Tag Archives: peace

Strive For Peace And Holiness…

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 – Scripture of the Day (January 15, 2014)

Jesus said that the peacemakers will be blessed (Matt. 5:9).  The Holy Spirit commanded us to be at peace with all if possible, so far as it depends on us (Rom. 12:18).  Jesus implied that being peaceable was an indicator that you are the salt of the earth (Mark 9:50).  The kingdom of God consists of peace along with righteousness and joy (Rom. 14:17).  Christians are commanded to live in peace by aiming for restoration, comforting one another, and agreeing with one another (2 Cor. 13:11).  Division and contentiousness are condemned (1 Cor. 1:10ff; Tit. 3:9-11).

In like manner, holiness (being different, set apart from the world) is essential for salvation.  That sanctification comes only from the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17), which is holy itself and which will be rejected by those who are not peaceful (Matt. 7:6).  Dedicating our entire lives to God is what makes us holy and acceptable to him (Rom. 12:1).  He chose the church before the events of Genesis for one purpose: to be holy (Eph. 1:4), and that was also why he died on the cross (Col. 1:22).

To be at peace.  To be holy, different from the world.  That’s a big part of what true Christianity is all about.

Do Not Think That I Have Come To Bring Peace To The Earth…

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:34 – Scripture Of The Day (January 13, 2014)

The most common question about this verse which I as a preacher receive usually goes something like this:  “How can Jesus say this when he is the Prince of Peace and the angels were talking about peace on earth the night he was born?”

Good question, and the biblical answer revolves around context (as is usually the case with most questions about what the Bible says.)  Yes, Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy about the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).  Yes, Jesus and his apostles promoted peace in their teachings (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 14:19; 2 Cor. 13:11; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 2:14-17; 4:3; 1 Thess. 5:13; 2 Tim. 2:22).  So why does Jesus seemingly contradict himself by saying, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth”?

This verse comes in the middle of a discourse in which Christ is sending his twelve apostles throughout Israel to preach the gospel of the kingdom and is telling them what to expect (Matt. 10:1ff).  He warned them that they will suffer severe persecution due to preaching his message…but to not fear because God is with them (vs. 16-33).  It is in that context – the context of warning them about how sinful men will react to God’s message that they preach – that he tells them that he has come to bring a sword rather than peace to the earth.  Immediately after making that statement, he alluded to how even families will be divided because some will heed his message while others will not (vs. 35-39).  Thus, the lack of peace comes not directly because of Jesus, but because sinful men reject his teachings of peace.

What was true then is true today.  I just read of a Christian missionary who was hacked to death by a husband simply for baptizing his wife.  Faithful Christians have always been disowned, ostracized, fired, spit upon, bullied, beaten, or killed for simply following the teachings of Jesus Christ, teachings which promote love, peace, unity, harmony, and good will towards all…yet also have the nerve to say that some actions and attitudes of men are wrong and will lead to hell.  Sinful people don’t like to be told that they’re wrong, and will react in non-peaceful ways to those who tell them so, no matter how lovingly and peacefully.  That’s why following and proclaiming the teachings of Jesus will bring a sword rather than peace.  It’s not Jesus’ fault that happens.  It’s ours.

How do you react to the teachings of Christ…especially when they step on your toes?

The Peace Which Prayer Brings

We live in uncertain times.  I think all of us can agree with that.  Words such as “bankruptcy,” “job loss,” “job insecurity,” “personal debt,” and “fiscal cliff” seem to dominate the news lately.  Dwelling on all of these things adds a tremendous amount of stress to our lives.  As a result, we develop feelings of distress, discouragement, and discomfort in our lives.

What can we do, if anything, to obtain relief from these burdens and pressures we feel everyday?  The answer to this question is found in the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7.  In these two verses of Scripture he writes:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  From these two brief verses come three principles that will help to alleviate the burdens we bear in life.

First, our Lord through his apostle is telling us that we need to develop the right mindset as we deal with our burdens.  Simply put, we are not to be anxious about anything!  Truly, our anxiousness about a matter will not make the situation better nor will it make us feel better.  Anxiety is in effect an unproductive emotion.  Jesus provides us with a wonderful discourse on this topic in Matthew 6:25-34.  I urge you to read this passage, for in it he tells us we should not worry nor be anxious because God will provide what we need when we need it.

Second, Paul tells us that we need to take all our anxieties and give them over to God in prayer.  This makes sense because most certainly God is better able to deal with our anxieties than we are.  He is able to help us in our time of need because he knows what is best for us, and he also has an infinite amount of resources at his disposal to bring us the help we need!  Let us also remember concerning this particular principle that we are to approach him in prayer in a spirit of thanksgiving.  During this week when we focus on the holiday of Thanksgiving, let’s not put as much attention on the good food (as hard as that may be to do) as we do on being grateful for having the food in the first place, as well as the roof over our heads and all the other blessings that God gives us that we take for granted.  (Especially the spiritual blessings that come from being a Christian!)  When we pray with gratitude, we can learn the lesson that focusing on being grateful for what God has already done for us assures us he will continue to take care of all of our needs.

And third, God tells us that if we pray, then peace will replace the anxiety we feel.  And not only will peace replace our anxiety, but that peace will continually protect our hearts and minds.  All of this is possible for those who take the time to cast their cares upon God.  Knowing these truths, we need to ask ourselves why we waste another minute of our lives being anxious, worried, burdened, and overwhelmed.  Let us give God the glory in our lives by being filled with joy and peace rather than anxious.

Hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving!