“The Peace of God”

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The Peace of God

… a synopsis of the writing of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones   

The Apostle Paul exhorted the early Christians to rejoice in the Lord always, being mindful that there are many forces in life that tend to rob the Christian of that joy. One of these factors is the tyranny of circumstances, the things that happen to us.

Here lies a practical test of our faith and of our Christian position, far removed from the realm of mere theory. We are in the situation, things are happening to us, and the question is, what is our faith worth at that point? How does it differentiate us from people who have no faith?

Let us consider what the Apostle Paul has to say on how to deal with the tyranny of circumstances.

He tells us what we need to avoid: the state of anxiety, of harassing care that wears us down. In a profound piece of Biblical psychology, Paul shows us that we get into this state of nervous, brooding unrest due to the activity of the heart and mind.  In other words, Paul is saying that we cannot completely control our hearts and minds and the conditions of agitation they produce. The anxiety happens apart from us and in spite of us.

Paul shows what we need to do in order to avoid the inner turmoil, in a manner quite different from the psychological or “common-sense” prescription. He does not say “stop worrying” because it is the very thing a worried person cannot do. It is like telling a helpless drunkard to stop drinking.

First, Paul tells us to pray.  This means worship and adoration.  In the midst of insurmountable problems, we do not rush to God with our petitions; we come into His presence, lay our problems aside, and pour out our hearts to Him in praise and adoration.

Next, we bring our petitions to God, with an attitude of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is essential because there must be no doubt as to God’s goodness in our hearts.  We recall the many things we can be thankful for, the many blessings we have received from Him in the past.

After prayer, supplication and thanksgiving comes the promise of the peace of God that will keep our hearts and minds, garrisoned from the stresses and anxieties, a supernatural peace that transcends all understanding, attained in and through Jesus Christ.

Notice that the promise does not mention the circumstances or the things that troubled us. The triumph of the gospel message is that through the peace of God, we are taken above circumstances; we are made victorious in spite of them.

Scripture Reference:
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7, King James Version

Reference:
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, 1965, Great Britain: Pickering and Inglis ltd, pp.261-272

Worry: Its Causes and Solutions

 

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34

Worry is a problem brought about by our relationship to the things of this world and of this life. It does not matter whether one has an abundance of worldly goods, or the lack of it, both conditions lead to worry; no one is immune from this vexation.

Worry can be considered as a failure to apply our faith; however, delving further into this problem reveals that worry is in itself a definite entity, a tremendous power that grips and takes control of us. It is an active force, and failure to recognize this facet can lead to defeat. It is almost similar to a personality that takes hold of us, in spite of ourselves, and keeps arguing with us. It leads to this curious perverse condition where one almost does not want to be delivered from it. Worry has an active imagination; it can conceive all sorts of strange eventualities and possibilities and by its power, transports us into the future, making us troubled by things that are purely imaginary.

How can we address worry?

First, consider what the Lord said about the folly of being anxious: worrying about the future is utterly useless because it achieves nothing; it is a pure waste of energy, and its threatened calamities are hypothetical, uncertain, and may not happen at all. Moreover, the result of worrying about the future cripples us in the present; we hamper our effectiveness today, and therefore diminish the totality of our effectiveness with regard to the future.

Second, Jesus says every day must be lived in and of itself, as a separate unit. Each day has a quota of problems; we must not add tomorrow’s quota to today’s, or it would be too much for us. We are to live each day to the maximum.

Third, just as we compartmentalize our lives into each twenty-four hour period, we are to apportion our whole relationship to God in the same manner. Oftentimes we fall into the jeopardy of believing God for the whole of our lives, but not believe Him for the particular segments in our lives. We must learn to walk with God daily, rely on Him daily, and take things to God as they arise.

Fourth, we are to apply our faith. Just as the psalmist talked to himself and reasoned with himself, we are to talk to ourselves and to our faith; we shake and remind ourselves about our faith in God. Furthermore, a large part of faith is just rejecting anxious thoughts, refusing to be burdened by worry because we have cast our burden upon the Lord.

May the Lord give us the wisdom and grace to carry out these principles to cease from worrying, enabling us to rejoice in Him every day of our lives.

*** Reference: David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, Martino Publishing, CT, 2011, pp. 146-157.

*** Photograph: Storm Watchers by Jean Winters Olkonen