Practicing the Peace of God

Not long ago, a friend said to me that she’s rarely had occasions when she didn’t feel the gut-wrenching discomfort of fear churning away inside her. With everything that is going on in our world, she believes her fears are getting worse. She’s often heard folks speak about the peace of God, but she finds it very challenging to accept. My friend is afraid of everything, and much of her time is spent preparing for the worse. Many of us have been there, and some of us are still there. The anxious gnawing away inside us is the response to our fear of eminent danger, and it’s because we feel powerless to do anything about what we perceive to be a threat. Whether or not we can readily identify any immediate danger is irrelevant. Our internal register tells us that we’ve been wounded before, and we are in jeopardy of being wounded again.

Romans 8:37 declares that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us! The “more than” takes it over the moon for me, because it conveys overwhelming victory through Christ. A life filled with fear is operating in a whole other dimension than a life fully operating in Romans 8:37. It’s almost as if the two individuals, one trusting Christ and the other overwhelmed by fear, are on two different planets. Our fears, worries, and doubts do nothing to help any situation that arises, yet most of us gravitate towards these heavies more than we do towards faith in God through Jesus Christ.

The thing that I shared with my friend is that fear has a ravenous appetite. It doesn’t know how to take one bite. It just wants more and more and more. Anxiety and worry feed it and continue doing so until this cycle of feeding and wanting more takes over a person’s life. At some point, we have to get off this rollercoaster and realize that although it’s fast moving, it’s not getting us anywhere.

The peace of God is our destination, and there are certain choices and decisions it requires for the journey forward. The first of which is understanding that we’re not in charge of God’s peace. It isn’t something we calculate, manipulate, or ration. Fear makes us think that by feeding it, we have some degree of control. We don’t, and this mindset will not fly with the things of God. He is sovereign. This means that He’s in total control, and the only way that you and I can experience His blessings is through our humility. We must humble ourselves before all that He is. Fear is from the kingdom of darkness, and fear does not acknowledge that God is in control.

Another important choice we must make is that of no longer practicing fear. This is not to say that we must totally eradicate every drop of fear in our lives. From where we stand today, none of us are even totally conscious of how much fear and doubt is in our hearts. But to the extent that we are aware, we must focus our attention on God through the person of Jesus Christ and allow Him to do what only He can do in our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” We have to be willing to surrender everything to God in prayer, understanding that our faith in Him through Jesus Christ is what transports us from chaos and confusion into His perfect peace. We cannot steer, and we don’t own the map. All we are required to do is to trust Heavenly Father and train the eyes of our hearts to continually look to the Lord, as we allow our souls to rest in His peace.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Practicing the Peace of God”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Resurrection Power!

When the food in our refrigerators or kitchen cabinets is passed its expiration date, most of us will throw it out. We don’t think twice about it. Nor do we think too much about the expiration date until it dawns on us that maybe we’ve held on to something too long. The expiration date is an indication that holding on to stuff can cause harm. Having this date in small letters stamped on jars and labels is something many folks take for granted, but we should be thankful because these little dates are quite useful. Good health is a very wonderful thing to have, and we need all the help we can get to preserve it. So, those simple but useful expiration dates can be the difference between spending a day enjoying life or spending it doubled over with nausea, stomach cramps, or worse.  Many of us have been there and done that, and don’t want to do it again. It ain’t fun, and if we’re wise, when something is past its expiration date, we’ll throw the old stuff out because we understand that it’s harmful to our health and overall well-being.

It’s no secret that there are a lot of things in our lives that aren’t stamped, but they very definitely have passed their expiration date, and many of us have ignored it. There are relationships for instance, there are also people, attitudes, behaviors, and lots of other situations that we’re allowing to hang around way past their shelf life. We don’t often recognize how harmful they are to us until it’s too late. Why do we do it? Why do we allow things to remain a part of our lives when it’s pretty clear they’re driving us further away from God and the life He wants us to have? One of the reasons might be that we’re not convinced that if we let the wrong things go, the right ones will show up.

Not only does this fear come to the surface when it involves relationships and people, but it pops up in the behaviors and attitudes we hold as well. In fact, fear cleverly hides away in our thoughts and attitudes, and it gets fuel from our behaviors and deeds. God has given us instruction in His Word for handling this. Through the Apostle Paul, He tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT), “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” People these days don’t like hearing about the ‘old sinful nature’. Many preachers don’t talk about it because folks get angry when they’re confronted with their sin. They like the nice flowery stuff, but God’s truth and standard is the greatest treasure of anything in existence, and He wants us to throw out the stuff that is past its expiration date and isn’t good for His plan for our lives.

The stuff that’s past its expiration date is the stuff that Jesus Christ nailed to the cross. The gossiping, backbiting, jealousy, resentment, rage, arrogance, lying, cheating, and all the other heavies that harden our hearts and keep our souls weighted down. Some of the people that have attached themselves to us are feeding off this old nature part of us. They have no interest in spiritually growing in Christ themselves and feel most comfortable when we’re turning our backs on it as well.

2Corinthians 5:17(NLT) tells us “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Our time on earth is the only opportunity that we will have to make an extremely consequential choice. Either we will remain blind and continue to indulge those things that hold us back, or we will embrace the new person we were created to be. It’s up to us to realize that the old life is gone, and to stop reaching back to old dead things that are way past their expiration date.

As the time approaches to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we must remember that he gave his life on the cross so that we could be made whole through his love. He took all our sins upon himself and paid the price we could not pay. 1John 4:10(NLT) says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Our precious Lord and Savior got up from the grave with all power in his hands, and all the suffering and sin was left behind. That’s where we should leave it.

Often the suffering and discomfort that we experience in life is because we haven’t left the old stuff behind. We’re trying to make it come alive again, and that’s not a workable strategy. Our Heavenly Father has told us what works for a life made brand new. It is to throw off the old sinful nature and all its cousins. Then, we are to make our minds new by flooding them with God’s Word. As we celebrate the resurrection power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s remember that God has given us a fresh start, and we ought to take it.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Resurrection Power!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2021. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

“If You Feeling Froggy, Jump!”

“If you feeling froggy, jump!” Back in the day, you wouldn’t say those words to someone unless you were confident in your ability to back them up. It was a dare—a challenge—an invitation to sho’nuff throw-down on the playground. And after you duked it out (if it came to that), you would have solidified your reputation. If you were a smaller kid with glasses, like my cousin, Steve, and you were looking to make your mark, a lot of mileage could be gleaned from making a dare like this. The thing is, it only worked if you were serious. The other kids could smell your bluff if you weren’t prepared to do battle during recess and back up all that talk.

Faith can sniff out a bluff talker in less time than it takes to blink an eye. Lots of folks will tell you they’re believing God to receive one thing or another. Maybe it’s a single sister or brother praying to cross paths with the quality person they will ultimately call hubby or wifey. Many of us are praying about our finances. We’re on the grind every day, but the 9 to 5 just ain’t cuttin’ it; and some of us are facing circumstances that are much more serious. We need the intervention of God’s miraculous power in a major way. Whatever the need, whether it’s finances, good relationships, better health, or an improved well-being in every area of our existence; faith is required. We need it to move us from point A to point B, and its necessary to go higher and progress further in every aspect of our lives.

James 2:24 says that just as the body without the spirit is dead, faith without works is dead as well. This tells us something extremely important about faith, it doesn’t respond to our whims. Faith responds to authority. Hebrews 11:1(NKJV) gives us the definition of faith. It says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is a substance. We can’t see it, but it’s a heavyweight. God has given it to us to get some things done in the earth. Faith is the title deed to what we’ve prayed to receive even before it has arrived on the scene. In other words, a bluff just ain’t going to cut it. We have to believe in the Father’s love so much that we don’t doubt for one second that He loves us, wants to see us blessed, and is willing and able to do just that…to bless us!

If you felt froggy enough to jump, it meant that not only were you willing to go toe to toe, but you most likely would dive in first. If you got caught brawling it out, you’d take the blame in the principal’s office for instigating things. My cousin, Steve, was never in trouble and was the last person you’d ever expect to see in front of the principal, but he was tired of this one kid who’d snatch his glasses, and then hide them. He got to a point where he was no longer going to be afraid to fight. He was ready to put it all on the line.

For those seeking to stand with the spiritual armor that God has provided through Christ, we put it all on the line every day, but we brawl with faith! Challenges are unavoidable in life, and we can’t bluff our way to victory; we have to get froggy when it comes to anything that seeks to separate us from the life God desires us to have. James 1:2-4 The Message (MSG) tells us exactly how to do it, “2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

Trying to get out of something prematurely is the same as trying to meet a challenge with undeveloped confidence. It’s shaky ground, where a person doesn’t really believe that God will back their steps. It’s when your mouth is trying to write a check that your heart isn’t prepared to cash. Deep down, this person isn’t in the faith for the long haul, and the devil can smell it. Best not to play that game. Instead, get cemented in the real deal—the all-in commitment to God. That’s when you get froggy with any challenge the enemy throws your way. You’ll fight the good fight of faith, and Jesus will make sure you always win. ■

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

 “If You Feeling Froggy, Jump!” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Abundantly Blessed

Back in the day, being a faithful Christian meant being in church every Sunday. This is how folks measured whether someone had a true-blue relationship with God. In their minds, you didn’t necessarily have to learn anything new or add to your catalog of faith. You didn’t have to be a different person when you walked out of the building than you were before you came in; you just had to make sure you occupied a space on the pew each week. If you showed up, most folks considered you a faithful Christian. Cut to present day, and Luke 13:24 has stirred a new sense of urgency in the hearts of those that are convinced that not only are we living beneath our privilege, but we’re living in the last days. In this verse, Jesus Christ said, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.”

We forget sometimes that Jesus was a very radical person living in his time. He completely flipped the script on business as usual. He came to give us an up-close and personal demonstration of how to live according to God’s Will and Plan. In John 10:10 (NKJV), Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Much like today, in the time during which Jesus walked the earth, people were isolated; divided by race, class, and gender; and living in their own silos. When it came to unity, peace, power, and love, they had these small little boxes that they tried to put God in. Mathematics at its most basic level teaches us that you can’t possibly squeeze the faith required for a big life out of a mindset that seeks to make God’s love so small.

The definition of abundance is a very large quantity of something. The first instinct of those who read John 10:10 is to think of abundance in terms of finance and money. Their definition of wealth is exclusive to loot in the bank. God’s definition of abundance is prosperity in every area of our lives. 2Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) tells us, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” His Will for us is to have good quality relationships, good health, a kind and committed spouse, family unity, and have our needs met with extra to spare. He desires that we operate out of the overflow of His abundance, so that we have plenty to share with others.

If God had not let us in on His desire for us to be abundantly blessed, we would not know what is available and achievable in life, and we would not do our very best to meet the standard He’s laid out for us in His Word. But the truth is that not only can we renew our minds to His promises, we can live the life of love that draws good things to us like a magnet. That’s good news indeed!

A myth that many people have believed for a long time is that you can have one without the other, that you can have the goodies without the good works to back them up. James 2:26 (NLT) tells us, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.” The yummiest desserts are made by skillful hands that labor in the kitchen. It should never be lost on those of us who like to partake of the goodies that the goal is that we get in the kitchen and learn to make them ourselves.

The Word of God is the bread of life. Our privilege and responsibility is to feast upon it as often as we can. It’s how we put on the love of Christ and begin to walk as he walked, talk as he talked, live as he lives, and love as loves. Sometimes this journey is uncomfortable; learning to be the embodiment of love often is, but it is what we are here to do. Jesus Christ warned in John 9:4(NLT), “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.” We don’t know the day or the hour when Jesus Christ will come again, but we know he’s coming. He’s not coming back for a building, He’s coming back for us, and if we’re not ready, there’s not a better time than now to prepare.

God tells us in 2Corinthians 2:15-16(NLT), “15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” We’re still in the game! We’re alive, and if you’re above ground you’re abundantly blessed. Through Jesus Christ, God has given us a Christ-like fragrance that rises up before Him. What could be better than that?!!! We’re a life-giving perfume to those that are waiting for us to influence their lives. So, the question is whether we’ll step outside our comfort zones and share with others what God has so freely given to us. If we commit ourselves to work hard and live the life of love that He has called us to, we will enter that narrow door to God’s Kingdom.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 “Abundantly Blessed” written by Fran for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2017. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!