The Father's Will
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
There can be no doubt that Jesus has a degree of realization about what lies immediately ahead for Him as He speaks to His Father here—a realization that He is about to undergo an extremely bitter cup of suffering.
But, along with this realization, comes another one that makes Him realize how necessary His suffering is if redemption is to be made available to mankind; so, He qualifies His request by placing the entire matter into the hands of the Father.
Even though we will never be in exactly the same kind of circumstance Jesus is at this point in His life, we do sometimes find ourselves involved in situations that we do not understand and that we wish would just go away.
When these conditions occur, may we remember this priceless example Jesus left us. May we have the spiritual strength to manifest the same kind of attitude and just say, “not my will, but Yours, be done.”
The Peace of God
“and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
While some believe the peace mentioned here refers to God’s own inner peace, the context leans heavily on the side of the peace a Christian internalizes because of his/her relationship with God. Paul has just advised his readers to put aside anxiety and to rely on God.
We live in a world filled with stress and tension that can have an effect on us if we are not careful. But by maintaining a firm, scriptural relationship with God, we can process such tension positively and reach a degree of personal peace that we may not have realized was possible.
This kind of peace denotes an inner spirit of tranquility, and it gives us the strength to endure despite potentially devastating circumstances that may surround us. It is a peace possible only through Christ Jesus, and it defies human understanding.
Back to Bethel
“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother’ ” (Genesis 35:1).
When Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau, he came to a place called Bethel, the place where he first met God. It was there that he received both the land promise and the seed promise, and it was to this place that God promised He would bring Jacob back.
The fulfillment of that promise begins in Genesis 35:1. Jacob and his family are in deep trouble both physically and spiritually because they have allowed themselves to become immersed in many grievous sins where they are living. Jacob decides to go Back to Bethel in an attempt to correct the wrongs in which his family is involved.
Back to Bethel can metaphorically be a battle cry for us as we confront the challenges with which our world presents us—it can stand for “the place where we first met God” when we obeyed the gospel and turned our lives over to Him.
Even if our lives have become entwined with the grievous sins of our own day, with a concerted effort, we can find spiritual renewal and the peace that passes all understanding at our “Bethel.” Just as God stood with open arms to receive Jacob, He stands with that same posture to receive us today—all it takes is the right attitude and a firm decision on our part.
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
“Godly sorrow” comes because people are made aware that they have displeased God by sinning, and this realization causes them to decide to give up the sin—they repent. This repentance will lead to salvation. There is no regret because the end result is worth it.
The “sorrow of the world” is a sorrow brought on by fleshly reasons. The sinner may regret his sin, but he doesn’t repent and turn back to God’s ways. Rather, he may be sad because he has been caught or because he suffers as a result of what he has done, but he has no desire to change. This kind of behavior produces spiritual death or separation from God.
So, we have a choice. We can allow an awareness of our sins to lead us back to the path of righteousness and ultimately salvation; or we can continue in our sinful behavior, having no hope of being reunited with God. The choice is ours.
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