Are you part of a study group at your church, or do you sign up for biblical reading plans online?
Are you disciplined in reading the bible or do you engage in a daily devotional?
Do you still find it difficult to hear from God? Are things in your world still unstable?
Then consider that you may be someone who hears God’s word but doesn’t put it into practice.
“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22
Going to church and reading your Bible are good things. To activate God’s promises though, you need to do thing’s God’s way. You won’t experience the priceless gift of God’s peace if you don’t first do as He instructs us, through Paul:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.”Philppians 4:6-7
We hear the humorous “Not today, Satan, not today”, which is partially based on scripture. But partially based isn’t the whole truth. You can’t tell the devil to be gone unless you are first lined up with God:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Submitting to God is first and foremost acknowledging Him as Lord. But beyond that, it goes back to doing things God’s way.
Read the word, learn about God, invite the Holy Spirit to teach you and give you understanding. Then, when you know what you need to do…DO IT! James shares an awesome promise to those who follow this instruction:
“But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom, and continues to do so—not being a forgetful hearer, but an effective doer—he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Ephesians 5:16 Amplified Bible
Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.
God spoke through the prophet Hosea, revealing that His people “…are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6
Ignorance is not bliss in God’s kingdom. Not knowing God and not knowing His way of doing things is, by default, opening the door to a world of hurt & suffering.
Right now in the U.S., we are witnessing some of the most turbulent & rancorous times in our country’s history. You don’t have to look very far to find angry, vocal & enraged people expressing themselves in angry & violent ways. This leads people with opposing ideologies to rise up with an equal amount of anger & rage in response. Or – inreaction to is the better phrase. “In response” implies thoughtful consideration. That’s not what we are witnessing.
Somethings gotta give.
Or more correctly, someone’s gotta give…an inch (or more)…toward reconciliation and peace.
Here is one of those deep scriptures, that if you breeze right over it, you miss what God is revealing:
“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16
Slow down. Now re-read the verse: where envying and strife is…
What happens when envying (jealousy, desire for something that someone else has) & strife (vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism) are present?
There will be confusion and every evil work. The New American Standard Bible says it this way, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
You can see this playing out in social media, in politics, in race relations. The anger & constant strife has lead to increasing rage, destruction and violence. Civility has seemingly left the building!
As Christians, we are not to emulate the behavior of people who do no know God. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that they were, “… still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?“
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
We can be at peace because Jesus gives us His peace. Peace is a by-product of trust. We have the privilege of going to God and PRAYING ABOUT EVERYTHING (Philippians 4:6)
We can shut the door on confusion & other evil, destructive influences in our life by staying out of strife and resisting envy, jealousy & selfish ambition.
It is a choice. Everyday. Sometimes multiple times per day. Choose to be at peace. Ask God to lead you away from the temptation to react and be argumentative. Turn off the TV if you have to and avoid strife-ruled people. Then go a step further and ask God to bring peace to your family, your community, our country. This is exercising your God-given ability to be a peace-maker, as all of God’s children should be.
“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” ~ Matthew 6:6
To the person alone in your room, in your apartment or in your house…God sees you. Don’t allow the current circumstances to shut your mouth even though we are shut inside for a time. Open your mouth in prayer!
If you don’t know what to pray about, look around & look to the word of God in scripture. Here are just a few things to start you off & direct your prayer path:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of Him.” ~ 1 John 5:15
Are you feeling anxious, fearful or unsettled? Read God’s direction to you through the Apostle Paul out of Philippians:
“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 New Living Translation (NLT)
Pray for our leaders, even if you don’t like them. God wants to direct their steps. He wants to reveal Himself to them as their most essential need. He is looking for humble men & women who will lead with righteous intentions, with a love for truth, a desire for justice and with an awareness of the great responsibility they have toward God and their fellow man:
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-3
Here is an example of how to speak to God in prayer, using the scriptures as a guide. Fill in the blanks with your concerns or fears and with the names of people who come to your mind:
Holy Father, thank you for the blood of Jesus that was poured out for me on the cross. It cleanses me from every sin and makes me able to come before you in prayer, humbly grateful for all that I have received. Jesus is your gift to us, your love letter of promise. We are acceptable to you when we come through the door you provided.
Father, please have mercy on the leadership of our country, our state, our city and our family. They need wisdom. They need guidance and direction. I pray that they will be humble enough to realize that they need you above all else. Place in them a desire for truth, and for righteousness. That __________ will have wise counselors around them, pointing them in the right direction. Give them ears to hear You. We need people of courage who are more concerned with pleasing You and doing what is right than pleasing people.
(continue to add prayers for family members, people you know, people you don’t know but who are suffering. Pray GOOD things over people)
Now back to the first scripture in this post: Matthew 6:6. God sees you when no one else does. It pleases Him when we come to Him with our needs and with our requests on behalf of others. This is evidence of faith on your part because it shows that you believe God is real. That you believe He hears you. Please know that God wants you to have the rewards of your faith in Him. You WILL see answers to your prayers. The greatest reward will be your deepening relationship with God as you come to know Him through prayer & through His word: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6
“Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
A beautifully poetic passage with a powerful foundational truth. The Good News Translation clearly states it this way: “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
I want my life to reflect His goodness, mercy, love and forgiveness, so I’m spending time with Him, allowing the Great Editor to remove, reword and reshape my thoughts…
“Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3