New Year, New Word

Happy New Year Y’all! I just back from an 11-day vacation and it was wonderful. Where did I go you ask? Nowhere. We took a one-day shopping trip out Walmart and everybody picked a couple of small items from some money that was sent to us but other than that we just relaxed at home. No work, no striving, no busyness, just relaxing. It was not my first choice of how to spend my vacation because I would like to have done more but we are a little broke at the moment. The first month of having a new foster placement always drains us a little more than expected, but I am so thankful we are tight on money right now because taking some time at home with the family was just what was needed.

I am not just being all rose-colored glasses either. It was wonderful. We could not go out and be busy, so we took time to just be. To just be relaxed and present. To enjoy each other. To just be still.

It reconfirmed a few things and one of those things is my new word. Every year our family picks a word for the year because it is a little easier to live out a word than a resolution. My favorite word was stronger and that was for 2011 (I think). My least favorite was word was inspire. Stronger was great because I was both physically stronger and all my relationships were much stronger. Inspire on the other hand was a failure. Mostly because there was too much emphasis on me to do great things instead of trusting on God to build something up in me. So, this year I am going back to relying on God.

The new word is Shalom. You might be wondering why I did not choose peace and that is a good question. The word Shalom means peace but it also means so much more. Peace is the absence of striving but Shalom is the absence of striving and completeness or soundness. My vacation was more than just absence of striving it was contentment and completeness. God took care of what was needed and gave so much more. I was a reminder that what is needed is Him and His peace (shalom) in order to feel refreshed and restored. My wife and I were able to think through some things and refocus ourselves on what we want out of life and what is important.

I want, no I need God’s shalom in my life. I need His peace that surpasses all understanding. I need shalom within myself. I need shalom in my relationships. I need that because without it I run around trying to be something I cannot be. So, for 2018 I will try and be at shalom (peace and total soundness) with God, myself, and those around me. I have no idea what the year will bring but I will not try to control it either.

Shalom,

Mike

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Peace Beyond Understanding

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God’s Peace comes through

  1. Rejoicing always and in all things
  2. Letting your gentleness be evident to all
  3. Not being anxious but laying all things down before the King

“Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice” Philippians 4:4. This is the first step as it were in receiving the promised peace. The first thing Paul tells us is to do is rejoice, and rejoice. How do we rejoice when everything seems to be falling apart? How do we rejoice when it seems like all hope is lost? How are we to rejoice when there does not seem to be anything to rejoice about? It starts by understanding why we are rejoicing. We are not rejoicing because of what God does for us. We do not rejoice because circumstances are favorable to us. We do not rejoice because of any material thing. We rejoice because God is on the throne, and we rejoice because Christ came and gave His life as a ransom to redeem us from sin. We rejoice because Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the reason we rejoice.  If we can only rejoice because of things in the material world then we will lose heart and not be able to rejoice. We must look past the circumstantial, past what our eyes can see and say I will rejoice because I am in Christ, I will rejoice because God saved a sinner such as me and if I lose all I will still rejoice, and I will rejoice in Christ my comfort and hope. We do not praise God because of what He can do, instead, we praise God because He is God and He is worthy of praise. Praise and rejoicing go hand in hand as they are inseparably one and the same. We must get to the same place that Paul was in when he said: “whether in want or plenty I have learned to be content.” We must be ok with whatever God sees fit to give us. We must be able to say as Job did “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” I cannot look at my present situation and look for reasons to rejoice or praise I must look past them and say by faith it is well with my soul. Rejoicing alone is not enough, however, it is only part of the answer.

The second part is to let others see in us what Christ has done in you“Let your gentleness be evident to all” as Philippians 4:5 says. You might be tempted as I was to say what does this have to do with receiving God’s promised peace. How is letting others see how Christ changed me bring in Gods promised peace? This gentleness is our patience in life, our gentle spirit, and our forbearance with others. We must show how we have been changed into a new creation, and are not the same old man. This is the fruit of the work the Spirit has done in us. How are we to expect to receive God’s promised peace if we are not being gentle with others as He commanded us (1 Cor 13:4 love is patient). It is a matter of obeying Him. The absence of patience brings in strife and where there is strife and quarreling there can be no peace. If we want Gods promised peace then we must also allow an atmosphere where peace can flourish or we would never know it was there. But rejoicing and showing my gentleness still are not enough to bring in the fullness of God’s promised peace.

The final part of this is to trust in God for all things “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God” Philippians 4:6. Jesus says what man by worrying can add one cubit to his life. We have a saying in my house when someone is fretting and being anxious about something they cannot control “are you going to get any taller” and “whose hands” ok so we have two sayings. What do I gain by being anxious? The simple answer is nothing, the slightly longer answer is I actually lose things by being anxious. Anxiety steals any peace that is there, it robs you of any good thing you have. It is only a negative there is no positive side to this. If I am anxious what I am saying is this problem, this thing is too big for me and too big for God. He who made the universe and all that is in it by His Word, my problem, is just too much for Him. There is nothing that He cannot do and nothing that cannot be brought to Him.  

In everything by prayer and petition make your request known unto God. We must bring everything and I mean everything to God. We are children of the King we have access to the throne of grace and we can and must come boldly to it. God of the universe, maker of heaven and earth the King of kings and Lord or lords says to us come to me with all your problems. He wants us to bring everything to Him there is nothing that will be too big or small to bring to Him. 

Just a quick word on how you can bring the big things to God without hesitation; bring the small stuff.  If you are not trusting God with the small things in your life how can you expect Him to handle the big stuff? We must start by coming to Him and saying, Father, I have a headache please help. Or Lord I can’t sleep please help. I have heard of and have myself prayed for things that may seem absolutely absurd to you and others but those things have strengthened my faith in a way that I cannot explain. We must get in the pattern of bringing all things to Him who sits on heaven’s throne. We must train ourselves to rejoice in all situations, to let our gentleness show before men, and to not be anxious but to give our concerns to the Lord. 

What does this look like when we are able to do this? What does it look like when we are able to live a life that is grounded in those principles? In 1873 the hymn ‘It is well with my soul’ was written. It was written after the greatest tragedy in Horatio Spafford’s life. His four daughters had recently perished at sea and passing the place they died he wrote these words

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

 

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

 

For me, be it, Christ, be it Christ hence to live:

If Jordan above me shall roll,

No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,

Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

 

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,

The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!

Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

 

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.

Reading the words we can see that he lived a life that understood what the Bible taught about rejoicing, patience, and casting our cares on the Lord. These things have a real practical application and a real practical result when they are followed through on. We have to be able to understand that the things God calls us to do are for our benefit. The precepts He has laid down work for our good as those who love Him. If we love God we do the things He asks us to do and we can rejoice in Him, we can show or gentleness to others, and if we love God then we will cast our cares on Him and receive His promised peace.

Biscuits and Gravy

Peacefulness and thankfulness go together like biscuits and gravy.  Sure you can have them separately but when you put them together you have a dynamite combination.  

In Colossians 3:15 Paul says “Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful.” (NET Bible)  If you let the peace that comes from Christ control or rule in your heart you will have peace.  You will have a true peace that passes understanding in the midst of everything.  In turn you can be thankful.

Now before you start in on the “if you only knew what I was going through you would understand” speech let me tell you something, I am not at peace right now. I have not been at peace for awhile either.  My wife and I are trying to find a place to live and are not having much luck finding anything we can afford (and would want to live in).  We are trying to figure out how to pay off most of our debt, and a few other issues.  Because of these things I have not been at peace.  I mean as long as nothing else happens I can keep it together but as soon as the dog barks or the little one cries I start to feel like I am going to lose it.  That is not peace, but holding on.  I do not want to just hold on, I want peace.  

So how do I get this peace?  How do I get to a place of thankfulness and ultimately rest?  Simple answer is I let the peace of Christ control my heart.  Mind you that is the easy answer.  The hard part like all things is walking it out.  So here are some simple things I think will help you and me let His peace reign over our hearts.

First, stop looking at the check book so much.  You’re broke and need to pay bills, but if you check the account in the morning it will more than likely be the same way in the evening.  So here is what we can do.  Check your account in the morning and then pray.  Ask God to help you get what you need to get through the day.  Notice I did not say ask God for the money (not that it is wrong to do so, I am praying for 50k), but instead ask Him to provide.  I have had groceries show up on my porch, toy for Christmas, and a ride when I was walking.  You need a new job, house, etc.  Same solution.  Take a look in the morning and again in the evening.  Other than that just ask Him to provide.  He knows your needs and will meet them.

Second, is be thankful for what you do have.  Maybe you are flat broke but you still have something to be thankful for.  Time with your kids, time with your dog, time with your pillow….  Whatever it is, enjoy the things you do have.

Third, feel free to cry.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with crying out to God.  Read the book of Psalms; a good portion of that was David crying out to God for help.  Look at Elijah he cried out to God, Jesus in the Garden cried out to Father to let the cup pass.  Nothing wrong at all with crying out to God and saying please help me I cannot do this and I am so tired.

Again remember I am writing this to me as well as you.  I need to remember and do these things.  My hope is I can take my own advice and let the peace of Christ control my heart.

 

Just a thought,

Mike