faith

Understand the Keys to The Peace That Passes All Understanding

 

And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We’ve heard this quoted over and over again. Perhaps this verse from Philippians 4:7 has been spoken over us in every church service since our childhood. We’re heard it anew in Sunday messages and it runs through our minds when we need the peace of God to silence our troubles.

The Lord’s word is breathing, alive and active, and He will always reveal new levels of truth to us when we ask for His wisdom. He is our Savior. In all circumstances.

his peace

This month has been particularly trying for me. I had a callback for more testing after an abnormal result on a routine mammogram. I found my mind under barrage of enemy attack while waiting for the next ultrasound and rescreening appointment. Maybe you’ve experienced something like this, too? You can relate or imagine the horrible thoughts running through my mind I needed to take captive every moment of every day, even sometimes while I slept: “You’re sick. You caught it too late. You don’t take care of yourself. You didn’t get to the doctor in time. This runs in your family. You have cancer. Your family will be without a mother soon. And on and on…”

I was in constant battle mode with the enemy for over a week while I waited and wondered. The only way I was able to continue to function was by remaining in the word of the Lord. I asked for His peace…the peace that surpasses all understanding. I was getting a first hand experience of a different level of understanding just how to call upon God for His supernatural peace, because only He is the Savior.

The Promises Of God

As you can imagine, I spent extra time in prayer and asked a few close friends to pray with me. I claimed the promises of healing through Christ over myself. I’d look straight into my eyes in the mirror and spoke aloud, “I am healed by the stripes of Jesus. No weapon formed against me will prosper. I am created in the image of a perfect and loving God.” I prayed in the car, the shower, in the kitchen, over the laundry and drifting off to sleep. My husband prayed over me and with me. Friends were praying for me while I continued to seek the promised peace that passes all understanding.

Feeling the Peace that Passes All Understanding

I’d been speaking these words of life over myself and my unknown situation as weapons, constantly battling the voice of the accuser and liar in my mind. “How, God? How can I attain this supernatural peace I need and you promise when trials set in?” Out of curiosity, I turned deeper to the word to search out that promise-filled verse in Philippians, wondering “what comes before that word ‘and’ in this famous verse? What is it I’m to do when I need that supernatural peace of God? Of course, He answered. Loud and clear.

Stand Firm in the Lord

…”Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” That’s Philippians 4:6. It’s a command, and it’s also one of my favorite verses to quote; I’d just never realized it was the verse that came right before the peace that passes all understanding!

Such a simple but profound discovery of the character of our Savior. Just give it all to Him. Everything. Through prayer and petition, He promises us that profound and supernatural peace by simply praying, with a few more instructions. In verse 8, Paul tells us how to give it all to Him: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…”

Did you know in the beginning of Philippians 4 that Paul is asking for help for the women, who “worked hard with me in telling others the Good News.” I felt the Lord had that part of scripture in the Word just for His women, like me, like us, who are on mission to honor Him with our lives!

Let’s read a bit further back,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…” verse 4

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” verse 5

Do you see how every action and thought we take while under trial (and in daily life) brings us closer to God and His peace? You know what happened after discovering these truths and putting them into action together?

His peace

Victory is Promised

The enemy retreated. He had no hope of clouding my mind while the word of God overpowered his attacks. I put these truths together and to work.  I began not only speaking words of life but put more effort into rejoicing in God’s goodness. The worship got louder and so did my singing in the shower. I made every attempt to “make (extra) apparent to those around me,” in the doctor’s offices, grocery stores, and at home “the gentleness of God.” (And asked for grace and forgiveness when I did not!) He promised He is near. During the waiting and trials process after the first week of attack, my mind and heart were at peace. It was well with my soul.

Praise God, all was well with the tests! The screening doctor said, “you’re perfect.” And I praised God. Hallelujah! Right there, I worshipped Him. And the doctor smiled.

One Secret to God’s Supernatural Peace

It’s so simple, but it’s three fold. Imagine that? Our triune and living God gives us a three-part instruction manual to the answer when seeking His peace.

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always.
  2. Let your gentleness be obvious to everyone.
  3. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

AND THEN… the peace that passes all understanding is yours. Victory over your mind is yours!

Just try and get something wet ignited with fire. It’s nearly impossible. Let’s be so doused, soaked and saturated in the living water of Jesus that any fire-filled attack of the enemy over our lives and minds has no spark to fuel a fire. I pray for each of us that the only spark we carry to the world and our families is the everlasting flame of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus.

Let’s be saturated, living and loving vessels of His supernatural peace. He is, indeed, our Savior.

That Child and the Nature of Sin

 

I want to talk a little about that darned sin nature that rears its ugly head and often (as least we think) we see it more often in “that child.” It’s often accompanied by some real defiance and an attitude. Even what may be the most terrifying for most of us, is this response to having lied or sinned in any way. This attitude of “So? Who cares?” That is very disconcerting and it should be. 

that child

It’s NOT a phase

I have heard before people talk about children and their behavior and different things, and they’ll say things like, “Eh, it’s just a phase. It’ll pass.”

My friends, it’s not just a phase that will pass! It’s sin which is a serious issue. So, if you are in a circumstance with a sinful behavior with your “that child”, or one of your other kids or even in yourself, it needs to be taken seriously. We cannot blow it off. We cannot even have a “deal with it later” mentality.

The first sign of sinful behavior should arrest us. We should deal with it immediately, in ourselves and in our children.

Before we can talk about the whole issue of behavior, though, I want to back up the bus. I think too often we settle for dealing with behavior and we totally leave out the heart issues

I want to double dog dare you. Don’t reduce the bar of behavior. Don’t settle for the bar of “do it because I told you so”. We are in a world now that is sending a really mixed message to this generation. They are really confused about what it means to be a man or a woman of integrity. 

While most of our culture says it’s OK to do just about anything as long as you don’t get caught, I’m fairly certain that’s not the standard in which you want to raise your children. I’m going to challenge you today to raise that bar and elevate it to be, “We obey because God said so.” 

We might have compliant kids that will fall in line and they’ll have integrity, and they’ll be honest, at least they’ll try to, but without the power and the might of the Holy Spirit within them to strengthen them, to be all those things, they’re not ever going to achieve and be the young men and women that they need to be to, to be the young men and women that God’s planned for them to be, to be part of the generation that’s going to change the world. 

So we must elevate that standard. We’ve got to give them a why. The why can’t just be, “Because I told you so.” It cannot be, “Because you make me look good when you obey.” It’s got to be more than that. It’s got to be deeper than that. 

We must teach our children that the importance of obeying is because it glorifies and honors a mighty, living God, the sovereign of the universe. 

We hold them up

Where do we start with these issues of sin in the lives of our children? We start the way that Ted Tripp talks about starting in his seminars and that is, we hold up before our children every day a holy, mighty, awesome God, the God of the universe, and we say, “Oh, my children, that you would know God. That you would KNOW God.”

When we introduce our children to God it makes all the difference! If we are just going to be about trying to formulate their behavior…do this don’t, do this, do this, don’t do this…we aren’t reaching their heart and we are short-selling ourselves and them.

We are not giving them the motive that they need. So, we must start by introducing them to the God of the universe. 

When they get who He is, when you and I get who He is, it makes all the difference. It changes how we behave from the inside out, which is what real change is.

I’m sure you’ve heard the one about the little boy who was sitting in his high chair who was 18, maybe 24 months old, and his mother kept telling him to sit down. She says, “Johnny, sit down.” And he won’t sit down. She goes over and sits him down. She turns around and he stands up. She says, “Johnny, sit down!” She goes over and helps him to sit down. She turns around and she notices that Johnny’s sitting down. She says, “Johnny, thanks for sitting down!’ He says, “I’m standing in my mind.”

Look, Johnny wasn’t changed from the inside out. It was a game to him. I don’t want my children to be in a game of behavior. I don’t want them to only do what I want them to do when I’m looking. I want them to do what they ought to do because the God of the universe is on the throne. 

I want to invite you, get to know this God of the universe. The bottom line is you and I are not without sin either and our kids know that. As you and I come into a deeper, richer, more abiding relationship with the King of the Universe, guess what? Our kids witness our being changed from the inside out, in subtle and not so subtle ways.

One of my best tools is “Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer. This is a very readable book by a man who was sold out to the cause of Christ and to God, the Father, all about having a higher view of God.

We have reduced God in our culture, and I’m going to dare to say it, in our churches, we have reduced God to merely being our bell boy who is supposed to do whatever we ask Him to do, in faith. 

Look, God doesn’t owe us anything. He has already given us the ultimate gift, His only begotten, not made, Son who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. He doesn’t owe us anything! 

It’s all about Him.

We have an opportunity to glorify Him. This life that we are living here is not about us. It’s all about Him. As we look to Him, as we point our children to Him, as we embrace His sovereignty when nothing makes sense, as we appreciate and give Him glory when we’re confused and when we’re tired and when we’re overwhelmed, when we seek to serve Him in all we say and do, we honor His holy name, and our behavior is like incense to those around us and they’re drawn to Him. 

The first step in affecting, for God’s glory, this sin nature of your child, is first you have to acknowledge that they have one. They’re all born with one. If you doubt that visit a friend with an infant. They all came that way.

Selfishness and pride are at the core of our being. We are sons of Adam and we have a sin nature.

But if we want to remedy that, we cannot reduce this to “do what I say”; we must first hold up before them a Holy and Mighty God and get to know Him together. Get to know Him through singing praise worship songs, through singing the old hymns.

Get to know Him in a nature walk, the beauty and the majesty of His creation, get to know Him by reading about him in books like A.W. Tozer, and get to worshipping Him. 

Introduce your kids to the God who not only deserves their obedience but is worthy of their praise. 

Next, after we’ve had an introduction to the God of the universe, we need to start talking to our kids about what sin is. Again, we have failed in this way, not just in our families to discuss what sin is, we have failed in our churches. 

Some churches, in fact, pride themselves in not using the sin word in their services for fear that it might make some people uncomfortable.

The reality is we have a massive, deadly, lethal self-sin issue. If we don’t talk about sin then there’s no need for a savior.

We must talk about sin to our kids. We must acknowledge sin in ourselves and sin in them. There’s no sense in talking about it being a phase. It is an offense to the Holy, mighty God of the universe when we sin. Sin means when we fall short of the glory of God.

In Leviticus 19:2 we are told, “Be holy as I, the Lord your god, am holy.” That’s the standard. We are to emulate Him. We are to be and live as daughters and sons of the king of kings, His ambassadors. 

Live a life that’s worthy

We are to live a life, worthy. When we don’t do that, when we fall into sin, we offend the Holy, Mighty God.

So, what’s His response to the sin? Here’s the deal, His response to sin is His wrath. It is a just response. The Holy God of the universe cannot exist where sin exists. It is not possible for Him to be where sin is.

But, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but will have everlasting life. 

Not only does God have just wrath upon our sin but He offered us freely a solution in the gift of His son, who was the holy lamb of God. 

Remember when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and he said, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin, whole, of the world.” 

That lamb of God lived a perfect, sinless life as he walked on this earth. He laid down His life. 

They didn’t take it from Him. He laid it down as he outstretched his arms on the cross of Cavalry and paid our sin price.

Only a perfect, spotless, lamb of God can pay our sin price. That’s what Jesus Christ did. 

These are the truths that we discuss with our children. We talk to them about how holy and mighty, and sovereign, and glorious God is. We talk about the issue of sin and the real penalty. Then we talk about the beautiful solution that God has given in the gift of His son.

Because He loves us

As we are having these conversations in an ongoing manner, around our house, as we drive, as we are having these ongoing conversations about God’s glory and His goodness, about our sinfulness, about His goodness and His grace, His everlasting forgiveness, His loving kindness that endures forever, the psalmist writes, we talk about the sin.

john316

As they come into fellowship, as they come to acknowledge and know who God is, there is a natural brokenness that comes when sin comes.

Look, our culture tells us that we don’t need God. Our culture tells us that our sin isn’t so bad. Our culture tells us that we are going to be OK. The reality is that God’s word says that we’ve got a problem. But because of His glorious love for us and His grace, He’s given us a way to come into a relationship with Him. That’s through the gift of His son.

When we frame behavior away around “have to”, we don’t do the right things because we might get in trouble doing the wrong things, we don’t do the right things because we are terrified of the consequences. Our motivation is not coming from a relationship with the Father. 

We must do the right thing because it honors God. Not because we have to but because we get to.

We elevate the motive for being honest and good. and kind. and generous. and selfless. and self-controlled. That’s why we do it. 

We do it because we have an opportunity every day to give Him glory and praise as we worship Him in all we say and do.

As we live a life worthy of that to which we’ve been called. 

 

The Rest of Peace

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.

Isaiah 26:3-4

Perfect peace. Shalom, Shalom.
It’s the ultimate in peace because it comes from a place of trusting God.

Rest of Peace

The ONLY way this is possible is learning to obey Scripture.
Jesus talks so much about not being anxious, and for taking His light burden.

Get this revelation: Jesus gave us His very peace!

He says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

I heard someone say once that if wasn’t possible for us to have, accept, or live in that kind of peace and not let our hearts be troubled, He wouldn’t have said it.

There may be times when it looks and feels like we can’t walk in the peace of trusting God, but it doesn’t mean we can’t.
That’s when it’s time to walk and talk by faith.

The greater One is in us and can take on the burdens, fear, and discouragement in our lives.

How do I enter into the rest of peace?

Here are four ways I practice peace:

Ask God for light on the situation. I ask God to show me exactly what is it that is making me lose my peace. Is it outward circumstances or inner turmoil?

Get peace-filled scripture passages into my heart. It helps to occupy my mind with the truth of God’s Word. There are many resources (online and in print) that will give a plethora of peace references.

Let peace be my umpire. And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds…. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always.] – Colossians 3:15, The Amplified Bible (emphasis added).

peace

Journal. I’ve found that it helps me tremendously to write down what I feel the Holy Spirit has shown me. Sometimes it’s in a notebook, but often those thoughts end up beside a verse in my Bible so that I’m sure to be reminded of God’s faithfulness to me.

I’d like to know your thoughts and ways on the rest of peace. What gets you back to that peaceful place?

Are you willing to accept God’s Peace?

Peace….perfect peace!  It’s something we all seem to “wish” for.  We want a peaceful life. We want to kick back with our cup of tea or coffee, sit at the lake and watch the tranquil waters of our lives pass by.  But does this fit the Biblical model of peace?  Are we even willing to accept the peace that God offers to us?

accept God's peace

In order to accept the peace that passes understanding, we have to be willing to let go of some things in our lives and focus our attention on the power of Christ.

So what do we need to give up to prepare our hearts to accept this peace?

Give up the idea that life will be easy.

The perfect, peaceful life does not exist on this earth.  If that is our goal and what we are praying for we are surely to be disappointed.  Yes, we will get to enjoy many things on this Earth, God willing, but Christ’s peace that passes understanding is given when the idea of peace seems beyond our physical grasp.

Jesus point blank tells his apostles 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.”

Christ’s peace is only available through Him and not through this world. Although we can carry His peace with us always, it is often most evident in the midst of trials. It’s the calm we carry with us when life seems to be falling apart and people wonder how on earth can we  not be having a breakdown over this…it’s Christ’s peace that holds us together and gives us strength and hope to keep going.

Focus on Christ instead of the Noise in our Lives

A great example of focusing on Christ instead of the noise in our lives is when Stephen is being stoned to death in Acts 7.  Early in the chapter Stephen was boldly reminding those around him of how God has worked through Abraham to the present through Jesus, the crowd became “furious and gnashed their teeth at him (v54).” However, he didn’t focus on their negative reactions or the loud noises they started to make in resistance to his message.

“But Stephen full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voice, they all rush at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him….

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knee and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sing against them.’ When he said this, he fell asleep.”
Acts 7:55-60

Stephen’s focus was so highly concentrated on Christ that the peace that surpasses understanding completely encompassed him. Forgiveness, thankfulness and joy of getting to go to our Savior seemed to leave him in awe of Christ instead of his pain. Take time to read this passage and be in awe of the peace that Christ gives when we face adversity!

We can prepare our hearts like Stephen did. We just need to practice focusing on Christ now by turning off the noise around us – social media, T.V., radio, phones,etc – and take the time to be in God’s presence.

Stop Creating the Noise

Ok, I may step on some toes at this point.  Believe me when I say, I’ve already stepped on mine!

Sometimes in the midst of our chaos we create a lot of the noise ourselves. We whine and complain about the circumstances we are in. We blast it all over social media hoping for support from all the wrong places.  In doing so, we are not allowing Christ room to give us peace.  We are creating room for a frenzied spirit instead of a thankful one.

Yes, the exact opposite of complaining is being thankful. It is cultivating a spirit of thankfulness and bringing our concerns to God that helps open our hearts to Christ’s peace.  This thankfulness says,

“God, this may be the worst situation I’ve been in yet, but I’m so thankful you are by my side.  I’m thankful that I can lean on you completely and trust you will carry my soul through this!”

carry his peace always

Yes, it seems backwards in a way. Do we need to be thankful for our heart-wrenching circumstances?  Yes, because God will bless us with his amazing presence and power through it!  (Oh, we won’t be perfect at this and that is ok, but we do need to start prepping our hearts now by being thankful so that when difficult times come, thankfulness rolls off our tongues faster than the complaints.)

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 
Philipians 4:4-7

Understanding Christ’s power so we can focus on it rather than our heart-wrenching situations, means we have to set time aside to be in His word and spend time with Him in prayer.  Jesus will build us up and prepare us for the times ahead when we will feel the overwhelming peace that passes understanding!

Prayer Over our Hearts

Lord, we humble ourselves before you.  You are God and we are not.  We commit our souls to you and trust that you will take care of us during the good and difficult times.

Let our hearts be filled with your joy so that your peace will reign in them instead of chaos and complaints.  Let us trust you so completely, so that even when we can’t see the road ahead, we will lean into you to guide us through this maze of life.  Help us to focus our hearts and minds on your will and not our own.

We pray that we will allow your peace to take residence in our lives.  In the One who is the perfect peace – Amen!

 

 

A Peace-Filled Heart (and what we’re having for lunch)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

First thing in the morning, my kids’ little feet hit the floor and they come running in and ask “Mom, what are we going to eat?”

Do yours do that, too? 

peace-filled heart

10:00 AM rolls around and we’re mid-lesson, which is a perfect time, I suppose, for the question “Mom, when are we eating?” or “Are we going to have lunch?”

As if NOT having lunch was ever a thing.

While we’re eating lunch (!) someone asks “Mom, what are we eating for dinner? Am I going to like it?” And they all join in, fully in agreement with these all-important questions.

What in the world?!? Where does this mealtime anxiety come from, anyway? 

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

As I’m staring at them in disbelief, slightly amused and slightly annoyed, I have the fleeting and uncomfortable thought that I do the same thing.

Oh, how I imagine I look so very similar to these children of mine when seen through the eyes of God. How limited my perspective is, as I clamor for needs and wants, when He has so much more planned for me. Where does my anxiety come from, anyway? 

I know God loves me.

I know God will provide for me.

I know that God has my best interest in mind.

I know that everything will work out for His good purposes.

I know that I can trust Him when I don’t understand.

I know that even when things don’t go the way I planned or desired, it’s all in His good hands.

I know that true peace comes in trusting the Lord with all my heart, and leaning not on my own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Yes, I know all that just like my kids know similarly basic truths about me and my heart for them.

Yet how many times does my anxiety, fear, and desire to control of the outcome betray thoughts and feelings I would rarely verbalize? Thoughts that show how little peace I really have in my heart?  Questions like…

When is this need going to be fulfilled, already?

What if it’s painful or isn’t what I wanted?

What if it’s horrible!? Oh, I hope that doesn’t happen!

What if what I hope for most never happens?

What if God’s blessings just stop coming?

What if I’m doing all this wrong – motherhood, homemaking, homeschooling? What if I’m failing Him?

What in the world?!? Sometimes it seems like worry can twist truth into a lie in order to feed itself. Friends, when we find these worrying thoughts stealing our peace and our joy, we need to capture them and hold them up to the light of the gospel. 

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

peace

There is no room in a peace-filled heart for anything but purposeful trust in God. We must continually choose to trust the Lord wholly, and purposefully stay our minds on Christ.

Even when things are uncertain.

Especially then.

Lord, help us to trust fully in You, resting in the knowledge that it’s all in Your hands. Give us a peace that surpasses understanding, even in the challenging times. Help us to keep our minds on You, and cast aside worries and anxieties that would steal our peace and our joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

That Child: a Biblical Example

 

Confession:  I was “that child”. So, a lot of the “that child” stuff I get because I am speaking from experience! It’s not that hard for me. 

For those of you who weren’t “that child,” and have given birth, or adopted a “that child”…let me say that I pray for you. We are unique creatures and it is a journey into our world and to try to understand us. But I really believe that most of the time it’s worth it.

Today I want to talk about a character in the Bible whom you probably just love and admire. 

I know that I have long admired this particular character. One day I was thinking there’s got to be a Biblical character we can relate to, and probably you would also agree, there’s probably even several “that child” examples in the Bible. 

I am going to suggest to you that I believe the primary example, Biblically, of “that child” and in the most positive of terms, would be Peter in the New Testament.

I believe this so much so, in fact, I have often thought that if I had known that my oldest son, Charles, was going to be as much of “that child” as he has become I probably would have aptly named him Peter. 

Could This be “That Child?”

 

Peter was a fisherman. Historically, most scholars believe that he was the oldest apostle. 

That child - biblical

Yet, when Jesus said, “Follow me,” one of the most amazing first acts of Peter’s life was, he followed. He followed Christ. 

Now, you and I might think of that as rash. He didn’t really know Christ. But when Christ looked at him there must have been something about Christ that when Peter saw that look in his eye, when Peter heard that invitation extended, Peter got it. He was like, “Yeah, I want to follow you.”

He followed. That’s huge, that’s very powerful. We also see examples of brashness. Examples of enthusiasm. Examples of passion, and charisma, that God can used in Peter’s life.

As we are walking through this I want you to consider your “that child.” Are these things that you see in them. Are these examples of things that they do? And that currently may be really driving you crazy and aggravate you?

Could it be that as we look at the life of Peter today we can start to look at those things a little differently, with grace, and with insight, and with wisdom, and stop allowing the enemy to make all of these actions look awful just because they are not the actions we wanted or thought they should have been? 

Let’s start to look at these behaviors just a little differently.

 

 

 

Your “that child” also needs to know that they’re not alone. That there’s hope and that God has a plan. Just like God had a plan for Peter, God has a plan for them.

plan for that child

He Dared to Go

Next we’ll look at an account where Jesus has been up all night praying. His disciples have been fishing all night. It says that they were battered by the waves. They were trying so desperately to catch something, catch anything, and then out of the darkness of the storm (they’re exhausted, they’re tired, they’re discouraged) here comes Jesus walking on the water. 

Peter sees it and he says, “Lord, you tell me to come and I will come.”

Jesus simply says, “Come.”

We know that Peter, out of all of those disciples in the boat, Peter is the only one that dared to get out of the boat and actually walk on the water. 

I want you to suggest to you today, as you consider Peter, how did he get out of the boat? Because I’m betting, if I think of Peter and the totality about what we know about him in Scripture, he didn’t gingerly step over the side of that boat. 

I would like to suggest to you that he hurdled the side of the boat. 

He was so enthusiastic, and so rash, and so passionate, about everything he did. Look, I believe that Peter had the same mantra that I often live by. Play hard or go home.

That’s how he lived. It was all or nothing for Peter.

So we see that Peter gets out of the boat and actually walks. He’s successful as long as, what? As long as he focuses his eyes on Christ. But Scripture tells us clearly that he got distracted by the waves and he went down. Jesus extended his hand and pulled him up. that child : enthusiastic

That’s “that child”. So enthusiastic, so excited, so passionate about what they’re doing, and yet often easily distracted. 

 

Who Do You Say?

The next example I want to talk to you about is when Jesus asked Peter, “Hey!” (He’s actually asking all of the disciples.) “Who do they say that I am?”  

They said, “Well, some say that you are Elijah. Some say you’re this person.” And Jesus looks squarely at Peter and says, “No, no, no. Who do you say that I am?” 

And Peter said (get this, get the insight that Peter has), Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Whoa! Peter got who Jesus was. In the midst of the confusion, in the midst of the teachers of the law, and the scribes and the Pharisees who studied the Old Testament, who had all the prophecies, who should have got who Jesus was, they didn’t get it!

If they did, they denied it. But Peter, a fisherman, got who Christ was. He made that bold statement saying who Christ was. You’ll remember that Jesus said, “On this rock, on the rock of that confession, I will build my church.” It’s just beautiful.

Another example is when Jesus took the inner circle of Peter, James, and John. So you remember, there was Peter and then James and John were called the sons of Thunder. They were actually the sons of Zebedee.

They had quite a reputation. The three of them were like Jesus’ inner circle. And there are several occasions in Scripture where we see Jesus takes those three, in a special way, aside to teach them something or show them something.

In this instance, He takes them up on the Mount of Transfiguration. You’ll remember that Peter was elated, literally beside himself. If you’ve got a “that child” you’ve seen that. There are times when they are just so enthusiastic, and so joyful, and so into what’s going on that they are not thinking straight. That was true in this instance with Peter.

In this situation Peter is like, “Ah! This is awesome! We’ll stay right here on the mountain and I’ll build a tent for you, and for you, and for you!”

You can just kind of see Jesus go, “Ugh, Peter! No! That’s not the point of me bringing you up here. It wasn’t for us to stay on the mountain, Peter. I brought you up here on the mountain so that we could go back down off the mountain.” The Lord Christ did not explain that to Peter but it’s implied in Scripture as Jesus just moves forward. 

Remember the Last Supper?

The lowest job that any servant would have had at this last supper, indeed in this culture, would have been the servant who would have washed the feet of all in attendance for this dinner. These feet would have been really dirty, and yucky, and grimy, and smelly. But even in all the preparation that the disciples had made for the last supper there had not been anyone chosen to wash their feet. 

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, saw again (this is the pattern throughout Christ’s walk on the planet), he saw a need and he responded to it. We call that compassion. 

Here once again, in the Biblical account of what Jesus did, we know that he saw the need. Instead of doing what I would have wanted to do, and maybe what many of you wanted to do, and assign the task to someone else, he simply (Scripture says) lay aside his outer garment, just like he had laid aside his right to be equal with the Father.

He girded himself, it says. He poured water in a basin, to symbolize he was about to pour out his life. He then got down on his knees and began to wash their feet. It’s really a powerful picture! 

I think a hush must have fallen across the room. As Jesus is down on his knees, washing their feet (and it’s a story for another day, but let this sit on you for a minute), Judas went to deny Christ with clean feet. Because Jesus washed their feet before Judas left. 

Anyway, he comes to Peter, and it’s time. It’s clear what Jesus is doing. Peter was not the first person, not the first set of feet that Jesus washed. And Jesus comes to Peter and Peter goes, “You’re not washing my feet!”

Do you see that? Do you see the passion again? Do you see the pride, the arrogance of Peter? “You’re not going to wash my feet!” Yet Christ, who is our example, responds compassionately, and patiently, with Peter.

As the dinner goes on Jesus tells them again that he is going to be betrayed and he’s going to die.

Peter says, “I will die with you.”

Jesus looks at him and says, “Peter, before the cock crows, before the rooster sounds his morning call, you will deny me three times.” Ugh! That had to hurt. That had to sting. To hear the lord and master that he was pledging allegiance to, turn to him and says, “Oh, Peter, no. Not this time.”

Yet there must have been something in Peter that was like, “NO! It can’t be true!”

The Bible says that they sang a hymn and they went out. They go to the garden. Once again, we have another example of how Jesus let the disciples “stay here” and he took that inner circle, Peter, James, and John, a little further Scripture says, and he asked them to pray. Then it says that Jesus went a little further and fell down and prayed to the Father.

olive tree

He just went and called out to the Father, and begged, and begged, and begged for another way to save mankind and to glorify the Father. Finally, Jesus comes back the third time. They’re sleeping and he says, “Here comes my betrayer.”

He goes to meet those who had come to arrest him. It’s really remarkable in Scripture when you hear how many people came to arrest Christ. He, himself says, “Look. I was in the temple many times. I was in the marketplace many times. You could have taken me. You don’t need all of this.” In fact, when Jesus said, “Who are you seeking?” and they said “Jesus” he said, “I am.” 

You’ll notice, in Scripture it says they fell back. That was the power of who he really was. It is at this moment, when they have come to arrest Christ, that Peter takes his sword out and hacks off the ear of Malchus.

I want to promise you that Peter was not aiming for Malchus’ ear. I’m confident that in that day and time it wasn’t the way to defeat your enemy, to cut off their ears. I’m pretty sure that Peter was aiming for Malchus’ throat, and Malchus ducked, and all Peter got was his ear.

Again, you see Jesus going, “Ugh! Peter! Put it away. That’s not what this is going to be about.” Then it says they went on to arrest Christ. Peter followed, at a distance. See, Peter is now wanting to watch. But he’s probably forgotten about that prediction that Jesus made. In fact, we know he has! Because John helps to get Peter into the inner courtyard where Jesus is being tried. 

Three times, Scripture tells us, that Peter did indeed deny his Christ there. When the cock crowed upon the third time it says he went away despairing. He knew in that instance everything that Christ had said, the whole ministry, must have come rushing back to his mind.

But here’s the turning point, on Sunday morning when there came a knock at the door, and the women were saying the tomb was empty, it says that Peter and John ran to the tomb. In fact, it’s more specific than that. When John’s gospel is written, John says that he beat Peter but when Peter got there he didn’t respectfully stand outside of the empty tomb. Peter went all the way in just like we would expect that child to do! He didn’t stand aside. He went in to see for himself that Christ’s body was resurrected and was not there. 

Do You Love Me?

Then, the next time we see Peter he’s fishing and Jesus is on the seashore. He’s asking them if they have caught anything. Peter says,“ If you say to put the nets on the other side that’s what I’ll do.” He does and they make a catch. It’s on that seashore that day that Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter at first flippantly answers, “You know that I love you!”

Jesus looks at him again and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, I love you!” Then Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” And a third time, three times, once for each one of Peter’s denial, Jesus Christ affirms Peter back, all the way back, as a disciple of Christ.

So this Peter who denied, this Peter who was rash, this Peter who acted before he thought, Jesus pulled him all the way back, forgave and affirmed him for his denial, and launched him into ministry that still blesses Christians today as he was an example on the day of Pentecost. You’ll read in the book of Acts that it’s says, “…And Peter, taking his stand.” Yes, it was on the day of Pentecost that among all the other disciples, when everyone was criticizing them and assuming that they were drunk, it was Peter who stood up and made the case for Christ.

Obviously, he went on to write first and second Peter. We also know that when it came time for Peter to die he refused to be crucified in the same way that Christ had been and was actually crucified upside down. 

Be Encouraged, Mom

Look, it’s very easy to get discouraged with our “that child” and it’s very easy for us to think that God cannot use them. But I think today’s example of Peter is a primary example of the fact that God does need strong men and women, often we refer to them as “that kid”, to grow his kingdom, to stand up for Him.

They’re going to make mistakes, just like Peter did. 

They’re going to be rash, just like Peter did.

But do you see how beautifully Christ kept drawing Peter in, and affirming him, and being patient with him?

Mom, that’s our job. Our job is to not break their passion, to not steal their charisma, to not discourage their enthusiasm, but to bend it in the direction of Jesus Christ so that they can change the world for the goodness and the glory of God.

Go and enjoy your “that child”. God has great plans for them, and God has great plans for you, too, Mom. 

The Earth is Filled with His Glory

Have you ever prayed the “most dangerous prayer,” as I’ve heard it called by Pastor Rick Warren?

Have your lips and your heart ever cried out, “Use Me, Lord!” but you think you’re stuck in an unending season of homeschooling?

As I’ve contemplated His holiness and our humility this month to write this to you, dear sister, I can’t help but share with you a few encouraging revelations I’ve gleaned over the years.

humility

Homeschooling Keeps Us Humble

This thing we do, the thing you, dear mama, do–  knee deep and over your head at times (and I’m right there with you) called homeschooling is our place of humility. We surely know that the Holy Spirit will convict us through words we speak to our children. Over and over again. (Thank the Lord for His grace!) It’s a place we’re brought humbly to our knees (even if that looks like the driver’s seat of our minivans) to ask repeatedly- each and every day, “Jesus, help!” We know that without Him, this homeschool is nothing.

Humility is remembering our place in the Lord, but not shying away from our role and place in His Kingdom here on Earth. I had a Bible college teacher say: “we’ve often got this humility thing all wrong. We think being humble means hiding our true selves, whom God has called and created us to be, under a banner of  ‘The Lord has it, I’m just going to be humble and shy and do nothing.’ Quite the contrary! Humility means yes, put our pride aside and know the Lord Almighty is in control, and to give Him all the glory! But it also means to step out confidently in the Lord into who He has called you to be, and the plans upon your lives!” If He’s called you to homeschool, then your plans as a homeschooling family are to be His Light in this world, together. ” When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” — Proverbs 11:2

GO!

Let’s humbly seek the Lord for His wisdom, but then “GO!” into the World as the Lord has commanded us!

” And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3 NIV

Mamas, It doesn’t say “your whole home(school) is full of His glory! It says the whole earth! Do you know just a couple verses under those often quoted words where we sing holy, holy, holy, that the Lord asked Isaiah : Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah responded, ” Here am I. Send Me!”

The Earth is Filled with His Glory!

Remember that dangerous prayer? Have you asked to be sent? This is your opportunity! When was the last time you took yourself, and your children, on an adventure to see some of the glory covering His earth? Are you out in nature regularly, even if just for a walk or a picnic? How about exploring other places? Maybe studying His creation and other cultures? Are we really getting our children out to see some of this Earth full of His glory?

What are we doing to be sent- getting into the world-  as an answer to that dangerous prayer I’m sure so many of us have said? See, mamas, this homeschooling thing, it’s about being available, hands raised high, for expanding His Kingdom here on Earth. I bet you’ve prayed that prayer sometime in your life. And maybe you’ve said to yourself, “the Lord will use me when we get done with this homeschooling season.” But, friends, the time is now! What if that prayer gets answered through your children and your homeschooling?  I personally think homeschool is a misnomer. We’re hardly home, and it certainly doesn’t look like school. And that, my friends, is the Lord’s great blessing of freedom in your education in this season!

humility is

Homeschooling Is Holy

This homeschool thing is already holy. It’s set apart. It’s different from the world’s systems, and we’re raising up an army of His warriors! Let’s get them trained and out in the world as to how to respond to it, while they’re still home with us under our wings. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7  Ask the Lord, my friends, is this the time? Could you really use me during our homeschooling season? 

Think about the story of Gideon. He was hiding from the world, and from the call of the Lord. Yet, the angel knew Gideon was a mighty man of valor. How about you, mama? Are you hiding from the call of the Lord to get out with your families into this big, wide, world, yet He sees you as a mighty warrior leading your army for Him?

He Was and Is and Is to Come

…Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

If the Lord says it in the Old Testament and He says it in the New, we should certainly pay attention. He was and is and is to come. Let’s use this “is” season we’re in to show our children His glory around the world, not just in our homes, while we educate them on the ways of the Lord. Embrace your gifts and use them for His good. Where do you think He’s calling your family to reach out? I’m sure it will be through the gifts He’s given you, and your children, as strange and puzzling as they may be. (Here’s a little glimpse at one of our family’s outreaches.)

I believe in you, mamas, and I know the Lord does, too. Keep humbling yourselves under His mighty hand and He will exalt you. All for His glory.

Vaya Con Dios-

Jen

Am I humble?

Am I humble? Why, yes. I like to think so.

” If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” C.S. Lewis

Oh, how prideful I am. I lack humility!

am I humble

We can waiver back and forth like this between pride and low self-worth. One minute we are puffed up and the next we are self-loathing. Deep and true humility though is something only God can produce in us, because in our flesh we think of ourselves too often, whether it be in a prideful way or a self-loathing way, the focus is still on ourselves.

The more we try to make ourselves humble, really the less humble we are. Because we focus inward. 

We can’t make ourselves more humble, but our humility naturally develops when we look to the Cross.

How can it not? How can we not fall on our knees in humility when our eyes are on the Cross?

God is Holy. He alone is worthy. He alone is Majesty. He alone deserves any praise. No human deserves any of that.

Human praise produces pride. Humility, though, points it all to Him. We can be praised for what we do, but it all goes back to Him, because, without Him, we do no good thing. Anything we are, have, or do, is through Him alone.

Humility seeks to glorify God and not myself. Humility seeks to serve others and not myself. And humility doesn’t desire praise.

For the Christian, this is a struggle. We daily fight our flesh that seeks approval and praise to define our self-worth. But our worth comes from Jesus. Our life depends on His sacrifice on the Cross.

make ourselves humble

And that truth is what makes us bow down in a humble spirit to Him every moment. Then, and only then, we can live and serve others in true humility.

 Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV)

Won’t you pray with me…Oh, Lord, empty me of myself and my desire to seek praise apart from You. Let me constantly think of others above myself, and You above all. Help me to walk in humility daily, with my eyes firmly fixed on You, the only One worthy of all praise, for You alone are Holy.

When His Love Changes Everything

There are some wonderful benefits to having grown up in the church. I have been familiar with almost every Bible story my entire life.  I have felt part of a big family (the Church) since I was small and I understand terminology in sermons pretty readily.  Sometimes, though, it’s easy to glide right over important terms because they are so familiar.

I’ve had an awakening lately in my walk with God.  It’s been life changing and I know it will continue to transform my walk with Him and how I experience Him in my daily life. 

Love Changes Everything

I’ve always known that it was important to be humble before Him and before man.  At the root of this humility was something like, “He is God.  I am not. His ways are not my ways, neither are His thoughts my thoughts.  He is big and powerful and I better tow a straight line because He doesn’t take kindly to any hint of pride.” There is much truth in these words, but there is something missing and it’s really the most important thing: LOVE.  So I sometimes walked my walk, methodically, carefully, often a bit like a person afraid they might miss something and God might have to remind me in unpleasant ways that I need to be more careful.

Oh how wrong this thinking is!  THAT perspective is more about punishment…not perfect love.  God is holy and perfect and can only do and act perfectly. But this is exactly where our enemy wants us: fearful, afraid to step out in faith because, well, maybe we don’t REALLY understand what faith IS and maybe God isn’t really as loving as we’d hoped?  Sometimes we are so busy trying to make sure that we are checking off the “list”: devotions, go to church, Bible study, etc that we forget.

We forget that God loves us SO very much that He was willing to send His very own Son to die for us…and Jesus was willing to leave the comforts of heaven to become human flesh, to walk out perfectly what we could not.  The cross doesn’t expose our sin, it removes our sin and reveals how VALUABLE we are to God.  

valuable humility

Do you think of yourself as valuable?  When I see myself the way God sees me…now THAT is humbling.  He sees me as though I’ve done nothing wrong…ever.  The work of the cross is perfect and complete and now WE get to relish in the great love God has toward us and know that He bends down to listen every time we speak to Him.  He loves to BE with us.  He delights in us. He wants us to embrace His perfect love for us.

When we grasp the ramifications of this, it changes everything. All of a sudden I don’t need other things to make me feel valuable: I don’t need other people’s approval or to accomplish certain things, to be a certain way or to own certain material possessions.  Instead I can relax and ENJOY God and all that He has for me: blessings, abundance, goodness.  Most importantly of all,  I have the opportunity to reflect Him as He reveals Himself to me.  I take the love He has shown me and give that generously to others.  I get to be free from slavery to sin, free from being controlled by how I feel,  free from letting my circumstances define me because God has ALREADY defined me.

His Word is FULL of scriptures that tell us who we are in Him.  I encourage you to write them down and pray them regularly…declare them out loud!  Let that knowing in your heart become the place from where you live.  It will change everything.

Here are some scriptures to start with!

Jeremiah 31:3

I John 3:1

Zephaniah 3:17

I Peter 2:24

Isaiah 1:18

Galatians 5:1

I Corinthians 6:19

Romans 8:15

Romans 8:17

Where Do You Place Your Faith?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.Proverbs 3:5

“You are enough.” “Believe in yourself.” “Have faith.”

These are popular messages for moms, and I can certainly understand why.

Where do you place your faith

Moms are struggling. We’re overwhelmed by all we have to do, and there’s so much at stake. We compare ourselves with other moms we’re sure are doing a MUCH better job than we are, and we start to feel like failures. We desperately need encouragement, and motivational speakers and writers are eager to provide it. “You are enough” blog posts go viral, and everyone feels better.

But let’s pause for a moment and ponder what “you are enough” really means. It’s intended to be reassuring. However, if we analyze the words, the message is actually discouraging, not encouraging. If we are supposed to be “enough,” doesn’t that place more of a burden on us? If we are “enough,” everything rests on us. That’s a daunting responsibility, and I’m not up for it. Are you?

Being a good mom is tough. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t confess that some days I really don’t know how I can make it. There’s just not enough of me to go around. Sometimes I wrestle with exhaustion, discouragement, loneliness, and frustration. I know you do too.

When times are hard—whether there’s a major crisis or just One More Thing that puts us over the edge—we have three options:

  1. Focus on the situation and our own inadequacies. Flounder in the problem. Feel like pathetic failures. Obviously, this isn’t a good solution, and that’s exactly why we need help and hope.
  2. Celebrate our own strength. Believe in ourselves. Buy into the “you are enough” mindset. Think we can do it all—or at least that whatever we can manage on our own just has to be good enough.
  3. Trust in God, not in ourselves. The truth is that we CAN’T bring up our children well by relying on our own power. But God’s grace is sufficient for us, for His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

worthy of our faith

Faith is meaningless unless the thing we have faith in is truly worthy. Only God is worthy of our faith. Only He is worthy of our trust. Only He can give us the strength we need for the job of mothering.

When times are hard—whether the challenge is big or small—don’t wallow in feeling like a failure, yet don’t rely on the false hope that you are enough. Instead, focus on the love and providence of God. Turning your eyes to Him will help you remember to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

And my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – I Corinthians 2:4-5