Shabbat Shalom. Peace.

“Shabbat Shalom!” This is the greeting each Friday evening by Jewish people everywhere. May the peace of the Sabbath be yours. Maybe tonight, it’s more of a virtual salutation.

Peace. Rest.

There are two candles lighted at the beginning of the Shabbat celebration each Friday evening. Tradition holds that the first is called the Creation candle. The second light is the Redemption candle. Everything God creates, He has a plan for redemption. We can rejoice in His plan of redemption for us all.

May you find His true peace and rest during this very trying season. “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.” (John 14:27, NIV)

And one of the key blessings of Shabbat: “May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD turn His face towards you and give you His (eternal, loving and grace-filled) peace.” (Numbers 2:24-26, NIV).

Indeed. Let’s pause tonight, open your hands and your heart and find His peace.

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 48. Celebrate! Be Happy! Shout as You Go!

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 48.

This is the culmination of 400 years of Babylonian captivity. Today is a day to rejoice!

“Today I am doing something new, something you cannot say you have heard before.” (v7, CEV).

The Lord says He tested the people of Israel in the hard times of captivity, tested them to refine them as silver is refined in the fire. You’ve heard this example, I’m sure: As silver is purified there is a black dross that separates from the genuine silver. How does the silversmith know when the silver is perfectly refined? When the dross is completely burned off and he can see his reflection in the pure silver.

So, today, the refining process is complete. Israel finally, once again, is reflecting the image of God, not of other idols or gods.

So, this leads to their freedom!

“I am the holy LORD God. The One who rescues you. For your own good, I teach you and I lead you among the right path… Now leave Babylon! Celebrate as you go! Be happy and shout for everyone to hear: “The LORD has rescued, has redeemed His servant Israel!” (v17,20, CEV).

He has redeemed us, too. The people of Israel were rescued by God at the hand of King Cyrus. We are redeemed by Jesus!

Celebrate! Be happy! Shout as you go!

And as for the people of Babylon? “There is no peace, says the LORD,  for the wicked.” (v22, NIV).

I believe the flip side is also true. There IS peace in abundance for those who live in goodness and grace. In Jesus, there is freedom from the captivity of sin and an overflow of peace. His perfect Shalom. His perfect joy!

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 19

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 19.

Woe is Egypt! This is so interesting! Another neighboring country who faces God’s wrath.  The Message says: “God has scrambled their brains.” (v15).

But then… “When they cry out in prayer because of oppressors, He’ll send them help, a Savior, who will keep them safe and care for them.” (v 20).

I believe that’s a promise for us as well. When our brains are mush, when there is great fog, when we’re lost, we can cry out to our Abba Father, and He will send us help. He will send us grace and wisdom and joy and peace, through the Holy Spirit. And we will receive His blessing.

“Egypt will come back to God, and God will listen to their prayers and heal them.” (v22, MSG).

God will listen to your prayers and heal you too! And He will bless you!

“On that Day, Israel will take its place alongside Egypt and Assyria, sharing the blessing from the center. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who blessed Israel, will generously bless them all: “Blessed be Egypt, my people! . . . Blessed be Assyria, work of my hands! . . . Blessed be Israel, my heritage!”” (v24‭-‬25, MSG).

Blessed be you, dear child of God! Even when you feel like you are in a fog, you can trust God to make your way clear again.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 3 and 4

Olive tree branch on the Mt. of Olives, Jerusalem.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah. Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 3-4 need to be read together. And I’m just going to skip over the whole thing about the women of Jerusalem, except to say that much of Isaiah is sad…

Jerusalem and Judah, you rebelled against your glorious Lordyour words and your actions, made you stumble and fall. The look on your faces shows that you are sinful as Sodom, and you don’t try to hide it. You are in for trouble, and you have brought it all on yourselves. Isaiah 3:8-9 (CEV).

Some see this prophesy happening right now in the streets. You can see why many in Jerusalem, Orthodox Jews and even evangelical Christians, stand at the Western Wall and plead earnestly with God.
This prompts us to pray, as the Psalmist asked, for the peace of Jerusalem:
Jerusalem, we pray that you will have peace, and that all will go well for those who love you. May there be peace inside your city walls and in your palaces. Because of my friends and my relatives, I will pray for peace.
Psalm 122:6-8 (CEV).
Peace. Shalom. A deep seated safety and security. Complete. Lacking nothing. No stress or anxiety. Ahhhh. Isn’t that something we all desire?
And we can pray for people to see that God’s branch has sprouted… for Jesus to come again. There WILL be a time when those who remain in Jerusalem will be called special. His peace WILL ultimately prevail!
One day… once again “God’s own glory will be like a huge tent over the city.” Isaiah 4:6

That will be a beautiful day!

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald

Light. Life. Jesus.

Jesus is the Light. He shines in the darkness. He brings Life!

Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus the Messiah. There is something very powerful and yet peaceful when His name is spoken in reverence and worship. His very name conquers fear. His very name lights our way when we feel trapped or alone or lost or consumed with darkness.

Remember when you were a kid and you were afraid of the dark? Maybe, like me, you had to have a light on in your bedroom at night. What was it about the light being on? It shined brightly in the darkness, didn’t it? It showed us that there was nothing else in the room, nothing would harm us or hurt us. The light was a comfort, wasn’t it?

Jesus said in John 8: “I am light to the world and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never walk in darkness.” John 8:12 (Passion)

Light is not only a comfort, but it brings life! Like the sun on the leaves of a plant, Jesus, the light of the world, brings life!

Do you believe that? Let His light shine in you and on you to give you His life. As the dawning light of a new day chases away the darkness of night, the comfort and peace of Jesus can do the same thing in your life. There is nothing so dark that His light can’t shine through and bring calm.

Maybe you need His light to bring you comfort today? Ask Him to shine His light in your life. Ask Him to let His life drive the darkness out of your life! He loves you and He will do it.

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019.

God Never Fails.

God will help you catch your breath.
You’ll find God right there.

God Never Fails. I’m pretty sure I’ve written that before. Maybe multiple times. But it’s worth repeating. Over and over again.

God never fails.

We fail, right?

Can I assure you, however, that for those who trust God and who follow Jesus that it’s okay to fail. I believe we all actually need to have at least one moment in our life, or multiple moments in our life, where we we fail… where we are broken… where we take all of the burdens we’ve been carrying and finally fall to our knees at the foot of the Cross and say, “Here, Jesus. I can’t do this anymore.” I believe we all need to get to that point where we stop kidding ourselves that we can be self-dependent and we fully cross the line to being dependent on God and God alone.

For me personally, I could share story after story where I was so broken that I just couldn’t carry the load any longer.  They include:

      • Each of the six times my employer at the time decided to change directions without me.
      • Too many times to count when parenting teenagers or adult children.
      • And the recent death of my Mom.

On each occasion, my knees couldn’t hit the floor quick enough. Did I fail or did my situation fail me? No matter. I couldn’t bear the weight alone.

The strongest people are those who fail… who acknowledge that they are weak and empty.

One of the greatest, strongest people of all time was Israel’s King David. He writes, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.”  Then, look at the word picture painted by the Message translation: “If you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.” (Psalm 34:18 MSG). What an encouraging image!

Even when bad things happen to good people, God is there for you. Every time.

Perhaps your tending to a broken heart? Perhaps you’ve wondered where is the promised victory of the Christian life? In Luke 4 Jesus says the whole reason He came was to heal the brokenhearted, to release the captives and to bring sight to the blind. No matter what broke your heart, no matter what is holding you captive, no matter that you can’t seem to see your way out of your situation, can I assure you that Jesus came for you.

You may have failed, but you are not a failure! Take time, maybe even right now, to tell God that you need Him. Admit that you can’t carry this burden on your own. Tell Him that you’ll trust Him.

And then… do it. Lay your burden down and trust Him.  Cross that bridge and breathe in the air of a new found freedom and peace.  Jesus is waiting to help you catch your breath!

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019

Want peace? Trust Jesus.

This is Graduation season! It’s “Pomp and Circumstance” for everyone from Kindergarten to College and beyond.  Graduates are parading across stages and moving tassels from left to right (or is it right to left?).  It’s a grand and glorious season for families everywhere.

What are the two emotions most people have during this time of the year? For both parents and graduates it is excitement, joy and pride for what they just accomplished. And simultaneous to that, it is fear for what is next on life’s journey. Will they be going away to college? Parents are worried about fall semester, freshman year and what their children might get into outside of the classrooms. Will they be off to boot camp? New recruits worry that they might be going off to battle. Will they start a new full-time job? New employees wonder if they will be able to do the work and then pay their own bills and live on their own.

When I graduated high school, a friend shared this promise with me, given by God to Joshua: “I have commanded you to be strong and courageous. Do not fear, do not be afraid or discouraged. I am the Lord your God and I will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Jesus echoed the same words in Matthew didn’t He?  The final words as He ascended into heaven are this: “Surely, I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Whether you are a graduate or someone going through the seasons of life, fear can be paralyzing. Are you between a biopsy and a diagnosis? The silence can be debilitating. Did you do something you regret and now have to have a crucial conversation with your spouse? The guilt can be crippling.  Are you facing a new transistion? I heard this recently: “I know I need to get a new job, but I hate change.” Fear in all of these situations can prevent us from taking action, right? Fear nibbles at our heels and creates static noise in our heads.

But Jesus silences fear with His love. He brings peace… His perfect peace to all who trust in Him. Practically, it might be a bit of rough road getting from here to there. That’s okay. Remember, He is always with us. Give Him your fears and your anxious heart and enjoy the harmony of His peace.

 

 

(c) 2019 Rich Ronald.