- ReadPeaceIt's unmistakable because it's unbelievable
For me, one of the most difficult commands of Jesus is "do not worry." Taken at a surface level, it's no better than the friend who says "just forget about it, don't let it bother you!" after revealing to her my anxieties. Have you been there?
Thankfully, Paul offers a deeper understanding of Jesus' command in Philippians 4. "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Jesus doesn't want us to "just forget about it" he want's us to offer the burden to him. And Paul reminds us that thankfulness can erase any anxiety. And the result? "... the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
God's peace is unmistakable because it's unbelievable. We can search for peace and even attempt to manufacture peace with treaties, contracts, and the occasional bribery of ice cream (am I right parents?)
But that peace which flows from God's heart is not like any of those. The peace that God offers is not of this world but of His kingdom. It's not temporary lack of conflict, it's the eternal presence of joy. It's unbelievable and as a result its unmistakable.
Talk of discernment and church affiliation has stressed you out. It's bringing you anxiety and heartache. Personally, I am losing sleep over it. As we come to the end of our discernment time we need a reset with God's unmistakable and unbelievable peace.
He offers it freely, so pray for it and He will answer. And while you're at it, pray that your neighbor and your enemy might receive the peace of God this week too.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."
- ReadWith GraceIt's His to give and yours to share.
Whatever God leads us to at the end of this discernment time, we must handle ourselves with love and grace towards all.
We've been studying Matthew 5:43-48 for the past couple of weeks in Bible Study (you're invited on Wednesdays at 5:30p!) In verse 48, Jesus says, "You must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect."
"God makes it rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Mt 5:45), setting for us the example of His love - it's not directed only at your own groups - "those who love you" (5:46) or "your brothers and sisters" (5:47). It's broad and encompassing and includes your "enemy... the tax collector... and the gentile" (good thing because we're all of the latter!)
And because he loves you, so we love all. That's the beauty of His grace - He offers it freely to you so you can do the same unto others.
It's His to give and yours to share.
Let's all pray this week to be graceful and charitable to all persons on every side of this issue. That includes our neighbor and our enemy.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
1 John 4:10-12
- ReadWhat are you for?
It's good to know what you're against and where you draw lines. It's better to know what you are for and how to cross them.
What do you stand for? What are the positive values in your life? What positive values are important in discerning our church's next season of life? Do we want to be known as a church who is "for" or who is "against"?
If you have a conviction about what you are for, then take time this week to pray like this: Pray that God reveals whether that conviction is from himself or not. If it's not, pray that he transforms your heart and mind. If it is, give him thanks! When you're done praying, take action and do something that tangibly reinforces that positive value you are for.
If you aren't sure what you are for, take time to pray like this: Pray that God would impress upon you what's most important to you in life. Pray that he gives you blessed assurance (it's a gift of God)! And if he makes that most important value known to you, then take action and tell someone about it!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.