Peace? Or Deliverance?
This is a continuation of my series on the fruit of peace. This is part three. We left off in a passage in Philippians 4.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
In a brief phrase, verse 8 is saying: Focus on the positive! This is so very difficult for many of us. If we have health problems, if we have financial problems, if we have family or in-law problems or marital problems, if we have problems at work; it can be very trying to stay focused on the positive, yet that is what Paul exhorts.
It is especially difficult for those of us who have been burdened with the knowledge of the depth of the evil all about us. I speak now in political and religious terms. I speak of the mystery of modern Babylon the great: the political, economic, legal and religious system which secretly rules the world.
Most of us in this audience have substantial knowledge of their evil machinations, and many of us have had a real battle in getting away from focusing on what the bad guys are doing. Back in the days before the internet, I used to devour the monthly and weekly patriotic publications in order to keep up with what the Trilateralists and the CFR boys were doing.
I know some of you have been there also. But I found that over a period of time, a steady diet of that kind of mental food will make me into a very cynical and negative person. I also believe it has very real effects on one’s physical health.
So I no longer subscribe to those publications and with the advent of the internet, I have to strictly limit how much time I spend on those types of websites—which I can assure you is very little anyhow.
I simply don’t have the time, and now, God be praised, I no longer have the desire to keep up with the evil activities of the secret government. Does this mean I am sticking my head in the sand? No, but it does mean that I am not focusing on the negative, and therefore I have more time to focus on “whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,” etc.
Then Paul says in verse 9, do those things which I have taught you. I suggest we all do those things Paul is teaching us, and then listen to the result at the end of verse 9…
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Do we desire the inner peace that is beyond our ability to explain? We have just been given the recipe. We will discuss this further shortly. This second aspect of peace which we is our present focus is peace within ourselves.
We had pointed out that the biblical solution for handling stress, worry and anxiety is to pray with thanksgiving. Because in Philippians 4:7, God promises that if we do so that the peace of God, which is beyond our understanding, will protect our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Remember, we had resolved to no longer neglect to beseech God in regards to our smaller problems, because the Scripture tells us to pray about everything, doesn’t it? Now, what about the person who honestly has prayed in regards to the small things, but yet it seems that the anxiety still exists. This has happened to me on any number of occasions and I wondered what I was doing wrong.
Well, it could be that we are looking for something that God did not promise. What we are promised is peace in the midst of turmoil, not necessarily deliverance from all our troubles. So if we are expecting deliverance and the troubles persist, then of course we are prone to be anxious because we are expecting a result that may not be part of God’s Plan, and when we have unmet expectations, it easily results in anxiety.
I know what some of you are thinking because I have had the same thought many times: “Well, it’s easier said than done, James. I mean, I can agree with you intellectually—yes, that is what the Bible says—but when the rubber meets the road, and I find myself up the creek without a paddle, or any other mixed metaphors we want to invent, then why do I still not experience that calming peace of God within my psyche?”
I believe the answer to that dilemma is two-fold: first, we should examine our expectations. Are we sure we are looking for peace, or are we really wanting release from the trial instead of peace?
Simultaneously, let us remember that it is the work of the Holy Spirit which brings us the peace of God through the finished work of Christ. His death work is done. His resurrection is an accomplished fact. Therefore, He has authority over all events and circumstances in the universe, including every single problem in your and my life, big or little.
And so when we petition the Father for the fruit of peace, we should expect to receive it. He promised it: hold His feet to the fire, or as our dear brother, Ronald, is wont to say: “Hey, go a couple rounds in the ring with Him, that’ll get His attention.”
…Not in any way meaning to be disrespectful, of course, because our Father certainly understands that the point of the humor is that we are to persevere both in our prayers and in our expectations that the Holy Spirit will bless us with that transcendent inner tranquility even in the midst of our turmoil.
Another Scripture which is appropriate for us when we are beset with anxieties is found in 1 Peter 5, verse 7. But let us begin a few verses before that.
1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
And now here is the verse we want to center on…
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Listen to the Amplified rendering here. I believe their paraphrase captures the sense of the exhortation quite well:
7 Casting the whole of your care—all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all—on Him; for He cares for you affectionately, and cares about you watchfully.
And when we have done that, we must watch our own motives so that we are expecting peace and not necessarily deliverance. By the way, I don’t want to create the wrong impression; such that we are never to pray for deliverance. Obviously, there are times when deliverance is the Lord’s Plan for us. So I would not be critical of anyone praying for deliverance from major tribulations, so long as we follow the Savior’s example of adding, “yet not my will but thine be done.”
But for our everyday problems, the petty annoyances and so forth, it is more likely that we are to pray for peace in the midst of those problems. We have to learn to develop the serenity and tranquility of a mature Christian.
In the next installment in this series, we shall move on the third and final level or aspect of the fruit of peace, and that has to do with peace with others.