spoudazo

a blog about daughters in crisis and the moms who love them

Ain’t No Grave . . .

Some of my favorite lyrics, melodies and “vibes” are found in old spirituals and hymns. The people who wrote them and many who sang them (and some who sing them now) really knew God intimately. I can wrap myself up in these songs like a blanket, finding warmth and deep comfort.  However, I can rarely sit still for this one…

Ain’t No Grave

Ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down,

Ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.

When I hear that trumpet sound

I’m gonna get up out of the ground.

Ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down!

Look down yonder Gabriel,

Put your foot on the land the and sea,

But don’t blow that trumpet, Gabriel,

Until you hear from Me.

I looked on down the river

What do you think I see?

I see a band of angels

And they’re coming after me!

I’m going down to Jordan,

I’m gonna bury my knees in the sand;

I’m gonna sing, “Hosanna to the Son of David”

Till I reach that promised land!

Meet me Jesus, meet me

Meet me in the middle of the air

And if these wings won’t carry me

I won’t need another pair.

On the Earth Peace?

And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God comes not with observation:  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  (Luke 17:20-21)

He's got the whole world in His hands.Every Christmas, we often hear the phrase “peace on Earth, good will toward men” and its evocative implication of a world free of envy, strife and division, absent of violence. Peace implies order and calm and placid living. Yet, we look around and clearly see evidence of peacelessness, hatred, torment and fear. If the birth of Christ brought on Earth peace, and if Jesus accomplished what He was sent to do, as He claimed, why don’t we see more evidence of what He gave to humanity?

Where do we find peace on Earth?

The power and potential contained within this declaration depend upon one’s proximity to the peace Giver.

Emmanuel (God with us), the everlasting Father, Prince of peace, almighty God and Savior, the I AM – without beginning and without end – took upon Himself the form of a man for our sake. He became flesh and dwelt among us so that we could see and touch God, get to know Him and observe Him living as one of us. If we look at Him, we can see what peace means.

After showing us what God is like for 33 ½ years, He allowed us to take His own holy Scriptures, wrongly interpret them through human reasoning and the avarice of the flesh, and pass judgment against Him as a man worthy of death. He accepted this outrageous sentence, remained silent as He heard the cries for His blood to fall upon the hands of His fellow Jews and willingly died on the cross. He could have called legions of angels to remove Him and destroy the Earth He had created, yet He let His own creation mutilate, hate and murder its Creator. This was all to prove a point: humanity is incapable of creating peace on Earth without God. We need something better than ourselves, higher than ourselves and stronger than ourselves.

As we know, Jesus rose from the dead after three days and nights. He appeared to His disciples, showed Thomas His pierced hands and side. He commissioned those disciples to take His good news and share it throughout the Earth. He breathed upon them, telling them to receive the Holy Spirit. He then ascended to the heavens, promising to return one day. On the day of Pentecost, He did return by indwelling those same disciples, the 120 who tarried in an upper room according to His command, with His very Spirit. They were transformed on the spot. Peace on Earth moved in to them that day, it moved in to abide within the spirit of men. The precedent for establishing the kingdom of God was introduced. The church was born.

As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

Since that day, the better, higher and stronger can live within us. We are not born with God indwelling us, as some claim. He does not usurp our will and take up residence without our permission. He wants to be invited.

With the incorruptible seed of Christ formed within us, we can at once see the kingdom and the peace it heralds. We become citizens of this realm, recognizing Christ as its King and honoring Him as the monarch. His Kingship is benevolent, merciful, full of grace and truth, wise and administered with justice and right judgment. We become heirs along with Him. One of the benefits He gives is peace.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

If Christ lives within, there is no closer proximity we could have to Him. He is the onboard GPS of the soul, guiding it moment by moment, step by step. Our part is to follow. In order to do this successfully, we must tell our lesser impulses, “No.” This is the path of peace. The longer we walk along this path and the better we do at regarding what the King says, the more we think and act like Him. That’s the point. We can be changed from peaceless and warlike to peaceful and peace loving. Better yet, we can become instruments of peace ourselves.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Having peace on Earth means that a person can face any situation peacefully, even the ones that are most fearful, tragic, angering or unjust. It means having a different perspective and a different reaction. A person like this becomes easier to live with the more fully he/she grasps what they are. A person like this tends to spread peace to those around him/her. It starts out small and grows over time. Jesus started his Earthly journey as a baby in an unknown manger and ended it as the king of Kings and lord of Lords. He invites us to partake of His victory.

This kingdom has already triumphed.

One soul at a time, on the Earth peace.

God is Where You Left Him

Retrace Your StepsNot infrequently, I hear people say they think God has abandoned them, is ignoring them, or is unconcerned with their circumstances. Admittedly, I’ve hopped on that thought train a few times myself. When problems don’t resolve or when they get worse instead of better, it’s tempting to wonder if God has stopped paying attention or if He ever took notice to begin with.

Over time, though, I’ve learned that any inconsistencies I might perceive between God and myself are not faults of His. (He is a rock of stability, omnipotence and permanence — the same yesterday, today and forever. And He cares about the big and the little things in my life — His eye is on even the sparrow and He perceives my every thought.) I’m the one who varies and wavers.

When I can’t find God and it seems like He’s gone wandering off, I’ve learned to retrace my steps until I return to the place I last encountered Him. He’s always right where I left Him! Perhaps I stumbled at one of His commandments, or maybe I began to let doubt leak into my mind. Sometimes the cares of life get distracting. Sometimes I float off on a raft of selfishness. Or of impatience.

Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.   ~ Jeremiah 2:32

Once I come to my senses and seek to mend my broken fellowship with the Father — confess my faults — all is forgiven. We pick up where I left off. If I veered off out of resistance to doing what was required of me (like Jonah), as soon as I make up my mind to follow through, peace flows like a river once again. Wonderful, merciful Savior!

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