A Quiet Heart

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. Isaiah 30:15

This verse from Isaiah, was written to people who were in exile. They were far from their culture, family and roots. Though this might sound a lot like everyday life in New York, it actually referred to the kingdom of Israel. Instead of serving the God who had delivered them from Egypt, they had decided to build altars to all kinds of idols and had forsaken God. This occurred, not just for a decade or even a couple of generations, but for hundreds of years. Eventually God allowed the Assyrian empire to sweep in, conquer their land and carry most of the ruling class off into exile. It was almost as if God was said, “Okay so you want to serve foreign gods? Okay, so then you might as well and go live with other folks who already do!” But even as far as God’s people had gotten away from Him, He never abandoned them. In today’s verse He is calling for them to return home, if only in their hearts. The problem was not the Assyrians. The problem was their own stubborn hearts. Many of them liked what they were doing and instead of changing their minds about idolatry, they doubled down on their misbehavior and complained about their situation. Does that sound familiar? It should, because that describes most of us at one time or another in our lives. Our hearts have grown cold, and we have been carried far away from God. But God has not given up on us.

But how can we know that for sure? Well, think about where Jesus was sent to live. Sure, everybody knows that He was born in Bethlehem, but He didn’t stay long. Instead, Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee. And where was Galilee? It was exactly where the remnants of the people who had been conquered by Assyria lived. Matthew’s gospel tells us about why by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.” Now that picture of dwelling in darkness is exactly like many of our lives. We are busier than we have ever been, but in spite of all the comforts and pleasures that swirl about us, we are a community, a state, a nation and a world in turmoil. With the answer to almost any question at our fingertips we have no more peace and quiet than we had a hundred, two hundred or even two thousand years ago. We desperately need to find rest, and God is, calling out for us to come to Him to find it.  But just like those ancient Israelites, we often just keep running away. The answer to our problem is not by some idyllic lake, at the top of a mountain climb or on the deck of a cruise ship. The only true and eternal quietness is in the presence of Jesus Christ and He offer it for free!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV

I Looked all Through the Forests Deep

I looked all through the forests deep
Over hills through rushing streams
Until sunset I searched on
For peace I’d glimpsed in dreams

Till in complete exhaustion
I sat down to catch my breath
Just then I heard the gentle voice
Of Christ calling me to rest

And when I turned to look at Him
He showed His hands with wounds
And invited me to touch those scars
Where nails had pierced Him through

Then in worship I fell down
For suddenly I knew
That His peace for which I’d searched
 He would give me all night through

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

I Looked All Through the Forests Deep
by Peter Caligiuri
Copyright © 2023 all rights reserved

Peace After the Storm

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV

Last week we talked about having God’s peace in the storm. But we also need peace after a storm has passed. When things are calm and quiet we find the damage that the storm has left behind. Here in Florida today that means assessing damage, reopening roads so supplies can get in and beginning the very long road towards rebuilding.

Divorce, disability and death just to name a few of our spiritual storms also leave behind a wake of destruction. In those long weeks, months and years as we are being rebuilt, God will never leave us alone, but will join us in the work of restoration. If that is you this morning, listen carefully to the verse of this new rendering of a wonderful old hymn. “When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay!” In that moment when our hearts fail us. When we survey the devastation after the storm, we can rest assured that the Carpenter of Galilee will take up His tools and rebuild us again according to His perfect blueprint!