How to live in peace when there’s no escape!

Today’s Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

Key Verse: Philippians 4:9 (NLT)
9  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. 

It’s interesting to me that the Apostle Paul ends the book on the joy of the Gospel by addressing anxiety among believers. Life can be hard sometimes. We can become anxious about our marriage being shaky, our kids going through growing pains, our careers being uncertain, and our finances running out. The truth is, there is no escape from the challenges of life and the effects they can have on us. Anxiety can steal your joy and peace and create unnecessary tension in your life.

Here’s the question: How do we live with joy and peace when there’s no escape from the challenges of life? 

Paul reminds us that we should always rejoice in the presence of the Lord in every circumstance. We should cultivate a praying and grateful heart by thinking about the right things. The wrong things to meditate on are the things that are negative, out of your control, weaknesses, failures and events of the past. The right things to think about are things that are of God; his abiding presence, his unconditional love, his unending strength and power in your life.

Here’s the problem: We stop doing what we know to do when life is good. 

When life is going great we pray less, read his word less, meditate on scripture less and spend less time taking care of ourselves. The result of our inconsistency is a blind-side when something goes wrong.

Here’s the solution: The thing that shapes our lives the most is what we do consistently every day. 

Paul says to keep putting these things into practice. We have to think on the right things consistently, every day. The thoughts you dwell on create your emotions and your emotions determine your actions and how you approach life. The key principle here is to shape your thinking in a way that lines up with God’s word, his character, his presence, his power, and his love for you! But it has to be done consistently – every day!

Keep REACHING FORWARD to God’s best in your life by developing a consistent habit of thinking on the right things. May the God of peace be with you today!

Feel free to share your thoughts.

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Five Biblical Markers for Navigating Through Major Life Decisions.

One of the things I love to do is get out on the water with my boat and just drive! On larger lakes, there are navigation markers positioned throughout the lake to help you navigate from one point to another particularly for long distances. I’ve learned that if I am in unfamiliar territory, I have to learn the markers and the patterns by which they are positioned. It’s important that I pay close attention to the markers while I am traveling on an unknown route.

Sometimes we face decisions in life that are unfamiliar territory. We find ourselves on a journey that we’ve never traveled and we don’t know what to do. One of the comments I hear most often from people is “I don’t know what God wants me to do.” There are some situations in life that can be pretty hairy and scary like decisions concerning job changes, moving to new cities, getting a degree, changing the status of relationships, and so on. Navigating through major decisions such as these is no easy task and there are no quick answers most of the time. However, there are markers in scripture that serve as navigation points to help us find our way along the journey.

I hope to encourage you this week with the words from Deuteronomy 29:29. “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions” (NLT).

I usually paraphrase this verse in my advice to people by saying something like, “when you don’t know what to do, do what you DO know to do.” God is only holding you responsible for what He has already told you. The secret things belong to God; however, that doesn’t mean that we sit idly by without seeking the answers. It does mean that you can stop beating yourself up and causing anxiety for something you do not know. In the meantime, try these steps to help you process the decision.

Five biblical markers for navigating through major life decisions.

1. Get quiet with God in prayer. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Ps. 37:7). Take the time to get quiet with the Lord and pray about your situation. Incidentally, prayer is also the remedy for anxiety over your concerns (Philippians 4:6-7).

2. Seek godly counsel. “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice” (Prov. 20:18). The key here is “good” counsel and “wise” advice. In other words, process your decisions with people who have a proven track record of success; not just in business or accomplishment but overall in life and faith.

3. Focus on the next step. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (Prov. 16:9). Trying to get all the answers at once can be overwhelming. Focus on what’s next and trust that the Lord is directing you. His Word will guide you – “Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil” (Ps. 119:133).

4. Listen for God to speak through other people and situations. “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Prov. 1:5). The Holy Spirit will speak to you in various ways, but especially through His word, other people and circumstances. Always look and listen for direction from the Lord.

5. Keep your life moving forward. “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9). Don’t stall in other areas of life. Maintain relationships and other interests. Keeping your life balanced with family, fun, work, and hobbies will keep you moving forward and increase your chances of hearing clearly from the Lord.

Believe in your heart that God has your best interest in mind and He is working things out for your good! Keep REACHING FORWARD to God’s best in your life. He will lead you and guide you! Enjoy the journey!

Comments welcome.