Malankara World Journal
Quad Centum (Issue 400) Souvenir Edition
Volume 7 No. 400 March 1, 2017
Chapter 14: Peace
Chapter 14: Peace
By Dr. Ray PritchardGospel: Matthew 10:32-39
"I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (v. 34).It's hard to imagine Jesus with a sword. We're so used to thinking of Jesus as being meek and mild that we have a hard time with the idea of our Lord wielding a sword. It sounds too violent, too extreme. Frankly, it sounds dangerous. Why would Jesus carry a sword? The answer is simple. He carries a sword so he can divide humanity. He wants to make clear who is on his side and who isn't. He wants the world to know who is on "Team Jesus" and who isn't. It's obvious today some people are wearing the jersey who aren't really on the team. But the time is rapidly approaching when we'll all have to take a stand. This text forces us to think about whether or not we want to be on the Lord's team when the going gets tough. There are three great movements in this text. It starts with a confession that leads to a division that leads to a decision. Today Jesus asks each of us this question, "How far are you willing to go with me?" First There is a Confession "Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven" (vv. 32-33). We need to take this literally. Jesus means we either confess him before men or we deny him before men. Andrew White has been called the "Vicar of Baghdad" because he pastors a large Anglican congregation there. He can only spend part of his time in Iraq because ISIS wants to murder him. When we interviewed him on American Family Radio, he told us no matter what we had heard or read about the ISIS atrocities, the reality in the Middle East is far worse. Not only did ISIS close every church in Mosul (which is the Old Testament city of Nineveh), they have systematically destroyed every mark of the Christian faith in the territory they control. As a result, hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and thousands have been brutally murdered. In an interview with CBN, Canon White told the story of four Christian children under the age 15 who were captured when ISIS took over a town in northern Iraq. The terrorists demanded those children say the words of conversion to Islam or they would be killed. What would they do?
"The children, all under 15, four of them," he recounted,"They chopped all their heads off," said Canon White.
"How do you respond to that? You just cry." We live in strange and dangerous times. Muslim terrorists have struck in New York, Ottawa, London, Paris, Istanbul and San Bernardino. They murdered 147 students at Garissa University in Kenya. They beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. They shot and beheaded 28 Ethiopian Christians in Libya. They threw a dozen Christians overboard on a migrant boat crossing from Africa to Europe. They kidnapped 220 Christians in Syria. They used a suicide truck bombing to kill 60 people at a police training camp in Libya. They put a bomb on a plane flying from Egypt to Russia and killed 224 people. In a column called A Global Slaughter of Christians, but America's Churches Stay Silent, Kirsten Powers recounts instance after instance of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa. Here is one particularly chilling example from Syria: In Syria, Christians are under attack by Islamist rebels and fear extinction if Bashar al-Assad falls. This month, rebels overran the historic Christian town of Maalula, where many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The AFP reported that a resident of Maalula called her fiancé's cell and was told by member of the Free Syrian Army that they gave him a chance to convert to Islam and he refused. So they slit his throat. At the end of her column, she quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." Then she adds, "That pretty well sums it up." Sadly, we must say her indictment is deserved. Jesus said His followers would be persecuted for their faith. We see that happening around the world today. We all wonder how we would respond if our faith was put to the test. Would we have the courage of our convictions or would we give in to save our life? Canon Andrew White told another story of a Christian father in Iraq who was told by ISIS, "Either you say the words of converting to Islam or we will kill all your children." What do you do then? Under enormous pressure, the man caved and said the words of conversion even though he did not mean it. He did it to save his children. Later, deeply ashamed of what he had done, he phoned Andrew White and said, "Does this mean that Yeshua (Jesus) doesn't love me anymore? I said those words because I couldn't see my children being killed." That sort of question makes you stop and think. Before you condemn the man, consider how far you would go to save your children. It is good for us to hear these stories so we will know what is happening to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. They also help to prepare us for what we in the West may face sooner than we think. Here's the best way to be ready: Confess Christ every day right now! That Confession Leads to a Division
"Don't assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (v. 34).Jesus is the great divider of humanity. Do you want a non-controversial Jesus? You'll have to look somewhere other than the Bible. The gentle Jesus who smiles and makes everyone feel happy bears no resemblance to the mighty Son of God who came to bring a sword of judgment. Does he bring peace? Yes, and the peace he brings will one day cover the entire earth. But that day is not this day. To quote a line from a famous gospel song,
"This day the noise of battle,This is no time for "sunshine soldiers" or "Laz-Z-Boy Christians." It's all hands on deck, man the battle stations, and prepare for war. As Doug Wilson remarked, "Well-behaved Christians rarely change the world." Do not be surprised when close friends oppose you or family members ridicule you. Jesus said it would be this way. The truth about Jesus cuts both ways. One brother believes, another rejects. A father follows Jesus, a mother goes her own way. Twin sisters part ways over the gospel. Some of our closest friends and relatives will not understand why we believe in Jesus. Some may be openly hostile to us. Converts from Islam often experience this truth in very personal terms. Following Jesus won't make you popular in many parts of the world. That Division Leads to a Decision "The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever doesn't take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it" (vv. 37-39). Jesus says some very hard things to his followers: You must love me more than your parents.
You must love me more than your children.
You must take up your cross and follow me.
You can lose your life, or you can find it. Which will it be? In many ways it is hard to comprehend these verses. If you love your parents, they are hard to understand. If you love your children, they are even harder. Perhaps the best way to think about it is to concentrate on the last part about saving or losing your life. In February 2015, Emily Phillips was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She only knew one thing: she didn't have long to live. Knowing her days were short, she penned her obituary. It went viral on the Internet when it was published after her death in April 2015. She was 69 years old when she died. Her obituary is by turns autobiographical, sentimental, and humorous. Here is the first sentence: "It pains me to admit it, but apparently I have passed away." Later on she speaks about her various roles in life, as a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend and a grandmother. "And if you don't believe it, just ask me. Oh wait, I'm afraid it's too late for questions. Sorry." You have to admire someone who maintains her sense of humor as she exits this world. But then there was this telling sentence: "So . . . I was born, I blinked, and it was over." What a way to sum up 69 years on planet earth. It reminds me of James 4:14, "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (ESV). We are like the vapor on a window pane in the winter. When I was growing up, I would blow on the window pane and then try to write my name with my finger before the vapor disappeared. I could write "Ray" but not "Pritchard." Life is like that. Moses reminds us we are like grass on the prairie that springs up quickly and just as quickly disappears:
"In the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers" (Psalm 90:6).We aren't here very long. As Charles Barkley likes to say when talking about aging athletes: "Father Time is undefeated." No one stays in their prime forever. I read this week about a Christian leader who died recently. Someone who spoke with him a few days earlier noticed he was having trouble gathering his thoughts. "Is there something wrong?" the friend asked. The man gave a two-word answer: "Old age." I ran across a website with this motto: "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." British playwright George Bernard Shaw wryly observed, "The statistics on death are quite impressive. One out of one people die." Hebrews 9:27 puts it rather starkly, "It is appointed unto man once to die" (KJV). That may seem like a downer, and maybe it is to some people, but it's just sober reality. Did you know over 150,000 people die every day? That works out to 56 million deaths each year. But statistics like that numb the mind. I find it easier to think about what Emily Phillips said: "So . . . I was born, I blinked, and it was over." We've all seen gravestones with a name, a date of birth, a date of death, with a dash in between. Think about that "-" for a moment. Fifty or sixty or seventy or eighty years. Hard work, laughter, tears, traveling, moving, getting married, raising a family, building your career, starting a new job, building your nest egg, planning for retirement, and one day death knocks on your door. What do you have to show for those years? This is what you get on your gravestone. A "-" to cover your whole life. So the question becomes, What are you doing with the dash? No Turning Back Most of us know about Jim Elliot, the missionary martyr who died in Ecuador in January 1956 when he and four other missionaries were killed by the Auca Indians (now called the Waoranis). The story made headlines around the world and inspired books, films, and generations of Christian missionaries. His wife Elizabeth told the story in several books, including the bestselling Through Gates of Splendor. More than a half-century later, we still repeat Jim Elliot's famous words, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Jim Elliot's story gripped the evangelical world, making him arguably the most famous missionary of the 20th century. Most people don't know he had an older brother who went to Peru as a missionary in 1949. During his 62 years on the field, Bert Elliot established 150 churches. He died on February 17, 2012, at the age of 87. When Randy Alcorn interviewed him in 2006, Bert described his younger brother this way: Jim and I both served Christ, but differently. He was a great meteor, streaking through the sky. Bert Elliot was home on furlough when Jim and the other missionaries were killed. He and his wife wrestled with whether or not they should return to the field: "Why doesn't God take care of us?" he remembered asking. "If we give our lives to serve him, how come there's not the protection?" The answer that came to him then became the hallmark of his own life. "It's in dying that we're born to eternal life," he said. "It's not maintaining our lives, but it's giving our lives." So a few months later, Bert Elliot and his wife, Colleen, returned to the jungles of Peru. Randy Alcorn described Bert Elliot as a "faint star that rose night after night, faithfully crossing the same path in the sky, to God's glory." Jim Elliot was a great meteor, streaking through the sky.
Bert Elliot was a faint star, crossing the same path night after night.
Which one did the greater work?
Why did one die young and the other live 87 years? No one can answer those questions because the answers are hidden in the mind of God. It is enough to know the call of Christ is the same for all of us. Jesus calls us from the cross, and he calls us to the cross. Years ago we used to sing this verse: The world behind me, the cross before me.
The world behind me, the cross before me.
The world behind me, the cross before me.
No turning back, no turning back. ISIS understands this better than we do. That's why they call Christians "People of the Cross." That's why they have crucified some of their victims. They understand that following Jesus always leads to a cross. If you try to save your life, you'll lose it in the end. If you lose your life for Jesus' sake, in the end you will save it. Is it worth it to serve Jesus?
You'll have to make up your own mind. Martin Luther framed the issue this way:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;When we look at the world around us, we may find many reasons to be discouraged. These are troubling times, and it's true that Christians are under attack around the world. But if we believe the Bible, and if we are Christians at all, we must not despair. No Supreme Court decision can put Jesus back in the grave.
No terrorist attack can reverse the Resurrection. They can burn our churches, but they cannot destroy the gospel of Jesus. Remember that the church was born on the wrong side of history. We've been on the wrong side of history since Rome, and it was enough to turn the world upside down. We're not the first generation of Christians to find ourselves unpopular. We're not even that bad off. Just talk to our brothers and sisters in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and those Christians being systematically eradicated in the Middle East. Christ has won the victory.
He is risen indeed!
No one can put him back in the grave. God's not surprised by the Supreme Court.
He's not floored by Planned Parenthood.
He's not intimidated by ISIS. We preach a risen Christ who is coming back soon.
We preach a Christ who will save anyone.
We preach a Christ who will rule over the nations. Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me." No one ever said it would be easy. Following Jesus isn't always fun and games. Sometimes the path seems steep and hard and dangerous. Jesus still says, "Follow me." Here is his question for all of us: "How far are you willing to go with me?"
What answer will you give? Lord Jesus, may we never be ashamed to follow you, even when the road leads to a cross. Amen. Copyright © 2016 Keep Believing Ministries, All rights reserved.
by Kelly BelarieAre you at all like me? Do you get in the car and, immediately,
start running down your list of worries? Do you try to keep calm
but inevitably lose your cool with that one person? Do you try to be near to God,
only to get caught up with fear things won't turn out well? You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast
because they trust in you. Is 26:3 I've got to figure out what it means to be steadfast because one thing I know is that – I want peace. Lately, I've been moving my two kids in duck-formation; they know by now, they better follow Mama. I am going places. Doing things. Accomplishing stuff. There's order, discipline and diligence in our house. People, best follow in line. I think it is pretty apparent to all – I'm running my house like a jerk. I'll be the first to admit it. Wake. Breakfast. Don't spill it on the floor. Get your plate to the sink. Get those clothes on. Why isn't your lunch box in your bag? Can't you get those shoes on yourself. Shuttle. Home. Dinner. Get a book. Hustle kid. Move it. Don't talk back. You are getting time out. Clean that floor. Lights out. I look like the wicked step mother, my kids look like Cinderella incarnate. I horrify myself. You will not keep in perfect peace,
those who minds are controlling, obnoxious and abhorrent
because they trust only in themselves. Kelly 1:1 You all, I am not God, but I am a woman who knows the opposite of Isaiah 26:3 and it is what I wrote above. I feel convicted. Truly, to only see my way is to miss God's.
To be demanding is to raise the flag of pride.
To bark marching orders is to lose pleasure in Him.
But, to release a mind into the fullness of his Word, leading, promptings and character – is dig up perfect peace. I feel released. Able to see more clearly, I realize: She who stays in peace is she who dwells on Him, who is Peace. On the other hand, she who stays in worry and anxiety is she who settles for fakes. She's like a girl who walks down the streets in New York City and grabs imitation handbags when she has wads of cash in her pocket. She's the rich girl, the one with everything, who picks up and studies 5th rate Chinese Chanel bags because she thinks she doesn't have enough. She forgets she is rich, so she settles. She suffers. She buys up stress instead of the real deal – God's peace. I buy up stress instead of staying steadfast and certain in God. Do you?
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8 I don't know about you, but I often rely on vain idols: The Facebook F: Here, I focus in on a girl's clothes, and completely forget about my devotional time.
The Pinterest P: With this idol, I figure my friends will judge me based on napkins and centerpieces. I try to be perfect.
A mirror: I stare at it and criticize myself.
My bank account: I think it will protect me more than God. The prized possession of steadfast peace is lost
when a girl bends down to grab lower shelf goods and gods.
What are you reaching for? Let me remind you, steadfast love always sits high and mighty. To identify it from fakes, it looks like this: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 Steadfast love looks not like a crazed girl on an elliptical trying, sweating and endlessly pumping – but a gal just being, just sitting, in Christ's love. It is one open, ready and willing to receive his riches. One who lets God determine her value. What does this practically look like? It looks like: Seeing devotional time as sitting time,
not striving time, with God. Viewing success as Godly-connection
rather than always-perfection. Letting go of the psychotic pace to
continually dwell in God's grace. Quieting your inner-hater,
to find the Always-Lover. Relaxing with God in the moment,
rather than demanding he reconstruct your future. Remembering all Jesus did,
not what you need to accomplish. To be stead–fast is to walk steady in the idea you will not move fast.
It is to walk steady at God's pace – moving only with him. So, today, rather than rushing, huffing and puffing – and blowing our house down, this truth we can cling to. We don't have to push ahead. We don't have to yell and scream and feel anxious that people are going to mess up. We only need to slow down, grab his hand and trust, He will carry us through- straight up to perfect peace. About The Author: Called a "Cheerleader of Faith", Kelly's greatest desire is to help women live passionately, purposefully and unencumbered for the Lord. Source: Purposeful Faith Blog
by John MacArthur
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"Nothing you face today is beyond the purview of God’s grace and peace. Paul's wonderful benediction for grace and peace was ever on his heart. He offered it in each of his epistles and expounded on it throughout his writings. Grace is the outpouring of God's goodness and mercy on undeserving mankind. Every benefit and provision you receive is by God's grace. That's why Peter called it "the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 1:10). Just as your trials are manifold or multifaceted, so God's multifaceted and all-sufficient grace is correspondingly available to sustain you. Peace, as used in Philippians 1:2, speaks of the calmness and absence of strife characteristic of one in whom God's grace is at work. The New Testament also links it to mercy, hope, joy, and love. To experience those graces is to experience true peace. It is said that when Bible translators were seeking a word or phrase for "peace" in the language of the Chol Indians of South Mexico, they discovered that the words for "a quiet heart" gave just the meaning they were looking for. That's an appropriate parallel because peace guards the soul against anxiety and strife, granting solace and harmony. Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body." In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul says to "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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Although "grace to you and peace" was a common greeting in the early church, it was an uncommon experience in the unbelieving world. The same is true today because only those who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ receive grace and peace. Are you experiencing God's peace? Remember, nothing you face today is beyond the purview of God's all- sufficient grace and surpassing peace. Suggestions for Prayer Read Ephesians 2:14-18 and praise God for Christ, who is your peace, and for His gracious work on your behalf. For Further Study What is the first step to acquiring peace (John 16:33; 1 Pet. 5:14)? What does the God of peace desire to accomplish within you (1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20-21)? Source: Grace to You.org
By John PiperScripture: John 14:25-31
"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here."It is one of the most amazing and wonderful and sweetest things in the Bible to realize that just hours before Jesus was crucified he was concerned for the peace and the joy and the faith of his followers. Think of it. He is about to be tortured to death with one of the most horrific means of torture ever devised, and his burden was to solidify in the souls of his followers peace and joy and faith. What would we be doing if we knew that we would not only be killed tomorrow, but tortured for who knows how long? My guess is we would be desperate to find our own peace, and our own joy and our own faith. We would probably not be pouring out our concern for the peace and joy and faith of our friends and family. Unless Jesus had filled us with his peace and joy and faith, so we were free to think of others. The Night Before His Suffering Peace. Joy. Faith. This was his burden for his followers the night before his suffering. Amazing. Look at verse 27. Peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." Look at verse 28b. Joy. "If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." Look at verse 29. Faith. "And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe [have faith!]." This is what he is aiming at just before he suffers. I want you to have peace. I want you to be deeply joyful. I want you to believe in what I say and what I do - to have unshakable faith. I want you to have the kind of peace that I give, not the world. The kind of joy that I give, not the world. The kind of faith, I give, not the world. That is the practical outcome of these verses - indeed the outcome of this night. This suffering. This gospel. A Concern Disconnected from Global Crises? Now suppose the thought enters your mind, as it does the mind of many: That seems subjective, emotional, individualistic, socially and culturally and politically lame. Disconnected from the great public, systemic, global crises and injustices and calamities of our time. Suppose that's what you think when you hear that the Lord of the universe spent his last night before death building peace and joy and faith into the hearts of his followers (verse 27). Here's my response. Pick your crisis, your injustice. Poverty with all its internal and external causes. The devastation of drug addictions. White collar corruption like Ponzi schemes or nepotism or money laundering or planned obsolescence or redlining or embezzling or insider stock movements or bribery. Or pick ethnic and religious hostilities - like the Burmese against the Christian Kachin, or the Nigerian Muslims against the Nigerian Christians, or the butchery in Syria. I ask, where do these things come from? Where do these human impulses come from - that drive all these destructive behaviors? They come from hearts devoid of the peace of Jesus Christ, and the joy of Jesus Christ, and the faith of Jesus Christ. But where that peace and that joy and that faith hold sway, those behaviors are overcome. So, before I get to the so-called practical, so-called relevant, socially urgent topic of homosexuality next week, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that today's message (and every message!) is radically political and social and global. And it is far more deeply, far more pervasively, far more enduringly transformative than if I considered such things as the peace of Jesus and the joy of Jesus and the faith of Jesus as feeble. They are not feeble, they are volcanic. They are the roots of a new world-order. And someday Jesus himself will come again, pull out all the weeds, and bring that new-order to full flower. In the meantime, open your eyes, and your mind and your heart to see and receive what he is doing on this last night. The New Testament Is Rock-Solid Reliable Let's set the stage with verses 25 and 26: "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." Jesus is answering the question for them and for us: How are the foundational documents of the church going to be created so that they are rock-solid reliable? The apostles don't have recorders, video cameras, stenographers. How are they going to remember all that Jesus has taught them, and how are they going to understand what they do remember, since they are obviously in the dark right now about a lot of what's going on? And here is Jesus' answer. And his answer is as important as 2 Timothy 3:16–17, where Paul said: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." That is the apostolic testimony about the whole Old Testament. It's inspired by God. And therefore reliable and profitable. What about the New Testament? What about the documents that the apostles themselves and those closely connected with them would write? Jesus' answer in John 14:26 is: "In my name, God the Father will send the Holy Spirit. And he will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. And he will teach you all things." That is, he will see to it that you remember what I want you to record and he will teach you, that is, he will help you understand it so that when you write it you can make that understanding clear. Amazed by the Gospels In other words, Just as Paul testified about the inspiration of the Old Testament, Jesus promised the inspiration of the New Testament. This is exactly what the apostles believed they were doing. Listen to how Paul expresses it in 1 Corinthians 2:12–13, "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit." That's what Jesus promised. The Father will send the Holy Spirit. He will bring to your memory what he wants the church to know. (Which by the way implies that they had seen and heard these things. They were eyewitnesses. He didn't promise to create new events in their head that they had not experienced. He promised memory not creativity.) And he promised teaching. "He will teach you all things" (verse 26) - all the things needed to give a true interpretation of what Christ had said and done, and who he was. Now the stage is set. This is what is happening in verses 27–31. Years later John is remembering and he is teaching. And he is doing it for the sake of our peace and joy and faith. And, of course, this is what the whole Gospel of John is - the inspired memory and teaching of the apostle for the sake of our faith and joy and peace and life. Be amazed as you read the Gospels. Be expectant. Jesus planned them. He sponsored them. By the Spirit he inspired them. In a real sense, the risen Christ, wrote his own story. These are no ordinary books. Be amazed that we have them. Be expectant when you read them. Ask the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writing to illumine the reading. Foundational to the Death of Jesus Now turn with me to verses 27–31 and let Jesus put his peace and his joy and his faith in you the way he was doing this for his followers that night. Let's go backward since where he ends is the foundation of everything - namely, his going to the cross to lay down his life for the sheep. Verses 30-31: "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here." They have been in the upper room after the last supper. Now he makes his move toward the garden of Gethsemane where he would be arrested and taken away to die. So he puts that "going" in a light that he wants them to understand and believe. He is serving their faith. And what he wants them to see and believe is that the devil ("the ruler of this world") is real and active and, in one crucial sense, powerless. Verse 30b-31a: "The ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me." Satan has entered into Judas (Luke 22:3) and he is coming. But that is not why I am going. Satan is not decisive. Why not? Because (verse 30 at the end), "He has no claim on me." Literally: "he has nothing in me." That is, nothing in me to accuse. No sin where he can set his hook. No guilt where he can make his accusations sting. He looks everywhere around the armor of my righteousness, and finds no access to my holy soul. There is no chink in this armor. Satan is powerless to rule a sinless man. So why then does Jesus get arrested? Why does he die? Jesus tells us clearly who is in charge on this night. Verse 30 (at the end)–31a: "He [Satan] has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me." Satan is not the explanation of Calvary, obedience is. "I do as the Father has commanded me. . . . Rise, let's go." I want you to know, Jesus says, and I want the world to know that demonic betraying and demonic denying and demonic lying are not ruling this night. Love is ruling this night. I am obeying the Father (verse 31b) "so that the world may know that I love the Father." I'm not controlled by the lies of false witnesses. I'm controlled by love for my Father. The cross was not at root the coercion of evil; it was the compliance of love. The roots of the cross reach back before creation into the eternal Godhead where the God the Son has always infinitely loved God the Father. "I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father" (John 14:31). Now we are ready to look briefly at faith in verse 29 and joy in verse 28 and peace in verse 27. The foundation for all three is the that Satan is not sovereign in the death of Jesus, love is sovereign. Faith Verse 29: "And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe." He has said this before. John 13:19, "I am telling you this now [namely, Judas' betrayal], before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he." In other words, in addition to all the things that happen to Jesus, and all the things Jesus does, which in themselves would awaken faith, he adds this: prediction. He doesn't just experience painful things, and do glorious things to awaken faith, he predicts them. Which means he weaves the thread of sovereignty through his final words. The point of prediction is to make clear who's in charge. It isn't Satan. It isn't Pilate. It isn't Herod. It is not the Jews. It isn't the soldiers. My Father is in charge (Acts 4:27-28). And by his command, I am in charge (John 3:35; 13:3). Nobody takes my life from me (John 10:18). Therefore, trust me. Have faith. Put your faith in our work - the Father and me - and in our divine power. Evil does not have the upper hand. We do. Love does. And if that was true at history's darkest hour, it will be true at your darkest hour - if you trust him. He was speaking and working on his last night for your faith. Let it be awakened. Joy Verse 28: "You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." Here's the argument: The Father is greater than I. Which I think has two meanings. One is that the Father, during the incarnation, is greater in glory and more exalted because Jesus has humbled himself to serve and suffer. The other meaning is that from all eternity the Father has been the one who begets the Son - that is the one who eternally stands forth in a perfect image and radiance of himself. His nature has an "exact imprint" in the Son. His glory has a full "radiance" in the Son (Hebrews 1:3). So that they are equally God, of the same divine nature, but different in role, and Jesus says that because of the Father's unique role he is greater. Our Joy in the Joy of Jesus And since he has that relation to the Son, Jesus says, you should rejoice when you see me return to that more immediate experience of the Father's glory. In other words, the joy of Jesus in being near the Father, should be part of the joy of his followers in being near him. We should be glad in the gladness of Jesus in the glory of his Father. Part of our joy in Jesus is Jesus' joy in his Father. "If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:28). So our joy is not the joy of the world. O how different is the foundation of the joy of the Christian! Not as the world gives, does God give his people joy. Our joy has infinite roots. It is a participation in the very joy of God in God. Utterly Dependent on It And remember, God showed us this love between the Father and the Son, mainly in the cross. Verse 31: "I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father." So practically what this means is that before you go to bed at night you say, "Father, I praise you for the love that exists between you and your Son Jesus. I praise you for the joy that you both have in each other. And I realize that for this love and this joy Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). And therefore my forgiveness, my righteousness, my life utterly depend on it. So I am glad in your gladness in Jesus and his in you. Thank you for giving me a taste of this joy." Peace Faith. Joy. Peace. Finally, verse 27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." In the last hours of his life Jesus is helping you become a fearless and peaceful person. The peace he has in mind may include the final peace of all things in the new heaven and the new earth. But that is not what he is focusing on. We know that because he says, "Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid." He has in view your heart, and the peace of your heart, and the fearlessness of your heart, and the untroubled waters of your heart. He wants his people now, to be free from anxiety. Not the "Peace" of Good Circumstances And he knows that the only kind of heart-peace the world can give is peace of mind based on good circumstances. If the world can take away our troubles - through health insurance, or retirement accounts, or flood protection, or bomb shelters, or labor-saving devices - then the world can give some peace of mind. But Jesus says (middle of verse 27), "Not as the world gives do I give to you." Which means that his peace is not based on good circumstances. It is given, and it holds sway, in spite of bad circumstances. Here is how Jesus says it in John 16:33, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart in that tribulation; I have overcome the world." His Peace, Not Ours In other words, our peace will make no sense to the world. That is why Paul calls in Philippians 4:7, "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding." Human understanding cannot produce it, or grasp it. Why not? The ultimate reason is that it is not human peace. It is God's peace. The peace between Jesus and his Father. Verse 27a: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." My peace. I am not creating your peace. I am sharing with you my peace. I am bringing you into my peace. Your peace, Jesus? They are about to kill you. What kind of peace is that? Perfect peace - with my Father. Tomorrow I will go to the cross, and there I will open the door for my sheep to enter my peace with my Father. I will satisfy his justice, and I will purchase your forgiveness, and I will provide your righteousness. And I will bring you into the very peace that I enjoy with my Father. And nothing - and nobody - will be able to take it from you. "My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Therefore, let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27). Receive my faith that I have in my Father's sovereignty over Satan. Receive my joy that I have in my Father's greatness. And receive my peace that I have with my Father's favor. Faith. Joy. Peace. His and yours. We have an amazing Savior. And a great salvation. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
by John DickersonThe moment we trust in Christ to rescue us from sin, we are "already" adopted into God's family. But we are "not yet" home in heaven, where there will be no more pain or weakness. We are "already" purified from the fallout of sin internally in our souls, but we are "not yet" out of these broken bodies that feel pain, have broken emotions, and will eventually die in Rocky Flats. The day is coming (after our time on earth) when from heaven we will see fully the rescue we "already" have. Until then, we journey through this contaminated world, growing every day. Just like Jack's physical growth, our rescue is "already/not yet." We are "already" purified internally, but we are "not yet" at home in heaven. We are new creations in an old world. What does this mean for you and your weaknesses? It means the day is coming when God will "wipe every tear" from your eye (Revelation 21:4). The day is coming when all who trust Christ's rescue will be entirely free from pain, sickness, and weakness. But when we look around us, it's clear that day is "not yet" fully here. Even the strongest and most spiritual people still battle through weakness, doubt, prisons, sickness, death, and depression in this world—just as Paul the apostle did. God acknowledges this tension—that Christ has "already" defeated death, but has "not yet" kicked all evil out of planet Earth. After declaring that all things are under Christ's control, Scripture adds, "Yet at present we do not see everything subject" to Christ. And so we might wonder, Does trusting Christ's rescue make any difference for my difficulties right here and now? The answer is a resounding yes. Trusting Christ makes a life-changing difference for your journey through this contaminated world. Just as much as Christ promises our eternal rescue, He also promises to sustain us on earth while we await that rescue. Writer Paul David Tripp put it like this: "The promise of future grace always carries with it the promise of present grace." Remember the trapped Chilean miners? The rescue operation had two halves: (1) to rescue them out of the collapsed mineshaft and (2) to sustain them with food, water, and medical supplies until they got pulled up to the surface. God's plan for us works the same way. The good news of Christ is not only that He is delivering us out of our prisons in this world (eternal life in heaven), but also that He will sustain and strengthen us while we live down here (abundant life). When your suffering discourages you, your soul is groaning for heaven. When you feel internally unsettled by the evils, injustices, and tragedies of this world, your inner being is homesick, longing to be where you belong—a place free from suffering and heartbreak. God promises us this pain-free future, far better than any good we can imagine: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." The "old order of things" that will pass away is the contamination of Rocky Flats. Until then, Christ promises to sustain and strengthen you on your journey to heaven. Every weakness reminds you that you are "not yet" home. And every weakness also provides an opportunity to discover that in Christ you "already" have the power of heaven available to sustain you in the darkness of earth. God promises to give you the strength you need to live for Him as you await heaven: "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life." Just as much as Christ will rescue you out of this world into heaven, He will also sustain and strengthen you with heaven's power in this world. God over Life's Storms No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility. Oswald Chambers I saw some great thunderstorms growing up in Michigan, but Arizona's monsoons have a unique magnificence all their own. When I first moved to Arizona, I would drive out into a valley during monsoon thunderstorms. I would watch the blinding bursts of lightning stabbing at the bowl of mountains encircling me. It was all storm, in every direction. (Disclaimer: I do not recommend this.) In life, we sometimes find ourselves surrounded by storms. As a pastor, I've walked with friends through some of the most frightening storms imaginable. Unexpected death. Life-changing accidents. Cancer. Infidelity. Heart-crushing relapses into addiction. Natural disasters. Slander and media misrepresentation. I wonder what storms you've found yourself in recently? the storm of death
the storm of inadequacy
the storm of illness
the storm of rejection
the storm of addiction
the storm of anxiety
the storm of fatigue
the storm of decisions
the storm of opposition and persecution
the storm of aging
the storm of loneliness This Rocky Flats world swarms with frightening storms. When we are in them, it can seem like these storms will never end. It can seem like God has forgotten us and has forgotten about the rescue plan. God wants you to know He has not forgotten you. He has not abandoned you in your storm. He has "already" begun the process of rescuing you out of your storms, even when it does not feel like it. About The Author: John S. Dickerson is the bestselling author of The Great Evangelical Recession. His work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among numerous other publications. He is a nationally awarded journalist and a recognized voice in American Christianity. Source: This excerpt is taken from 'I Am Strong' by John S. Dicerson. Copyright © 2016 by John S. Dickerson. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
by Mary Southerland
Jesus has the power of God, by which He has given us everything we need to live and to serve God. We have these things because we know HimI do not have a green thumb. In fact, friends and family members refuse to let me come within two feet of any living plant … but I keep trying. I once planted some flowers in our front yard. Actually, I just kind of stuck them in the ground, prayed over them, and hoped for a miracle. After a few days, they were still alive and looking good. I was so proud! Then a summer storm came through. I ventured outside to check on my flowers and discovered them lying on the ground, beaten to a pulp! I lived next door to Martha Stewart's twin sister who had planted the very same flowers which had gone through the very same storm … but were still standing tall and proud, mocking my sad, wilted floral remnants. "You didn't plant your flowers deeply enough," my neighbor sweetly explained. Evidently the flowers were not rooted and had been easily extracted by the storm. The same is true in our lives. Having a personal relationship with God means that we have access to all of Him and all of His resources, including peace. But most people I know would give anything to experience the peace of God. Each day brings a new list of worries. Every night is filled with a fresh batch of "what ifs." The Bible tells us that God is the author of peace. If God authors peace, why do we often find ourselves in a constant battle against anxiety and fear? I believe it is because we are not firmly rooted in Him. We are not tapping into the vast riches that are rightfully ours as children of the King. We are not focused on God and His presence in our lives. When our daughter Danna was in middle school, she played on a coed soccer team. During one particularly rough game, Danna fell, landing on her elbow. By the time I got to her, she was wailing in pain and couldn't move her fingers – not a good sign. Danna took one look at my face and instantly knew we were headed to the emergency room, a place she detested and feared. On the way to the hospital, I talked up a storm, hoping to distract Danna while helping her face fear head on. "Are you scared, honey?" I finally asked. With tears streaming down her face, she looked at me and sobbed, "Yes, mommy! I am very, very scared!" I hugged her close and said, "Danna, everything is going to be fine." A watery smile spread across her face as she responded, "I know it will be okay as long as you are there with me. Promise not to leave me, Mom." Over the years, Danna and I had made several trips to the emergency room and many more to the doctor. Every time she was terrified. Every time she made me promise to stay with her, and every time, I did. And here she was … asking again. I could have said, "Danna! What is the matter with you? How many times have we been through this? I never leave you, do I? When are you going to get it?" Those words never entered my mind. My baby girl was hurting. She was afraid and needed to know she could count on me. She needed the assurance that I would be with her, no matter what. Once again, I gladly and freely promised. The same is true in our relationship with God. Because He is with us - no matter what - we can focus on Him and walk through our fear. The deeper we delve into the truth and power of God, the stronger our personal relationship with Him will grow. Our relationship with God will never change because He keeps it, but how much power we receive from Him depends on how solid and stable that relationship is and how persistent we are in pursuing Him. Today, focus on Jesus Christ. Know that He is with you. Walk in the promise that He will never leave you. He is your peace. Let's Pray Lord, thank You for being with me every step of the way. I praise You for Your sufficiency and for Your love that never fails. I pray that I will learn how to trust You and look for You in every circumstance of life. I want to please You, Father. Change my comfortable heart to an obedient heart, a heart that is always ready to praise You – no matter what!
In Jesus' Name,
Amen. Now it's Your Turn How would you define peace?
Would your family and friends describe you as a peaceful person or an anxious person?
When you face a difficult situation, where do you turn first for help?
What is your attitude about the storms in your life? How does that attitude need to change? Source: Girlfriends in God Devotional
by Oswald Chambers
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled . . ."Whenever we experience something difficult in our personal life, we are tempted to blame God. But we are the ones in the wrong, not God. Blaming God is evidence that we are refusing to let go of some disobedience somewhere in our lives. But as soon as we let go, everything becomes as clear as daylight to us. As long as we try to serve two masters, ourselves and God, there will be difficulties combined with doubt and confusion. Our attitude must be one of complete reliance on God. Once we get to that point, there is nothing easier than living the life of a saint. We encounter difficulties when we try to usurp the authority of the Holy Spirit for our own purposes. God's mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, "as the world gives," but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, wait until it does, or seek to find out why it is not coming. If you are acting on your own impulse, or out of a sense of the heroic, to be seen by others, the peace of Jesus will not exhibit itself. This shows no unity with God or confidence in Him. The spirit of simplicity, clarity, and unity is born through the Holy Spirit, not through your decisions. God counters our self-willed decisions with an appeal for simplicity and unity. My questions arise whenever I cease to obey. When I do obey God, problems come, not between me and God, but as a means to keep my mind examining with amazement the revealed truth of God. But any problem that comes between God and myself is the result of disobedience. Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), increases my overjoyed delight, because I know that my Father knows and cares, and I can watch and anticipate how He will unravel my problems. Source: My Utmost for His Highest (The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers;1992), 1935
by Nicki Koziarz
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."An eight-year-old boy named William once wrote his pastor a letter. "Dear Pastor, I know God wants us to live in peace with everybody, but He never met my sister. Sincerely, William." I bet you and I could write similar letters. There's always someone who seems to get under our skin, isn't there? In a world filled with irritating people and problem makers, being able to bring peace in the midst of it all can feel impossible. Because we are born into a world of sin, we don't always have automatic peacemaking reactions. One of our responses may be to engage our defense mechanisms and retaliate when provoked. Or we may turn inward and shut down, not seeking to work things out. This is why parents and schoolteachers struggle to train children to resolve their issues with each other peaceably. While I am no longer a little girl flustered by the annoying boy pulling my pigtails on the playground, I still find myself not responding well when irritated or aggravated by someone. It's hard to want to bring peace to situations with people I don't like. God, however, modeled the right way to seek peace. When we offended God with our disobedience, He took the initiative to reconcile a relationship with us through His Son's death on the cross. Through Jesus' sacrifice and salvation, I'm no longer subject to my defensive reactions or to shutting down. Instead, I have access to His peace, which makes being a peacemaker possible. Recently, while going through some conflicts with people, I read Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers ..." When I first read this I thought, "If I will just memorize this verse, boom ... I will be a peacemaker." So I did. Big surprise ... I wasn't a peacemaker the next time conflict arose. I recognized that I needed to have a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a peacemaker, so I dug into the scripture. If we look back to the original text, we see the word for peace here means harmony, security and rest. These words that define peace remind me of the things Jesus brings into our lives. Because we follow Him, He gives us the ability to make peace. When we do, He promises we "will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9). We can be a representation of the peace He gives. So when Jesus said we are "blessed" when we bring peace, it is because being a peacemaker allows us to represent the depth of who He is as His children. Some people will go to great lengths to prove themselves right. Pride and arrogance convince them that laying aside differences is a sign of weakness. But if we can catch God's vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker—to bring harmony, security and rest to a difficult situation—it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict. We can stand confident as children of God. As we let go of petty stuff, we are peacemakers. When we are the first to say, "I'm sorry," we give peace. When we talk calmly, rather than yelling, we bring peace to the situation. By learning to give peace the way we receive peace from Jesus, His peace flows through our lives. Being a peacemaker is challenging and may not come naturally. But may we be reminded today that in every conflict we have the capability to bring resolutions of peace. We can bring harmony, security and rest because Jesus' death and resurrection gave that to us. Dear Lord, You are the ultimate peacemaker. Help me keep my eyes on You in difficult circumstances. And to bring peace to conflict with others. In Jesus' Name, Amen. Reflect and Respond: How would being a peacemaker and having peaceful reactions change your relationships? Pick three ways you can react peaceably today. Here are some examples: Changing your tone of voice. Forgiving. Being humble. Talking a situation through. Not being defensive. Choosing kind words. Believing the best, rather than assuming the worse. Not interrupting, or taking sides. Power Verses: 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." (NIV) Romans 8:16, "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (NIV) © 2013 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.
Source: Encouragement for Today
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