Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:4 -9
God creates and saves; he also is our sustenance and strength. Christians have no need to be anxious or troubled, despite our troubling world and troubling times. Life can be hard, painful and more often than not, it’s unpredictable. When we try to overcome, we so often fall short or become confused. We should rejoice, even in hardship, because our strength is not in our effort. Don’t struggle or worry. Look to Christ for he strengthens those who put their faith in him.
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Mt. 16:24-25
In the Sixth Chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus explained
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. ” …
We worship the God of the living. The author of life. The creator of life. God loves life. Through his strength he created us. Through his strength he saved us. Through his strength he perfects and strengthens us in the likeness of his son – in a truer image of God. He did not create and save us to then watch us struggle.
Following our master is, again, not about us. Our strength is about him. Our peace is about him. We have to lay ourselves down. I must become less. He must become more.
Romans 6: Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 3:10
Galatians 2: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
We were saved by grace and we are to live in his grace. He is our life and our identity. Our self in Adam is dead. Our new identity was raised in Christ, our second birth. Our new self is a historical reality.
Acts 17:28: For in him we live and move and have our being.
How do we become less and he become more? It is a question of our emphasis, not of results.
I have caught myself impatiently yelling at my children to BE PATIENT!!!!! BE QUIET!!!!
We teach what we know. We reproduce who we are. Are children learn much more from who we are than from what we teach. We learned more from watching who are parents were than we did from what they told us. The best lessons were those that coincided with how they lived. The lessons that resonated were those that matched both how they lived and matched their passions.
We will learn and grow strong in the ways of God when we spend time with Jesus. When we sit quietly at his feet. When we look to him first. Remember as a child, looking to your parent first for guidance? Encouragement? For love? Those of you with children, when they look up at you trying to figure out what to do, when they are scared, when they need a friend. Sanctification depends on our resting in Christ foremost. Knowing him.
Remember Mary and Martha – Martha was so busy serving Jesus. Mary was enjoying the presence of Christ. Martha complained. “Martha Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Mt. 7:21-23
The one thing we must focus on first is Christ, sitting at his feet, loyally. That is first. We must know him before we can serve him. Once we know him, our first lesson is that it’s not about us. On the inevitable day of judgment, we do not warrant his approval. He gave us grace.
Our strength, our identity, our sanctification comes NOT from our efforts. It comes from knowing and sitting at the feet of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our strength is in Christ, not in ourselves. Our sanctification is to God’s glory only.