Posts Tagged ‘Peace’

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The Triune Nature of Peace; The World’s Focus and the Christian’s Fruit…

October 21, 2011

 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” -Matthew 5:9

If there is one unfortunate mark of God’s fallen creation under the reign of sin it is the absence of peace.   The absence of peace in our world, due to greed.  The absence of peace in our lives due to envy.  The absence of peace in our families, due to selfishness. The absence of peace in our hearts, due to sin.  In all of these areas peace is sought but remains elusive.    Creation burst forth from the mind of God, uttered into a perfect state of peaceful balance.  There was morning and evening, seas for fish, sky for birds, earth for creatures to crawl about and man to bear His image.  The harmony of God with His creation was denoted by the presence of peace in that creation.  With the emergence of sin came the eradication of this balance.  Think of it, within the first moments of the first sin, strife entered the marriage of the first couple, and separation emerged between man and the one whose image he bore.  God cursed man and creation, and prophesied that peace would be absent between the serpent and the fruit of the woman.  The effects of this proclamation were immediate.  Animals began to prey and brothers began fight, and long before rain fell, blood watered the ground of God’s garden.  God barred the entrance to that peaceful paradise and for thousands of generations we have sought to return. 

As the human family grew so too did the amount of strife.  Fighting families grew into fighting nations, warring against each other and against God.  Among these families, amidst these nations God chose the smallest and least significant to be His vehicle to restore peace.  This nation would bring peace to the world, peace in the present, peace in the future; they would be the children of God.  But as so often happens, the allure of sin proved a great obstacle, competing for the affections of God’s children.   Nevertheless, God’s mission would advance, the Messiah would come, and He would prescribe the pathway to peace.

Discernable in Christ’s teaching and example is a three pronged approach to finding and making peace.  Peace with others, peace with ourselves and peace with God.  Each of these has both a secular focus which often falls short and a spiritual fruit that defines true peace.  Let’s examine each.

External peace- This is peace with others.  Inter-relational peace.  Peace with those outside yourself, whether they are family members, competing companies, or ally nations.  This particular peace is the focus of the world.  The world community has never longed for something more than for there to be peace among the nations and never have they been more unsuccessful.  The League of Nations, the United Nations, the OAS, the G-6, G-8, even the IMF, World Bank and other economic organizations all exist to promote stability and the financial benefits of peace.  For the Christian, inter-relational fellowship, external peace with others, is not the product of mere cooperation, but rather the fruit of Godly fellowship.  We see the importance of external peace in Jesus’ life and ministry.  Peace begins with those closest to us and radiates out.  We reconcile ourselves with our brothers in Christ, through our fellowship with Him we work to maintain peace; and pursue confrontation only and always with repentance and renewal in view. (Matt 5:24, 7:1-5, 18:15-20)

Internal peace- This is peace with yourself.  Personal peace, the quiet calm of your soul amidst the storm of life. This particular peace is the focus of our generation.  In an age bereft of calm and full of strife, our generation searches in vain for any source of internal peace.  The acceptance of others, the acclaim of the community, fame and its fifteen minutes, and when these prove shallow this generation seeks to find peace in the numb nerves of drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, medications, therapy and sleep.  Each dark dead-end hallway leads on and on, deeper and deeper, never reaching the root of the problem.  For our generation internal peace remains elusive.  For the Christian, internal peace, peace with one’s self is the fruit of Spirit.  Internal peace comes only through the presence of the Spirit in the life of the believer.  Christian’s who “are Christ’s and have crucified the flesh with its passions” (Gal 5:24), walk with and in the Spirit which produces; love, joy and peace.  So close is this relationship, that when sin is committed and the Spirit is grieved, internal peace becomes the first casualty; and can only be reclaimed through confession, repentance and renewal.    

Eternal peace- The final and arguably most important peace is peace with God.  This is eternal peace, peace that reconciles you to God and stays His wrath against your sin.  This particular peace is the focus of the religious in our society.  Theists of all stripes detect the presence of enmity between the creator and the creature.  This leads to innumerable paths and strategies to appease and live up to divine demands.  Fasting, praying, pilgrimage, indulgences, meditations, sacrifices, mantras and karma; all attempting to fill the void of separation between God’s holiness and our sin.  The combined weight of these efforts, on their own, is unable to tip the balance of divine judgment.  And peace again, remains elusive.  For the Christian eternal peace with God is the fruit of the cross.  Christ’s birth was the advent of eternal peace on earth. (Luke 2:14)  His work at Calvary satisfied the price of our sin.  And when we believe in that work and in the lordship of the one who performed it, we gain the immeasurable presence of peace with God.  The weight of Christ’s work crushes the scales of God’s judgment, and beneath the banner of His name, we enter with confidence into eternal peace with the Father.

Jesus proclaimed that the sons of God would make peace.  This proclamation is both a  challenge and a reflection on reality.  Do you wish to be among the children of God? Then make peace.  Peace with God through Christ; peace with yourself through the Spirit; and peace with others through Godly fellowship.  Our culture is searching for the source of a peaceful life. As Christians, are we displaying the fruits of those who have found the source?

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Have you not heard? Isaiah 40 Speaks Comfort…

July 25, 2010

ISAIAH 40

It is difficult for me to overstate how much this chapter means to me and my family.  It lies midway through the book of Isaiah, a turning point in spirit and tone; and it is planted firmly in my memory as a milestone and testament of God’s abundant power.  God stands in these 31 verses as an unmovable, impenetrable, frightening force, sovereign and saving.  He lays mountains low (vs 4), measures the seas with His hand (vs12), balances ranges as vast as the Himalayas, weighing them and finding them wanting. (12)  He lays Princes down and raises them up to lead nations as significant as dirt.  The greatest rulers and kings, conquerors and realms wither in His light and scatter like dust in the wind of His nostrils. We are insects to be flicked by fingers who stretch the heavens out like a curtain.  What part do we have in all this?  None.  Are we to give Him, the one who sits above the circle of the earth, counsel?  What good is it for us to strive to rule, reign and run when we will be mere dust in the in the tempest of history’s storm?  These truths could make one despondent even depressed, but that is not their purpose.

From the first verse the grand purpose of this tome of God is revealed.  Comfort.  “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned…”(vs1)  Comfort comes from the fact that our warring is done for the Lord of Hosts who commands creation and contrives kings will do our battle for us.  He, unlike men, does not grow weary or faint, for in Him is the power to raise up, lay down and pardon the iniquity of those who sin.  Man may convict, and man may judge by the wisdom of his own counsel, but He who takes no counsel shall judge with wisdom and understanding that is unsearchable.

This is whom we trust, in whom we rest.  When will realize that our King endures forever; and our peace lies in waiting on Him?  The lives of those who wait on the Lord are marked with a silent comfort that rages in the face of injustice and rests in arms of the Judge.

I have seen the face of those who passed from this sphere into the next, clutching in their hands the hope of strength.   Earthly legs as limp as dirt but a heart running to Jesus, eyes closed and cold yet fixed like an eagles on the King.  One day our bodies will become weary and faint into permanent peace; but He who spoke into the tomb shall increase strength and we shall mount up to eternal Glory, our joy to be found in waiting on the Lord forever.  Find peace and wait on Him now, rest knowing that we will rise never to be weary or faint again.  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God.  The creator of heavens and earth. (vs28)  Who could not rest in knowing that?

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Two is the Loneliest Number

May 2, 2010

Ephesians 2:113:13

How soon we forget.  God has so wisely designed our bodies, each part performs a function, each part is necessary.  His body of the church has likewise been designed with a care and function which ultimately, if guided properly serves to give Him Glory.  Paul’s ministry to Ephesus brought God glory and brings us valuable and necessary encouragement and instruction.  Once we enter the body we must not forget the means by which we entered.  Paul repeatedly, in this passage calls the Ephesians and by extension each of us to remember.  Remember that one time “you were gentiles” (11); remember that one time you were “separated from Christ”(12).  In true Pauline fashion though, he follows these reminders of separation and alienation with his famous “but now.”  Now we the gentiles have been brought near through Christ, and have been joined into one new man literally, “in the place of two.”(15)  This unity of body is marked by three characteristics.

The first is peace.  Once God has joined us both Jew and gentile together into one body through the cross, the hostilities which marked their separation should cease.  This peace was preached to those who were far off and to those who were near; strangers and sojourners alike.  Now all are granted access through the Spirit into God’s household.

The second characteristic is worship.  This far-flung group is being gathered and joined for a function.  The new believers will add to the foundation of a structure begun by the apostles and prophets of which Christ Jesus is the cornerstone.  Peter uses this metaphor to great effect in his first epistle in chapter two; that we are in fact living stones, being built up, a royal priesthood, a chosen race.  Here Paul proclaims that this structure is a Holy Temple, and all those in Christ are built into this structure which will serve as “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”(2:22)

The third characteristic is action.  Jesus’ gospel, “the mystery” made known to Paul by revelation, must be proclaimed to all, both Jews and Gentiles.  So Paul models the message that there has been a plan, a mystery hidden for ages that man must now be made aware.  God revealed that mystery in Christ and it is by God’s grace that Paul and all of us in Jesus, can preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Recognizing that these characteristics are part of God’s eternal plan, should encourage us to both seize hold of the promises God places before us; and take heart when misfortune falls on us as it did Paul.  For though he suffered for the Ephesians the message and hope of Christ pressed on; the structure continued to grow; for increase of our faith and for God’s glory.