The Peace that Surpasses all Understanding Pt. 4

Part 4 of 4: Peace Comes from true FAITH

Habakkuk 3:18 When all is lost, and all is hopeless, I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.

The deer hops with a graceful ease along the mountaintops, with elegance, high above the toils and struggles of the earth below.  So too shall we rise above the endless turmoil, navigating rocky times with graceful elegance, when we place our trust in the LORD, and rest on the hope assured by faith in Christ Jesus.

Hope comes from true faith in the promises of the LORD.  Peace comes from the confidence spawned in eternal hope.  If you’re reading this blog you probably already have some measure of belief in God.  The question we should be asking ourselves is:  when we are truly honest, do we have the kind of faith that can bring peace to our souls – the kind of peace that comes from believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a God in Heaven who has us in the palm of His hand?  Each post in this four part series hinges on the genuine belief that God is the real, sovereign, all powerful Heavenly keeper of the promises of the Bible.  In the moments when we doubt that God is any of those things, our peace can quickly become unhinged.

 “Temptation is a false promise–a promise that doesn’t deliver.   The sin to be ultimately expelled is our lack of trust, our unbelief.” – Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor and grandson of Billy Graham

The biggest temptation we face in this world is the temptation to doubt the LORD.  Sadly, our lack of peace is the direct biproduct of this very doubt.  Our salvation and protection lies with the LORD, and hope begins to wain when we start questioning wether the LORD truly directs our steps and has His hand on our lives. (Psalm 37:23).  When we have doubts in the LORD, in His existence, in His promises, or in His abilities, the foundation of our reassuarance is fractured.  When our trust in God is diminished, our peace also quickly fades.  This is where the devil slips his foot in the door.  Every person has moments of doubt, and every person has questions.  The Bible does not shy away from questions, but rather invites and  encourages the inquiring mind.  The Bible beckons us to vigorously seek answers within its pages.  “Seek and you shall find” (Matthew 7:7).  The more questions we ask and the more answers we seek, the more answers we will find and the less we will doubt.

Jeremaiah 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

We must take an honest assessment of ourselves.  Do we trust God with every ounce of our being?  Are we truly searching for God with all our hearts?  When we trust that God will be our defender and deliverer we find He is the rock under which we are sheltered when the storms of life come.

Matthew 8:26 And (Jesus) said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Four times in the gospel of Matthew Jesus says, “O ye of little faith!”  In each reference He goes on to assure us that a strong faith is the remedy for all things.  Jesus tells us that with a proper amount of faith we need not worry about whether we will be provided for and clothed (Matthew 6:30), we need not be fearful of our circumstances (Matthew 8:26), we need not doubt (Matthew 14:31), and we need not worry about whether we will eat (Matthew 16:8).  In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells His disciples that it is by lack of faith that they fail, but with faith as small as a mustard seed, “nothing will be impossible for you.”  By faith we come to truly trust God’s plan, we align ourselves with God’s will, and we understand how God uses the circumstances of our lives for His glory.  True faith is not just belief but trust.  True faith brings about the peace that surpasses all understanding.

” A little faith will bring your soul to heaven,  a great faith will bring heaven to your soul” – C.H. Spurgeon

Prayer…You’re Doing It Wrong!

Well…maybe.  I don’t have access to your prayers so I don’t know, but I have written a post on prayer just in case, to hopefully help if you do happen to have questions about how God wants us to pray.

The Lord wants us to talk to Him.  Prayer can be incredibly simple, or it can be equally elaborate, but we have been given a specific blueprint for prayer that many of us often ignore.  Later we question why our prayers are not answered.

When the Apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He provided them the basic outline for prayer, and this prayer has become known as The Lord’s Prayer.  Most of us have heard this prayer,  seen it somewhere, recited it, and many of us may even have it memorized.  But, the the real issue is…#1 Do you understand what it says?  And #2 Do you follow it as the prescribed outline for your prayers? There is no way anyone can ever say it better than the Son of God said it Himself.

Because the language is confusing, or because we have recited it so many times we’ve grown numb, merely reeling it off or glossing over it, I am going to crack it open and offer an explanation of what it actually says.

Jesus said:  (Matthew 6) “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.  “Pray, then, in this way:

Our Father, who is in Heaven (This is a salutation addressing God as our Father. Thus, we are His children. Children ask parents for things, good parents provide things children need.  Good parents don’t spoil their children.  Children don’t dictate the terms of the relationship, nor do they determine their parents’ actions.  Parents discipline children when necessary, in love, and good parents ultimately know better than children what is good for them.  This salutation also clearly acknowledges that God does exist, is in Heaven, does hear us, and desires that we pray to Him directly.)

Hallowed be Your name (This phrase means, God, your name be exalted…let everyone proclaim and raise up God’s name.  To proclaim and raise God’s name we must actually be vocal in professing our faith in Him.  May your name be glorified in both your healing of us, and also in the way we, the people of faith, handle suffering…with grace. Further this statement says that I raise you above all…including myself.  I place myself under your control.  I do not attempt to stand over you and dictate who you are, hold your actions or your laws on trial, or control what areas of my life I will allow you access to.)

Your Kingdom Come (God I desire you spread your kingdom across this earth until the time of Christ’s return to reign over your chosen.  Please come soon!)

Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (I acknowledge Your will controls every event of both Heaven and Earth either by Your design or by Your allowance.  I am in alignment with Your will.  I desire Your will for my life and the lives of others.  Even if Your will is not what I might selfishly think I want…I know You know better than I what is good, and I trust Your plan.  I know that You make all things work together for the good of those who love You – Romans 8:28.)

Give us this day our daily bread (Give me the health, strength, energy, and spiritual nourishment necessary to serve You. Give my family, friends, and my brothers and sister in Christ the health strength, energy and spiritual nourishment to serve you.  Give me neither poverty nor riches, but only my daily ration so I may not have such wealth I would say “Who has a need for the Lord?,” or I would be so poor I would steal and dishonor your name.  I understand It would be a curse for You to give me such abundance that I would no longer feel a need to seek you, and thus fall away. – Proverbs 30:7-9)

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us (I acknowledge I am a depraved sinner and a hypocrite.  I ask Your forgiveness of my sins.  In my deep sense of regret I seek to change the wrong doing in my life and strive to live a life of good.   In sincere recognition of my sinful condition and hypocrisy I show forgiveness and mercy to others when they sin against me, and I desire to be patient with those who are indebted to me.  I do this because I recognize I can never repay the gifts of grace and salvation You have showered upon me, and despite my feeble offerings You relentlessly love me and forgive my debts.)

Lead us not into temptation (Don’t let me be tested beyond what I can bear…I acknowledge God is more powerful than Satan, that He has control over Satan, that He could cast him from the earth as He cast him out of heaven, He has the ability to control the amount the devil tempts me, and He allows Satan to sift the wicked like wheat. Please LORD do not allow me to face testing beyond what is ultimately beneficial for my growth in sanctification – 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Luke 22:31)

Deliver us from evil (Keep me far from the Evil One, and when he does reach out his hand to me and I draw close to Him, take me from his presence.  Preserve me.  God controls the access that Satan has to each of us – Job 1:12)

For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.  (This is an acknowledgement that God is the sovereign, infallible, almighty, holy ruler over all creation -Heaven and Earth – from before time began and for all eternity.  God created us, we did not create God.  The creation does not question or dictate to the creator. The creation does not put the creator on trial and judge His Word, His plan, or His actions.  I recgonize that all the glory in everything good I do is His, and I recognize that apart from the LORD no one is capable of doing anything truly good or righteous.)

In Jesus Christ’s name  – Jesus said: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  (This does not mean that if we throw this tag line on the end of our prayers that they will be answered.  This means that the things we pray for in Jesus’ name, meaning, the things we pray for that are for Jesus’ cause, or for Jesus’ purpose, for the furthering of His kingdom, and furthering of His name…those prayers shall be answered.  All of our prayers should be in Jesus name, meaning, everything we ask for should be for the purpose of glorifying Christ’s name and advancing His kingdom. The desire of the heart of one who is a living sacrifice for Christ, is to serve, and glorify the Lord, and to see God’s will fulfilled. If the desire of our prayers is to see the LORD’s will fulfilled, we will see our prayers answered 100% of the time. And finally, we are to pray directly to the Father, and no one else, in Jesus’ name. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5 “…there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There is no need for any other mediator.)

Amen (Truly…So be it.)

Fallin’

As a means to demonstrate the riches of His love and mercy to me, the LORD recently permitted the devil to extend his hand to tempt me.  I found myself confronted with an old familiar foe.  As Jesus, starving in the desert, demonstrated by rejecting the devil’s temptation of a loaf of bread, sin on its surface does not always appear a bad thing.  Sometimes on the surface the devil, in his powers of deceit, makes sin appear not only enticing, but healthy, as if it is something for our good.  However, when anything comes with the devil’s temptation, or leads to a dark place, it becomes deadly.  By the intercession of the Holy Spirit we receive the discernment of good and evil, and I recognized the devil at work deep in the chambers of my mind.  Fearing my flesh is weak, and knowing my thoughts were betraying me, I turned faithfully to the LORD and cried out in prayer.  I pleaded He deliver me from this temptation and that He keep me far from the evil one.  

This experience is so well represented by Trip Lee in one of my favorite songs, “Fallin'”

In a demonstration of His awesomeness, later the very same day, the LORD brought about events that caused this temptation to turn and flee from me. This was not by any work of my own, as I failed in mustering the strength to make war with this sin.  This was His answer to my prayer.  It was amazing to watch the hand of the LORD at work in my life as the Spirit delivered me from the old familiar snare…just as the Word tells us He will.  It was something spectacularly touching for my heart to witness, and I pray you will experience and recognize the same loving acts of the LORD in your own walk.  

Being reborn, does not mean we are now perfect.  All Christians still struggle with sin, but we no longer have to face temptation alone.  We must recognize our fallen nature and our inability to live righteously apart from the Lord.  It is by vain conceit we are deceived in thinking we can overcome sin and wickedness on our own.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).  The Lord loves when we raise our struggles in prayer.  He longs for us to come to Him with a broken spirit and place our dependence on Him.  When we do this, He will deliver us from evil, for He is a God of tremendous love and great mercy!  And, when we do fail, if we turn to Him in true repentance, acknowledging our need for his guidance over our life, He is quick to forgive.  May the Lord bless you, and keep, you and hold you in the palm of His hand…far from the temptations of the evil one.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No Temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.