Experiencing peace through trusting God and his will for his Kingdom

We exhibit the ultimate trust in God when we pray for God’s will to be done in our lives according to the needs of his Kingdom.

Today we will be looking at the core Bible principle of trust, and how we exhibit the ultimate trust in God when we sincerely pray for his will to be done in our lives according to the needs of his Kingdom. This alone provides a peace that passes understanding. In our study today, we will be reviewing how the teachings of both Yeshua and Paul can provide detailed actions that can help us to pattern our lives after the faithful lives of the early believers.

Let’s begin with understanding how Yeshua taught about priorities in the believer’s life. In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua taught two ways that anxiety in life, caused by focusing on worldly needs, can be overcome.

The first way is to recognize spiritual priorities.

Matthew 6:31-33 – “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the nations seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Here we see that Yeshua is explaining how anxiety is the result of over-focus on self and selfish needs. By contrast, when becoming engaged with the things of God, personal problems and concerns tend to fade into the background. A commitment to the Kingdom of God helps to keep the correct perspective that allows balance in daily living. Recognizing that the needs of the Kingdom outweigh self-directed problems helps believers to remain productive and fruitful in walking with God. Looked at from the opposite perspective, when believers focus on their own problems to the exclusion of all other things, they are likely being unproductive and unfruitful in their spiritual walk. In this condition, they have allowed themselves to become self-absorbed and overly consumed with personal worry. 

It’s been said that the smallest of pebbles when held at arm’s length is of no consequence, but when brought to within inches of the eye can block all of our vision. If we view our personal problems as that pebble, then it is in our best interest to keep them at arm’s length by focusing on the Kingdom first, rather than keeping our problems close to the eye to the exclusion of everything else around us. The perspective Yeshua provides us can free us from self-absorption with our own issues.

The second way Yeshua teaches about overcoming anxiety, in addition to his teaching for us to stay focused on the Kingdom, is to focus on one day at a time. Each day has its own challenges, so just take the challenges you face one day at a time. 

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

By maintaining a focus on the Kingdom, and taking one day at a time, Yeshua provides a practical two-step plan for overcoming anxieties that the rest of the world may be experiencing.

Further, Yeshua provides a demonstration of the outworking of this teaching from his experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. In his prayer to God regarding the trial and crucifixion he was about to undergo, he simply prays, “Not my will, but yours be done.” This is the prayer that demonstrates ultimate trust in God. When believers can fully consign themselves to God’s will, then their personal needs or situations become of little or no consequence. This is the outworking of his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount about seeking first the Kingdom of God. Here, Yeshua is putting the needs of God’s Kingdom above his own.

People always say they want to know what God’s will is for their lives. Well, God’s will and the activities surrounding his Kingdom are one and the same. His will is that his Kingdom becomes visible through the faithful actions of his people living out his standards in their lives. When believers start praying in this way for God’s will to be done, they must remain open to seeking and recognizing what the needs are of his Kingdom in any given situation. This comes through consistently being in his word, receptive to his Torah, or instruction, in all things.

This is a solemn teaching for the mature believer. This is no surface admonition, but a commitment that can only come from the deepest recesses of spiritual insight and understanding. This teaching separates God’s true children from those who are only loosely affiliated with him. Only a true child of God can put aside all personal connections to remain devoted primarily to God and to his Messiah as Lord. Yeshua stated it this way:

Matthew 10:37-39 – Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25 – Then Yeshua told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Mark 10:29-30 – Yeshua said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

This is what is required to walk in the way of God, and to follow the Messiah. This is putting God’s Kingdom first. In this state, there is no opportunity for selfish worry or anxiety. Worry is selfish; seeking the Kingdom and following Messiah is selfless.

In a moment, we will examine a famous teaching of the apostle Paul, and how he expands on this theme of selflessness with specific actions that he encouraged believers to follow in order to remain steadfast and experience the peace that comes from trusting in God.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Messiah Yeshua.

Before we dive in to an application of these words for believers today, we must always remember to keep the words we read in the original context as much as possible for us to receive the full benefit and understanding of what is being discussed. So, let’s look at the overall point of what Paul is trying to convey and who he his audience is.

First of all, this was a letter intended for a specific group of believers for a specific purpose.

Philippians 1:1, 9-11  …To all the saints in Messiah Yeshua who are at Philippi…it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Yeshua Messiah, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul is writing to encourage these believers who were residing in Philippi in the first century to excel in love, knowledge and discernment, that they would be pure and blameless for the day of Messiah, to God’s glory. The rest of his epistle is primarily focused on this encouragement toward fruitful actions of righteousness so they would be counted worthy of attaining the Kingdom of God at the appearing of the Messiah.

Continuing throughout the epistle, we can see there is this constant theme of holding fast, standing firm, not allowing themselves to fall from the faith that they had received.

3:16 – Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

4:1 – Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

This standing firm was to be based upon the hope of the immanent return of Messiah who would transform them into the heavenly Kingdom. If they could hold true to what they had already attained, then they would be able to remain steadfast in the faith until the day of Messiah. He then reiterates the immanence of this day of the Messiah, and how their focus on heavenly things (the Kingdom of God) would allow them to patiently await the Messiah when he was to come and transform them.

Philippians 3:20-21; 4:1 – But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Yeshua Messiah, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

So, against this backdrop of hope and standing firm comes the famous passage about the peace of God which passes all understanding. How we all would love to experience such peace! Here is where we find the source of that peace that Paul was teaching those Philippian believers about.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua.

Paul says to remove anxiety by prayer and thanksgiving in everything. This is the pattern of behaviors that instills peace that only God can provide. Paul’s instruction to the Philippian congregation is to pray and be grateful for everything. When we express ourselves and our thanks to God, we are recognizing him as the one who is ultimately in control of all things. This recognition is the basic foundation of our trust and faith in God to begin with. We are deferring to him as the ultimate authority in all aspects of life. We are allowing God to be God.

However, where we sometimes err is in thinking that if we pray about a situation, God will control the outcome to make us happy and content, fulfilling all of our desires. When we think this way, we are lapsing back into a selfish focus on worldly challenges we may be facing. But in this recognition of God’s ultimate authority in all things, we should ensure that our desires always fall under the category of trusting in his judgment for the outcome that is best for him and his Kingdom, not necessarily what we think we desire. Remember, Yeshua taught about seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, not selfish needs or ambitions. Our practical focus should remain on others. Paul reiterates this to the Philippian believers as well:

Philippians 2:2-5 – …complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which was also in Messiah Yeshua…

And this is the crux of the issue that can plague us: separating our selfish desires from those things that fall in line with accomplishing God’s purpose for the continued growth of his Kingdom. As our spiritual maturity level grows, we can learn to focus on this “mind of Messiah” by thinking, praying, and acting more on the needs of others, or at least as much as our own needs.

And when we can learn to sincerely pray, as Yeshua did, “Not my will but yours be done” in everything we pray about, we then move into a place of faith and trust that God knows what’s best for us, regardless of what we may want for ourselves. Paul says that our hearts and minds can have peace “in Messiah Yeshua.” To be “in” the Messiah is to follow his ways, his teachings, and his example. When we do so by seeking first the Kingdom  of God and his will, our lives will bear the fruit of righteous actions that he desires for his people.

Yeshua taught the two most important things are to love God with heart, soul, and strength, and to love others as yourself. When our concerns for others become as natural as the care that we have for our own needs, then we are moving into a place of truly following the example of the Messiah, and the incomprehensible peace of God will stand guard over our hearts and minds.

If you enjoy these articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Real peace is generated by trust in God

Regardless of our own abilities or resources, our ultimate trust in all things should be in God.

Core of the Bible podcast #83 – Real peace is generated by trust in God

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust or faith in God, and how, regardless of our own abilities or resources, our ultimate trust in all things should be in God.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This verse has been very popular over the years due to its simple admonition to prayer and its promise of peace of a troubled mind.

But rather than focus on the peace it provides, I would like to draw out another unstated concept present in this verse: trust in God. You see, peace can only come when there is an understanding that something, or someone, larger than our current troubling circumstance is handling the situation, and we don’t need to be anxious about it. This is why prayer is effective, because we are giving over situations that are beyond our control to Someone who has all control.

I think about when I was a small child, riding in the back of our car on a trip home from visiting relatives. I had no concerns about which roads we had to take, how much traffic there was, what the weather conditions were. My dad was taking us home, and that’s all that mattered. I would inevitably drift off to sleep with the rhythmic motion of the car and the road noise. I had no cares to concern me, only knowing that I would be home at the end of the trip. I trusted my dad to get us home; I had no reason not to trust him to do so.

When I became a dad and our family was on road trips to visit relatives, it was up to me to take all of those factors into consideration, since I was responsible for getting my family home safely. My role as a dad had increased responsibilities, but even with those responsibilities, my skills had grown to meet them. Certainly, I had to focus on things that I was not concerned about as a child, but even though I had to manage all of those concerns, I still had an over-arching trust that we were going to make it home. Regardless of the right route to take, the traffic, or the road conditions, we would be home soon.

Yeshua famously taught his disciples about trusting in our heavenly Father for all of their needs.

Matthew 6:31-32: ““Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “

He encouraged them not to do what the nations around them would do which was earnestly seek after every opportunity to improve material gain and wealth. This is not a situation unlike today in which we find ourselves living among a culture that is obsessed with materialism. This is why this topic of trusting in God can be such a challenging topic for us today. It’s because, at least in our American culture, we are constantly fed a steady diet of information that says we must be successful at all costs. That definition of success is typically wrapped up in nice houses, fancy cars, and investment income.

All my life I have wanted to be independent and be able to create my own source or sources of income to support myself and my family. Even if it wasn’t possible at any given time, it has always been in the back of my mind that I would like to accomplish that level of independence. I’ve always thought it was just the way my brain is wired, but lately I have come to think that it may have more to do with exposure to our culture than it does with any independent streak I may have in my personality. It does not appear to be an uncommon desire in our current culture.

Yet here I am with kids almost grown and over 25 years with my current employer. Thankfully, we currently have more than enough to meet all of our needs, even though at times it was a struggle as we were raising our family up. Through it all, my wife and I have always trusted that God would provide for our family, and he has graciously done so.

Does that mean that I didn’t have to do anything, and God would simply pour resources into our lap? Of course not, I have had to work very hard to provide consistency in my job, sometimes working nights and weekends as needed. But I have had a strangely long run with a single employer which is becoming less and less prevalent as the years go by, and I find that in itself is an unusual provision in these challenging times.

You see, trust in God is not an abdication of all responsible action; it is a recognition of power or skill beyond your own that will ultimately accomplish the outcome. That trust can be present at every skill and responsibility level. When we pray about everything, we are demonstrating that our trust is not in our own abilities or resources, but in God.

Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.

Trust in God also involves being flexible. In a moment we will look at various aspects of flexibility that should also be evident in the life of a believer who is trusting in God.

So far in our examination of this topic, we have reviewed trusting in God by praying about all things. We have also looked at the efforts that are still needed on our part to accomplish even our most basic needs.

Beyond these basics, another aspect of trusting in God is remaining flexible. Many times, we may believe we are headed toward a desired outcome when God has something totally different planned. This is not always a negative thing, but it may require a pivot in our thinking and expectations.

Back to the example of the responsible dad who is safely taking his family home from a road trip, we can glean some application by looking at various aspects of that situation.

For example, we need to be strategizing our desired route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. Perhaps the expected route home has become unavailable due to a crash ahead or construction that has blocked off access. In these instances, we need to be able to take the time to think rationally around the obstacle in order to continue making progress toward home. When we perform this exercise, many times new opportunities in previously undiscovered ways come to light.

For example, I have a typical way I commute to work every day but in times of heavy traffic I have begun to rely on digital mapping of my route to find the quickest way around the traffic as needed. Some of the alternative routes at times of heavy traffic have yielded much more pleasant ways of getting to the same destination. This is one way in which remaining flexible can yield new opportunities when we trust God’s direction.

Psalm 119:59-60: “I considered my ways, and turned my steps to your statutes. I will hurry, and not delay, to obey your commandments.”

Being obedient in those times can yield new experiences and more fruitful results.

We also need to be considering traffic and road conditions but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. Perhaps we begin to encounter snow, heavy rain, or dense fog which prevents us from seeing clearly. In these cases, we may need to simply pull over and wait it out until more favorable conditions arrive. Sometimes God has us sit quietly and wait for him until we can receive further instruction.

Psalm 40:1: “I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry.”

Isaiah 33:2: “Yahweh, be gracious to us. We have waited for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.”

These periods of waiting for God can be excruciating, especially for those type A’s among us. But these times can also provide needed rest when we are over-stressed, or they can cause us to focus on other needed things that may have arisen unexpectedly. Remaining flexible says that we are trusting that God has a reason for the unintended delay.

At other times, God provides guidance through or during the adverse condition or situation.

I can recall a true-life story about a couple driving home on the interstate when they became trapped in a white-out snowstorm. Unable to see the road, they simply pulled over, but they also knew that if they remained stationary too long, they would become trapped as the continuing snow deepened. Praying about their situation, they soon realized a snowplow had arrived to keep the freeway clear. They were then able to get back on the freeway and follow at a safe distance as the road was being plowed for them by professionals who knew the way and had the resources to clear the snow. They were able to safely arrive at their exit and complete their journey.

Psalm 25:5: “Guide me in your truth, and teach me, For you are the God of my salvation, I wait for you all day long.”

Psalm 73:21,23-24: “For my soul was grieved. I was embittered in my heart. … Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You have held my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

God’s guidance still involves us to follow that guidance, just as the couple had to get back on the freeway to follow the snowplow. But when we are faithful to his statutes, we will find he has provided a way through our predicament, and all to his glory.

In summary, we need to be faithful with what we’ve been called to do, but we need to always keep a higher sense of trust and dependency in God beyond our own abilities and actions. When we pray for the outcome according to God’s will, we can rest assured that regardless of any modifications along the way, everything will come to pass within his purpose and timing.

This is where the peace that passes understanding comes from: it is generated in the recognition that God ultimately has us, regardless of what happens along the way. It is beyond our understanding, because only he knows which route we will ultimately have to take to get there. We should always maintain a healthy understanding of the limits of our abilities and be sure our ultimate trust is in the One who can bring us safely home at the end of the trip. Yet, if he has other plans for us along the way, plans of which we had no idea or had even considered a possibility, our trust in him will provide the confidence needed to operate in these unfamiliar areas and terrain.

This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. Yeshua taught:

John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.””

Paul reiterated this dependency on God when he wrote to the Galatian congregation:

Galatians 5:25: “If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit.”

Therefore, if we live by faith in the God of the universe, let us also walk by faith that he can and will guide us within his perfect plan and purpose. This can provide real peace because it is not based in anything that can be overturned in this life, but it is based in the One who holds all things in the palm of his hand.

If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com