Tag Archives: Peace

Deep Yearning

Need something to smile about?  Check this out:

The reason that makes us smile from deep inside is because we have a knowledge, deep inside, that there is a deep rightness to this kind of peace.  The Bible word for rightness is righteousness.  I take the “eous” out of that word and it feels more natural: rightness.   Yes indeedy, the way things ought to be!

Deep inside each of us there is a place where we yearn for rightness.  We yearn for that kind of peace to be spread out across the world.  That thirst is there because God put it there.  He put it there and He will eventually satisfy it.  Here are some excerpts of what He foretold through the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, about the coming Kingdom of Jesus:

“Righteousness [rightness] will be his [The Messiah, Jesus] belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.” (Isaiah 11:5-7 with my explanations in brackets)

More remarkable than vegetarian lions and bears, people from all nations, even Israel’s former arch enemies, will come to her Messiah and unite with her in true peace!

Imagine,

“In that day the Root of Jesse [The Messiah, Jesus] will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations [other nations, not just Israel] will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.” (Isaiah 11:10-11)

That might sound like “pie in the sky, by and by” except that Isaiah nailed his prophecies over the several hundred year period before Christ, and those about Jesus, His purpose in coming, His death and resurrection.  Isaiah is batting 1000.  When he looks into the future, to envision the Kingdom of Jesus, pay attention.  Especially as he tells of that deep knowledge, that deep yearning being fulfilled.

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)

The folks will not simply be peaceful, but thankful, too:

” In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”” (Isaiah 12:1-2)

Oh, and by the way…   If you look up the word Isaiah used for “salvation” in Hebrew you will discover it is “Yeshua,” the Name of Jesus…

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

 

Peace

What do you want most in this life?  Seriously: make a list and then prioritize it.  What’s on top?  Is “peace” on your list?  If you think about it, peace should be number one.  Not world peace, but personal peace, the kind of peace that comes when we are content and whole, inside and out.  Shalom, the Hebrew word for it, conveys thorough harmony, security and tranquility.  If you couldn’t attain anything else on your list, but truly had peace, it would be better than having them all without peace.

Right in the middle of Jesus’ biggest moment of public triumph, riding into Jerusalem to the deafening cheers of the crowds, He paused on the hill, overlooking the city.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)

Jesus wept for those who, for a thousand personal reasons, could not see Him for Who He was, go to Him and find  peace.  A few days later, He looked into the eyes of His disciples, gathered at supper and said:

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)

Those guys had seen “what would bring” them peace.  They knew the secret.  But what is the secret?  How can we find peace?  Jesus told them:

““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “ (John 16:33)

In Jesus you may have peace.  As we surrender and come to Jesus we come to life in Jesus.   He said,

Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:19b-20)

And in Him is peace.  Jesus knew that some would get it.  He wept for the others.

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

Dealing with Fear

Be afraid; be very afraid!  That’s the message of the news shows on TV.  The more you worry, the better they like it, because worry drives their profit.  What do you worry about?  What keeps you awake at night?  Do you have an answer, something specific?  Me too.  If you would like to worry less, here’s a good word:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” (Psalm 46:1-2)

Whoever wrote those words was living at a time when it was frequently necessary to grab a sword and run out to chop and slash murderous attackers,  It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like.  I’d have been pretty jumpy.  Maybe we have it comparatively easy, but worry can still harass us.   Whatever it is that worries you, let those truths soak in and do their work.

And this:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

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

Jesus and ISIS

How would Jesus tell us to respond to ISIS?  Should we turn the other cheek?  Love our enemies?  Pray and trust God will handle it?  Overcome evil with good?  Certainly Jesus taught all of the above.  However, we must also remember that Jesus:

  • Publicly identified evil and stood against it.

    “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34, NIV)

  • Taught us not to turn away from the needy without helping.

    “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” (Matthew 25:35-36)

  • Commanded us to love one another and that the ultimate act of love is to lay down our own life for another.

    “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)

Jesus’ teachings are directed to us as individuals; they do not easily adapt to directing national policy.

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)

However, we, as a nation, cannot pretend that “strategic patience” is Christlike or good.  We have:

  • Failed to clearly identify evil and oppose it.
  • Failed to help innocent people by providing what they need to defend themselves.
  • Failed to sacrifice our resources and lives out of love for the oppressed.

The day may come when we as individuals can reach out with goodness and love to those who have been our enemies.  The day may come when we can set aside our desire for retaliation and actively work for reconciliation.  Perhaps we may adopt these attitudes as a nation.  But it is wrong for us as a people to dither and do nothing as wicked people torture, enslave and murder others.

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

Can You Hear Him Singing?

At just the right moment, when I really needed to hear these words, a good friend texted me with this:

The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Did you ever sing over your kids? Quiet them with love? When my daughter was an infant I used to sing her to sleep with a song I gradually made up as I held her and danced around. “It’s time for little Muffin, to go to sleep again…” Years later, for my son, I sang an old Merle Haggard tune, “Honky Tonk Moon, shining on my baby and me…” When I sang over my kids, they’d settle down and nod off and I’d experience a peaceful kind of joy. God sings over His kids with joy, quieting them with His love. Wow!

Maybe you think God sings you an Eric Clapton line: “The next time I see you, boy you’d better beware…” But old Zeph says God rejoices over His kids with song; He takes delight in them. If that does not seem possible, consider what he said God has done for His kids:

The LORD has taken away your punishment [on the Cross],
he has turned back your enemy [Satan].
The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; [through the Holy Spirit]
never again will you fear any harm.
[Eternal life]
Zephaniah 3:15 (NIV – with my additions in brackets)

So then, how do you get to be one of God’s kids? John tells us how. Speaking of how Jesus was not “received,” he says:

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
John 1:12 (NIV)

Receive Jesus, and God will be singing over you.

The Same Plan

There was no Plan B.  God’s plan in choosing Israel was to bless “all peoples” (Genesis 12:3).  There is evidence throughout the Bible that this plan has not changed.  It is a strong theme that ties the Old and New Testament together.  Here is an example of that from the prophet, Isaiah, who lived roughly 1000 years after Abraham and 700 years before Jesus:

” This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:1-3)

Isaiah used the word, mountains, to symbolize nations or people groups.  Notice that the plan was for “all nations” to be attracted to “the God of Jacob” (Israel) and to learn “His ways, so that we might walk in His paths.”  God’s blessing comes to those who discover that life works best when they follow the “Manufacturer’s instructions.”  God’s plan is for “many peoples,” “all peoples,” to recognize this simple truth and live by it.  When this plan is fully accomplished, Isaiah foresees international peace!

“…They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4b)

And, with that goal in mind, that he urges the people of Israel:

“Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5)

They could not do it.  Despite being chosen and uniquely blessed, Israel could not bring themselves to “walk in the light of the Lord.”  Nevertheless, God’s plan continued, unchanged, through Jesus.  Born to the people of Israel, He was the “word of the Lord” that would go out from Jerusalem!  Amazing…

Making Peace

Smith and Wesson shares one thing with Kum Bah Yah. They don’t work – not for making peace. You can keep peace with a S&W, hope for peace by sitting in a circle and singing, but making peace is a much tougher thing to do. Making peace is personally costly; it’s not free. Making peace does not impose my will on you. Making peace erases the tension that separates two people, and creates a bond of harmony and unity in its place. Making peace is not easy or common.
When Carlos Bledsoe shot and killed Andy Long in cold blood, what were the odds that their two fathers would one day become good friends? “Tension” is too weak a word for the natural forces separating those two grieving dads. But today, Melvin Bledsoe and Daris Long are more than friends. They work together to try to save the sons of other men (See: https://losingoursons.com). I don’t know the details of how those two men came together, but somebody made peace.
Jesus said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Not peace keepers, not peace protesters, but peace makers.
When He said they would “be called sons of God,” Jesus meant that they would strongly reflect the character of God. Real peacemaking is something God does; it’s not something we humans are very good at. Peacemaking is something the Holy Spirit accomplishes through those in whom He has come to live.
The world has never seen a greater peaceMaker than God, Who loved you so much, He sent His only Son to accomplish everything necessary to erase the tension that separates you from God. Everything, that is, except for you accepting the peace He offered.