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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

If I asked a million people from across the world this question, 

“What do you want the most in your life?” 

I am certain these would be the four top responses:

Joy, peace, abundant life, and contentment

 

Whether rich or poor, well or ill, single or married, able or disabled, all people seek these four things.  

 

Perhaps this is why our forefathers wrote into the US Declaration of Independence, these words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all … are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

Through out much of our lives we remain anxious for the things of the earth that we need for survival, security, and comfort.  We routinely ask ourselves these questions:

Can we afford to get married?

Can we afford to have kids?

Can I pay this week’s bills?

Do I have enough saved for retirement?

Even the rich worry about hanging onto their worldly wealth.

 

Eventually we learn that the things of the earth will not provide us with joy, peace, abundant life, or contentment.

 

The Bible promises that if we seek God first we will have these things added to our life:

Your joy will be complete.  (John 15:11)

You will have peace which passes all understanding.  (Philippians 4:7)

You will have an abundant life.  (John 10:10)

You will find contentment in all things.  (Phil 4:11)

 

This is why Thomas Kempis tells us:

“He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure. 

The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor.” (1)

 

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(1) Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1996), 75.

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My Grandmother’s constant counsel was: “Do the right thing!”

Doing the right thing is easy when it brings immediate joy and blessings.  

Doing the right thing is more difficult when it is no more than a seed, which requires planting, watering, feeding, and waiting for the bloom of blessing to come.

Doing the right thing is most difficult when it brings immediate suffering and difficulty.

Peter wrote: “It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17)

Peter encourages us to accept suffering while doing the right thing as part of God’s wise and sovereign plan for our life. 

“Our peace in life is found in humbly enduring suffering rather than in being free from it.  He who knows how to suffer will enjoy the greater peace.” (Thomas Kempis)

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Words to Die For

Live so that in death, you’ll be in peace.

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If you have been encouraged by Jesus …

if you have been comforted by His love …

if  you have fellowshipped with the Holy Spirit … 

if you have personally felt God’s tender love …

(Philippians 2:1)

In these words Paul reminds us of the personal blessings of our experiences of God’s grace, which God has showered upon up.

We frequently forget all which God has done for us in the course of our everyday lives.  It is these small yet significant blessings of encouragement, comfort, fellowship, and tender love which sustain us.

As a classic debater Paul uses his gift of persuasion to encourage us to live the life God calls us to live.  Paul believes we owe a personal debt to God.

His reasoning and pleading is, “Since God has been merciful and gracious to you, then you should joyfully live from the bounty of His love?”

As a Pastor, I fear that we live in a world where more and more Christians live with a sense of entitlement.

They believe God owes them.  They believe God is in debt to them. They believe they deserve special treatment from God.

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in worship.  Do you go to worship for the simple pleasure of adoring God and learning from His Word or do you go to worship expecting to be fulfilled, to sing music you enjoy, and to have worship your way?

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in our demands for grace. When you sin do you demand that their should be no consequences to your behavior or do you submit yourself to biblical discipline.

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in difficult times.  When life is hard do you complain to God, questioning His grace and love or do you see Him walking with you through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4)?

Christians who live from a sense of entitlement will never be happy and will never find joy in Christ, much-less in life.

This is why Paul begs us to remember our experiences of God’s grace, they are key to your joy and peace today.

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Loneliness

I have found that the best cure for loneliness is to be alone with God.

When you are still in God’s presence, peace will fill your inmost soul!

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

 

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Not only must the inner sanctuary be kept right with God, but the outer courts as well are to be brought into perfect accord with God. (1)

In these words Oswald Chambers states the obvious, your outer life needs to match your inner life.  In many cases it does.

However, we have become so adept at constructing facades and wearing masks that our outer shell glistens while our inner being is decaying.

How many times have we heard individuals use these words to report astonishment that their neighbor was a the mass murderer?

    • He seemed so happy!
    • He was always friendly!
    • He never yelled at his kids!
    • His yard was in immaculate shape!
    • He’d have neighbors over for a cookout 2 or 3 times a summer!

Beauty and fame on the outside, ugliness and shame on the inside.  This is a curse.

I am frequently surprised by the people who are hurting the most.  Their external life shines and encourages others, while they weep and struggle on the inside.

Why do I miss seeing their agony?

I have a friend who is always smiling, always laughing, always thinking of others.  Inside he is weeping and wailing.  I would not have known this, but I kept watching him, I kept listening to him.  I eventually realized that he was uncomfortable smiling and laughing.  The smiles and laughter were meant to cover his pain.

His outer courts are in order, while his inner sanctuary is a mess.

He has yet to tell me what is tormenting him.  It breaks my heart to see him hurting so happily.  What can I do to help him?

Jesus said,

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. (2)

I will go to my friend with Jesus at my side.  Perhaps he will open the door and let Jesus in while I am there.

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Matthew 11:28–29.

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