Sunday’s Sermon From The Ranch – Having Peace With God

* Sorry for getting this to you so late, but I got it late Sunday night and forgot to repost it yesterday.  So here it is for those of you who have been following along…

This Day’s Thought is pleased to bring you Eric Elder’s new sermon series, “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind.”  Special Note from Eric: As I mentioned in my P.S. last week, if you’d be interested in learning more about how I’ve gone about publishing my writings and books on places like Amazon.com and Apple’s iBookstore, I’d be glad to hear from you. I’m thinking of teaching a class online sometime in the next few weeks, for a donation to our ministry of whatever size that you can afford, that will walk you through exactly how you can do this on your own, uploading your writings to Amazon and other websites to help you get what you have to say about God out to others, whether in print or as eBooks. Just write me if you’re interested in such a class at eric@theranch.org, and I’ll give you more details as the class takes shape.


The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration


Having Peace With God

Lesson 12 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind

By Eric Elder
The Ranch
God wants to give you a lift today. He wants to pick you up, brush you off, and give you a new start. In particular, God wants to give you peace—His peace—a deep peace that will renew and restore you and give you the strength to go on.

To help you get started, I’ve uploaded a new song to our website from Craig Prest that you can listen to while reading the rest of today’s message. Here’s the link:
http://streams.theranch.org/craigprest5.mp3

How can you have the peace of God? It starts by having peace with God, by coming to the place where you’re reconciled with Him, the place where you know that you are loved, forgiven, and walking in harmony with Him. The Apostle Paul tells us that this kind of peace is available to you when you put your faith in Christ:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2a).

But this message today isn’t just for those who need to put their faith in Christ for the first time. It’s for everyone who needs a reminder of the peace that God has in store for those who trust in Him. As the Bible says:

“You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in You.”
(Isaiah 26:3)

God wants you to trust in Him. He wants you to keep your mind steadfast, resolutely firm and unwavering. And when you trust in Him, keeping your mind steadfast, He will keep you in peace—perfect peace.

Why is it so hard then to have God’s peace? Sometimes it’s because we make it harder than it really is. Dallas Willard gives a simple and practical definition of what it means to trust Christ:

“Trusting Christ means you want to be with Him as much as possible.”

When you trust someone, you’re happy to be with them. And when you realize what Christ has done for you—and what He’s still capable of doing for you—it makes it easier to trust Him and to want to be with Him as much as possible. As the Apostle Paul continues his letter to the Romans, he gives us some reasons why we can trust Christ so fully—and why we would want to be with Him as much as possible, too. Paul says:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

Let me unpack that for you for just a minute, because it will help you understand just how very much God loves you. If you think about it, you’ll realize how very rare it is for one person to die for another, even if the person they’re dying for is “righteous.” Yet in some cases, it’s possible that someone might die for someone else if the person they’re dying for is truly “good.” But then think about what Christ has done. He’s gone further still, not just dying for those who “deserve” it, but for those who don’t deserve it at all—which, as it turns out, happens to be every one of us.

You see, Christ loves you with an overwhelming love—a love that He wants to pour out on you—not just once when you first get saved, but continually for the rest of your life here on earth and on into eternity.

When you realize that Christ loves you this much—and wants to continue loving you this much—you’ll see why you you can trust Him completely, and why you would want to be with Him as much as possible.

Trusting Christ brings you peace with God. And when you have peace with God, this opens the possibility for you to have the peace of God in many other areas of your life as well.

I was sitting at a table last week with some men who were discussing how God had brought His peace into their lives. Their stories were not only interesting, but interwoven.

One of the men had gotten out of jail about a year ago. After having lived a life of self-destruction for years, he finally put his faith in Christ while in prison. He found that the hours he spent there alone with God were some of the sweetest hours of his life.

But his greatest fear was what would happen when he finally got out. What would happen when he came back into the reality of this world, facing those whom he had wronged so horribly? What would happen when he had to face his wife and kids again, whom he had led into a destructive lifestyle? What would happen when he had to face his in-laws, whom he had pushed away time and time again?

As it turned out, this man’s father-in-law was also seated at the table with us—the father-in-law who knew how much trouble this man had caused for his daughter—the father-in-law who was so upset with this guy that he even paid for a lawyer to help his daughter start divorce proceedings.

Yet when the son-in-law put his faith in Christ in prison, something changed. The father-in-law realized that his son-in-law was now his brother-in-Christ. Rather than condemning his son-in-law when he came out of prison, he found himself forgiving him instead. He went to visit his son-in-law at home and offered his forgiveness instead of the divorce papers. He told his son-in-law that God had wiped the slate clean between them, and had given them a new start in their relationship.

When God reconciled these men to Himself through Christ, He also laid the foundation for them to reconcile with each other down the road. Once they each discovered how they could have peace with God, they also discovered they could now have peace with one another. You can see how having peace with God can help you experience the peace of God in other areas of your life. God wants you to have both.

God wants you to be at peace, and He says that you can have that peace by keeping your mind steadfast and trusting in Him. If you want to renew your mind and experience God’s peace, I want to encourage you to do what Isaiah said to do: to keep your mind steadfast and continue to trust in God. Remember:

“You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in You.”
(Isaiah 26:3)

Also remember that,

“Trusting Christ means you want to be with Him as much as possible.”

If you have areas in your own life where you feel unrest, or areas where Satan has tried to steal your peace, can I encourage you to bring those areas to Jesus again today? He really does love you. He is for you. And He wants you to experience His peace, not just once in your lifetime, but throughout your lifetime, a peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

As you read your Bible this week, I want to encourage you to read it with three thoughts in mind. First, read the text for what it says, filling your mind with God’s words. But don’t just stop there. Take time to meditate on the words that you’re reading, mulling them over in your mind, reflecting on what the words mean and what they might mean to your life today. And third, be sure to pray while you’re reading, asking God to speak to you about the words on the page, realizing that His word really is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). This is one of the best ways to spend as much time with Him as possible.

Remember that the Bible is not just a textbook on living. It’s a textbook that comes with a built-in teacher, the Holy Spirit. It’s like taking a class in school and being taught by the author of the textbook himself. While you can learn a lot by just reading the text, you can learn so much more when you go to class with the Teacher, asking Him your questions, letting Him give you more insights into what He’s written, and letting Him correct your thinking in those cases where you’ve possibly misread the text or missed a crucial word here or there. Don’t just read the text and miss spending time with the Teacher! You’ll love your classes more, and He’ll love spending the extra time with you, too.

I pray this has given you a lift today, and I pray that as you put these words into practice, God will give you His perfect peace.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for offering Your peace to us through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. Help us to put our faith in Him again today, trusting Him with our salvation and everything else in our lives. Help us to give over anything in our lives that is causing us unrest right now, and truly trust You in that area, too. Forgive us of our sins, and lead us into the fullness of life that You offer to us, both here on earth and on into eternity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Awakening 2P.S. If you listened to Craig Prest’s music today and would like to get the whole CD, whether on a physical disc or as downloadable MP3 files, I’d be glad to send you a copy for a donation of any size to our ministry this month. The CD is called “Awakening 2,” and it contains over 50 minutes of peaceful and relaxing instrumental music. To make a donation and get the CD on disc or download, please visit:
http://theranch.org/Get-the-CD.359.0.html

Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 5:1-11. How does Paul say we can gain access to the peace that God has to offer us?
2. According to verse 5, what means does God use to pour out His love into our hearts? How might you invite God to pour out His love into your heart in a new way today?
3. How can Paul’s illustration of the different kinds of people that someone might possibly die for help you to understand better Christ’s love for you and what He has done for you?
4. If you’ve never put your faith in Christ, trusting that He died for your sins so that you could have peace with God, is there anything holding you back from doing it today? If so, can you confess it to Him and let it go so you can put your faith fully in Him? And if you’ve already put your faith in God, but are still struggling to experience His peace, is there anything holding you back from trusting Him more fully with every area of your life today? If so, then ask God for His help with those areas, and ask Him to fill you with His peace—a peace that transcends all understanding.

To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
The Romans Study

To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:
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To make a donation of any size and get a CD as our way of saying thanks, please visit:
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Today’s Sermon From The Ranch – Believing God

Sorry it’s late but we had some bad storms blow through and I shut down the computer.

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to feature Eric Elder’s latest series called “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind”) 
 

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Believing God

Lesson 9 from
Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
www.theranch.org
 

 
I’d like to talk to you today about believing God.  Not just believing in God.  But believing God–believing that He will do what He says He will do.  The reason I want to talk to you about believing God is because what you believe influences what you do.  Or, to put it another way, you do what you believe.
 
If you believe that people are going to hell if they don’t put their faith in Jesus, then you’ll do something about it.  If you’re not doing something about it, then you’re just giving intellectual assent to an idea, but you’re not really believing it.
 
I have a friend who went to the doctor for a checkup.  The doctor told him, “Your Dad had a heart attack by the time he was forty-eight, and you’re going to have a heart attack by the time you’re forty-eight unless you make some changes in your life.”  My friend had known this was a possibility before, but it wasn’t until his doctor told him the truth so directly that my friend finally believed it.  He began that day to change the way he ate, the way he exercised, and the way he lived his life.  He’s still going strong today.  Why?  Because he believed what his doctor said.
 
How much more so, when we hear what God says about our lives, should be believe Him and do what He says?
 
Abraham is an excellent example for all of us of someone who believed God, who heard what God said and took it to heart, and then backed up what he believed with his actions.
 
If you remember the story, God told Abraham that he would have so many descendants they would outnumber the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.  This was a pretty lofty idea considering that Abraham was old and childless.  But the Bible says:
 
“Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
 
Several years later, when God called Abraham to become circumcised as a way of sealing God’s covenant with him, Abraham did what God said that very day, and within a year, he and his wife Sarah had their first child–the first of a long line of his promised descendants.
 
While Abraham’s obedience to be circumcised was important and necessary for the fulfillment of God’s plan for his life, the Apostle Paul notes in his letter to the Romans that it wasn’t after Abraham was circumcised that he was declared righteous in God’s sight, but before.  Abraham was declared righteous several years before his circumcision.  He was declared righteous the moment he believed.  (You can read more about this part of Abraham’s story in Genesis chapters 15-18.) 
 
Abraham’s circumcision was a natural outworking of the faith that Abraham had already expressed in his heart to God.  His actions were directly influenced by what he believed.
 
Dallas Willard is one of the spiritual giants of our generation.  When asked what he would advise someone to do who wanted to grow spiritually, he gave a surprising answer.  You might think he would say, “Read the Bible more,” or “Pray more,” or “Go to church more.”  But he didn’t.  He said the best course of action for someone who wants to grow spiritually is this:  
 
“Do the next right thing you know you ought to do.”
 
He expanded on this thought by saying that you’ll grow more when you do the next right thing that you know you ought to do because you’ll be doing the very thing that God wants you to do.  He said it may very well involve reading the Bible more so you can get clarity on what it is that God really wants you to do.  It may involve praying more because you’ll need God’s wisdom for how to do it.  It may involve going to church more because you’ll most likely need the help of others to do what God has put on your heart to do.  But in any case, you’ll grow tremendously when you do the next right thing you know you ought to do.
 
My question for you today is this:  what’s the next right thing you know you ought to do?  
 
What is it that God has called you to do that He is wanting you to take the next step in faith to get done?  Maybe it’s in something regarding your family, your job, your finances, or your health.  Maybe it’s something regarding your calling, your gifting, your relationships, or the way you use your time.  Maybe it’s something that is quiet and internal, or maybe it’s something that is out loud and vocal.  Maybe it’s something you need to start doing, or maybe it’s something you need to stop doing.
 
Although I don’t know what it might be that God is putting on your heart right now as you read these words, I imagine there are probably one or two things that may have already started coming to your mind as “the next right thing you know you ought to do.”  Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to do it.  Believe in your heart that God has called you to it, then step out in faith and let Him help you do it!
 
You may remember the story of the widow’s oil, back in the Old Testament.  This widow had lost her husband, and she and her two sons were struggling to live.  She was at a point of desperation because her husband’s creditors were coming to take away her boys as slaves.
 
She cried out to Elisha, a man of God that she knew, and asked him what to do.  Elisha asked what she had left in her house.  She said that she had nothing there at all, “except a little oil” (2 Kings 4:5).
 
So Elisha told her what to do next.  He told her to go around to all her neighbors and ask for their empty jars.  She and her sons did what Elisha said.  She went all over the neighborhood asking for empty jars and brought them home.  Elisha told her to fill them up with the little oil that she had.  By faith, she began pouring out the oil into the first jar, and it didn’t stop!  It just kept flowing and flowing as she poured it into jar after jar, until every jar she had collected was full.  Elisha told her:
 
“Go, sell the oil and pay your debts.  You and your sons can live on what is left” (2 Kings 4:7b).
 
I love this story for several reasons, but one that stands out to me today is the fact that the widow believed what God was telling her to do through the prophet Elisha, then she went out and acted on that belief.  She did “the next right thing she knew she ought to do.”
 
One way to renew your mind today is to believe God–not just believe in Him–but really believe Him, because what you believe influences what you do.
 
Abraham wasn’t credited with righteousness after he was circumcised, but before, when he first believed God.  It was only afterwards that he stepped out in faith and acted on what he believed.  
 
The widow’s life didn’t start to turn around after she had sold all her jars of oil and got the money for them, but before, when she first believed what God told her to do through the prophet Elisha.  It was only afterwards that she stepped out in faith and acted on what she believed.  
 
God wants you to believe Him, too.  He wants you believe what He says and then to act on that belief, to do the next right thing that you know you ought to do.  For some of you, this might mean picking up a project that you’ve been putting off for years.  You might think, “Not that, Lord!  It’s been on the back burner for so long, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to it.”  For others of you, this might mean acting on something you heard just yesterday.  You might think, “Not that, Lord!  I just heard about it yesterday, I need a few more days, or months, or years to think about it.”  
 
We can think of all kinds of reasons not to do what we know we ought to do.  But I want to encourage you today to believe God, and then act on that belief.  Don’t let doubt and discouragement hold you back from doing “the next right thing” that God has called you to do.  
 
Believe God today, and then act on that belief!  Then one day, like Abraham and Sarah, and like the widow and her sons, people will be telling the story of what happened to you when you believed God, too.
 
Will you pray with me?
 
Father, thank You for creating each of us with special tasks to accomplish here on earth.  Help us to have the faith today to believe what You say when you speak to us, and then to act on that belief.  Help us today to step out in faith and do the next right thing we know we ought to do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
Loving Thoughts

P.S. This is also the last week that we’ll be highlighting our new book called, “Loving Thoughts,” a short book of quotes and Bible verses to help those who are passing from this life to the next.  You can download this book in an eBook format for free from the link below, or you can order a beautiful, 24-page paperback version by simply sending a donation of any size to our ministry.  Your gifts help to offset the cost of printing and shipping, as well as help us to continue creating more resources like these, so thanks in advance for your gifts!  Here are the links to download the free eBook or to request a paperback:
To make a donation and get the paperback, please visit:
 
Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 4:1-12.  Why do you think God credited Abraham with righteousness when he first believed God, rather than after he took his famous steps of obedience?
2.  Read James 2:18-20.  What are some of the differences between believing God and just believing in God, based on this passage?
3.  What is the relationship between faith and works, as described by the passage in James?
4.  What comes to your mind as “the next right thing you ought to do?”  What steps could you take to help clarify that those things really are from God, and then to step out in faith to begin doing them?
 
To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
 
To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:
 
To find us on Facebook, please visit:
 
To invite Eric to speak to your group of any size, whether by Skype or in person, please visit: