The evil he does is allowed by God in order to fulfill God’s will.  That may sound strange or wrong, but God is always in control.  When he gave us freedom to choose right or wrong, he knew that Satan would try to maneuver his way into our lives any way possible.  So we have to choose God in order to live a holy life.  We can’t be a copycat of Satan. Because if we aren’t living in line with God’s will, we’re living in line with Satan.  

We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. 2 Corinthians 4:2

Scorched

The pan of oats was cooking on the stove. I would stir it repeatedly when I had a chance. I didn’t keep an eye on it throughout the whole process because I was busy doing other things. Washing dishes. Baking. Cleaning vegetables. So I wasn’t minding the oatmeal as thoroughly as I should have. But I would walk over and stir it as needed. I know that oats can easily stick to the pan if they’re not stirred constantly. And I wasn’t stirring constantly. I’ve cooked oatmeal many times, and I know what’s involved. But on this occasion I was trying to multitask, and the oatmeal didn’t have my undivided attention.

Later I smelled something burning and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I checked the vegetables roasting in the oven. No. They were fine. They weren’t burning. I was stirring the oats off and on, so they shouldn’t be burning. So I just ignored this scorched odor. When the oats were finished, I turned the burner off and set them aside to cool. I wasn’t just making one serving for my breakfast. I was making a batch of oatmeal to be eaten over several days. I like to batch cook for the week so my food is ready to heat up anytime I’m hungry. So on this particular day, I was cooking oatmeal for the week.

Once the oatmeal was cooled, I began dishing it into a storage container. That was when I noticed the burn on the bottom of the pan. The oatmeal had stuck to the bottom of the pan. Now there was a black char on the pan. That was what had caused the scorched odor.

I was able to preserve most of the oatmeal because it was only burned on the bottom. I knew the oatmeal I saved had some scorching running through it, but I saved it anyway. I thought it would be okay when I ate it over the next few days. I could pull out large clumps of burned oatmeal and eat the rest. It seemed a simple idea. But when I saw how burned the pan was, I knew I wouldn’t be able to clean it quickly or easily. I knew it would need to soak overnight. So that’s what I did. I put some cleaning solution in the pan and let it soak.

The next morning when I began cleaning the pan, not all of the burn came off. Some of it was still stuck on the pan. Some parts came clean pretty easily. But others not so much. I added more cleaning solution and water to start the soaking process all over again. Scraping wasn’t enough to remove all of the black soot from the bottom of the pan. And my goal was to get the pan as clean as possible. I wanted it to look as if it had never been burned. But I wasn’t sure if I had ruined the pan or not. Apparently only time will tell.

The batch of oatmeal isn’t all burned. Only the bottom portion of it is inedible. And only the bottom of the pan is scorched. Most of the oatmeal can still be eaten and enjoyed without the burnt taste. The pan can be used again once it is properly cleaned.


Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17


When we repent of our sins and choose to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the burnt oatmeal of sin is removed from our lives. We still have scorch marks on us that represent the sins of our past. It doesn’t mean our lives are ruined. It means that we live with the results of our former sins.

Sin can creep into our lives if we aren’t paying attention. We ignore the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit to stop a certain activity. Or we don’t act on the Holy Spirit’s leading. We allow activities in our lives that we once hated. We become accustomed to using certain words in our conversations that were once forbidden. We become comfortable with situations that were once uncomfortable. And we call it good. We become willing to work around the burnt oatmeal that is building up in our lives. After all, we are good people. That’s what we tell ourselves.

Some of those scorch marks can be easily removed. The burned char can be cleaned away with the act of forgiveness, but the results of that char representing the sin that has long encased our hearts can be hard to remove. It could be bad habits. Or it could be jealousy or greed or lying or lust. It could be just blatant selfishness. Sometimes a lot of work goes into erasing or cleaning up the results of black charred sin. So some of the black char may remain forever. It may always be present in our lives because while God’s forgiveness takes away that burden of sin, some acts of sinfulness have consequences which reap long lasting effects. Those can’t be easily scrubbed away with cleaning solution and soaking. Sometimes the result of those sins are lifelong. And we have to deal with the consequences for all the days of our lives on this earth.

It’s a lesson for us. When we make foolish decisions. When we choose selfish ways. When we know that our actions go against God’s will. There are consequences that sometimes can’t be easily wiped away in our lives. Yes, God forgets those sins when he forgives us. And to him they are no more. But the consequences in our human lives can still remain. That’s what we need to consider. Not just the fact that we’re sinning. But the consequences of those sins. When we make choices in our life. That moment of enjoyment. That so called fun activity or behavior that misrepresents God or rejects God or distorts his will. Those have consequences. So we have to be prepared to live with the results of our sin. While we still have breath, we can be forgiven. But that doesn’t make life easy and perfect.