Peace and Contentment

Who today, can write of peace and contentment, first-hand?
This post was meant for the series Contentment and was the most difficult of all, so it did not make it in that series. However, we thought it would fit well as a chapter in Beyond a Mere Christianity. In seeking to share what I know, and what I have discovered from God’s Word, this may have been the one I needed the most. It is one thing to write what I have learned, second-hand, but quite different to share it from experience. I wanted to do more with this post. I do not do the subject of peace justice. Except I write a book, I cannot cover it all. So I pray the Lord’s blessings for what we offer here.

I know the peace that is “the fruit of the Spirit” of God (Galatians 5:22). I can share no other peace than what God has given me through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). It has been tried and I have many times been lacking; not because I do not have peace, but because it is not a natural trait. It will always be tested while we live in the midst of chaos.

Here, we will pose some questions and attempt to answer from the Word of the Lord.

How do peace and contentment relate to each other? There is no Biblical reference that combines these two. Since we have written many other posts on contentment, we will document what we know of peace, seeing that the two are similar, understanding that one compliments the other. If we have the peace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, we will be content in His peace.

The Source of Peace
The question is not, “what” but “where and who is the source of peace?” Peace comes from the Lord, our God, who originally created all things for peace in His kingdom.

He is still the source and the giver of His peace.

“The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:26

“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

We are “led forth with peace.” Isaiah 55:12

He has “made a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant with His people.” Ezekiel 37:26

“He keeps in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on Him and trusts in Him.” Isaiah 26:3

“Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. Isaiah 26:12

He promises His people a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; Isaiah 32:18

Peace is associated with His light. Isaiah 45:7

He creates “the fruit of the lips; ‘Peace.’” Isaiah 57:19

He extends peace to His people “like a river,” Isaiah 66:12

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

He reveals his “abundance of peace and truth.” Jeremiah 33:6

HE IS THE GOD OF PEACE   

 “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”  1 Corinthians 14:33

 In letters to the early churches, the apostle Paul included greetings from the God of peace Romans 15:33, Romans 16:20, 2 Thessalonians 3:16

He is “the God of hope that fills believers with joy and peace.” Romans 15:13

As the God of peace, He established the everlasting covenant through Christ. Hebrews 13:20 and sanctifies and preserves His people until Christ returns. 1 Thessalonians 5:23

PEACE OF GOD
The peace of God “rules in our hearts,” Colossians 3:15

 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 PEACE FROM GOD
Paul spoke of “grace and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ to the saints and brethren“ in Romans 1:7, Colossians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3.

John spoke of “grace, mercy, and peace, in truth and love.” 2 John 1:3

PEACE WITH GOD
There is only one reference to peace with God, which comes by faith, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE
There are many references that associate peace with righteousness.

The most familiar may be Romans 14:17

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

The Psalmist speaks of peace that comes by righteousness. Psalm 72:3

“Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10

“the righteous flourish; with abundance of peace.” Psalm 72:7

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Isaiah 32:17

 And “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:18

Hebrews 12:11 says that “chastening yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Paul instructs Timothy to “follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22

WISDOM AND PEACE
Peace is the result of wisdom.

“For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” Proverbs 3:2

“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:17

The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, James 3:17

GOSPEL OF PEACE
Paul speaks of “our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15 and “the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace! Romans 10:15

GOD’S LAW AND PEACE
Those who love God’s law have “great peace: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165

Great peace comes from the Lord as we are taught by Him. Isaiah 54:13

Gracious Father of grace and peace, we thank you for giving us your Son that we may be brought to you in His peace; that we may live in peace with you and Him through the power of your Holy Spirit. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may live in this peace, content with whatever you have chosen for us as you prepare us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Related Artice: The Peace of Christ at Christmas
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The Stress-Taker (Part 2)

(The following was somehow deleted from my last post.  So, I add it here as a second part.)

I have been asked during these last traumatic years how I handle the stress. Unless there is time for a broad explanation, I simply say what I continue to say every day ~ “The Lord is good.” But that is an overall statement that only reveals the surface of who He is and does in His goodness. The root of His goodness is hidden in His Word, and through its fruit and seed, planted in the mind and heart of His children.

As a child, Sunday School was not a regular attendance for our family, but Vacation Bible School was a big deal for me. I loved memorization; I still do, along with meditation and prayer. I don’t remember any of the fun we may have had with activities, cookies and Kool-Aid, but I remember the memory cards that were treasures to me. While I can’t recall all the verses I learned, one has stayed in my thoughts, rooted in my heart and borne fruit over the years. I do not remember the lessons connected to the Scriptures, but God’s Word proves true by itself. It is alive and powerful and produces His life in those to whom He gives it. If I had no other of the seed of His Word, it would have been enough. He has planted much more, but this one has borne its fruit many times over.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I did not understand these words as a child. If I had, life would have been much easier; I would have made different choices and I may not have suffered all the stress and caused the stress that I did. Believing that our heavenly Father is a sovereign God who planned all things for us and brings us by His own power to do His will, I live today as witness of His grace and goodness; His producing the fruit of His own Word from the seed He plants.

As a child, I was open to His Word, desiring to please Him, but the stress-makers of this world had their part in shaping my life to sin and rebellion against Him. Nevertheless, in His sovereignty and providence He has proven the power of His Word over my nature of sin. He has brought me through many trials and temptations, failures and mistakes, losses and traumas by His victorious truths and promises. When I stumble still, He is always there to raise me up and keep me, reminding me of His grace and power to take whatever is laid upon me and to give it to Him. He enables me to cast my burdens upon Him. His grace is sufficient, His strength in my weakness, so that I can be content even in my infirmities (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Dear Father in heaven, continue to draw us to Christ through the power of your Word and Spirit. Write your words on our minds and in our hearts and activate them in those times you have chosen, to prove your love and your great and precious promises. Enable us to abide in you and your Word to abide in us, to know your presence at all times. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

The Stress-Taker

There are many stress-makers in the world, but only one Stress-Taker.

As with most people, stress was an integral part of my life as a child and into my young married life. But, at a very young age, I was given the knowledge of how to handle the stress that comes from this world. At the time, I did not realize what God had given me, so, could not use this knowledge. He gives the gift and treasure from His heart to ours. It starts in the mind and takes root in the heart as He nurtures the seed of His Word in us. Even before He gave me a new heart and a new spirit for a new spiritual birth, the seed of life was doing its work. Humbling and preparing a fertile heart for His Word to take root was His continual work.

Words from Many Sources
Words from any source can fill a void and produce the fruit thereof. Much more so, the Word of God is the most powerful to do its transforming work in the mind and heart of man. Never underestimate the work of God’s Spirit to bring forth the fruit of His Word when we spend time with Him in His Word; when we teach our children the rudiments of true life that are recorded there.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

The child may be a senior citizen before the Lord brings the fruit of the seed He plants in his heart.

Continuing in His Word
Over the years, the Lord has written more of His Word in my mind and my heart, but the ones I remember from so long ago are preeminent in my thinking and in my life.

Psalm 23 and Psalm 100 were two that I have treasured since childhood ~ more precious and more powerful now than ever.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 100 is one of our album of Scripture Tunes, and helpful to teach young children to remember this Psalm. We are working with a musician to record accompaniments for these.

In the meantime, here is Psalm 100, vocal without accompaniment.

Are you a stress-maker or do you point others to the Stress-Taker, our Lord Jesus Christ?

Dear Heavenly Father, how blessed we are as your children, for you to train us in your Word to know you, love you, trust you and obey you. Thank you for loving us, for adopting us as your own; planting your seed, watering and bringing forth the fruit of your own work in us. Teach us to lay all the world’s ills and our concerns at the feet of Jesus our Lord and in so doing, witness to others of His love and care for us, always ready to share your Word of life with them. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

One Month to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words

For the past three weeks I have been processing for publication the first book I wrote twenty-two years ago. Two years before, in 1994, I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with my father. It was this time of year, last of August and first of September, that we learned he had esophageal cancer.

“He can go at any time, and I would not count on more than a month.”

I documented in a desk-top publication for family and close friends what was evidenced as the Lord’s presence during his last three weeks. There were no computers for consumers then, so I typed what was still fresh in my mind and heart; cut and pasted every page and took the little book to a printer. It was simply titled, Daddy.

During this formatting, which our granddaughter Kourtney retyped for me a few years ago, it seems I have relived this event that was a turning point in my life; at least one of the great ones. My dad “rested in the Lord” on Labor Day, after eighty-five years of struggle for peace.

Even so, those years were fruitful as he worked hard and long hours to find his place in the world. But if he could return and recount those years, he would say that he only began to live as he was dying. I witnessed it. I was there to see how God took a helpless dying man and gave him life and peace beyond understanding. It was at his bedside that I learned how to trust the only One who gives life; to live now as if living forever in the presence and power of my heavenly Father. It was there I began to learn to live my life for others. It was then that He started writing His love story on my heart and of which I continue to write. Fran

One MONTH to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words is available on Amazon.

Seeing IS Believing

God gave us eyes to see the beauty of His creation. It is easy for us to see physically and to be distracted by the things of this world; to settle for the status quo.  But to see Beyond a Mere Christianity requires three things: light, revelation, and new eyes. And these three come from God through His Son, Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.

At the foundation of the world God said, “Let there be light.” Before there was sun or moon, there was light, simply by His Word. Jesus was identified as the Light and the Word from heaven. He opened heaven for us to reveal the Father/Creator and heaven itself in Him.

All this ~ beyond this world ~ is revealed in God’s Word, the Holy Bible.

There was darkness before God said, “Let there be light.” We cannot see in the dark. So, it is with human hearts.
When speaking to Nicodemus, who came to him at night, Jesus knew His real need, and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” John 3:3

This was a reflection of Ezekiel 36:26 regarding the promise that the Lord would give His people a new heart and a new spirit; taking away the heart of stone and rebellion against Him. With the new heart and spirit come eyes of faith to see what others cannot see; to understand the things of God.

Jesus said to His disciples:

 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:17

To the religious leaders and others who heard him:

 “But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.” John 6:36

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56

 “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” John 9:39

 “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.” John 12:45

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

The eyes of faith enable us to endure through the most difficult trials. Stephen spoke of heaven opened to him in his persecution.

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55-56

“As one looks and discovers that almost everything down here is in confusion, chaos, and ruins, it seems as though Satan were getting the better of the conflict. But as one looks above, instead of around, there is plainly visible to the eye of faith a Throne, a Throne unaffected by the storms of earth, a Throne that is “set,” stable and secure; and upon it is seated One whose name is the Almighty, and who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). This then is our confidence-God is on the Throne.Though God’s governing hand is invisible to the eye of sense it is real to faith, that faith which rests with sure confidence upon His Word, and therefore is assured He cannot fail.” The Sovereignty of God ~ A. W. Pink

We find in Hebrews 11 a list of those who saw Jesus and heaven with eyes of faith; who endured to the end. And as spoken of Moses:

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

And these are the promises that the world cannot see.

 “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:17

“But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.” Romans 15:21

Paul prayed for “the eyes of understanding to be enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18).

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18

How we see determines our joy in this life.
To see Christ is to live joyfully in anticipation of eternity with Him, “even in this vale of sin, for he illumines and gives the beauty of grace, forgiveness, and hope. When the curtain of this life drops, it will rise to the sight of his loving gaze, his exalted splendor, his unending, satisfying presence.” The Lord of Glory ~ Chris Strevel

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” 1 Peter 1:8

“and we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Gracious Father in heaven, thank you for sending the Great Physician to be your light in our darkness; for birthing us into your kingdom with a new heart, spirit, eyes, and life in Him. Fill us with your Spirit of truth ~ the Spirit of Christ ~ that we may see you and live in light of your glory. This is our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

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Words of Life ~ ADD(ED)

The word ADD is used in the Christian vocabulary in a particular way, in that it refers to God’s adding, not ours.

Old Testament H3254
Defines the word ADD yacaph (yä·saf).
A primitive root; to add or augment (often adverbially to continue to do a thing):— add, X again, X any more, X cease, X come more, + conceive again, continue, exceed, X further, X gather together, get more, give moreover, X henceforth, increase (more and more), join, X longer (bring, do, make, much, put), X (the, much, yet) more (and more), proceed (further), prolong, put, be [strong-] er, X yet, yield.  All references.

 Have you ever tried a recipe or a formula in which you added or changed something? You would not expect the results to be as what you may have experienced before.

God’s commandments were given to provide His people a guide to their relationship with Him. His word was enough, with no need for them to augment

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4;2

His commandments were unsatisfactory for the people in Samuel’s day. God was not enough for them. They wanted what other nations had.

 And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” 1 Samuel 12:19

New Testament G4369
Defines the word ADD  prostithēmi (pros-tē’-thā-mē) From G4314 and G5087; to place additionally, that is, lay beside, annexrepeat:—add, again, give more, increase, lay unto, proceed further, speak to any more.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus taught that life in His kingdom meant that we trust Him for all things, to depend on and live content with what God gives. The first thing needed is to find what was lost in the beginning ~ His kingdom and His righteousness. What He adds will always fit our needs.

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Matthew 6:27

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

The same word for add is used in Luke 17:5 ~   increase our faith.

How the Lord Adds to His Church
Jesus taught then and now, through His recorded word, how the life of His followers is given and sustained. All that we have is God-given and maintained by His written and Living word within us. In the early church those “that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts 2;41  

 “Praising God, and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added 
to the church daily such as should be saved.”Acts 2:47 

Why the Law Was Added
The Commandments were added after the promise of restoration and life that would come through our relationship with Jesus Christ

 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”  Galatians 3:19  (Read Galatians 3 to get full impact of Jesus as the seed.)

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;”
2 Peter 1:5

We are instructed to add with diligence that by which we are called. (1 Peter 5:10: 2 Peter 1:3) The virtue, knowledge and subsequent attributes are those of our Lord and Savior who, by promise lives within us, by His Spirit working all God requires of us. He is all we need.

Heavenly Father, we praise you that you have brought us full circle from being a disobedient people, wanting to establish our own way of life, to experience the restoration by your grace to know you as Father, Lord, Savior and King of all life. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable unto you through your Son. We need add nothing except: In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Suggested Reading: First Things that Last Forever

Weakness and Meekness

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

When I began this article, there were seven young boys and their soccer coach still trapped in a cave in Thailand. They knew that they could not save themselves, to get through the water that had blocked their passageway. Four were brought through the waters by an international team of rescuers, but the others waited. (As we publish, all have been rescued.)

Could they have shared their thoughts as they waited, no doubt they would admit their weakness in saving themselves and their total dependence on anyone who could save them.

In our natural state, human pride pretends to be strong, rather than admit its weakness. It is in cases of despair that men will admit their weakness, and in meekness, cry out and accept help from anyone who can save them.

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

The apostle Paul followed in the footsteps of the Master as he endured the hardships of the Christian life. He admitted his weakness, but rather than let his weakness keep him from his work of the gospel, he endured in meekness as he counted that “the power of Christ rested upon him.”

As a disciple of Christ, he suffered in his “infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distress” (2 Corinthians 12:10) for the sake of Christ. If the only result of his suffering was endurance, we might not be impressed, but he understood the reason for his weakness, so that he would experience the “strength that is made perfect in weakness.” His pleasure was through his suffering as he experienced the strength of Christ in his weakness. When the little “I am” is submitted to Him, the great “I AM” proves His strength.

Beyond a mere Christianity, the sum total seems to be: weakness plus the power of Christ equals pleasure in the presence and power of Christ, no matter the circumstances. No wonder Paul lived a life of meekness, in total dependence on the Lord.
He understood the Master’s words in John 15:4,“without me you can do nothing.”

 This “power of Christ” that rested upon Him was the humbling of the Lord in his weakness, enabling him to submit in his weakness to the strength of Christ. Even in prison, he and Silas worshipped; prayed and sang praises unto God.

“I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

Paul understood the role of the creature in relationship to our Creator. He made us weak, so that we would need Him. When He left our first parents alone to their free will, He proved they were unable to take care of themselves and to fulfill their purpose. It is only when we come in our need to the Savior, in weakness admitting our nothingness and need for Him, that He can save us and be all to us that our Father planned for Him to be. We must in meekness, in true humility, come to Him and experience the difference He makes in our lives. If we mumble through, thinking we can accomplish anything on our own, we miss the true nature of the Christian life. To be humble is the only means of going beyond a mere Christianity to discover the power of Christ and His abundant life within us.

“It is the indwelling Christ who will live His life in us, meek and lowly. We must long for this, above everything, seeking this holy secret of the knowledge of the nature of God as He works all. We must set aside our ordinary religion to secure this, the first and chief of the marks of Christ within us. And begin to praise God that there is opened up to you in Jesus a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, and through which a heavenly blessedness (which you possibly have never yet tasted) can come into you.” Andrew Murray ~ Humility, the Beauty of Holiness

Dear heavenly Father, how blessed we are that you call us your own, having saved us in Christ, your Son. We praise you that even meekness is the work of your Holy Spirit within us. Enable us to see and admit our weakness and our need for you, so that we can glorify you even when we are afflicted and in distress, taking pleasure in your presence and power with us always. In Jesus’ name we pray and praise you. Amen.
And the Lord Said Unto Me ~ Scripture Tunes
(Suggested Reading: A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility
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