Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16
For many years I was in search mode with my faith. I kept searching for something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. At first, I thought it was to be accepted. Then I turned to searching for joy. I finally landed on the underlying need for all my searching – peace. I realized what I wanted each and every day was to wake up with sense of peace, go through my day with peace and lay down my head at night peace-filled.
In a recent Bible study I did by Christian teacher Jackie Hill Perry on the book of Jude, she explained the two different types of Christian peace. 1) Peace with God and 2) Peace from God.
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
During the Christmas holidays one of the great misunderstandings or misuses of Bible words are “peace on Earth.” So many non-Christians (and probably many self-identified Christians) think this means no war, no strife. But the “peace” we can be so thankful for is the peace we now have WITH God after we repented and entered into a life of submission to Him. In effect, our relationship, which was fractured, is now repaired. Secondly, the peace with get FROM God is the knowledge that He is in ultimate control of this world and we know our final place will rest with Him in eternity.
Although it’d certainly be awesome if this world were to stop being at war with each other, if violence wasn’t an everyday occurrence, I know that the unrepentant man will always act for the passions of the flesh.
Now that my search is complete, I am working every day to live in God’s gift of peace. I can easily fall into the well-worn paths of the world that I created but I’m forging a new road with His help.
For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name. 16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”
When we picture warcraft during the United States Revolution we typically envision lines of soldiers from each side marching toward each other. Here’s a description by the American Battlefield Trust:
“Under normal circumstances, 18th century combat entailed that two armies march toward one another, shoulder to shoulder, and usually in ranks of about three men deep. When the opposing sides were within range, orders were given to halt, present arms, to fire, and then to reload.
After several volleys, one side gained the upper hand, and they would begin to close the distance with the enemy, bayonets lowered. This typically culminated in a full out charge at close quarters; sabers, bayonets, and rifle butts were used to sweep the enemy from the field and claim victory.”
And how did one side get the “upper hand?” The lines would break down either by death, injury or desertion. The battle would be won or lost based on who could hold their line the longest.
We Christians have been in a similar battle since the time of Christ. We link arms in communion and espouse the greatness of God to unbelievers. We are tasked, by God, to go out into our communities and battle against evil through our works, our testimony, and our telling of the Good News of the gospel.
However, from my, albeit, limited experience so many of us have chosen to desert our place on the battlefield. I live in a very liberal state within the United States. Church and Christians are not valued members of many communities. In fact, we are frequently described as racist, hateful, bigots because of our adherence to the teachings in the Bible. And that, I believe causes us to shirk our duties as soldiers for God.
I know too many people who feel uncomfortable sharing the Word of God. Some are afraid to even mention their faith in the course of conversations at work. And yet, it is this responsibility that Jesus gives us. We are not called to be closet Christians, afraid of what to say, how to say it and when to say it. God himself promises to put the right words in our mouth at the right time. We just need to be willing to do the one thing that we are called to do – obey Him.
My BSGs did a study on The Armor of God (Ephesians 6). What stood out to me is the preparation we are admonished to complete before taking up the final Word of God.
Therefore, put on the full armor
of God, so that when the day of
evil comes, you may be able to
stand your ground, and after you
have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of
truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness
in place, and with your feet
fitted with the readiness that
comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up
the shield of faith, with which you
can extinguish all the flaming arrows
of the evil one. Take the helmet
of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:13-17
Once we have studied and learned the character and promises of God we need to pray to have Him send us out into the world and speak His words. Each morning when we rise, we should ask God to place someone in front of us that day to whom He needs to say something. And be watchful and ready for that moment. He will give you the words to speak.
Do not merely listen to the word,
and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.James 1:22
A few years ago, I held on to that promise of God’s words when my daughter and I were in a great battle. We were pushing and pulling constantly. She was off at college and her faith was growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the organization Athletes in Action. But each time we would talk it would end in a fight or tears. I finally prayed to God to give me His words to bring this battle to an end.
One day as we talked, the Holy Spirit gave me these words to say, “I’m so glad your faith is growing. I can see that you have learned how to give a lot of grace and forgiveness to your friends and teammates. I know that I fail you frequently in trying to not hold on too tight to you. What I’m asking for is some of that same grace and forgiveness.”
God’s words, spoken through me, began our path toward reconciliation. I just needed to stop trying to speak my thoughts and my desires and instead let God do the heavy lifting.
God needs us to fill our spot on the battlefield line. He can give us all the tools we need – including the right words to say. We just need to show up and hold the line.
Join me starting January 11 for my next series! Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help create a vision of you! The words we speak and think and pray have a great impact on our life. We will embark on a journey of praying changes into our lives. New Year’s resolutions have nothing on what God can accomplish when we ask for miracles to transform us!
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
As I write this, we are only a few weeks away from Christmas. Around this time, we frequently see the phrase, “Peace on Earth!” But like so many popularized snippets in the Bible the meaning can be confused when interpreted from a worldly point of view. “Peace” so often means a lack of something – strife, war, noise, chaos. But in God’s universe, it is an addition of something.
Having grown up in San Diego I had the fortunate experience of learning to sail. As a Girl Scout, I started out in small, one-man sabots. Eventually, I became skilled at sailing catamarans and larger sloops. I’ve even been a crew member on an old sailing ship which sailed the 31 miles from Long Beach Harbor across the ocean to Santa Catalina Island. What an amazing trip! On many of those sailboats you’ll find what’s called a set of lifelines. They run from stem to stern along the edge of the boat. Its purpose? To be used as a last chance handhold before plunging into the water.
That’s how I see God’s peace brought into our world and more specifically my life. Peace, as brought about by the coming of Jesus, is not the lack of something, it’s the addition of our new lifeline. God promises throughout the Old Testament that He will send His messenger to wipe way our tears and to bring us salvation. And when Jesus arrived, so many people misunderstood His purpose. It was not to become an earthly king and conquer all our physical adversaries. He came to teach us that His ways are higher and His love for us so great. You see God doesn’t always want to change our circumstances, but He always seeks to change us. When we study how Jesus handled strife and chaos and follow in His ways we live in peace.
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
This bringing of His Peace – the incarnation of Jesus – was more clearly defined for me this year. About 11 months ago, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I love my mother-in-law as my own mom. She has taught me so much about Jesus and His ways. She has shown me grace when I didn’t deserve it. She has provided a warm and loving place for me to land when life has been too much. I had been praying fervently for a more positive diagnosis.
So that day, I went for a long walk through our nearby, secluded canyons and yelled out loud at God. Yes, I yelled at the Almighty. I pleaded with Him to not take her from me yet. My heart, mind and soul were the opposite of peace. And like the boat lifeline, He suddenly placed Himself between me and going off the deep end. His Holy Spirit stood square in front of me and reminded me that death is not the end. He showed me that when the day comes for my beloved mother-in-law to leave this world it would be a joyous one for her. You see, she would be reunited with her own mother. He showed me a picture of the two of them playing their favorite card games, teasing each other, and laughing their heads off. And it made me smile. It filled me with joy.
I had accepted God’s peace. There’s the covenant agreement. He sent His Peace On Earth in the form of His Son. And I accepted it. I frequently try giving it back, but less and less as I place my trust more firmly in Him.
This year of 2020 had been very difficult for many. As a Christian I have grasped a hold of God’s lifeline so often to stay in His peace. It’s important for us to remember that God wants us to live in today, not yesterday or tomorrow. So, when we dream blissfully about how much better 2021 “just has to be,” we make the mistake of missing out on how good God can be for us right now. We miss out on the opportunity to live in His peace.
There has never been a year in the history of the world, after Eden, where there was not disease, strife, war, death and pain. And 2021 will be no different. But God’s promised peace is our lifeline. It will guard our hearts and minds. No matter the dark seas on either side, we can rest in the knowledge of His love and our eternal salvation.
What battles are you facing right now? For me it’s my fears about the direction the country is going. I am a patriot through and through. I’m not a fan of people who twist history to meet their needs for victimization. That may not sit well with people but I will not judge others for living imperfect lives while I, myself, live imperfectly every single day. That being said I can only live in God’s Truth which is the fact that the only battle I have some control over is the one that tries to pull me away from God. . When I don’t first get on my knees and pray; when I don’t continually look to the Lord for guidance; when I don’t trust that God is the ultimate warrior in the battles for Truth and Justice — this is when I need to remind myself to tighten my own warrior belt and take up my shield. . Our real battles are being fought in realms unseen. Our job is to surrender to the knowledge that God will fight for us when we ask. He will beat back the armies that wish to destroy us. And as King Jehoshaphat commanded the people of Judah to act before battle, we need to give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever!” . It’s time to completely turn your battles over to God. Let’s face it, you haven’t had too many victories without Him. Wave your white flag. Get on your knees and pray. . Join me starting July 27 as I begin 30 Days of Praise for all the great things God has done. Follow me to enjoy this journey! http://www.emboldened.net. .