Peace with God

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you think of when you think of justification through Christ? Do you think of how your sins have been forgiven? They have (Colossians 1:14). Do you think of how you are now lead by Jesus who is your Lord? You are (John 10:27). Do you think of how you’ve now put off your old self and put on an entirely new self? You have (Colossians 3:9). You’re a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). One thing many of us fail to think about, however, is that we have peace with God through Jesus. Oh, I’m not talking about how we’re a little more settled and a little less high strung now. Those things are true too. But, we were once the enemies of God (James 4:4) and now we are at peace with Him.

This word, “peace”, it carries with it so many thoughts, so many feelings, so much nuance. We use it in so many contexts to mean so many things. But this word, this εἰρήνην in the original language, it does not simply mean that we have an absence of anxiety. It means we have an absence of war. Jesus ushered in the treaty when He died on that cross and rose again. He allowed us to walk up to the table with God and sign the agreement, if we so choose, to be at peace. To be God’s ally. It’s then that we find rest and “peace” with all those other connotations.

As followers of Christ, we’ve now been adopted into the very family of God (John 1:12). We’re no longer strangers who battle against our Creator, but children who can communicate with our daddy. We’re not enemy combatants, constantly worried about fighting the adversary that can’t be defeated. Now, we’re on God’s side and He’s on ours. It’s because of Jesus. Because He justified us with His blood, we are given this opportunity. Because of Him, we can lay down our arms and cross over to the other side. And there we find peace.

God Helps Those…

overcastJohn 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

One of the most often quoted theological statements is “God helps those who help themselves”. The troubling thing about basing one’s view of God on this idea is that it’s just not biblical (The statement itself is most often attributed to Benjamin Franklin). One of the main themes of the Bible is that man is incapable of helping himself. Apart from God we are depraved, unable to life ourselves out of the pit that sin has led us to. We cannot help ourselves.

But God, in His sovereignty, chooses to help us anyway. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). In other words, He helped us though we were not helping ourselves. Even if we tried to gain some ground without God, our best efforts are useless (Isaiah 64:6). Our Lord knew we would be helpless. His plan is to be our refuge, our shelter (Isaiah 25:4), our comforter (John 14:16), our advocate (1 John 2:1). The list goes on. Why would God have such descriptive names of one who defends and provides for the helpless if we were able to doing anything for ourselves?

Secular theology may find it reasonable to accept that we must do something to earn God’s favor, but to the Christian it’s irreconcilable with The Word. God helps those who cannot help themselves. Find rest in that. Live with that hope.

He will heal your broken heart

despairPsalm 147:3-5 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably gone through some things that made you doubt that even God could bring you up from the mess you were in. Some pain is so bad it seems like there’s no way out, some problems are so heavy they feel like they’ll never end. But God is good, all the time.

There’s no problem too big for Him to deal with on your behalf, but you’ve heard that before. Let’s not focus on that part. It’s a truth that we can know in our heads and ignore in our hearts when we’re in the midst of dark times. Let’s not focus on how He’s able. Let’s focus on how He’s willing. He cares. The Creator of all things WANTS to heal your broken heart. He WANTS to rescue you out of the abyss. It’s not just that He can, but that He will.

Do you believe that? It’s not that comforting to just have a head knowledge that God is powerful. It’s tremendously comforting, though, to remember that He’s caring and that He loves you. Though He knows every star and gives them each their own unique name, He is willing and able to take care of you, no matter how big or small the problem. No corner is too dark for Him to come into. No cavern is too deep. He’s here, He’s with you, and He’ll never leave you.

If God is for us, why be afraid?

Romans 8:31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

 

Have you ever been so afraid of something that it paralyzed you?  I mean like so scared that you couldn’t even do your normal daily activities because you feared something about the future. Has that ever been you? Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t, but the fact is we’ve all looked forward to the future with fear at times. The unknown is one of the primary things people are afraid of.

But what if I told you that there’s never a good reason to be afraid? The same God who created all things and holds all things together is in your corner. If He’s the most powerful, and He is, if He’s good and has our best interests in mind, and He does, then what should scare us? Simply put, nothing. Nothing is bigger than our God, nothing is more powerful than Him, and there not one other person that’s completely holy and without sin or flaw. I’d say with Him on our side, we’re guaranteed victory over anything. The Apostle Paul would agree (Romans 8:37-39).

So the next time you’re worried, say these words, “If God is for me, who can be against me?” Live as though the Creator cares for you and the Savior died for you. Never doubt that the Lord has got your back.

He spares no gift

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Are you in need of convincing that God is on our side?  The One who was before all creation cared so much about you and me that He didn’t spare His own Son.  He could have.  God could have chosen to keep Jesus in heaven.  Who could have questioned Him?  He’s God!  But He sent His real Son in order to give us a chance to become sons through His sacrifice.  Does that sound like someone who isn’t going to take care of His people?

In my experience, the richness of the gospel really became real to me when I began to better understand how God adopts us as His children once we’re saved. The inheritance we receive as sons and daughters of the great I AM are innumerable and indescribable.

If He would give us the greatest gift possible to give, why would He not also give us all things through Him?  Why would He not meet our needs, not answer our prayers or not stand by us in times of trouble?  Our loving God is faithful and stands by His people.  He leads us and guides us, provides for us, prepares us and equips us.

Blessed for His glory

Ephesians 1:8-10 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God loves to bless His people.  We don’t have to do anything to earn His blessings, they’re a free gift – and that includes the gift of His Son.  Now lest you get the wrong impression that this is a prosperity gospel message, let’s point out that God loves to bless us for the purpose of His glory, not merely for our enjoyment.

He lavished His riches on us in His Son in wisdom – with insight.  He chose to reveal Himself to us in the form of Christ Jesus, making known the mystery of His will.  He planned this from eternity – it’s always been the plan. This revelation brings Him glory and fulfills His will.

It’s in Jesus that all things are united.  He’s the key.  He’s the deal.  In Him all things in heaven and on earth come together.  God’s plan in showering His blessings on us is to bring glory to Himself and to make Christ known to all. He gives us what we have that He might use us to shine His light.

Be a good friend

lightstock_160956_medium_user_3963721Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

 

 

 

 

 

Having the right friends can be a great benefit in life. They can challenge you mentally, support you emotionally, strengthen you spiritually, and otherwise just be there for you when you need them. It’s also important, though, to be a good friend as well.

We’re blessed through the friendship of others, but we’re sanctified by our friendship to them. Being on the giving end isn’t always the easy part of a relationship, but it’s the godly part. By showing interest in other people, we become more humble by thinking of ourselves less. By being a good listener we grow in wisdom. And by forgiving, we learn more about grace and the amazing gift God has given us in Christ.

We’ve all been given a unique opportunity to share Christ with others through our relationships with them. I can think of several friends I’ve had in my lifetime where I received little to nothing from them, but gave all I had. Those times could be tough, I’ll be honest. I did end up ending most of those friendships out of necessity, but I can’t say I didn’t benefit from those times I spent giving of myself, even when I knew I wouldn’t get anything in return. I didn’t know it back then, but I was learning to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. May I continue to grow spiritually through my relationships, and may you also.

Choose your friends wisely

IS4078RF-00005075-001Proverbs 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

 

When you think about keeping yourself healthy, you might not think about your friendships as part of the mix, but the Bible warns us about who we choose as friends and the effects of choosing poorly.

There are certain kinds of people that we should never surround ourselves with, and then there are kinds of people that we should absolutely spend time with. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love everyone and care for all people, but the closest of friends should be chosen wisely. Will they build you up and strengthen your faith, or will they make it harder for you to live the life God has called you to?

I’ve had times in my life when I hung out with very negative people, with very immoral people, or with very unbelieving people, and as much as I wanted to be a positive influence in their lives, they made it incredibly difficult for me to grow spiritually. By distancing myself from those friends, while still maintaining contact, I was able to get around people with whom I could have a mutually encouraging relationship.

Love all people, seek out others to care for, but choose your close friends with discernment. They’ll affect your own health.

Our great Healer

James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

How far are you willing to go for healing?  A story is told in the Bible of a man who was lowered down into the midst of a crowd by his friends so that Jesus could heal him (Mark 2:1-12).  Jesus saw the faith of the friends and not only healed the man, but forgave him of his sins.  Because of the faith of his friends!

Today’s church tends to go in one of two directions on the topic of healing.  On the one hand, some churches focus a lot on healing and most of their time is dedicated to healing services and the like.  On the other hand are churches that refuse to acknowledge such a thing as healing because of the previously mentioned group.  We should always be careful never to do more than the Bible instructs, but we should be just as cautious that we never ignore what the Bible says to do either.

Our God is a powerful God who also happens to be good.  He can heal and in many cases He does heal.  He heals not only the physical body, but the spiritual person.  We can trust Him when we bring our requests before Him.  He cares about us and loves us, He has a plan.  In all things, to God be the glory.  If He brings healing, to Him be the glory.  If He does not, to Him be the glory.

Are you believing God for a miracle?  Take a step of faith and go before the church leaders for prayer and anointing.  This brings glory and honor to God and unites the church in purpose and in prayer.  Never give up hope, our Lord is good.

Fix your mind on God

lightstock_152996_medium_user_3963721Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This is as true of the heart as it is of the mind. If we fill up our lives with the wrong stuff, there’s no more room for the right stuff.

This past week, as I was teaching the elementary school aged kids in church, I spoke on this topic. I talked about Romans 12:2 and being transformed by the renewal of your mind and how that meant that you need to spend time with God daily by reading what He has said in His Word. We talked about how we can have peace in times of fear or comfort in times of worry if we have our minds set on the Lord. Sensing that the kids were getting it, but needed a bit more, I gave an analogy.

If we were to only feed our bodies once a week, we’d be incredibly weak and may even starve. That would be nonsense, yet we do it spiritually by not spending time in the Word more than once or twice a week. How could we expect to know God’s will or to have peace when we haven’t been with the one who leads and comforts? It’s ludicrous.

The truth is, to be truly healthy mentally, we’ve got to have the right thoughts. In order to have the right thoughts, we’ve got to put the right things into our mind. We’ve got to feed our minds with the Scriptures, our spiritual food. That’s how we stay fixed on God.

Can I challenge you, if you’re not already reading the Bible daily to start with a Bible reading plan? There are some great ones available online.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known

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