Peace that Passes all Understanding

Today from our readings, we see on of those passages that we all know, that we have probably quoted from or heard sermons about.  It’s one of those passages that all of us have at least a vague understanding of.  It comes from Philippians 4:6-8:

6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

reconciliationIn this passage, Paul talks to us about that peace that passes all understanding.  That peace that guards our hearts and guards our minds.

By the way, I love that concept.  A peace that guards.  A peace that keeps the worry and the evil away.  I don’t know about you, but I need that type of peace in my life.  I need a peace that protects and helps me.

Paul says that peace will pass all understanding. That peace will be so amazing, so great, that our minds will not be able to understand.  There is a peace that is so amazing, folks will look at us and say, how can they have peace?  How, with all that is happening, can they have peace?

How?  Because that peace is not natural.  It is supernatural.  It is a gift from God.

But today, look at how we get that peace.  We get that peace in this way.  Through everything, with pray and supplication, with thanksgiving, we give our requests to God.

And then that peace comes.  That peace comes from turning it over to God.  It comes from trusting in God.  It comes from truly letting go, giving it to God, placing it in His hands.

This peace that passes understanding is not an act of will.  It is a gift from God.  It comes only through surrender to God.  Laying our life, our fears, our worries, our mistakes, our everything, laying them before Him.

And receiving His grace in return.

Today, we can have that peace.  But first we have to give “it” to God.  Whatever “it” is.  Now, we may go back and pick “it” back up. But when we do, each time, return it to the altar.  Give it God. And receive His peace.

He loves you.  Really.  He does.  You can trust.  And in that act of trusting, you will receive His peace.

That peace that passes all understanding.

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Can we really have Peace?

I’ve been thinking a lot about peace recently.  We are in the midst of Advent, a season of hope, of peace, of love, of joy.  It’s in this season when we proclaim the words of Isaiah 9:6-7:

6 For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

peace11x14The Prince of Peace is born!  That’s what we say.  That’s what we believe.  Let me repeat that

That’s what we believe.  Seriously.  As Christians.  As the church, that’s what we believe. And in the world that we live in, that makes us look different.  Off.  Odd.

And you know what?  Good.  We are supposed to.  We aren’t supposed to be like the world.  We aren’t supposed to be like the culture.  We are supposed to be different.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:10 – we are fools for Christ.  We ARE supposed to look different.  Believe different.  Act different.  Have a different hope, joy, love, and peace.

As I tell folks, if you tell folks you are Christian, and they say, “really?”  That’s not a good sign.  We have to look/be different from the world.

Now, here’s the thing.  I’m not saying that there aren’t things to be afraid of.  I’m not saying that there aren’t things that can take our peace, take our joy, take our hope, take our love.

Of course, there are.  There are big, scary, worrisome things.  But hear me, please hear.

God is bigger.  He is stronger.  He is more might.  He is.

He is bigger than your fears.

He is.  And as Christians, we have to believe it.  We do.  It’s who we are.

And the world needs us to believe it.

Your peace will not come from an absence of conflict or absence of things that are you are afraid of.  Your peace will come from the trust and assurance of this truth:

No matter what you face, not matter what you are afraid of – God is bigger.

He is the prince of peace.  Yesterday.  Today.  Forever.  He is He is bigger.  He is our peace.


Cause and Effect

In our lives, we all desire to have peace.  We all want to know that assurance that God is with us, that He loves us, and that everything will be ok.  And here’s the good part.  In scripture, we are promised that will happen.  In scripture, over and over again, we are promised peace.

We are promised what the Bible calls the peace that passes all understanding.  We are promised a peace that is so good, so powerful, so comforting that we cannot even understand it.

Wow!  What a promise!  What a hope!  Something to look for, something to hope in!  That peace that passes understanding.  Look at what it says in Philippians 4:6-7:

6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

cause-and-effect-essaysThat peace that passes understanding will guard our hearts.  That’s what we desire.  But look what the text tells us about when that peace comes.  First don’t worry.  But then, with prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God.  And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind.

You will have your heart and mind guarded by God’s peace.  You will.

But first, you have to give those requests to God.  You have to take your worries, your fears, your doubts, all these things, take them to God.  Give them to Him.  And then that peace will guard your hearts and minds.

Yes, He gives us peace.  But that peace comes only through our prayer life.  It’s a cause and effect type of thing.  We pray, we receive peace.  We give our concerns to Him, we receive peace.  We lay them before Him, we receive peace.

Today, God really does offer you this gift of peace.  It’s yours.  He wants to guard your heart and your mind.

But first you’ve got to give it to Him.  He can’t help you, unless you give it to Him.  When we do that, though, that peace comes.

Today, may we all know that peace that passes understanding.  And may we find that peace when we find His face in prayer.  And may we find our hearts, and our minds, guarded by Him.

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The Mystery of Suffering

One of the mysteries of life is suffering.  No one likes suffering.  No one.  It’s awful.  It’s painful.  It hurts.  It’s lonely.  It’s just one of the awful things that we go through in life.

That we go through in life.

That we all go through in life.

All of us.  Me.  You.  All of us.  It’s part of the human condition. It’s part of the human experience.  It’s part of something that every last one of us walks through.  And it’s not just us.  It’s something out God, through Jesus Christ, went through.  Listen to what we read today in Mark 8:31-33:

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

3632426859_70b61ae665_b2Jesus teaches the Disciples that He must undergo suffering.  He had to.  It was part of God’s plan. It was part of His purpose on the Earth.  To suffer.  To die. And to be raised.  To ascend. And to one day return.

But to get to the good stuff (Easter, Ascension, Return), He had to go through the bad stuff (betrayal, mockery, and the cross).

The divine mystery of suffering.  I don’t fully understand it.  I really don’t like it. And I wish that I could keep those I love from going through it.

But in this world there is trouble and pain and hurt. And instead of running away from our suffering, part of the divine mystery is that God, through Jesus, entered into it with us.  So, even when we suffer, remember this.

God walks with us through it.  He has tasted it our pain, our loss, our hurt.  He has hurt as we hurt and wept as we weep.  We do not suffer alone.

And in some way, perhaps ways that we don’t understand right now, and may never fully understand, God will bring something good out of it. What is it?  I don’t know. But I know out of the suffering of the cross, God brought the empty grave.  I know out of this pain that we go through, God will bring something good out of it.

The power of God is not that He stops bad things from happening. The power of God is that He can bring good out of anything.

In suffering, we hold on.  He gives us grace. And we trust.

Today, to all those that are suffering, we pray peace.  And mercy. And strength. And hope.  May you feel the arms of your saviour wrapped tight around you, whispering you are not alone.  And may you feel and see His church walking with you every step of the way.

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