For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity. Jeremiah 29:11-14a.
The willingness to accept Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Savior is from a responsive heart, which embraces Jesus’ sacrifice to give humanity salvation. As a result, we receive a spiritual transformation with a transformed heart that leads to a life of loving and caring. And yes, Jesus gives us a life complete with joy and peace, but also one of trials and sorrows as we travel down the Path of Righteousness.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
If accepting Jesus and serving God provides us with peace and joy, then why are we in the predicament that even caused David to question himself: Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5
The ongoing hardships of the 21st century have produced believers plagued with discouragement, depression, and a mindset surrounded by darkness. Something isn’t right! I asked a couple of individuals to give me their opinion of why we have so little faith and trust in God. They were not sure of how or why the mental and emotional conditions have increased throughout the years. Still, I do not wish to present only my viewpoint of this terrible dilemma.
I deferred the question to my mother, who is 88 years young. “Mom, why do you think that modern believers do not possess the faith, trust, joy, and peace that serving God offers?
Her response, “They do not know God. Prayer and Bible study are not their priorities. How can you have faith and trust in someone that you don’t know? Life is tough, but God has promised to never leave us or forsake us.”
History reveals that most individuals decided to walk into a church to turn their lives around by accepting Jesus. They were aware that their habits and behaviors had to change. Attending church, praying, and studying the Bible were the building blocks to forming a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. New believers were told that suffering through trials was necessary to change their character and to be a disciple. They understood that hardships would show up as changes in their lives, job loss, sickness, etc. We sang songs with lyrics that told us to faithfully hold on because Jesus will work it out.
Our conversations consisted of trusting in God because faith believes that God does the impossible. We kept hope alive by telling each other to expect deliverance and never give up while waiting for God’s answer. Oh, and the songs we learned and sang, “Trouble in my way, Jesus will fix it, after awhile,” “Victory is Mine,” “We are Marching to Zion,” and “Trust and Obey,” provided the additional strength to make it through those tough times. We prayed all day and night for stronger faith and trust in God. And we demonstrated our love for each other by calling, praying with them, and home visitation, always asking, “What do you need?”
Fast forward to 2021, and we now have a body of believers who have accepted Christ and do not attend church. They may find out through social media that believers must study the Bible and pray without ceasing. The “babes in Christ” require nurturing to help them through their spiritual journey. Sadly, many fall prey to the loneliness of being a Christian and succumb to discouragement and temptation.
Then we have the seasoned Christians who are mature, but are more concerned about self. They are the believers with spiritual strength, Yet, they have no desire to help the new believers or anyone overcome by the tribulations of life. In fact, the trending behaviors of performing random acts of kindness, pass it forward, giving tax-deductible charitable donations, and paying for the person’s groceries standing behind you while filming it for TikTok, they have consoled themselves with the thought that good deeds are acceptable to God.
Still, these actions are not the same as having the “Character of Christ” and the “Fruit of the Spirit. “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you? And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'” Matthew 25:44-45
In the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, God has given us a record of the many events that reveal Jesus’ character. The life of Christ is given by four different men who followed Jesus. The Gospels agree that the Son of Man ministered to others without discrimination. Yes, Jesus was stern when He pointed out the pride and hypocrisy of the rulers who were teaching the law but oppressing the people with man-made rules that they did not keep. The central theme of the Bible is based on the Love of God. Jesus was loving, fair, tender, and full of compassion.
Remember the woman caught in adultery? Have you ever wondered why Jesus bent down? And what was He writing on the ground? What caused the people to turn and walk away?
4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:4-8
Adultery for the woman was punishable by stoning to death. A theologian gives this answer, “Two scriptures point out that Jesus was writing on the ground. Many ask, “Why was Jesus writing on the ground?” He was writing the secret sins of her accusers. Once exposed, all they could do is turn and walk away in shame.”
One would think that Jesus’ disciples would possess His character. No, they had the same mindset that many possess right now:
That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. Matthew 14:15-17
When we accepted Jesus’ invitation, He accepted us just as we were, no questions asked. However, by studying the scriptures, we learn that our surrender to God involves a complete spiritual makeover. 1 Corinthians 13, The Love Chapter, gives us God’s definition of love, Galatians 5:22-23 tells the importance of being anointed with the Holy Spirit and the characteristics we are expected to possess. The Apostle Paul commands us, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.
The believer’s financial responsibility: But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12.
We have the free will of choice to serve God. Even so, with our commitment [to surrender], we agree to the transformation of our hearts and mind. Submission to the will of God is no longer an option. Giving ourselves wholeheartedly–without reservation allows us to conform obediently to our Heavenly Father. We become transformed into the likeness of Christ. The person that we used to be, no longer exists. God uses trials to purge undesirable behaviors and negative traits from our character.
We must die daily to the fleshly desires of self [Romans 8:13]. Sanctification is a life-long journey on the Path of Righteousness. Preparation to receive the reward of eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth requires Divine intervention. We cannot save ourselves. Allowing God to do a great work within gives us the perseverance to move forward in Jesus’ name.
The struggle is real. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, suffering is part of our servitude. Still, we have a loving, compassionate, and powerful Heavenly Intercessor, Jesus Christ that promises to see us through. Always remember that Jesus is the light that will shine through the darkness in our lives.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6
As we watch the condition of our world rapidly decline, we can refer to the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy.
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Our relationship with God determines our destiny. Either we will choose eternal life by total surrender and submission to God, or we will choose the final death by seeking after worldly pleasures.
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
The desire to have peace continues to be an ongoing struggle in most of our lives. To achieve peace is challenging because it always involves change. If you are willing to commit to rid yourself of all chaos, you are ready to move forward.
The first step to embracing peace is identifying the people, places, and things that directly cause chaos in your life. Since many factors contribute to the lack of peace, we will begin with two categories:
Structure and Self-Control
The Interpersonal Skills of Relationships
The chaos in our lives most often falls within these two areas. From embracing counterproductive behaviors and habits to inviting people into our lives who lack the knowledge and skills to nurture healthy relationships, we will never enjoy our gift of peace without the intentional elimination of the root of the problem.
For those of us who have lawns to maintain, we have an ongoing battle with eliminating weeds. There is a characteristic that all weeds share; they have the strength to grow aggressively with the intent to destroy.
Weeds are harmful in many ways. The damages caused by them are as under: 1. Reduction in crop yield:- Weeds compete with crops for water, nutrients, and light. Being hardy and vigorous in growth habits, they grow faster than crops and consume a large amount of water and nutrients, thus causing heavy losses in yields. http://oer.nios.ac.in/wiki/index.php/Damages_caused_by_Weeds
Like weeds, there are non-productive behaviors that grow deep roots within us. We do not understand why we are overwhelmed, nor can we determine why we cannot accomplish our goals. Our relationship problems worsen because one or both individuals lack the necessary character traits to unconditionally love each other. We usually acknowledge that there is a problem, but we tend to blame external factors or other people.
Self-Control and Structure require:
Discipline-defined as training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way, which produces positive outcomes.
Organizational skills-Being organized means you manage your time and energy well and accomplish all your assigned tasks.
Relationships require the Healthy Characteristics of :
Trust, Communication, Patience, Empathy, Affection and Interest, Flexibility, Appreciation, Room for Growth, Respect, Reciprocity, Healthy Conflict Resolution, Individuality and Boundaries, and Openness and Honesty. https://www.psychologytoday.com
Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit. Excerpt from, Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life
There is an app that promotes itself as “The #1 App for Meditation and Sleep.” So, what happens if there is an outage or blackout? And for only $14.99 a month or $69.99 annual payment, you can “Join the millions experiencing better sleep, lower stress, and less anxiety.” Please know that I have nothing against relaxing music, which I listen to all of the time.
But if we only pull out the top of the weed, the root remains buried deep into the ground. Peace requires active participation. We need to identify the source that prevents us from having inner peace and institute the process of change. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3. To enjoy true peace requires that we acknowledge and accept that peace is a gift from God. Therefore God becomes a vital part of our spiritual growth and development.
Changing our habits requires Divine intervention, structure, self-control, and learning new interpersonal skills. Nothing is impossible with God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV.
Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Living as a Victorious Overcomer.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
God, we have tried many ways to get rid of our anxieties and our worries. We admit that we need your help. Please forgive us of our sins, and give us peace. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.