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Posts Tagged ‘Peace’

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Each week I have the privilege of praying for scores of individuals from our large congregation who send in their prayer requests, so I’m very aware of the range of difficulties that they face regarding sickness, financial worries, bereavement, unemployment, business setbacks, broken relationships, and more.

Among the prayers that I bring to God on their behalf is that each person will experience peace and joy in the midst of their difficulties.

Peace? Joy? In the midst of difficulties?

Yes!

The apostle Paul—who had more than his share of trials and tribulations, including numerous attempts on his life by enemies—experienced peace and joy in the midst of good and bad times, and he reminds us that:

* Faith in Jesus Christ brings peace:

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1)

This is not peace in the sense of the absence of conflicts and difficulties in our lives, but God’s peace of mind and heart, of confident assurance in any and all situations. It’s a peace that fills our beings when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior and lord, for, in that moment, God forgives our sins and reconciles us to himself throughout this life and for all eternity.

* Faith in Jesus Christ brings joy, even in suffering:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” (Romans 5:3, 4)

It’s a joy that Jesus bestows on believers who earnestly seek him, a joy that comes from a consistent relationship with him in which he fills them with his joy, for even as he said to his disciples, he says to all his believers today:

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 14:9-11)

So, as we face the difficult periods and circumstances that each of us will inevitably encounter in our lives, may we not fear—no matter how frightening or hopeless things might seem—but may we put our trust in the risen Christ and experience his peace and his joy as we “run with endurance the race that God has set before us…keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.” (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

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All Bible quotes are from the New Living Translation.

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Four times those words of encouragement were given to Joshua—three times by God and once by the men serving under him. (Joshua 1)*

And that encouragement is relevant to us today.

For forty years God had been preparing Joshua for leadership by having him serve as Moses’ assistant and military strategist. When Moses died, God appointed Joshua to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land and establish a homeland for Israel.

His primary task was to lead more than two million people into Canaan, defeat the armies of the nations that occupied the land, wipe out those nations because of their wickedness, and divide the land between the twelve tribes of Israel.

It would involve years of protracted warfare against thirty-one kings and their armies, destruction of their cities, and putting to death millions of their inhabitants.

It was a daunting task, and God knew that there would be many times that Joshua would feel overwhelmed, even afraid. So, to assure and strengthen him, God said:

“…I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors.” (Joshua 1:6) Joshua would succeed because God would fulfill his promise made to their ancestors.

“Be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:7-8) This time God outlined for Joshua how to be strong, courageous, and successful—by obeying the laws that Moses gave him; and by studying and meditating on Scripture at all times.

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (Joshua 1:9) This third encouragement came with the assurance, “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The twenty-four chapters of the book of Joshua provide a fascinating account of how Joshua, with God’s help, succeeded in establishing a homeland in Canaan for the Israelites.

Although we are not called to lead millions of people into battle, we face a different kind of battle—living life and meeting challenges of every-day living that sometimes cause us to be afraid and discouraged.

Whether it is the loss of a job, taking on a new job and new responsibilities, financial problems, declining health, broken relationships, the loss of loved ones, uncertain tomorrows, or a host of other challenges, each of us experiences times of fear and discouragement.

And there will be mornings when, for unknown reasons, we will wake up afraid to face the day.

To us, God says, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged!”

How can we be strong and courageous?

Believe and trust in God’s words of encouragement:

“I will be with you…I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1: 5 & 9)

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you. I will hold you up in my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Believe and trust in the words of Jesus Christ as he encouraged his followers:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.” (John 14:1)

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift that the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)

And take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul who suffered many things in his ministry, but always found strength and encouragement to press on in the task that God had given him in service to Jesus Christ:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

I pray that whatever you’re facing in life at this moment, you’ll put your trust in God, spend time alone with him as you meditate on his holy Word, and seek his guidance, strength, comfort, and direction.

May the words and music of Maurette Brown Clark inspire you to find your comfort and strength in God for the task ahead of you. I encourage you to listen to it in its entirety.

*All Scripture passages quoted above are from the New Living Translation © 2007

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