And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -- Romans 8:28
In what things? In ALL things. That means in everything you are involved in, God is working for your good. Including that failed relationship. Instead of lamenting, we should be praising God for saving us from a situation that He knows would not have ended well. But instead we focus on our flawed thought patterns and our emotions which often betray us.
This is why God gives us instruction in the key verses today to combat these tendencies we all have. Working backwards in the verses we see the goal we are all seeking -- that the God of all peace will be with us. Isn't that what we all truly want in this life -- peace? We spend our days seeking it in our marriages, our workplaces and even our churches. Realize today that the world wants to sell us a peace too. Jesus drew the distinction:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. -- John 14: 27 (ESV)
Not as the world gives. The peace the world gives is fleeting and false. It may last for a little while but soon enough it will evaporate. The peace of God transcends all human understanding. When we are rightly in the will of God there is a peace that this world cannot penetrate. This is what we need so desperately to combat the poor thought patterns we have as humans. To be at peace with our decisions because we know they are based solely upon God. But next in the key verses we see the condition that has to be met"
We must actually put into practice what we have learned about Christ, heard from Him and seen in His life. Realize these are three different things. We learn about Jesus from our academic pursuit of God; from attending sermons or taking classes for example. What Jesus is saying here is that He cannot merely be an academic pursuit. There must be a reason behind the pursuit. Far too often we can sit through an excellent, Holy Ghost filled sermon and then two hours later be unable to remember what it was that was imparted to us. We can go to church without a pen and paper to take notes -- what if God wanted to say something to us that day? Something that could change our lives? Simply put we can get so acculturated to the church style that we no longer go expecting to meet with God! That should be the purpose every day we wake up but especially when we go to church! If you are not meeting God every time you go to church either you have lost your expectancy or you need to find another church. God is not just something to study; He is someone to develop a relationship with -- that is how peace is cultivated. That is how we combat our poor thinking. What is the purpose of hearing a sermon about how to build a strong marriage, shouting hallelujah, and then going home and forgetting everything you heard? What was the purpose of that sermon in your life? Jesus is saying we must take what we learn and apply it. Knowledge without application is useless.
Secondly here God is saying that we need to put into practice what we hear from the Lord. Wait a minute preacher, I don't hear from God. Really? Perhaps then you are not listening. Every day I walk outside His creation screams to me how great He is! Are we pursuing to hear from God? Do we have any kind of devotional life? Do we have any kind of prayer life? Are we reading the Bible daily? Do we spend a few minutes each day in quiet worship? These are all ways to hear from the Lord. If our Christianity is reserved only for those moments we are at church and even then we are not bothering to take notes, I agree it would be difficult to hear from God. But He is speaking to us if we are His:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." -- John 10: 27-30 (NLT)