Fortress of Peace

photo-1426329559439-876ed4b77295Build a fortress of peace I heard these words in my spirit this morning.  I immediately thought of the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.  The word ‘guard’ comes from the Greek word phroureō, which gives the idea of a military garrison.  These words have been a source of life to me now for decades. Don’t worry, pray about everything, then the peace of God will come to you.  Through all sorts of difficult life circumstances, these words have been a lighthouse for my soul.

So I was surprised to hear this direction, build a fortress of peace.  I thought I was already doing that.  But as I contemplated the words, this is the picture that came to me.  My fortress has been a temporary one that I have to build again and again for every circumstance.  But a garrison should be a permanent installation.  Once it’s built, you don’t have to build it again every time the enemy makes an incursion against you.  Can you imagine it, a military compound where the fortifications only last long enough to get through one skirmish at a time?  It’s ludicrous, isn’t it.  Can you feel the fear and anxiety of the inhabitants?  The terror, even? Can you see the frantic scrabbling to get prepared to meet the enemy?  Now let your mind’s eye see a mighty fortress, big strong walls with a solid gate, armament  apertures filled with heavy duty weapons that will make short work of an enemy attack.  Can you feel the difference?  Here there’s only the call to arms, and the quiet but determined answer.  Here there’s no panic, no scrabbling for equipment.  The inhabitants of the fortress are ready almost instantly, ready to protect and preserve.  It’s a compelling picture.

So how will I go about building my fortress of peace, so that it becomes a permanent spiritual structure?  The instructions, I believe, are the same as they have always been:  Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every circumstance through prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  But as I think about making the peace walls permanent, I begin to see that what I allow inside my structure is just as important as building the walls.  There are all kinds of things that will destroy my peace from the inside out;  hate, judgment and unforgiveness, to name a few. These are the forces, the “weapons” from within, that will continually undo the building, and if left unchecked, will ultimately destroy the walls of my fortress.  What a sobering thought.  It impels me to make changes; this is not what I want, to have to re-build all the time.  I see that I must be on guard continually so that the enemies of my soul are not allowed residence within my borders.  Help me, Spirit of God, sustain me, as I repel the enemy;  counsel me and lead me in the way everlasting.

Here and now, in this moment, you have no other place to be.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply.  See the picture of your walls of peace.  Thank God for the beautiful fortress of peace. Open the gate and sweep out worry and anxiety, sweep out unforgiveness and hate.  Think of the peace of God filling every nook and cranny.  Rest and be glad, calm and secure in the safety of  peace.

 

 

 

 

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Morning Sky

The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

I was awake early enough yesterday morning to see Venus, Jupiter and Mars light up the pre-dawn darkness, and a few minutes later, to catch sight of the brilliant sunrise on the eastern horizon and the waning moon in the west. It’s always thrilling to see the sun and the moon and the stars in their places.

For a few minutes in the cold, crisp air it’s just me and God sharing the view. The peaceful contemplation of the sky is blessedly restorative. Time slows and cares loosen their grip.  The silent sky begins to sing; I hear it, Spirit to spirit.  Right now, there’s no other place I want to be.

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Infinite Wisdom

I love this quote by Emmet Fox.  It reminds me to take a deep breath and relax, knowing that there is a bigger, better perspective on any given situation than I could possibly have.

“Infinite Wisdom knows a simple way out of every difficulty, a simple answer to every problem, a beautiful and joyous solution to any dilemma that can come to anyone, and it is only our ingrained habit of limiting God that keeps Him from giving us perfect harmony. Do not limit the power of God for good in your life.”

It takes courage to let go of fear, and to think beyond the usual borders of limitation.  The known limits makes me feel safe, even as I really understand they are restrictive instead of freeing. But if I can get to the point of releasing my fear and anxiety, even if it’s just 30 seconds at a time,  the reality of this truth has the opportunity to present itself to me, and then I can make the decision to rely completely on the wisdom of God to find the solution I need.  I replace these kind of thoughts, there’s no way out, I can’t do it, it’ll never happen, with these, nothing’s impossible with God, I don’t know but God does, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

And I have to remind myself, don’t miss the simple solutions.  I find as soon as I’ve asked for God’s help, I start looking for spectacular results.  Sometimes (very occasionally!) there are.  But more often, problems sort of just dissolve, circumstances change just a little, my own attitudes may shift just a bit, and suddenly, I can’t remember what all the fuss was about.

I’ve discovered that I’m all too quick to slap labels on things; asking for and getting a great parking spot is easy, but a child ill with cancer is hard. Unfortunately, these labels set up limits in my own heart and mind, and make me forget that God doesn’t deal in easy and hard, but deals in terms of possible versus impossibleAbraham, Jeremiah, is anything too hard for the Lord?*  Mary, nothing will be impossible with God.* All things are possible for one who believes.*   Again, it takes courage to let go of fear.  It takes a lot of courage to ignore the haunting question, What if it doesn’t work?

There are life and death kinds of things we have to deal with that frustratingly don’t seem to yield, no matter what we do.  Sometimes it feels like there’s so much at stake, like all the air is being sucked out of the world and you can’t catch your breath.  Even then, or especially then, it’s still all about releasing the fear, about letting go of expectations and asking for the divine solution, believing in the limitless goodness of God.

In this moment of time, there is no where else you have to be.  There’s nothing else you should be doing.  Close your eyes and breathe.  Take that deep breath in, and slowly let it out.  Thank God that He has only good in mind for you.  Take another breath, slowly, deeply.  Open your hands and let go of fear, any fear, all fear.  Breathe in peace, calmness, quiet.  Breathe out worry, anxiety, turmoil, let it go.  Think of the love of God filling every space where there used to be worry and fear.  Listen in the quiet, the solution will come, one step at time.  It will come, simply, beautifully, joyously, like a quiet melody, it will come.  It will come.

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*Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27; Luke 1:37; Mark 9:23

 

 

 

 

When You Pray…

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Here is an excerpt from a sermon by Charles Finney, Lecture V The Prayer of Faith:

WHAT WE ARE TO BELIEVE WHEN WE PRAY.

  1. We are to believe in the existence of God. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is”–and in His willingness to answer prayer–“that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). There are many who believe in the existence of God, but do not believe in the efficacy of prayer. They profess to believe in God, but deny the necessity or influence of prayer.
  2. We are to believe that we shall receive–something–what? Not something, or anything, as it happens; but some particular thing we ask for. We are not to think that God is such a Being, that if we ask a fish He will give us a serpent; or if we ask bread, He will give us a stone. But He says: “What things so ever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” With respect to the faith of miracles, it is plain that the disciples were bound to believe they should receive just what they asked for–that the very thing itself should come to pass.

That is what they were to believe. Now, what ought men to believe in regard to other blessings? Is it a mere loose idea, that if a man prays for a specific blessing, God will by some mysterious Sovereignty give something or other to him, or something to somebody else, somewhere?

When a man prays for his children’s conversion, is he to believe that either his children will be converted or somebody else’s children–it is altogether uncertain which? No, this is utter nonsense, and highly dishonorable to God. We are to believe that we shall receive the very things that we ask for.