Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

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Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

James R. Aist

“There is no real and lasting peace in living with the fear of an eternity in hell hanging over your head!”

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).” What, exactly, did Jesus mean when he said, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”? And what did Paul mean when he wrote, “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7)? I believe that if we can gain some insight into how the peace of God differs from the peace that the world offers, then we will be more inclined to seek peace from the true source of real peace, the God of the Bible. So, that’s what I will focus on in this article.

The Peace That The World Gives

The peace that the world gives comes in the form of various human creations: government, military, treaties, wealth and economic systems, to name a few. These worldly sources of peace may confer, for a season, a kind of peace that may best be described as the absence of conflict and war and a diminishing of fear, but the threat of war, poverty and tyranny is always there to disturb the experience of peace. Moreover, such peace is often attained at the expense of lost liberties. And, the peace offered by the world does nothing to address the universal and overarching problem of sin, for which we must all answer to God one way or another. There is no real and lasting peace in living with the fear of an eternity in hell hanging over your head! All of these promises of peace will fail in some way and at some point in time, because they are the products of the creativity and understanding of mere mortal men. Mankind longs for a peace that surpasses what the world is capable of providing with such limited and unreliable human understanding. We can say “Peace, peace”, but there cannot be peace that truly satisfies and lasts, apart from God.

The Peace Of God

When we were born again, we received peace with God, because our sins were forgiven, and our conscience was cleansed of the guilt of sin (1 John 1:9). And, we received also the peace of God, a peace that helps us to deal effectively with the trials and tribulations of living as Christians in a fallen world. However, in order to experience this kind of peace, we must first settle, once and for all, several key matters in our minds and in our hearts:

  • The Bible is God’s word. I can trust the Bible to be the authentic word of God to me. It is God-breathed (or inspired) by God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16), not a fanciful invention of mere mortals (2 Peter 1:16). In the Bible, God says what He means and means what He says. This is where I should look first and foremost for answers to the important questions about truth, morality, myself, my future, suffering and God (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12).
  • God is sovereign. He is the creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16), and He rules and reigns over everything (Exodus 15:18). With God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
  • Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus claimed to be the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), and God the Father identified Him as “…my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17). Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6), and no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draw him (John 6:44). Jesus is the Messiah, the promised savior of the world (1 John 4:14). As a born-again Christian, I know that I have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
  • God loves me. I am created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) to be in personal relationship and loving fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3). My true destiny (i.e., the reason God created me in the first place) is to honor, praise and worship God and to obey Him in all things. He hears and answers my prayers (Psalm 143:1). I am so important to God that He sent His only begotten Son (Jesus) to die for my sins, making peace with me forever (John 3:16). He loves me with a steadfast, everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • God is on my side. Through His gift of faith in Jesus Christ, God has made peace with me (Romans 5:1); I am no longer subject to the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Jesus calls me “friend” (John 15:15) and “brother/sister” (Mark 3:35), and I am His co-heir (Romans 8:17)! God actually takes pleasure in making me prosper (Psalm 35:27).
  • God is faithful. God does not change (Malachi 3:6), and He is not a liar (Numbers 23:19). He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). What He has promised me He will do (Isaiah 46:11 b; Hebrews 6:13-15).
  • God owns me. Since I am a born-again Christian, God owns me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). His claim on my life is His right, and my life is His to do with as He pleases. I am no longer living for myself, but for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). I am God’s servant. He always has a good reason for whatever He allows in my life, even if I don’t know what the reason is. I have made peace with these realities.
  • God will reward me. He has promised me that, as one of His chosen ones, my eternal destiny is an everlasting life in heaven with Him (John 3:16), a rightful inheritance that is full of glory, full of peace that passes all understanding and full of joy unspeakable (Ephesians 1:18). And, He has given me His Holy Spirit as a guarantee that He will, in fact, fulfill this, the greatest of His promises (2 Corinthians 1:22). The value of this glorious future reward far outweighs any trial or tribulation that God allows me to suffer in this life (Romans 8:18).
  • Witness of the Holy Spirit. God has not left us to our own devices to settle these matters with Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to abide within every born-again believer, and His Spirit testifies to us the truth of His written word, thus helping us to accept these things as settled issues (see Acts 5:32, 1 John 5:8 and Hebrews 10:10-18).

When these matters are settled in your mind and in your spirit, once and for all trusting God no matter what happens, then you are connected to God with an unbreakable bond, and the peace of God will rule in your heart (Colossians 3:15). When the storms of life assail you, your “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:13-20), — i.e., your trust in God — will hold, and, in your spirit, you will be able to live in peace and joy even as you are being buffeted in your soul/mind and body by the storms. Let me illustrate this point with an analogy. Picture a sailing ship anchored close to shore. When a storm arises, the wind will come with a fury and threaten to break the chain and set the ship loose from its anchor, driving it to a place where it shouldn’t go, the rocky shoreline. You are that ship. Your faith is the chain that keeps the ship connected to the anchor. Your soul/mind naturally does its best to resist and withstand the storm, but it is the anchor that enables you to stay put, in perfect peace, until the storm passes. Your trust in God is the anchor, and it enables your spirit to remain calm and at peace while the storm rages. And, you no longer have a need to ask “Why did this storm come?” You can simply trust that God has a good reason for allowing it, because you have already settled these matters with Him. You know Him, and you have the peace of God, the peace that surpasses all human understanding and reaches all the way to your very spirit.

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

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The Promises of God Are “Yes,” and “Amen” – Part 1

James R. Aist

“For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

My second daughter, Liesel was a beautiful, musically talented, athletic, sweet and endearing little girl with a special sense of humor. I called her my “Lee-Lee Bell.” She had already professed her faith in Jesus at an early age, before she was 10 years old: in a Sunday School class, she told the teacher that she had accepted Jesus. Then, when Liesel was 10 years old, I had the precious opportunity to lead her in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Here’s what happened. Near the end of a sermon at church on a Sunday morning, Liesel leaned over and asked me, “When did you make your decision for Jesus?” I replied “When I was 8 years old.” “Is it too late for me to do it?” she asked. I replied, “No, you can do it any time before you die. Do you want to do it now?” After further discussion, we agreed that I would help her do it at home, after church. So, after we had lunch, I asked her if now was a good time, and she said it was. So, that’s when we prayed, and Liesel confirmed, by her profession of faith in Jesus, what God had been doing for! And she said, “This is the biggest day of my life!”

Unfortunately, in the ensuing years, as Liesel passed through her teens, she became unsure of her faith in Jesus. But, like the one sheep that had gone astray (Luke 15:3-6), Liesel already belonged to Jesus, and God was not done with her.

The following encounter that I had with God is not only pertinent, but essential, to the rest of the story. I was attending the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International Men’s Advance at Lake George in upstate New York. One day when they were immersion baptizing in the lake, I stepped forward to be immersed by Pastor Don Yarborough. We had never met, and he knew nothing about me. As I approached him in the water, he just stared at me straight in the eye with a blank look, and kept staring. I thought to myself, “That’s strange; he doesn’t seem to even see me coming.” Finally, as I drew near to him, he reached out his hand to me, we shook hands and I introduced myself. Then he said that something very unusual had just happened; it had happened only once before in his ~20 years of baptizing people. He said that as I was approaching him in the water, he received a prophecy for me, in the form of several Bible passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They all had to do with the head of the household being saved and all of his family with him. He then proceeded to share with me all five of those Bible verses. When he had finished with that, he gave me the interpretation of the message: God wants me to stand on and hold fast to these promises, which he is confirming to me and my children. Wow! Through this prophecy, God had just told me that all of my children will be saved! Needless to say, I was a “happy camper” the rest of that afternoon. But, I didn’t say anything to any of my children about this glorious promise at the time.

In August of 1996, Liesel had just turned 19, and it was time for her annual visit with me in Ithaca, NY, from her home in Norman, OK. As was my custom, I brought up the matter of her current position regarding her faith in Jesus, and we talked about that for a while. It was clear that she had a good understanding of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was all about, but she said that she didn’t want to profess faith in Jesus again unless she was absolutely sure of it. I was OK with that. Now, I had not yet said anything to Liesel about God’s promise to me to save all of my children. Nevertheless, she looked at me and somehow knew to ask this amazing question: “Daddy, have you ever received any indication from God as to whether or not I will someday become a Christian?” Well, this question blew my mind. I was so overwhelmed by it that, for a few seconds, I was unable to respond. How did she even know to ask me such a thing at that time? I had to conclude that God must have given her that question, and so I haltingly, but eagerly, proceeded to tell her about God’s promise to save all of my children. When I finished, Liesel was visibly pleased and very encouraged by this good news.

God had revealed, in a miraculous way, that He was continuing the good work that He had begun in Liesel when she was a young girl! That was one of the most amazing days of my life. Click HERE to read Part 2, the rest of this story.

(To read more of my article with a biblical theme, click HERE)

God Remembered!

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God Remembered!

James R. Aist

“I will compensate you for the years the locusts have eaten…” (Joel 2:25)

The trail of this testimony began when I was forced to accept the fact that my first marriage, which produced three wonderful and dearly beloved children, was soon to end in divorce. I was especially concerned about the eternal destiny of my children, so I went to my “meeting rock” under an oak tree at the edge of a small woods behind my house to meet with God about it. I sat down on the rock and began to cry out to God on behalf of my children. I didn’t try to hide anything. I confessed that I had not fulfilled my biblical responsibility as spiritual head of the household, and, consequently, my children seemed to be headed in the wrong direction, spiritually. At that time I had little positive influence on them, and I confessed that, through my own negligence,  I was not in a good position to lead them spiritually and teach them about the things of God. I told God that if my children were going to be saved, He would have to step in and, somehow, make up for my negligence and do whatever it takes to save them. Then, with Joel 2:25 in mind, I pleaded with Him to do it.

Several years passed, and God responded gloriously to this prayer. I was attending the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International Men’s Advance at Lake George in upstate New York. One day when they were immersion baptizing in the lake, I stepped forward to be immersed by Pastor Don Yarborough. We had never met, and he knew nothing about me. As I approached him in the water, he just stared at me straight in the eye with a blank look, and kept staring. I thought to myself, “That’s strange; he doesn’t seem to even see me coming.” Finally, as I drew near to him, he reached out his hand to me, we shook hands, and I introduced myself. Then he said that something very unusual had just happened; it had happened only once before in his ~20 years of baptizing people. He said that as I was approaching him in the water, he received a prophecy for me, in the form of several Bible passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They all had to do with the head of the household being saved and all of his family with him. He then proceeded to share with me all five of those Bible verses. When he had finished with that, he gave me the interpretation of the message: “God wants you to stand on and hold fast to these biblical promises, which he is confirming to you and your children.”

Wow! Through this prophecy, God had just told me that all of my children will be saved. Clearly, this was God’s response to my prayer, at the “meeting rock”, for their salvation! Needless to say, I was a “happy camper” the rest of that afternoon.

I didn’t say anything to any of my children about this glorious promise at that time, because I didn’t want to risk getting in the way of what God was going to do or how He was going to do it. After all, I had given the salvation of all of my children over to Him to take care of, and I meant it.