Romans 15:13 NCV
God has promised that we can have a sense of peace and joy in every circumstance we face. Jesus said, ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete’ (John 15:11 NIV). So how can we hold on to joy and peace and not lose them?
Paul tells us, ‘I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit’.
The word ‘trust’ in that verse can also be translated as ‘believe’. So the key to keeping hold of our joy and peace, even through tough times, is to keep trusting God and believing He’ll come through for us. It’s okay for us to have questions, and to wonder how or when God’s going to move, but if we start doubting His love and goodness, or thinking He can’t or won’t help us, we’ll also start to lose our hope.
One thing to remember during these times is that we don’t necessarily need massive amounts of faith to see God move. Jesus said: ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’ (Matthew 17:20 NIV). God can take our tiny bit of faith and turn it into something that breaks through the biggest obstacles.
When we feel ourselves slipping into a place of doubt, let’s move back into a place of trust, joy and peace by thinking of all the things He’s done for us through our mustard seed-sized faith.
Jonah 2; Luke 11:29-32
Philippians 4:6 CEV
Rachel and Jim owned a commercial building, half of which Jim used for his dental practice. For fifteen years they had no difficulty renting out the other half, which provided extra money to pay their bills. Then they lost their renter, and a real estate agent told them, “Forget about advertising for a while – absolutely nobody is renting.”
To ease her stress, Rachel started swimming laps at the local YMCA pool. One day when she was feeling especially anxious, she decided to pray as she swam, using the alphabet to keep track of the number of laps. She focused on adjectives to describe God, starting with the letter A. “You are Almighty God,” she prayed during lap one. B. “A benevolent God, a bountiful God,” she prayed on the next lap. And then C, “You are a caring, creative, can-do God.” By the time she’d completed twenty-six laps, an hour had passed and her fears were gone. She knew God would provide.
A short time later a physical therapist called to say she’d noticed the “For Rent” sign, and asked to see the office. It was exactly what she wanted, so she and her partner rented the space.
Rachel still prays while she’s swimming laps. “After all,” she says, “I’ve discovered God’s goodness stretches from A to Z.”
Are you worrying about something today? Here’s a better option: “With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Jesus Christ, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel” (vv. 6-7 CEV).
Soul food: Zeph 1-3; John 7:1-13; Ps 104:1-23; Prov 24:26-27
Hebrews 5:13 NKJV
Paul writes, “Everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness…he is a babe.” Righteousness isn’t a condition you achieve through human effort, it’s a position God places you in when you trust in Christ. From then on, God wants you to see yourself as “righteous,” which is how He sees you. “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:20-22 NKJV). If you’re struggling to be righteous to get into heaven, read this: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV). In the same sense that God made Jesus “to be sin,” the moment you believe in Jesus, He makes you “to be righteous.” Will you still sin because you live in an unregenerate body? Yes. And until you get your new body, that will always be so. Ever hear of phantom pain – a sensation stemming from a body part that’s no longer there? As believers, we have phantom pains we need to get rid of. How? By understanding the difference between our position and our condition. Our position “in Christ” is what gives us confidence toward God. Here’s an important Scripture: “The kingdom of God is…righteousness…peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 NKJV). Note the order. Because we know we’re deemed righteous in God’s eyes, we have peace, and because we have peace – we have joy.
Soul food: 1 Sam 4-7; Luke 24:1-12; Ps 68:12-23; Prov 22:3-4
Hebrews 5:13 NIV
Paul wrote: ‘You need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness’ (Hebrews 5:12-13 NIV). Righteousness isn’t something we achieve through our own efforts, it’s a position God places us in when we trust in Christ. From that point on, God wants us to see ourselves as ‘righteous’, which is how He sees us. ‘No one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin. But God has a way to make people right with him without the law…God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ’ (Romans 3:20-22 NCV). If we’re striving to be righteous through our own efforts, we need to remember that ‘God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT). God made Jesus ‘to be the offering for our sin’, and the moment we believe in Jesus, He makes us ‘right with God’. That doesn’t mean we’ll never sin, or that we can just do what we like. Even though we’re believers, we still have bad habits and weaknesses that can draw us away from God. But when we understand that our position is ‘in Christ’, we can have complete confidence in God and trust in His love to help us overcome those weaknesses. Romans 14:17 says: ‘The kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (NIV). When we know God sees us as righteous, we have peace, which brings us joy.
1 Sam 4-7; Luke 24:1-12; Ps 68:12-23; Prov 22:3-4
2 Peter 1:3 NIV
Ever felt stressed out because you don’t think you have what it takes to live like Jesus? Maybe you’ve felt under pressure because, however hard you try, you don’t feel good enough for God? The good news is that God’s already ‘given us everything we need for a godly life.’ Everything we might possibly need to be able to live God’s way, we already have access to. These are things like wisdom, strength, peace, courage, and love. He equips us to be able to do the things He’s called us to. The Holy Spirit lives within us to guide, instruct, and transform us. The Bible says: ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’ (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV). We just need to listen to the Spirit’s promptings rather than doing the things we want to do. God hasn’t left us to do everything on our own. He cares about each of us, and provides us with what we need. Paul encouraged the church in Philippi by saying: ‘My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19 NIV). And that can encourage us too. It’s worth remembering that God’s given us ‘everything we need’, not ‘everything we want’. There will be things we pray for that we don’t get. They might not actually be good for us, even though we think they would be. So when we’re worried that we can’t live God’s way or we’re frustrated because God’s not giving us the things we want, let’s remember that God sees the bigger picture and He’s already provided everything we need.
2 Kings 4:18-6:33; Mark 16; Ps 80:12-19; Prov 13:13-16