biblemike wonders

There isn't anything new in what I have to say, but I do see life from an unique perspective. As my body is shutting down, my soul is opening up to a greater and greater relationship with Christ. I am sharing the things I learn as I go through my trials so that those who read what I write will be encouraged in their own walks by how gracious God has been to me in mine. Ask me questiions, dispute my views and most of all pray for me. www.ucfm.net
UCFM Evangelistic Association

Thursday, September 08, 2005

 

Finding Peace When Its All Going To Pieces

John 14:25-31
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
Come now, let us leave.”

There is much pain and uncertainty.. There are people who are suffering deeply. Beyond Katrina there are relationships that are strained. There are debts that feel like they will drown us. There are schedules, demands, deadlines hanging over our heads. There are suspicions that our government organizations have failed us and some may have done so deliberately because the people suffering most were poor or racial minorities. In Louisiana and Mississippi children are out of school and businesses are closed for no one knows how long. In Texas there are people wondering how they will live after the temporary housing gives out. In hospital corridors throughout the south families pace, hoping that the ones they saved from the floods will not now be taken by infection. Everywhere you turn there seems to be turmoil, heartache, and brokenness.

It has been a busy week around our country. It has been a terrifying week for many. Not long ago a survey was conducted in the United States by a leading polling agency. Questionnaires were distributed to people of various ages and occupations. The key question was this: What are you looking for most in life? When the results were compiled, the analysts were surprised. Most of them had expected answers that would suggest materialistic goals, but the top three things that people wanted in life were love, joy, and peace. Isn't it interesting that these are the very three things that are the first results the Spirit of Christ has sent for our lives.
Someone once said that if you speak to the pain in people's lives you will never lack for an audience. They were right and that's what Jesus does in this section of the Gospel of John.. He makes a statement that speaks directly to our aching hearts. He speaks to us about what we really want most. He tells us we don't have to see our lives fall to pieces He offers us the opportunity to enjoy His peace instead. Three questions I had to answer in order to find that peace, even if only part-time. 1) What is this peace?; 2) How is this peace manifested? 3) How can I get this peace?

What is this Peace?

It is something the world cannot give us

Do you remember the commercial where the woman was being bombarded on every side (by children, spouse, employer, the phone) and this woman looks into the camera and says "Calgon Take Me Away". In the next scene she is laying in a bathtub surrounded by bubbles. This is the world's answer to our cry for peace. Eliminate all distractions and enjoy a warm bubble bath. Actually, what the commercial does is extend that world view that says peace is all about me and the lack of peace in my life is all about others.

The world in which we live says to know peace we must either: go someplace (head to Tahiti or that bathtub), buy something (a luxury car which shuts out the harshness of the world or a plasma TV that allows us to hide in fantasy), or ingest something (get a prescription for a sedative or the perfect meal). The peace that Jesus offers is different from the world's peace. The world's peace is temporary and external. The peace we crave and Jesus offers is more than that.

It is something that only Jesus can give

Jesus tells us that it is HIS peace that He gives to us. He alone has the authority to extend this peace. It is unique to Him. It cannot be created by any means. It is part of Christ Himself. He extends it from Himself to us. It is not something we can grasp for. It is a gift of grace like everything else He gives us.

Christ's peace adds something to life rather than subtracts something

We are used to thinking of peace as the absence of conflict, or the absence of stress, or the absence of worry. The peace that Jesus talks about is the Jewish concept of peace. Peace, or "Shalom". It includes the absence of churning and distress but it also includes the presence of blessing. Jesus is offering a peace that is a settled sense of well-being and security. It is a peace that surrounds us in the midst of the turmoil and the havoc.

THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS PEACE

We have peace with God

In Romans 5:1 we read, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."

Paul tells us that we have peace with God because we have been justified by faith. Fancy words but what do they mean? When we are "justified" we are pronounced "not guilty", we are declared to be "good" or “holy” in God's eyes. Justification means we are declared to be unstained by sin. How is this possible? It's possible because Christ paid for our sin and credited His goodness to our account. This is His grace, His undeserved gift.

How do we become justified? We must have faith. What is faith? Faith is active belief . It is a trust that reveals itself in action. True faith believes in Christ's promise of eternal life enough to rest in Him for our eternal hope and follow Him in our daily living. Faith is hoping for things that we know to be true. It is not wishing for things that are not present, but accepting things as being present because God says so.

Do you understand what this means practically? Our past is dealt with. The sins of the past are forgiven. We are free from the stupidity and rebellion of the way we used to live. Our failures are overcome. We are set free from the failures of the past. Though the scars of the past may remain we are no longer held prisoner by the past.

Our future is certain. We don't have to fret about eternal life any more. Jesus says, "whoever believes in me WILL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE." Paul reminds us, "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6). God makes it possible for us to know peace in the depth of our being; peace in our soul.

We have peace in difficult circumstances

Jesus tells us that He is superior to our circumstances. Later in this final discourse of our Savior, Jesus says: "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John. 16:33)

Jesus tells us that even though life has its irritations, He is superior and victorious to our conflicts. The world does not overcome Him. He overcomes the world. Our Lord is not caught by surprise by the conflicts of our lives. He has authority and power over our circumstances. We may not understand why those circumstances need be, but we can know that they fit into God’s eternal plans or which we are only a miniscule part.

The Bible tells us that our trials and difficulties are purposeful

Continuing in the Romans 5:3 passage, Paul wrote: "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Peter wrote something similar, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7)
In both these passages one thing is clear, for the child of God there are no "accidents". The difficult things that come into our lives come for a reason, a good reason. We may not see that rhyme or reason but there is one. We are not promised that we will understand at this time what God’s reason or will may be, but we are promised that some day we will understand.
Spurgeon said, "the Christian is content to take just what his Father sends him, knowing that his Father understands him better than he understands himself. He gives up the helm of his ship to the hand of a gracious God;" [Treasury of the Bible, p. 549]

I cannot remember where I read this story and so I cannot tell you for a fact that it is true. I can tell you that I have had similar circumstances occur in my life as I have struggled with disability and disease. It is the story of an evangelistic meeting in Ireland. The speaker ended his sermon with the worlds “For this we have Jesus,” which he repeated several times. He then asked for testimonies from his audience. At that point the young women who had played piano for the evening stood up and said, “I have to leave shortly so I want to be first to give testimony. Before tonight’s meeting I received a telegram that my mother is ill and I must hurry home. At the same time I knew that tonight’s message was meant for me. For this we have Jesus. I will never more deny that.”

Some time later the evangelist heard from the woman that her mother had died shortly after her arrival home. God had been kind enough to let them pray together at the last. She wrote him, I know that for this I have Jesus. No matter what may occur Jesus is with me and with those I care about. I will never forget those words, for this we have Jesus.”

If you are struggling right now, I know this sounds trite. I know when things are falling apart it doesn't help for someone to say, "Don't worry, it's going to be alright." But please understand it is not me who is saying this, it is God! Your life is not hurtling aimlessly out of control. There is purpose in what is happening. You may not know the exactness of that purpose, but God does and He will show you just how important those events were to His greater plan someday. Trust in His will and your life will be calmer and happier.

I don't know why a teenager dies less than a week before their graduation. I can't imagine the pain of those parents. I don’t know why thousands must lose loved ones in a freak hurricane or an unpredictable tsunami. But what I do know is this, God will bring them through this time if they will let Him. He will see you through as well. Even in the midst of fierce trials you can know peace. For such difficult times as these we have Jesus.

We've heard the testimony time and time again. Someone was in a terrible time of trial and they asked for prayer. They then report that as people began to pray they sensed a peace and strength sweep over them. They were able to stop worrying and start resting. That's the peace Jesus offers. That’s the peace that I received last May as I lay, apparently dying, in the hospital. Yet as I lay there I was surrounded with God’s peace and my only sadness was that I might not be able to tell everyone I loved good-bye before I left. I knew I was in God’s loving hands and that no matter what happened I was in His blessed will. I knew His peace.

We have peace with each other

The peace of the Lord is a peace that restores relationships. All throughout the New Testament we see barriers lift between people: Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female. We are continually urged to maintain (not create) the peace with others. I think there is a logical reason why we know peace with each other through Christ.

First we understand that we are all in the same boat. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot overcome circumstances by our strength alone. We are all in need of grace and mercy. We are all beggars showing other beggars where to find a break. There are no race, gender or class barriers in Heaven or in suffering. There is only the hope we share in Jesus.

Second, We belong to the same family . We are made ONE body in Christ. We are brothers and sisters in the family of God. It is imperative that we work out our differences. It is necessary for us to forgive and to listen. We are family.

Thirdly, we are heading to the same goal. Each of us in the family of God is moving toward Heaven. We each are seeking to glorify Him in our lives. We are not competing with each other we are working with each other.

C.S. Lewis points out in several of his writings that we are all headed for glory. He suggests that this realization alone should change the way we relate to one another.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship it or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmares. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or another of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. You have talked to potential saints and to potential denizens of hell. Next to God Himself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor he is holy in almost the same way that Christ is holy, for in him also glory Himself is truly hidden

How Do We Get This Peace?

You must turn to the source of peace. This peace is not found in Meditation, Drugs, Achievements or Honors. The peace you yearn for is something that can only be found in Christ.
It may be that the very reason you are reading this is because you know that you need something for your life. Things are getting out of control. You know there is an emptiness, a missing something that you once knew. You know you need something.

Dear friend, what you need is not something it is SOMEONE. You are looking for Jesus, the Jesus who once put your hungry soul at rest, this same Jesus who came to earth in order to free you from sin. Will you believe Him for eternity and trust Him in the present? If so, peace is yours.

When you feel the churning as a believer one of several things is usually true.

You are being assaulted by one of the Devil's forces. Satan will work hard to disrupt our peace. There is nothing more powerful than a calm saint in trying times. Satan wants to keep you churning. He wants you to doubt God's promises. Child of the King, you must remember Satan can afflict you but He cannot defeat you! Claim the victory! Stand in Christ! Resist him faithfully. Your peace will return and it will increase.

Perhaps you are engaged in sin. There is nothing that will rob us of peace faster than turning our backs on the Giver of peace. Every time we do what is outside of God's will we turn our backs on our source of peace. Brother, sister, in all love let me warn you to turn from whatever sin is blocking you from God’s presence and come back to the Father.

Perhaps you have allowed a faulty view of God to develop in you.. This is where most of our churning comes from. We forget the nature of God. We forget or distort the truth. In the early years of school children are taught how to react if their clothes catch on fire. They are to STOP, DROP, AND ROLL. I have watched all seven of my children practice that maneuver. Maybe a similar thing needs to be applied to believers. When you find anxiety building and your peace is leaving you it is important that you STOP, RECALL AND REST. Remind yourself that God is Sovereign (He is in control). Remember that He Loves You (He has your best interest at heart). Remember that He never, ever makes a mistake. (And He is not going to make one with you.) Re-align your theology and rest in His arms.

You see, we don't have to live our lives constantly feeling like we are falling or being torn into little pieces. We don't have to escape to the bathroom or hide in some faraway place. What we need is to place our hand in the nail scarred hand of Jesus. We need to look to Him when the times are overwhelming, the future is uncertain, or we feel lost. If you look carefully you will see in His eyes: a love, understanding, confidence and strength that will set your anxious heart at rest.

Even as I write this I am just beginning to enjoy the return of God’s peace. My illness took another bad turn and in my grief I lost sight of the source of my peace. I cannot be what I want to be either for myself or for Him in this life, but I can be His and I can have His peace. For this we have Jesus.

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