FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Peace on Earth (Part 2)

NOTE:  We’re vacationing, so Monday’s post is early!

There’s a saying that’s been going around, “Every family has that one crazy relative. If you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.”

Here’s another saying, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

What do these two sayings have to do with peace on earth? Well, in our last post we discussed that before there can be peace on earth we must individually have peace within, so without a lot of extra words, let me just jump to the point. Might you be the one robbing yourself of peace? “No way!” you think. Well, let me just offer you three more quotes.

“Nobody screws me up better than me.”

“Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself.”

“Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your two ears.”

Again, are you robbing yourself of peace?

There are events and seasons that seem to thrust us into deep self-evaluation and self-reflection, and Christmas is one of them. This can be a good thing – pausing to consider the love of family and friends, the blessing of health, the satisfaction of a prosperous and fun career, the joy of children… It can also be not so good – dwelling on the loss of loved ones, failing health, the stress of unemployment or job disappointment, the fear of miscarriage…

The latter (and similar) thoughts can quickly launch one into a depression that robs one of personal peace.

What are you telling yourself? What script do you keep running through your head? “I’m no good.” “I’m all alone.” “I can’t make it.” “Nobody loves me.” “I’ll never – have children, get that job, leave this town, be able to afford a house, get married, be in love, go to college, be healthy again…”

It’s time to replace those thoughts. It does no good to simply try to just stop them; you have to replace them. Craft some new thinking based on Philippians 4:8 (NKJV): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

What does this mean? What does it look like? Sound like? The Message translates the same text: “…filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from Me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Do that, and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7b NKJV)

THIS WEEK: Make note of the thoughts that rob you of peace. Write substitute thoughts then practice using them. (e.g. THOUGHT: I’m just no good – always have been, always will be! SUBSTITUTE THOUGHT: In Christ I am a new creature – old things, thoughts, ways and deeds are passed away! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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Just Where He Wants You

The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (Acts 16:22-24 NASB)

Paul and Silas had not been long in Philippi when they met Lydia, a seller of purple fabrics. (Acts 16:14 NASB) The Lord opened her heart and she and her household were baptized. What a great high Paul and Silas must have experienced. Their ministry here was off to a great start. They headed next to a place of prayer, perhaps to thank God for safe travels, for the Holy Spirit leading them past Phrygian, the Galatian region and Bithynia to Macedonia. Along the way they meet a slave girl with a spirit of divination. What a great opportunity to show God’s power and to share His Gospel! Without missing a beat, Paul says to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment. (Acts 16:18 NASB)

How pleasing this must have been to the Lord. His Spirit had led Paul and Silas to this region and they were busy about His work. It seemed they were just where He wanted them to be! How pleased God must have been. How displeased Satan must have been.

But wait a minute. In the very next verse (19) we find Paul and Silas being seized and dragged into the market place before the magistrates. Keep reading and we find them being beaten with rods, thrown into prison and fastened in the stocks. How displeased God must have been.   How pleased Satan must have been. It seems that he now has them just where he wanted them to be.

That’s the thing about looking at situations through earthly eyes.

Lost jobs. Foreclosure. Bankruptcy. Divorce. Death. These all seem like tragic conclusions, ends of the road and final chapters in our eyes. Seems like Satan has us just where he wants us. Confused. Distraught. Alone. Weary. Feeling Forsaken.

“But about midnight,” says the Scriptures, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”  And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25-30 NASB)

Seems like God had them right where He wanted them.

What Satan intended for evil, God used for testing and ultimately for good.

Every day God tests us through people, positions, problems or pain. Our first inclination (and prayer) is to escape the situation or experience. Rather than pray for immediate deliverance, quick relief or escape, determine to understand and do the work that God has for you in the place where He has you.

He knows where you are, and He has you just where He wants you.