He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore.

Isaiah 2:4 (NIV)

This morning while reading my Bible, I was struck (for probably the millionth time) by the hope that God’s Word contains. In the case of world peace I’m sure we’ll agree that humanity has failed—miserably.

But what we seek to attain by human measures God promises will happen, not by our political scheming or military prowess, but by His own power.

Jesus will bring world peace at His return and those who are secure in Him will never suffer again.

Now that’s something to smile about!

JP Robinson

My eldest son headed off to Middle School today! Hard to believe but true. 🙂

Anyway, while getting him all pepped up for the school year, I realized he was a bit understandably nervous. So, Christian writer that I am, I shared experiences from my life and the Bible, but I thought go a little further and share a quick-write with you about another man who had to face a new challenge of his own.

I hope Nehemiah’s story inspires you. If you have back-to-schoolers in your life, may it inspire them as well.

JP Robinson

It was the scariest day of my life! At least, that’s what I thought then. Why, you ask?

Here’s what happened.

 King Artaxerxes, the sole ruler of an empire that spanned more than 2 million square miles, had just asked me a question.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that talking to such a powerful man was scary. I am his cupbearer after all, and he trusts me enough to ask my opinions from time to time.  The problem today was the question itself. You see, he looked right at me and asked, “Nehemiah, why are you sad?”

To you, that might sound like something nice. To me … it sounded like a death sentence.

You see, as the guy that made sure the king’s wine wasn’t poisoned, and spent a lot of time in his presence, it was pretty much against the rules for me to be sad when around the king. Artaxerxes thought of himself as so important that he banished all sadness from the life of anyone around him. Everybody had to be happy in his presence.

Weird, I know, but that’s the way things were.

Well anyway, even though I knew I shouldn’t be sad around the king, I just couldn’t bring myself to smile. Not today.

 Some of my relatives, who lived near the Lord’s city, Jerusalem, had come with news. Bad news.  They told me the city was in ruins and the gate still broken down. I knew that I had to do something. But what could I do? I was a thousand miles away from Jerusalem. I was just a lowly servant to the king. I was no Joshua that could command the sun to stand still or a David that could kill a giant!

I was a cupbearer. A soon-to-be-executed cupbearer.

But then I remembered that yesterday I had asked God to allow me to make a difference for my people back in my home country of Israel. This was my chance! I could either let things go as they were and pretend everything was okay, or I could take the plunge.

Scared stiff, I whispered a prayer in my heart for God’s help. Then I licked my lips, straightened my shoulders … and asked for permission to go back to my home country and rebuild the city.

Yes, I thought that was the scariest day of my life. Little did I know that things would get even scarier. But I learned an important lesson that day. God can use cupbearers as well as conquerors.

No matter who we are, kid or adult, once we trust Him, we can tackle the biggest challenges—and win.

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24

One of the most striking parts of this biblical passage is the father’s brutal honesty. While Jesus’s declaration that everything is possible to those who have faith inspires us to “ask abundantly so our joy may be full, (John 16:24),” it is the raw, naked confession of the father that really tugs at my heart.

He’s not lauding the reasons why he deserves a miracle nor is he just nodding his head, like many today, and saying “thanks for the encouraging sermon Pastor Jesus” while expecting nothing to change in his life.

With all the sincerity he could muster, the father confessed his faith—admitted it wasn’t perfect— and asked Christ to help him get rid of his lingering doubts.

What a refreshing reminder that we can be HONEST with God!

Every Christian struggles, but too often we prefer to cloak our fears and insecurities behind a veil of good works, piety, or self-righteousness. How much better to be open with the God to whom all things are naked and bare (Hebrews 4:13).

But the grief-stricken father didn’t stop at admitting his flaws. He went on to ask for Christ’s transforming power to help him rise above his fallen humanity.

It’s easy to become apathetic about our frailties. I see it all the time as an educator. Some students become unwilling to try because they’ve convinced themselves that they’re just going to fail anyway.

But this father showed us that God is interested in our success. He’s willing to meet us where we are to give us power to conquer ourselves through His Spirit.

Like him, may we freely confess our weaknesses then cry out to God to help us rise above our condition. That’s when God’s power is displayed in our lives.

JP Robinson

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

-Jesus Christ

Rest has been a key part of God’s plan. In Genesis, God rested. In Exodus, He told the Jewish people to observe the 7th day as Sabbath (rest). But His plan went still further as He unveiled a spiritual “rest” through the Holy Spirit that was incarnated in Jesus Christ.

Spirit-filled Christians don’t need to fear the terror, political confusion and religious noise that seems to get louder each day. We don’t need to fear the power of sin or worry about whether we’ll go to heaven or not when this life is over.

Our lives are in the hands of a perfect, omnipotent God and, no matter what each day brings, we are at rest, knowing that He is STILL in control.

I love that!

JP Robinson