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Long-View Living in a Short-View World

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© 2018 Grant Ritchie. All Rights Reserved. Unsplash.
Used by permission.

Our language belies what we know to be truth, or at best, it puts on display our inner conflict over what we actually believe.

Very often, while in a public assembly with other believers (usually at church), someone up front will say something along the lines of, "Let's continue to worship." The fact that it is said at all reveals the unspoken belief of many in the room that what we were or are doing right now is not worship, but something other than worship. We were worshiping at one time, stopped worshiping to do this other thing, and now "Let's continue to worship."

And what happens next? You know it as surely as I do. The one who said that strikes a chord on the guitar, or the piano, because in our minds, worship is inseparably tied to music and singing. We even refer to this musician as "the Worship Leader," while we would never think to refer to the one praying, or to the one speaking, or the one tithing as leading worship. Praying is praying, preaching is preaching/teaching, tithing is giving, and singing is worship. Intellectually, you and I know this to be untrue, but again, our language belies what we know to be truth, or at best, it puts on display our inner conflict over what we actually believe.

Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. - Ecclesiastes 5:1, NKJV

Wrestling With the Worship Question

The fact that we are so conflicted in our speech is illustrative of the reality that answering the question, "What is worship," is not a simple matter. The quote above from Ecclesiastes gives emphasis to the importance of our doing so, lest we be offering God "the sacrifice of fools" in our attempts to worship. How tragic that one would be attempting to worship the divine, but doing evil instead.

I believe one of the more profound statements in all of scripture on the subject of worship fell from the lips of Jesus when he spoke with the woman at the well as recorded in John 4. The theological undercurrents of the encounter between Jesus and this woman are astonishing, and space does not grant us a full treatment of that today, but suffice it to say that in this interaction, Jesus is doing three things that no other self-respecting male Jew of his time would have done. He is speaking with a woman. He is speaking with a Samaritan. He is speaking with a Samaritan woman who is shacked-up with a man to whom she is not married. And it is to this woman that Jesus utters the defining statement on worship.

The more deeply Jesus and the unnamed woman drove their conversation, the more clearly the woman began to grasp that she was not talking to any ordinary male Jew. This was a deeply religious man - one with some pretty keen insights, and a transparency she was not used to seeing in Jewish men. So, as the conversation pressed forward, she decided to toss out a point of contention between the Samaritans and the Jews - what is the proper location for worshiping God?

The woman put her question like this: "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship" (John 4:20, NASB) In response, Jesus informed the woman that, very soon, location would be irrelevant to pure worship. And then he gave her the jewel!

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father ... But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” - John 4:21, 23-24, NASB

True Worshipers Are Being Sought After

Are you feeling disconnected from God? Are you looking for God and just cannot seem to find him? I would exhort you to stop looking for God and to start worshiping him. If you do that, you won't need to look for God because God will find you. God is seeking worshipers, but not just any worshipers. He is looking for very specific worshipers - those who worship him in spirit and truth. Since those are the worshipers God is seeking, those are the worshipers we should be.

Theologian A.W. Pink wrote in his book Exposition of the Gospel of John that there are three "musts" in John's gospel. We must be born again (3:7). The Son of Man must be lifted up (3:14). And here, true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth” (4:24). So, whatever this worship is, we would do well to figure it out and latch onto it.

One last thing that jumps out at me from Jesus' statement is that, if there are true worshipers, by definition that means that there are false worshipers. We got a hint of that from the Ecclesiastes quote where we saw the worship of fools who think they are worshiping but are actually doing evil. We don't want to go there. Furthermore, if true worshipers worship in spirit and truth, then false worship must be confined to body and falsehood. It is something worth pondering.

True Worshipers Worship in Spirit and Truth

Though I walk in a physical body, I am a spiritual being. I carry my spirit within me.

Years ago, when asked "What is my spirit?" I heard a man say, "Your spirit is whatever doesn't show up at the funeral." I am created in the image of God, and God is spirit, and those who worship him must do so in spirit and truth. In some sense, then, true worship is going to involve my spirit seeking after the Spirit of God, to pursue God from the inside out, rather than with outside activities and trappings.

Not only is worship a matter of spirit, it is an issue of truth.

When I was a seminary student, it was emphasized to me that this "truth" was a call for doctrinal accuracy. At the time I bought that explanation because I simply did not know any better. Over time, however, I have come to understand that doctrine has little to do with what Jesus is saying here beyond the fact that what he is saying here is his doctrine on worship.

Truth here is αληθεια (aleitheia). Aleathia is truth in the sense that it is what what is real. It is genuine. From that definition, we are closer to what Jesus is calling for if we read his statement as, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and sincerity." Insincere worship accomplishes nothing. It is an act of vanity - emptiness.

Jesus spoke to the uselessness of external activity without an engaged heart.

This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me
- Matthew 15:8-9a

Thus, worship is an inside-out affair. It flows from the heart to the hands. Lifted hands from a dead heart is empty exercise, but a heart on fire that cannot help but thrust hands heavenward is a beautiful thing. It is my heart, or my spirit that brings life to my worship.

Matthew Henry said it like this, "The way of worship which Christ has instituted is rational and intellectual, and refined from those external rites and ceremonies with which the Old-Testament worship was both clouded and clogged." It is my inner being invigorated by overwhelming adoration of the divine.

The call for sincerity in our worship is not a new thing. The largest book in the Bible, the Psalms, is one of the most impactful records of worship in all literature. And there we read this:

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
- Psalm 51:6, NASB

Take the challenge this week to free your heart, your "innermost being," to be unencumbered by external matters, and from that free heart, pour yourself into worship of your Creator God. Be abounding in awe, love, and adoration.

Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. - Hebrews 10:22, NASB

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
Medium.com
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


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© 2018 Zac Durant. All Rights Reserved. Unsplash.
Used by permission.

After a one-week hiatus, Alean and I have returned to Washington state following a wonderful visit with dear friends in New Mexico. It is good to be home, but we are thankful for the break, and for good friends with whom to spend it.

This week, we are returning to our look at the phrase "you who are spiritual," with part three of that series "What is a spiritual Man or Woman?".

Thus far we have seen that the Apostle Paul views humanity as either the "natural man" without God, as "carnal man" with God, but driven by the desires of the flesh, or as the "spiritual man," the pneumatikos, guided by the Spirit of God.

In part two, we learned that the Christ-follower views the world through an enhanced set of eyes, perceiving things that the natural man and carnal man cannot see.

This week, we look more deeply at that insight and the effect it has on the spiritual man, particularly with regard to the way the he understands scripture, and finally regarding how he views the natural man.

The Pneumatikos and the Word

How does it happen that one person can read a passage from the Bible and find it empty, perhaps tedious or confusing, or in some cases foolish and nonsensical, while another person can read the same passage and find it rich with meaning, depth, and blessing? Somehow, the latter has been granted an insight into the passage that the former simply does not possess.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, ESV

Young kids like to play the game, "I know something you don't know..." singing it to the same melodic tune as "Nya, nay-nya, nya, nya," and with the same snoot of superiority. In a sense, that is what the apostle Paul is telling the church at Corinth in the above passage.

The Christ-follower has a Spirit that the world does not have, and an eyesight with which to view the world around him or her that the world does not have, and really, cannot even imagine. As a Spirit-animated Christ-follower, there are truths you understand that are complete poppycock to the man or woman without the Spirit of God.

There is another spirit - make no mistake - a spirit that animates the natural man. Paul writes to the church at Ephesus, and there he mentions this spirit, "following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2, ESV). All of us are internally influenced by one Spirit or the other.

Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit of God that inspired the scriptures which bless you, but confuse the non-believer.

No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. - 2 Peter 1:21, ESV

Paul told Timothy, "All scripture is God breathed." Since it is the Spirit of God who inspired the scriptures, it follows that those whom the Spirit indwells will have exceptional insight into, and understanding of, those same scriptures. I am not suggesting magical, super-secret insight, but rather that scripture simply makes sense to you where it does not do so for the worldly man or woman.

Even the exchange of scriptural concepts between believers is influenced by the touch of the Spirit. The Spirit teaches the speaker or writer, and the Spirit guides the understanding of the reader or hearer.

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. - 1 Corinthians 2:13, ESV

This has echoes of what Jesus said when he told his disciples, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13).

The Pneumatikos and the World

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. - 1 Corinthians 2:14, NASB

From time to time, I see Christ-followers who become agitated by the attitudes of the world. I understand that, and occasionally fall into that trap as well. We expect the world to embrace our values, our ethics, and our mores. And when they don’t, we are incredulous!

We see a massive proliferation of every manner of moral decay. Rampant sexual abuse. Drug addictions on an unprecedented scale. The normalization and celebration of homosexuality, bisexuality, and now transgenderism and gender dysphoria.

Hospitals are withholding gender identity from Certificates of Live Birth till the parents and child can decide on gender at a later date.

We have witnessed decades of the slaughter of our unborn. Blatant nudity and sexual perversion on our movie and television screens. Wife swapping parties where the partner is chosen as casually as with a dart board, or by blindly pulling car keys out of a bucket.

We shake our indignant fists and stomp our feet and say, “This should not be! They should know better!”

NO!! They do not. And it is absurd for us to expect them to know better.

Read the verse again: But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (1 Corinthians 2:14, NASB).

To the natural man, this is normal life. This is how things are supposed to be. This is what makes sense to the unenlightened mind of one controlled by "the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience."

So, teach the world, but do not be shocked or dismayed by their lack of understanding, or their embrace of the profane. Rather, expect it. They do not see with the eyes with which you see.

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
Medium.com
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


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© 2018 Steve Harvey. All Rights Reserved. Unsplash.
Used by permission.

I'm offering up something a little lighter this week. I've been posting some fairly heavy stuff recently and wanted to do something fun this week. :-)

Funny Religious Words

Religious words are funny things at times. People get into heated debates over things like Calvinism versus Arminianism, or Plenary Verbal Inspiration versus Restricted Inspiration. They engage these debates with great rigor.

Though I find such discussions interesting, I do not attach to them the importance that many do. It is almost as though, in their minds, my salvation in Christ depends on how I view these hotly-debated issues.

"Are you pre-millineal, post-millineal, or amillineal?" We must know these things, you see?

"Are you a dispensationalist?" Uh, well, I use a Coke dispenser at work. Does that count?

Evangelical, Ecumenical, Orthodox.

Other terms are more common, and we often use these familiar terms while having little idea what they actually mean. But we say them because we are expected to say them. Everyone else is saying them, and it is written right here in the bulletin, or the liturgy, so we are supposed to say them, right?

We sing, "hallelujah," or "glory hallelujah." Sometimes "allelujah." Or what of "Hosannah - hosannah in the highest" or "Maranatha!"

While often unable to identify specific meanings, what we do understand is that these words are somehow expressions of praise or adoration.

The Most Widely Known Word

But there is an even simpler term that every one of us has spoken. We say it a lot, and hear others say it - the simple word "amen." Amen? What does that really mean?

We hear it and say it frequently to close a prayer, almost as though it is the official closing line. "And they lived happily ever after. The end." But we phrase it "...in Jesus name, amen."

Sometimes, that phrase is treated like the fast-talker legal mumbo-jumbo we hear at the end of a commercial. The seller has to say it, but they know we really don't want to hear it. Therefore, some voice spits it out so fast that it meets the legal requirement while defying our ability to hear and understand what's being said. In our case, it comes out as one word - inJesusnameamen. There, we met the requirement. The prayer has the official stamp of approval.

In other contexts, amen is a shout or an exclamation, perhaps at a particularly satisfying moment during a sermon, "Aaaaaamen! Preach it brother."

The idea here is my hearty agreement with what you're saying or doing. From time to time, these approving outcries are solicited. "Can I get an 'amen?'" is presented to the crowd the same way the studio "applause" light tells the game-show audience when to clap, hoot, and holler.

Amen. αμην, pronounced "ahh - main"

To the Hebrews it carries a meaning something along the lines of "so it is," or "let it be so." It is a derivative of a verb calling for a person or thing to be firm or certain. At times it is used as a description of the immovability of God, "the Amen." He is firm, trustworthy, true to his word.

Because he who is blessed in the earth
Will be blessed by the God of [amen];
And he who swears in the earth
Will swear by the God of [amen];
Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from My sight!
- Isaiah 65:16, NASB with my inserts

The New Testament Amen

New Testament usage is similar, a direct transliteration from Hebrew to Greek. All that means is that the word was phonetically drawn from one language to the other, pronounced the same in both. We have done the same thing in English (though we mispronounce it), as was done with Latin, German, Spanish, Yiddish, and about seventy-five other world languages. We all say, "amen." It has been referred to as the best-known word in human linguistics.

In New Testament works, the term is often translated "truly." You will recall how, numerous times, Jesus added emphasis to his statements by prepending a double amen to it. "Truly, truly I say to you..." αμην, αμην λεγω υμιν...

Again, speaking of the surety and immovability of God...

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. - 2 Corinthians 1:20, ESV

Amen is very closely related to the Hebrew term, "aman," a term of belief, or faithfulness. It is a term of absolute trust and confidence in another. It is this expression of trust in Jesus that we find in John's Revelation.

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.' - Revelation 3:14, ESV

We can have such confidence and trust in Jesus because he is none other than the creator of all that exists. He is the Amen.

And it is entirely appropriate, and deeply meaningful that our beloved Bibles, that inspired word from our loving God, ends with that one-word expression of assurance, confidence, belief, surety, "amen."

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. - Revelation 22:21, NASB

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
Medium.com
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


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© 2018 Jesper Noer. All Rights Reserved. freeimages.com.
Used by permission.

As a child, I lived for the moment. All that mattered was what I was doing at that specific time. It may have been swimming at the municipal pool. Perhaps it was playing with cars and trucks in the driveway. Maybe it was riding my bicycle or eating ice cream. Whatever it was I was doing, right then, that was what mattered.

Planning Ahead

As I aged, my parents and teachers began exposing me to the idea of planning ahead. "You must apply yourself to your studies now so you will be prepared for your future." In elementary school I had to think about and prepare for middle school. I middle school I had to think about and prepare for high school. In high school I had to think about and prepare for university, and in university, I had to think about and prepare for life.

As a younger employee, financial planners clamored for my attention and my money, telling me I needed to plan for retirement. I needed to start right away, laying up that "nest egg" so that I could enjoy my retirement years.

From a certain perspective, all of this sounds quite reasonable. The reality, however, is that this mentality and teaching is frighteningly unbiblical.

An Uncertain Tomorrow

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. - James 4:13-14, ESV

When we ponder what James is saying, we quickly recognize that he is not discussing ambitions regarding material wealth - homes, boats, automobiles, resort living, and jewelry. Oh no! That's the easy stuff. Where James is challenging us is in our view of time.

We speak of the future as a certainty, as something that is far ahead of us. Oh there is still a lot of time for all of that. We segment our lives into thirty-year mortgages, sixty month automobile payoffs, and we speak of "the golden years" without ever considering that we may never see them, and if we do, it will feel as though forty years ago was yesterday.

When we examine our lives, our priorities, our focus, our use of time and resources, on what do we fixate? Our physical comforts? Future retirement? Easy living? Any objective rooted this side of the grave is a misguided desideratum, and it is indicative of our spiritual myopia.

Here is Jesus' take on the matter:

And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'" - Luke 12:16-20, ESV

Here is the picture of a man who is planning ahead. His nest-egg is abundant. He is envisioning his future of ease, relaxation, and merriment. If you read the man's thought process above, you will find thirteen personal pronouns, all focused on self. God, in his response, tells the man that such talk is the talk of fools.

Embracing the Long View

This is why we, at Long-View Living Ministries, continually call men and women to embrace Long-View Living in a Short-View World. We exhort you to live life with eternity in view such that when Jesus returns we will not "shrink from him in shame at his coming" (1 John 2:28).

Understand where "home" really is, so that you plan not for a retirement here, but for an eternity with Jesus. As the Apostle Paul wrote, when we die, we who belong to God are “absent from the body” and “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV-1984

What are these eternal things upon which we are supposed to be fixing our eyes?

Below is a rapid-fire smattering of passages that enumerate what our eternal perspective should be. I recognize the danger inherent in pulling passages from their context in this way, but my hope is that the sheer volume of scripture will be impactful, and effective at persuading you of the importance of maintaining an eternal perspective.

1. Eternal Life: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:14-16, NASB

2. Eternal Salvation: And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. - Hebrews 5:9, ESV

3. Eternal Redemption: He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. - Hebrews 9:12, NIV-1984

4. Eternal Purpose: This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. - Ephesians 3:11-12, NASB

5. Eternal Covenant: Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. - Hebrews 13:20-21, NASB

6. Eternal Inheritance: For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. - Hebrews 9:15, NASB

7. Eternal Weight of Glory: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, - 2 Corinthians 4:17, ESV

8. Eternal Kingdom: For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 1:11 - ESV

9. Eternal Glory in Christ: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. - 1 Peter 5:10, ESV

That is an astonishing list.

Life, salvation, redemption, purpose, covenant, inheritance, weight of glory, kingdom, glory in Christ — all of that of transcendent value, surpassing anything temporal to such an degree that even trying to make a comparison is an absurdity. We limit ourselves pitiably when we think only in terms of this vaporous life.

The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
- Deuteronomy 33:27a - NASB

The concept of eternity is found throughout scripture, occurring no fewer than eighty-two times, with forty-four of those being a direct reference to eternal life. Keep the long view my friends. There is so much more available to us than what we now see and feel.

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
Medium.com
Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray


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© 2018 Berkeli Alashov. All Rights Reserved. Unsplash.
Used by permission.

In November of 1873, the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre, was carrying 313 passengers from the United States to Europe when it collided with the Scottish vessel, Loch Earn. The Ville du Havre sank within twelve minutes, killing 226 of the passengers, including the four daughters of Horatio and Anna Spafford. Anna Spafford survived the crash, having been pulled from the water while clinging to a piece of floating wreckage. Her husband, Horatio, was working in Chicago at the time of the collision.

When Anna Spafford landed in Cardiff, Wales, she wired her husband, "Saved alone, what shall I do?" Horatio booked passage on the next available ship to Europe in order to join his grieving wife. About four days into his journey, Horatio was summoned to the captain's cabin. There the captain informed him that they were over the place where his wife and children's ship went down.

It is on this grievous journey that Horatio Spafford penned the beloved words to one of the most widely known and sung hymns:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:7, ESV

The Peace Of God

Peace, ειρηνη, is not harmony between us and other men and women. It is not an absence of conflict. Neither is this a reconciliation with God. That has already occurred. There is something to this peace that is deep, profound, and internal. Note that it guards our hearts and minds, not our bodies and homes.

This is a subjective calm and visceral relaxation. And it is of such profundity that it defies both explanation and understanding. From that standpoint, it seems foolish to even blog about it. Blog about what? We don't understand it!

When my soul is troubled, even to the degree of Horatio Spafford's grief, I can bring all my anxieties to God, and in doing so find my heart and mind flooded with peace. Not peace from God, but rather the peace of God. I am not able to confidently quantify that difference, but I do believe it is precisely that distinction that makes this peace the peace that which transcends our ability to understand it.

I can no more wrap my mind around the peace of God than I can wrap it around God himself. Remember, this peace-giving God is the same God "who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20b).

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7, BSB

God-Guarded Heart and Mind

This peace of God stands guard over our heart and mind. This guarding, φρουρησει, is very much a military term, one that describes protecting with a garrison of soldiers. As difficult as it is to do so, close your eyes for just a moment, and try to imagine the reality of the creator-God of the universe, the creator of all that exists, standing sentry over your heart and your mind. Given that reality, how can we possibly not be at peace?

It is entirely possible that the "divine sentry" guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus is what gives us the boldness spoken of earlier in the letter - "standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God" (Philippians 1:27b-28, NASB).

Our Too-Big-To-Understand God

I will never be able to figure God out, and in an ironic way, I don't really want to be able to do so, but I do keep trying. I have long maintained that anything I can wrap my mind around is not big enough to be my God.

It is not only the peace of God that is beyond our comprehension. It is much more than that.

  • Our gift of salvation is "indescribable" or "inexpressible." (2 Corinthians 9:15)
  • The "thoughts" and "ways" of God are far beyond our thoughts and our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
  • The love of Jesus is such that it "surpasses knowledge." (Ephesians 3:19)

In the same way, this peace of God, the guardian of our hearts and minds, is beyond what we can comprehend or understand, but it is freely given to us as God's beloved children. We don't have to understand it. Just enjoy it.

And ponder this for a moment as well - If this peace that is guarding our hearts and minds is so profound that it transcends our understand as Christ-followers, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, think what that peace must look like to those outside of Christ who are drowning in the raging tempest of the world system.

If we are unable to spiritually discern the peace within, those without the Spirit of God have no possibility of doing so (1 Corinthians 2:14). To them, it is just one more puzzling layer of Christian nonsense, but its reality is undeniable.

God's Constant Protection

God never promised to keep us from trouble and turmoil, but rather to protect us through it. Indeed, Jesus was quite clear that we would have trouble from the unbelieving world (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, John 16:33, etc.). But in all of our troubles, according to the apostle Paul, we will be hupernikkomen, "super-conquerors!" But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37, NASB).

I'll leave you with these words of encouragement from God:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4, ESV
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
- Isaiah 43:1b-3a, NASB
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. - Isaiah 26:3, ESV

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

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Comments

08/09/2018
  

This is a heart-wrenching story. Saddens me every time I read it. But, it is also a solemn reminder of your point. God does not promise a trouble-free life. He promises to be with us through it. An important distinction. 

08/15/2018
Damon J. Gray  Damon J. Gray

So true! There are numerous hymns like this with gut-wrenching stories behind them.

If I may ask a favor. Your comment came through without your name and email. That's not supposed to happen. ;-) If you could privately send me a comment with your name and email via the Contact Us page, I'd like to credit your comment. Thanks!/p>

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Acts 17:28 - ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν