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Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)
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Not every Bible verse we read may give us peace and comfort initially. A good portion of Scripture is instructional, designed for our well-being particularly when we’re unable to see the bigger picture. This was the
ecase for me four years ago. Romans 13:1-5 was not a comforting piece of Scripture to me, but I discovered peace and comfort in God in my obedience to His word. Like it or not (and I did not) Barack Obama was my president and I was going to submit because God said so. To put it another way: I feared not the man, but the Lord. I still do, therefore #Notmypresident was never an option.
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Now (for me) the tide has turned and I have a sense these Godly directives will be a bit easier for me to follow, but for you maybe not so much. Perhaps these last four years for you were smoother, but now you’re faced with submitting to folks you may very well despise. As I’ve previously outlined – I feel your pain and I can relate to what you’re going through. I am here to tell you that if you truly fear God, you would do well to comply with His directives. In so doing there is peace and there is comfort.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.” (Romans 13:1-5)
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Now of course this is all grand counsel if you are a Christian. If you are not, the Bible and all of God’s tenets are foolishness to you, which happens to be another position I can relate to. The solution for me was to submit to Jesus Christ and His perfect will for my life. Prior to receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, there was no peace or comfort, only temporary solutions to problems that I had absolutely no control over. In Jesus I discovered the solution.
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If you’re still reading and you’re not a Christian, I suspect that perhaps you’re feeling God attempting to draw you closer into a relationship with him. If that is the case, the onus is upon you to respond to Him and I’d encourage you to investigate further.
Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask a question.

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The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion…The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:2a + 4

No Justice–No Peace

noWhile No justice, no peace! is a nice sentiment, and it sounds marvelous when you get a couple hundred people to chant it in harmony, it is not a solution that works towards true peace, at least not in the context it is being used here, It doesn’t work because in order for ‘justice to be just’, it must be applied to everyone. In other words, if you’re demanding justice in a particular situation, then you yourself must be subject to justice in every situation. That’s true justice.  I for one am not ready for that. All things considered, I will choose God’s mercy over His justice any day of the week.

How Then Do We Achieve Peace

The answer is revealed in God’s promise and oath recorded in Psalm 110 (above). The short-answer is Jesus, but why; why is Jesus the solution to warfare, strife, and dissonance?

Consider Melchizedek

For this Melchizedek…first being translated “King of Righteousness, ” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace.” Hebrews 7:1-2

Melchizedek is the high priest who met Abraham after he and 318 servants fought and won a decisive battle against Chedorlaomer and his huge army. Many believe (as I do) that Melchizedek was in reality a Christophany, or an appearance of our Lord Jesus. Regardless what you believe about Mel, the passage from Hebrews 7:1-2 answers the question (in part) as to why Jesus is the only way to everlasting peace.

First Things First

It tells us that Melchizedek means, ‘King of Righteousness,’ and then afterwards, he is called ‘King of peace.’ In this we see that there is an order; righteousness comes before peace. It must! The Psalmist reminds us that Jesus is coming in the order, or ‘style’ of Melchizedek. Jeremiah 23:6 builds on the doctrine similarly:

In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

C. H. Spurgeon put it this way:

“First, King of righteousness.” How early that “first” was, I cannot tell you. “In the beginning was the Word,” but when that beginning was, who knows?—for is He not, indeed, without beginning? First and firstborn, from everlasting You are God, O mighty Son of Jehovah! First, King of Righteousness, and then afterwards, when men fell, when rebellion, strife and war had sprung up—then He came to heal the mischief and become, “King of Peace.” He comes Himself as the Divine Ambassador, our Peacemaker and Peace. He comes here into this place even into the midst of His Salem, into the midst of His people, and gives us, now, as He has long given, the vision of peace—opening up before the eyes of faith the completeness, the sureness and the delight of perfect peace in Himself.”

Only One King of Righteousness

We are not righteous; no man can be unto himself; a quick review of the Ten Commandments will drive that point home. Our righteousness is His righteousness. Christians are clothed in His garment; we are, as Philippians 3:9 declares:

Found in (Jesus), not having (our) own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith

noOnly perfect and true righteousness leads to perfect peace and why Hebrews 6:20 rightly identifies Jesus as our ‘Forerunner’.  This state of being cannot be accomplished on our own. Jesus must lead the way, otherwise we cannot be seen by the Father as righteous, and therefore we cannot attain peace. We can almost picture the football team bursting through the paper banner with Captain Jesus leading the charge, but better yet, we can envision the Temple veil being rent in two after Jesus finished the work on the cross.

No Jesus, no peace,

Know Jesus, know peace.

Jesus be with you,

Peace be with you.

Pray

Believe it or not; like it or not, God loves the Syrian people. He loves them so much that He sent Jesus to die for their sins, just like He did for you in I. Pray that the Gospel message is going out in Syria and that they will take heed and take hold of the promise. Also pray for our nation and our president. The United States does not have to be the ones to fulfill this Bible prophecy. Pray for the unsaved souls and pray for nominal Christians you need revival. Pray that Christ’s righteousness will be the garment of choice so that peace can follow.

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If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22

Believe it or not, heaping burning coals on someone’s head is a good thing. Many Christians have errantly interpreted or have been falsely taught to believe that this verse is suggesting that doing nice things for bad people makes them burn with rage. That is not the implication here at all. God does not reward His children when they do mean or vengeful things. 1 John 1:5 is one of many Bible verses that testifies to this:

…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 

The truth of the matter is a person’s head [Biblically speaking] is a reference to the fire source in a person’s fireplace, stove, or furnace. It is typically the smallest of embers that are kept glowing in order that when a full blaze is desired all that is needed is a little tinder, some kindling and oxygen. Old time engineers would always keep a ‘head’ smoldering in the locomotive, needing only a shovel full of coal to quickly get the boiler cooking. I recall learning in school how native Americans would carry these coals in a portion of a hollowed-out log when they traveled in order to have fire easily available.

At this point you might be thinking that if all that is needed is tinder, kindling, and oxygen to restart the fire, why does the Proverb indicate that our nice deeds are akin to heaping coals (aka: hot embers) on a person’s head if their head already has embers in it?

Good question! 

What’s being conveyed here is that your enemy’s head (his coals) have gone cold, which is a further indication that the enemy in question is not a believer. How do we know he is not a Christian? Because, according to Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 12:20, God does not let the head of a true believer ever go out.

A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench…

So what Proverbs 25:21-22 is actually suggesting is that when we lovingly attend to the needs of our enemies it is an evangelical act as it serves to lead a person to Jesus Christ. Heaping coals is comparable to planting seeds! Our kind acts towards non-believers are likened to heaping embers of faith upon their souls. It’s not an act of rekindling a fire, but bringing a fire to a place where one never existed and doing so in the name, power, and authority of Jesus Christ

  1. What do these passages say about God?
  2. What do they say about us?
  3. Are there changes we can make?
  4. What is your prayer?

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What purpose then does the law serve? Galatians 3:19

Heard on a Plane…

“Would you like a beverage sir or some peanuts?”

“I’ll have a diet coke please.”

“Would you like a parachute as well?”

“Huh?”

“A parachute sir. Your life will be much better if you have one, I guarantee it! In fact, your life will be prosperous, full of peace and joy! Having a parachute is the only way. I have one and you should have one too!”

“Thank you, but I have no need for a parachute. I’m very happy for you though. I’m glad your parachute gives you peace, comfort, and joy.”

The Critical Information

The attendant, not wanting to upset the passenger, failed to tell him that the plane was in fact going down. Why upset him (she must have assumed) when he seemed to be having such a good time. However, failing to share the critical information ultimately would lead to this man’s destruction.

The Purpose of the Law

The Law (the Ten Commandments) lets us know that we are all going down. It does that by letting us know that we are all sinners. Tell most folks about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and omit the Law, they will likely respond that they have no need for saving. They probably consider themselves to be good people.

The Law declares otherwise.

“There is none righteous, no, not one…none who understands; There is none who seeks after God..” Romans 3:10-11

No one seeks after God, at least not until after they realize that God was seeking them first. God sought us first by providing the Law as a mirror. This mirror reveals to us how we truly look to Him: dirty. It is this realization, that we are sinners in need of salvation, that leads us to the parachute that is Christ Jesus.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes… Psalm 19:7-8

One More Time

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

  • Are you going to Heaven?
  • Are you a good person?
  • Do you know the Law?
  • Have you taken the Roman’s Road?

*Two words about analogies: they’re flawed.  Whenever we take a biblical truth and attempt to explain it  by making  a worldly comparison (as I did with the parachute story), we fall short.  While some analogies help us to understand biblical concepts, at the end of the day we must solely rely upon the truth of God’s Word.

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Enter by the narrow gate…wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it…Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

For the Few…

This passage frightens a lot of people.

‘Narrow and difficult’ sounds to them as if the Christian walk is a daunting, practically unachievable task, akin to traversing hell on a high wire. This is not at all the case for the follower of Christ.

Remember, Jesus said,

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Since we have the assurance that there are no contradictions in the Bible, we can know that Jesus would not say ‘come’ to this easy and restful place, and then turn the tables. That notion is contrary to all we know about Jesus.

Nevertheless, the verse reads, ‘narrow and difficult’ is the way, so what are we to make of it?

Narrow

Have you ever fallen off a sidewalk?

Me either.

I’ve been pushed off sidewalks and I’ve been pulled off sidewalks, but I’ve never fallen off one. I have however fallen off of many a curb, but curbs are not sidewalks, are they?

I liken the narrow path of the Bible to a sidewalk, wide enough for perhaps three people to walk abreast; adequate space to walk comfortably with Jesus and perhaps a brother or sister we encounter along the way. Naturally, plenty of room exists fore and aft.

This narrow walkway is a safe place.  Falling is not inevitable, but rather the result of bad choices we make along the way.

Difficult

Do you have a working definition of the word difficult?

Are you sure?

In my quest to unravel the Matthew 7:13-14 passage, I compared the New King James text to the King James text. Interestingly enough I discovered that the KJV version does not read, ‘narrow and difficult,’ it reads ‘strait (straight) and narrow.’

In other words, the KJV version uses the word straight for narrow and the word narrow for difficult.

That led me to Strong’s Concordance where I discovered that while straight does in fact mean narrow, the word narrow (in the Greek) means ‘a compressed way,’ or more specifically, ‘to press (as grapes).’ It occurred to me that this narrow, difficult way being spoken of was in actuality a reference to the sanctification process that naturally occurs as we walk side by side with Jesus.  Sort of a sidewalk and wine-press all rolled into one.

So, the question is…

Is sanctification difficult?

I submit to you that transformation is only arduous to those who are not submitted to it.

If you are one who struggles to maintain fleshly pursuits or wrestles with the idea of being changed, than you likely find your walk with Jesus to be a difficult journey. But if on the other hand, you are submitted to the changes that He wants to make in you, you probably find the walk to be a light burden that is challenging, invigorating, and rewarding.

Having said that, we all struggle in our walks from time to time.

That’s good.

It’s a good thing if we recognize that the difficulty we are experiencing is directly related to our sinful desire to hold onto something that is not pleasing to the Lord. Do you recall the story of the rich, young man? Recognition in this regard can be the catalyst that compels us to ask of God, “Why am I struggling so?”

If we are sincerely seeking the truth, God will answer and identify those things we need to put down and walk away from.

He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6b

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God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13b

We Have the Power

The mystery of our relationship is that Christ Jesus is alive and resides within our very being. All knowledge, wisdom, and power are in Him and He is in us, therefore, we have access to the very things we need to make easy the yoke and light the burden.

Do you know what you have?

The story is told of the gazillionaire, William Randolph Hearst who once saw a photograph of a classic art-piece that he had to have for his extensive art collection. He dispatched his staff to obtain the painting at any cost. They returned with the news that the work of art was not available. The reason being: Mr. Hearst already owned it and had it stored in his warehouse.

Incredible Simplicity

God made it so easy. There is one way: Christ alone. Christ in us, the hope of glory.

That’s it folks. We don’t have to look elsewhere, Christ is ready, willing, and able!

If it’s your testimony that the yoke of Jesus is not easy and His burden is not light, then clearly you are not doing it right. You are in fact wrestling with an Opponent that you cannot beat. At this juncture it would be prudent to open your eyes and gaze upon the face of your Lord and Savior to see He is not your adversary, but your Advocate before the Father.

But…

Didn’t Jesus say that in this world we would have tribulation? Can’t we assume that tribulation and difficulty are synonymous?

You can if you want to, but it’s wiser to equate tribulation to the light burdens Jesus spoke of. In so doing we discover that in Christ they are temporary and bearable. It is the only manner by which a dying Stephen could proclaim,

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit… do not charge them with this sin.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60

Stephen was called to martyrdom and therefore found it to be a light burden to bear. Had he struggled, no doubt it would have been an extremely difficult process to endure.

Tribulation: The Upside

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

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Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

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Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. 2 Corinthians 7:4

Still Struggling?

Somewhere, some good Christian is saying, “You just don’t understand what I’m going through and regardless of what you say, it’s difficult.”

You’re right, I probably don’t fully comprehend your situation, but I do grasp His solution.

Difficulty is heaviness and heaviness is a unique sensation unto itself. The moment it is experienced we instinctively know that we must either put the weight down or seek help to carry it. To deny this awareness is to affirm that you oppose sanctification (you are not submitted to God).  It is at this point where many walk away from Jesus.

Don’t walk away.

We have  promise:

Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Sadly there are few who find the straight and narrow way, because they fail to accept and believe that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life worth living.  Faith on the other hand is the glue that keeps us on the path.

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Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

When it comes to exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it’s obvious that churches have different approaches. Some have the ‘let all things’  part down, but aren’t too keen on the ‘decent and orderly’ perspective, while other congregations have nailed  ‘decent and orderly,’ but might be neglecting some of the gifts. The Apostle Paul adds some clarity by adding another component to the equation.

Let all things be done for edification. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 1 Corinthians 14:27, 33

Who’s Getting the Glory

Edification is just a fancy word for strengthening, or building up another person in the Lord as it pertains to the good of the church.  The root of the word essentially means, ‘to build a house.’ Properly exercised, edification does not take any glory away from God.  Ignored, it produces strife rather than peace. God is the author of peace and where there is no peace there is likely no body-building going on.  And where there’s no strengthening of the body there is probably no order or decency.  Reverse the negative trend and a usable pattern emerges.

All things + Order + Edification = A Strong, Loving, Peaceable Church

“This sounds like my church.”

Then I thought about it more deeply.  I remembered that my congregation, like me, is a work in progress.  If I’m honest, the church I attend is not operating as smoothly, as efficiently, and as effectively as we could.  I further see that I am part of the problem and by God’s grace, part of the solution.   Remembering that Christ is the faithful provider, if the situation is to improve, it can start with me.

I must purpose in my mind to exercise the spiritual gifts I have access to, in an orderly fashion, in a manner which builds up rather than tears down,  for the singular purpose of bringing glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am not saying that this is a work we must do.

If anything, it’s a commission that we get to do.  If there’s a sense of obligation that comes  from anywhere other than gratitude, the effort is of little use because it’s misguided. Our motivation in this realm is directly proportionate to gratitude, and if it isn’t, then a reexamination of doctrinal terms ‘deliverance and redemption’ would be in order.  Why is Communion so important?  This is why.

What are Your Thoughts

  1. What does your church like?
  2. What would your church like if it were filled with a hundred of you?
  3. Do you have gifts you’re ignoring?
  4. Are you ‘in order’ or ‘out of order’?
  5. How’s your gratitude?

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There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you. Deuteronomy 18:10-14

The following remarks are for the Christian.

  • Read the Deuteronomy passage above.
  • What does God say about witches and witchcraft?
  • Notice the terms, ‘shall not’ and ‘abomination to the Lord.’ What do they mean to you?

Now read the Romans passage below.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32

Meditate on the last portion of the last sentence for a moment, “…Those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Did you notice the two distinct groups of people who are deserving of death?

  1. Those who practice such things.
  2. Those who approve of those who practice them.

Today’s blog presupposes that you are a) a follower of Jesus Christ and, b) you don’t practice these abominations to the Lord, at least I certainly hope that is the case.

But I’ve noticed something. There are far too many Christians who approve of those who do practice such things. Be warned. According to God, such acceptance is worthy of death. In light of the truth…

Why do you dress up your children as witches and warlocks?  Why do you have cutesy witch decorations in and around your home?  Why in the world would you embrace books and movies that glorify witchcraft?

“Dave,” you say, “just calm down; you are overreacting.”

If you believe these observations are an overreaction, do you also believe that God arbitrarily inserted these verses into His Word the Bible and that they have no meaning or justification? I submit to you that He did not–God means what He says and a wise person should give heed to His word.

Stop

Stop trying to justify your actions. Simply obey the Lord and in so doing you will discover that your walk with the Lord is easy and fruitful. In contrast, the anxiety Christians often experience comes when we struggle against the truth. Surrender to the Way and receive from God the peace that surpasses all understanding.

You know the whole witch-thing is wrong. You always have. For God’s sake, just let it go.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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