Tag Archives: peace

Post-Mandate Living (Guest Post)

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Post-Mandate Living

by Steph Beth Nickel

Virtually all the COVID restrictions have been lifted in Ontario (Canada).

You would think that would cause relief and rejoicing, a return to “normal.” While that may be the case for some, I have spoken with several people who will continue to wear a mask. And while I’m not overly concerned about my own health, when I’m not feeling 100 percent, I may wear a mask for the sake of others.

Regardless of how we feel about the mandates and statistical reporting, the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, and how others have dealt with the situation over the past two years, we’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot of lessons.

Here are just five that come to mind:

  1. Kindness and compassion should always be “the norm.” There have been too many attacks launched on social media from every perspective. (In this, I include all the belittling comments and attacks—even the seemingly benign attacks—on the intelligence of those who feel differently than we do.)
  2. As we enter a time when each of us is free to choose how we deal with mask-wearing and social distancing, respect is vital. Those who continue to wear masks should be treated as those who previously could not wear masks wanted to be treated—with respect.
  3. And speaking of respect… Even easygoing people have developed strong opinions about things they’d never given a second thought pre-pandemic. We may/likely have friends and family members who are adamantly opposed to our perspective on a wide variety of topics. It’s important to learn how to live at peace with them—especially when they are members of our family or church, those people we interact with regularly.
  4. The Lord instructs us to put other’s needs above our own. In Philippians 2:3, He says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (ESV) Although I’m sure not based on this biblical directive, the employees at the garage where we get our car serviced have what I think is an excellent approach. Because of government mandates, they are no longer required to wear masks. However, if a customer comes in with a mask, they are to put one on out of respect for them. That earns them five out of five stars in my book.
  5. The anxiety of the last two years hasn’t necessarily evaporated. We may have a whole new list of concerns. Should I shed my mask or not? Should I get a/another booster shot? Should I be extra cautious around people with cold and flu symptoms, knowing my immune system hasn’t had the workout it’s had pre-COVID? And on and on and on.

As we navigate these and other issues, God’s Word gives us instructions that apply. He knew what each and every one of us would face down through the millennia. Amazing!

In the ESV*, Philippians 4:4-9 says:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

I return to these verses again and again. What are your go-to verses in times of anxiety and uncertainty?

*English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at stephbethnickelediting@gmail.com.

You’re invited to visit her website: http://stephbethnickeleditor.com/.

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

Want More Grace and Peace? Grow.

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2, NLT*

Coming to Jesus is just the beginning – the rebirth. We’re not to remain as spiritual babies, but to thrive and grow up into a vibrant Christian life.

Peter tells us to grow in our knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. How do we learn more about the power and character of our God and Saviour?

  • by reading the Bible
  • through experience, as we trust Him and live for Him
  • through other Christians, as we spend time with them in prayer and in working for the Kingdom
  • in prayer, and in quiet times with God

Peter says coming to know God means receiving “everything we need for living a godly life (verse 3)” and that we need to grow by responding to His promises (verse 5). Verses 5-7 give detailed advice on what to cultivate in our lives by the Spirit’s help.

Growing will make us “productive and useful (verse 8)”. It’ll keep us from falling away. We need to remember what we’ve been taught about Jesus from His word – and to rely on it. To base our lives on it.

The better we know our God, the more we can rely on Him. The easier it is to trust and obey Him. And the more others will see and respond to the difference He makes in our lives.

God our Father, thank You for drawing us to Yourself to be spiritually born again. Thank You for Your promises and for all that You’ve given us. Help us to receive and to respond, for our own sakes and for the sake of Your Kingdom.

Keith Green‘s song, “Draw Me,” is a great prayer to bring us deeper into the Lord’s presence.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Waiting Quietly

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
Psalm 62:5, NLT*

These words refresh my spirit and re-focus me on God.

David wrote them about a time of great pressure, reminding himself and his people to look to God for help instead of relying on others or on their own assets.

The “trust God” theme is so important that it’s written twice: before and after David’s list of troubles. (You can read the entire psalm here: Psalm 62)

Waiting quietly before God speaks to the state of our hearts and spirits – a choice to control what could easily be frantic desperation and to bring our fears to God instead.

It’s not passively sitting and waiting for God to fix everything, but it’s acknowledging that God will be the one to make a way and to protect. And it’s being open to recognize that way when it comes.

It’s also realizing whose power will ultimately bring victory – God’s, not ours.

Are you in a good place today? No particular stresses or battles? This verse is for you, too. Actually, that’s the place I was when the words first blessed me this year.

The sheep in the quiet meadow can enjoy it more when s/he fully trusts the Shepherd. (At least that would be true if sheep had thoughts, feelings and anxieties.) Happy, secure and restful times need an awareness of God just as much as the crises.

God our gentle yet strong Shepherd, whether we’re at peace or in turmoil, give us grace to choose to quiet ourselves and wait in hope before You. Help us to fully rely on Your love, wisdom and power, for our own sakes and so that others will see Your goodness.

I like this song from Aaron Shust: “My Hope is in You.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

How to Thrive

But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.
I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.
Psalm 52:8, NLT*

What’s the context of this psalm? David is warning an enemy that the man will get what’s coming from God for his evil deeds. Not in the sense of retaliation, but cause and effect: Doeg’s crimes will meet justice.

David isn’t bitter about the betrayal—if he were, he wouldn’t be thriving in God’s presence. Instead, David is trusting in God’s unfailing love to care for him.

What would that look like in our lives, if we always trusted in God’s love? And if we trusted in the rest of His character attributes?

  • Instead of bitterness and blame: peace. Yes, God will judge the offender if that person doesn’t come to Him for forgiveness. But closer to home, God will be enough for us.
  • Instead of self-pity: security. Jesus loves us. He’ll never abandon us.
  • Instead of fear or anxiety: assurance. The all-powerful God of the universe has a plan for us. We may not see how He’ll do it, but He will work all things out for good in the end.

If I could live this way—if we could—it would be thriving indeed.

Merciful God whose love is unfailing and extravagant, help us in our limited belief. Increase our faith, increase our desire for Your presence. Teach us to thrive in You and to always trust You.

Let Brian Doerksen‘s song, “Your Faithfulness,” remind us to trust God.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Grace, Mercy and Peace

I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.
1 Timothy 1:2, NLT*

Paul begins most of his letters with a variant of these words, before getting into the meat of what he has to say. I always thought it was an overall blessing, kind of a loving way to say “hello”.

What if it’s more than that? His letters are very specific in terms of teaching and instruction. He doesn’t seem the type to open with generic fluff.

Today I think this prayer for “grace, mercy and peace” is not only not a pleasantry, it’s a carefully-targeted prayer for Timothy’s needs.

The letter goes on to advise Timothy in his conduct and duties, but the “working out” won’t be effective without the inner working of the Holy Spirit in answer to Paul’s request here.

We often pray for detailed needs and results, and rightly so. But I take Paul’s prayer here as a reminder to ask for these essential gifts of God—grace, mercy, peace etc—as well. Often we don’t know how to pray, or we think we do but our ideas may not match God’s.

Paul reassures me that it’s not a cop-out to pray for these larger, intangible blessings that will work themselves out in lives and in situations according to God’s sovereign will and purposes. It may instead be the foundation for what comes next.

God who is the source of grace, mercy and peace, pour these gifts on us so that we can understand and obey the teaching of Your Word. Thank You for the reminder that what we do in our own strength won’t amount to much. We need Your touch, and You so readily give it when we remember to ask. Grant us Your blessing, we pray.

This week’s song is “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” performed here by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Rest. Is it possible?

Rest — physical and spiritual — can be an elusive hope. Here are five helpful links I’ve read lately:

rest: tranquil ocean sceneSheila Seiler Lagrande says “We can’t earn rest any more than we can earn salvation. So let’s show ourselves some grace, shall we?

Grace Fox shares the secret to a restful sleep.

Bonnie Leon reminds us of the peace that comes when we remember God is always with us.

Mary deMuth encourages us to Say No. Rest.

Reba J. Hoffman, PhD tells us it’s crucial to develop the habit of stillness.

5 Links to Rest Your Soul

Photo credit: Janet Sketchley

Here are five posts that have spoken peace to me recently. Enjoy!

From Mary DeMuth at Live Uncaged: Free People Rest. Do You?

From Carolyn Watts at Hearing the Heartbeat: When You Wake Empty and The Only Safe Place to Start Your Week.

And from Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky: 5 Ways to Breathe in a Breathless World and  The Kind of Faith that Changes Your Life.

Prince of Peace

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5, NIV*

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, means more than tranquility or absence of conflict. The Ancient Hebrew Research Center says “The noun shalom has the more literal meaning of being in a state of wholeness or with no deficiency.”

I’ve been thinking a bit about what it means that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

Prince speaks to His authority. Peace is part of His character, but it’s also something He gave His life to bring us.

Peace with God: We’re adopted into God’s family, loved and welcomed. He’s washed away the sin and shame and we don’t need to hide anymore. Nor will God hide His face from us.

Peace with one another: We can overlook the surface irritants and choose to give grace to one another like it’s been given to us. We can work together, united in our belonging to the Prince of Peace, who enables—and commands—us to love one another.

Peace with ourselves: He knows our depths but loves and accepts us. We can accept ourselves. He has saved us and is saving us. We can cooperate with Him and rely on His promises.

God the Son, who is our Prince of Peace, thank You for rescuing us. Thank You for making us whole and giving us peace with You, with others and with ourselves. Help us do all we can, strengthened by Your mighty power at work in us, to preserve and expand this peace. Help us be peacemakers.

Here’s Rich Mullins’ classic song, “Hold Me Jesus.”

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Review: Promises You Can Count On, by Natalie Gidney

Promises You Can Count On, by Natalie Gidney (Word Alive Press, 2009)

Bible promise books, complete with a helpful index, are great resources, and every Christian’s bookshelf should have one. But you only need one.

That’s why Promises You Can Count On takes a different approach. Natalie Gidney focuses on ten essential promises, including peace, salvation, grace and joy, and invites readers to “claim them and watch and see what He can do.” (p. 6)

This slender book is ideal for new believers or for those considering faith in Jesus Christ. It’s also a good refresher for more seasoned Christians. Each chapter draws on a number of Scriptures to explore one of God’s promises. With an easy conversational style, Natalie looks at what this promise can mean in our lives, and she offers candid examples of what it’s meant in her own.

Naturally, salvation is one of the early topics. It may surprise some readers, then, to see forgiveness rounding out the number ten spot as the final chapter. But as Natalie explains, forgiveness is something that’s required of us as well as something we need from God. That can be a hard truth to hear, and I think she’s wise to build up to it.

In some ways, forgiving others—or ourselves—isn’t possible until we’re sure we can trust God’s promises. So it makes sense to immerse ourselves in them first and grow our faith.

Promises You Can Count On was a finalist in the Relationships category of The Word Guild’s 2010 Canadian Christian Writing Awards (for books published in 2009).

Canadian author and speaker Natalie Gidney blogs at Promises for All. You can watch her interview on 100 Huntley Street: part 1 and part 2.

[book source: my personal library]

Review: Moving from Fear to Freedom, by Grace Fox

Moving from Fear to Freedom, by Grace Fox (Harvest House Publishers, 2007)

I’m excited to learn that a DVD and teaching guide to accompany this book will release in early 2011. [Ordering information coming soon at the Grace Fox website] The book itself is valuable, and I’m sure adding a small group dynamic will help readers apply the truths Grace shares. The message is uncomplicated, but a journey is easier with companions.

Because of the upcoming new material and Grace’s current virtual book tour, I thought I’d re-post my review of Moving from Fear to Freedom from last October:

In this book, subtitled A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation, author/speaker Grace Fox gives women an honest look at common fears—her own and others’, and maintains that there is an upside to fear: it can let us experience more of God in our lives as we cling to Him. We can move beyond theoretical head knowledge to practical heart knowledge. It reminds me of Job saying, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5, NIV)

Each chapter of Moving from Fear to Freedom deals with a fear that could be debilitating: our children’s safety, loss of possessions, hard times, the future, inadequacy, rejection, issues in our past, and aging. Grace introduces us to contemporary women and biblical characters who discovered how trusting and relying on God overcame fear’s effects.

Chapters also include “Points for Progress”: questions to help individuals or groups think through and apply what they’ve read, “Promises to Ponder”: Scriptures that give God’s perspective on our fears, and “Praying the Promises”: those same verses personalized in prayer.

It’s these practical steps that make the book so valuable. Personal testimony that other women not only face but can overcome fear is encouraging, but learning how to deal with our own personal fears is liberating. As Grace says (page 9) “Filling our minds with the truth of God’s Word equips us to face fearful situations as they come along.”

And they will come along. The stories in this book show that although there may be clear moments of choice—to trust God for the first time or with a particular fear—the “moving from fear to freedom” is a journey rather than a single step. Armed with a trust in God’s character and an arsenal of promises from His Word, encouraged by the knowledge that most women are facing a variation of the same struggle, we can take that journey.

Men struggle with fears too, and Grace’s reference notes include both male- and female-authored books on the subject. Not that a man would dissolve in a puff of smoke if he read Moving from Fear to Freedom, but be warned that the personal stories and examples all come from a female perspective.

I found this a helpful book, easy to read, and one that I’d recommend to others. Different chapters will speak personally to different readers, but the foundation is the same: take the scary step to trust God with our fears. He loves us and He is enough to bring us to freedom.

Sound like wishful thinking? I’ll let Grace answer that one:

Maintaining an attitude of trust and rest is easier said than done, but it is possible. How? By understanding the character of God and how it relates to the nitty-gritty of everyday life. (page 57)

To find out more about Grace Fox’s ministry, including her other books, or to sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter, you can visit her website. Grace’s blog is Daring. Deep. Devoted. You can read an interesting interview with Grace about fear and freedom at Heidi McLaughlin’s blog, Heart Connection.