The Peace of God or A Piece of God

peace-2piece-of-pie-2In his book I AM, Steve Fry says, “Peace is the evidence that we have submitted to God.” Scripture talks about a peace that surpasses all understanding. I can only experience this kind of peace when I completely trust God with everything in my life. This included the good, the bad and the miraculous. Steve Fry goes on to say, “The rule of peace begins when we no longer want answers, but only want God.”

In other words, I cannot just have a piece of peace. This concept is contrary to what I perceive when I think about a piece of fruit pie. If I had baked an apple pie that was setting on the kitchen counter and I wanted some to eat, I would cut a piece for myself and leave the remainder of the pie. A whole pie would be too much for me to eat. This is not how the Lord does things. I find His spiritual fruit pie in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I notice that Paul says it is “fruit” – not “fruits” – of the Spirit. In other words, I cannot simply cut myself a piece of peace without also having a serving of self-control and seven other things. God serves me with His sovereignty. I must not question what the Lord puts on my plate.

God wants me to understand His rulership and authority over my life. His sovereignty goes beyond my knowledge, and even goes beyond my sense of His presence. When I grasp this concept, I will be able to experience true peace. This peace comes only when I trust God and submit to Him not because of what He does but because of who He is. With this in mind, I want to share some scripture verses that describe the kind of peace available.

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

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may
have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

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

And the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 ESV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace
at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
II Thessalonians 3:16

As I look at each of these pieces of peace, I see that surrendering to God’s sovereignty is significant to my experiencing the peace of God. I cannot allow my own understanding, or lack of understanding, to allow me to cut out pieces of the whole pie God prepares for me. One piece of apple pie may satisfy my hunger, but my spiritual hunger will only be satisfied when I accept without question all that God hands me. The peace of God comes when I submit to each piece of His personal plans and purposes.

So, Lord, take me into a deeper understanding of your ways. And, Lord, give me your peace. I do not want to settle for just a piece of your peace!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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*Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.

Back in Alignment

Physical Alignment…..Physical Alignment…..Physical Alignment…..Physical Alignment…..Physical Alignment…

Spiritual Alignment…..Spiritual Alignment…..Spiritual Alignment…..Spiritual Alignment…..Spiritual Alignment…

 

gratitude-2spine-4Recently I encountered some back problems. I have heard enough about spinal adjustments, misalignments, vertebrae, joints, discs, tendons etc.! Although this somewhat debilitating season lasted longer than I had hoped, I learned several lessons. Often when I face a problem, I look upon it as a time when I am put upon a shelf and I cannot wait until the struggle is past so that I can again be active for the Lord. This time, at the beginning I asked the Lord to use my injury for His glory. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord declares that He has, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  If I was to trust God to fulfill the plans and purposes He had me, then I had to have faith that whatever was happening to me would be used in a positive way to glorify Him.

My problems began with a misalignment of joints in my spine. The chiropractor was able to adjust my spine but the tendons and muscles of my back had been weakened by the injury and were not able to support the adjustment. Little by little, my back had gotten out of proper alignment without my being aware of it. Then suddenly a sharp pain in my lower back got my attention. My discomfort helped me to realize that I can also allow my life to get out of alignment with the Lord. I decided that I did not want to wait for a sharp spiritual pain to make me aware of my need for the Lord’s strength. I believe the spiritual tendon that holds my body, soul and spirit  in align is gratitude. Gratitude keeps me in line with the Lord! I do not feel that it was by happenstance that I decided to reread One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp this summer while recuperating. The Lord’s hand has restored health to my back through the help of my chiropractor and the Lord has strengthened by faith through a deeper understanding of gratitude.

In her life, Ann Voskamp expresses gratitude unto the Lord by writing a list of gifts for which she is thankful. Her list of gifts includes not only good gifts but also hard gifts for which she has learned to express gratitude. Hmmm. Was my back problem a gift? Romans 8:28 says, “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.” God wastes nothing! Did God have a better plan for how I would spend a couple of months of my time than I had planned? Of course He did! Since I have now moved beyond the time of most limitations, I can  see how God used me in ways not possible if I had been involved in all of my normal activities. In gratitude, now I try to perceive that all circumstances are gifts from God.

If I were to make a gratitude list, one of my highest priority gifts would be God’s sovereignty. Although He does not promise that everything will always be easy, He is still my Lord. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The following three scriptures were helpful to me during my season of back problems.

See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and I will heal.

Deuteronomy 32:39 NASB
The
Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.
Job 1:21 NKJV
Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened,
and just as I have planned so it will stand.
Isaiah 14:24 NASB

I do not claim to fully understand sovereignty and gratitude and alignment but I am learning. However, an opportunity for spiritual growth came to me through the difficult time when my back was out of alignment. Often it is in hindsight that I can see the benefit of a hard time. God can reveal important things about himself and life through these experiences.

I want to emphasize two statements made by Ann Voskamp. She points out that the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is. (There were times that I doubted that there was any joy in the pain and stiffness I felt in my back.) And then she says that the art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible. (The longer I struggled, the deeper I looked for the possible gratitude and joy within during this season.) While experiencing a time when it was hard for me to move physically, I came to realize that the only way to move into God’s presence is was through gratitude. In Jeremiah 30:24, I am reminded that “The Lord shall not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the thoughts and intents of His mind.” The Lord had a greater purpose to achieve in my life than just helping me get rid of back pain. He wanted to teach me about gratitude – for that I am grateful!

I close my thoughts quoting Sarah Young from Jesus Calling for May 29.

I am with you, watching over you constantly, I am
Emmanuel (God with you): My Presence enfolds you in radiant
Love. Nothing including the brightest blessings and the darkest trials,
can separate you from Me. Some of My children find Me more readily
during dark times, when difficulties force them to depend on Me.
Others feel closer to Me when tier lives are filled with good things.
They respond with thanksgiving and praise, thus opening wide the
door to My Presence.

I know precisely what you need to draw nearer to Me.
Go through each day looking for what I have prepared for you.
Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs.
When you view your life this way, the most reasonable response is to
be thankful. Do not reject any of My gifts; find Me in every situation.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Note: I quoted two of my favorite books in this blog. I want to give credit to One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Zondervan, 2010 and Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson, 2004. I highly recommend both of these books for your reading.

Who Can Do All Things?

Today, the phrase “can do all things” catches my attention. With my Bible in hand, I decide to go exploring through God’s Word. Let me share a few scriptural correlations I  find regarding this phrase.

job-42-2-bible-hub“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Job 42:2

Many scholars believe that Job was the first recorded book of the Bible. Consequently, I feel that one of the first messages God wants to reveal to us is that He is sovereign.  Through the life of Job, we can see and hear that God can do all things and that His purposes cannot be thwarted. God is always with us and He is aware of everything that happens to us. God does not cause difficulties but He does allow them. In Job 1, we read the conversation God had with satan that resulted in the trials of Job’s life. Throughout this book of scripture, Job experiences the loss of his possessions, children and health. Several chapters are devoted to the conversations between Job and his “friends.” For me, these exchanges of words appear to be more of a trial than a help. To summarize, we can say that Job encountered financial, physical and relational problems. Are these not the same areas where we face our challenges of life? I believe that through Job’s story God emphasizes to us that no matter what the nature of our problems, He is with us. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” God is sovereign!

After going through these all these trials, Job was able to say to God, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2. In context, Job is proclaiming to God that he is fully aware of the fact that He can do anything and that His plans and purposes cannot be prevented. My Reader, do you have the same confidence in the Lord as Job? Can you and I be encouraged through Job’s story to the extent that we are able to personalize this verse and affirm, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted”?

I am prompted to think about Romans 8:28, “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.” (Notice the phrase “all things.”) Although Job encountered many difficulties, we learn by the end of the book that “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” Job 42:12. Personally, Job prospered and received twice as much as he previously had possessed.  He was blessed with more children and he lived a full life to be an old man. For us, our prosperity may come in lessons of life we learn rather than just material possessions. How we embrace challenges may be an encouragement to others and allow them to also comprehend the sovereignty of God. Testings and trials may be difficult but the results are often a deeper relationship with God. When we love the Lord regardless of our circumstances and stand firm in our faith, we are promised God’s great rewards.

phil-4-13-bible-hubI can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

In the Old Testament we have read that God can do all things. Now in the New Testament, we read that we can do all things. Whoa! I thought it was powerful that God could do all things, but now I am overwhelmed that I too can do all things! However, I can do all things only through the strength given to me by Christ. Listen to Paul’s words in II Corinthians 12:9-10. Paul begins by saying that the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Then he goes on to state, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” We discover that Paul is declaring the sovereignty of God in verse 10 just as Job affirmed God’s sovereignty in Job 42:2. In our strength, we may not be able to achieve everything but when we rely upon the strength God gives to us, we will succeed.

One more scripture comes to my mind. This time I turn to Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.” (The phrase “all things” is not used but “in very situation” has a similar meaning.)  There will be times when we will feel weak and worrisome, but God desires for us to turn our worries into prayers because He has a plan that cannot be thwarted when we rely upon  His help. Through prayer, especially when we remember to give God thanks, He will place a peace in our hearts that is beyond our comprehension. Strength and peace are two gifts available to us from God. There is no need for us to worry about our possessions, our families, our relationships or our health because God already knows what we are encountering and how He can best use our situations for His glory. He will help us do all things. This is how our sovereign God rules and reigns!

My Reader, enjoy the rest of your day. May you say with Job, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” and may you also proclaim, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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