When there is no peace

They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).

God desires peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He came to bring peace between man and God, between man and himself, and between man and his fellow man. We are to seek peace and pursue it. But how far should we pursue peace?

As forth-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of reminding God’s people of the covenant that they had made with God. As fore-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of warning the people of coming judgment due to their refusal to repent.

The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, was God’s messenger leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Judah’s sins were full, and their punishment was imminent. Jeremiah’s task was to speak God’s word to a nation who was dull of hearing and who would “fight against” him (Jeremiah 1:19). This task was a great burden to Jeremiah. He wished for deliverance, he tried to shut God’s words up within him and not speak (Jeremiah 20:8-9). But God was true to his promises to Jeremiah, he was with Jeremiah every step of the way (Jeremiah 1:19; 20:11). Continue reading “When there is no peace”

One at a time, please

Back in the early days of our work in Brazil, we did research into the culture and religion of the area where we worked. Among other things we did, several of our mission team visited different religions and denominations for a better sense of their teachings and practices.

One day several of us visited a large denominational church near the downtown area of our city. I think I sustained permanent hearing impairment there.

At one point, I recall all of the denomination’s adherents praying at the same time. Four hundred people speaking simultaneously — and most of them did not speak in a low volume — made it impossible to understand anything. Continue reading “One at a time, please”

The Lord of the Sabbath

“Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:5-8, ESV).

The question of rules and laws is difficult. Without laws societies break down and survival often becomes a matter of strength and ruthlessness. But the rule of law may result in a rigid system which is void of mercy and compassion. Legalism values rules above human needs. Situation ethics and similar moral systems often lead to the suspension of law based only on subjective feelings or opinions. What is sufficient reason to “break” a rule is different for each one who faces difficulties. Is there not a reliable standard which may be enforced in all circumstances? Continue reading “The Lord of the Sabbath”

Flipping the coin

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Mt. 10:34).

Almost any picture we paint of Jesus is lacking. It is especially true of the canvas, but also of the heart. Jesus is complex – infinitely so. When we think we have captured him, some other piece of him floats by and we must pour out all the other pieces and try to put them back together again. Haygood put it this way: Continue reading “Flipping the coin”

Pursuing peace

Peace is not produced by passivity. Harmony is not a settled state. Man tends toward discord. A close reading of Genesis 3 will reveal that sin caused disharmony between man and his Creator, disharmony between man and creation, and disharmony between man and man. We live in a world where sin is the settled state. Where sin is, there is disunity, discord, and disharmony. Peace must be something we work toward, something we pursue.

The blood of Christ has the power to heal the divide between God and man (Colossians 1:20). But man must be willing to pursue that peace (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Denying self and following after Christ are basic prerequisites to reconciliation with God. Peace with God through salvation does not simply come to us, we must come to God in faith. Once we have been unified with God, we must continue to live by faith to maintain that fellowship with the Divine (1 John 1:3-7). Continue reading “Pursuing peace”

What is peace with God?

Men have thought it possible to have what one politician called “peace in our time.” Many worked in vain to bring together two warring parties. But there is no end to human wars. One ends, only for another to begin. Since the Fall, conflict has always been a part of mankind, on every level — among nations, political parties, social groups, and families.

Conflict reveals the basic problem of sin and separation from God. It all started from our desire to be independent from God. From there, man has struggled against dependence upon anyone. The more useless the struggle reveals itself to be, the more strident and violent man becomes.

Then God stepped in. He sent his Son into the middle of the war. By engaging the enemy, he won the critical battle. Often, he had to confront even those he came to save. But he could not be deterred. He rescued and restored and reconciled all who desired to give up the farcical struggle for freedom. Continue reading “What is peace with God?”

Peace that exceeds all understanding

Peace is what most in the world are longing for. Yet peace seems to be elusive. Perhaps people are not only looking in the wrong place to find peace, but also are going about it in the wrong way. Peace is often viewed as a product of compromise. Yet a peace based on compromise is only peaceful as long as all are happy with the compromise! There must be a better way.

Paul wrote about peace as he drew his letter to the Christians in Philippi to a close. There were Christians in Philippi who were not at peace with each other. And there is a way to find peace in all aspects of our lives. Continue reading “Peace that exceeds all understanding”

Unlikely scenarios and a special Sunday morning

Have you ever seen anyone rise from the dead? Nope? Neither have I. So it would appear that the idea of someone coming back to life from the dead is less probable than more probable.

This can raise a good question. Which is harder to believe: that Jesus rose from the dead or that Jesus never came forth from the grave? In other words, which scenario is more unlikely? Continue reading “Unlikely scenarios and a special Sunday morning”

Are you ordinary?

Are you ordinary? In some ways we are all ordinary, aren’t we? We don’t wield super-human strength, or the ability to see through walls. We are not faster than a speeding bullet, nor are we stronger than a locomotive. And we can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. We are not world-famous artisans. Nor are we wise beyond all measure. And that is all quite fine. God can still use us to do great things.

Since the beginning, God has used the ordinary to accomplish extraordinary things. He created all things by a word (Genesis 1:1-3). With God, a word is powerful enough to bring entire galaxies into existence out of nothing. The Bible’s description of the creation of light is very simple, “And God said.” Does that not thrill you to know that our God only has to say the word to change the universe?

Continue reading “Are you ordinary?”

Speaking to Felix about righteousness

As Jesus said Paul would “carry [his] name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel” Acts 9.15, the apostle preached righteousness to Felix, the Roman governor.

The subject of righteousness makes up part of the gospel and should be proclaimed today. See these points from the text of Acts 24.

1. Righteous and unrighteous will be resurrected

As Paul answered the false charges against him, he noted the great truth shared between him and his accusers. Continue reading “Speaking to Felix about righteousness”