HOW TO EXPERIENCE CHRIST’S PEACE

Dr. Charles F. Stanley
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. “Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing * in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here. – John 14:27-31

“My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Jesus spoke these amazing words just hours before His crucifixion. His peace isn’t dependent upon external circumstances, but rather, it transcends them. Although He gives His peace to every believer as a gift, our experience of it is related to our faith in the following truths:

-God is in control of everything. Without this assurance, the world is a scary place.
-He loves me and will see me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful it may be.
-To have Christ’s peace, I must surrender my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I’ll experience turmoil.
-I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God’s purposes for allowing them. His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort.
-The Lord promises to work all things out for my good. He is continually working to transform my character into Christ’s image.
-I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin.
-Scripture is my foundation for peace. It increases my trust in the Lord’s goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises, and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation.

Sadly, many Christians live their whole lives without consistently experiencing this incomprehensible peace. Perhaps faith and submission are the most challenging issues. But only as we surrender control of our lives to Christ and trust in His plans for us will we discover tranquil rest for our souls.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

FROM PANIC TO PEACE


By Nancy McGuirk

“So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

Here I am, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. No sleep. Body still, mind racing. Panic building.

I forgot to contact Pat today. She’s so sick and probably needed me.

Did my daughter realize she hurt my feelings with that comment?

What if I don’t make my deadline?

I should have exercised today.

Why does life seem darker at night? Not just literally. It’s as though Satan and his minions are just waiting for me to be alone so they can begin the battle for my mind.

Recently I began to meditate on Philippians 4:6a: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (NLT). Did the Apostle Paul really mean not to worry about anything? Is that even possible? Isn’t worry just part of human nature?

Yes, worry is part of our human nature. Unfortunately when sin entered the world, emotions like worry did too. However, our fallen human nature always clarifies what being separated from God looks like. And it often looks like fear.

As God’s beloved children, we are called to faith, not fear. Faith says, “God is in charge of my life; I will trust Him, even when circumstances might suggest He’s not there. I believe God loves me and knows what is best for me.” Faith always crowds out fear.

My heart longs to live in faith; however, at times this is difficult. But here’s the key: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

If I haven’t made time to hear from God through His Word, I find my prayers being more of a monologue of fear-based worry.

But when I make time to listen to God, I’m reminded of His promises and I become familiar with His voice. As a result, my prayers really do change from panic to praise. In bed at night, a dialogue evolves (no longer a monologue). When I turn to God with my concerns, I can hear His response. As John 10:27a tells us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them …” (ESV).

God’s Word reminds us to put the kingdom of God first and the things we need will be ours (Matthew 6:33, ESV). In other words, when I devote myself to God first, all the rest will sort itself out, and this brings peace.

What is most pressing in your life right now? Whatever that is, put God’s Word there instead. Replace worry with the truth of God’s love and power. Then we can trust that God will do as He says:”keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed” on Him (Isaiah 26:3a, ESV).

As I think about God’s promises, panic turns to praise, praise turns to peace and peace turns to sleep. I begin to understand what Paul meant when he said, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:7a, NLT).

It is possible to experience God’s peace. When we learn to cast our cares on God and trust Him to handle them, faith replaces fear. Worry sees problems, but faith sees the God who can handle the problems.

God’s Word changes how we cast our cares. When we choose to cast them onto Him instead of into the air, we’ll find comfort in His promises. Then maybe we can finally get a good night’s sleep.

Heavenly Father, thank You for watching over me at night. Forgive me for the times I have worried. Help me to be devoted to You and Your love, not my circumstances. Instead of tossing and turning at night, I want to remember to turn the pages of Scripture in my mind. I want to rest in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

CARRY THE LIGHT


By Christine Caine

Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. – John 12:44–46

We have a responsibility to shine Christ’s light wherever we are. As with salt, light is an agent of transformation. Light and darkness cannot coexist. Whenever light encounters darkness, darkness is dispelled. In a world full of darkness, hopelessness, pain, and anguish, people are looking for direction, answers to their confusion, and some semblance of hope for their future. The light in our lives helps those around us find a way through the darkness and points them toward the life God has waiting for them.

It is as we shine light in the midst of this darkness that people will be attracted to God, his love, his grace, and his mercy. The prophet Isaiah declares, “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isa. 60:1–3). Isaiah tells us that the light of Christ is attractive, magnetic, and transformational. The key is to ensure that we actually let our light shine in our everyday lives.

As sharers of God’s light, we choose the intensity of the light that we shine into our world. The strength of our spiritual core actually determines whether we are a faint flickering candle, a 75-watt light bulb, or a stadium spotlight. If our core is weak, broken and fragmented, then our light is dimmed, impeding our effectiveness in sharing Christ’s light. The degree to which we allow the light of Christ to transform our own lives determines how far our light shines in a dark world.

It will take each and every one of us to personally rise up and take our light into the darkness around us. Instead of hiding from the world or being overwhelmed by the evil of it, we need to strengthen our spiritual cores and trust in the power of God’s Spirit at work in us.

Point to Ponder

You might never know how much the light you carry means to someone walking in darkness. Are you ready to rise up and carry your light to those who are suffering? Are you willing to turn up the intensity and let your life for Christ make a difference?

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

THE PROCESS OF HEALING

By Christine Caine
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. – Matthew 7:17–18

My life before I became a Christian made me a perfect candidate for the Jerry Springer show. I was adopted at birth and was abused in my past, which, needless to say, left me feelings of rejection, betrayal, shame, guilt, and fear. Obviously, I had accumulated baggage over the years, but when I became a Christian, I had no idea I needed to deal with it. I embraced my new life with passion and enthusiasm, choosing to forget those things that were behind me, and pressing forward to those things that were ahead (see Phil. 3:13). I was not trying to deny my past, rather I sincerely believed that because I was in Christ, I was a new creation—the old had gone and the new had come (see 2 Cor. 5:17). What I did not realize was that this scripture spoke of my new spiritual condition, not about the condition of my soul. The damage and weaknesses that were in my soul realm before I became a Christian lingered after I made the decision to get my life right with God

I learned that being made whole is a process, and if we try to bypass this process, we will remain weak at the core. As a result, eventually all areas of our lives will begin to deteriorate. The walls I had built around my life to protect myself were a clear indication of my unresolved issues. I would not allow people to know me too intimately so that I could ensure I would never be hurt again. I was so fearful of not being in control of my circumstances that I demanded control of everything and everyone in my life. Determined to never be rejected again, I was a perfectionist and had no tolerance for mistakes or failure. I was often impatient and harsh and thought that if I could just keep succeeding; everyone would need me and want me.

With all of this turmoil in my soul, it is no wonder my life began to unravel. But God wanted me to find freedom. He showed me that although I was born again and Spirit filled, my soul muscle was so emaciated, weak, and small that there was little room for the Holy Spirit and his fruit to flow. I had to not only allow God to heal my wounds and strengthen my weaknesses but also to make the choice to develop maturity in order to walk in freedom.

Point to Ponder

Is your soul weighted down with baggage from your past? God wants you to find freedom. He wants to strengthen your soul muscle so that you can walk fully healed into the life and calling he has planned for you.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

WHAT DO OUR GOOD DEEDS HAVE TO DO WITH OUR SALVATION?

WHAT DO OUR GOOD DEEDS HAVE TO DO WITH OUR SALVATION?

By R. C. Sproul

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:1-6

From one perspective our good deeds have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation; from another perspective they have everything to do with it. This is the core debate that has been raging among Christians ever since the Protestant Reformation.

I am persuaded that our good deeds never merit salvation. To merit salvation would mean to earn it or to deserve it. The deeds would have to be so good, so perfect, with no mixture of sin in them, that it would impose an obligation upon God to grant us salvation. I believe that the New Testament is abundantly clear that none of us lives a life that is good enough to earn salvation. We receive God’s salvation while we are sinners (Eph. 2:1-6). That’s why we need a Savior, an atonement—and why we need grace.

People often say, “Nobody’s perfect.” We all agree on that. But not one person in a thousand realizes how significant that statement is. Somehow they think that God is going to grade on a curve and “as long as my life is less sinful than somebody else’s, then relatively speaking it’s good enough to make it into God’s kingdom.” We forget that God requires perfect obedience to his law, and if we fail to obey him perfectly, then we’re going to have to look elsewhere for a way to get our salvation. That’s where Christ comes in. Christ makes his merit available to us. When I trust him by faith, then his righteousness becomes my righteousness in the sight of God. So it’s his good work that saves me and that saves you—not our good works.

Nevertheless, in a response of gratitude we are called to obey. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Martin Luther taught that justification is by faith alone. But he expanded the concept by saying that justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. A person who is truly trusting Christ and resting on Christ for redemption receives the benefits of Christ’s merit by faith. But if that person has true faith, that true faith will manifest itself in a life of obedience. Simply put, I get into heaven by Jesus’ righteousness, but my reward in heaven will be distributed according to my obedience or the lack of it.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

TO FEAR GOD


R. C. Sproul

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:31

We need to make some important distinctions about the biblical meaning of “fearing” God. These distinctions can be helpful, but they can also be a little dangerous.

When Luther struggled with that, he made this distinction, which has since become somewhat famous: He distinguished between what he called a servile fear and a filial fear. The servile fear is a kind of fear that a prisoner in a torture chamber has for his tormentor, the jailer, or the executioner. It’s that kind of dreadful anxiety in which someone is frightened by the clear and present danger that is represented by another person. Or it’s the kind of fear that a slave would have at the hands of a malicious master who would come with the whip and torment the slave. Servile refers to a posture of servitude toward a malevolent owner.

Luther distinguished between that and what he called filial fear, drawing from the Latin concept from which we get the idea of family. It refers to the fear that a child has for his father. In this regard, Luther is thinking of a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.

I think this distinction is helpful because the basic meaning of fearing the Lord that we read about in Deuteronomy is also in the Wisdom Literature, where we’re told that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The focus here is on a sense of awe and respect for the majesty of God. That’s often lacking in contemporary evangelical Christianity. We get very flippant and cavalier with God, as if we had a casual relationship with the Father. We are invited to call him Abba, Father, and to have the personal intimacy promised to us, but still we’re not to be flippant with God. We’re always to maintain a healthy respect and adoration for him.

One last point: If we really have a healthy adoration for God, we still should have an element of the knowledge that God can be frightening. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). As sinful people, we have every reason to fear God’s judgment; it is part of our motivation to be reconciled with God.

Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC

GOD’S WORKMANSHIP


By Christine Caine

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:11–24
We each arrive on the planet differently. Some babies are loved, prayed over, planned for by conscientious parents. Others are surprises. Some are unwanted by their parents. While some are conceived in love, others are conceived by force. Some babies are born prematurely. Some are born breech. Some arrive by C-section, and others are pushed out in a few minutes. Some are brought home to lovely nurseries, handpicked strollers, and handmade cribs. Others get hand-me-downs—or nothing at all. Some of us may not like or know the circumstances of our births, but not one of us needs to be defined by or limited by those circumstances. Each of us has the chance to be born again in Christ, a second birth, to connect with our eternal purpose.

Before earth was even created, God says we were designed and made to do good works in Christ—works prepared before the making of the world (Ephesians 2:10). No matter how we got here, no matter the particulars of our births, we each were chosen in eternity long before we ever arrived in time, on earth. If God created us to do good works of eternal significance, he would not create us ill-prepared for those tasks. Let these truths settle inside you:

1. God made each one of us. Each of us was a product of God’s workmanship, no one else’s.

  1. God chooses each one of us. None of us is an after­thought or an accident. The Creator of the universe has chosen us, individually, by name, for a great mission he would entrust to no one else?
  2. God is always with us. God never leaves nor forsakes us.
  3. God names us. Before we were given names by our earthly parents, God already knew us by name.
  4. God calls us. None of us is unwanted. God makes each of us specifically for a good purpose to be worked out in time during our sojourn on earth—and he equips us to do those things for which he created us.
  5. God is our Father. You can know the one who has made himself known to us—our Abba Father (Galatians 4:6).Point to Ponder

    Regardless of what your parents may have planned or intended, from God’s perspective there was nothing accidental or unintentional about your birth. You were not an accident, unknown, unnamed, or unwanted. God has always known who you are.

    Devotional forwarded to you by:

UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT

NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC