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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Peace's Pipeline

I was watering the garden with a hose when suddenly the water stopped flowing. I put the hose down to investigate and found that there was a kink in the hose. Once I straightened the hose the water flowed again. It was not the first time I had encountered this problem. But, each time it happens, it reinforces an obvious fact; No matter how adequate the source may be, the resource cannot reach its destination if the pipeline is not in place or it is obstructed.

God promises His people a "peace that transcends all understanding to guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7) Don't misunderstand this peace. It is not absence of conflict or problems. No, this peace defies explanation because we possess it when, by world standards, we should not. This peace is a gift from God, not a result of circumstances. This peace is the quiet confidence that situations, circumstances, or people do not determine we are or what we will become. This peace is contentment in Christ, knowing "that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength." This peace is the "peace of God," imparted to us by grace.

When such a peace is available, why is it so often missing from our lives? Why is it that our hearts and minds are being crushed by life's load, rather than being guarded by His inexplicable peace? Chances are we are either not connected to the pipeline or there is a kink in it.

Paul clearly notes that the pipeline for peace is prayer. (Philippians 4:4-6) Prayerlessness cuts us off from the means God has established to impart His peace. The promise that God's peace will guard our hearts and minds follows the conjunctive "and," revealing that what precedes must be done in order to have what follows. "In everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Many times we forfeit God's peace because we do not pray. Prayer is the means by which His peace flows into our lives. That is the reason for the forceful injunction, "in everything!" Prayer is faith and dependence in action. When we neglect prayer we are going it alone and the resources available to us go untapped. In everything pray!

There are also a couple of kinks that are identified in this passage. They are anxiousness, and thanklessness. Anxiousness, worry, renders us incapable of rejoicing in the Lord always. Anxious minds and hearts are consumed by the problem. Worry focuses on the problem, not God. Anxiety troubles the heart and confuses the mind compounding the situation by making seem it insurmountable. Jesus forthrightly told His disciples, "Do not worry about your life!" (Matthew 6:25) Here that admonition is reiterated; "Do not be anxious about anything." Not many years ago the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" was very popular. The Christian version, a much better version I might add, is, 'Don't Worry, Be Prayerful!" Anxiousness crimps peace's pipeline. Trusting in the Lord keeps the line from clogging up, allowing God's peace to flow freely into our lives.

Thanklessness blinds us to God's steadfast love and faithfulness. Gratitude opens our eyes to God's grace and numberless blessings. Grateful hearts are flooded with reminders of God's faithfulness to us in the past. Grateful hearts rejoice in the Lord and sing a song of victory, blessing, and joy, even in the midst of life's storms. For those in Christ, there is always something to praise and thank God for. If pain, sorrow, or crisis dims our sight so that we cannot see anything to praise God for, then, we praise and thank Him for being God, for His faithfulness, and for His everlasting Word. We praise and thank Him for His salvation and the privilege of being His child. To be His and to be in right relationship with Him is reason enough for praise and thanksgiving. Thanklessness puts a kink in the pipeline. Thankfulness keeps the pipeline open allowing God's peace to flow unobstructed into our lives."

Beloved, let us not forfeit this peace that God offers us. Let us "rejoice in the Lord always and be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, present our requests to God." Then, let us open our hearts and minds to receive "the peace of God which transcends all understanding" allowing it "to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Keep Close To Jesus

Pastor Gerry

A Pause To Ponder God's Word is written and distributed by Gerald Whetstone, Ordained Elder and teacher in the Church of the Nazarene. These devotionals may be transmitted, duplicated, used in part or in entirety without permission for nonprofit purposes only. Responses welcome.


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