Wednesday, March 01, 2006

peace at all times

May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perserverance. . . . Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. (2 Thes. 3:5; 2 Thes. 3:16)

Last weekend we talked about experiencing the peace that Jesus gives which is different from the kind of peace that the world gives. We talked about how life can go from calm to chaos in half a minute-about how one day you think things are going fine and the next day your boat is being turned upside down.

Monday was like that for me. I was proclaiming God’s peace to all who would believe on Sunday. I was waxing eloquent about how I have learned to experience God’s peace in the midst of difficulty and saying that God could even give “perfect peace” if I focused my mind on Him. Then I received “the call”. The church is out of money. No payroll. No rent. Payroll tax due. Insurance due. Offerings in sudden dramatic decline. $17,500.00 needed to pay for it all. Whoaaaaaoooooo!!!!!!!! Help Lord! I’m sinking under the waves!!!!!!

Let me tell you that Tuesday did not get any better! Talk about an opportunity to practice what I preach.

Jesus had a day like that once. In fact, it might have been His 2nd most stressful day ever.
1. He heard about the death of His friend John the Baptist.
2. He is told that Herod wants to kill Him as well.
3. His apostles return to tell Him all that they have been doing.
4. He’s faced with feeding 25,000 desperate, hungry people.
5. The realization of the cross is before Him.
6. He tries to get alone for a while and a crowd follows him.

Tough day huh?

But He is the Lord of Peace. He speaks to storms and they go away. So why doesn’t He just speak to this one? Why doesn’t He just say “peace be still” and it all disappears? Because God has designed for Him to go through these things. He is demonstrating His great ability for peace even while enduring difficult circumstances. He is showing that peace is possible in the midst of real life in real time. It is truly “peace at all times and in every way”.

God is allowing things to happen in our lives and we can view them as problems or opportunites. I am in the middle of an opportunty myself. I can worry and run scenarios in my head all day. I can fret and scheme how to fix stuff. Or I can practice what I preached this last weekend…

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7

I just adjusted my view of things again. Instead of looking down at all of my problems, I am looking up at the Lord of Peace. He is speaking to my heart. He has just sent His encouragement. My eyes are filling with tears and my heart is returning to the experience of peace. I love God in the midst of problems. He is directing my heart into Christ’s perserverance. He is the One who lifts my countenance!

And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:8-9

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way,

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