September 9, 2018

Perfect Peace in a Perfect Storm

*Note for this week’s devotional: In light of this message series, we recognize that there are real forms of clinical anxiety and depression. Prayer, meditation and reading Scripture are powerful tools to help us deal with real issues of life. However, there are situations where professional help and even medication are right and necessary. As a devotional team, we pray these words bring hope and inspiration, not shame and isolation. Anxiety and depression are real, and know that you are not alone.  

Day 1: On Sunday, Cory explained that humbling ourselves under God’s mighty hand is an important step to experiencing peace. We are so easily “big” in our own eyes. It is easy to think we know best, make our own decisions, take control of our life, and chase our own pursuits. But then, we worry because our knowledge to make decisions and our ability to control is limited. When you find yourself worrying this week notice it. Journal, talk to a friend, or take a quiet 5-10 minutes to think about the source of the worry. After noticing your worry, remember that God is big, far bigger than what we worry about. He cares about us, loves us deeply, knows all, is in control, and ultimately, he himself can fulfill us. Here is something to try. When you identify worry, think of a corresponding truth about God. For example, if you worry because a situation is out of your control, find a verse about God being in control. Whatever worry comes up, humble yourself and acknowledge that God is stronger, more in control, and more good than whatever fear, circumstance, or struggle you face. Let your worry remind you how big God is.   

Day 2: The absolute starting point for any kind of peace is humbling ourselves to accept the peace with God that we have in Jesus. Sometimes we are so big in our eyes that we try to accomplish peace with God or think that there is some way to peace with God other than God’s way - Jesus’ death and resurrection. Trying to make peace with God by any other way results in inner turmoil, fear, or self-denial. Read Romans 10:1-13. Why did the Israelites not submit to God’s righteousness?  What can we do to be saved? Accepting and believing these truths is the first humbling step that puts us under God’s mighty and caring hand. It is also a lifelong pursuit to absorb the fullness of the peace with God that we have in Christ. Read Romans 5:1-11 and meditate on the effects of the peace of God that has been accomplished in Christ.  

Day 3: Humbling ourselves is a process of acknowledging God is who he says he is, laying down our own thoughts and opinions to believe what God says is true, and adjusting our lives to live in a way that is consistent with God. If I am doing things my own way, don’t I rightly worry? In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus says to focus our energy and attention on his kingdom and his righteousness, and God will provide for our needs. Evaluate your life. What is your focus? Is there any way you can be more in line with God’s priorities? Will you humble yourself to pursue God’s priorities, or will you continue to do what you want? Make it public and tell a friend how you want to realign your life. Ask for their support.  

 Day 4: One of the biggest challenges and temptations is to worry about our circumstances. We can easily think that if we do everything right, then we shouldn’t have trouble and everything should go well. But is that true?  

  • Jesus promised in this world we will have trouble. John 16:33  

  • Paul asked if trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or violence (which Paul experienced) means we are separated from the love of God. Romans 8:35-36  

  • James said to count it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds. James 1:2  

  • Peter said that for a little while we suffer grief in all kinds of trials so that our genuine faith results in glory. 1 Peter 1:6-7  

If Jesus and his disciples experienced suffering, can we trust God, lean on him and strive ahead knowing that God works for the good of all who love God and are called by him? Instead of worrying about what bad things might happen, think about God who is with you through those things and will bring about good. Consider Peter, James, and Jesus as you read Paul’s words in Romans 8:18-39. 

Day 5: Read Daniel 3:8-30. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did right by not bowing down to an idol. They left the outcome in God’s hands and were thrown into a fire. But in the midst of the fire and most likely their own death, they proceeded. For them, they’ve found peace through faith in their God in spite of terrifying circumstances facing them. And as you read, a fourth person is seen in the fire. God was with them and in this case, he miraculously rescued them from the fire. What stands out to you as you read this account? Spend time in prayer to God. What can you apply to your current circumstances or view of God?