WHEN DAYS SEEM TO UNRAVEL

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”

(I Peter 5:7).

Michael Guido in his “Seeds from the Sower,” tells the following story:

It was one of those days that every mother tries to avoid.  First, the washing machine stopped in the middle of the spin cycle.  Then she discovered that the toaster was not working.  When she opened the door to the refrigerator, she discovered that it had been on defrost all night.  The last straw was a raging migraine headache.

She reached down, picked up her small son, placed him on her lap, held him tightly and began to weep softly as the tears ran down her cheeks.

              Without saying a word, Ronnie took the pacifier out of his mouth and placed it in hers.

 Some days just seem to unravel.  We awaken to a shining sun only to have dark clouds appear from nowhere and cover it up.  What we thought would be a day of joy suddenly turned into a night of despair.  Bad days come into each of our lives and we end up feeling alone and abandoned, overwhelmed and oppressed.

 Have you ever had days like that?  You begin the day intending to be victorious but end in defeat. When they do not develop as we would like, or we encounter an unexpected turnaround, we can be grateful for the grace and peace of God.  He is with us in the midst of our most draining and demanding experiences.   Even though God seems far away, we are assured of His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

In his blog (6-18-09), Roy Lessin wrote these encouraging words:

In the dark places Jesus is your light;

In the uncertain places He is your assurance;

In the stressful places He is your peace;

In the painful places He is your comfort;

In the hurting places He is your healer;

In the lonely places, He is your companion and friend.  

 

When God is in control, we have nothing to fear.   “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). 

Be still, My child, and know that I am God!

Wait thou patiently—I know the path you trod.

So falter not, nor fear, nor think to run and hide,

For I, thy hope and strength, am waiting by thy side.—Hein

OUR PEACE AT CALVARY

Ephesians 2:11-22

 

For He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14a).

 

If we have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are no longer His enemies but have intimacy, peace, and unrestrained access to Him (v. 18).  Christ became our peace at Calvary.

Beth Moore has said, “The cross ushered us from the sword of division to the peace of reconciliation.” 

She shares the following story:

I will never forget watching an evening talk show featuring the story of the parents and killer of a young college student.  The killer was his best friend.  The weapon was high alcohol content inside a speeding automobile.  We’ve heard so many stories about drunk drivers and their victims.  What made this particular feature prime-time viewing?  The parents had forgiven the young driver . . . and if that was not enough, they had taken him in as their own.

The young man sat at the table in the chair which was once occupied by their only son.  He slept in the son’s bed.  He worked with the victim’s father, teaching seminars on safety.  He shared their fortune and supported their causes.  He spoke about the one he had slain in ways only someone who knew him intimately could have.

Beth’s conclusion as to why these parents would do such a thing is:  “Because it gave them peace.”  She says, however, that we tend to put ourselves in the wrong position of the parents; instead, we are the driver.  It was our sins that nailed God’s precious Son to the Cross.

God not only forgave us—He invites us to sit at His table and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him even though it was for us that Jesus, His Only Son, died… in the space my Savior left for me.  As a result, I have peace.

Jesus invites us: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”  And promises: “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me” (Revelations 3:20).

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).   In Him we have “pardon for sin and a peace that endure[s].”

God knows all that you’ve thought or done—

From Him you cannot hide;

Confess to Him and He’ll forgive

Through Christ the crucified. –Hess

PEACE THROUGH FORGIVENESS—THE BLOOD

If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus . . . purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22).  The following is a beautiful story (source unknown) about the peace of forgiveness in our hearts toward others:

One night in a church service a young woman felt the tug of God at her heart. She responded to God’s call and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

The young woman had a very rough past, involving alcohol, drugs, and prostitution.   But, the change in her was evident. As time went on she became a faithful member of the church. She eventually became involved in the ministry, teaching young children.

It was not very long until this faithful young woman had caught the eye and heart of the pastor’s son.     The relationship grew and they began to make wedding plans. This is when the problems began.
       
 You see, about one half of the church did not think that a woman with a past such as hers was suitable for a pastor’s son. The church began to argue and fight about the matter.  So they decided to have a meeting.
       
 As the people made their arguments and tensions increased, the meeting was getting completely out of hand. The young woman became very upset about all the things being brought up about her past.
       
 As she began to cry the pastor’s son stood to speak.  He could not bear the pain it was causing his wife to be. He began to speak and his statement was this:
       
 “My fiancee’s past is not what is on trial here.   What you are questioning is the ability of the blood of Jesus to wash away sin. Today you have put the blood of Jesus on trial.  So, does it wash away sin or not?”
       
The whole church began to weep as they realized that they had been slandering the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Too often, even as Christians, we bring up the past and use it as a weapon against our brothers and sisters.                                      

If the blood of Jesus Christ does not cleanse another person completely, then neither can it cleanse us completely.  He loves us and “has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelations 1:5).  Because He was slain, with His blood He ransomed every one of us (Revelations 5:9).

What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow That makes me white as snow;

No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.—Robert Lowry

MIND CONTROLLED BY THE SPIRIT

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The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace

(Romans 8:6).

Charles Stanley (Pathways to His Presence, August 19) lists seven categories of thoughts that steal our peace:

  •  Sinful
  • Negative
  • Erroneous
  • Unrealistic
  • Rebellious
  • Obsessive
  • Enslaved

Can you identify with any of these thoughts?  He says that each category represents an area in which Satan desires to establish a stronghold in our minds; so it is essential that we “extinguish the flames of their fiery paths through our minds” because we will not experience God’s peace until we do.

Christ gives us His peace, a quality of the fruit of the Spirit, so that the filling of the Holy Spirit releases the glorious power of His peace.  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Paul tells us in Romans 8:6, the key to this peace is our “mind controlled by the Spirit.”  His instruction for maintaining peace is: “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

We don’t need to understand why things happen to us because God’s peace transcends all understanding.  Jesus gives us His peace, that the world cannot give, because we are His.   As we yield our heart and mind to Him, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, who is quickened and manifested in us when our mind is “stayed” or steadfast on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

How do we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15)?  By keeping our attention focused on Him, He will keep our mind at peace.    He encourages us to think on the things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).  Ask Him to replace your desire to ponder more negative concepts with productive thoughts of His plan for peace in your life.

Tune your anxious heart to patience,

Walk by faith where sight is dim;

Loving God, be calm and trustful

And leave everything to Him. –Chambers

ANXIETY OR PEACE? (3)

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“[A]sk where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls

(Jeremiah 6:16b).

 

 

In his blog (2-28-11), Roy Lessin wrote these jewels of truth:

 

Anxiety tells you that you are in a situation that is too big for God to handle;
Peace assures you that nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Anxiety assumes the worst will happen;
Peace affirms the best is yet to be.

Anxiety points you to your inadequacy;
Peace confirms that God’s grace is sufficient.

Anxiety causes you to panic;
Peace causes you to be still.

Anxiety shows you your lack;
Peace points you to God’s supply.

Anxiety warns of defeat and failure;
Peace proclaims God’s victory and success.

Anxiety causes you to strive;
Peace causes you to rest.

Anxiety says “You will be carried away by the storm;”
Peace says “Your anchor holds.”

Anxiety fills you with darkness;
Peace floods you with light.

Anxiety tells you to first seek a solution;
Peace tells you to first seek the Kingdom.

Anxiety tells you, you won’t make it;
Peace assures you, God will bring you through.

WORRYING DOES NOT TAKE AWAY TOMORROW’S TROUBLES—IT TAKES AWAY TODAY’S PEACE.  Like a rocking chair—it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.

ANXIETY OR PEACE? (2)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

 (Philippians 4:5-6).

Do you ever feel anxious when you have an urgent need and there is nothing you can do about it?  God knows we can’t, but He can.  He gives unshakeable peace during anxious moments to those who trust Him—at times even before the storm. 

He gave it to Gideon, who in turn, built an altar and named it Jehovah-shalom, The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24).  He gave it to David as he stood before Goliath.  He gave it to Jesus after His agony in the Garden as the Cross lunged before Him. 

It is comforting to know that such things are in our Father’s hands.  Our inability to do anything about a problem is matched by our confidence in God, for whom all things are possible.

Because of Sarah’s doubt and fear, she had forfeited peace that she could have had in God’s wonderful promise to her (Genesis 21:1-2).  Peace is the by-product of trust in God.  The way to bring peace to a troubled heart is to focus on His promises and faithfulness. 

In essence, our fears and anxieties reveal the areas in our life that are not under the Spirit’s control.  This means we have not invited Jesus into a relationship, our finances, vocation, health issues, etc.  Our heart (desires) and actions (our hands) must be working together toward the same goal, or stress and disharmony will steal our peace.

The antidote for anxiety is to come to God in prayer about everything.  Spend time meditating on Paul’s words in Philippians 4:5-6 if you are seeking peace today.  Thank Him for His past faithfulness, and thank Him that He is in control of every situation—even yours.  Especially yours.

If you have big problems, God is bigger.  Great trials?  He is greater.  Nothing is too big for Him to handle or too small to escape His attention.   Just lean on His everlasting arms.

“When you realize that nothing happens apart from His awareness, direction, and loving purpose, it becomes possible to lay down worry and fear and truly experience His peace.”—Charles Stanley

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,

Leaning on the everlasting arms?

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms. –Elisha A Hoffman

ANXIETY OR PEACE? (1)

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

(Luke 12:24-26).

Anxiety empowers a problem but God’s peace is available if we choose it instead.  If we will allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives, He will produce His peace in us (Galatians 5:22).   When yoked to Jesus and our minds are steadfast on Him, we are freed from restlessness, strife, or worry.  So we have the option of choosing between peace and inner conflict. 

Unshakeable peace is not spontaneous but is cultivated through a consistent relationship with the Lord.  Depending on Him is the key to weathering storms with supernatural calmness.

Roy Lessin wrote in his blog (2-21-11):

Anxiety—don’t carry it, walk with it, eat with it, live with it, go to bed with it. Don’t entertain it, support it, encourage it—not in big things or little things, present things or future things, pressing things or perplexing things. It is a foe not a friend, a downer not an edifier, a binder not a freer. It will quickly introduce you to its close cousins, fret and fear.  When anxiety knocks at the door of your heart or mind, be sure to renounce it, reject it, and refuse it any place.

Ponder these statements by Alexander Maclaren:

  • Anxious care weakens our strength, distracts our minds, sucks the sunshine out of every landscape, and casts a shadow over all beauty.
  • Anxiety is contrary to the very character and name of God when we call Him, “Our Father.”

In fact, we become anxious WHEN we envision our future without Him.  Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms. –Elisha A Hoffman

PERFECT PEACE (2)

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting Rock

 (Isaiah 26:4, ESV).

In his blog (10-3-09), Roy Lessin wrote:

A basketball fan was watching his favorite team play on a delayed telecast.  The outcome would influence the national championship.  In the final minutes the score was tied.  The tension grew.  The fan, however, sat calmly on the couch without fear or worry.  Why?  The answer is simple.  Before the game started, he heard the final score announcing that his team had won.  In the same way, the believer in Jesus Christ can walk through tense times in perfect peace because he too already knows what the outcome will be.   

Knowing our purpose gives meaning to life.  With a steadfast purpose, we can handle almost anything; but without it, nothing is sustainable.   In despair, Job said, “Leave me alone; my days have no meaning” (Job 7:16).  Isaiah lamented, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing” (Isaiah 49:4). 

Having a steadfast purpose also simplifies life by defining our actions and giving us a foundation on which to base our decisions—what is essential and what is not.   We tend to base our choices on circumstances, our mood, or pressures at the moment. 

Without a purpose in mind, we usually try to do too much—which causes even more stress.  The fact is we always have enough time to do God’s will; so if we find we cannot get it all done, then we’re trying to do more than God has intended.   He will keep us in perfect peace when our minds are steadfast on Him (Isaiah 26:3).  Peace is complete rest in the trusting heart.

Are you facing difficult circumstances and need peace today?   He promises shalom if we lean our full weight on Him.

So, today choose one thing that is disturbing or distracting you.  Deliberately give it to God.   Let it go.  “Trust in the Lord forever; for in the Lord God is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4). Only with Jesus Christ can we live now and for eternity in God’s perfect peace.

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,

Over all victorious in its bright increase;

Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,

Perfect, yet it growth deeper all the way.

 

Stayed upon Jehovah, Hearts are fully blest;

Finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest. – Frances R. Havergal, 1874

PERFECT PEACE (1)

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You

(Isaiah 26:3).

This verse is one of the greatest O.T. promises in the Bible—peace made possible by remaining steadfastly focused on our God.  When we trust Him, we refuse all other crutches and rely completely on Him for His unwavering support.  He holds us up by keeping—guarding, watching over—us with perfect peace, which means shalom in Hebrew.

 The secret to shalom is trusting God.  He gives complete rest to those who lean steadily on Him for support, to those who trust Him as their immovable, solid Rock (Isaiah 26:4).

The following story (author unknown) gives a vivid illustration of perfect peace:

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace.  Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains were all around it.  Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest …perfect peace.

The King chose the second picture for the prize.  Why?

“Because,” explained the King, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.“   That is the real meaning of peace.

Peace is not the absence of storms, but the assurance of God’s presence and protection in the midst of them.  We know God is able to bring us through, while refining our faith and character in the process.

Every joy and trial falleth from above,

Trac’d upon our dial by the Son of Love;

We may trust Him fully all for us to do;

They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

 

Stayed upon Jehovah, Hearts are fully blest;

Finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest. – Frances R. Havergal, 1874

PEACEMAKER OR PEACE-KEEPER?

Genesis 13:1-11

Let there be no strife between you and me” (Genesis 13:8 NKJV). 

These were Abram’s kind words to Lot. He wanted no quarrelling between them, and suggested a way they could part peacefully, even giving Lot his choice of the “lots”! (v. 9).

When someone misunderstands, criticizes, or accuses you, what do you do?  Sometimes we just want peace at any cost.  So we become robots, just coasting along, not rocking the boat.  Just smooth sailing, not stirring the waters.  Walking on eggshells.  Doing whatever it takes to keep the peace.  That is unhealthy.  We should never settle for peace at the expense of principle.

Neither should we compromise at the expense of honesty and humility just to bring peace to the forefront.  Quieting the surface when the depths are still stormy will only lead to more conflict.  In fact, false peace—dishonesty—is even more dangerous than an open fight because the problems have been covered beneath the surface.  When our genuine feelings are repressed, hurt and resentment get buried in the pretention that all is well.

At times, it is necessary to take the initiative. Abraham didn’t hesitate to get involved because he realized that it had the potential to drive a wedge between them if he procrastinated.   Foresight is needed to build lasting relationships. 

Abraham knew it was time to exit with grace, not contention.  When God gives us grace, He wants us to show it to others, to be peacemakers, reconcilers.  The Bible calls this the ministry of reconciliation.  And we need not worry about getting short-changed because God will make it up to us—His way, in His time.

Love challenges our opposition to be a better person, which often makes the conflict worse as he may feel  uncomfortable, threatened, or out of control.

The calmness and gentleness of the Lord Jesus when they arrested and tried Him must have infuriated His enemies, so they had no alternative but to kill Him.  As we seek to be peacemakers, people will treat us mercilessly, at times, as they did Jesus.

They may hurl stones, but the peacemaker builds a bridge out of the stones.  Rather than avoiding battle, they learn to transform the conflict into a ministry of reconciliation through dialogue and gentle confrontation, a kind heart and loving deeds.  Matters must be settled quickly with our adversaries.

The world cannot clearly see the Prince of Peace unless Christians are at peace with one another.

The wars and fights within the church

Disrupt our unity and peace;

How can we show the peace of Christ

Unless our conflicts cease? -Sper