Okay, so it may not be an old adage, but too many people live by it. And why do some of us go shopping when times get tough? To make ourselves feel better, to have a sense that we are still in control. The problem is we are not in control of our lives. The outcome is in Godâ€™s hands.
When I was going through a particularly tough time in my life some 16 years ago, I came across a passage of Scripture that literally saved me from going crazy. I remember writing it down on a blank letter-sized envelop because I didnâ€™t have a clean sheet of paper available. It became very worn through that those tough times from looking at over and over again. Here is the passage:
â€œRejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.â€ (Philippians 4:4-7)
That was the first passage of Scripture that I memorized that contained more than one verse. Notice the Apostle Paul does not exhort us to rejoice in our sorrow or our tribulation. No, he says to â€œrejoice in the Lord always.â€ Why? Because He is in control no matter the circumstances. Nothing catches God by surprise.
Knowing this and being able to live a life of joy in the midst of sorrow is an amazing testimony to those around you. The Greek adjective translated â€œgentlenessâ€ is epiekes and it means not only â€œgentle,â€ but also â€œconsiderate.â€ When I am able to face my sorrows with a gentle and considerate spirit, as they say down here in the South, â€œThatâ€™ll preach!â€
That may seem a strange thing to do in the midst of sorrow, and it is humanly impossible for most. How do I keep from being anxious about anything? Take it to the Lord! Pray, request, and with a thankful heart take all your concerns to God. But Bro Dave, God is omniscient and knows all this, why do I have to take my needs to Him? It is an act of trust and obedience…trust and obey, for there is no other way. More than just a catchy line from a hymn. It is a way of life. Letâ€™s see what our old friend Matthew Henry had to say about this passage:
â€œJoy in God is of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. It more than outweighs all causes for sorrow. Let their enemies perceive how moderate they were as to outward things, and how composedly they suffered loss and hardships. The day of judgment will soon arrive, with full redemption to believers, and destruction to ungodly men. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and agrees with a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of fear and distrust, which is sin and folly, and only perplexes and distracts the mind. As a remedy against perplexing care, constant prayer is recommended. Not only stated times for prayer, but in everything by prayer. We must join thanksgivings with prayers and supplications; not only seek supplies of good, but acknowledge the mercies we have received. God needs not to be told our wants or desires; He knows them better than we do; but He will have us show that we value the mercy, and feel our dependence on Him. The peace of God, and having a part in His favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinking under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction.â€
The peace of God is quite different and more desirable than peace from God. The latter is temporary in nature and often manufactured by us through â€œfeeling spiritual.â€ The former is experiencing God up close and personal. It is He who supplies the peace. Our Lord Jesus Christ, at times perplexed, was always at peace with what was at hand. That is how He was able to overcome His anxiety in the Garden of Gethsemane and face the horrible cross. No one has ever suffered sorrow greater than Jesus or our Heavenly Father.
The year 2012 is upon us. Many grave predictions are being made about this new year. Some people are making last minute investments and donations to make their tax burden lighter. Many are looking towards Iowa next week and beyond for the salvation of our nation. Some say the world as we know it will come to an end on December 21, 2012.
The aletheia truth is no one knows what the future holds. Bold predictions on the economy, in politics and world affairs are mostly foolâ€™s errands. King Solomon wisely wrote:
â€œA manâ€™s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.â€ (Proverbs 16:9)
Here is one prediction I can make with full assurance. If the world was to come to an end and we were all to die on that day, those who have rejected Christ will spend eternity in hell. That should cause great sorrow for you if you are lost in your sins.
However, if you give your life to Jesus Christ today, then you will be making the greatest investment ever. Your future is secure. If you will give your life to Jesus Christ today, you will be making the most wonderful and charitable donation any human can make. Giving your heart to Jesus is your way of acknowledging the wonderful mercies of God. Wonâ€™t you do so today?
Wouldnâ€™t you like to have a joy in God that more than outweighs all causes for sorrow? I am praying you will do so right now. Do not wait; do it now.
Happy New Year my beloved readers. You are such a great encouragement to me. Only God could take a little devotional began 5 years ago and turn it into a ministry for His glory.
If you are looking for a New Yearâ€™s resolution you can keep, why not begin it on New Years Day by going to church on Sunday. It only takes three weeks to develop a habit. Develop the habit of reading your Bible daily and going to church whenever possible and by February it will become a normal part of your life.
That is a guarantee from God!
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Copyright Â© 2011 David Jeffers