Thursday, May 19, 2016

Good News Bad News

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,

out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.

And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be their peace. Micah 5: 2-5a (NIV)

Micah, who lived during the time of King Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, was given these words from God. 

I believe that Micah is talking about Jesus in these verses. Words such as shepherd, strength, majesty and peace are often used in the Bible to describe both God and Jesus. 

Being a prophet during Biblical times was not an easy job. Often God gave them good news and bad news to share with his people and with those living around them. 

All seven chapters in Micah are no different. You have the bad news presented along with the good news. 

You can imagine how well the bad news would be received!

It's not much different today. 

Who likes to receive bad news? Not me! 

Bad news can make me feel as though life is out of control. For someone who loves to plan and organize a lack of control is my worst nightmare. 

And yet, it is an integral part of life. Bad news creeps right in and has to snatch away the good news, the excitement, and the joy. 

Or does it? 

We don't have to allow the bad news
  • to take our joy.
  • to shake our faith.
  • to destroy our integrity.
  • to cause us to seek revenge. 
  • to be in denial.

Instead we can be proactive and acknowledge that despite the bad news we have been given we will actively
  • pray.
  • ask God to help us find joy in the little things.
  • express our thankfulness for God's love.
  • read the Bible.
  • memorize verses that help us grow stronger in our faith.
  • ask God to guide our thoughts and words.

It's a time to grow and deepen our faith and to put our trust in God whether it is good news or bad news.  

Your Turn: How do you react when given bad news? Feel free to leave a comment.  

Other By His Grace Posts

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Peace, Prosperity and Prayer

 “Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7 New International Version (NIV)  

Peace, prosperity and prayer are three words from Jeremiah 29:7 which have been on my mind recently.  

In Chapter 29 of Jeremiah, God has told the prophet Jeremiah to write a letter to the Jews who are captives in Babylon. God tells them to build houses, settle down, dig gardens, plant and harvest their gardens, eat the food, marry and to let their sons and daughters marry. 

Why? Because they are going to be in captivity for seventy years. 

Here is the same verse as presented in the King James Version of the Bible. 

 “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away as captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof ye shall have peace.” Jeremiah 29: 7 King James Version (KJV)

For me, the words peace and prosper bring to mind different thoughts and emotions; almost as though they are opposites. 

Peace evokes tranquility, contentment, free of worry or anxiety; while the word prosper or prosperity tends to make me think of wealth and the stress related to constantly protecting one’s riches from potential thieves.  

The Canadian Oxford dictionary definition of prosper is to succeed, to thrive or flourish. It states that peace is defined as quiet, tranquility, freedom from war, freedom from quarrels or disorder. 

These two versions of Jeremiah 29:7 however, are presenting just a small glimpse into the Hebrew/Jewish word shalom—peace which is all encompassing. It is a state of being, not just an attitude or an emotion.  

Shalom is a word used in greeting and in departure, yet when a person says the word, “Shalom” they are not saying, “Hello" or "Good-bye.” 

They are actually saying “peace” which Strong’s Concordance defines as being filled with the following words and their definitions. 
  • completeness
  • wholeness
  • health 
  • peace
  • welfare
  • safety soundness
  • tranquility
  • prosperity
  • perfectness
  • fullness
  • rest
  • harmony
  • the absence of agitation or discord

God also tells his people to pray for Babylon. Why does He ask the Jews to pray for their captors? This doesn't seem to make any sense. 

“Pray to the LORD for it (the city), because if it prospers then you too will prosper."  NIV 

 “...pray unto the LORD for it (the city): for in the peace thereof you shall have peace.” KJV  

In praying for their enemies, the Jews are asking for God's blessing on the city and its people. Since they are now captives within the city, the Jews will receive peace and prosperity too. 

It supports what Jesus tells us to do in the New Testament—love your enemies and to pray for and bless those who hurt you. 

How does this apply to me? 
If I spend my time thinking ill of people that I think have wronged me, I am not at peace. Instead, I am stressed, anxious, upset and accomplishing very little good for my health and for God.  

When I pray for those whom I feel have wronged me; my whole attitude changes toward them. The benefits for me are that I am not stressed so my health is better and I have an improved attitude. 

God knows that when we pray for our "enemies" we are doing less harm to ourselves and blessing them and us with God's peace. A life changing experience indeed!  

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, I am asking that you help me to pray for the shalom form of peace and prosperity in whatever situation I face. Bless all of the people involved. In Jesus' name, Amen

Your turn: What are your thoughts on peace, prosper and prayer? 

Other By His Grace blog posts of interest. 
Unlikely, Impossible
Mid March Grays And Jeremiah
When Success Is Failure