What controls you? That’s a good question and one that needs to be asked. Some will say that nothing controls them. They control themselves. But if that is the case, there is something within the person that is controlling them. Each of us are controlled.
In Romans 8, we read about those who are controlled by a sinful nature and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit. Here we are given the two possibilities. If you are not controlled by the Holy Spirit, then you are controlled by your sinful nature. Therefore, there is such a struggle with life. If you are not being controlled by the Holy Spirit, your sinful nature controls you and this leads to death.
Today, consider what controls you. Are you controlled by your sinful nature or by the Holy Spirit? If you are controlled by the Spirit, this will lead to life and peace. If you allow the Spirit to guide you and to move freely within you, this will result in a life and peace that does not change with circumstances. This is the life only God can provide, the peace only God can give. If this is not where you are at in life, you are not Spirit-controlled.
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” – Romans 8:5-6 [NLT]
In Psalm 34:14, we read, “Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” It’s repeated in 1 Peter 3:11. Peace is hard. Peace is something you have to search for, because it does not come easy. It takes work. We have to work to maintain it. It requires us to keep silent when we do not want to hold our tongue. It requires us to listen closely. It requires us to forgive. It requires us to use good discernment. It requires self-control. It requires a lot.
The Bible tells us to search for peace. It is something to prize, something to seek out. It is something we should desire. The Bible also says that peace has to be worked for and maintained. Peace doesn’t get handed to us. Peace isn’t going to be easy, but it is important for us to continue to aim for it.
Today, think about how you search for and maintain peace. Are you looking for peace? Are you working toward peace? When you see issues arise, are you a peacemaker or do you fan the flame of chaos? When there is the option to be a peacemaker in a situation, are you the peacemaker or the one who starts a battle?
“Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” – Psalm 34:14 [NLT]
One of the most known psalms is Psalm 23. Even people who have never read the Bible have likely seen a passage from this psalm somewhere. When we read the first verse, it declares that the Lord is our shepherd. Then it says, “I have all that I need.” If the Lord is your Shepherd, you do have all that you need.
This is something that we all struggle with because we confuse wants and needs. We take on avoidable debt because of this confusion. We live in discontentment because of this confusion. As the Psalmist continues, he notes that the Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures. I love this visual. If you know anything about sheep, you know that they will not just lay down. The sheep need to be without fear to lie down. The sheep need to be without annoying parasites to lie down. The sheep need to be free of hunger to lie down. Here the Psalmist is declaring that the Lord is our Shepherd and with Him we have all that we need. As His sheep, we are able to lie down because we have all that we need, because we are without fear, because we are at peace, because we are fed and satisfied.
Are you content today? Do you recognize that you have all that you need—that with Jesus alone you are satisfied? This is a struggle for many people. We see people around us. We think we need more. We see a lack in an area of our lives and we think we are suffering. Remember, God has provided all that we need. If you don’t have it, you don’t need it. Remember, if you have Jesus, you have ALL that you need. With Him alone comes satisfaction. May He be your everything!
“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” – Psalm 23:1 [NLT]
What a great command from Paul to Timothy in his second letter. He says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” We are to run from our youthful passions. Instead we are to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. But we aren’t supposed to do it alone. We are to pursue it “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
This verse tells us that our journey includes other believers. It also tells us that we need to have companions who have a pure heart. We need to surround ourselves with other believers who have a pure heart. In doing so, it helps us to be supported and built up in Christ. It allows for us to walk faithfully with Jesus, and when we fall, our companions will help pick us up.
If you don’t have many Christian friends, you have a problem. You need a good, rock solid community. This is typically a community you find at your local church. Get engaged at church. Join a small group. Build strong relationships. Find some pure heart companions, people who always point you to Jesus Christ.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22 [NLT]
If our joy rests on our circumstances, we do not have true joy. If your joy rests on things going the way we want, you do not have true joy. If joy rests on what you have and who you are with, this is not true joy. Circumstances change. Things don’t always go the way you want. We will not always have the same constant people in our lives. The things we have are temporary—they break, they are lost, their value is temporal.
In Habakkuk 3, we read about things not going well. The fig trees, vines, and fields aren’t producing. The livestock is not productive either. This is a big problem. No food. No money. Circumstances aren’t good at all. Even so, we read, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
How can there be joy? How can he take joy? The reason for joy is for knowing God—for trusting Him. When we rest in Him, when we know Him – truly know Him (requires a relationship)—then we can take joy in Him too. No matter what is going on today, take joy in Him. As John 16:22 says, the joy we have in Him, in our salvation, no one can take away.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18 [ESV]
My dog Max often has intense dreams that get his paws moving. Early this morning, I woke up when I heard him whimpering. I did what I always do; I said, “It’s okay Max. It’s okay.” That is usually enough to calm him down. My voice. It is a voice he knows well – the voice of his master. It is a phrase I say to him a lot on our walks as I try to encourage him during his anxious, stressful moments.
This week, I am preparing a message about what Jesus said about anxiety and fear. After I told Max it would be “okay,” and he quickly calmed down, I considered how our Lord tells us in His Word that it will be “okay.” Sadly, we do not often take the time to listen to His voice or read His Word. Instead of resting in Him, instead of enjoying the peace only He offers, we allow ourselves to worry our days away.
I have seen anxiety rob friends and family of peace. I have seen the struggles of loved ones cause health problems, hospital visits, depression, and more. Worry, anxiety, fear—we all feel these things. Thankfully, we have a Father Who calls out to us. We have a Father Who still speaks to us. We have a Father Who embraces us, Who cares for us, Who knows our needs better than even we know them. He tells us to cast everything on Him. He promises He hears. He ensures His great purpose. Whatever you may be struggling with today, listen for His still small voice. Listen as He speaks to you. It’s going to be okay, my friends. Maybe it doesn’t look like it right now—but it will be okay.
“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, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 [NASB]
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]
Yesterday I had to spray the weeds. It is one of my least favorite activities. Though I am not too fond of dusting, I can understand the reason. Things are happening all around—my family is doing things that helps the dust to collect. We are living life. But with weeds, they just come. We don’t do anything. We even put mulch all around hoping to have a barrier of protection.
When it comes to our walk with Christ, it is important to understand that Satan is like those weeds, sneaking up and ready to cause havoc. We may think that we spray the weed killer and we will be fine; however, that is not the case. With Satan, the father of lies, he doesn’t turn away easily. He will do whatever he can to thwart your walk with Christ.
So what can we do? Put on the Full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20). This includes the Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Sword of God’s Word, the Shield of Faith, the Belt of Truth, and the Shoes of Peace. DAILY. Every day. Remind yourself that within you is the fullness of God—the Comforter, the Helper—the Holy Spirit. No matter what comes your way, you have the power to overcome through Christ. When Satan comes at you, tell him to leave in Jesus’ name and watch him flee. You will slip up. Some weeds will sprout. But Jesus has already won the battle. Claim His promises. Cling to His Word. Embrace Him.