Archive for April 4th, 2016

Peaceful on purpose

from JO’s sermon tonight:

if you’re going to live in peace, it’s not going to happen by accident. every day, we have opportunities to get upset, be offended, live worried. life happens: people get on your nerves, you get unexpected bills, a family member’s in the hospital. if you wait for all your circumstances to calm down, then you’re going to have peace and stop worrying, you’ll be waiting your whole life. God never promised that He would keep us from difficulties, that we wouldn’t have storms, but He did say that He would give us peace in the midst of the storms: 

Philippians 4:7 (RSV)

7 …the peace of God, which passes all understanding

that means, despite what’s going on around you, you still have peace: “the medical report wasn’t good, but I’m not worried; I know God has me in the palm of His hand.” “I didn’t get the promotion that I worked for, but I’m not upset; I know God has something better coming my way.” “my coworker was rude to me, but I’m not offended; God is my vindicator, He’ll fight my battles.” you have to protect your peace; you weren’t created to live worried, uptight, on edge. this is the reason many people have health issues: they can’t sleep at night, their food won’t digest right, they have ulcers. it’s because their mind is never at rest; they’re constantly trying to figure everything out, worried about their health, upset about their job, stressed-out over the traffic. your mind needs a break; it wasn’t meant to go all the time. the scripture says:

Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

22 Cast your cares on the Lord

you have to learn to turn it over to God. you weren’t designed to carry that heavy load; it will frustrate you. here’s the key; when you rest, God goes to work, but when you work, God rests. if you try to be God, God will step back and say, “ok, you figure it out, you handle it all, and I’ll take a break.” but when you come back to a place of peace, and say, “God, I trust You, my life is in Your hands. I’m not going to worry, live stressed; You have this all figured out, so I’m going to be still and know that you are God.” that’s when God goes to work.

in the scripture, David faced all kinds of opposition: people came against him, enemies were trying to take his life; he could’ve lived worried, stressed out, but he understood this principle.  he said:

Psalm 23:1-2 (KJV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

one version says:

Psalm 23:2 (CEB)

2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;

    He leads me to restful waters;

he was saying, “the way I keep my sanity, protect my peace, is on a regular basis, I go down to the still waters, and I empty out all my worry, fear, anxiety.”  he let his mind rest. I’m not talking about a physical place, I’m talking about in your spirit. it can be chaotic all around you, traffic, people, problems, drama, but on the inside, there’s a rest; you’re at peace. worry is a thief: it will rob of your sleep, joy, creativity. you don’t make good decisions when you’re worried. if you allow it, worry can keep you from your destiny. the scripture says:

Luke 12:25 (PHILLIPS)

25 Can any of you make himself an inch taller however much he worries

if we could, some of us would be 23 feet tall. what are you worried about? what’s keeping you awake at night, stealing your joy? it’s time to come back to the still waters. when you get quiet, when you’re in peace, it will help you to have the right perspective. but when we worry, we’re making our problem our God; what you see as the biggest thing in your life, in one sense that’s your God. if you worry about your health, night and day, you can’t sleep, that’s all you talk or think about, you’re making that sickness your God. do yourself a favor; take the worry, sickness, financial difficulty, off the throne, and put God back up on the throne. use that same energy to thank God that He’s still in control.

every time you’re tempted to worry, turn it around and thank Him that He’s taking care of that situation. let the worry be a reminder to switch over into praise, into things that are of a good report. you have to guard your mind; this is where the main battle is taking place.  good thoughts, they don’t automatically come into our mind; most of the time, especially in difficult situations, the first thoughts are negative, things like, “that pain in your side, that’s dangerous, same thing your grandmother died from,” “you’ll never get married; you’ve been single so long,” “you’ll never get past this bad break, all the odds are against you.” the easy thing to do is to believe those lies, start dwelling on it;  “what if I don’t get well, the report isn’t good, I can’t make those payments?” don’t fall into that trap. your life is going to follow your thoughts; if you live worried, anxious, uptight, you’re inviting discouragement, bad breaks, negativity. you have to turn your worry into worship, thank God that He’s fighting your battles, that no weapon formed against you will ever prosper.

when I look back over my life, most of the things I worried about never came to pass. I wasted a lot of time and energy being uptight. it’s easy to wake up in the middle of the night and find something to worry about. a lot of people these days are professional worriers; they can multitask and worry while taking a shower, brushing their teeth, driving to work. somebody asked me, if I could do anything over again, what would I do differently? I told him I would trust God more; I wouldn’t lose sleep worried about the budgets, if I was able to minister, if people were going to like me. none of that worrying helped me to move 1” forward.

I wonder how many things you’re worried about that are never going to come to pass. are you trying to solve a problem that hasn’t happened? “what if I get laid off next year?” what if you don’t, but you spend a whole year worrying about it? “what if I never get married?” what if you do; how much time are you wasting, worrying?  “what if this pain in my side is something serious?” go to the doctor and get checked out, but don’t spend 3 years worried, then find out it was nothing. Jesus put it this way:

Matthew 6:34 (GNT)

34 So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own

God has given you grace for today; you don’t have grace for tomorrow. don’t try to figure out the next 5 years, play out all the what-ifs; the what-ifs will depress you. the truth is, if a what-if does come to pass, God will give you the grace to handle it. “what if the report’s not good, my love one doesn’t make it, I do get laid off?” then the peace that passes understanding will be right there waiting for you. God promises that He will arm you with strength for every battle. we may not know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future. don’t miss today worried about tomorrow. today is a gift; we can never get this day back. I believe, like with me, many of the things you’re worried about are not going to happen, and if they do, it’s not going to be as difficult as you think; you don’t have the grace for it today.

and sure, we should plan, use common sense, but at some point, you have to turn it over to go to God, and say, “God, You know what’s best for me. You said You’d give me grace for every season. just like You clothe the lilies of the fields and feed the birds of the air, I know You will take care of me.”  it’s very freeing when you learn to turn things over to God. you’re not supposed to go through life weighted down by worry, stress, anxiety; start lightening your load, go back to the still waters, empty all that out. really, it’s important, every morning you should start the day off in peace, not stressed, hurried, rushing around. look at the sunrise, listen to the birds singing, breathe in God’s goodness, thank Him for His blessings on your life. Hebrews talks about:

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV)

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest

that means; you have a problem, but you’re not losing sleep over it, you know God is still in control. this is one of the main ways we show God that we’re trusting Him, by staying in peace. not up when your circumstances are up, down when they’re down;  you’re stable, consistent, in the rest of God.

are you losing sleep over something you can’t do anything about? as long as you’re honoring God, being your best, then you can rest. you may be facing an illness; you can’t make yourself get well. of course, do what you can, use common sense, but at some point you have to turn it over to God, and say, “Lord, I trust You to bring the healing, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my life.” worrying doesn’t help you to heal. living stressed, uptight, studies show that weakens the immune system; come back to a place of peace. or, you may have people in your life that are not making good decisions. you can’t make people do what’s right; don’t let their poor choices sour your life, you have to protect your peace. don’t go the next 20 years all worried about somebody else; turn them over to God. if you’ll get off the throne, so to speak, and stay at rest, then God will get on the throne, and do what you can’t do. in His own way, His own timing, He’ll make things happen.

but really, if God is not changing them yet, what makes us think we can change them in our own strength? and sure, we should be good examples, we should pray; what I’m saying is, you shouldn’t live stressed out over somebody else’s poor choices. you have a destiny to fulfill; you need your energy, wisdom, creativity, to become all God’s created you to be. are you trying to change things that only God can change? your load will get a whole lot lighter if you’ll turn it over to Him and enter into His rest. 

Acts 12:1-6 (NIV)

12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. … he proceeded to seize Peter also… 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover… 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

Peter was sleeping so soundly, the angel had to hit him to awaken him. if you knew that the next day your life might come to an end, you were in great danger, would you be sleeping soundly, or would you be pacing the floor, stressed out, “God, please help me, don’t let them kill me”? it’s good to pray, ask for God’s help, but at some point we all have to do like Peter, and say, “God, I’ve honored you, prayed, believed, I’ve done my best; now, God, I’m going to rest. I’m not going to worry about the medical report, live stressed out over the situation at work, be upset because I don’t see anything happening; I trust you.” if Peter would’ve been stressed, worried, maybe the angel wouldn’t have showed up; maybe he wouldn’t have been freed. but when God saw him resting, God said, “alright, let Me go to work.” I wonder if you would see situations turn around if you’d simply come back to a place of peace.

worry doesn’t make anything better. being frustrated doesn’t get God’s attention. begging God, reminding Him what’s wrong, that only makes us depressed. take the problem off the throne, and put God back up on throne. if you’re talking more about your problems than you are about God, you have the wrong thing on the throne. I saw a saying the other day: “dear problem, my God is so much bigger than you.” but even in prayer, instead of praying in faith, sometimes we complain about what we don’t like: “God, these people at work get on my nerves, You better do something. God, my back’s been hurting for 6 years. God, these prices are so high, I need your help.” instead of begging God, reminding Him of everything that’s  wrong, why don’t you try a different approach; do like Peter, go to sleep, enter into His rest.

sometimes, when I pray, I say, “God, You know what I need, what I want, all about me, so Lord, I just want to tell You that I love You, I trust You, and I thank You for getting me to where I’m supposed to be.” not begging God, but praying from a place of rest, talking to Him from a place of peace. our actions speak louder than our words; when you can sleep soundly, like Peter, in a time of great need, you’re showing God that you trust Him. you’re saying, “God, I know You’re bigger than this problem. You said You would never sleep, so I’m going to go to sleep. even though things aren’t perfect in my life, I’m going to relax, knowing that You’re on the throne, and You are fighting my battles.” that’s a very freeing way to live. my message to you today is very simple; go to sleep. enter into His rest. quit worrying about everything, quit trying to figure it out; turn it over to God. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:16 (NLT)

16 I am sending you out as sheep among wolves

sheep are very calm, peaceful animals. they don’t get upset. I’ve never seen a sheep having a nervous breakdown, pacing the fields, stressed out, uptight; they’re always at ease. what’s interesting is, sheep are basically defenseless animals; they can’t run fast, they don’t have sharp teeth, they can’t really kick. they rely on the shepherd to take care of them. the shepherd keeps them from danger, protects them from wild animals, tells them where to go. they don’t worry; they know, as long as they’re with the shepherd, everything will be fine. we can take a lesson from the sheep; stay in peace, the good Shepherd is watching over you. the God Who knew you before you were born, breathed life into you, is guiding, protecting you.

and yes, there will be some wolves in our path, attacks, things we don’t understand. don’t fall apart, don’t start complaining; be like a sheep, stay in peace. you don’t have to run, get all worked up; the good Shepherd will fight your battles. He will lead you into green pastures, restore your soul. you may go through some valleys, difficult seasons; you don’t have to fear any evil, for the Lord your God, the good Shepherd, is right there with you. sometimes, the reason we’re not seeing God work in our life is that we’re not acting like sheep; we’re worried, living stressed-out, trying to change things that we can’t change. why don’t you come back to a place of peace, the still waters? you’ve worried about that problem long enough; let your mind take a break. some people never let their mind rest; they go on vacation for their body, but their mind is still worrying. they worry on the beach just like they worry at home. that doesn’t help us to move 1 inch forward.

in the scripture, when God told Ananias to go pray for Saul, Ananias didn’t want to go. Saul was having believers arrested and put in prison; he was the greatest enemy of the church. but:

Acts 9:3-8 (NIV)

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied… 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.

that moment was a turning point in Saul’s life; he left there a changed man. but Ananias didn’t know anything about what had happened on the road to Damascus; he still thought Saul was a huge threat:

Acts 9:13-14 (NIV)

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

Ananias was worried; he came up with reasons not to pray for Saul.  he didn’t realize he was worried about something that God had already taken care of. he didn’t know that Saul had already had a change of heart on the road to Damascus. when he went to pray for him, he found out that Saul was an ally instead of an enemy. 

some of the things you’re worried about, just like with Ananias, you can’t see it yet, but God has already changed it. He’s already spoken to the right people, lined up your healing, arranged that breakthrough; it’s just a matter of time before you walk into it. no use losing sleep over that child that’s off course, that negative medical report, that situation at work; the threat has already been canceled, the solution is already en route. stay in peace, and like Ananias, you’ll come into what God has already done. friends, don’t let worry rob you. if a thief came into your home every week and took your groceries, clothing, furniture, it wouldn’t take long at all before you got fed up, and said, “no more, that’s enough”; you’d put a stop to it real quickly. that’s what you have to do with worry.

don’t go another 5 years letting worry rob you of your joy, peace; put your foot down, and say, “that’s it, this is a new day; no more worrying for me. I’m going to guard my mind, stay by the still waters, live from a place of peace.” remember, when you rest, God goes to work, but when you work, God rests. whatever is bothering you, whatever you’re tempted to worry about, I’m asking you to take that off the throne, and put God back up on the throne. make Him bigger. use that same energy to thank Him that He’s working in your life. if you’ll do this, you’ll experience peace that passes understanding. no matter what happens on the outside, on the inside, you’ll be at rest. you’ll overcome obstacles, accomplish your dreams, and become everything God created you to be.

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