Flames of Truth Ministries
Monday, October 23, 2017
Father God, You are the One who holds life and gives it to those of us who seek after you and find you through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord and through the cross where He bore our sins and freely gave us mercy and grace and through Your Holy Spirit who brings us daily strength and wisdom and peace. Father, please allow this lesson to be your Word speaking forth to the ones you want to hear and understand. Father, provide a hedge of protection around those who come to this lesson and prevent Satan from pulling them away at points that may be uncomfortable. Hold them fast to your Word so that they can find the everlasting peace that You and You alone give. Through the power of the cross and the resurrection and through the saving and life-giving name of Jesus Christ do I humbly ask these things. Amen and Amen.
Psalm 34:12-14, “Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” PURSUE peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” Let’s look at the word “pursue” so that we understand our starting point. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word “pursue” as: to follow in order to catch or attack AND to continue or proceed (as along a path). We are to go after peace, to follow the path in order to catch peace. We cannot just sit still and wish for peace hoping that it will just pour over us. Hebrews 12:14,
                How does the world suggest we pursue peace?
1.       Ad execs tell us moms that if we would buy their bath product and go run a hot bath and light lots of candles and play some soothing music, we will be at peace. As most moms will testify, that peace lasts maybe 10 minutes because as soon as you get comfortable and begin to feel your muscles relaxing and before your mind can even come to that relaxing and peaceful place, there is suddenly a knock at the door that demands you answer because it is most definitely an emergency that cannot wait for another minute. Even if you do get a full 30 minutes of relaxing in a warm bath, as soon as you open that door, life hits you full in the face. That peace was fleeting.
2.       The tourism industry tells us come to the beach. Lie on the white sand and listen to the waves gently crash on the shore. Hear the sound of the waves and the seagulls. Smell the splash and spray of the salt water. Bask in the warmth of the sun as all your troubles melt away. It is wonderful while you are there on that beach, however, as you begin packing up the car and get on the road headed home, you can already feel the anxiety beginning to raise just a little. As you open the door of home, life again hits you square in the face and all the anxiety that you left, comes rushing back and then you long for the beach even more and you begin to resent (even if just a little) the life that you live is not on a beach.
3.       The realtors, who make lots of money off of cabins in the mountains, beg you to come to the majesty of God’s beautiful forests and mountain streams. Come spend a week and walk through the quiet forests and beside the mountain streams. You will hear the birds chirping and the sound of water gently flowing over the rocks. You will be amazed by the wonder of the water falls.   Climb high to the mountain peaks and see as far as eye can see the wonder and splendor of our mighty God. (I have to admit that this is my favorite relaxing place.) You are at peace, feeling no stress, BUT THEN, you have to pack up and go home. Most assuredly, the peace does not go home with you or at least it does not stay for any length of time at home. So again, we find ourselves longing for the mountains to find peace and we find a small nudging of resentment that we cannot live in that peaceful mountain escape.
4.       Disney, experts at manipulating our emotions, tells us to come to the place where dreams come true and magic really happens. Disney has done much research on people’s emotions and what controls people’s psyche. They know how to convince you that fairy tales can come true if you come to Disney. They don’t even play music by chance as you wait in line. The music and the cadence of the rhythm have a purpose for whether they want you to be calm in long lines or to be excited as you enter a ride. The faster the beat and the louder the music, the more your heart rate increases and the more excited you get. The slower the beat and the softer the music, the more your heart rate decreases and the more peaceful you are. However, there is always noise as that is the controlling factor for the emotions of mass crowds. It keeps you going. Truth is we have so much fun in Disney that we just can’t wait to come back and spend more money. I heard someone say one time, “I wish we could live at Disney, then my dysfunctional family would be just fine.” Disney is an escape from reality. If we need an escape from reality to function, then we really are in big trouble. We can’t live at Disney. We have to go back home to face the reality of our lives which is full of daily trials and tribulations.
5.       This last one may be the most disturbing to me from a spiritual viewpoint. If you are sad or you are having problems coping with life’s circumstances - then just ask any doctor because there is a pill for that. Can’t find rest at night, need more sleep, there are many pills for that and you don’t even need a doctor for those. Please don’t turn me off here because I am one speaking that lives with many, very many, sleepless nights, from both care giving and from personal pain. I have pills that I can take to ease my pain and to help me sleep. So I fully understand that there are times in life when medication is necessary. However, I believe all of us, me included, turn too quickly to the pills to fix what is bothering us. There are accounts in the Bible where God woke someone up so that he would pray or read a Scripture. I don’t want to take a pill and fall so soundly asleep that I miss the opportunity for God to wake me to pray for a loved one. I also don’t want to feel so drugged the next day that I am not sensitive to someone’s needs or the nudge of the Holy Spirit. I also believe, and this is my personal opinion, that we are too quick to take anxiety pills when we are saddened by life’s circumstances. My best example of this is through my mom. She has buried both of her parents, her husband, and two sons. She has survived 2 major heart attacks. She lives with daily pain in her knee. She has never had to depend on anxiety medication because she depends on her Heavenly Father. A few weeks back, she was up for reevaluation from her home health service. She had been doing pretty well and they were looking for a reason to recertify her and were having trouble doing so under the governmental guidelines that they have to follow. One of the nurses, not her regular one, suggested that we call the doctor and tell him she is sad and then they could order her new meds and that would give them the reason to recertify her. I was floored and emphatically stated that NO we would not do that. All you have to do is tell the doctor you are sad more than a few days a month and he can write you anxiety medication. Our children are being medicated to sit still in school. College kids take pills to focus better. If you have an issue of any kind, there is a pill for that. Where is our dependence on God. We are a nation depending on pills to get us through life’s circumstances. The pills don’t bring lasting peace though because 1) when they wear off the issues are still there and 2) one pill is usually not enough after a period of time and so you take two and then that doesn’t last long and you need more. We run away from our pain and anguish of our trials and tribulations but we run in the wrong direction.
 Now, don’t leave me here if I have stepped on your toes. I am not saying anything is sinful or bad about any of these places. God himself tells us we need to get away from people and circumstances to be renewed and encouraged in our walk so that we have the strength to go on each day. John 6:15, “Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” This passage tells us that Jesus Himself, the son of God, the Holy One, as a human, had to withdraw from everyone, even those closest to Him, to get away for a while to find some peaceful time. So too, we need to get away from our routines and find some time of rest and relaxation. However, the problem comes when we look to those places as our source of peace and we pursue peace there. That peace does not last and does not have the power of Perfect Peace to carry us through life’s trials and tribulations each and every day. Doctors cannot bring us lasting functional peace through any amount of pills. They only help Satan force us to push God away and keep Him at a distance so that we don’t have to deal with life. This is a deception of Satan because all of us have to give an account of how we use every moment of time that God has given us. Therefore, we must look to the Word to find out how we get that Perfect Peace that we so desperately want and need. What peace are we to pursue? To go after? To follow along the path of life?
Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you PEACE.” Where is my peace going to come from? It is going to come from God just as He promised it to the nation of Israel, He will bring it to me if I pursue it faithfully. In Luke chapter 1, Zacharias is praising the Lord for the birth of his son John and for the miracles that God has shown him and he says this in verses 78-79, “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” He was praising His Heavenly Father, who was going to send the “Son”shine of heaven to guide our feet into the way of peace. Jesus was sent to show us the way of peace. If we want true, everlasting, strong, dependable, able to withstand any trial or tribulation kind of peace, then we must look to the Jesus, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.
Ephesians 2:13-16, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” If we want peace, we have to have Jesus since He is our peace and the only way to get it is through the cross. We are going to cover this topic in depth in the next lesson. For now we will continue to talk about having peace and then we will use the next several lessons to detail some of the specific items God says we must have to have everlasting peace. If you want to have the peace that I am going to discuss here, then make sure you read the next lesson on repentance and make sure that you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, because if not, you will not find peace in a formula or a basic lesson on how to live. Jesus, as Lord and Savior, is the foundation and the only life-giving fountain through which true peace flows.
Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” The fruit of the Spirit (the Spirit being the Holy Spirit that resides in us after we have ask Jesus to be our Savior and we have made Him Lord of our lives) is peace. As I stated before, you can’t have this without Jesus Christ. Pay close attention to the rest of the verse. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. So let’s start here. Have you really crucified your flesh and said no to its passions and desires? As God opens my eyes and lets me see from His standpoint, I can answer for most of us and so I say no, not even close. If you want to hear the Word from God, then I ask you to stop right now and pray that God will open your heart and your mind to hear His Word. Bear through this lesson and continue to the end and then ask God to speak to your heart about what ever circumstance He is bringing to your mind.
As we choose the ways of the flesh we try to put God on a shelf and we do not walk in the Spirit. When we pick up the flesh and walk in the flesh, then we lose peace and strength and power. Let’s look at some real examples of what this means. At the end of the day did you make sure that you got all your work done, whether at home or at a professional job? Did you get the kids to dance, cheer, ball practice, music lessons, this club or that club? Did you and/or your spouse make every meeting and appointment that you had scheduled?  Did you get to watch your favorite TV
show(s)? Did you schedule time to see that new movie that everyone is talking about? Did you respond to everyone’s posts on facebook and make sure you read all the tweets of the day? Did you remember to update your status? How much time did you have for yourself to play that new game that you downloaded? Did you get everything ready for whatever hobby is your favorite to make sure that you were prepared for the recreational events of the weekend? Did you sit down with your child and/or your spouse to read the Word of God and pray together? Did you have time to discuss your child’s emotional day and what he/she encountered that day? Did you have time over dinner to discuss with your spouse how his day went and to really care about what he encountered during the day? Where was dinner – at home in peace and quiet and time for family sharing or driving through a diner that offers the worst food possible for your body which is supposed to be the temple of God?  Did you do your daily Bible reading and check it off your to-do list? When you balance your check book at the end of the month and you look at your individual expenses, how much money was spent on pleasures and desires for you and your family? (Remember that most extra-curricula activities are desires and pleasures not needs)   Has your peace not come because you have over scheduled every minute of every day and have left no time to sit at the feet of Jesus through His Word and through worship time to rest and gain strength through Him? Are you teaching your children that things and accomplishments of this world are more important than sitting at the feet of Jesus? Are you teaching your children that as long as you are not too late with payments then it is OK to spend what you have to have fun and to be entertained and to be popular and to do what everyone else is doing? Are you teaching your children that as long as you make an appearance at church on a regular basis and that you are “good people” that you are doing enough to be called a Christian? Is Satan using the things of this world to drain the very life and peace out of you?   Are you living your life in the turmoil that you created yourself as Satan and his demons stand by laughing at their victories? We are going to cover this topic in great detail in a lesson entitled, “Controlling the mind to daily walk in peace” so I’ll leave it for now but I ask you to look at your schedule and your checkbook and see if there is any evidence that you have crucified the flesh.  As you read the previous verse remember, it doesn’t say that if you ask Jesus to be your Savior then you will have peace. It says if we have asked Jesus to Lord and Savior then we will crucify the flesh and if we live by the Spirit we should walk by the Spirit and THEN, in this circumstance, the fruit, of living and walking by the Spirit, will be peace. 
                Let’s look at the Word to see how we battle this and how we can turn our lives around.
Philippians 4:1-4, “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed true comrade, I ask you to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.”    Paul is encouraging the believers in Philippi to do three things here. First, he tells them to stand firm in the Lord. If we are to pursue peace, we have to stand firm in the Lord. You better believe that as soon as you make the commitment to pursue peace, Satan and his demons will rear their ugly heads and try to “show you” that this won’t happen. Set your mind and stand firm in the Lord and put Satan in his place. Second, he told them to live in harmony in the Lord. We are going to look at this one deeper in a later lesson because this is so hard for some people but for now let’s just take a peek at what we need to do. I know you are probably thinking, “you don’t know the people in my life.” If we are honest, we all have people that make it very difficult to live in harmony. Satan convinces us that they need to change and that it is all their fault. Christ tells us to take the “log out of our eye before we try to take the speck out” of the eye of our offenders. To pursue the peace that God wants to give us, we have to determine how we are going to change our perception and our reactions to the situation. Anytime we go to God, change is about us not the other person. This is a critical point to keep in mind and it is hard to accept when “that person” is what Satan throws at us every day. I have had many of “those people” in my life and I still do. But remember, God is greater, if we will trust Him and follow His ways. Third, Paul tells us to help others who struggle in the cause of the gospel and whose names are in the book of life. I had a small book several years ago entitled, “The Blessing is in the Doing”. I no longer have it and I don’t remember the author but the short message was powerful. It stated that you can’t sit and be blessed. You have to get up and do something and then you will be blessed. Well, I believe the same premise works here. You can’t sit and find peace. You have to set aside your wants and complaints and get up and help others. In helping others and focusing on their needs, your wants fade away. Through this process, you find that most of your worries and anxiety was over worthless things and that in finding a more important purpose as you follow God’s lead, you find a greater peace as He upholds you and sustains you as you help others.
Philippians 4:5-9, “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.   The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”
                This passage is packed full of simple instruction about finding peace. Paul gives us very practical instruction and tells us specifically what to do.
1.        Be anxious for nothing – I have heard it said that worry indicates a lack of trust in God’s wisdom, sovereignty and power. If I can sit and watch a movie in my house while a thunderstorm is passing over, I trust that my house will protect me and I am not fearful of it blowing away. The thunderstorm may be raging around me, but I can trust my house to keep me safe and dry. I certainly would be aware of the storm around me but I would not panic and I would not run to someone else’s house to try to be safer there. When the storms are raging in my life, I need to trust that God is wise and sovereign and powerful. If my physical house blows away in the storm, I have to trust that God will lead me to the resources that will once again provide me shelter. If my physical body is destroyed by disease, I have to trust that God will give me a new glorified body when I leave this earth and enter the glory of Heaven. With lesser storms than these, I have to trust God.  I can’t give up and run to someone else’s philosophy or ideas. I have to trust God and the instructions of His Word.
2.       IN EVERYTHING – by prayer and supplication – with thanksgiving – let your requests be made known to God. The storm is coming. You see it on the horizon. You feel the eerie calm before the storm. The air pressure is dropping and you can feel the imminent danger approaching. You feel your heart rate increase. What do you do? Who do you call? We as humans are very social beings. We usually pick up the phone and call those closest to us. We tell everyone who will listen but the problem is – they cannot fix your problem.  Or you may be more like me, when I have a storm approaching, I go into solution mode. I want to evaluate the problem and develop the solution but I tend to do so in my own power and I don’t have the power to or the wisdom to fix the problems.  Our first response to any trial, no matter how large or how small, should ALWAYS be to fall to our knees in prayer to God.   When we pray, we are to begin with thanksgiving. This is a difficult response if we are not walking in the Spirit of God. Let’s look at two extremes to see how we can be thankful in the face of trials. If death is the most extreme trial that one can face, then we can be thankful that if we are saved through the blood of Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as our Savior and Lord, then we have HOPE in a future beyond death.   This life on earth is an infinitesimally small dot in the scope of eternity. The moment I leave this earth, I begin my life in Heaven for eternity which my mind cannot even begin to understand. So, even in the face of death, if I keep my focus on God, then I can be thankful. Second, if I give all for Christ and face extreme torture, I still can look to God and the saints that went before me and be thankful that God allowed me to be a part of His work. He allowed His Son Jesus to suffer terrible torture out of love for me even though I am a sinner so that I could have grace and mercy and an entry into Heaven. Even in the darkest of moments, we can be thankful for an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God who loves us more than our minds or hearts can comprehend. So talk to Him first and be thankful for Him and His love and grace and mercy.
3.       Set your mind – Paul lists the things we should think about. To find that peace that guards our hearts and our minds, we must decide what we will think about. It is a choice and we have to decide. Let me challenge you to take a survey of your day. Start by listing how much time you spent watching TV. Evaluate the TV programs that you watched. How much was honoring to God? How much was uplifting to your spirit? Next, list how much time you spent on other electronic devices, such as computers, e-readers, notebooks, Ipads, phones, etc. Then evaluate what portion of that time was honoring to God. How much was uplifting to your spirit? What did you read today? What did your conversations consist of with others? Were you talking about God and lifting others up or were you tearing others down? Even when we give time to listen to others who are sharing gossip, we become a part of that gossip. You have to learn tactful ways of stopping a conversation that you don’t want to be a part of because of the content. This is work but remember we are pursuing peace. We are going after it, working for it. This is a part of the work. We will cover much more of this in detail when we get to the lesson about controlling our daily walk. For now realize that peace does not come as the world offers it, it comes as we align our lives with the Word of God.
Philippians 4:10-19, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak form want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along in humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” For most of us we have many wants and very few needs. We live in a nation of abundance. Maybe there are times that God takes us to a place of living in need so that we can better appreciate living with wants. Paul said that he learned to be content in whatever circumstance he was in at the time. To find the lasting peace that we long for, we have to learn to be content in whatever circumstances that we are in at the moment. One big problem for us in this area is the multi-billion dollar advertising industry. Companies get paid big bucks, really big bucks, to convince us that we do not have all that we need. We are bombarded from TV, magazines, emails, billboards, text messages, phone calls, etc., telling us that we do not have all that we need. If we would purchase their product our lives would be soooooooooo much better. We watch “reality” shows of the famous and rich and tell ourselves that we are so poor because we don’t have this or that. We see the opulent indulgence of fools and long to have what they have. We blame our parents for not giving us enough. We blame our spouses for not giving us more. We blame our jobs for not paying enough so we can have more. And then the greatest tragedy is that we put that attitude in our children. Many children today have more stuff by age ten than many young adults had 15 years ago. I watch in horror and broken heart as children stomp their feet and demand the latest cell phone and newest version gaming system. My heart doesn’t break because they demand it but because the parents go in debt and purchase it for them and say “what was I supposed to do? All her friends have it already. I don’t want her to feel left out.” I could stay on this topic for a long time but I will save it for another lesson. Do you want the peace of God? Learn to say, “that is not a need” and, “no you cannot have that!” Then learn to be content in whatever circumstances you are in at the moment. 
2 Peter 3:14-18, “Therefore beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.”
                Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless. Are you going after peace? Will you pursue it? There is a warning that follows that we need to closely heed. As I stated earlier, if you determine to PURSUE peace with all your heart, and all your mind and all your soul, Satan will not sit idly by, but he will come against you to destroy the work of the Lord in your life. Stand firm and recognize that there will be people who say don’t take the Bible so seriously.   Peter warns us that some things are hard to understand and that the untaught (not taught by the Spirit) and the unstable distort and that this is to their destruction. He said that we know this so be on guard lest we are carried away by the error of unprincipled men. Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Study and see for yourself what the Bible says. If you lack wisdom, ask and the Spirit of God will bring understanding to you. If you say that I am going to just do what every one else is doing because everyone surely isn’t wrong. Take a long hard look at Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it..” Jesus himself said not to follow the crowd on the wide road. Get on narrow road which leads to life. That is the only place that you will find peace.
                If we want peace, we have to first have Jesus, we have to crucify the flesh, and we have to determine that we are going to control our minds and thoughts and look to God and His Word for our daily guidance. If you find yourself longing for the deep peace that has been discussed here, please continue on with me through this journey as we go back and take each of these topics and delve more deeply into each one. True peace can come and stay with you if you look to God and His Word. The trials don’t leave but the peace holds us and bears us up during the darkest times. 
John 14:25-29, “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe.”
The words of Jesus Christ Himself tells us that He leaves His peace with us but that His peace is not the same of the world’s peace. Trust Him. Trust His Word. 
Romans 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Do you want peace? Set your mind on the Spirit. Find life and peace through Jesus Christ and His Word.