How is it possible to be at peace in these troubled times?
The joy of the Lord is my strength. If Satan can take away our joy, he can defeat us. John 7:37 If any man thirst, let Him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
A lot of times when we are trying to learn, studying our Bible, trying to apply it in every area of our life, it is easy to feel like we will never understand. With all the scoffers and doubters surrounding us, with all the rising and seemingly triumphant evil heaping up on every side, it is easy to experience those Peter moments where we deny Him.
It all comes down to whether we are going to believe God is who He says He is, and whether He will do what He says He will do, or whether we won’t believe it. There is no other place to turn, but the Lord. For a long time we really think that if we can’t understand it all, grasp it all, wrap our human minds around all He tells us, then we just cant put our faith in the Lord and His Word. But just think of all the instances in which we put faith in people and things throughout just a normal 24 hour day. We get into our car, and we turn the key, expecting something to happen. We don’t know the inner mechanics of how turning the key starts the engine, we just know that’s what happens when we turn the key. How? Because once upon a time, we turned the key for the first time, and the car started. We did it again, and the car started that time too. Now, sometimes it doesn’t start. But it’s not always the ignition system that is to blame. Sometimes there’s no gas. Sometimes the battery is dead. Just because it doesn’t do what we expect, doesn’t mean we take the car to the scrap yard. There is something wrong, and we hope to get it fixed so things go back to operating the way we expect them to.
After a while in walking with the Lord, you start to not care so much about having to understand every single little “why”, “wherefore” and “how”. It becomes enough, after trying to do it on your own a few times, to know God will see to things.
We trust airline pilots, taxi drivers we never met, elevators we never rode in, even Ferris Wheels and roller coasters. We put a dollar and fifty cents worth, the silly soda machine when we put our money in, the ATM when we punch in our PIN, expecting money to come out. We trust our own legs to hold us up when we put our feet on the floor in the morning, and the floor itself, to uphold us. We put absolute trust, unquestioning trust, and uninformed trust in lots of other things all the time. So why is it so hard to trust God?
Meditate on the law of the Lord, day and night, and you shall be like trees planted by rivers of water.
Who is not looking for some peace right now? Lawlessness is rampant in America and the world at large. Racial division is at an all-time high. Policemen are being assassinated.
Justified through HIs blood, we have peace with God. Peace with God is a good foundation for personal peace in all arenas of our lives. In fact, it is the only foundation.
Saved, but in turmoil? Is there peace in my own heart with myself? I can’t stand to be tortured by my conscience. How about you? We have to clear your consciences if we want peace. If you have conflict with someone, you need to make it right. If you have wronged someone, ask forgiveness and make restitution if at all possible. It’s not fun, but it’s always worth it.
Accept God’s wisdom and design. In all things, and in who God made you to be and the place He put you in.
As far as the people in our lives that are difficult to get along with, we are to do our best to be at peace with others, and the Bible specifically says, “as far as it is possible”. That concedes to the fact that in some cases, it is not possible to be reconciled. Sometimes the other person makes it impossible. And the only way to have peace is to stay away from them. Abraham set an example with Lot, by separating from him. When there are Christians who are not walking in the light, they can’t have peace and unity with Christians who are walking in the light. That’s because the example of the person walking in the light, will convict the one who is not. It will testify against them.
Does turn your stomach and make you angry the things our leaders have done to our nation? This one, I’m going to be honest, is really hard for me. I’m more like old Jonah, “Get ’em, Lord, bring down the fire and brimstone!”
But we are supposed to pray for those in authority. Pray for the people who irritate us the most, because those are the people God sends our way to teach and mold and shape us.
People who meet us should see the peace in us. That is a powerful witness to the unsaved. We are to lead a quiet and peaceable life. There is a quietness and tranquility that should characterize us. If it doesn’t, then something is amiss.
Just do right. When it comes to family interaction, interaction with people in the workplace, in the church, in parking lots and in long slow lines at the store. We can’t live up to everything the Bible teaches us. We can’t renege on the responsibility to continue striving to always do right, because of our past failures, either. God does give credit for trying. There is no excuse for quitting in our effort to be obedient. He is conforming us to His image. I get frustrated at having to go through the same lessons over and over, but that is what life is about as a Christian living as a pilgrim in this world.
Keeping your peace is, in some ways, a matter of practical measures. Put scriptures up on your wall. Satan doesn’t like it. Listen to Godly music. Evil spirits don’t like to hang around that. We have enough in our own flesh to trip us up. We don’t need the help of the enemy and his temptations always hanging around.
When the angels announced the coming Christ, they said “Peace on Earth, good will toward men”. But there has been very little peace on this Earth, ever. There is a peace coming. When Christ Himself will rule with a rod of iron. And into the ages of ages after the final temptation when Satan is released for one more short season. God is not slack concerning HIs promises, as we count slackness. God is not subject to time, rather time is subject to God.
We cannot produce the fruit of peace, or any other fruit of the spirit, we can only bear it. The Holy Spirit has to produce it. All we can do is yield to Him. Satan, as always, has an imitation of it. Where people in church don’t have a joyful spirit, it is often faked.
I don’t have any interest in counterfeits, do you?
The Spirit of God isn’t always “running high” in us as individual Christians. Just as sap isn’t always running in a tree. There are seasons in life for Christians just as in the grapevine. Every season is not fruit-bearing season. Some seasons are barren.
Being peaceful comes with longsuffering. Things we don’t enjoy, will be required of us in life. We will have to put up with people who rub us the wrong way, and worse. It is very tempting to just give up on people. Stop trying to get along. We all want those fruits of joy and peace, but long-suffering, we don’t generally strive or aspire toward. But God is longsuffering. The Bible says we prove ourselves as ministers of the gospel by our longsuffering. We can demonstrate Christ to others by putting up with being wronged, talked about, misunderstood, unappreciated, and yet keep on giving, loving, being kind. God was longsuffering before the flood, a hundred and twenty years. He has been long-suffering in this age of grace for a couple of thousand years. His longsuffering is our salvation. Your longsuffering may be the salvation of someone as well. Gentleness is one of those fruits of the spirit too. Gentle answers that turn away wrath. Kindness that is like heaping hot coals on the head of those who treat us badly.
Isaiah 40:11 says He shall feed HIs flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
At the end of the day, we are lambs, and He is our Shepherd. He carries us when we can’t walk. Being a parent makes life scary, because we are no longer only responsible for ourselves, but the lives of others. The Shepherd is gentle with those that have young. We feel like we have failed, it’s always easy in hindsight to see where we failed or neglected to do things we didn’t know we could, or should do.
Whatever our fears or failures, and whatever our frustrations, God has grace and mercy and compassion. He doesn’t just care how we are faring, He sees it as His primary concern. His business! It won’t always make sense to us. We won’t always appreciate it or like it when we are going through some things. But He is the author and the finisher. I mentioned to someone recently one thing I am looking forward to about heaven, is no longer being the “grown up”, of getting to go back to that childlike state where someone else is responsible of being in charge. But the truth is, we are supposed to be looking at it that way even now. We have responsibilities but we can’t overstep certain boundaries without God’s permission. He will not allow us enough “rope to hang ourselves” but even if He did, He would raise us back up. So even when as His children, we do cross a line, He uses even that for our good. That is a comfort, I mean a real reassurance for us, if we will let it be.
He offers us peace and rest, but we fail to enter into it.
The fruits of the spirit do not come forth from the flesh. They never will. We have to lean on God, and we have to go to Him. Focusing on “character” without the understanding that the fruits of the Spirit come forth of the Spirit, will just produce the counterfeit “goodness” of self-righteousness. And that is a real disservice to those we hope to influence, be it our kids, as parents, our church-members, as those who are pastors, or that friend we are striving to disciple in the Lord, who is a new believer.
I don’t know much, but I know what I am, and I know what I’m not. I’m a redeemed sinner, bought out of slavery to that sin, by the death of Jesus on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I have experienced the Lord putting words in my mouth that someone needed to hear, and turned around within the same hour, and said unloving things to a family member. I desire and anticipate with excitement, the day I am delivered from this body of sin. Meanwhile, my hope is that I may be fertile soil from which the Lord can bring forth whatever fruit He wishes to grow.
I pray that the fruit of the Spirit will grow in us all in this late and difficult hour. Not focusing on surviving hard times, but on seeing God work through and in us in this dark time of waning light. I pray that He will work in us to produce in us joy, peace, love, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith, as He enables us by His Spirit to submit ourselves to that work in ourselves, as we seek Him. I pray He place an insatiable hunger and desire in us as believers, to seek Him first, and foremost.