Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Peace I Give Unto You

There is much talk of peace these days. There is also much talk of war.

As the Armies of the world converge on Jerusalem - we hear of U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Pope, and the UN. There is much talk about support for the nation of Israel or lack of support for Israel, stand with Israel, stand with the Palestinians, Israel should be able to defend themselves, Israel is too heavy handed, what to do in Gaza, what about these Muslim extremist groups - ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood. Then there's Russia, Vladimir Putin, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Iran, Hassan Rouhani, Ali Khamenei, North Korea, Kim Jong-un, Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. These are all names you have heard in the news. All of them attached to war in one way or another.

Just as Jesus said, there are wars and rumors of war.

Many people, maybe most people pay no mind to such things. These are things that happen in some other country far away and far removed. Clueless. They couldn't care less. They go about their daily lives, fiddling with their iPhones and X-boxes, watching World Cup soccer and fantasy football, they eat, they drink, they buy, they sell, they plant, they build. (Luke 17:27-28)

However, we are told to "watch" so that we may discern the signs of the times. As we observe our moral foundations being dismantled we can feel overwhelmed at times and mourn in our spirit. We see the greed and covetousness on Wall Street as well as Main Street; People putting stuff ahead of people. We see the idolatry of self and celebrity. We see sex promoted everywhere we look. We see the statistics on STDs and abortions. We see the glorification of homosexuality and their unrelenting agenda. We hear stories of gangs and drug cartels and the lack of security on our borders. We hear of racial tension and riots in Ferguson, MO. We see all these things and we're reminded of the blessings and cursings God promised in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 in accordance with our obedience to Him.

This country has been so richly blessed. We had it all. But we see the train wreck coming. We try to warn people and try to explain why from our Bibles. We get into conversations with people about the state of things and the eventual downfall of America if we don't change our ways and though we may find a sympathetic ear, it stops there. The conversation stops short of what to do about it. Oh, there may be some mention of 2Chron 7:14 and national prayer events but we know there is little chance of our leaders let alone our entire nation humbling themselves, and praying and seeking God's face and turning from our wicked ways that He might heal our land.

 I recently watched the movie, "America: Imagine the World Without Her" by Dinesh D'Souza. It is quite an interesting movie that discusses how history has been rewritten and reinterpreted to portray America as an imperialistic, evil empire that has gotten its way through force and exploitation. Though Mr. D'Souza did a good job of setting the record straight about how history really played out, he stopped abruptly short of a solution for our national decay. None was offered or even attempted.

Many see the destruction just ahead and cry out, "People better wake up! Wake up people!". Okay, I'm awake. Now what? They don't have a solution. They don't know what to do. The way of peace they know not. (Isa 59:8) They know not peace because they treat the symptoms of circumstance - the elements of conflict. They put laws in place to govern and monitor people's behavior in an attempt to control and protect. Under the guise of 'peace and safety' they lay the groundwork for sudden destruction. (1Th 5:3) They do not deal with the heart; the root cause. They cannot. Only God can do that.

But take heart my friends, we do know the way of peace. The answer is spiritual in nature. Jesus Christ gave us the formula for maintaining a sense of peace in John chapter 14. Though we may not be able to set the world on the right path to peace or even our nation, we can know peace on an individual personal basis. Not peace as the world thinks of peace but true peace, the peace of God within and trusting in Him for our deliverance even while in the midst of turmoil and trouble.

Turn to John chapter 14. After Jesus had washed their feet and after Judas Iscariot had departed to betray Him, Jesus prepared his disciples for what lie ahead; His crucifixion and their scattering. He tells them they must keep his commandments. Then, He tells them to keep his words, to call to mind the things he told them. He tells them of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send to lead them and guide them and help them recall all the things he said to them. 
John 14:23-26 (KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (24) He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (25) These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. (26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, it shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 
 Then he says -
John 14:27 (KJV) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

 Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. He was speaking of inner peace, calmness of spirit despite what is going on around us. Where did God tell us He would write His laws and His statutes? On the tablet of our hearts and in our minds. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Tim 1:7)

Throughout the Psalms, King David wrote of his love for God's law, His words, and how he would meditate on them day and night. O, how love I thy law! It is ever with me; It is my meditation all the day in my thoughts. (Psa 119:97) We have a song we sing containing these very words. (Hymn #72) Though we may see moral decadence, or even death and destruction all around us, we are not to be overly concerned about these things. 
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isa 26:3) 
 God is on His throne. He is still in charge. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. (Psa 91:10) Psalm 91 is a wonderful Psalm to read when you're feeling stressed. Instead of worrying and becoming disheartened, we are told to rejoice in the goodness of God. (Rom 8:28) To stay focused on the exceeding great and precious promises He made to us. (2Pet 1:4) To weary not in well doing (2Th 3:13; Gal 6:9) and to continue to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Mat 6:33)

Let's look at Philippians chapter 4. It can only be by focusing our minds, putting our attention on the things of God just like David did, that we can have true peace amidst the turmoil and chaos around us. Peace even when it doesn't make sense. 
Php 4:4-8 (NKJV) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! [not worry] (5) Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 
 That doesn't mean to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that there is no trouble in the world around us. Or to skip merrily through life clueless to the signs of the times signaling the end of the age. Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. It means to put our faith and trust in our God who loves us and wants what's best for us even while witnessing to those in pain and suffering all around us. 
John 16:33 (KJV) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; [Rejoice!] I have overcome the world. 
 God is our refuge and our strength. Put your trust in God. God will set things right. He will send His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ to straighten it all out. Christ will rule for a thousand years on this earth until God puts all things under his feet (1Cor 15:24-28). And we get to be there with him to help so trust in God. In His timing. He is faithful that promised. (Heb 10:23) He is faithful who called you and he will also do it. (1Th 5:24) Let the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. And nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:39)


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Who Am I

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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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