Philippians 4:6-7 – Miracles of Hope and Peace

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

-In a world where there is no hope, God can still provide hope.  Where there is no peace, God can still provide peace.  The Bible teaches us that “with God all things are possible” (Mark 3:17).  What we often overlook is that God is doing the impossible every day and oftentimes in the most overlooked of ways.  It is proper to praise God when He saves a soul or heals a sickness, but don’t forget to praise Him for keeping our minds from breaking under the stress of a million little things that come at us every day.  Don’t forget to praise Him for giving light in a world that sinks deeper and deeper into the darkness every day.  “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  Don’t forget to praise Him when the unexpected comes your way either; knowing “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

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James 4:2 – Because Ye Ask Not

James 4:2
2
 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

-We have not because we ask not.  The best-kept secret in the Christian life.  It is promised that we will have heartache and tribulation in the world (John 16:33), but how much of that heartache might we be spared if we simply asked the Heavenly Father for a reprieve?  We are likewise blessed beyond measure, but how much more blessing could be ours if we simply asked the one who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”? (Ephesians 3:20)  We all have jobs to do on this side of eternity; opportunities to bring glory to God in Heaven.  Having said that, remember that in any situation, the best thing you can do is not to witness, not to argue, not to strive in our own strength; the best thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us is to pray.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 – Sufficient Grace

2 Corinthians 12:7-9
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

-Grace is perhaps the most vital aspect in the relationship between God and man.  Grace is the unmerited favor of God and it is essential since none of humanity actually merits the favor of God.  (Romans 3:10-18)  It should follow that praying for Grace would be a necessity for everyone; for the lost, Grace that would lead to salvation, and for the saved, Grace to stay in the Lord’s will.  How much Grace do we pray for, though?  Asking for too much sounds self-indulgent, but asking for just enough seems rather limiting to God.  We certainly don’t want to ask for less than we need.  Fortunately, scripture comes along and provides us with an idea of “sufficient Grace” and from that, we learn exactly how to pray for it.  Don’t ask for too much, too little, or just enough; ask God to give you Grace that is sufficient.  God may sometimes give more than others, but we can rest assured that He will always give just the right amount.

John 6:16-21 – For they know His voice

John 6:16-21
16 
And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

-Notice how Jesus introduces Himself here to put His disciples at ease.  He doesn’t say “It is Jesus”, simply “It is I” and immediately the disciples recognized Him.  This is even more poignant when we consider that they had already seen Jesus walking on the water and that sight made them afraid.  They didn’t understand what they saw but they immediately recognized what they heard.  In John 10:27, Jesus tells us that “when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.”  There’s plenty about the Lord that’s beyond our knowledge and understanding, things that would overwhelm us and even terrify us.  On the day you finally see Him, you may not even recognize Him.  But if you’ve trusted the Lord for salvation, you’ll know His voice when you hear it.

Psalm 51:11-12 – Thy Salvation

Psalm 51:11-12
11 
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

-A very important thing to note here as David prays for God to restore joy and fellowship to him is how he refers to Salvation as “thine” instead of “mine”.  This one small distinction has two large impacts on our lives:

1) It removes any potential for pride to come in with respect to attaining or maintaining salvation.  If it all belongs to the Lord, we can’t take any credit for it.  “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
2) It brings the peace of knowing that we can’t do anything to damage salvation.  As long as the Lord is responsible for it, we can’t mess it up or lose it.  “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9), it is never of the redeemed.

Isaiah 64:6 – An Unclean Thing

Isaiah 64:6
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

-Humanity’s story is always one of struggle.  We strive in war to prove our dominance one over another, we strive in life and business in order to climb the ladder of success.  There are some areas where hard work and commitment pay off, but what do we do when we face a challenge that cannot be overcome by human effort?  Such is the case with our sin debt; sin has put us all under condemnation and no matter how hard we try, we cannot make things better.  In fact, if you’ve ever tried to clean something with a filthy rag, you know that it only makes things worse.  That’s what the Lord thinks of our righteousness and good works outside of Him.  We are already black with sin, and every time we try to clean up with our own righteousness, we just make it dirtier.  The answer to our eternal destiny lies not in human merit, but in God’s mercy.  “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:18-19) To redeem a world full of dirty sinners required an atonement that was perfectly free of spot or blemish, an atonement like the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Joshua 24:15 – Freedom

2 Corinthians 3:17
17
 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Joshua 24:15
15
 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

-The freedom to choose; it is a founding precept upon which this great nation was built.  Whether a person wanted to be a Christian or an atheist, to pray or not to pray; whatever choice they wanted to make, they were free to do so.  But the freedom to choose is one that has been severely distorted over time.  From the beginning, America recognized the importance of protecting individual liberties, but America also recognized that those liberties are ultimately granted by God.  In the modern age, it seems that the only way America can defend personal freedom is to remove God from everything and so, in the name of “freedom”, we have made ourselves slaves; slaves to sin, slaves to whatever God-less philosophy finds its way into our culture, and ultimately, slaves to Satan’s desire of removing God from the human equation.  It is often said that freedom isn’t free.  If the price of American freedom is separating a people from their God, I’d say the cost is very high indeed.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 – Earthen Vessels

2 Corinthians 4:6-7
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

-There is no limit to the tools and resources at God’s disposal when it comes to His works.  Yet when it comes to His most important work, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He chooses to use plain old human beings.  Why human messengers instead of 8-foot Angels with flaming swords?  Why human missionaries instead of 6-winged Seraphim?  The answer is given right here in verse 7, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”  If God’s unseen wonders were walking the earth they would no doubt get our attention, but they might also get our praise and glory; praise and glory that should only be given to God (Isaiah 42:8).  But when God uses a wretched, broken human being who has been washed in the Blood of the Lamb to bring light to another broken human being, God’s presence will be uniquely felt.  Like a candle in a cracked clay pot, God’s divinity will shine out through the cracks in our humanity.

Luke 12:4-5 – Hell

Luke 12:4-5
4
 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

-Lest we get jaded and take for granted the indescribable gift of Salvation provided by the Lord, let’s take a moment to reflect on exactly what the Lord is saving us from.  Hell is a real place.  It’s not a myth or an allegory designed to explain the torture of a life separated from God; it is a very real place of fire and brimstone.  There, eternal torment and punishment await all those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no “purgatory” to temporarily punish and cleanse those who are stained with sin, we are either bound for Heaven or doomed to Hell.  If that thought scares you, please understand that it’s supposed to.  That is exactly why Jesus here tells us that we should be very afraid of God, the only one who can save or condemn.  But rejoice!!  Jesus would not have issued this warning if there was no way to escape the consequences.  The Lord Himself laid down His life to make a way for us to escape Hell.  To accept Jesus is to accept Heaven, to reject Jesus is to embrace Hell.  It really is that simple and God is the last person who wants to trick you.  All of eternity hangs on one simple question, will you accept this precious gift that the Lord wants to give you?

Hosea 11:9 – I Will Not Destroy; I Will Not Enter

Hosea 11:9
9
 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

-In the book of Hosea, we see that because of Israel’s sin and unbelief, God has begun to exercise judgment and bring forth His wrath.  Here in verse 9, He declares that although He is filled with anger, He will not destroy the nation of Israel.  “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 136:1)  Only a God of great mercy could be so provoked and still decide not to destroy.  While this is very comforting as we consider that we are all found wanting in the presence of a Holy God, notice what the Lord says at the end of verse 9; “I will not enter into the city.”  Because the Lord is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13), His only options when faced with Israel’s sin is to either destroy them or not come among them at all.  How often do we find ourselves in this very place?  We think everything is alright because the Lord has not brought judgment, but we miss that fact that the Lord has removed His presence from us altogether.