Peace on earth

Religions says go and find peace and there you will find God. God says come to me and I will give you peace.

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

 

At Christmas time, you see the word “peace” written a lot. It is written on cards, you see it in shopping centres and in the community. It is often the time when people talk about peace in this world ..or the lack of.

 

Is peace just one thing, or it is many things to many people?

 

Ask those in war torn areas of the world – they would say that peace is the absences of war, the ability to have freedoms that should be the right of every human on the face of this earth.

 

As a businessman/woman – they would say that peace is the stock market steady and income coming in. They would also say that peace is happy customers and happy staff.

 

Ask a man or a father – they may say that peace is sitting quietly with no interruptions, or pottering in the shed with their own thoughts. They could also say that a having a happy wife is peace.

 

Ask a mum or a woman – they may say that peace is when the children are asleep of a night. Or when the house is clean and tidy and there is some quiet “me time”. They might also say that when hubby and children are fed, then peace reigns.

 

Ask a teenager what is peace – They may say that it is when they can stay in their room and not get annoyed by younger siblings, parents, teachers …or life.

 

Ask what peace is to those that protest for the rights of others – they would say that having rights is peace, or the removal of dictatorial governments, or even the rights of animals will bring order and peace.

 

Is this the peace of Christmas?

 

Is peace so temporary that we think of it so elusively? Is this the peace that God offered to us?

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

 

Isaiah in his prophecy about Jesus referred to the coming Messiah as the “Prince of Peace”. Isaiah 9:6

 

So, what is this peace all about.?

 

A lot of people think that if God were truly God then peace would be on this earth, that babies would not die and people would not suffer. I have met a lot of Christians who think that Christ came to make their own world better. That He came to make their world a more peaceful place to live. That God would miraculously change the world simply because there are now Christians on this earth. Is this how we really think?

 

Why would God send His Son and not change the world? Why wouldn’t a God of peace cause peace to come to an unpeaceful world?

 

The peace we often seek is both self-serving and external. It is peace at all costs and superficial. It is a peace based on ideal circumstances and people. This is not peace. Peace that only reigns at Christmas is not peace. It is only a temporary ceasefire in a war that continues.

 

Is this the peace that is the awesome promise of an Almighty and loving God? I think not. God never intended that His Son should come, live and die for so little.

 

This world is becoming worse, not better. People love war and fighting, especially if it is to get what we think is best. Even in Jesus day they hated Him. They despised what He was trying to do – to tell others that God was not the God of that world and that God did truly love the world. Jesus was the testimony of that.

 

Later, the disciples told the world that Jesus had come to bring life and peace to the hearts of man. They hated them too.

 

This world is made up of hatred, greed, sin, and sorrow. Did God mean for this world to be so hard on the very concept of peace?

 

All that God did for us by sending His Son to this earth as a babe, was to give to each one of us a peace of heart that is will us no matter what is around us. It is the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) You cannot explain it, you can’t bottle it and drink it when needed and it is seen in it’s true light during the hardest times in our lives.

 

Yet there is this. If every man, woman, and child on this earth had the true peace of God within them, loved others and loved God in humility and obediance… then peace would truly be on this earth. Isn’t that the good tidings that Christ’s birth announced?

 

Peace could come to you and me… in our hearts. Deep down inside us. And from this should flow out to others around us. Not seeking to change them, but being a light and a movement and a change for the better in a world that does not seek peace.

 

Religions says go and find peace and there you will find God. God says come to me and I will give you peace.

I have been through some battles and still have many to go. The peace that I have had during those times can only be of God. Just like being in the boat with Jesus the disciples learnt that they could trust the Master. I am learning that the peace that God brings sometimes requires me to trust Him until He stills the storm, or to hang on to Him if He doesn’t.

 

Peace should not only be for after the storm, but in the storm. This is the promise of God.

 

The tiny babe of Christmas, Jesus Christ, was to allow the hearts of man to have peace not influenced by circumstances, not because of where I live, not because of the “I-am-better-then-you-therefore-I-have-more”. It is not conditional, cannot be bought and cannot be sold.

 

God gave His best, so that we could have the peace that we really crave.

 

There are so many wonderful scriptures in the bible that tell us what peace is…even peace with our neighbours. Peace is a good subject, even when it is not Christmas. It is even a better if we have peace with others and with God.

 

There was a little ditty I read once – “Know God, know peace. No God, no peace.”

 

I have heard so many testimonies on this very subject of peace, a peace that is far above our own understanding or eyesight. If you tried to explain it, people have trouble understanding it. My testimony is the same. God is good.

 

This week I have watched as a very dear friend grieve as her child passed into eternity. My heartreached out for her during this time and I watched her, praying. At first there was a broken-hearted mother, then came moments of tears, then came a serenity and steadfastness…all in a matter of 24 hours. But never, in any of that time, was there not a peace in her heart that radiated from the very depths of her being even through the tears. This is God within her and surrounding her. His peace that comes despite the storm.

 

God gives peace when your marriage falls apart, God gives peace when someone close to you leaves this world, God gives peace when people accuse you and tell lies against you, God gives you peace when everything seems to go wrong.

 

God gives peace, He is peace. God sent His Son to bring the peace that so lacks in the heart of mankind. The very heart of man that longs for its Creator. It is peace beyond the understanding of our mind and the sight of our eyes. Do you believe? Then ask for it and accept it.

 

My prayer for you this Christmas is this. That the peace of God may be given to you in your hearts and that God would strengthen you in your inner being.

 

Be blessed.

 

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If you don’t know this Jesus of our Christmas, and would like to, then say this prayer –

 

“Jesus, I don’t know you, but you know me. I am sorry for the way I have lived my life and I cannot do this anymore. I give you my life, forgive me for my sins and take them from me. Thank you for saving me, thank you for the change you will make in my heart. Bring your peace and joy to me and make yourself known to me. Thank you. Amen”

 

Please go and get a Holy Bible and read it, start with an NIV version or a NLT version (as these are easy to read). Start it by reading about Jesus, can I encourage you to start with the book of Luke in the bible and the book of Psalms. Start to find a church family where you feel comfortable and that teaches the Word of God. Ask God to show you where to go.

Thorny problems and God’s love.

 

Over the Easter I found plenty of time to ponder what Easter was about and to pray. But the time to put those thoughts onto paper was very limited indeed. Tuesday, after Easter, I sat down to write, but within half an hour received some bad news that left my brain swirling for a few days. Today, I decided that what I started on to write was still needed to be said, but the other reason for this blog became clear.

On Saturday during the Easter period, I took some time to spend time to help my husband do some fencing. The barbed wire was particularly difficult as we restrained it and tied it to the fence post, after we had made room for a gate. I wore some gloves so that the barbed wire I handled would not pierce my hand and rip my skin. I stood looking at the tie after I had finished and checked my arms for cuts.

As I cut off the extra length that was not needed in retying it, I looked at the barbed wire in my hands and I remembered what my Saviour did for me. I let this thought sit for a moment while I went to boil the billy for a cup of tea.

The very fact that barbed wire and thorns do the same job on your skin made a great story line, but I was yet to find out why the barbed wire was necessary for me to notice. A few days later I would know why.

 

He took it upon Himself

 

In doing a little research after we arrived home, I found that it could have been one of about 3 or 4 plants that could have been used as the “crown of thorns”. The one most researchers used was the Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii). Apparently, it is thorny enough and flexible enough to make into a crown.

It was also interesting that God spoke several times throughout the bible about thorns. In Genesis thorns were a repercussion for disobedience.

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. Gen 5:17b-18 (NIV)

Later, God spoke thru Isaiah because he saw injustice and distress – Isaiah 5:6-7

“I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.”

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” (NIV)

In dying on the cross, God’s Son took upon the curses, wrong doing (sin) and disobedience that we ourselves have chosen to walk by. Those things that destroy our lives and our relationship with God. The things that bring guilt and shame, hardship, and pain. A onetime act of God for the sake of all mankind.

This was not only in the cross that He died upon, but the stripes from the whip and the crown of thorns on His head. These things (and much more) were symbolic of a new start and a new promise of God that was completed by the death of His Son for us so that we could have this promise for ourselves – the ability to have the sin, shame and guilt taken from us and a relationship with Almighty God.

This crown was placed upon our Saviour’s head and on that cross He died so that we have through Christ Jesus the freedom from the curse of sin and death. No more guilt and shame.

And you know what the greatest thing about this is – we don’t have to wait for eternity for the work of God to change our lives so that our lives here today are transformed day by day. God want us to have a little bit of heaven on earth, while He walks with us every day.

Our past died on the cross with Christ. The curses that should have been ours was removed as well.

Guilt and shame, hopelessness and despair is something that you do not have to live with. We can be free because of God’s forgiveness and love.

It was the love of God for you that those thorns pierced His head and not ours. God’s offer to us, given in love, to allow us a changed life. The skin of His son broken by thorns so that our thorny broken lives could be changed – now and in eternity.

 

Thorny problems

 

Over the past few days as my emotions swirled around me in the chaos of the sudden life experiences. I was once again aware that thorny problems have a way of tearing at our emotions and it is our Saviour that we can turn to. There is nothing that He cannot helps us with and that He cannot understand.

The person who I received the bad news about had been like a thorn in my side, yet the need to intercede for the person in prayer was the only thing on my mind. It was like I needed my God more than ever. The fact that my Saviour knew how to forgive his enemies and was the epitome of forgiveness, was my comfort. Yet this person was never my enemy, just someone who regularly brought me to my knees in pray.

I could not pray for this person if I hadn’t forgiven them a long time ago, and remained forgiving every time they pierced me. If bitterness had clouded my heart, I could not have prayed with love. I could not have seen the person in the hospital and felt compassion and concern, if I had hardness.

The need to remind myself that God sees the thorns that pierce me and knows the pain of suffering more than me. I need to leave the thorns to Him. It is up to God to remove the thorns from my life, or to allow them to remain for my growth. This is hard. Especially when the person involved needs mercy when the world says that they need punishment.

I could repeat what I said before, but with a different twist – “It was the love of God for you that those thorns from His captors pierced His head and not ours. God’s offer to us, given in love, to allow us a changed life even while the thorns can pierce us as well. The skin of His Son broken by thorns so that each and every thorny broken life could be changed – now and in eternity.” (italics added)

Christ died not only for the curses of disobedience, but He died for the thorns that come against us in life. I pray that you will give the thorns to Him, He know what to do with them.

Be blessed.