scripture

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.

He Himself Is Our Peace

As we continue our focus on peace this month, I felt led to share an often-neglected spiritual discipline with you as a way to experience God’s peace in your life. Right now.

What follows is a guided meditation on the Word of God based on the Christian spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer. In his classic book on spiritual disciplines (A Celebration of Discipline), Richard Foster observes:

“In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.”

our peaceOne way we can “disengage” from the pressures of the world is with contemplative prayer or Christian meditation. Foster states that words used in Scripture “to convey the idea of meditation” occur more than fifty times—and that’s just in the Old Testament!

“These words have various meanings: listening to God’s word, reflecting on God’s works, rehearsing God’s deeds, ruminating on God’s law, and more. In each case there is stress upon changed behavior as a result of our encounter with the living God. Repentance and obedience are essential features in any biblical understanding of meditation.”

As followers of Christ, we don’t practice meditation for the sake of clearing our minds or relaxation (although relaxation may be a happy outcome just the same). Instead, we meditate on Scripture and the Lord’s promises in order to bring about repentance in our lives: restoration replaces resistance and rebellion; obedience overrides resentment.

“…Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Today’s devotional will walk you through a Scripture-based meditation that centers on Jesus Christ as our source of peace. As you participate in this contemplative prayer, you will focus your thoughts on your relationship with the Lord by coordinating your breathing (inhale/hold/exhale) with a very simple physical action (palms up/palms down). As you exhale, you will confess your sins.

Physical Location

Scriptural meditation and prayer are gifts God gave us to center our attention on Him and experience His peace in the midst of life’s turmoils, no matter where we are physically. In other words, you can meditate anywhere, but a quiet place would be best. You can do this while laying in bed, sitting at the kitchen table, or even holding a baby. You can do this in the waiting room at a hospital, in the break room at work, or in a recliner by the pool. This is a simple, portable spiritual discipline! For example, King David meditated in the middle of the night while he was laying awake in bed:

“When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.”
Psalm 63:6-7 (NKJV)

Intentional Breathing

Breathing. It’s not something we tend to think about, is it? Since we’ve been inhaling and exhaling our whole lives, the thought of intentional breathing might seem silly. But it’s not. Intentional breathing is a way for us to control our bodies and quiet our minds for the purpose of focusing on the Lord and the truths in His Word.

The 12-Second Cycle

The 12-second cycle is pretty simple, and you won’t need to keep counting after you go through it a couple of times. If four seconds is too long, adjust the timing so that you can focus on the Lord and not your breathing.

  • Take a deep breath (inhale 4 seconds)
  • Hold it for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Repeat

Practice the 12-second cycle until you don’t need to count it out (2-3 times is sufficient).

Physical Position

Whether you’re lying down, sitting, or standing, you can intentionally position the palms of your hands facing up (palms up) to symbolize your willingness to receive the Lord’s gift of peace (or anything from Him, for that matter).

Meditation Palms up or Palms down

When you purposefully turn your palms face down (palms down), you are symbolizing your desire to let go of anything standing in the way of your relationship with Him. With a simple turning of the hands, you can physically position yourself to receive from the Lord and let go of distractions and obstacles.

Fellowship thru Contemplative Prayer

Since our theme this month is “peace,” what follows is a meditation on peace—a fruit of the Spirit. We will begin with a “breath prayer”—one word or a short phrase that can be said within one breath. The breath prayer is one way we can stay in touch with the Lord throughout the day. In other words, don’t make the mistake of thinking that prayer is limited to your “quiet time” or time of meditation. You can utter a breath prayer at any time throughout the day to remind yourself not only what you’re giving up, but also what God is doing in your life.

I have written a few “breath prayers” (see below) to help you get started, but you don’t have to use my words! As Richard Foster says,

“Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word…it involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness. The truth of the matter is that the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship.”

That just rocks my world! God wants fellowship with ME. God wants fellowship with YOU! And, listen, this is far from an exhaustive training on contemplative prayer (a.k.a. Christian meditation). If this is something you find fruitful, then by all means, do additional research. I’ve recommended a few resources for spiritual discipline on my website which you can access here.

seek his peace

Meditation on Peace

So, for now, won’t you take a few minutes to slow down, pay attention, and listen to the Lord? Make space for Him to speak to your heart and allow Him to take on the burdens that are wearing you down.

We will begin with slowing down your breathing, then pray a few sentence prayers, and end with contemplative prayer. The breath prayer is something you can take with you throughout your day to remind you of this time with the Lord and call upon Him in times of need.

If you follow my outline, you will affirm the truth found in Ephesians 2:14a: “For He Himself is our peace.”

It’s time to start the spiritual meditation that follows. Allow God to fill you with His peace as you let go of anything that might be hindering your relationship. It’s highly likely that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you obstacles in your life which are not listed here. Feel free to go “off-script” as you spend quality time with the Lord today. Remember: He. Is. Our. Peace.

BREATHING
Practice breathing the 12-Second Cycle. Move to the next section when you’re ready.

Receive (inhale): Take a deep breath ~ 4 seconds
Affirm (hold): Hold your breath ~ 4 seconds
Release (exhale): Blow out the breath ~ 4 seconds

SENTENCE PRAYERS 
This section will provide you an opportunity to receive His peace and release various distractions. Move to the next section when you’re ready.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release the turmoil around me to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my stress to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my exhaustion to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my frustrations to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my habit of comparison to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my insecurities to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release any feelings of insignificance to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release all resentment to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my need to control to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my expectations to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my self-centeredness to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my _______________________ to you.

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
This is your time to fellowship with the Lord. Take your time. Don’t rush this part. Slow down. Listen. Pay attention. 

Pray using your own words…or don’t use any words at all. Use your hands as an outward symbol of the posture of your heart: “palms down” as you confess your sins and release your worries to the Lord; “palms up” as you quietly listen for His voice and receive His peace. You won’t necessarily hear an audible voice, but when the Lord speaks, you will recognize Him. If you’re unsure, continue to listen and pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment. What you hear will never contradict Scripture.

BREATH PRAYER
This is a one-word prayer you take with you throughout your day. Pray it anytime, anywhere. 

The breath prayer for this meditation is “Peace.”

 

Tips for Maintaining Your Peace

As women of faith, we are directed to live peaceably whenever possible. It must be important if it can be found in various forms 429 times in the King James Version of the Bible! The scriptures talk about different types of peace, including false peace, inner peace, peace with God and peace with man.

maintaining peace

But have you ever taken a minute and really thought about what peace means to you? I know whenever I think of the word “peace” it is immediately followed by the word “quiet”, yet I have learned as I have aged that they don’t always go together.

According to the dictionary, it means:

  1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility
  2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence

In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, and it refers to relationships between people, nations and with God.

In the New Testament, the primary Greek word for “peace” is eirene, and it refers to rest and tranquility. This is the peace we are seeking now.

As a woman of faith, we have an obligation to “let the peace of God rule” in in our hearts (men too but I am visiting with the ladies today) Colossians 3:15.  In my understanding, this means I have a to make a choice either to trust God’s promises by letting His peace rule my heart and life, or decide to rely on myself which is actually rejecting the peace He offers me. In John 14:27, Jesus gave His disciples peace based on the truth that He has overcome the world.

We also know that peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 reads that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These fruits are things that we are instructed to add to our lives.

So how do we get this fruit called peace? This peacefulness in the chaos of our day to day life? We all know ladies that never seem to get flustered when things get crazy around them. I have wanted to know their secret for decades.

One day I asked the lady that I call my Titus 2 Mom. I call her that because she lives the example shown in Titus instructing the older women to train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

According to her, the secret to a peaceful life (at least at home) is as simple as how well prepared I am. Whoa – wait a minute. That is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted a profound moment or insight that I could just tell my family was being enacted and then TADA.. everyone would live in peace (and quiet) forever and ever.

She just smiled and said, no sweetie. The peace in your home is on your shoulders. She assured me it comes with practice.

Since then, I have been honored to counsel with younger moms feeling overwhelmed and searching for peace in their homes.

My tips for Tips for Maintaining Peace

Accept Our Role and Our Responsibility

Starting right now, remember that you are the parent. You are the adult in the house and you are their mom. You are not their buddy, friend, cleaning lady or doormat.

As the parent, it is your responsibility to set boundaries and expectations for your children. They need you to remain calm when they get all out of sorts. The best way for us to have peace is when we direct or respond to our children instead of the often panic reactions we have when things are wild and crazy.

Being peaceful and showing our children how to resolve issues in a calm manner goes a long way to the “peacefulness” of the home.

Offer Grace for Mistakes

Don’t give up on yourself or your children. It is okay to do a “do over” when a situation fails to meet your peaceful meter. Stopping your day and gathering your little ones around for a moment of calmness, prayer and discussion on what was happening that could have been handled better doesn’t take long, and it gives everyone a fresh start.

Be Prepared for Your Day

Only you can determine what this looks like in your home. For us, it was making sure the calendar for tomorrow was posted so everyone could pick out their clothes, pack lunches and gather anything needed for the day. We also spent a few minutes “clearing the deck” aka picking up the community areas before heading up to the bedrooms to prepare for bed times.

I love the saying, “Failure to plan on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine”.  As much as I love saying that to my children, as a mom – it often does result in an emergency on our part if we do not plan ahead.

Being prepared for me also means getting up before everyone else in order to get some time in the Word and in prayer. It also gives me a few minutes to look over the schedule and make sure everything is ready to go.

I also offer a count down to things such as a 15 minute warning before departing the house, or a 5 minute warning that it is lights out upstairs. Just this little warning works wonders for those that don’t keep track of time themselves.

Expect and Look for Praise Opportunities

I strongly believe that our children behave the way we expect or at least the way we enforce our expectations. If your guidelines and expectations are clear, and the enforcement of the consequences is consistent; your little ones will fall in line.

That’s when you look for praise opportunities. Just watch how your approval and praise lights up their face! We like being praised for good work. Our children are no different.

Make Sure to Keep Your Heart Right

When my heart isn’t right; it isn’t long until nothing in our home is right. I heard that the mom is the thermostat of the family. Her heart setting is what the family feeds off of each day. When I have a grumbly heart…my children give it right back to me.

But when I am thankful and at peace, they also follow my lead.

example of peace

Be the example for your family. Spend time in the Word and in prayer. Seek God’s wisdom on ways to manage your home and heart so you are being the mom your children need in order to grow and learn the love of Christ.

We are all capable of becoming a peaceful mom. Start today by sitting down and clearing your mind and heart in prayer. Perhaps start a journal for you to use each morning to kick off your day by writing out scriptures on being at peace, or by listing three things you are thankful for and three things that you can praise your children for during the day. As you get ready for bed, look over the journal again and make a note or two for you to start off tomorrow.

 

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?

Finding Peace In God

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

finding peace

Have you ever had one of those days where everything you do, fills you with panic and anxiety. You may find yourself worrying over finances, work, family issues, or something similar. You just sit and stare off into space, worrying over the obstacle at hand, and feel your heart racing, and your hands getting clammy!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God
Philippians 4:6

I find I get more anxious and worry when the night comes. It is like you are alone, and everyone else is sleeping, and you are wide awake battling the thoughts in your mind. Sometimes I feel that Satan attacks the hardest at nights, when he knows you are alone.

When we find ourselves being consumed by our thoughts and worries, we have to turn it over to God. Give him our fears, doubts, struggles, and let him take care of the matters at hand.

Worrying is a tool Satan uses to take our focus off God, and cause angst and stress in our life. When we worry, we are consumed by thing; rather if we hand these over to God, he can take control, and in that we will find peace.

His Promises

We need to remember God’s promises he has made to each of us, to protect us, and forever have unconditional love. That no matter what we go through in our life, God is always there, he will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

I find that when I spend time praying to God, listening to worship music, or reading a devotional, I gain more peace in my everyday life. When the world around me feels like it is closing in, I can simply close my eyes and say, “Jesus” over and over, and begin to feel that peace come flooding in.

I find that if I am struggling getting something out of my mind, just thanking God for being alive, the trees around me, the air I breathe, simple things like that can detour those heavy thoughts. If you feel like you are struggling with what to be thanking him for, just think small. Food, clothes, a home, and you will begin to see all the amazing things you have been blessed to have. Give thanks to God. As you are thanking him, you will begin to forget your struggles, and peace will flow in. You won’t feel as anxious as you might have felt before.

find peace

When I spend more time putting God first, the world around me, seems a lot less scary. God, will give you the strength and the courage to overcome anything in your path. We just have to turn to him, for peace. When you turn to him in prayer, he will be there to help you through any issue.

Just finding time to read the word (Isaiah 26:3) , or pray to God is a great way to gain a stronger relationship with God, find peace in your life, and grow in your faith. Learn to cast your cares on the Lord, so he can handle them, and take the burden off of you. In return we will find peace, and that is a beautiful thing.

Prayer:
Lord God, I thank you for your unconditional love, and for always being there when I need you. That in those moments when I feel like my life is stressful or becoming to much, you are right there with me, carrying me through it. That you are the peace maker, that I can call on you to find strength, peace, and hope in all things. Thank you Lord, for your amazing love.

In Awe,

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!

 

 

The Yoke of Humility

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 NIV

yoke of humility

Ever since I was a young Christian, I have loved the idea of taking on the Lord’s yoke. In my head, I could always picture myself trading in one heavy load of baggage for the promised lighter load from Jesus.

A yoke is a piece of wood used to unite two animals allowing them to pull equipment and work in fields. The two animals, usually oxen, must be similar in size and height. When a farmer had a new animal, it was paired with an older animal to be trained. When the new animal tried to veer off the path, the yoke would keep that animal centered. What an amazing picture this creates when we think of a relationship with the Lord.

God is offering us a personal invitation to be united with Him and to learn from Him how to walk in humility. Jesus lowered himself by coming to this earth and dying for our sins. And He’s calling us to tie ourselves to Him and take the path of humility with Him by our sides.

humility

Not only does He promise to teach us how to be gentle and humble, but He promises that on the path of humility we will find rest for our souls. And it doesn’t stop there. God promises that the humble person will be:

  • Crowned with victory: For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Psalm 149:4
  • Given wisdom: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
  • Lifted up: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
  • and gain honor: Pride brings a person low but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Proverbs 29:23

Lord, help me to remain yoked to you. I ask you to reveal any area in my heart that is not tied to you. Help me to remain on the path of humility and to put others above myself.

You Can’t Come in My House with Muddy Feet!

How many times have you seen commercials about this or maybe you’ve experienced this yourself…

…your husband or kids (or even the dog) enter your house from outside, either from playing or working, and have muddy feet? And of course, you’ve just cleaned the floor, right?

And you say…Don’t come in here with those muddy feet!

muddy feet: humility

But what about God’s house? God is holy and His house is holy. Do we try to enter it with muddy feet?

In Old Testament times, God commanded the priests to perform special cleansing duties in order to be purified and fit to enter the tabernacle or the Holy of holies of the temple to serve. They were to cleanse themselves in the laver or the molten/brazen sea before entering His presence, so that they would be pure and not die before a holy God. Die? Yes, die.

God appointed Aaron, his sons, and their descendants to be priests and said, “Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from [the laver]. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die.” (Ex. 30:19-20 NKJV)

This was serious business. And it was a forever statute.

The application for believers today is that we, too, have been made priests. Christ is our High Priest (Heb. 9:11) and, through His death, He “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.” (Rev. 1:6a NKJV) In order, then, to serve the Lord, to minister before Him, or to worship Him, we need to be cleansed.

Therefore, “since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:21-22 NLT)

Humility: As priests before a holy God, we cannot enter His presence with muddy feet…or a muddy heart, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:7 NKJV)

To come before the Lord in holiness, to worship at His feet, to give Him glory and honor, being cleansed is mandatory. We are to worship in the beauty of holiness, as David reminds us (Ps. 29:2). Yes, the Lord always accepts us, but, to worship in holiness, we need to be cleansed.

humility: muddy feet

We cannot worship a holy God when covered in the mud of sin.

Questions we need to ask ourselves:

  • Do I allow the Lord to cleanse my heart to sanctify me, to purify me and separate me from the filth of this world that I might draw near to Him in true worship? James said, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a NKJV)
  • Am I out traipsing through the sludgy side-roads of life, dragging my heart and feet through its muck? James continues, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8 NKJV), “for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (James 4:8b NLT)
  • Do I try to enter the Father’s presence with those muddy feet? Or do I allow Jesus to wash my feet? As Peter said, “‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’” (John 13:8 NKJV)

Oh, that I may have a cleansed heart, purged mind, sanitized spirit, and purified body to enter the holy presence of the Lord to offer my worship!

lynnmosher.com

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

Humility in Homeschooling

I’m a tri-polar homeschool mom. By “tri-polar,” I mean I tend to bounce between one of three poles: the good, the bad, and the humble. I have “good” days when I think homeschooling is the best choice we’ve ever made for our family and wouldn’t dream of changing a thing! I also have “bad” days when I question my sanity and run the same load of laundry for the third time. Because. Reasons. 😉

humility in homeschooling

Most days I’m somewhere in the middle—like a pinball briskly bouncing between the bumpers on the machine (quadrupling the score) before bouncing back out onto the playfield only to slide straight through the flapper paddles into the “out hole.” Game over. Or so it could be, if not for my third (bonus) pole perspective.

Before I share my “bonus pole strategy” with you, I need to explain the dangers of the first two:

DANGER OF POLE #1: PRIDE
To the homeschool moms who paint the picture that all days are good, that homeschooling is easy, that children are always respectful and obedient: Bless your heart! (I mean that in the most Southern of ways.) Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”

If I’ve learned nothing else in the past eight years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that homeschooling is a 2-for-1 deal (God is efficient like that). Both children AND their parents are transformed through the experiences of home education—sometimes, parents more so than children—and the more challenging the experience, the more dramatic the change. God is always working on us to transform us into His image, anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.  Outward appearances can be very deceiving.

“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
    but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12

Some of the most judgmental, prideful people I have ever met have been homeschoolers; however, the vast majority are among the most humble and kind. My point is that when we make the choice to homeschool our children based on strong personal convictions, we must fight the temptation to condemn those who have chosen not to. More importantly, we should not judge those who do it differently than we do. That is pride and generally frowned upon in most Christian circles.

We should be generous in our assumptions (as if we have the right to make any in the first place). Brené Brown, one of my favorite authors, suggests that we “extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.” This gives satan very little space to bait us with offense and lead us into the sins of arrogance and judgment.

DANGER OF POLE #2: SELF-ABASEMENT
To the homeschool moms who are at their wits’ end, who think all the other moms know exactly what they are doing, and that they are the only moms blessed with disrespectful, obstinate kids in the homeschool community: Things could be worse! And I mean that in the most Northern of ways. Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”

“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
    and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33

Something else I’ve learned in my years of homeschooling: satan loves nothing more than to make us feel isolated, alone, and abnormal. If he can get us to repeatedly verbalize our insecurities, doubts, and fears, he will lead us down a path of self-pity where we forget that We. Are. Not. Alone! We forget that our homeschool journey is as much an adventure of faith as it is an education. We forget to look up!

As Dr. Tony Evans says, “God would not have called you to it, if He did not plan to see you through it.”

How did we ever conceive the notion that the path would be smooth when following God’s will for our lives? It’s rarely like that. Don’t believe me? Just look in the Bible for a few examples of folks whose path was anything but smooth (e.g., Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Mary). God uses the ups and downs, curves and caves to sculpt us into the people He created us to be—so we reach our full potential! So, we must be wary of our penchant for whining on the bad days, lest we forget He who planned this journey in the first place. Does it mean we never vent our frustrations with a trusted friend and ally? By no means! God gives us partners on the journey for a reason; however, we must keep our attitudes in check, lest venting take root or worse drag the other down. Does it mean we take responsibility for our spiritual perspective during these times? Absolutely.

BONUS POLE STRATEGY: A HUMBLE PERSPECTIVE
This, my friend, is where our “Bonus Pole” comes in. The third pole exists in another dimension, and the good news is that there are no dangers here! In fact, this place is filled with extra pinballs that come out at just the right moment to help us keep playing the game. Thank you, Lord! This pole is the best place for me to hang my hat as a homeschool mom. It’s an “every day” attitude of HUMILITY. And the cool thing about this pole is that since it’s in another dimension, I can bounce in anytime I want—whether I’m having a good day, a bad day, or just a day.

“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4

HUMILITY shifts my perspective from my relationship with my kids to my relationship with God. I’m able to see the battle for what it is and fight the real enemy—which, by the way, is NOT the kids, the pet(s), the curriculum, the finances, the house, or even the spouse!

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

humility shifts

When my vision is clouded by pride (it’s all about me) or self-abasement (it’s still all about me), I forget that the same God who called me to homeschool is the same God who has equipped me for battle.  As I intentionally shift my focus from self to Savior, I am reminded whose I am. My vision becomes crystal clear and my discernment is sharpened. I remember my spiritual armor, and I’m able to fight the fight of faith with weapons that actually work! Interestingly, this shift can only happen when I’m in humility.

So, how do I get there? This place called “Humility”?

Well, when you arrive at the fork on Attitude Road, consider your options: You may head down the paved path of pride or choose the grovel road that leads to self-abasement. Or look up and take the highway to humility where there are no tolls or trolls and the view is quite divine!

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10