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How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 2

You can read part 1 here: “How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1”.

While watching a movie recently, I enjoyed observing the star character. It was played by the boy of a very famous actor. It was really incredible to watch his mannerisms and how he spoke. Many times throughout the film I found myself saying “He’s just like his daddy.”

I’m sure that most of you have heard that expression, haven’t you? Or perhaps you’ve been told “You’re just like your daddy”, or “You remind me so much of your momma.”  We really can’t help it, can we? When we’ve grown up in the environment of our parents we just become like them, not to mention DNA.

The same can be said about Jesus:

John 8:  19 “Where is your father?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”

Colossians 1: 15a Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He’s just like His Daddy! Isn’t that cool? But check this out:

Genesis 1:  27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Romans 8: 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

(I’ve learned that the word Abba is an intimate, Aramaic term that a child would use for their father and can be translated as ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’. )

Do you see the similarity? We were made in our Daddy’s image, that’s how human beings were designed.

Think about this for a moment and allow it to sink in: “I am designed to be like God, which is how I am supposed to be.”

I can recall a DVD player I once had. Its purpose was simply to play the DVDs, without problems. That is what it was supposed to do.  It didn’t. It failed to play my DVDs and for that reason, I got rid of it. Of course, I gave it a few chances to work, it was not my desire to throw it way, but if it would not work for me, I considered it useless, so into the trash it went.

Matthew 21: 18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Of course, the fig tree was designed to bear fruit, and when Jesus discovered that it was not, He quickly discarded it. He determined that it was useless and acted accordingly.

Isn’t it interesting that we are a lot like God without even trying to be? When something doesn’t work, we pitch it out. We like to create, He likes to create. We like to see progress, He likes to see progress.  He worked 6 days, I work 6 days. He likes to see people getting along, we like to see people getting along. This is the intrinsic nature of God that I think we all have, but when it comes to fruits of the spirit, they are developed only through our relationship with Him.

He is patient, I am…. wait. Sorry, that doesn’t work for me, at least not when I sit at a red light. He is humble, I am…. wait, that doesn’t work for me either. Let’s try He is loving, I am… wait, not always. This isn’t going so well now, is it? Then I am reminded of these verses:

John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

This makes me so glad that God is patient, although I am not. When I first realized this, I realized how far I am from His “factory specifications”.  I can hear God saying about me: “This one isn’t working very well. What will I have to do to get him in line with my plans?”

I am so glad that God has more patience with us than He did that fig tree, aren’t you?

We’ve been discussing finding greater peace lately and one thing not to be overlooked is found in these verses above. To paraphrase: “When we ‘remain in Him’ we produce much fruit” Then “When we don’t ‘remain in Him’ we can do nothing.”

Isaiah 9: 6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Just as Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we were designed to be People of Peace. After all, the human body works best when filled with peace.

If my life cannot be described as one of peace, that only means one thing: I have not been spending enough time with Daddy. It is that simple. We discussed this at the very beginning, a child becomes like their parents after spending years of intimate time with them. The greater the love a father has for his child, the more that child has peace. The child of a loving father feels secure.

Galatians 4: 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

God wants His children to feel secure so that they do not have to be pre-occupied with worrisome thoughts which hinder their ability to think and act as they should. This is where the greater faith we develop over time, the more at peace we will be.

Psalm 103:  13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Just like the bumper sticker says “No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.” This is not on an intellectual level and has little to do with Bible knowledge. I’ve read about many persecuted Christians in various parts of the world who had very little Biblical knowledge but they certainly knew their Lord very well and that was by relying on Him through prayer.

That’s enough for now; I’ll leave you with my favorite verse relating to prayer (One that I think should be memorized):

Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Are you your Daddy’s child?

“Heavenly Daddy, you are so good to me. Thank you for teaching me so many things. You have provided for me and have answered my prayers in so many ways that I cannot count them. You are my provider and I know that every good thing comes from you. What will it take for me to really know you and love you as a child loves His father? What will it take for me to surrender my life in exchange for the Life you have to offer? Please hold me tight and keep me on your path. It is you, Lord, that I desire more than anything. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

 

Photo by Chris Liu-Beers on Unsplash

 

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1

How Can I Have A Greater Peace? part 1

My last message, Why Should I Be Worried?, evoked the greatest response to any prior messages. Was it because my writing skills have improved significantly? I think not. I think that the topic that God gave me struck a chord and it hit home with many of you. One of my close friends put it this way if I can paraphrase him: “You discussed something that we all go through but no one ever seems to talk about.”

In light of this great response, I thought I would focus on how we can experience a greater peace and offer some practical ideas on discipleship.

In a practical sense, worry and fear are probably the worst emotions a believer can display. This terrible twosome can cause paralysis and can ruin our witness. If non-believers observe that we worry as much as they do (and they do observe)… “Just how great is their god?, What does she have that I don’t, she worries just as much as I do? He’s worried about a job just as much as I am.” 

Do you see where I am going with this? Do you see why it just might disturb our Lord a bit when He tells us time and time again in His Word not to be afraid and we’re out there in amongst the mass population not any different than the atheist next door?

I think we might agree that there is a worry-peace continuum with worry and fear being on one end of it and peace and joy on the other end. Since last week we focused on “not worrying”, I thought we’d approach it in a more positive way by focusing on having peace, one of the fruits of the spirit.

When it gets right down to our personal ministry, if we are overly preoccupied with our own circumstances, to what degree will that hinder us when it comes to serving others with love and attention? We owe it to our loved ones and the people we serve to find His perfect peace and walk in that path. This is not easy and requires great care and patience, but it’s worth it.

Galatians 5:  22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

The key words here are “the Holy Spirit produces”, that’s not “you will produce” or “your pastor will produce for you” or even “after much effort, you will produce”.  Here are more promises:

Psalm 29: 11 The LORD gives his people strength.

The LORD blesses them with peace.

Matthew 11: 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

John 14: 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.  27 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.

How does that work? Does He just give peace to all and that’s it? Do all believers receive it regardless? I don’t believe so, re-read Galatians 5: 22 above.

It is fruit. How does any living thing yield fruit? By staying in fertile soil and getting fed.

Let’s review that wonderful parable of the Sower:

Luke 8: 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.

This verse probably doesn’t describe you, someone, that yearns for a deeper relationship. It does, however, contain a most valuable message and one to share with our friends who are “living on the surface”. It is easy to fall away when we are not deepening our faith (growing spiritually). This was me several times in my life when I just didn’t take God seriously. “I prayed the prayer, I know I’m saved. How can I live up to His standard anyway?”

14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.

Unfortunately, this used to describe me perfectly and I am afraid many believers are caught up in this today. Can you relate? “What time is the game on? Oh, what did the pastor just say? I wonder where we will eat after church. I gotta get me some baby back ribs! Hold on, this pastor is way too fast for me, did he just use a Star Wars reference in church? I wonder when that new movie comes out…” I’m sure this does not happen to you, does it?

15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

Personally, I prefer to read the Word of God rather than listen to it. My mind wanders way too easily, as I’ve illustrated above, and I miss things when I hear it. But when I read with the intent to understand, I take the time I need to devour the His Word as if it were a tender, juicy, medium rare Rib-eye steak, taking delight with every bite.  I have friends who prefer to listen or even both. I know God’s made us all different and I think whatever it takes to get His Book into your body(heart, mind, and soul), do it! And at all costs.

This is where we need to stay in order to produce fruit, compare with:

John 15:  7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

These two verses clearly spell it out for you: Keeping a soft heart and receiving and meditating on scripture is required to produce fruit. The list I put together in my last post as a lesson from Job is a good list for growth, by the way.

If you’ve been frustrated that you have no peace or joy and always felt that being a believer in Jesus should be a life of peace, perhaps now you know why.

We read our Bibles daily to grow in spiritual maturity and get to know God more, not just to say we do it or just a habit.

“But I’ve tried to read daily before, I just don’t get it” Or “I want it to be from my heart, not an obligation, so I choose not to read because I don’t have the right motives”

These are cunning tricks that Satan loves to employ to keep the child of God at arm’s length of their Heavenly Daddy.

John 10: 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

If the desire is not there, I understand (been there). But pray that God will soften your heart and read it anyway. If you continue to pray for God to work on your heart and read out of obligation in spite of your attitude, keep reading and the joy of His Words will come to you and the more you read the more you will enjoy it and the more you will get out of it. Then keep reading.

If you do not understand it, I get it (been there). Pray that God gives you understanding. In the meantime find a friend/elder/woman of faith that does understand and ask for assistance. But read anyway. I have a close friend that knew nothing of the Bible (was an unbeliever, but a seeker), started reading Genesis and read straight through the Old Testament which prepared his heart for the Good News of Jesus Christ. He did not understand much of what he read but he understood enough, talked with various people about it and kept reading. What excuse do you have? All believers should continue to be seekers.

Psalm 105: 4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.

DO NOT LET ANYTHING, ANYONE, ANY SIN OR ANY REASON stop you from getting to know the loving and living God, the One who created you. 

This message has eternal implications and cannot be stressed enough. After all, what else is there in life worth excelling at, much less compares in importance?

The Kingdom of God is not like High School.

Matthew 13:  44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

With God we can’t afford to squeak by in class, going through the motions hoping He’ll give us a passing grade on judgment day. He’ll either know us, or He won’t. Do we really want to casually hope for the best? The time you spend serving in ministry is meaningless if you’re not spending the time to know Him. Where does my passion to serve come from? The heart and mind of God, or from my filthy self-righteousness?

Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

This is the difference between participating in ministry because it was just a good idea and God calling you to ministry because you heard His voice and were obedient.

If we stay in good soil, as explained above and develop the disciplines of being in His presence daily with prayer, reading, and regular fellowship, we will continue to grow. We will experience His peace, joy, and eventually all the fruits I believe. Trees don’t think about producing fruit when they keep growing, good fruit happens. Same with us, when we stay in good soil and diligently pursue Him, He will produce good fruit in us and it will just happen, right before our eyes.

I’ll leave you with a couple more verses on peace and that’ll wrap it up. Thank you for reading, I pray that you take this message to heart and seek Him with all you’ve got!

Isaiah 26:
  3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Psalm 46: 10a Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 34: 14 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Will you join me in seeking His peace?

“Dear Lord, thank you for this message. I pray that all who read this message take it to heart and set time for you each day so that they can get to know you a little better and understand you more.  Please help me hang in there when the situation is tough and remain steadfast in my effort to pursue you. You are the only One worth pursuing and I thank you for getting my attention. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Photo by Chris Liu-Beers on Unsplash

 

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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Why Should I Be Worried?

Why Should I Be Worried?

I don’t know about you, but I have more than a few things to worry about. Some big, some small. Some short term, some long term. A few things I have some control over and others that I have no control over. On top of that, I receive emails filled with details about additional things to worry about as if I should join the sender in their concern. There are a lot of things to worry about.

Can you relate?

If I choose to, I could worry about my car falling apart, my yard that needs mowing, a project that is really late, bills that are behind, the lack of money that is coming in and the fact that I have no health care. Oh, but that’s not all. I could also worry about my office that is a mess, or that many people, friends of mine, who struggle with little income and worse circumstances than I. While I’m at it I could also worry about our state and federal governments and everything else that is madness in the world.

My friends, all that I’ve listed here are genuinely a part of my reality.

Now I know that many of you have even longer lists than I. Some of you might be tempted to say “big deal, you think you’ve got problems, take a look at my list!” What I find fascinating is that I know people with long lists with poor circumstances that worry less than people with shorter lists and seemingly smaller issues.

Lessons I’ve learned

With this knowledge I draw these conclusions:

    1. Our worries and concerns are relative and in no way can be compared with someone else’s. People that live an “easier life” should not be put down or their problems minimized because they don’t “compare” to mine. Who am I to judge?
    2. It really is a choice to worry, but harder for some to break. I’ve been told by people that their mother worried so it became a learned habit for them, or even maybe a genetic trait, I don’t know.
    3. Some people can hide it well and some people wear it on their sleeve. Appearances can be deceiving, people don’t always “have it altogether” as you may think.
    4. Everyone’s worried about something, in various degrees. Everyone also has something to be thankful for. (Read Psalm 103)

What amazes me is that I can be out doing anything and can be in a cheerful mood when I suddenly have a worrisome thought enter my mind. If I ruminate (Beth’s word, not mine) on these thoughts without considering the sovereignty of God and His plans and purposes for my life then I’m left hopeless. It is that simple. Without God, there is no hope. If I fail to acknowledge my Creator then my cheerful mood quickly turns to despair.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Nothing substitutes our time spent with God

This is just one reason why it is essential to spend time with God daily in prayer, His Word, and spiritually charged fellowship regularly if we want any hope of having a joyful life regardless of the circumstances.

I think worry or fear is the absence of or lack of faith. Is God truly sovereign? Is He in control? Does He want what’s best for me?

Based on this passage from Psalm 112 I think the measure that someone worries is an indicator of how well they know their God, personally and/or intellectually.

Psalm 112:
1 Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands.

 6 Such people will not be overcome by evil.
Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
 7 They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
8 They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.

This passage in 1 John says it well:

1 John 4:16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

ALL things work together…

One thing that I’ve found is that God allows us to experience “rough spots” so that we learn to depend on Him more (which is what He desires most):

Romans 8: 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

And He stretches and matures us through the process:

Romans 5: 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Knowing this should excite us and then we can really shout with joy.

It tells us that there really is a purpose and that we’ll be better witnesses on the other end.

“Hard times”, when allowing God to work with us (remaining submissive), yields patience, compassion, joy, understanding, and perseverance. There are things you learn through difficulties that you simply cannot learn otherwise. Do you remember the book of Job?

Job was blameless from the beginning.

Job 1: 8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

He naturally went through a great period of despair. When God finally reveals Himself to Job He sets Job straight by making it abundantly clear that He is God and Job is not. What I think is really cool is how God showcased His creation to illustrate just how great He is. This humbled Job. It was this great experience with the Almighty and the revelation of things “far too wonderful” for him that led to his repentance and, after praying for His friends, concluded His test.

Job 42: 1 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

One significant lesson to learn from Job is that being blameless is not enough.

If that is all you are seeking, you will miss out on Life Himself. What God desires most is for us to continually get to know and understand Him more which will only perfect our love and admiration for Him. This is why the greatest commandment is to “love God…” and not “Don’t sin and be blameless”. After all, it is our love for Him that ultimately gives us the power and desire to do good.

Here are some lessons from Job that will lead you to peace:

  1. Don’t count on advice or sympathy from ignorant friends, but pray for them.
  2. Spend time with people that know God personally more than you do. Usually, they are the older ones (not necessarily as in Job) at church that always seem to be full of joy.
  3. Continually strive to know God, both intellectually and personally (Bible reading, prayer, journaling to name a few activities).
  4. Do whatever it takes and pray that you stay humble and meek, keeping your heart soft.

I’m not at all suggesting that if you continue seeking God that you’ll ever be worry-free, for even Jesus was distressed in the garden of Gethsemane. What I am saying is that listening to and following these words will greatly reduce your worry, giving you peace, improving your witness and moving you towards godliness rather than bitterness.

These are great passages to memorize:

Philippians 4: 4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:  31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

If God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, is for us, what do we have to worry about?

“Dear God, Let all that I am praise your name!, Thank you for teaching me so many things. My hope is in you and you alone, for you do not disappoint. Continue to lead me in your Truth so that I may grow in knowledge and understanding. Help me to know you better so that I can lean on you in dark times. You are awesome Lord and I thank you for loving me to begin with. Your loving mercies endure forever. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Take comfort from these closing words…

Job 23:
8 I go east, but he is not there.
I go west, but I cannot find him.
9 I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden.
I look to the south, but he is concealed.
10 But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

 

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If you desire a closer walk with Jesus, just want more fellowship or “Bible Time” come join us at TheBibleTeam.com. We have weekly calls where our sole focus is spending time in God’s Word.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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