Peace Beyond Understanding

Click here to read Acts 27.

You know the feeling. You have had days where nothing seems to go right. Weeks. Months. Year(s). It is hard to see anything past what is going on right before us. We’ll hear people say things like, just change your mindset and be more positive. But the truth is that is not what changes our minds so we experience peace.

Paul, the prisoner who is part of the shipwreck, writes in Philippians 4:6-7 to be anxious about nothing, present your requests to God, you will experience a peace beyond understanding (paraphrase). This same person wrote this when he was imprisoned earlier.

Imagine that. Peace in the midst of chaos. A peace beyond understanding. Have you ever felt this before? This is more than a simple feeling. This peace is something that seems to overtake you and helps you be able to function in the midst of the chaos around you.

This is what I believe is happening to Paul. He is imprisoned; but he is on a voyage to Rome and the ship he is on gets destroyed. He has to be the voice of reason and help the soldiers do the right thing because of faith not because of fear. We see what happens when people react from fear (soldiers) and also from faith (Paul).

So now the question remains, how do we get this kind of faith, this kind of peace? Paul did not do anything. Well, he did do one thing, he prayed and stayed connected to Jesus Christ. This kind of peace and discernment only came from God. God is the one who encouraged Paul and gave him the wisdom about what needed to be done to help protect and save the people he traveled with.

Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of Christ. As you go about your day, your week, remember the only source of true peace comes straight from Jesus Christ. Keeping Jesus Christ at the forefront of your mind, of your heart, gives you the ability to remain outwardly and inwardly calm when everything else around you seems to be falling apart.

This is a great way to think about the Christian life of faith. It is through faith we believe God’s presence is here and is real. It is through faith we believe the promises of God will stand firm and last eternally. It is though faith we believe we can do all that Christ calls us to. This faith is also a gift from God (Romans 12).

I invite you to take some time today and thank God for His presence. Seek him throughout your day because he is guiding you and is forming you to be a vessel to share his love and his grace. Everything around us does not have to be perfect; but we should remember we have a perfect God that is all around us and within us.

In the Presence of the King

Click here to read Acts 25.

How nerve wracking it is for people to stand in front of people of power. What do you think your real reaction would be to stand in front of a president? A king or queen? A CEO of a billion dollar company? Your own boss who may not come around that often? I find it interesting that sometimes we will act one way until that person enters the room or we are brought before them.

The Apostle Paul knew who his only King was and is: Jesus Christ. His only goal was to serve Christ by proclaiming Christ risen from the dead. Paul knew that the people he was standing in front of was of no match to the King of kings. He only feared God.

Take time to read through the scripture today. Notice how many “important” people Paul is brought in front of. There was Festus, the angry crowd, King Agrippa, Bernice, and the entourage. I wonder how many people are reading this now and wondering why I placed the angry crowd as important people?

Look at what is being done to Paul. He has been placed in front of Caesar’s court and is giving his testimony and his defense to the highest court in the land. The angry crowd that is present is important because they were the ones to bring Paul to this particular time and place. What is interesting is that even though they did not get their way (Paul being executed), they should still be considered important because they unknowingly followed a plan of God to take the gospel to Rome via Paul. This crowd was the loudest voice and brought a lot of attention to the imprisoned apostle.

But then we have Festus, and King Agrippa. These are people who have great, human, power in this area. They are the ones where final decisions for the area are made, and people try to appease them and flatter them just to get whatever is wanted. I think this is where most of us stand when it comes to being in the presence of power. We want to try to make them like us so nothing bad happens to us and we can get the most comfortable life possible. Most of the time the people in positions of power may not see the real people because everyone will put on a front to act their best.

Paul knows something even more important. He knows the only King to be true to is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the King of all the kings and Lord of all the lords. Paul knows that he doesn’t have to be flattering to the rulers in front of him because the only ruler he answers to is Jesus Christ.

How about you? What or who makes you more nervous? I tend to think we get more nervous in the presence of humans in positions of power than we do for Jesus Christ. We tend to give more accolades to the people rather than the God of the universe. Oh, we go to worship each week; but do we worship God? Or do we really worship what we’re doing? This is a tough question to really think about.

As you go through your day, through your week, journey through life, remember this one thing Jesus Christ is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Everyone else we come in contact with is another person either to minister to or join in ministry with.

You have been called to be a witness to Christ to the world. You have been placed where you are “for such a time as this.” The presence of the one true King is with you always.

Never Forget

stone of grace

Galatians 3:1-5 You irrational Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Jesus Christ was put on display as crucified before your eyes! I just want to know this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law or by believing what you heard? Are you so irrational? After you started with the Spirit, are you now finishing up with your own human effort? Did you experience so much for nothing? I wonder if it really was for nothing. So does the one providing you with the Spirit and working miracles among you do this by you doing the works of the Law or by you believing what you heard?

So here we are beginning the third chapter in the letter to the Galatians. This short letter is written to a church of believers who have drifted away from the grace of God and have tried to earn it or just add things and rituals to their faith. Paul writes this letter to admonish them and to remind them of the simple message of the gospel: Jesus Christ brings freedom not bondage!

We do not like to be told we are off base or that we are off track; but I wonder what would happen if we placed ourselves into this passage today. I invite you to read it again, this time putting your personal name in the blanks and see what the Spirit inside you might say or be doing.

You irrational ________! Who put a spell on ________? Jesus Christ was put on display as crucified before ________’s eyes! I just want to know this from ________: Did _________ receive the Spirit by doing the works of the Law or by believing what _________ heard? 3  Is _______ so irrational? After _________ started with the Spirit, is _________ now finishing up with your own human effort? Did _________ experience so much for nothing? I wonder if it really was for nothing. So does the one providing __________ with the Spirit and working miracles among you do this by you doing the works of the Law or by you believing what you heard?

As I was typing this, I placed my name in the blanks. Ouch! These are words I really don’t want to hear; but at the same time, they are words you and I need to hear.

We are often irrational (some translations say “foolish”) because we do not collect enough information before we make a judgment about another person. Typically this is because the other person or group says something or does something we just don’t like.

When we first believe, we knew the incredible presence of Jesus Christ and how his sacrifice has changed everything for us. We can now go to God personally. We can work in the Spirit. We can have the wisdom from heaven. We can do and receive so much. But, we forget this as we go on in our day to day lives. Instead of talking with God, we listen to negative people and news. Instead of praying or reading the Bible, we find others to talk through events, emotions, etc and we’ll read fiction books or anything else that is not the Bible.

There is so much potential in the world but we, like the Galatians, can go back to relying only on human effort. How can we do this? We do this by solely looking at our available resources and can forget that God promises to provide. We will talk bad about an idea before we try to understand what it is or how it will benefit the organization. To rely on human effort means that we forget that God is right here with us and will work and walk with us through everything in life.

This really is kind of a harsh passage; but one that we cannot overlook or assume it is really just meant for another people in another time and another place. I pray that reading the words from Paul in this letter can remind us of the greatness of God’s never-ending love for us. I pray you and I can live in the grace He provides. I pray the spark we experienced when we first believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ never dies down and we remain (or become) passionate for God because He is passionate for us.

Living free in Christ means that we are free to be loving, Spirit-filled people who do the work of God unashamedly and will reach out to all people with love and grace. This love and grace we give comes from God because “He first loved us.”

#LiveFreeInChrist

(Ephesians 4 is a great chapter as well, to help us remember this message.)