March 11, 2010

I've said it once, I'll say it again . . . when you pray for God to reveal Himself, and when you sincerely seek Him, He delivers.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

[Philippians 4:4-7]

It's funny how you think you understand something, or you think you've learned something . . . only to return to it later, and have God teach it to you all over again, or at least gain a deeper understanding.

Lately, I've had my eyes opened to a lot of sin . . . some of it mentioned in my last post. Another thing I was doing without realizing was that I was becoming so bitter, angry, and discontent with my circumstances. And wanting to trust in the fact that my circumstances are temporary . . . gaining more comfort from that rather than trusting that no matter what, God is walking with me and seeking Him first.

When people have talked about the peace of God . . . when I've read scripture about it, heard sermons about it, I think I only halfway grasped it. I think it's too easy for me to just try to pray, "God give me peace" and not meditate on Him or His word . . . or for me to just close my eyes really tight and say three times "I have peace, I have peace, I have peace" and then run off, not trying to go deep or spend time with the God of peace.

I wasn't really getting it. The peace of God, as Paul is talking about it, is not a nice little thought you repeat in your head like magic. No, no no . . . and walking with God does not always change our circumstances. Just because I have Christ does not mean He's going to wave a magic wand and give me the things that I want (or think I want).

It means that He's walking with me every day . . . which does not always change my suffering or my circumstances, but it changes how I go through it.

My biggest problem in life is my sin. If God has rescued me from this through Christ, everything else should dim in comparison. If I know that I am totally at peace with God through Christ, if I know that nothing can separate me from the love of God, then my other problems don't take over my life or change my joy or contentment, if those things are found in the Lord.

J.D. has said before in his sermons:

. . . that what we really need is the God of peace. Would you rather have peace in the storm of your life without Jesus, or would you be content to go through the storm with the God of peace?

-Peace is not so much the condition of the waves, but the presence of the master of the waves in the boat with you.
-You know that whatever happens, you will be OK because Jesus in the boat with you.
-So the only way to have peace is not from getting something from God, but having peace with God.
-When you believe that life's greatest possession is God, you have a moderation in life - In Christ we have something better than anything life can give and death cannot take away . . . knowing this makes it so that the lows in life don't devastate you and you don't depend on the highs to make you happy.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[Romans 8:35-39]

I mean take it from Paul . . . did walking with Christ change the fact that He was suffering in jail? No. But it changed the way he went through his circumstances.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
[Philippians 3:7-9]

. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
[Philippians 4:11-12]

It's as if God is once again opening my eyes for the first time. I feel like these things should have been clear to me before, I can't believe that I haven't fully grasped it before. And maybe I have, but my sin clouded my thoughts and my understanding . . . and now I'm re-learning these things. I'm glad that God is more patient than I am. I'm thankful that He is ridiculously faithful to me and gently teaches me these things, even when I am stubborn, oblivious, and chasing after the wrong things.

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