Sunday, December 28, 2008



In order for a faith-lift to be effective, you need to understand who does what and when. A faith-lift includes God's part and yours.

We visited a study group this morning where the topic was atonement. Now that's a big word, but it actually is quite simple. It's the term that means reconciliation-especially between God and man. Through Jesus man can be reconciled with God. Through Jesus we can experience atonement-be at-one-ment with God. Every religious system has atonement as its ultimate goal.

The group discussion revolved around the grace of God-God's undeserved love toward everyone in the world. Grace is divided into two-common grace and specific grace. Common grace is what everyone on the planet enjoys-the sunshine, flowers, mountains, beaches, the love of another, the breath of life and the joy of children. Once you accept the reality of common grace that is extended to everyone, then you can either acknowledge God or not. When you acknowledge God and His grace, you then have the opportunity to receive it or reject it. In other words, if you want the love of God and all of its fulfillment and eternal satisfaction, you can have it. And if you don't want anything to do with the love of God, you will not be forced into it.

There are always two sides to every story and it is no different with mankind. There is God's side and your side-God's part and yours. His part is unconditional love and acceptance of you just as you are. Your part is to actually receive this love for yourself. This is easier said than done. You see, everything you hear and see in this world will communicate just the opposite to you. The most common communication about man's possible relationship with God is that man must do certain things to appease God-to do enough to earn the love and acceptance of God. This performance message is promoted by all kinds of religious groups as well. The result? You feel the stress of having to perform and the guilt of not performing well enough.

So, how do you counteract this constant flow of wrong information? You have to remind yourself of God's unconditional love and acceptance. That's the Good News of Jesus! In order to remind yourself of God's love and acceptance, you have to employ personal discipline-to transform your mind and heart with the Good News message. If you are able to do this, you will enjoy a sense of peace that will give you a faith-lift and get you through any situation you may face.

I've come to realize there are only two kinds of pain-discipline and regret. You choose which it will be. If you discipline yourself you will make progress toward what you want to accomplish. If you don't discipline yourself, you will sit in a pile of regret.

There are many things you might want to discipline in order to bring about a faith-lift. For instance, if you want a faith-lift, why not begin with exercising discipline in the area of peace. Peace is the direct result of the Good News of Jesus. There are two kinds of peace-peace with God and the peace of God.

When the heavenly host appeared with the angel announcing the birth of Jesus, they said: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men." When the disciples were first sent out by Jesus they were to take the peace with them and give it away to those they found in the various villages who were leaning in. The first thing Jesus said to His disciples when He met them in a room after the resurrection was "Peace be with you."

I love the passage that says: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus the Christ." (Romans 5:1) Or later in the letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:13) And, then to the followers of Jesus in Thessalonica: Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. (II Thessalonians 3:16)

Now if you discipline yourself to read and meditate on the many passages that speak of peace, this will make a great contribution to getting another faith-lift. However, there is one more passage that I like to use personally and share with others. Disciplining myself to do what this passage teaches has really served me and others well in giving us a lift.

Here it is. There are three things that require your discipline. FIRST-Do not be anxious about anything. Did you get that? In order to work on your faith-lift, you must discipline yourself to stop worrying about everything! Worry gets you absolutely nowhere. But it is so easy to get caught up in the swirl of worrying, as if you could do something to control the situation.

SECOND-but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Instead of worrying, discipline yourself to pray about everything! Note that you are to ask God while being grateful-with thanksgiving. Then, note you are to present your requests-desires-what you want-to God. Tell God what you want. Discipline yourself to take all of your requests or desires to God. Just by offering up your desires to God indicates a surrender of your control and giving the matter over to Him. Remember, God already knows your desires before you ask them. What He wants to know is whether or not you are willing to present them in surrender before Him.

After the first two disciplines-(1) do not worry about anything, instead (2) let your desires be made known to God, there is a major result: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. You will experience the peace of God and it will be the kind of peace that is beyond belief. It will be incredible! Your part is to discipline yourself not to worry and to take your desires before God. Note that this peace that you are given will guard your heart and mind. Why is this so important? It's because your heart and mind is where your worry resides.

THIRD-The 3rd discipline is to fill your mind with the following: Finally, brothers, 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. The discipline here is to fill your mind with all things, true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable excellent-all good things.

The result? The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. "Practice these things" means to discipline yourself by thinking on these things. That's your part! Then, the peace of God will be with you. That's God's part!

Are you in need of a faith-lift? There are only two kinds of pain-discipline and regret. You choose! Discipline yourself in the things that produce the peace of God or you will find yourself in endless regret. In other words, you can live in peace or in pieces.

No comments: