WHERE IS YOU PEACE HIDING?

One of the great truths of the Christian life is that you and I can know the peace of God in our lives because we have peace with God. As believers, we need not live our lives without God’s peace.

Are you worried right now about anything? Finances? Kids? Marriage? Job security? Your health? What somebody said about you? How a situation is going to turn out?

If you are worried about anything, here are some instructions for you found in Philippians 4:6-7,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything [that means in every circumstance] 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 minds through Christ Jesus.

Talk to the Lord about your problems, offering thanks along with your requests. He promises to give you peace if you will.

Let me leave you with these words from Dr. Stanley Jones:

“I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil…. A Johns Hopkins University doctor says, ‘We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than non-worriers, but that is a fact.’ But I who am simple of mind think I know; We are inwardly constructed…for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.”

EVERYDAY WITH JEHOVAH!!!

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Have you ever attended a weekend church retreat or fellowship outing? It is usually a great time of fellowship filled with a lot of love and laughter. It is an opportunity to meet new friends, share hidden struggles and spend time together. But why do we often wait until we attend such an event to reach out and enjoy others? Why can’t we get along like that all the time? In one weekend, we can find out more about a person than after a whole year in church together. What happens at a retreat that causes our barriers to come down and our kind, loving, accepting personalities to come out? There are many burdens carried by people who attend a retreat, but somehow those burdens become a lot lighter by the end. The answer is God.

A retreat is the one place that we incorporate the Lord in everything we do. We sing to the Lord, we learn about the Lord, we talk to others about the Lord, we pray together to the Lord, and we are at a facility that is dedicated to the Lord. It is all about the Lord. We live out Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said unto him, ‘You shall love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

We need to pray that we can understand this kind of love and kindness all year round. We get busy and focused on our own struggles, trying so hard to make it through the day that we forget others are in need too. But what we are really forgetting is a Who—the Lord. We need to include the Lord in the busyness of our days so that we can represent Him to others. Pray that you can be used by the Lord and that you can incorporate Him in everything you do today. You just might be able to help someone along the way. And, keep going to those retreats—we all need those special weekends with the Lord and with others.

MATTERS THAT DON’T MATTER?

But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. —2 Timothy 2:23 (NKJV)

The Church is a social phenomenon. It brings people together from various walks of life that wouldn’t otherwise interact with each other. A stockbroker and a stock boy, a homemaker and homebuilder, a doctor and a deejay… all of these people find a common point of reference in the Church.

Here’s what this means: People from very different backgrounds are able to freely share their opinions and ideas. And when there’s a difference of opinion or ideas, which is bound to happen, the temptation to disagree and debate abounds.

That’s something God warns us against. His Word to us here in 2 Timothy 2:23 is essentially this: “Don’t get into all kinds of arguments, quarrels, and debates. That creates an environment of strife, not peace. I want my people to be a peaceful people, and I want my Church to be a peaceful place.”

Understand that God is not telling us to forsake our beliefs. He’s not saying we shouldn’t contend for God’s truth when the situation calls for it. Standing up for the truth is important in our lives lives personally and in corporate Church life. But that’s different from what we’re warned about here.

The warning here is against the consistent tendency to publicly spar with others and go round and round over matters that really don’t matter. When we do that, we no longer represent or glorify God. We show we care more about asserting ourselves than about being what God wants us to be, which is peaceable.

When it comes to engaging in any form of disagreement or debate with others (especially other believers), remember this warning. Ask yourself if it’s really something worth arguing over. Ask yourself if it’s a matter that really matters, or if there’s more to be gained by avoiding a needless dispute.

Stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. 2 Timothy 2:14 (NLT )

THE GOSPEL HAS BENEFITS!

1 Corinthians 10:23
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.”
NLT

People often think that Christianity is a list of do’s and don’ts. While we should seek to walk in obedience to Christ, our salvation is not dependent on a list. Because we are saved by grace through faith, we have a freedom that the world does not understand. This freedom includes the right to make choices others may question and may include things the Bible does not directly speak about. Of course, even though we may have this freedom, we must ask ourselves…

Is what I’m about to do going to help build my faith?
Is it going to share my faith or the Good News with unbelievers?
Is it going to encourage people?

If the answer is “no” to all of these things, then it may be best to steer clear. Because of what Christ has done for us, we have freedom to make various decisions, but we also have the responsibility to make sure our choices are Christ centered. As Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians, “I’m allowed to do anything–but not everything is beneficial.”

FORGIVENESS IS A BLESSING!!!

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1

Forgiveness is full of blessings. The blessing of guilt’s removal is a fruit of forgiveness. The peace of being in a right relationship with God and people is facilitated by forgiveness. The freedom to follow God’s will, passionately and unashamedly, is fueled by daily forgiveness. Forgiveness frees the soul and enlightens the mind. It is a state of experiencing God’s grace and mercy. Forgiveness offloads laziness and replaces it with diligence. Forgiveness erases lust and writes in love. Forgiveness takes away the stain of selfishness and dyes it with service. The blessings of forgiveness are bold and they belittle sin. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, there is a mountain of blessings that come to the obedient.

Jesus forgives the lawbreaker, not the law keeper. Foolish and naïve is the man or woman who thinks they can continually keep the law without the pardon of God’s grace. Forgiveness is a daily requirement for those who want to keep short accounts with their Savior, family, and friends. It is when we try to justify our bad attitudes and behaviors without repenting that we get into a crazy cycle of self-sufficiency. Knowing and acknowledging the need to do something does not free us from sin. We may kid ourselves, but discerning people know if we’re daily doing business with God or just going through the motions of religious activity. Unless we repent of our sin from a contrite heart, there is no remission. The forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist, taught this (Luke 3:3). Jesus gave His life so He could give us life. Jesus sweat blood so we could have sweet forgiveness.

The Bible describes a trinity of sin for the unforgiven. In our own strength, our disobedience is labeled as transgression, sin, and iniquity. But the Trinity in heaven annihilates the trinity of sin. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and draws us into the love of our heavenly Father. His love leads us to Jesus, who gave His life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. We confess to Christ our need for His gracious forgiveness. In Christ we are free. We are free from guilt and free from guile. God’s Spirit uncovers our sin, cleanses it with our confession, then covers it with grace. If we conceal our sin we will not prosper (Proverbs 28:13). Mercy comes to the man who confesses. Miserable is the man who conceals. Come clean with Christ, and His grace will be your residue.

Furthermore, be a blessing by forgiving the unforgiven. God forgives us so that we can forgive others. Extend forgiveness to those who do not deserve your forgiveness. This is grace. This is what Jesus would do and what you would want if you were in their same situation. Unconditional forgiveness is freeing. Indeed, one reason you forgive others is for your own sake. Otherwise, unforgiving relationships cause a root of bitterness to grow deep into your heart and rob you of joy. Avoid withholding forgiveness to hurt others. Otherwise, you will get hurt. Let go, and give to God your unfair friend, insensitive supervisor, proud parent, uncaring spouse, or selfish child. Pray for them to be healed, and you will be healed. Forgiveness does this. It heals the soul with eternity’s elixir.

DO YOU REALLY KNOW GOD?

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” – Matthew 1:21-23

The mounting up of God’s names leads to the peak—Jesus, Immanuel, the Christ. Through His names, God was saying things about His nature and character through people living in time and space. Jesus is the last and best name of God. All the other names were fragmentary views, each showing some facet of God. Jesus reveals the totality of God. The Old Testament people saw God as through a prism, but we have the joy of seeing His fullness. As Jesus is the ultimate name of God, so Jesus is the ultimate promise of God. Know Him and you know God.

WHO KNOWS THE CONDITION OF YOUR HEART?

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” —Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)

God loves His people enough to warn them about the dangers they face. And among those dangers is the danger of ourselves! That’s the heart behind what we read in the Book of Jeremiah. As the Lord speaks through the prophet, He reminds us that the human heart is deceitful and wicked, and we’re incapable of fully knowing or understanding the depth of its depravity.

We don’t get that take from the world around us. We’re continually told that at heart, we’re good people. When someone does something really wrong, it’s usually blamed on other things like environment or circumstances. All in all, our society looks at people as essentially good beings who occasionally do bad.

As flattering as all of that is, it’s not true! God is the one who sees into the human condition most clearly. And He declares that at heart, we are all inclined towards deceit and wickedness. At the end of the day, the real problem is us—our own sinful nature that we inherit at birth. He sees us as we truly are, essentially bad beings who occasionally do good.

So God warns us in a way this world never would. He warns us that we’re the real problem. Our hearts are bent towards badness, and we need to recognize this as the true issue before we can ever find the remedy in Him.

Once we see that, once we learn to not trust in our own hearts but to depend on His Spirit to fill and influence us…it’s then that we begin to walk in the newness of life that has been secured for us by Jesus on the Cross.

Beware of your own heart. Recognize it for what it truly is, and let God continue to have His will and His way with it.

ARE YOU LIVING BY FAITH?

Then David took more wives in Jerusalem, and David begot more sons and daughters. And these are the names of his children whom he had in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Beeliada, and Eliphelet.”
NKJV

David, while an incredible man of God, was not the father he should have been. In several places in scripture, we see where he did not discipline his kids the way he should have. Additionally, the fact that he took many wives violated God’s command (Deuteronomy 17:14-17), and shows that what he lived out in public he may have skimped on in his own home. God blessed David in spite of multiple marriages, but he had many problems because of it.

This is not only true for David, but probably true in so many ways for each and every one of us. It’s quite easy to cover up for deficiencies at work or with friends, but deficiencies are often very evident in family life. Don’t believe me? Ask your spouse.

Being a spiritual leader in your home means more than issuing orders and doling out discipline. It also means being the first to repent and apologize when you get things wrong or lose your temper. That’s not easy to do. Your family is learning from you. To little eyes, the things you do or don’t do speak just as loudly as the things you say. Show your family a life submitted and poured out to God and they will follow in the path you blaze.

ARE YOU A NEW CREATION YET?

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.
Psalm 98:1

Our now-grown daughter, Danae, loved every aspect of childhood and was reluctant to leave it. As a small child, she would place her dolls on a shelf and role-play with her teddy bears, stuffed rabbits, and kittens. Each one had a special name and would take its turn sleeping with her.

I earned my own special name during that time. I had decided to give Danae and her friends a tea party. We set out the good china, cookies, and napkins. Then Danae helped me create pretend names for all her friends. We had Mrs. Perry, Mrs. White, and Mrs. Green, and I was Mrs. Snail (I didn’t ask any questions!). The names stuck, and every time we put on a tea party after that morning, I was Mrs. Snail.

I thoroughly enjoyed being “Mom” in those days and wished they could have gone on forever. And I think Danae felt the same way. Her stuffed animals and old phonograph records and other toys were cherished possessions throughout her grade school years.

But kids do grow up. When Danae turned thirteen, her interests began to change. The stuffed animals went untouched in their various “homes,” and the familiar records began collecting dust. About a year later, Danae went through her toys and possessions, stacking them neatly and leaving them in front of Ryan’s bedroom door. I discovered them there with a note that brought tears to my eyes. It read:

Dear Ryan,

These are yours now.

Take good care of them like I have.

Love,

Danae

That brief message made me realize that Danae had left childhood behind. She was now a young woman entering an exciting new phase of learning and maturing. And as she changed, I needed to change my approach to her as a parent.

By God’s holy wisdom, transitions are part of His plan for each of us. Nothing remains the same. The Lord presents us with new challenges and opportunities in every stage of this life. That’s not a bad thing! When we acknowledge that God is in control of our lives and our families, it becomes easier for us to embrace change. After all, the Author of change has blessed us by establishing the greatest transition of all: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

HE IS MY ROCK!!!

But the salvation of the righteous [is] of the LORD: [he is] their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him. (Psalms 37:39-40)

In simple eloquence, the psalmist describes the beauty and strength of our Almighty God. By His graciousness, God’s everlasting righteousness is our refuge during times of grave trial and tribulation. What a wonderful comfort! It is breath-taking to consider His love! He is our unrelenting rock and the deliverer of all things! Let us rejoice forever in the knowledge of Christ’s saving hand and His reassuring promise of deliverance!