LASTing Peace, Beyond Belief, Week 2c

We are continuing with the follow-along videos for my newly published Bible study, “Beyond Belief”. Grab a copy on Amazon and join us!

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Got Troubles? Here’s What To Do…

Please enjoy this guest post by Esse Johnson:

Alesia Brown recently interviewed me on Touch A Heart Talk Show about my blog post, Breakthrough Now: From Stress to Rest. In the post I exhort that Jesus does not want you to bounce from joy to fear, paycheck to paycheck, and breakthrough to breakthrough, but from glory to glory, peace to peace, and faith to faith. That is, the breakthrough you need is not foremostly in the natural, but in you.
Fill in the blank. The Bible says, “Be anxious for _____________.”

Real People, Real Problems
A man called in to ask the question on everybody’s mind, essentially saying: yeah, but what do you say to the people struggling to pay bills every month? Maybe it seemed like I was out of touch, preaching from an ivory tower with no personal understanding of the struggles of life. I didn’t emphasize enough of my past and how I lived by miraculous provision for years. In any case, he was very kind and not just spewing out doubt. He genuinely needed an answer from the perspective of nitty gritty reality.

This is why Jesus was born in a dirty shed, made to rest in a cow-feeder (manger) and raised among common people, “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses (Heb 4:15 NIV). These truths don’t change just because we face challenges in the natural. It’s precisely then that we get to show up as real believers!

The caller mentioned the failing economy and the housing market. I imagined a single mother working full time and barely making ends meet. He asked me for the top two or three things I would say to people like the single mother in my mind. How can I expect them to find peace?

Lord, I thought, give me not just a word that is true, but the “now” word of Truth that will birth faith in every listener (Rom 10:17).
Before I could think, the words just flew out my mouth like a bird from a cage: ACT LIKE A BELIEVER!

The Gentiles Worry
The normal Christian life is filled with the fruits of the Spirit, which don’t include fear, worry, anxiety, or freaking out. They are love, joy, and peace. If you walk in fear, you’re acting like an unbeliever. The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing. Don’t worry about what you’ll eat or drink or wear. Seek peace and pursue it. Be diligent to enter His rest. You know these verses. The scriptures are so clear; yet, we allow ordinary challenges and circumstances to rock us way off the Rock.

“So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things (Mt 6:31-33 GNT).

That’s the word. Either you believe it and act like it, or you don’t, and you act like a Gentile. Faith is a gift, but believing is a choice.

Forgive me for sounding harsh. It’s not against you, but against the oppressor, and for you.

What does the King “require of you”?

Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (Jn 6:29 NLT).

Hallelujah! The word for “believe” (pisteuó) means “entrust.” To believe is not an intellectual exercise. It means to entrust yourself to Jesus. Entrust your life, finances, children, fitness, health, everything to Him. That’s acting like a believer. Every challenge is allowed in order that you might draw nearer to Jesus.

Your faithfulness to Jesus (through trust) draws heaven; but anxiety and fear attract darkness. Those emotions put you in agreement with the powers of darkness. If the Kingdom suffers violence and the violent take it by force, a Christian responds to a trial with violent diligence to cast her anxieties on the Lord, seek peace and pursue it, refuse to doubt God, go deeper in intimacy and worship. The other stuff is of the flesh, and (fill in the blank) the flesh profits _______________.

My Testing

Ever since I released that word, I have been tested it seems on every front. It’s not the first time. I’ve lived “lean” by supernatural provision alone. I’ve lived rich and poor. I’ve believed for healing. I’ve learned to act like a Christian. I’m so thankful the Lord is testing me so I can be reminded how the Spirit is faithful to rise up and multiply grace and peace to me when things in the natural seem to be falling apart. That caller maybe thought I was speaking from an ivory tower, but I was in the thick of it myself. Nevertheless, in eternity, God will remember that I chose not to doubt Him, but to remain in His rest and bring glory to His name. This is the secret behind miracles. It’s relying on Him alone.
Beloved, God is not challenged by your natural circumstances. He’s working day and night to teach you to set your mind on things above, and not things of the earth (Col 3:2).

The scripture says to be anxious for NOTHING. That eliminates the option to worry about bills, kids, even matters of life and death. I didn’t write it. He did.

I love how The Message translates this scripture (Phil 4:16):
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life (MSG).

And:
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil (Ps 37:8 ESV).
You are more than a conqueror. You are a supernatural being. Want to see miracles? When trials come, don’t spin your wheels. See the plan and intent of God by drawing near to Him. God, I thank You for giving my friend Your spirit of wisdom and understanding, even as Moses, to know the ways of God. Let nothing shake you from the assurance of faith.

If ever there was a rebellion, it is choosing fear and worry over the Holy Spirit who produces peace in you. I say this with tenderness of heart, knowing full well that I speak it to myself whenever trials come: ACT LIKE A BELIEVER!

Then, you’ll see the victory of a believer.

I hope you enjoyed this guest post by my Spirit-filled friend. Esse has blessed my life in so many ways and I know God intends to use her to bless millions. Please, please follow the links here to purchase the book, 50 Shades of Grace, and visit her blog.

Merry Christmas!

For a truly life-transforming revelation of God’s amazing grace, read 50 Shades of Grace: Free At Last, by Dr. Eddie Summers. You will never be the same. Purchase it here or instantly download a free excerpt.

Esse Johnson is a blogger, ghostwriter and burgeoning publisher through S.E. Works 111 ® . Read more from Esse at KissOfChrist.com and facebook.com/KissOfChrist.

Have Yourself a Mature Christmas

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Merry Christmas!

I know you’re accustomed to a video on Mondays, however this week is going to be a little different. (However, I did include a slideshow for you!) It is Christmas time after all. 🙂 A time when all schedules melt like snow off mittens by the fire. A time when best-laid plans morph into better endings through the course of multiple alterations. Do you know what I mean?

I’m typing this post from the study in my sister, Kelsey’s, house. For the moment, her little ones are napping and Kelsey, too, is recuperating from our many Christmas-induced outings to see lights, Santa, the mall, a “Walk to Bethlehem” at a local church and more. So, I’ve sequestered myself and am doing my best to be quiet, which is oddly challenging even for a “mature” adult.

But that’s what we’ve been discussing lately, right? Maturity.

My new Bible study, Beyond Belief: Jesus Saved You, Now What? is due out on June 2, 2015, and though the manuscript is complete, I’m still gathering thoughts and taking notes on what spiritual maturity looks like, how it acts in a variety of social situations and truly, who can claim to have it.

No doubt, the bustle of the holidays has the potential to bring out the most immature side of people. Just read the Black Friday headlines and you’ll recall what I mean. (Or take a peak: Mall Riots, Walmart Riots)

And then of course, there are the arguments about whether to stay at the in-laws, in a hotel or just not to visit at all. There are the squabbles over new toys and tears over the wrong ones.

Those are minor examples, but what about the deep-seated issues, the traditions and even convictions that we hold close?Tempers and immature behavior can erupt, even among Christians, over disagreements about how Christmas is celebrated or observed.These thoughts bring to mind Paul’s words in Colossians 2:16-17:

“So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.”

There are absolutely, no doubt, solid-as-a-rock, nonnegotiables in the Christian faith. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that Christianity is the most exclusive faith there is. No, no one is excluded by virtue of race, gender, age or any other variable known to man. The exclusivity is in Christ and Christ alone. He is the exclusive way to the Father and eternal life. And that truth starts in a stable.

We must stand firm, without wavering on the truth espoused in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”.

And again, the Gospel began in a stable. We must guard, with all diligence the truth of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection.

BUT, or perhaps I should say and, because this is not a contradiction, but rather a continuation, the overflow of our conviction concerning Jesus:

When it comes to tradition and preferences, whether it’s okay to sing “Frosty the Snowman” or only “Silent Night”, whether it’s okay to put cookies out for Santa Clause or if that will warp our children’s ability to discern fact from truth for the rest of their lives–Christians must respond with maturity.

Does it really matter if Jesus was actually born in December?

Does it matter if there were 3 wise men or 15?

Does it matter?

Does it matter if the whole family is together on Christmas morning or not? Really?

That’s what mature Christians must ask themselves before they take a stand. Does it matter?

The answer is decidedly yes on one thing: “Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.'” John 18:37

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Timothy 1:15