Sow & Gather

Peace

Overcome with Peace At Advent

Advent, PeaceMarci AnthonyComment
#advent #sowandgather And The Peace Of God Which Surpasses All Understanding Will Guard Your Hearts and Your Minds In Christ Jesus. Philippians 4;7

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

Parties, food, church, decorations, cards, a nativity, lights, candles, advent wreaths, family, concerts, cookies, carols, traveling, presents ….. The sights and sounds of Christmas!!! 

These activities are wonderful, enjoyable and exciting, but at times these good things are … just … overwhelming. There are so many activities in such a short period of time and I often wonder why we can’t transfer some to January. I move through events, at times frazzled, contemplating which ones I can eliminate from this season.  

But if I shift my thoughts and focus my mind on whose birthday I am celebrating, Jesus’ peace begins to encompass me. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV) Jesus came to give us peace, not only during those truly troubling times but also during these seasons of fun when we get tired. He has overcome, and He gives us peace in seasons of both lows and highs.  

So, take heart! Relish the sights and sounds of Christmas. Focus your mind and heart on Jesus, the peace giver, and the peace of God will surpass all your understanding. 

And, as Paul exhorted in many of his letters to the believers, I exclaim, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2 (NIV) 

Merry Christmas!!!! 

Dig Deeper |

John 14:27

Action Item |

Focus on the peace giver. 

Prayer |

Dear Peace Giver, Thank you for your peace and for overcoming the world, so I may experience it. I need you! Help me to focus my heart and mind on you this Christmas. In the name of Jesus,  Amen. 

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Experience the Prince of Peace This Christmas

Advent, PeaceMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #advent #peace You Will Keep Him In Perfece Peace, Whose Mind Is Stayed on You Because He Trusts In You Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) 

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the music. Christmas is one of the only seasons during the year that has its own music. It starts right after Thanksgiving (sometimes earlier) and continues for the whole month of December. It is heard everywhere-- in all the stores, restaurants, businesses and on several radio stations around the clock.  

And have you noticed? There is such a variety. There are songs about Santa Claus and having a white Christmas to carols such as “Silent Night” and “The First Noel”. I catch myself humming and singing at every opportunity. 

But my favorites are the songs about Jesus and His birth. These songs recapture the words in Isaiah 9:6“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (NIV) Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He brings peace!!  

Now, if you are like me, your mind is going crazy during this season. There are so many activities and people to meet. There is not a dull moment and it is definitely not peaceful.  

However, when I begin to sing or even hum these wonderful songs about Jesus, I experience Him. I encounter His joy, love and especially His peace. The more I focus on the words about Him, the more my mind becomes peaceful. I discover the Prince of Peace. 

So, are you looking for peace? Let’s sing!!! 

Dig Deeper |

Colossians 3:15-16 

Action Item |

Sing the song, “Silent Night”. 

Prayer |

Dear Prince of Peace, Thank You for coming into the world as a child. Thank You that we are able to celebrate Your birthday and sing songs of Your love, joy and peace. Help us to encounter Your peace.  In the name of the Christ child, Jesus.  Amen. 

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Inner Peace - Gaining Perspective

PeaceMarci AnthonyComment
My Peace I Leave With You #sowandgather

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)

Every year before school starts, my oldest daughter and I pick a word that represents an area of our lives that needs improvement. Last year for the 2015/16 school year our word was perspective. I had no idea how this word would change my life through the course of a year. Through some random circumstances, I developed some pain in a particular part of my body. While this pain was not incredibly serious or life-threatening, no matter what I did to try to get rid of the pain, it would not go away.  

I allowed the pain to go on for several months before getting it checked out, and when I finally decided to try and figure out what was causing it, I was sent on a roller coaster of doctors’ offices, tests and medications to try and figure out what was causing my discomfort. As you can imagine the discomfort from the pain was worrisome enough, but when you take into account the number of tests and doctors I had to endure as a result, it was overwhelming. 

For 10 months I waited, expecting the worst. Finally, I went through the last procedure which revealed that what I had been enduring for all those many months was a minor problem that had been complicated by the many months of worrying and speculating on the what-ifs.  

So many times over the course of 10 months I had to remind myself that God is sovereign. I kept telling myself, “God’s got this.” I would repeat this daily in my head anytime any negative thoughts would enter, “Thy will be done.” In John 27:14 Jesus says to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” It is comforting to know that God has given each of us inner peace. 

We don’t have to work for it, we just have to believe that it’s there and trust that God will take care of whatever cares and worries we have. Jesus also adds, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus knew that the disciples would face many trials and challenges, even death, but Jesus reminded them that they had the promise of the ultimate prize of eternity in heaven.

I had no idea what God had in store for me last year when I asked for perspective, butI will say that I have gained so much more through this experience and I am still working and learning to trust God in all my circumstances. This year when my daughter and I picked our word, would you believe me if I told you we chose the word fun? Have you asked God to help you feel His presence and peace today?  

Dig Deeper |

Isaiah 41:13; Romans 8:37-39

Action Item |

Are you dealing with uncertainty or fear?  Stop telling God how big your problem is and instead tell your problem how big your God is.  Ask God for peace in times of uncertainty.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your sovereignty. You are in control of all things great and small.  Allow us to trust You in all circumstances. Help me to feel Your presence and peace today and every day.

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Can you Count the Sheep? - Finding Peace

PeaceMarci AnthonyComment
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture Psalm #sowandgather

Know that the Lord is God, it is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3 (NIV)

Do you ever have problems sleeping? If you’re like me, you dread going to sleep. It’s not that I’m not exhausted by the day’s hectic schedule; it’s that when I try to fall asleep it seems to take me forever. I lie in bed while random thoughts swirl through my head. Most nights I try to stay up as long as possible so that I’m so tired that I just fall into bed. But, what usually happens is that I fall asleep on a chair or couch and end up waking up at some random hour with a huge pain in my back or neck.  

Sometimes I try to go to bed earlier so that in theory I will get more sleep, but that normally backfires and I wake up at 3:00 AM wide awake. What happened to the days when I couldn’t wait to fall asleep and I would rest peacefully and soundly until 9 or 10 AM the next morning? Now I’m lucky if I get 6 hours of sleep a night.  

The main problem that I have when trying to go to sleep is quieting the random thoughts that go through my head. I wish I could say that these thoughts were positive, but usually nighttime is when the negative, restless thoughts wander in circles like vultures above my head.  

The other day I was talking with my mom on the phone about my lack of sleep and she suggested I try counting sheep. I paused on the line and then replied sarcastically, “Mom, I’m not 10 years old.” She laughed and said, “No, what I mean is get out your Bible before bed and start looking at all the times where sheep are mentioned.” My mom always has an underlying message in her meaning so I asked her to elaborate. 

The word sheep is found over 500 times in the Bible, so counting them would make you rather exhausted, it’s true. But the real reason to dwell on the word sheep is to remind us that we are all sheep.  God is our Shepherd. We don’t have to worry or obsess over life’s problems because He is our guide.  Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the Lord is God.” If we recognize that God is Lord of all and is in control, we have no reason to fear sleep or anything else. The next part of the verse says, “It is he who made us, we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Four times God puts his mark on us in this verse, “He made us, we are His, we are His people, and we are His sheep.” God has branded us as His sheep.  The next time you have trouble with sleep, remember to open your Bible and count the sheep!

Dig Deeper |

Luke 12:32; Psalm 23

Action Item |

If you have trouble sleeping, try reciting a verse that brings comfort before bed.  Next, offer that verse as a prayer to God and as you pray take some deep breaths and allow calm and relaxation to take over.    

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for watching over me while I sleep. You are the great Shepherd.  Remove any worries and insecurities that may enter my thoughts during the night and allow me to rest peacefully.

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This Is How You Should Pray

Prayer, PeaceSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
This Is How You Should Pray

This, then is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10
  
As summer heats up, I am reminded of how God is in control of everything in this world including the seasons. While there are some seasons I look forward to more than others, each season serves a purpose. The same is true of our individual lives. As we go through life, we encounter what are commonly called the seasons of life.

Some of these seasons are happy times of joy like getting your driver’s license (although for your parents this was probably more of a stressful season) Or maybe your happy season was getting married to your soul mate or having your first child. These seasons are blessings from God and should be cherished. The happy joyous moments are often compared to spring and summer when life begins anew and everything seems to be more carefree and laid back. 
 
Sometimes we experience difficulties in life that are not happy or particularly carefree. These seasons are characterized by fall and winter. Fall seems to be more of an in-between stage where something is happening in your life. The leaves keep piling up around you until you either decide to pick up the rake and clean up the problem, or you allow the leaves to bury you deeper in the pile. 
 
Then there’s winter. This is the most difficult season of all. It’s where life seems to stop and you are surrounded on all sides by uncertainty and doubt. Going through winter is when you have trouble navigating life. It’s as if you’re stuck in a blizzard and can’t find your way out.  This is where Matthew 6:9-10 cuts right to the core of our problems. So, when we are in the midst of a blizzard, God is our guide and He is our constant navigator to help us find our way. We have to realize that the most important thing is His will during this season. Everything is according to his purpose and plan and we have to trust that He will lead us. 
 
When we are celebrating being in the seasons of spring and summer, we still need to recognize that it is only through God’s grace that we can celebrate. What season are you going through today? If you are going through spring or summer, thank God for His eternal blessings and continued peace. If you happen to be in the midst of fall or winter, take heart and let Matthew 6 be your daily prayer. Know that God has a plan and it is His will, not ours, that will get us through the difficult seasons of life. 
 
Dig Deeper |

Proverb 3:5-6

Action Item |

How do you handle dealing with difficult seasons of life? Do you try and control the situation or do you allow God to work through you for His purpose?   
 
Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your endless mercy when we go through times of trial and difficulty. We pray that as we face challenges in our lives, we will not allow doubt or uncertainty to take over but cling to Your promises. Thank you for blessing us with times of joy and celebration. May we always recognize Your hand in all circumstances. 
 
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Treasure God's Word - John 14:27

Advent 2015, scripture memory, PeaceMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize it |

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

advent2015-peace-john 14:27-I-Am-leaving-you-with-a-gift-peace-of-mind-and-heart

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Taming Your Cranky

encourage, Peace, ThessaloniansSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
he-sees-me-taming-cranky-sowandgather

Today we welcome author and speaker Suzie Eller to Sow & Gather. Suzie spoke to our Women’s Ministry one year ago on September 5-6, 2014. She graciously allowed us to use one of her devotionals from the 2014 conference here on the blog. So as a #TBT here are some timeless encouraging words from Suzie.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)

I thrashed the covers in the small bed, punching my pillow, trying to ignore the green numbers on the clock that flashed 2:00 a.m. Recovering from a recent illness, I was exhausted. My laptop was evidently just as sick as I was, for when I booted it up, numbers and scrolling messages exploded on the screen.

This normally happy girl was grouchy . . . overly sensitive . . . emotional. Earlier that evening I had been quiet. If I opened my mouth, I wouldn’t be happy with what came out. The last thing I wanted on this ministry trip was to be the girl with her cranky pants on. Yet here I was wearing them with a capital “C.”

As the numbers flashed to 2:30 and then to 3:00, I wrestled with God. Lord, what is wrong with me? Father, how can you use a girl who’s wearing such a giant set of cranky pants? That’s when the scripture came to mind.

Soft. Gentle. Like a whisper it played through my thoughts, filtering down to my heart: “The LORD your God is in your midst…” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). Right then. Right there. He was with me. “He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love.” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). My spiraling feelings. My fatigued brain and body.

he-sees-me-sowandgather

He saw them all, and yet His gladness poured over me. He would quiet my whirling thoughts with His love. “He will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). That’s when the tears came, because right there, even in my cranky pants, God saw me and was singing a majestic lullaby over His daughter. I curled up in the blanket, closed my eyes, and sleep finally came.

Maybe today you’re wearing your cranky pants with a capital “C.” You’re out of sorts. You’re biting your tongue to keep harsh words away from those you love. You’re tired spiritually or emotionally, or maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve rested physically.

He sees you.

He sees all of you. Not just the cranky pants, but your heart, and that you want nothing more than to be yourself again.

My prayer is that you hear that lullaby gently playing. That you sense Him drawing you close. I pray that you’ll remember that we all have those days when we are out of sorts, or when everything seems to be going wrong. But most of all, I pray that you remember that our Heavenly Father doesn’t turn away from us in those moments, but brings peace to our troubled thoughts when we hold up them up with absolute honesty.

That next day I woke up tired physically, but rested on the inside, and my cranky pants were nowhere in sight. I know they’ll pop up again. Life does that sometimes. But when it does, rather than hide from God, I’m going to run to Him instead . . .  cranky pants, and all.

Dig Deeper |

Zephaniah 3:17; Philippians 4:6-7.

Action Item |

God’s grace is needed on good and bad days, but it’s often sought only on those days when you feel worthy and approved. But whose approval are you looking for? Yours, or the One who knows you best? When you have your next cranky pants day, ask this question: Will I live today ACCUSED or will I be RESCUED by my Heavenly Father who promises to quiet me with His love?

Prayer |

Dear Father, some days I stay away from You because I am ashamed of my feelings. Thank You that I can rest in Your grace as You pour out peace and quiet my thoughts with Your peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Suzie-Eller-Proverb31

Suzie is an International Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author, former radio co-host, and Bible Gateway blogger. She’s a woman who believes that our past shapes us, but does not limit us! She is an author of articles, columns, and seven books including her most recent books:  The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness and The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.  Join Suzie and her sisterhood of brave girls on Thursdays as they celebrate #livefree.

Most important, she’s a mom, wife, and “Gaga” to five beautiful babies.

Suzie lives in NW Arkansas and when she’s not writing or speaking, she’s with her family, or hiking, or filling the kitchen with smells of her love language of cooking.

Focus On What Is Excellent And Praiseworthy

Peace, encourageSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
noble-right-pure-praiseworthy-sowandgather

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Does your mind wander?  Do your thoughts cause you anxiety, worry, irritation or even pain?  Is your mind in a state of confusion or absorbed with the circumstances of life?   

Often, I let my thoughts get carried away and I have to stop and force myself to think on Jesus.  I begin to think on the command in Philippians 4:8 and ponder what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy.  Okay, Lord!  Your precious words from the Bible are true and King Jesus on His throne is noble.  The laws given to us in your word and through men are right.   A precious newborn baby is pure and the first colorful flower of spring is lovely.  A preacher teaching your words and actions is admirable and the love between husband and wife is excellent

I have to pause in my day and take my thoughts captive. For a time my mind will be at rest. When I pause and "think about such things," God is training my mind to look for His beauty in the world and in my mind. 

Finally, I praise the Lord!  Let every breath I have praise God for He is praiseworthy.

focus-on-praiseworthy-sowandgather

Dig Deeper |

2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 3:2

Action Item |

What is your focus?  What thoughts consume you or cause anxiety, worry, irritation or pain?  Ask God to show you the steps you can take to focus your mind on Him and His ways.

Prayer |

Jesus, I must confess my mind is always spinning and not focused on you and your ways.  Help me to train my thoughts to contemplate what is good and worthy.  Keep me in your Word as that helps control my thoughts. Thank you for your help.  Amen.

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Be Still Before The Lord

Isaiah, Peace, PsalmSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
be-still-before-lord-sowandgather

Be still and know that I am God . . . . Psalm 46:10 NIV

When something is troubling me or I am worried or anxious, I can’t sit still.  I need to pace back and forth or start cleaning out a closet or drawer.  I just need to DO something, anything.  I wonder if instead of pacing and moving around if I could just sit and be still for a moment? 

What if the feeling of restlessness is actually God calling me to spend time with Him?  Just to stop for a moment in the midst of all the noise and activity so that I could hear the whisper of God telling my soul, “be still and know that I am God.”  Not simply to think, wonder, or wish, but to KNOW:  God is God, and He is in control!

dont-worry-run-to-jesus-psalm46-sowandgather

The definition of know is “to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty; to have established or fixed in the mind or memory.”  Is God’s word so fixed in my mind that I know it to be truth?  If it is, what does His word say to do when I am anxious?  1 Peter 5:7 says “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”  God knew that you and I would have anxious times, and He tells us what we can do. 

But HOW do we do it?  What does that mean “cast all your anxiety on Him?”  He is not physically here.  It means to bring our burdens, cares, and concerns to Jesus in prayer.  Talk to Him about it, tell Him what’s on our heart, what’s bothering you…and then, LEAVE it with Him.  Every time you start to worry or get anxious, go straight to Jesus and talk to Him again. 

The second part of 1 Peter 5:7 says “for He cares for you.”  That means that Jesus literally cares about your concerns.  He WANTS us to come to Him so that He can quiet us in our soul.  He tells us “I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.  It is when we are still and spending time with Jesus that we find His joy and peace.  Once we have been with Him in prayer and in His word, even though the situation that caused us to be anxious hasn’t changed, the way we look at it will. 

Dig Deeper |

Read Psalm 37:7, Psalm 62:5, Psalm 91:1-16, Exodus 14:14, Isaiah 32:17, and Isaiah 41:10-13 for more encouragement.

Action Item |

Ask the Lord to help you identify what is causing your anxiety and give it to the Lord in prayer. 

Prayer |

Lord, when I am worried or anxious guide me to rest in You.  Help me to draw so close to You that I can hear you whisper;  “Be still my child and know that I am God.”  Let me know Your peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding.

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Welcome To Sow & Gather - Time for Transition

Peace, Philippians, MatthewSow & Gather - Tamera B.2 Comments
contentment-all-circumstances-sowandgather

Change makes me anxious. What will happen next? Will the change be good? Why is there so much to do? Change is good! That's what I tell myself.

Does August really mean the end of Summer? (Hard to believe as it is 105 degrees outside as I write this post). August always signals change for me. Even when I was out of school and had no kids I still bought school supplies. There's just something about a new notebook, multi-colored pens and the waxy smell of a fresh box of crayons to smooth out any rough edges of transition.

Even if you don't have kiddos heading back to school, you'll wake up one morning and wonder why the school zone lights are blinking and your commute increased fifteen minutes.  You might even start to experience a little frustration or anxiety - because of the change.

Join us at Sow & Gather for the next few weeks for encouragement, stillness and contentment as we all begin the transition to a new season in our lives. Your first dose starts below.

I’ll Get There When I Get There

I am not saying this because I am in need; I have learned to be content in all circumstances. Philippians 4:10 NIV

If the plane doesn’t take off in forty minutes I miss my speaking presentation – the one for a high-profile, national organization. Yeah, that one. God is teaching me about waiting. I know God is good and sovereign and in control.  It's the stress on me and the stress on the folks planning the conference.  “Lord, I pray for their peace, too.”  Waiting is hard on all of us.

I feel like my whole life has been about waiting. When will I be tall enough to ride the ride? When can I drive? When can I date? When can I get married? When will I get to this point or that point in my career? Always waiting for the next thing to happen.

ill-get-there-when-i-get-there-sowandgather

Every time I need to be on time and I'm running late, I tell myself, "I will get there when I get there." You know what? I need to apply that phrase to my whole life.  "I'll get there when I get there."  The world calls that "living in the moment."

It goes back to the Apostle Paul being content in all situations. Jesus taking time to stop when the woman touched his garment. It's realizing we need to just breathe. That's hard for me. God does not want us to be stagnant. He wants us to experience growth in all areas of our lives. For me it's finding the balance between constantly pressing forward to the next great thing and being still enough in my soul and mind to hear God's voice as He directs my footsteps.

At last, the plane is taking off. I trust "I will get there, when I get there."

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 9: 20-22; Philippians 4:10-13

Action Item |

Take a moment just to breathe deep and relax.  Ask God to identify an area of your life where you need to be content and enjoy the moment.  Or, maybe God has called you to action and you're scared to take the next step.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to slow down and hear your voice. I know you want a conversation with me. Make me aware of your creation and allow me to soak it all in.  Help me to take a deep breath and have every confidence that I will get there when I get there.

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

purposefulfaith.com

This post is part of the weekly #RaRaLinkup over at Kelly Balarie & Friends.