Where is my peace?

6th Jul 2019

pexels-photo-1161268This week started off pretty horrendously. I was managing a little stress after a disagreement with someone, the kind of stress which usually I can manage quite well, but, combined with what I believed to be a friend disrespecting me with careless words, throw in a couple of bickering kids, a house that is upside down, and a washing pile that looks like it belongs to old mother Hubbard, an unexpected bill and an overwhelming urge to run away from home at thirty-eight.  And that’s only the first week of the summer. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by not really an awful lot.  A flick through social media seemed enough to tip me over the edge. Seeing that perfect family holiday, another perfect relationship, a mum who has just crafted something beautiful with her well-behaved children while sitting peacefully around the table, a family much bigger than mine that has a super tidy house. Why, oh why is my life such a shambles? Why am I so crap at parenting? Why can’t I manage my home like that? The questions mount up.

So I have hurt, anger, comparison, inadequacy, stress all piling up in a big heap on my shoulders. And this presented itself as verbal diarrhea when I took (yip that gross) swipe at a friend in the most ungodly fashion, practically biting their face off over a very unimportant matter (sorry DB & thank you for your grace), followed by a whole lot of tears, a stop at the garage for an extra large bar of chocolate and home to sulk in my room. Well because I’m six and that’s what you do when you’re six. Please, if nothing else, please let me know I’m not alone here! We all have these little mishaps, yeah???

I did the only thing that was left to do in my sorry state, which probably should have been my first move but a killer headache and sleep in had left me rushing out the door like a maniac. I came home, went to my room, grabbed my notebook and Bible and lay on my bed and spent some quiet time with God. I lay there and talked to God about all the trouble on my heart. Immediately, and with the added help of two paracetamol, my throbbing headache and aching heart started to ease.

In Philippines, it 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.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

My Bible’s footnotes say prayer and peace are closely connected. The one who entrusts cares to Christ instead of fretting over them will experience the peace of God to guard him from nagging anxiety.

So often we try to create our own peace with the quick fixes, the chocolate or the Netflix marathon, or the other activities that help us switch off from our stressful circumstances, when the Bible tells us that we can find peace through simply spending time in prayer. So when we feel the need to unplug from the world, that probably means what we really need is to disconnect with the world and connect with God. From there we will find our peace.

It’s not that my situation changed. I still had that unsettling disagreement to sort out. My kids were still squabbling, my house was still a bit of a mess. The magic fairy hadn’t turned up to pay the bills and do the laundry. All these things still felt bigger than me. But I know my God is bigger than even my biggest problem.

But rather than running away from my stress I need to chose to run to God with my stress.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

Psalms 46:1 NLT

I looked up the meaning of refuge and the definition says the state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or difficulty. That doesn’t mean I get to escape from everything, that just means I get to rest from it while strength to continue I get from the Lord. So often I try to depend on myself for that strength; I try to do it all on my own and leave God out, but this verse reminds me to go to God and he is my refuge and MY STRENGTH.

While I’m finding my rest and strength with God then I’m reminded that all these things that are causing my strife are all manageable. Because God has given me everything I need to deal with these situations and, from him, I can get wisdom guidance and help.

Spurgeon, the absolute legend, said this:

“If indeed the Lord is our refuge and strength, we are entitled to seek after a spirit that will bear us above the dreads of common men. Not everyone can sing the psalm of peace amid commotion and clarity. We must belong to the believing company, we must have the Lord as our God, and we must learn the art of prevailing in prayer.”

But I guess in these situations in life we can all be wise to reduce the build-up of these stressful situations. We have to be willing to help ourselves and, as appealing as it may be, I can’t just take to my bed with a giant whole nut bar and hope that everything is better by the time I get up again. I need to find time to spend with God, like proper intentional time carved out every day, and for me this needs to be a discipline that I will not waver on, even if it means saying no to other things or maybe it means going to bed an hour earlier and not sitting scrolling through social media. But actually setting my phone down and pulling out my Bible, like the real paper version, not the electronic version, reading scripture and talking to God.

I also need to wise up and be a better steward of my money. Get wise and budget for unexpected bills. Plan a holiday allowance, stop impulse buying, save for a rainy day and then I wouldn’t have the unexpected bill stress

Battles for me, I guess I need to chose when to fight battles and with whom. I realised a while ago that I actually have a choice to be offended or not. I will tell my boys when they so often come telling tales of what this one said or whatever and I will ask them if it’s true. Usually, they will answer no. So I will say, then it doesn’t matter (mama needs to practice what she preaches). Choosing not to allow other people’s poor choice of words or bad manners to offend you is a great decision and, in turn, that can cut down on any unpleasant, heated discussion because, well, it probably won’t even affect you what they say because you know the truth.

AND FINALLY

The biggest for me! Don’t fall into the comparison trap. I can just picture the devil, pitchfork in hand, giving even the most secure Christians the poke over the edge into the hellfire of comparison, and social media is his fuel to the fire. See all that stuff on social media, that’s the highlight. However, even knowing that doesn’t seem to stop us. And I do it too. I put the best version of me on display for all to see. It’s not that I pretend that my life is all peachy perfect but I’m not going to post a makeup free selfie of my freshly squeezed face sitting in amongst all the clutter of my home. Noooooo I’m not. But stupidly, I will look at others’ lives through their hi-light reel and feel so inadequate. So this is where I need to be careful about how much of what I see on social media I allow to influence my life. Sometimes that’s gonna look like a media fast or social media free days to guard against that.

So today I want to encourage you to ask yourself if my peace is lost. what do I need to give up?

is it that busy schedule that needs to change?

is it the novel needs set down and the Bible picked up?

does the FB/Insta app need deleting off your phone?

Do you need to put some boundaries in place with that friend overstepping the mark?

Do you need to let go of pride and ask for help?

where is my peace?

VIDEO Love Lessons

May 4, 2019

 

With countless songs, books, and movies dedicated to love, you would think we actually understood what it means. But the world has warped our view of God’s most precious attribute, leaving humanity longing for the real thing. In this message, Dr. Stanley teaches us what love really is and how it affects our lives. Learn how your life can be transformed when you allow God’s love to wrap around you and flow through you to others.

KEY PASSAGE: 1 John 4:7-11

SUPPORTING SCRIPTURE: John 3:16

SUMMARY

Do you believe God loves you?

We are all very familiar with John 3:16, which clearly states that because God loved the world, He sent His Son so those who believe in Him would never perish. We usually think of God’s love as generally applying to everyone, but maybe not specifically to us personally. However, the Lord wants us to know we’re loved by Him and to love Him in return. Only then will we be able to give and receive love in our relationships as He desires.

SERMON POINTS

To understand how important love is to God, we need only look at His Word. In the Old Testament there are 250 mentions of love, and the New Testament uses love 234 times—and of those, 72 are found in John’s gospel and epistles.

In 1 John 4:7-11, the apostle John mentions love in every verse.
[7] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
[8] The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
[9] By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
[10] In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
[11] Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Love Lessons

Since love is such an essential part of our lives, we need to understand what it truly is.

  1. Love is more than an emotion. It’s a commitment to another person.
  2. Love is not free. It actually demands something of us. We can’t live for ourselves in isolation and at the same time love someone else.
  3. Love looks beyond the flesh. Its focus is the heart and spirit of a person, not the external appearance. The connection is both emotional and cerebral, not merely a physical attraction.
  4. Lust has nothing to do with genuine love. Our world has substituted lust for love, and this has become very obvious in the sexual revolution, which is still continuing to this day. Lust is focused on self—what I want or need from the other person. But love is concerned for the loved one—what I can do for him or her.
  5. Love cannot be bought. It’s a gift that is given freely, and one that is received without cost.
  6. Love desires to give with no strings attached. It doesn’t demand that the other person be a certain way or do what is desired before love is given. Genuine love is freely bestowed without qualifications or requirements.
  7. Love is generous and unselfish. True love is othercentered, not self-centered. It’s always looking for ways to give, not ways to get.
  8. Love is more fulfilled in giving than in receiving. Those who genuinely love others find great satisfaction in generously giving to them. They are especially gratified when they can supply what someone else really needs or desires.
  9. Love is forgiving. Carrying the weight of anger, resentment, bitterness, or jealousy chokes a person’s spirit and hinders the ability to truly love others.
  10. Love desires to express itself. Love is demonstrative and must be expressed. When God’s love is in us, it flows out in sacrificial giving.
  11. Love is a happy emotion. The happiest people are not those who have everything money can buy, but those who know how to love.
  12. Love enjoys seeing others happy.That’s because the focus is not on getting for self but in sacrificing for others. In seeing the pleasure others experience, there is great enjoyment.
  13. Love is fulfilling and enables us to feel complete. When we know how to give and receive love, it gives us a sense of completeness, competence, and worthiness.
  14. Love hurts when others hurt.Genuine love is characterized by compassion and mercy expressed either through direct interaction or more distantly through prayer.
  15. Love does not keep accounts. There is no record of who did what for whom. Love is not a matter of paying and receiving, but of giving without expectation of return.
  16. Love may be very painful. This is especially true if the love isn’t mutual. It may require repeated forgiveness.
  17. Love doesn’t require anything in return. There are no conditions or requirements placed on the other person before love is freely given.
  18. Love is patient. It waits until the proper time, whereas lust wants immediate gratification. If ultimatums are given, it’s not genuine love.
  19. Christ’s death on the cross is the perfect example of love. Jesus came into the world He loved to give His life as a ransom for sin, yet few people loved Him in return. When we continue to love unresponsive, ungrateful people, we are following Christ’s example. This is possible because after we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, He pours His love into our hearts, enabling us to love others no matter how ugly they behave toward us.
  20. Love is its own reward. Knowing that we are loved by God and being able to love Him in return is an amazing blessing. It sustains us when we feel forsaken and unloved by others. And if loved ones die or leave us, we have a Friend who will never desert us.

Love isn’t found in advice from magazines, books, or people. God is the source through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the place to look is the Bible. It begins with accepting the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as the greatest act of love ever shown. He died to pay our sin debt in full. And when we believe in Him and repent of our sins, all the mess we’ve made of our lives is washed away. Our sins are forgiven, and God will remember them no more.

Now His love is poured out in our hearts, enabling us to love Him in return and to receive and give love to others. If we don’t have Christ and His love in us, our lives are empty, and we are poor, needy, and wretched. The only One who can satisfy our longings is the One who died for us on the cross. His love for us is beyond all explanation and human comprehension.

RESPONSE

  • Do you feel loved by God? Why or why not? What does God’s Word say about His love for you (See Romans 5:8 and 8:36-39)?
  • Are you able to give love, or is something hindering you from expressing it freely to others? What hope do you find in 1 Thessalonians 4:9?

https://www.intouch.org/watch/expressing-godly-character/love-lessons