Archive for category Peace
I’ve been reading Deuteronomy—something I don’t do often. And I’ve been blessed in the reading. God made a covenant with His people and the benefits of walking in it were astounding. Moses laid it out:
God is brining you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing…. (Deut. 8:7-9 ESV)
Food was a major issue for people at that time in history; God promised abundance.
But there was one condition:
[W]hat does the Lord require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statues of the Lord….(Deut, 10:12,13)
I could quote pages of God’s promises to His people—and pages of the judgment that would follow if they fail to fulfill His condition.
How many know it isn’t easy to obey when obedience conflicts with personal desires? The Israelites demonstrated that they would not—could not—obey, and so they experienced judgment.
I have an issue, a problem. Can’t expose it here because that would betray a confidence. Suffice it to say it concerns no one in our family. But I’m quite sure that if I walked away forever, people who know me would understand and bless me in the process.
But my reality is more complicated. I feel God is asking me to walk with Him through the problem.
And I don’t know how to do it. A solution can’t be discerned by following an obvious principle, and I’m feeling more than a little rebellious.
During our nightly devotions, when Ken read Matthew’s account of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five small loaves of bread and two fish, God opened up a reality I don’t especially like—one which I’ve understood mentally and even experienced on a limited scale.
This miracle was not an instantaneous event. Not like when a woman was instantly healed after reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. (Mt. 9:20-22) Or when he healed a sick girl after her mother made a profession of faith. (Mt. 13:21-28)
No, it happened little by little over a period of time. Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to the disciples, and the disciples gave it to the crowds.
The disciples could not have carried all the bread necessary to feed 5,000 people. Never.
So the miracle had to happen repeatedly. After Jesus divided bread and fish between them, they divided it for the crowd. Over and over and over and over the bread and fish multiplied.
Jesus had to walk the miracle out—and His disciples had to walk it out with HIm.
And then I had another thought.
Most of my life I’ve heard or read the stories of Jesus in bite-size pieces. An isolated event or story, a segment of Scripture.
But that’s not how Jesus lived His life.
Jesus walked out the directions of His Father—over and over and over and over. And He didn’t always know what was coming.
He said, [T]he Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (Jn. 5:19 ESV)
And He transferred this to the disciples. Thomas asked, How can we know the way?
Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. (Jn. 14:6)
A few verses later, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (Jn. 14:15)
Ouch. More of that obedience stuff.
Now, there isn’t time for an explanation of salvation in this post. Through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, my sins are covered. I am free from condemnation.
But Jesus promises something else. He said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…. (Jn. 14:15,16)
I can’t follow through on this. I simply am not able to commit to long-term obedience on the issue.
But God can. Furthermore, his Spirit within me can and he will help me.
I’m just not there. But because God’s Spirit is within me, He has given me the right heart.
Yes, I’d kinda like to run.
But I won’t.
I’ll follow His still, small voice within me. I’ll stand in faith, believing he can do it. Over and over and over and over.
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ…. (Acts 10:36 NIV, emphasis mine)
The modern reader could read this as a typical statement by a godly man. But the Apostle Peter was amazed. He was speaking to a group of Gentles in the home of a gentile named Cornelius—and all his life he had believed Gentiles were unclean.
To arrange the meeting, God gave a Gentile named Cornelius a dream so he’d dare ask Peter to visit him. And God gave Peter a trance so he’d be willing to go. Even the timing had to be right to confirm the message of the trance. Because, before the event, Peter hadn’t considered associating with someone he had labeled as “unclean.”
Then, when Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home, he found a crowd of more Gentiles waiting to hear what he had to say. His inner landscape was forever changed that day. He acknowledged his discovery when he said God accepts men from every nation who fear him….(v. 35).
When we think or talk about peace, we often think of political peace or freedom from oppression. And that’s the type of peace the people of Jesus’ time expected Him to bring during His earthly ministry.
It didn’t happen. Instead, Jesus offered internal peace that didn’t depend on circumstances, so Peter also focused on peace that comes from an inner response—from knowing and living with God.
Peter and all the disciples continued to emphasize internal peace. The salutations of Paul’s epistles even began with, Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace is right up there with grace.
The disciples made peace a priority because life without it is harrowing. And because many things hinder peace. And because people would have trouble understanding God’s peace.
Inner peace doesn’t come through a victory—not even a victory over an adversary or victory over sin. Those things bring joy and a measure of satisfaction, but they don’t bring peace.
Peace comes through rest. Resting in God because He’s in control—regardless of whether or not we’re feeling victorious. And we can trust Him. When we come to this place of resting in Him—trusting Him—we let Him do whatever He wants in the circumstance. He might help achieve a victory. Or He might not.
And here’s a secret I’ve learned. When I come to God because I need peace, my only job is remaining honest. I’ve learned I can’t try to manipulate Him by proclaiming peace that isn’t my reality.
He knows. Oh, how He knows.
So this week I confessed my reality along with my desire to walk in His peace. And then I waited.
And He came. He always comes. Because He’s God, the God of grace and love.