Hello Church Devotion Aug.17, 2013


P is for 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. (John 14:27 ESV)
 
We live in a time of great unrest.  We’re out of Iraq and looking toward bringing our troops home from Afghanistan.  But there is other unrest - Syria’s civil war; Egypt back in tumult (at least as of this writing); secrets being leaked which threaten to undermine relations with even our closest allies.  We truly live in a world that longs for peace.  As the Preacher reminds us, there is: a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:8 ESV)
 
While we pray for peace in this world, peace in our time, we also remember that Jesus told us that, until he comes again, there will be unrest all around (Matthew 24:6-8).
 
So, then, what’s this “peace” deal that he’s talking about in John 14?  It’s got to be something different than what we normally think of as “peace”.  He says that, doesn’t he?  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  The peace that Jesus is talking about comes from the ending of the war between people and their God.  Paul puts it this way:  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 ESV) Because of the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of God’s Servant, Jesus [whom Isaiah calls the Prince of Peace], the ancient war between the creatures and their Creator has been ended. 
 
But that’s not the only way of talking about peace.  Even after we are put right with God through Jesus, even after peace (in the sense of “no war”) is established by God with the individual believer, there is a peace which is a positive element in our lives - it’s the third-listed fruit of the Spirit in the life of believers, right after love and joy.  It’s something we are given because of our relationship with Jesus (see Isaiah 53:5).  It is also something which can become more solid and firm in our lives over the course of time.  I like to define this peace as: having things come together well in our lives.  It’s the idea of “Shalom” in the Old Testament carried over into the New Testament as a hallmark of a growing Christian life.
 
Think about it - do you know someone who has had all kinds of problems, things that come crashing down on them, things that would make you cringe if they happened to you - and who, yet, finds a way to live at peace?  They’re not living with their heads in the sand; they’re not living with some idea of “pie in the sky in the great by and by”.  They know God’s love and forgiveness.  They know that they have been put right with God through Jesus Christ.  They know the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives even since their Baptism.  And, even if the world seems to be crashing down on them, they have a deep, inner, abiding peace as a gift of God by the working of the Spirit.  And because of that, they can face all that life throws at them with that sense of peace which only God can give.
 
Then again - do you know someone who goes completely to pieces over a small bump in the road?  They come unglued over the least little thing.  There is no peace in their lives - not because it’s not available to them, but because that particular fruit of the Spirit hasn’t yet matured in their lives.  We don’t need to fault them.  In fact, we need to help support them and point them to God’s desire for peace in their lives.

Our Prayer for this devotion comes from the pen of St. Francis of Assisi:
 
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.  Amen.
 
 
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT:
 
Three of the most meaningful parts of the worship service come, for me, at the “very ends”:
 
At the end of the sermon.  No, not the fact that it’s over - but what we call the Votum - it comes straight out of the Bible:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 ESV)
 
Again, at the end of the service.  What we know as the Benediction - again, straight out of the Bible:  "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, 24 The LORD bless you and keep you; 25the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give youpeace. 27 "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them." (Numbers 6:23-27 ESV)
 
Finally - one of the “sendings” that we’ve used from time to time says it this way:
            P: “Go in peace.  Serve the Lord.     C: Thanks be to God!
 
Can you think of other times in the divine service where “peace” occurs?
 

 

If you want to find out how important “peace” is to the writers of the 22 letters in the Bible (yes, Revelation is a letter, too) - read the very beginning of each of the letters and see how many verses you have to read before you hear the apostle greeting these early Christians with the word “peace.”
 
                                                       Karl J. Dunker, Pastor Emeritus
 

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