Tag Archives: Peace

A Gift for You

​A tree was planted in Israel in memory of my wife.  The words get blurry as I type that…  I received a notice in the mail about that wonderful gift and stood, transfixed, as I tried to imagine what sort of tree and where it was planted.  Then, who would one day find shade beneath it.  These days my mailbox is almost entirely stuffed with junk mail.  But that gift notice was a precious exception.

Here’s a gift notice for you, if you would like to have it.  It’s for everyone who follows Jesus in faith.  It’s not very long, but warrants spending a bit of time trying to imagine all the what, when and where implications.

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.  (2 John 1:3)

Toss the envelope if you want, but hang on to the gift tag.  You’ll want to go back and reread it from time to time…

To Lie Down in Peace

Next year I’m going to be selling a line of Black Friday helmets and protective gear, along with a self-test concussion assessment. Good idea? I think so and I hope your BF bruises are beginning to heal. Ah, yes: each year our anticipation of Christmas gets more and more exciting!

Before the birth of Christ, there was also great anticipation of His coming but for slightly different reasons. One of them was they knew this promise from God, written by the prophet, Ezekiel:

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. – (Ezekiel 34:15-16)

Perhaps you can relate to the sheep. When sheep lie down, it is because they are at peace – no threats, real or imagined to stir them up. No pacing about with anxious bleating. How would you like to find peace like that this Christmas? Maybe you understand what it feels like to be lost. Or to have strayed and not know how to find your way back. Perhaps you’ve been injured in life, or feel weak or oppressed. The promise of God was to be a shepherd for His people. He said “I myself will make them lie down…” No wonder there was such a yearning for His coming, such anticipation for the One Whose Name would be “God with Us.”

Regardless of how you spent Black Friday and Cyber Monday, my prayer is that this season you will find the One Who called Himself the “Good Shepherd,” the One in Whom we can truly lie down in peace.

And if you want to get in on the helmet thing, let me know…

Peace

Our hearts and tears go out for our sisters and brothers of Paris.  We are shocked, dismayed by the wanton brutality.  We pray for them, asking that they might find real peace in their hearts, healing from the terror, comfort in sorrow.  And safety.  I pray that many will hear and respond to these words of Jesus:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  –  (Matthew 11:28–30 NIV84)

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.   –  (Jn 14:23b ESV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  –  (John 14:27  NIV84)

 

Master Mechanic

I’ve always admired the calm attitude of a master mechanic.  When something breaks, if you don’t know what is wrong or what to do, most people respond out of a reservoir of great stress.  Bang your head on the steering wheel, pace back and forth, throwing your hands up in the air, utter a few choice phrases – you know what I mean, I’m sure.  But a mechanic, one who knows what is wrong and exactly what to do, proceeds to work on the problem with a steady peace about him.  An infectious peace.

Jesus, Almighty God in the flesh, must have had the peace of a master mechanic.  And then some.  He always knew what was wrong.  Moreover, He always knew exactly how to fix it.  Imagine how His peace must have settled those around Him as He set about His work.

“Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.   The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
   He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”  –  (Matthew 8:24-26)

Movies about Jesus tend to make Him seem slow of speech and unemotional, as though He was reciting from a dull script.  But His peace must have captivated and instilled confidence in the hearts of those present.  Can you imagine how thankful they must have been to receive the service of the Master Mechanic?  If you can see that, check out this bit of Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” –  (Colossians 3:15)

Jesus knows what is broken and He knows exactly what to do.  Let His peace rule! 

Reconciled

When you are in the doghouse, there’s no use pretending.  A busted love relationship brings down everything else.  You may not be sure what went wrong (especially if you are a guy!), but there’s no denying that the tension needs fixing.  Papering over conflict with smiles and nice talk doesn’t work.  Caving in, going along to get along is worse.  Both attempts are temporary at best and lead to sullen, resentment.  But when someone initiates real repair by doing whatever is necessary to truly reconcile the broken relationship, the results can be exhilarating.

It was God Who took the initiative to repair our broken relationship with Him.  Paul described it like this:

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him (Jesus – See: Seeing the Invisible),  and through him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. –  (Colossians 1:19-20 – with my comment)

Carefully note that it was God Who took the initiative.  And, He did not give in and say, “Let’s just pretend everything is OK now.”  He did everything necessary to truly repair the break.  The sobering, necessary cost was the blood payment for our sin.

Notice also that His act reconciled “all things” to Himself, not the other way around.  When you reconcile your bank statement, in almost every case it is your figures that must be adjusted to match the bank’s record; you change to reconcile to the bank.  God did not lower Himself to adjust to our sinfulness, but reached down through Jesus to lift us up to Himself.

The end result is peace.  Peace is not pretending to get along, it is the absolute, settled, restoration of the way things between us were always meant to be.  Peace wipes out all tension.  God, through Jesus, made this peace.  He took the initiative and He accomplished it.

You know, because you have been there, when your partner makes the first move to reconcile your relationship, it requires a certain humility to receive that act of love.  But if you are willing, you exchange brittle tension for peace and joy.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ … God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation…We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 – excerpts)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

Red Pencil

As it came time to bury Ann Maree’s ashes, I began looking through her Bible, to see what passages and verses meant the most to her.  Easy enough to tell; she had a red pencil and carefully underlined her favorites.  Your eye was automatically drawn to the places her heart hung out.  Especially The Psalms; some of those wound up looking like a grammar school theme after Mrs. Owens was done with it.

I was also taken by the lines she did not highlight, contrasting them to those she did.  For example, consider some lines from Psalm 31.  As Stage 4 bladder cancer continued its inexorable siege, you might think she would have underlined this:

“Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.” – (Psalm 31:2)

But she did not.  No frantic plea for healing.  No desperation.  Instead, she settled herself with this:

Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”  –  (Psalm 31:3) 

Through her red pencil, she said, “I know I can trust you, even in the midst of this final struggle, so please, God, show me what I should do.” 

I was gripped with awe.  Ann Maree never made a big public deal about how much she trusted God, but in her quietness and peace, the straps of her faith were cinched tight.

You can see it for yourself, in the rest of what she emphasized with that red pencil:

“But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands…” –  (Psalm 31:14-15a)

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you.”  –  (Psalm 31:19a)

“Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me…”  –  (Psalm 31:21a)

“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.” –  (Psalm 31:5)

A Greeting and Blessing

When someone is hurting and you do not know what to say, there are two good words that work pretty well.  They were commonly used as greetings in Bible letters but were filled with sincerity and deep meaning.  I’m talking about “grace” and “peace.”

Like this: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father.” (Colossians 1:2b, and more than a dozen other places)

The first word, grace, is a prayer that God would bestow upon you, by His grace, all the things that in your heart would really help. The second word, peace, is a continuation of that prayer, that God’s grace will have its full effect on your inner being.

The problem with knowing what to say when someone is suffering is we don’t really know exactly what will help.   If we say, “I know how you feel,” it is frequently received by the person who is suffering as yet another wound.  They silently protest, “How could anyone possibly know how I feel when I can hardly work it out myself?”.  But God truly knows  and also how to help.  By His grace He can restore peace.  The heaviness of heart is lifted. Anxious thoughts are soothed away.  Sorrow is held and gentled.  Fear is replaced with hope. And all this by God’s perfect grace and peace.

So, try saying, ” Grace and peace to you from God.” And mean it.