…"But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!" 2Tim. 2:9
Believers often find themselves living in contradiction to the world, and we should. The runaway anxiety and constant fear that grips so much of the world does not have the same hold on us—or at least, it shouldn’t. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at anxiety from a biblical perspective, and examining God’s care and provision for His people, and how that should free us from worry.
Today we’re bringing our Attacking Anxiety series to a close with part three of our discussion on Paul’s prayer that we would know and rest in God’s lasting peace and grace. The apostle wrote, “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18).
A final characteristic of God’s peace is that it is not subject to circumstances. Paul’s prayer was that we might continually enjoy it “in every circumstance” (v. 16). This peace is not subject to anything that happens in the worldly realm. It is not built on any human relationship, and it’s not dependent on human feelings, decisions, or situations.
Rather, God’s peace is built on a divine plan and promise from an unfailing God who will secure you in Himself, and who will do everything for your good. This peace is a product of an unchanging divine relationship, and it is unbreakable, unassailable, and transcendent.
As we noted earlier, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). He was saying, “There’s nothing to fear or be anxious about because I’m giving you a divine, lasting peace that cannot be fractured or damaged by the world.” We demonstrate that Jesus keeps His promises when, in the midst of worldly upheavals that would normally tear us up and trouble our lives, we remain calm.
Paul’s great desire was that we enjoy that kind of well-being, which is why he prayed toward that end. His parting wish was this: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:18). He wanted every man and woman who would ever put his or her faith in Christ to experience the abiding presence of God’s grace.
Grace is God’s goodness or benevolence given to those who don’t deserve it. “Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). It was in the person of God’s Son that “the grace of God has appeared,” making salvation available to all (Titus 2:11). Once we embrace this saving grace through faith in Christ, we are blessed with God’s grace, enabling us to withstand any difficulty that would tend to make us anxious. Paul described this grace while confessing to a difficulty that brought him great anxiety:
There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. . . . Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians12:7-10)
As believers, we also are blessed with the grace that equips us for divine service. Paul expressed his appreciation for this grace in saying, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy . . . the grace of our Lord was more than abundant” (1 Timothy 1:12-14).
Grace is what enables us to grow spiritually in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). In the material realm, Paul appealed to God’s grace in encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous in giving to the Lord’s work: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
God’s grace saves us, helps us cope with our anxieties, equips us for service, and enables us to grow spiritually and to be rich in God. Like God’s peace, it is always available, and there is no limit to it. And again, like God’s peace, the conditions for receiving it are trusting God, forsaking sin, enduring the refining process, doing good, and living by the Word. As we are what we ought to be, God infuses us with His peace and grace. And that has a wonderful way of crowding out anxiety.
I want to close this series on a personal note. Just a few days after preaching a sermon on the peace and grace God bestows on His people, I had an unprecedented opportunity to apply it to my own life: I was notified that my wife and youngest daughter were in a serious auto accident, and that my wife, Patricia, would probably die. Everything seemed like a blur to me, the details frustratingly sketchy—I was afraid she was already dead. During my hour-long drive to the hospital, I had a lot of time to reflect on the severity of the situation. Yet I experienced a deep and steeled peace simply because I knew God had not failed me—His grace was in complete control.
I am happy to report that God spared both their lives, and that Patricia recovered beautifully. If you too rely on God’s grace, He will see you through the most difficult trials.
In our society today Halloween is one of the most celebrated holidays in America. We get dressed up in different costumes and walk around to houses and ask for, and receive candy from people.
There is a history to Halloween, that I won’t get into in this post but to say that, Halloween goes back to the eve of All Saints Day, observed with traditional games and customs. The word comes from medieval England’s All Hallows’ Eve. However, many of these customs predate Christianity, going back instead to Celtic practices associated with November 1st, the beginning of winter and the Celtic New Year. Witches and other evil spirits were believed to roam the earth on this evening, playing tricks on human beings to mark the season of diminishing sunlight. Bonfires were lit, offerings were made of foods and sweets, and people would disguise themselves as one of the roaming spirits, to avoid demonic persecution. Survivals of these early practices can be found in countries of Celtic influence today, such as the United States.
Now every Halloween we will see at least one person who will be dressed up as the devil. They will have the normal devil costume with the red suit, tail, horns, and pitch fork. I’ve often wondered, where we get that image from? How many of us really believe that the devil, the enemy of God and anything that is righteous, really looks like that? Do You? You would be surprised at the answers people will give you on this.
We just have to go to the truth, God’s Word, to see what and who the devil really is.
His first entrance onto the pages of scripture is in Genesis 3:1-5. Right from the beginning, and the book of Genesis is the book of beginnings, we see that Satan is questioning God and the truth of what He says. He puts doubt into the heart of Eve, that God can’t really be trusted, that He really doesn’t have your best interest in mind when He tells you something. He puts that doubt into Eve that God is holding back from you what is good and beneficial, and therefore He can’t be trusted. Listen and read this to yourself over a couple of times and see the subtlety that the devil uses and still uses on us today.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
“you will be like God,” is literally, “you will become a god or become a god unto yourself.
Also notice the word crafty, because that’s the word that God uses to describe the character of the devil, crafty. It means cunning in a very subtle way, deceitful in a very deceptive way, that is the devil…that is Satan. Do you really think that he would dress up like a guy in a red suit with horns and a pitch fork? Do you really think that he would want to stand out and be easily identified by you or me? No, he is full of cunning and deception, and his objective is to fill you with doubt and deception as to who God really is, and to pull you and me as far away from the truth of God and His word as he can.
Listen to how Jesus described the devil as He was having a discussion with the religious rulers of Israel. These were men who prided themselves on their study and knowledge of God from the old testament.
“They answered him, “Abraham is our father!” Jesus replied, “If you are Abraham’s children, you would be doing the deeds of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! You people are doing the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Jesus, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself.” Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come from God and am now here. I have not come on my own initiative, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot accept my teaching. You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I am telling you the truth, you do not believe me. Who among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God.” John 8:39-47
Jesus was asking them, why don’t you believe me when I am telling you the truth, and the reason was because their real father was the devil himself and they would naturally do the things of their father, it’s who they are. Jesus told them that you are just portraying the character and nature of your father, the devil, and he has always been a liar, in fact he can’t ever tell the truth because the truth is not in him.
Listen to what Paul said; “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1Corinthians 2:14
It’s only natural that we will follow the character and nature of our parents. Look at your own kids, one will have your patience while the other will have your spouse’s eye for artistic beauty. They will just naturally follow the genes they received from their parents, and so will you and so will I. That’s why Jesus said to another religious leader, Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. That literally means born from above. A second birth must take place. read the rest of chapter three of the gospel of John
There are only two kinds of people in the world today, children of the devil and children of God. You are either on one side or the other. There is no in between, and Jesus defined this to the religious rulers.
A better costume to wear if you want to be dress up as the devil for Halloween this year is to dress as an angel. Yes, I said an angel…“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2Corinthians 11:13-15.
Dress as an angel of light, not just an angel, because that’s what Satan can look like. He’s not parading around as a guy in a red suit, he’s in your church, he’s in your schools, he’s in your government, and he may even be in your family as well. He is a liar and he is cunning and deceptive in everything he does. He wants to keep you from the truth and he wants to keep you from the knowledge of God, and he will do anything he can to accomplish this.
If you’ve never been born from above, if you’ve never asked God to forgive you and come into your life and make you a brand new person, all you have to do is ask Him, and He will do it. His word says so and that is the truth. Click here for the full story.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18.
What if you were visiting Niagara Falls, and you saw a canoe with three or four of your family members, and they were just floating down the river, having a great time. Unfortunately the river emptied into the huge drop of the Falls, and if they continued on this route, it would surely end in their deaths, and they had no clue where they were headed… what would you do?
That may not be happening literally, but it is happening spiritually all around us.
Everyday we encounter hundreds and maybe even thousands of lives, people we see at the store, our place of work, our neighborhoods, and our friends. Thousands of people who don’t know Jesus Christ. Thousands of people who our in the canoe of life, and heading for the falls, and don’t realize anything is wrong.
Do you care? Our you remotely interested that others are on their way to death and total separation from God for the rest of eternity?
If you are a child of God, you should care and you should be interested because that’s why Jesus Christ came to this world over two thousand years ago.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
God is on a search and rescue mission. He has lost something and He wants it back, and He has chosen you and me as His ministers of this mission.
God was the first missionary Himself. Go back to the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis, after Satan, through his craftiness and lies, stole the bride of Christ away, and you find Him walking and looking for His bride.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the orchard.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
God was the first missionary, and He has been on a search and rescue mission ever since. He has been looking for His lost sheep and calling them back home. This is the theme all through the bible and if you don’t get this down, you will struggle understanding the rest of God’s word.
There is an incredible program going on in Detroit Michigan, called E.A.C.H. – everyone a chance to here. To here what? To here the good news of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and this program is growing rapidly. I would not be surprised if this spreads to our entire nation.
There are almost 500 hundred churches involved, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and non-denominational churches, all with the same desire and effort…to get out God’s good news to mankind.
Ladies and gentleman, there is only One church, and that’s the church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Jesus Christ, that God the Father made for His son. Satan stole her away, and God wants her back. He paid the price for her redemption…the door is open and God is calling an army of witnesses to get the word out. The only reason there are divisions in His Church, is because of you and me, not God.
“I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18
There is a time line that EACH is following and it starts with Easter. A prayer walk in downtown Detroit, and there is expected to be around 30,000 people there, maybe even more, and then the army of God is going to go out into the world and spread the good news by doing good.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.
My friend is a missionary to Africa, and most of the people in his area are Muslim. He is a carpenter by trade and is building a school in Ghana. One of the Muslim villagers is working with him, and my friend and him decided to fix all the fences in the village.
While they were doing that, one of the Muslim Imam’s was watching them. He watched as they fixed the fences without being asked and without asking for nothing in return.
The Muslim Imam approached him and asked him, “are you a Christian?” He replied, “yes I am.” The Imam declared, “you are different from the others.”
You see, they have seen other people who have called themselves Christians, and they lied and cheated and have brought the name of Christ down.
It’s not by what you say, but by what you do that others will know you belong to Christ. Demonstrating His love and compassion to the world, through the actions we take, will demonstrate who we really belong too, and it’s the best way to spread the good news.
“So then, you will recognize them by their fruit. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’24 will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
” Matthew 7:20-21
That’s what EACH is all about. Demonstrating with your life and then give an answer of the hope that is within you, when someone asks.
What are you doing? Who will be in heaven because of what they saw in you or what you demonstrated in your life, or by what you said.
This is God’s program and we are just His tools. What kind of tool are you.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Rom_8:35-37.
When considering the triumphant Christian life, we may wrongly think that victory depends upon getting out of impossible situations. Actually, we are already “more than conquerors” even while we are in the midst of the impossibilities.
For us to be ultimately defeated, we would have to be separated from Christ’s love for us. We would have to be cut off from the loving care of our victorious Lord. Can any foe or any situation accomplish that? “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ” This question is answered in Rom_8:38-39. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
No spiritual foe can enforce such a separation. Neither can any circumstance of impossibility separate us from our loving God. Rom_8:35-36 list some of the impossibilities that make us feel as though we are being defeated. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’ .”
When troubles and pressures arise, when we are attacked or are lacking resources, we may be tempted to think that victory is no longer available. When our experience is like a lamb being led to the slaughter, we may think that victory could never be ours. Nevertheless, the truth is that “in all these things we are more than conquerors.”
Yes, right in the middle of the impossibilities of life, we are already more than a spiritual victor. Actually, we have already been made participants in a mighty, eternal, abundant victory, the victory that Christ accomplished on the cross and in the resurrection. “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Our victorious position in any situation is not circumstantial. It is relational. We are united by faith to the victorious one, the Lord Jesus Christ!
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co_15:57).