Facing The Future with the Abiding Peace of God
by Bobby Conner
The peace that God offers is not the absence of adversity, nor is it the end of trials and trouble. As followers of Christ we are not necessarily immune from all difficulty. Nevertheless, in the midst of pressing problems and overwhelming obstacles God always provides a way to escape. Even when our heart is broken and our dreams shattered and we are facing devastating difficulties, we have the assurance of Christ's abiding presence - this alone produces abiding peace. The promise of Hebrews 13:5-6 releases confidence and courage to face any situation:
"Your lives should be untainted by love for money. Be content with what you have; for God Himself has said, 'I will never, never let go your hand: I will never, never forsake you.' So that we fearlessly say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid: what can man do to me?'" (New Testament Modern Speech)
God's grace is available and adequate to sustain us no matter what situation we face. Let the promise of Isaiah 43:2 give you great hope:
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you."
Stay in His Presence to Maintain Your Joy
Scripture reminds us that it is in His presence is fullness of joy, at His right hand is pleasure forevermore (see Psalm 16:11). A vivid example of triumph and overcoming-peace is Paul and Silas in prison praying and praising God at midnight. An attitude like this is likely to cause a real commotion (see Acts 16:23-40). Great advice is given in Psalm 56:3, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee (the Lord)." Know that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but He has given us power and a sound mind (see 2 Timothy 1:7).
Be encouraged - don't give up, never give in - you are destined to triumph (see 1 John 4:4). The Word of God promises no weapon formed against you will prosper (see Isaiah 54:17). The battlefield is your mind; the devil is always seeking to pull us away from God's peace. Remember, as a person thinks in their heart, so will their life be; we must guard our heart. We must learn how to keep our heart and mind focused upon the promises of God (see Isaiah 26:3); this alone will assure abiding peace.
Because of the finished work of Christ, you are going to prevail no matter the circumstances. Jesus has promised that He would never forsake us. Through and by Christ you are more than a conqueror; you can live stress-free, walking daily in the peace of God. Scripture is filled with encouraging passages revealing God's plan of victory for us (see Jeremiah 29:11). Again, in Jeremiah 31:17 we discover that God's plans for us are filled with bright hope.
For many life is not easy, each day a grinding test of endurance; nevertheless, the circumstances and complexity of this life can't separate us from God's love and protection. The Scripture states in the New Living Translation: "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away" (Romans 8:38, paraphrased).
God has promised His abiding, never-failing presence in the midst of difficult and daring times. "Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). God's promises are steadfast and sure; He will never abandon you. The Psalmist states, "I have been young, and now am old; yet (I've never) seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalm 37:25)
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us of the unfaltering presence of God: "God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6). In the midst of hardship and unbearable pain, nothing can still a troubled soul like the gentle whisper from the throne of God, "Fear not, you are not alone, I am here!"
As you ponder the promise of Psalm 23:5-6, your heart will be greatly encouraged: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Notice when this victory banquet was prepared! The time of celebration takes place not in the absence of the enemy, but right in the presence of the foe. The child of God can be victorious and joyous even in the midst of difficult trials and suffering because of the sustaining presence of Jesus Christ.
A vivid example of this truth is the experience of the three Hebrew captives in the midst of the fiery furnace; it was at this point that their bonds were removed and the presence of God's Son was in their midst (see Daniel 3:1-29). This is truly the fulfilling of the promise of Isaiah 43:2.
As followers of Christ we are called to walk in victory, not in defeat, knowing it is a fact that God is on our side because He did not withhold even Christ, so that through and by Christ we are victorious over any scheme of the enemy (see Romans 8:31-34).
Beyond Human Understanding
Paul the Apostle was no stranger to hardships and adversity. Yet he confidently encourages each of us as followers of Christ to have our hearts and souls firmly fixed on the Lord of Glory.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, (let your mind) dwell on these things." Philippians 4:7-8
God promises to keep us in perfect peace if we will keep our heart firmly fixed upon Him (seeIsaiah 26:3). This is the battlefield - our mind; the devil is always seeking to play mind games with us. We must learn how to keep our mind and thoughts focused upon the sure promises of the Word of God. As we build our life upon the solid foundation of the Word of God, we can weather any storm (see Matthew 7:24).
It is so encouraging to see how Paul steadfastly withstood the hardships he faced. One key to Paul's victorious walk was that he did not focus on his hard times, rather he gave God glory. Paul looked more toward the eternal than just the temporal.
"...knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you...Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:14-18
How Paul Viewed His Adversity
Some of the difficult things Paul faced, which he called "light afflictions," are recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27: "I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me their terrible thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I was in the open sea all night and the whole next day.
"I have traveled many weary miles and have been often in great danger from flooded rivers and from robbers and from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the hands of the Gentiles. I have faced grave dangers from mobs in the cities and from death in the deserts and in the stormy seas and from men who claim to be brothers in Christ but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food; often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm."
How could Paul refer to all he went though as "his light affliction"? Paul withstood because he was sure that all things would work out for the glory of God (see Romans 8:28). Even when we are going through persecution and trial, abuse and betrayal, heartache and bitter disappointment, we can have perfect peace that passes all human understanding.
Never forget God has a plan to use even the difficult and disappointing events in our life to bring us into a deeper walk with Him. The devil means it for harm and hurt, but God will use it for good. This peace is possible because we have the promise that we are coming through!
The Promise of Coming Through
It is important to notice that God uses the two most powerful things known to man to describe our trials: that being fire and water. In Psalm 66:12 it says, "We went through fire and through water; but You have brought us out (into a wealthy place)." The water is to cleanse and the fire is to purify. The word wealthy does not mean just finances, it means "a wide abundance, a place of recovery, of refreshment, the place of His provision and presence." The key word in this passage is the word "through." As a child of God we are never overrun in the flood, and we are never consumed by the fire - we pass through!
Job says in Job 23:10, "When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Notice the triumphant words, "I shall come forth." Job is still in the furnace in the midst of the fiery afflictions when he makes this statement of faith. It is one thing to testify after you have passed through, but he is in the midst of the furnace.
Now is the time to declare the victory of God in your life. This is not a time to pull back, but rather this is a time to push forward in the Kingdom of God.
I bless you and your loved ones on the New and exciting year!
Go here to listen to Bobby Conner's interview with Sid Roth.http://www.elijahlist.com/.
This article reprinted by permission from