Monday, January 4, 2016
Peace, peace, when there is no peace!
"War of words escalates over executed Shiite clerik"
"Assad forces build up troops in Syrian Golan."
"Two Israeli Soldiers wounded in West Bank Shootings"
"Israel strikes Gaza sites after Rocket Fire"
"Three dead in murder-suicide in California Cemetery"
"Mississippi crests in southern Illinois as downriver points brace for flooding"
"Federal judge blocks Arkansas restrictions on abortion pill"
"Suspected Islamic State supporter charged with New Year's Eve plot in upstate New York"
"Floods swamp Missouri, Illinois; nine million people in risk areas"
"ISIS threatens Britain in new execution videos"
These are just a few of the headlines I took from today's paper. Is it any wonder millions of Americans are taking some kind of sleep medicine? I didn't even list the articles on the dire prediction of our failing economy, or the rising persecution of Christians. Let's face it, 2016 doesn't promise to be a peaceful productive year. But that doesn't mean that we must run around living in fear and worrying about tomorrow
Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then God would take care of us.The Apostle Paul told us to cast all our care upon Him because He cares for us! What great, comforting words! Yet, in day to day life, they are hard to live by, aren't they? When someone we love gets sick or we lose our job or worry about paying our bills, or when we are fearful of being blown up by some crazed jihadist, it's hard to find that peace that passes all understanding.
I like the Amplified version of Collosians 3:15
"Let the peace of Christ (the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him) be the controlling factor in your hearts (deciding and settling questions that arise). To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body (of believers). And be thankful (to God always)."
What is a controlling factor? It is like an umpire or a ruler, someone who decides outcomes, who has authority. Peace is like a person living inside of us who we can go to for advice, who will reassure us all is well and keep us calm. Notice that this peace only comes for someone walking daily with God.
Great. So how do we get to this peace? For me, it has taken a great deal of practice. Think of it as intensive combat training. You wouldn't expect the Navy Seal leader to allow his new recruits to sit around and eat and play video games! No. They go through the most excruciating and difficult training of all the armed forces. Why? So they can be the best at what they do and protect America. How can you be your best for God if you are bound up in fear? You can't. You need to be trained to combat the spirits of fear and anxiety, especially in this day and age when people live in such terror.
Yet so many Christians read these verses about fear, claim them in Jesus' name, pray for peace (they may even cast away the spirit of fear), yet they remain anxious.
So, what is this training?
It involves training your mind. Every time a fearful thought enters you head, or you start worrying about something, immediately, shift your thoughts onto God and onto His Word. If you are able, start talking to Him about whatever it is that is causing your fear.
"Father, my son is driving through a storm right now. Please give him angelic protection and watch over him and bring him safely home. In Jesus' name. Thank you, Father"
Then think about something else. Let it go.
Another thing that really helps is to bring to remembrance all the times God has answered prayers in the past, all the times He's been there for you, never left you, healed you, fed you, clothed you, and provided for you. Remembering the blessings of God and that He has never abandoned you is so important to keeping that peace in your heart. It's a good idea to keep a journal of all answered prayers or even those times that you felt God's presence around you. Then go back and read it when fear strikes.
Believe me, this is NOT easy. It takes practice and training over and over. Especially when things keep getting worse and worse. You must stop, shift your thoughts and seek the Spirit of Peace withing you Remember God didn't promise to always get us out of the valley of the shadow of death, but He did promise to go in there with us. With Him by our side, we can have peace that the world could never understand. Why? Because we know God loves us and He will never leave us, and honestly, the worst thing that could happen to us here on earth is that we die... but then we will be in a far better place with our Lord!
May you be willing to be trained in the peace of God! I still have a long way to go, but I'm not giving up. When people are running to and fro in terror of what is coming on the earth, let us be the bastions of peace they can run to for help....and then we can point them to the Giver of True Peace!
“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” Isaiah 48:22