Quick hits: Enter into the peace of God

Just some food for thought heading into this weekend….maybe you’ve got some stressful issues going on in your life right now and you need some encouragement.

Take a look at this passage written by Paul from Philippians 4:4-9:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Jesus is counter-cultural….and we should be too

Our world today teaches us to be spiteful, negative and many times just downright hateful. That’s why being a follower of Christ is so counter-cultural.

Jesus teaches us to be loving and accepting of all people. That can oftentimes be the hardest thing to do, particularly when those people are not being kind to us in return.

I’ve been going through the gospel of Luke lately, and it’s always interesting to me how different passages that you’ve read before seem to connect with you in ways they previously never had when you read them again.

One passage of particular interest to me of late has been Luke 6:27-38 where Jesus is speaking to a large crowd who had come to hear him speak and to be healed. During that teaching, Jesus spelled out to us how to love our enemies and how that makes us more like God.

“But I say to you who listen: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks from you, and from one who takes away your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Pretty much everything about what Jesus said in this passage goes against what our everyday norm in today’s world has turned into.

How often do you see cordial conversation, much less compassion, being shown between two people who disagree with each other politically? Have you read a comment section of pretty much any news article on Facebook lately? It’s a horrifying place to be. Imagine how difficult it would be to show love toward someone who is bullying you or mistreating you on a daily basis?

Yet, that is one of the many things that makes Jesus so incredible. Following him and putting his ways into practice is rarely the easy thing to do. But it’s always the right thing to do.

It’s not difficult to love the people who love you. As Jesus said, anybody can do that. But it is difficult to show love and compassion for people who treat you poorly.

At the end of the day, if you have accepted Jesus as your savior and walk with the Holy Spirit, we all have the ability to learn from what Jesus has taught us in this passage and watch how it will transform our lives.

Do not judge. Do not condemn. Just love. That’s what we’re taught to do, and that’s how we can change the world around us on a daily basis.

Why is it important to joyfully give to God?

Talking about finances and the allocation of our money can sometimes be an uncomfortable topic. If you’re anything like me, there are times when money can be tight and you’re not looking to spend it anywhere that’s not absolutely necessary.

But I think you’ll find that giving to your church that you attend is not only necessary but also very rewarding. Giving with a joyful heart will help facilitate missions, supplies, programs (etc.) both locally and around the world for the advancement of the gospel…….and I think you’ll find God will be faithful to you and your giving as well.

In my own life, I have seen his faithfulness firsthand. Some of you may know that I work in the sports journalism field. While the job certainly has its perks and it’s difficult to complain about getting paid be around sports, the pay isn’t great.

A couple of months ago I felt a calling to begin giving to my church, Long Hollow Baptist in Hendersonville. My parents have been faithful in their giving for years and I’ve seen the difference it’s made in their lives. At the time, I was searching for another job to go along with my current one at the NHL because I didn’t have any steady money coming in after the season was done, but I wasn’t having much luck in finding one.

One day in late June I just made the decision to give and give joyfully and let God do with that money what he saw fit. I wasn’t in a good spot financially, but it didn’t matter to me. I decided to put my trust in the Lord and just do it. It’s funny how God provides. A couple weeks later I found another job as a groundskeeper at a property management company, and the best part about it is that it’s a job that I can still do even when hockey season returns in a couple of weeks.

I’m not saying to give to the Lord just because you’re expecting him to return the favor to you and provide. I believe your heart has to be in the right place when you give. It can’t be a burden for you to do so. But I also believe that if you give with the right heart and with the right intention, God will provide for you.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-21:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

Jesus is not against you having money or being wealthy or earning a comfortable living. However, I do believe Jesus is against money consuming you and being what drives you. Jesus says in Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Again, that’s not saying you can’t have money and still serve God. It’s saying you can’t be consumed by money and greed but also by God at the same time. It’s just not how it works.

The bottom line is this: Whether you want to admit it or not, nothing you have is truly yours. It belongs to God. So why not give back to God some of what he’s given to you and trust that he will use that money better than you ever could.

Give consistently. Give with no reservations. Don’t let it be a burden. If you tithe 10%, or whatever your percentage is, trust that you can do more through God with 90% of your money than you can do on your own with 100%. If you do this, you’ll find that God is faithful and that He provides.

If you don’t give at all, consider starting today. Whatever amount you decide to give, do so joyfully and see what God can do with it. Giving is a form of worship. Here’s a link to a video from Robby Gallaty at Long Hollow discussing this topic more at length: