Faith Over Fear, Part 4: Let the Peace of God Rule in Your Heart

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Hey, dear readers! I am so sorry it has taken me awhile to write this. It has been a busy but enjoyable couple of weeks editing my novel for my publisher (you can check out more about that here). Check out my previous posts about being filled with the Spirit, love, and joy. This series is about how the Holy Spirit counteracts fear in our lives, which is especially applicable as we are in a global pandemic and many are afraid. The Holy Spirit also fills us with peace that overcomes fear as we trust in God, which is what I am discussing today.

Do you want more peace in your life? Is your mind scattered, disordered, or are you filled with obsessive thoughts? Do you worry a lot? Do you get anxiety or panic attacks?

Well, have no fear, my friend! Jesus doesn’t want to leave you there. He wants to lead you into perfect peace.

Peace is something we all want. This world is full of strife, bitterness, and malice, especially observed on the news lately in gruesome and unjust ways. People try to take control of their lives, which often leads to broken relationships with others and/or a fragile, anxious mind.

We don’t realize that what we are really searching for is the One who can relieve us of the burden of being in control. The One who is entirely good and knows what’s best for us. The One whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts and ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).

This good Father in heaven is a foreigner to hate, and He is the definition of Love. He so loved us that He sacrificed His perfect Son, Jesus, to make peace with human beings who otherwise could not stand before a Holy God.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” – Colossians 1:19-20

In short, the only way to find peace, both inner and outer, is to find Jesus.

“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.” Romans 5:1-2a

Dear friends, to attain true, inner peace and the ability to maintain peace with others in our lives, you need to be at peace with God through believing solely in Jesus’ work on the cross to save you.

Are you at peace with God? Have you trusted in Jesus to reconcile you with God? Have trusted in His blood, shed on the cross for you to set you in a right relationship with God?

Many people try to do good works to be at peace with God. Let me tell you what I’ve learned the hard way: this doesn’t work! Doing good things in and of themselves have nothing to do with being connected with God. Doing good things must come as an outflow of our relationship with God in order for them to be fruitful and lasting, and in order for us to experience true peace.

I used to try to be at peace with God by doing good things, and let me tell you, I ended up feeling miserable. I felt discouraged. And I actually felt disconnected with God.

The only way to be at peace with God is to trust that Jesus in and of Himself is sufficient to clear your guilt and unite you with God Himself. This means you will desire to do good and, even when you stumble and fall, you always have your Heavenly Father to come back to with total forgiveness and acceptance. He will never leave you nor forsake you! (Deut. 31:8)

Once you attain this salvation that is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you have entered God’s forever family. Jesus is the Lord and Shepherd of your life, to lead and to guide you on paths of righteousness. He absolutely knows what’s best for you, knows your future, and is taking care of you!

As a believer, our job is to trust God with every detail of our lives. To give our burdens to Him continually. To leave everything in His hands.

Beloved, if even a small discomfort makes your heart uneasy, you must bring this to your loving Father, and He will help you to trust Him with it. From then on, you must let God’s peace rule in your heart at all times. Don’t let the little things get to you–in regards to both your own anxieties as well as the irritations that others cause you. Trust in the Lord! With Jesus in charge, things are going to work out just fine. Truly!

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” – Colossians 3:15

The enemy will do anything to destroy your peace. But you must persevere in trusting Jesus. Persevere and push through the ridiculous reasons the enemy throws at you to be afraid. Even if you feel you have very real reasons to fear, the truth is your life is in the hands of God, no matter how terrible your circumstances are. You have nothing to fear, because the Lord is with you and is watching over you, day and night (Psalm 121:8).

Peace happens first in the mind, and then it affects the rest of your life. This following verse always reminds me what it looks like to be a peaceful person:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

When a person trusts in the Lord, he has a steadfast mind. This settled, unwavering mind is the mind which is at peace–not only that, but perfect peace!

I want this kind of mind! I want this kind of trust. I want to trust in the Lord no matter what, maintaining a steady mind, and a heart at total peace. No evil thing can unsettle this mind. No matter what happens, God is good. No matter where you go, God is with you. No matter what you do, God loves you.

With this great certainty that God is dependable and reliable, nothing can stop you from accomplishing all the wonderful things God has planned for your life. Nothing can stop you from reconciling with others in your life and maintaining peaceful relationships. The only thing that can stop you is yourself, refusing to trust God and to do the will of God!

I have experienced peace before: incredible peace. When I lay burdens at God’s feet, it is like a breath of fresh air. I’m not in control anymore. I never was in the first place. Now the God who knows what He’s doing is accomplishing His purpose in this hard situation. Though I can’t see what He’s doing, I know He’s working out something good for me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Sometimes the feeling of peace is so strong, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why God is so good to me, even though I don’t deserve it. I don’t know why He cares. I don’t know why He treasures me so deeply.

But He does. And He does the same for you. Press on and trust Him with every detail of your life, every worry in your heart, every burden on your back. Release it all into His hands, and watch Him move in incredible ways!

Trust in Him today, Beloved, and experience the peace that passes all understanding, which guards your heart, in Jesus’ name! Amen.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

In every situation, say “It is well with my soul,” and watch as you grow in deeper peace with God.

 

 

Faith Over Fear, Part 1: Be Filled with the Spirit!

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Hello, friends! I hope you all are doing OK with this whole quarantine going on. No, actually, I hope you all are feeling WONDER-full, amazing, and blessed by God today. Doesn’t sound like you? Well, I want to encourage you today to be filled with the Spirit, rather than be driven by fear. God is bigger than COVID-19, bigger than your anxiety, bigger than your timidity, and bigger than any burden or worry or stress you have been carrying. Be blessed today!

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? To be led by the Spirit? To not only live by the Spirit, but keep in step with the Spirit, as Paul urges us to do? (Gal. 5:25)

OK. First of all, you may be wondering what this has to do with being afraid, since the title of the post includes “Faith Over Fear.” Well, as it turns out, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

You might say, But I still feel afraid, and I am a child of God. This coronavirus gets me so anxious! Well, have no fear, my friend! If you trust in Jesus, you have full access to a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. The Holy Spirit within you is capable of boldness instead of cowardice, love instead of timidity, and a sound mind instead of unstable, scattered thoughts. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and the fears will melt away. Look to the Lord at all times in your heart, and you will remain steadfast and firm.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Ask Jesus to help you. Let “I believe; help my unbelief” be the cry of your heart if you are daily attacked by fears, doubts, and unbelief. You will soon notice a big difference and a greater degree of faith in your heart. To “have confidence” is really to be filled with faith. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with faith. This is how we we can have victory over fear in our Christian walk – to be filled with faith! And this is faith totally and completely in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. He has power over your fear, should we only trust in Him–that He is greater than any problems we face! Have faith in Him and seek Him to set you free from the bondage of fear! (Psalm 34:4)

So if to be filled with Spirit is the same as being filled with faith, how can we be filled up with the Spirit in our daily lives? Well, here is what Paul has to say about being filled with the Spirit:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 15:18-20

He tells us to “be filled” with the Spirit, instead of filling ourselves up with alcohol! This suggests that this filling is not a one time thing at the point of salvation. (I am not about getting all theological here, but I am simply expressing what the Bible is saying and how I have experienced God myself.) While you always have the Holy Spirit available to you as a child of God, you may not be totally filled with Him all the time. I know I’m not! Too often I walk in my flesh and follow the desires of my flesh. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you find yourself deeply compelled to follow God, to love others, to speak truth, and to obey Him wholeheartedly. It is a filling of faith, a filling of God Himself, and a filling of deep desire for God.

So how do we get this filling of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis? There are five ways to do that that I will talk about today:

  1. Worship and thanksgiving
  2. God’s Word
  3. Prayer
  4. Fellowship
  5. Obedience

1. Worship and thanksgiving. Scroll up a bit and take a look at Ephesians 15:18-20. One way of feeling God’s presence near to me is in worship to Him through songs or simply giving thanks to Him. Worship and thankfulness are so powerful and uplifting, feeding our souls and nourishing us. Through these things, we can become filled with the Spirit, and all fear is banished from our beings. Lifting up praise to Jesus changes things!

Have you worshiped God lately? Can you set aside time in your schedule to worship Him during this quarantine season? What about thanksgiving? Ask yourself daily: What am I thankful for? There is so much to be thankful for in Christ Jesus!

2. God’s Word. Now, how else can we be filled with faith? God’s Word! Whenever you feel doubtful or weary, get yourself in the Word of God and pour over the pages. In fact, get yourself in His Word on a daily basis no matter how you feel. There is so much to learn to bring life and refreshment to your soul! Drink it in! Let the truth instruct you and convict you. Draw near to Jesus through His life-giving Word.

Have you read the Bible lately? Can you invest more time in it during this quarantine season?

3. Prayer. Along with God’s Word, prayer is a vital tool. Pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit! Pray for more faith! Pray for more of God–more of His love, more of His joy, peace, patience, and kindness, etc. And be in prayerful dependence on God in all you do. Abide in Jesus. Any prayer can fill you with more of the Holy Spirit, no matter what you are praying about. Talk to the Father about how your day is going! Being filled with faith is all about becoming more deeply connected to God in a vibrant relationship with Him. He loves you so much and wants you to draw near to Him in deeper ways and be filled up with Him to overflowing!

Have you prayed lately? Do you pray regularly? Does your spirit “prayerfully depend” on God even if you aren’t consciously focused on God? Consider how you can grow your prayer life during this quarantine season!

4. Fellowship. Real fellowship among other believers should be encouraging, edifying and uplifting us in our walk with God. What God desires for us is to feel the Holy Spirit so present among other believers that their zeal for the Lord feeds off onto us and helps us learn to love more deeply and follow God more wholeheartedly. If you don’t have them in your life already, seek out the kinds of people who genuinely care about you and are authentically pursuing their relationship with Jesus. You will be infinitely glad you did! And if you already do have this type of fellowship–praise God! Continue in that and seek out ways you can love your brothers and sisters in Christ more sacrificially, and have more meaningful conversations about the Lord with one another that really encourage and edify one another. 

In what ways is God asking you to engage in fellowship with other believers today? This week? This quarantine season? Even in this COVID-19 season, there are many ways to connect with believers through technology and such! Don’t let fear hold you back from reaching out to someone. The Lord delights in us reaching out to Him, just as other sincere believers delight in us reaching out to them. In fact, anyone loves to be reached out to!

5. Obedience. Finally, obeying God is of utmost importance. Hearing Him and obeying Him. Take time to sit at His feet and listen to that still, small voice. What does He want from you? What is He saying? Sometimes–in fact most of the time– the answer is simple. Maybe it’s to clean your room. To love your sibling. To serve your neighbor in some way. To reach out to a friend. To open up a spiritual conversation with a non-believing classmate or coworker. Maybe it’s just to sit with Him a little while longer and receive His love for you.

Once you quiet your mind, God is only an answer away. Rest in Him. Slow your racing thoughts down. Be still, and know that He is God. Lean into that whisper. And then obey.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Oftentimes we don’t need a long period of waiting on the Lord to know what He wants for us. In-the-moment situations happen to us all the time. Like your sister interrupting you in schoolwork… or writing this blog post. What do I do? The Spirit of God in me urges me to stop what I am doing and look at her. Make eye contact. Care.

As we learn to rest in and rely on the Holy Spirit, we become quicker and quicker to knowing what God wants for us in a situation and then obeying Him. This is what it means to be “led by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14). Obey God and walk in His truth! He will bless you abundantly for it, as you do it out of love for Him, and in reliance on Him.

Walking in the Spirit is like an actor learning to play their role. The only thing is you aren’t learning to be someone else, you are learning to be yourself! Your true self–who you really are in Christ Jesus. You are special to Him!

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

You are chosen! You are royal! You are holy! You are God’s own possession! Because you trust in Jesus to have the victory over sin and death in your life, you now live by the Spirit. Now keep in step with the Spirit, follow God’s guidance each day. Be led by the Spirit–listen to Him! Tune into God’s voice and be in touch with Him every day.

As you do so, your life will be blessed, your mind at peace, and fears dissipated. Be filled with the Spirit, so your faith will triumph over your fear! Stand firm in Him against any fear that does come at you, using the shield of faith to protect you from the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:16)!

Let this reassure your heart today, Beloved! You are SO loved, valued, and precious to God. Nothing can separate you from His love. In fact, His love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)! And His love is what my next post will be about, as I continue in my series “Faith Over Fear” and discuss how the fruits of the Spirit counteract the fear in our lives.

Have a truly blessed, Spirit-filled day!

 

A Message to Those Who Have Been Hurt by the Church

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Dear friends,
I’m sorry for the Christians who didn’t love you,
For the Christians who followed a Jesus who
Didn’t eat with sinners
Or shunned the ones who didn’t have it all together.

I’m sorry for the Christians
Who created an atmosphere of fear
Where you had to wear a mask or try to be someone you weren’t,
When deep inside,
You were filled with hurt.

I’m sorry for the Christians
Who didn’t know what grace was,
Who thought they had to convince you to join their side
With hate when the truth is only found in love.

I’m so sorry you were hurt
By those Christians–
those imperfect persons
Who failed to show you who God really is.

Dear friends,
I hope you find who Jesus really is;
A person who lavishes love on you
No matter what you did–
A love so genuine and beautiful that it doesn’t make sense.

I hope you discover that a life with Him
Is like living in an atmosphere of grace,
Where you don’t have to pretend to be anything but who you really are;
And when you show Him your hurt,
He can heal your scars.

I hope you rejoice
In the grace He pours out on you,
And find that the truth only comes
When you turn from the hate and walk in His love.

Dear friend,
I hope you find safety in God’s embrace,
And find the courage to embrace
Every imperfect person,
Including myself–
And that, together, we can learn to show the world
Who God really is.

 

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 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.” – 1 John 4:9-11

 

 

An Eternal Romance

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“Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.” — Psalm 146:3

People often talk about marriage as if that is the highest goal in life. As if once you are joined with another soul you are finally complete. As if trusting fully in another person is the greatest thing to pursue.

A few weeks ago, I went to a conference that radically challenged me in my view of marriage and God. Do I truly believe my relationship with Him is the most beautiful, satisfying relationship that exists?

Do you?

While many of us may theoretically believe this, I don’t think most of us believe it so completely that it transforms our everyday lives.

Below is a common passage about marriage and our relationship with God:

“’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:31-32

I used to think—oh, come on Paul! Why do you have to talk about Jesus right now, all I want to know is how on earth should married people behave!

Well, I’ve come to realize that Paul is making a crucial point. The relationship between husband and wife is merely a reflection of the greater reality—Christ and the church. That means that Christ and the church are united as one flesh, just as the Father and Son are one. When you believe in Jesus, you have entered into an eternal covenant with Him, and one day you and I will dine at the wedding feast with our dear Bridegroom, the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sins of the world!

Our relationship with God is certainly not like earthly romance. No, it’s even better (I’m not kidding). It’s an eternal romance, more satisfying than any other relationship we will ever experience.

And the best part is? Eternity starts now.

While our culture glorifies passion, sex, and romance, what we are really longing for is God Himself. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Every time a man knocks on a brothel door, he is really searching for God.”

We shouldn’t waste our time putting our trust in earthly princes or princesses. Human beings cannot save. They can’t save us from our loneliness. They can’t save us from our aching hearts. They can’t save us from our need to feel loved.

Really, truly, absolutely. God can fill this hole inside our hearts, and He will if we simply let Him. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Despite all the hype about marriage, there isn’t any marriage in heaven, as Jesus said:

“At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” – Matthew 22:30

Marriage won’t matter after we die, so why are we spending our whole lives planning the day we trust in a spouse rather than right now choosing to trust in our Eternal King?

The relationship between husband and wife is a beautiful sacrament that reminds us of how beautiful the day will be when we meet Jesus face to face. It is good and honorable to marry, but just the same it is good and honorable to love others. Love friends, love family, love strangers, love God. All of this reflects the love of God, just as marriage does.

Whether or not you’re married or you will one day married, please, right now, make much of Christ. Make much of your romance with Him and less of your romance with people. Make much of your purity in Him and less of your passion with other people. Make much of your hopes in Him and less of your hopes in human beings who fail to satisfy.

Because He’s worth it. I can’t promise you anything, but He can promise you everything, and He does, over and over again in His word.

I read Psalm 146:3 last night, letting it sink into me as I turned my affections completely to Christ. When I read further, I grew more in awe of the God who is nowhere near to being a frail human incapable of saving us. He is the God who saves:

“Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.” Psalm 146:3-10

The Lord reigns forever; human beings do not. Who are you entrusting with the happiness of your soul? Only God can bear the weight of it, and fill your heart with total comfort.

My favorite song at the conference completely sums up what I learned there. After vainly striving after the things of this world, I always find my rest in God, because “to be with Him” is where I truly belong.

A Reblog by Seeing Everything else- Warning: Church Kids

“Christianity isn’t something you catch, because Christianity isn’t a thing. It’s a relationship.” Wow, so true! Something we all need to be reminded of. 🙂

 

 

WARNING: Church kids, you may be in grave danger. In fact, if you were raised in a Christian family, if you were always taken to church, or even if you were homeschooled all your life; your risk for this calamity is exponentially greater. Because you may have bought into the Idea. That perverse, wrong, dangerous idea that […]

 

via Warning: Church Kids — Seeing Everything Else