Posts Tagged peace

The New Kingdom

Romans 14: 17

The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has already established his kingdom here in the earth. He called it the Kingdom of God and it is mentioned no less than 51 times in the gospels. It is said that Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God (Luke 8: 1) but what are the characteristics of this kingdom? We get different segments of that answer in the New Testament, especially in the gospels but also in the letters. In today’s verse Paul writes about the values of the kingdom.

I have read many English versions of this verse and in so doing arrive at a much clearer understanding than in reading only this, the New American Standard Version. For example, the New Century Version reads, “In the kingdom of God, eating and drinking are not important. The important things are living right with God, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The picture begins to reveal itself. Paul is defining what has value in the Kingdom of God. The Passion Translation reads, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy.” The Kingdom is not all about rules. In the Kingdom what is most important is that we follow God, follow His ways. The Kingdom is not about works of the flesh or self-stylized righteousness. In Jesus’ Kingdom, legalism falls at the feet of love and devotion to God and our fellow human beings; even in devotion and kindness to all of God’s creation including the animals and the earth itself. Further, the Kingdom of God is living in the realm of the Holy Spirit. That is what the kingdom is and in that place there is ever-abiding joy, peace and righteousness.

There is a difficult lesson in this. This verse flies in the face of the law. Sometimes we separate God made law from the man-made laws which has so imprisoned us. The problem here is that there were laws about food which were given by God. Food and drink choices were a major separation between Jews and all the other nations. Now Paul writes that the rules about food are not important in the Kingdom of God. Other laws fall as well because Paul is revealing that living in Christ is the key, not legal adherence to rules of law. Living right with God is righteousness, being in your right place with Him and that trumps law. This teaching would have been a major challenge for the first century church who stood upon the law. It challenges us as well but let us look at another translation.

The God Word Translation brings the image of the Kingdom of God into even greater clarity, “God’s kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks. Rather, God’s kingdom consists of God’s approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives.” Do you see that the Kingdom of God is not a work-based realm? The right to live in it is not earned either. Our right standing in God, or living right with God, was purchased by Jesus. When we live in Him and the Spirit rather than in the work of our hands and minds, then we are in the kingdom and to live in the Kingdom means you automatically have God’s approval. You do not have to earn it. You do not have to measure yourself by a book of rules, and you do not need to worry. God is for you. He approves of you just as you are. Isn’t that a refreshing concept? You have favor with God.

Jesus established His kingdom in the Holy Spirit. He came preaching this kingdom which depends upon living in the Spirit and the Spirit living within you. Jesus’ message confounded and infuriated the preachers of his day because membership wasn’t earned and, equally important, because he consistently spoke about us in him and him in us, and his being one with the father, all of which was crazy talk to them. The same is true today, really. Revelation still tends to blow the top off our heads but that is Jesus’ way. As soon as you get a handle on one thing, he stretches you over to the next mountain top. But, truly, it is a fun way to live and we see from this verse that when we take the giant leap of faith to live in and by the Spirit of God, there is complete peace, shalom. Paul also lets us know that if we are not in joy, then we are not deep enough in the Spirit. Joy is in the Spirit of God. Remember that Jesus said he left his peace here for us to live in (John 14: 27). Then he gave us his Spirit. Therefore, it is an easy conclusion to reach that joy and peace are ours in him.

In Him, then is the Kingdom of God. And in the Kingdom there is complete approval, joy and peace. Is that good news? If you have ever felt left out or unaccepted it is time for your joy to come to full measure because in Jesus’ kingdom, the Kingdom of God, you are accepted. It is no longer about the rules but rather about seeking the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and leaning into him daily.

Guarded Treasure

John 14: 27

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.

Jesus was leaving planet earth. He told his disciples what was to come. Can you even imagine how distraught they must have been? I place myself in their shoes and it seems devastating. Not only were they about to lose their leader, but also their best friend and even beyond that, their Lord. He was everything to them, truly. Then he announced he was leaving. Oh, heart of woe!

Jesus knew the anguish of their souls. I am sure he was feeling sorrow as well and probably concern for them. He gave them something to soothe their souls, a promise for their well-being. He told them that he was going to leave his peace here for them. That would have been a profound statement to them because they had witnessed him remain cool under tremendous pressure. They knew his peace was special.

This same peace is available to us today. He left his peace here on the earth for whoever wishes it or needs it. In his peace is such tranquility. It literally has calming, restorative breath in it. It enables us to face trying situations without raising our blood pressure. In his peace we have the ability to face all manner of challenging circumstances while remaining in calm confidence instead of dread and panic.

You can see that it is very precious. One of the things our heavenly Father told me in my journaling is that the devil wants to steal this peace from me. Father encouraged me to resist the devil’s attempts to steal my peace, that is the peace which Jesus gave me. I see how valuable it is and that is was a key component in Jesus’ last days. He knew each one of us would need his help on a daily basis and his peace was the treasure he gave. The Father showed me that this gift should be guarded.

Don’t let anyone have what Jesus has given you, whether that be his peace, freedom, salvation, acceptance, redemption, etc. Why should I give some idiot on the freeway the power to steal the peace Jesus gave me? What stressor is important enough to you to allow it to steal your peace? There is nothing that is worth it. Hang on to this valuable treasure from Jesus. Peace is health, it is feeling good. Don’t let it go!

Shod

Ephesians 6: 15

Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

What a funny word, “shod”. Of course it means having put on shoes. Shoes are part of the armor of God, part of what protects us as we stand firm against the enemy. This piece of armor, though, seems to be the most misunderstood of all. Let’s see if we can unravel the meaning in this verse and gain a functional revelation.

The key question, I have found, is, “How do I put on the armor?” Today’s verse actually reveals the answer. We shoe our feet by preparing ourselves in the gospel. Do you see that? The shoes are not shoes of peace. They are armored shoes but the way you obtain and wear them is by preparing yourself through time and attention given to the Word of God.

Shoes may seem rather mundane but think of it this way. Our feet are the one place where we come in contact with the world. We need insulation from the world and its ways. We need a barrier between us and worldly influences. Our shoes provide that protective barrier. Also, if one is to “stand” firm then not only are our feet the point of contact but they are also our foundation. Feet are required for standing so the feet are a focal point.

So far we have considered our belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. We discovered that Jesus is the truth, and that he is our righteousness. So, what do you think about the gospel? John 1: 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Are you seeing a recurring theme here? Jesus is our victory. He has prepared our armor so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Our part is to put on Jesus. In the case of our shoes, it is done by spending time in the Word. This isn’t a magic pill. The truth is that the Word just arms you for battle. It prepares you to stand. Your confidence is found in the Word.

Why, though, do you think Paul called it the gospel of peace? Several reasons really but the main one for this application is that peace is what we are desirous of. We do not put on the armor of God because we like to fight or want to fight. We are not aggressors. We don the armor of God because we want peace. Jesus has provided the means by which we can live in peace. It begins with truth wrapped around us like a belt, followed by a layer of protection over our hearts called righteousness or being right with God. Then we put on shoes or protection from the ills the world would invade our lives with by spending time with Jesus in his capacity as the Word. Your preparation in the gospel of peace will ground you. It will give you good, solid footing. You will not stumble when you have prepared yourself in the gospel. Invest your heart and some time in the Word. It will stand you in good stead.

Take Heart

Luke 10: 19

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

I have written to you recently about the authority of the church over the power of the enemy. This is a delicate and somewhat perplexing topic but by writing to you about it I hope to encourage clarity or at least inspired consideration. The problem is that as a body, we seem uncertain about our position relative to the devil. Does he have any power? Is he a defeated foe? Why is there any Biblical discussion about “the enemy” since Jesus marched into hell and took the keys from Satan?

These are all very good questions and important ones. If you actually have an enemy but are unaware that said enemy is plotting against you, then you are defenseless. If you are conscious of the enemy, is it possible to give him too much credit and subsequently fall victim to another deception, that of chasing demons? We are not naïve. We know by now, and the scriptures inform us, that there is an enemy and his name is Satan. He has been the enemy of humanity since the beginning. The real question seems to be, what power and/or influence does he wield today? The parallel question is, didn’t Jesus’ victory whip the devil forever? Good question – glad you asked.

Today’s verse encapsulates the answer. I will state it this way even though it is a bit of an overstatement, Jesus defeated the devil, but have you? What I intend to imply is that Jesus has done his part but there is still something we must do in order for his victory to be effective in our lives. Look again at today’s verse. Jesus said he has given power to us. Okay, that is easy enough to understand but why need he give power to us if he has already defeated the enemy? He said, “nothing shall by any means hurt you.” There is a huge assumption in this last statement though, the assumption being that we have employed the power he has given us.

Because of Jesus’ victory we too can stand victorious against the devil. Too many of us believe, erroneously, that Jesus’ victory gives us a free pass. That is to say, sometimes we think we do not have to do anything in order to live the triumphant life Jesus won for us. I thought the same thing as a young person. I thought being a Christian meant that I should live a, relatively, care free, trouble free life. Well, I learned better and frankly, that belief is not even scriptural. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble,” (John 16: 33). That is a clear statement of fact. However, it is not the end of the story and here is where Jesus’ triumph over Satan comes in. The end of John 16: 33 records Jesus saying, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In other words, yes, the world will bring you trouble and you will be troubled all the days of your life UNLESS you apply Jesus’ overcoming power. Jesus said being “in him” is the victory that overcomes the world. This is the key point we must come to understand. Jesus won the victory for us but it is we who must overcome using that which he has provided. In him is peace, perfect peace. So take heart and use all that Jesus won for you.

Peace, Peace

Matthew 10: 13

If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.

Jesus talked about peace or blessed people with peace quite a number of times. Before he left the earth he even made a point of leaving his peace here with us (John 14: 27). What is so compelling about peace that caused him to frequently say, “Go in peace” or “peace be with you?” We have to dig into our Hebrew roots to get an appreciation of this peace which Jesus speaks of and even directs us to bless others with.

The Hebrew word is Shalom, and it is very rich with many shades of meaning. The simplest way to describe the Jewish idea of peace is wholeness in every area of life, or I have heard others say, “nothing missing, nothing broken.” This necessarily means that your health is not broken, your finances are whole, your relationships fruitful, your spirit vital, and every other facet of life you can think of functions perfectly. When Jesus, or any other Jew, says “peace” to you, they have spoken a blessing which covers every aspect of your life. Now, consider today’s verse. Does it take on more meaning?

Jesus intimates in this passage that we have the right and perhaps even the obligation to speak a blessing of peace on the households of others. This may manifest in you praying peace as you enter a friend’s house. Maybe you are invited to attend a party or even a Bible Study at someone’s house. You can give that home YOUR blessing of peace. In so doing, you are speaking wholeness to that household – nothing missing, nothing broken. That is a powerful privilege the Lord Jesus has given us. So, think of that as you visit people’s homes and maybe also stop at your own front door and speak “Peace.”

Unshakable Love

Isaiah 54: 10

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the Lord who has compassion on you.

You’ve got to love this verse. Some of you are going through challenges right now so this must be really good news for you. No matter how rough things get, even if there is a calamity so great that the mountains are reduced to rubble; even if the hills quake, you will remain in God’s loving embrace where He can look after you. No matter how dire the situation, God’s love will not be shaken. In your loneliest of times, in the most stressful situations, the Lord our God, loves you. His devotion to you cannot be shaken despite the circumstances. Even when you are paying Him no attention, He is alert and watching over you. He awaits your return.

This verse says that no matter what, His lovingkindness will not be removed from you. That means there is no power strong enough, no situation dire enough to shake His love from you. There is no darkness deep enough or pain strong enough to separate you from His love. The only power in this earth or beyond that can separate you from the love of God is you. As long as you are steadfast and do not reject Him, then you can trust that His love and affection are present for current circumstance.

Did you know that Father has a covenant of peace? It goes back to the beginning of time however, it was fulfilled in the person of Jesus, our Messiah. Jesus is the prince of peace so as long as you are holding on tightly to him, no one can steal your peace. Sometimes you just have to whisper his name to remind yourself that no power or person has authority over the peace Jesus left for you. You may have to write out John 14: 27 on a 3 X 5 card and place it in a prominent location while you are working through the challenge.

Be reminded, daily, that nothing can remove Dad’s love from you nor steal the peace pact He has with you. Keep today’s verse in front of you and realize there is not one moment of any day that the Father does not love you with all He is. His devotion to you is larger than the universe and it is a source of great strength. Be safe and secure in the absolute knowledge that your Father loves you and has provided peace for you. Let Him love you and hold you in His safety.

That’s Life

Romans 8: 5 – 6

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.

I hope you have been enjoying this abbreviated look at the life Christ bought for us and I hope you have a bigger idea of what your life now is supposed to be like. It is a Deuteronomy 28 and beyond lifestyle and it is all yours in Christ. Once you die to your old ways and thoughts, you can move into the new life in Christ.

The Greek word used here and translated as “life” is zoe. There are other Greek words which also are translated as life. The use of this particular word is significant, though. Zoe, means the God kind of life. Vine’s Expository Dictionary says this is “life in the absolute sense, life as God has it, that which the Father has in Himself.” We have become partakers of God’s life through belief in Jesus as the Messiah.

We had one kind of life before Christ. We can continue to live in that kind of life even after salvation if we so choose but for those who decide to crucify the flesh, there is newness of life and that is this zoe, or God life. The life force of God is available to those who decide to give up self and live to Christ.

I don’t think we are even beginning to understand this life of God and the impact it can have on us when it becomes resident in us. I know I cannot fully appreciate it yet because I still worship self too much. I still think my old way at times, react in old ways and have my wants and desires enthroned in the temple of Ivey instead of making Jesus the absolute center of my world.

What happens in a life that truly is abandoned to God? What could our lives really be if we could learn to crucify our self-centeredness? I don’t know but I believe we could live way beyond anything we are currently experiencing, beyond what we can imagine. I don’t think it would be life as we know it. It is easy to think that if we have God’s actual life force at work in us then nothing would, or even could, be impossible.

I hope this week’s verses have caused you to ponder the possibilities. As Christians, where are we now? Where could we be? What could life hold for us and those we may impact if we could wrap our heads, or better, our spirits around the concepts found in these verses? What would it mean to your personal existence if the life of God filled you to overflowing? I want that for you, for all of us. I would also love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Post a note or send a reply. I pray zoe for you.

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