Heart Guard

Philippians 4: 6 – 7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I was talking about this verse in the context of healing with my friend Charity who is also a minister (www.glorywaves.org). I exclaimed, “How is this not a health verse?” She responded that of course it is since the majority of our illnesses arise from stress. Stress is a killer and is not how we are supposed to live before God. What we fail to understand is that stress is not an emotion. It is a condition. When we place our bodies under stress, it responds. We are also learning that when we stress ourselves emotionally, whether that just be traffic frustration, getting in a hurry, or really any discomfort or departure from peace, our bodies actually respond. I just was on a call recently where the speaker said that even our cell walls respond to stress as the cells try to protect us.

If you look at this verse again, I think you see the interesting synergy between anxiety and peace. We also need to understand that we are not speaking of clinical anxiety here. This is plain, old, garden variety anxiety. You know that feeling inside of you when you’re running late? It’s that kind of thing and what we are learning is that it is toxic to the body. When we give our anxiety to the Father, He restores us to peace and in that peaceful environment is where our cells get to perform their primary functions.

1 Peter 5: 7 says it so precisely, “Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.” Father God wants you to cast all your anxiety onto His shoulders because He doesn’t want you to carry those bad feelings and because He knows that they stress your body causing sickness and disease.

However, let’s take this one step further. Throughout this series we have learned that part of our healing is in learning to slow down and hear God speak to us. Okay, when you are under time stress or any other type of stress, you do not hear God as well as when you are in a state of peace. Believe me! I still make this mistake routinely. However, I am learning that when I have lost that peaceful feeling, you know, that kind you get at church when the Holy Spirit is flowing through the sanctuary, when I have lost that good feeling I need to stop whatever I am doing and just take a couple of deep breaths, really deep breaths, the kind that make your abdomen move. Then, in that moment we should redirect our focus. Put our eyes back on Jesus and then ask him to help us with whatever we are working on at the moment. Do that again when you move to the next task. I know for myself that I feel better, am kinder and get more done when I follow this pattern. We are all better, and more effective, when connected to God and we all need the peace which surpasses understanding. It is health to our bones and to our hearts. Give away all your stress to the Father today. Be intentional about abiding in peace. It’s God’s good grace for you.

Joyful Medicine

Proverb 17:22

A joyful heart is good medicine.

I was watching a movie over the weekend and noticing that the lead actor had a propensity towards smiling. It put me in remembrance of another movie I watched where the male lead seemed to struggle to smile. Just watching the movie, I didn’t like that guy. It turns out that a joyful heart is good medicine to those around you as well as doing amazing things for your health.

You have heard that smiling and laughter, especially belly laughter aids health. As I have grown and watched people, I have learned a bit about our emotional content and our health. Because of what I have learned, I try to remain at peace. It isn’t always easy to do, is it? Do you know this verse, Romans 12: 8,As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone.” That is not just spiritual advice, it is health advice.

Do you know someone who always seems to be embroiled in some kind of mess? Or someone who seems angry all the time? Maybe you know someone who is gruff. They are doing themselves harm. God gave Paul this message about remaining at peace. At the time Paul received this “Word” from the Lord, he may not even have known the full purpose of it, but this I have learned. Being upset or angry is damaging to your body systems. I believe a person can do serious damage to their heart with these destructive emotions. We know that negative emotions inhibit digestion preventing the body from even nourishing itself.

We’ve all been through a couple of tough years. People have carried more stress, worry and anger than is healthy. Meanwhile, gyms were not always available to work off those toxic emotions. Now is a good time to do some healing. You need to work through your emotions with the Father. Talk with Him about the things that have upset you. Release those emotions to Him and ask Him to restore your joy. Meditate on Jesus. Imagine seeing Jesus face to face. How would you feel if you looked into his eyes? Push away all the bad emotions because, believe me, they are killing us. Let God’s love pour over you like warm honey. Find your seed of happiness and water it. And, can I say, turn off the stressful movies for a couple of weeks and find some that make you laugh out loud? It is healing and brother, we all need some healing. Let joy and laughter be your medicine. Take at least twice a day.

Perfect Peace

John 16: 33           Amplified Bible

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world, [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you].

You are not alone because Jesus is with you and because He is with you, you can have supreme confidence and assurance that the world has no power over you. Jesus has defeated the power of the world and taken away any and all power that it had over you. Jesus has overcome the power of the devil and His ability to harm you.

Jesus tells us that the world has trials, tribulation, etc. but that we are not to be discouraged by the problems of the world because he has already defeated them for us. We are not of the world (John 17: 14) so we don’t have to partake of the world’s trouble. We are of Jesus, so we partake in His perfect peace. He says, “Be of good cheer.” In other words, cheer up. “Don’t worry; be happy” like the song says.

Here is the long and short of it. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10: 10). He is going to try to spread strife, destruction, anguish and every other sort of torment. But the thing is, we do not have to participate in all that. Jesus defeated Satan and all his schemes for us. The people in the world just have to fight through all of that the best way they can. You do not. One truly great thing about being a Christian is that all that junk has already been conquered for us. I am not saying that Satan won’t try to get at you, but you don’t have to succumb to his shenanigans. You really don’t even have to fight him because he is already a defeated foe. You do, however, need to start understanding your victory in Jesus so that you don’t allow the devil to deceive you into thinking that you are fair game for him. You have been purchased by the blood of Jesus and have the victory over every scheme of the devil and all the suffering of this world. So, the next time the devil tries to attack you or the distress of this world starts to get to you, remind yourself that you are not of this world and its problems but rather that Jesus has purchased you out of the world and given you victory over all of its problems. Reach out with your heart to the comfort of Jesus.

Anxiety Free

Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

This is a familiar verse but one that is so very important that I am happy to have us look at it routinely. Any time we feel anxiety, it is a clear sign that we need to stop and counsel with the Father. We should not live with that anxiety. We must find our way back to peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Because we are in him, we should be in peace. That makes sense, right? So, how do we live in peace continually? How do we rid ourselves of anxiety, especially in these very anxious times?

I usually look at this verse in its conjunctive construction. In other words, there are two related thoughts joined together by the word “but.” Now, we know the word “but” signifies contrast. So, the ideas are related but more like antonyms than synonyms. Add the word “rather” and that becomes clearer. Or, “Instead of being anxious, through prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. This shows the contrasting behavior which is called for by this verse. The verse isn’t just about feelings or emotions. It shows a behavioral pattern. Instead of being anxious, DO this. When you do feel anxious, DO this.

The great revelation of this verse shows that it is by praying about everything, submitting to God in confidence, and giving thanks that we both cure and avoid anxiety. When one constantly takes their thoughts and concerns to the Father, there is less opportunity to anxiety to grip the heart. Father, instills us with confident assurance as we commune with Him. We just need to get much better at chatting with Him. And, I use the word “chat” to indicate the informality that can benefit us all. I am not trying to suggest that formal prayer does not have its place, only that if we are going to be in constant communion with our Father, then we must develop a daily voice. When the verse says, “in everything” it means that we pray at all times, pray without ceasing. In order to do that, you must learn to communicate with the Father in a normal way.

One will see that when we are in routine, daily communication with the Father of our hearts, then, of course, anxiety must flee. How can one be with the Father, truly with the Father, and at the same time anxious? So, we have come full circle. When anxiety does strike, we know that is a sign that we need to run into the Father’s presence. Subsequently, when we are in the Father’s presence there is peace. Life intervenes and the world brings trouble to our doorstep but pursue the Father and His peace relentlessly. Let the peace of the Lord be your habitation.

Peace and Happiness

Proverb 3: 13 – 18

Blessed is a person who finds wisdom, and one who obtains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver, and her produce better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are those who hold on to her.

Discussing Proverbs Monday with a friend of mine, I confessed that the hardest part is choosing which verse to select. Today’s proverb is an excellent example of that challenge. May I make a suggestion early in this Proverb Monday journey. Perhaps take the rest of the week to read the entire proverb. I am sure you will be very blessed. Then, maybe, on Sunday, reread the Word of the Day from that week. You are sure to glean some amazing truths from this exercise. So, what would that look like again? On Monday, read the Word of the Day’s Monday proverb. Throughout the rest of the week, read that proverb in its entirety. Then on Sunday, reread the Word of the Day. By Sunday you will see much more than you did on Monday when you first read it. Secondly, you will prime yourself for the proverb you will receive the next day.

I only wish to make one observation from today’s proverb and a couple of quick highlights. First, note that Wisdom is referred to with a feminine pronoun. Why is that? Is Wisdom a spirit of God? Is Wisdom a spiritual entity? Just things to ponder or journal.

And the highlights, verse 18 reveals wisdom as a tree of life. That would seem to be a huge revelation. Peace and happiness are with her so let us tenaciously seek wisdom.

Super Love

1 Corinthians 13: 6-7

(Love) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Speaking of love . . .. Last week I wrote on verses four and five. They set a very high standard for what love is and what love does. These two verses are no less challenging. This is precisely why we must live intertwined with God. I cannot walk this standard of a love walk in my own strength. I am too weak, too petty and too self-interested. I don’t know how I can live this passage but by the grace, and the power of our Lord. He has to be alive and vibrant within me. I have to live such that his life and mine are stitched together. It is his life within me that allows me to endure anything, much less all things. How can hope prevail in any of our lives but by the glorious grace and benevolent affection of our Lord.

Those without his life within are without hope and without the strength to endure. We must show them the love of God which includes patient tolerance. Those of us with God know these past 12 months have proved a challenge but those who don’t have His love intermeshed through every tendril of their lives didn’t stand a chance. Their hearts and spirits have been stretched beyond their limits and they don’t know what to do. We all try to adapt but let’s be honest, this has not been an adaptive situation. It has been a time of wrenching change and we shall never again fit back into the same form from which we came. People have thought they were rolling with the punches only to find out they were more like a rubber band which has finally been stretched beyond its capacity and has snapped.

It is incumbent upon us to be the ambassadors of love in a very troubled world. I know that sounds like a hokey oversimplification or trite maxim, but I believe it not to be. And, as I have tried to encourage before, we are the people who must be the leaders. You there, sitting at home, still in your pajamas, you really are the leader the world is starving for. No one else is going to see your grocery store clerk or hair stylist. No one else is going to talk to your friends and neighbors. No one else can reach them with the love of God.

We must follow after righteousness and truth. That is an absolute. We are not given the liberty to favor a position which suits our needs unless it comports with absolute truth and righteousness. We must be beacons of truth because our Lord is the truth. This beginning point must be the standard which we, not only carry proudly, but which we resolutely hammer into the ground marking our terrain. It is the flag standard under which we stand. From this position we forge on, loving the unlovely. Not only do we provide an example to hurting people, but we give them that which is God’s very essence, love. It is love which we and they need. We can do without food for a bit, water for a little but the lack of those can only kill the flesh. The spirit needs love and what we are seeing is people dying for lack of sustenance for their inner man.

Each one of us, yes us, must keep enduring and hoping. We must keep standing for truth and waving our banner. We cannot be spreaders of anything less than the love of God. Dissention, negativity, gossip must be arrested as we are called to spread the Good News which is that God loves each and every one of us. Love is a high requirement of the life of Christ. It is our duty, though, to let that love wash over us and through us. Christ is what love gave the world so that love could live in this earth through His beloved. That is you, the beloved of God, His prized ones, His chosen. Let His love transform your life and buoy you during these turbulent times and may that love that He shines on you be a sign to all who see you that, God is love!

Peace, Peace

Isaiah 32: 17

And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.

“Peace, peace to my people, their inheritance is peace.” These are the words of the Lord I hear ringing in my ears. We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and in making that substitutionary sacrifice for us, Jesus bought us peace. We are to enjoy quiet peace in the confidence of his grant. He even said he was leaving his own peace here for us, a peace which defies understanding and which is far beyond what the world offers.

Our peace has been disrupted over the last year, but have it known that peace in our inheritance and our right. I know you have been stressed over the last year. Everything seems turned upside down. Today, let your heart find the peace that Jesus, and our Father, promised you.

Confidence in Jesus means that we can do all that needs doing in complete peace. We need not strain or stress because his power and victory are enough to meet every need. It is only because of a lack of faith that we labor to gain that which we desire. In our faith, we can pray and commune with the divine trinity and they will send a heavenly host to accomplish their purposes for us.

Peace, my children, peace. Be calm. Enter into the Father’s rest for the scripture says that is where labor is to be spent, entering into His rest. The NIV Bible says, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11). Therefore, be at peace and demand peace. Be the spreader of peace, not unrest. Let all those who call upon the name of Jesus as their Lord insist upon peace, tranquility, faith and confidence in our Lord. And, be blessed in the name of our Lord Jesus. May his peace be with you.