The last couple of days I told you that we need allow the peace of God to rule in our lives, and I must be fixated on this or something because I keep going. But I really haven’t told you how we go about doing that. I mean, if you actually want the peace of God to reign in your life, you have to quit several things! Ooh, you hate hearing those kinds of things, but I am serious, there are a few things you are going to have straighten out in your life.
First, you better quit trying to figure out how your God is going work everything out in your life. You pray and say, “Father, fix it this way . . . .” but can I suggest that He won’t always follow those directions. Can we agree that He is much smarter than we are. In fact, He was never shy about it. He said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8). As the Message renders it, He says, “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” Ouch! He wasn’t being arrogant, just stating the obvious. As Will Sonnet said, “No brag, just fact.”
Now, the second thing you are going to have to do, is quit worrying and fretting. In one of those verses I shared the last couple of days, didn’t Paul say “Be anxious for nothing . . .” (Philippians 4:6). Another translation renders it as, “Never worry about anything . . .” And yet another, “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything . . .” Yeah, we love to hear those kind of verses. We love to quote them and pull them from our “Daily Bread.” But yet, we can’t sleep at night because of the nagging thoughts we are continually meditating on.
Thirdly, you must quit telling God what you think is right for you. Like I stated, He is a whole bunch smarter than we are. Yet, so many times we pray, “Lord, I surrender to you,” but then begin to tell Him what you feel your talents and gifts are. Silly you.
And most of all, you must quit thinking that you are a failure; stop thinking that you do not please God! That He is angry with you! That you have failed Him so many times, there is no way he can use you anymore. Some of us have really screwed up. You know who you are. Can I assure you that, yes, there may have to be a time of repentance, cleansing and reforming, or reshaping your heart, but even during that time, He loves you. He must, or He wouldn’t given you that opportunity.
This is one of the biggest bugaboos for many believers. We blow it, sometimes very seriously. I know I have. And it was during some very dark days for me. But once my eyes were opened to see the greatness of my sin, my heart was broken. Like David when he was confronted with his sin of adultery and murder. Oh man, was he ever smitten. Do you remember the story? The Lord sent Nathan to David because David’s sin so angered the Lord. But you see, David never listened to the conviction of the Holy Spirit or to his own conscience. That is why Yahweh sent Nathan to speak to David. I was always fascinated how the Lord kept mercifully speaking to David even when David wasn’t listening. You know, we can do that. We can “plug our ears” to the Lord and pretend we don’t hear Him. In my case, I continually heard the Spirit of God calling me back, but I never believed I could love again or, worse yet, be love again, by my Father. Wasn’t that the condition of the “Prodigal son?”
Just the other day, as I looked at my driveway, the Holy Spirit began showing me things. You know, many times, the Holy Spirit uses the most mundane things to teach you deep lessons.
You see, we built our house back in 1985, and over the years my garage floor and driveway had become dirty and stained with oil, grease, and grime. Certainly from age, but mostly from teenage sons parking their cars that leaked fluids, or the many times they changed oil in my garage or on the driveway.
Now, I can, of course, scrub and scrub with hot water, and it might wipe away some of the dirt, but if I ever hoped to restore it to its original whiteness, I have to use something more. I read on the internet that I could use a good dose of bleach — and often with far less labor on my part (which sounds more of what I like to hear). The article said that all I have to do is pour out the cleaning solution and spray it with a blast of water. Then, almost miraculously, the dirt will roll right off, and the concrete is as good as new. That sounds cool to me!
But that is when the Holy Spirit got involved. Deep in my spirit I heard him point out that in the same way that dirt, slime, and oil had accumulated and darkened the appearance of my concrete driveway, sin covers our souls and darkens them! What a graphic example!
However, if we utilize the gift of repentance, all that junk can be washed away simply and easily. All we have to do is acknowledge our sins and turn to our Father in humble, heartfelt repentance, and his power of forgiveness goes to work, making us as clean as the day we were baptized!
When we are willing to finally humble ourselves, cry out, like King David, “Have mercy on me, O God,” He responds! (Psalm 51:1). When we see our sin and imitate Peter by saying, “Leave me, Lord! I’m a sinful person!” (Luke 5:8), he doesn’t “Leave.” No, no! Instead, He begins to work in us. He begins to refresh our spirit, to restore our relationship to Him, and even empower us to bear godly fruit, again.
When we truly and sincerely bear our soul to Him the first thing He does is to bring us back from our enslavement to our sin, and He does this by refreshing our weary hearts (Jeremiah 31:25). What I mean is that He refreshes us by removing the burden of guilt and shame and darkness that the sin created within us. He refreshes us by setting our hearts at peace and showering us with mercy. And he refreshes us by assuring us that we are still his beloved sons and daughters, members of his family and coheirs with Christ! Oh my brother, my sister, for so long you may have felt alienated, but He wants to embrace you with His love and forgiveness. Receive His peace once again.
This is what the prodigal son felt when he returned home. He was weary, grimy, and smelly from his sin, but his father paid no attention to that and immediately embraced him and restored him. All the things he gave his son — a ring, sandals, and a robe — were signs of dignity and belonging. They were meant to show the boy that he had indeed come home. He could finally find rest and acceptance. And this is exactly what God does for us every time we return to him in repentance. He restores our sense of dignity and reassures us that we are completely forgiven.
When I awoke my days of darkness and returned, it was the first time I heard, Phillips, Clark and Dean sing “When God Ran,” and I couldn’t stop weeping.
I realize that when the prodigal returned home, he probably had to face several challenges. I mean, we can repent and restore our relationship with our Father, but we still need to restore the relationship of those we hurt during our time of rebellion. The prodigal had to face the challenge of changing his behavior and expectations of life, the challenge to allow his wounded memories to be healed, even the challenge of reconciling with his older brother. But, I believe, the biggest challenge had nothing to do with the past, that can be healed easily, but he also had to face the future: the challenge of “bearing fruit worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8). In other words, full restoration includes the restoration of our calling as well as the restoration of our dignity and our relationships. When our Father forgives us, He wants to assure us that our sins are forgotten, but he also wants to reassure us that we can still bear wonderful fruit again. All is not lost. It won’t happen like a sixty minute TV show, but restoration can still be obtained.
One of Satan’s most effective traps for robbing Christians of peace is to convince them they must work in the flesh to please our God. This is something He throws at me all the time! During my dark days, I was seeing my God as an overbearing SOB, that I could no longer satisfy. Oh, it was such a dirty lie, and sadly, I embraced it. I pray I never see days like that again.
Sometimes when I need a quiet place to pray, I get in my car and drive to a secluded spot. You see, because I am dealing with many physical limitations and I am unable to work or even travel long distances (without someone who know about my limitations and can help me, when needed). So many times I start thinking that I am not doing anything for the Lord! I am so limited as to what I can do, I pray, “Father, I’m not really accomplishing much for Your kingdom. All I do is pray, get messages that I send out in emails, and go to church and study my Bible. I love so much what your Spirit is showing me, but the whole world is going to hell, and I’m not doing anything for You!”
Oh, don’t criticize me. Have you ever have such thoughts hit you? You do everything you can in order to please the Lord, yet you do not feel holy. I hardly ever feel holy. That is true even in my best times — even when I am sharing a message under the Spirit’s anointing!
You say, “Wow! You, Brother? You feel you’re not doing much for God?” Yeah, I admit it! The devil comes in and makes all of us feel unworthy, unfulfilled. And we can lose our peace if we give in to those awful thoughts!
But that is why the Spirit of God has been encouraging me to send these messages to you. Just listen to what Paul what prayed for us: “May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 15:13). Amen!
My dear friends, may we trust in His goodness. Believe in His love and mercy. Never start accusing Him of being angry or upset with you or of not speaking to you. Let His peace rule in your heart and over your whole life!
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your generous gifts.
It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.