The Pathway to Peace

I love this question: “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” ~Jeremiah 32:27, NIV

The obvious answer to this question is a resounding, “NO!” This is why Jesus had to keep scolding His disciples when they faced a seemingly hopeless situation with doubt, anxiety, and fear: “Oh you of little faith!” It is surprising that after watching Jesus cleanse the lepers and raise the dead the disciples still had their doubts.

Sometimes we forget the God we worship created everything that exists everywhere.¬† Even the fallen angels depend on God’s power for their existence. God is the fountain of wisdom and power–He is not frightened, confused, perplexed, or anxious about anything.

When we ask God for help then we can be assured He is in control of the situation. We may not like the immediate outcome, but we have to trust that God knows what He is doing. Most often God is simply giving us what we need instead of what we want.

Who are we to question His wisdom?

When God acts, there is nothing impossible for Him to accomplish. It might be above our human ability to comprehend, or even imagine, but God is all-powerful and all-knowing. Nothing is too hard for Him.

Listen to what Jesus told the disciples: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” (Matthew 19:26, NIV)

Listen to the testimony of the Angels to Abraham, who doubted that his elderly wife Sarah could have a promised child: “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:14, NIV)

Listen to Job who had to learn the hard way that the wisdom of God is not to be questioned: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2, NIV)

When God tells us to trust Him–He means it. We might not always like what He does or understand the how or why of a situation, but we can rest in the fact that God has the answer to our all of our problems.

Here is the path to peace in the midst of conflict:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV)

~Stephen Beagles

Genuine Obedience

When I was teenager, I became weary of the word “obedience”. This happened because of the hundreds of rules that I was expected to follow that resulted in punishment if I was caught violating one. I wasn’t rebellious, but I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could make my own rules. Then I joined the military where the rules got even stricter and where insubordination resulted in harsher punishments. Much of this colored my view of laws, rules, regulations, and restrictions. But now that I am older, I understand what God means when He commands us to obey.

My immature view of obedience led me to dread comparing myself to God’s holy law–I was never at peace and never felt “good enough” to be accepted by God. But this was a good thing, because it led me to do a deeper search for peace which resulted in me finding the “good news” of righteousness by faith. My relief in finding that God accepted me by faith in the merits of Christ was not because I was attempting to avoid the law, but because I longed for the grace and peace of the gospel. Obedience took on a new meaning as I was no longer attempting to escape punishment, but I was grateful for the assurance of God’s love and acceptance.

I realized that obedience to God wasn’t only about being obedient to the law, but it was also about being obedient to the gospel. I came to understand that there is no holiness apart from faith which is the assurance of salvation in Christ. The tremendous blessings of obedience to the law can never be realized without the Holy Spirit which is received by faith in the atoning blood of Christ.

“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.” ~ Galatians 3:2, NLT

Genuine obedience means that we obey the law AND the gospel. Obedience to the Gospel is our faith in Christ who died for our sins and rose again for our justification. The law shows us the impossibility of being right with God on our own merits, and then shows us how to live happy and holy lives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Our obedience to the laws of God might rise and fall like the stock market, but we have a perfect savior who has promised eternal life to those who trust in Him for salvation:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” ~ John 6:37, NIV

There is no holiness apart from the assurance of salvation in Christ alone. The fruits of the spirit will motivate us towards higher and higher levels of spiritual maturity. One day we will all stand sinless around the throne of God–not because of what we did while here on earth, but because of what Christ did by shedding His divine blood.

We must be obedient to both the law of God AND the gospel of Jesus.

~Stephen Beagles

Take up the Cross

The increase in spiritual attacks against Christ and the church will continue to get worse until the end of time. Jesus said, “take up your cross and follow me!”

Jesus went to the cross to remove the wrath of God against those who believe and trust in Him. His followers are called to sacrifice ALL if necessary to win eternal life.

None of us is smart enough, or strong enough, to defend ourselves against the evil angels who are plotting our misery and death. Only Christ is our defense and He will give us the strength to endure.

The good news is that those who suffer the most for Christ on earth will have the greatest rewards in heaven. This is why we are called to consider it joy when we face hardship:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5: 11-12, NIV).

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

The key is to trust fully in Christ. He will always give us the strength to endure the trials and tribulations of life. We cannot rely on our own strength, we should never question the wisdom of God, and we should constantly remind ourselves that God will never give us more than we can bear. No one said it would be easy or that it wouldn’t hurt. But we have the promise of victory if we remain focused on Jesus and the price He paid for our salvation.

We should thank God that Christians in the United States have had it relatively easier than Christians have it in other parts of the world. Christians in the world today have it much easier than many have had it in the past. This is all about to change.

The devil will attack us mentally, physically, and emotionally. However we are called to resist the devil by drawing closer to our savior who suffered more than any other human being at the hands of the devil and of evil men. Our only defense is to resist the devil and to draw closer to God in Bible study and prayer:

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).

Trust in God! Focus = Focus on Christ’s Ultimate Sacrifice. The wisdom of Christ–the peace and power of the Gospel–will allow us to turn adversity into triumph.

~Stephen Beagles