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Entries in Inheritance (4)

Tuesday
May122015

Motherhood in Perspective

Today is Mother’s Day and as such we are going to talk about how important it is for mother’s to keep things in proper perspective.  By way of illustration I am going to read a short letter from a college student to her parents, which has no known origin.  By the way, this letter is not purported to be an actual letter, but was more than likely created to emphasize how perspective affects our outlook.  Here is the letter:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just thought I’d drop you a note to clue you in on my plans.  I’ve fallen in love with a guy called Jim.  He quit high school after grade eleven to get married.  About a year ago he got a divorce.  We’ve been going steady for two months and plan to get married in the fall.  Until then, I’ve decided to move into his apartment (I think I might be pregnant).  At any rate, I dropped out of school last week, although I’d like to finish college sometime in the future.  (Letter continued on the next page)…

Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that everything I’ve written so far in this letter is false.  None of it is true.  But, Mom and Dad, it IS true that I got a C- in French and flunked my math class…and it IS true that I’m going to need some more money for my tuition payments.

Being a mom is a difficult task that presents a unique set of challenges.  Yet, it is easy to lose perspective about it.  What is it I am really supposed to do?  What is success and what is failure?  Today we are going to look at three phases of life for moms: before being a mother, during the child rearing years, and after the kids leave the house.

Is Motherhood To Be Desired?

Over the last century being a mother has come to be a despised thing in some circles.  Whether it is Margaret Sanger calling for a 10 year moratorium on child births in the 1940’s or modern arguments that refer to motherhood as an enemy to women, a mom and dad raising a kid have much to overcome.  So, for a young woman, a very serious question to wrestle with is this: Is motherhood to be desired?  Is it some ancient form of slavery and restriction of women?  Does it necessarily ruin your professional and marital life?

Now before we deal with this question, I want to recognize that there are many women who, for one reason or another, have not or cannot have children.  I do not intend to diminish the difficulties of desiring to give birth to a child and being told you can’t.  Let me just say to those who are in that situation, trust God and talk with Him about your desires.  He may have something different for you that can be just as rewarding, whether becoming a foster parent, simply blessing kids around you, or mothering children spiritually.  So don’t make the act of birthing a baby of your own, the end all, of life and purpose.

Let’s go back to the question of the desirability of being a mother.  In Genesis 1:27-28, we see that motherhood is part of God’s design for women.  A man and woman coming together in a committed relationship to create the next generation is part of God’s design of humanity.  Whatever motherhood is, women were designed for it and it is not just a good thing, it is a God thing.

We also see in this Genesis passage that God refers to this process with the metaphor of being fruitful.  This is a powerful picture because no one would say that a tree without fruit is useless, and yet a tree that has fruit is something quite different altogether.  Throughout the Bible fruitfulness is more than physically giving birth to a child.  It is at its core a giving of life.  Yes, a child is birthed.  But it must be cared for and nurtured for it to be able to come to a point where it can live on its own.  Thus a woman’s fruitfulness is more than giving birth.  It is her ability to come alongside of another and give life to them.  This can be done regardless of one’s ability to conceive.  In fact the case can be made that the physical fruitfulness becomes a curse if the higher fruitfulness of physical and spiritual nurturing is neglected.  Rotten teens are not an argument against raising children.  They are an argument against the lack of a higher order of birthing that must happen.  The conception to birth process can be seen as an analogy of the higher order process that brings a child from birth into adult society.

In Psalm 127:3-4 we are told that children are an inheritance from the Lord.  In other words it is a portion that he has for many women that they can enjoy and tend to it.  It is not the only possible inheritance for women in life (If you are unable to have children recognize that God has an inheritance for you).  But neither should it be slighted as undesirable.

Motherhood is something that is good and desirable.  Take time to walk with God and He will make it clear if you are to be a mother or not.  Don’t lose perspective of the fact that you will come to the end of your life and there will be no going back.  Yes, we all have regrets, but don’t wall yourself off from motherhood without first spending the time in prayer to seek God’s will.

Am I A Failure As A Mother?

Once a woman has had a child, or more, it is very common to be plagued with doubts as to your success at it.  In fact they are very rarely doubts.  Generally you may feel quite sure that you have failed at it.  In Psalm 119:105, we are told that the Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  Thus, if you feel that you are a failure and don’t know what to do, turn to God for wisdom.  Let His Word shed light on what you should do. 

James picks up on this in James 1:5.  However, he not only counsels us to let God’s Word be a light to our path, but also counsels us to pray and ask for it.  Reading God’s Word is the content side, but we also have a spiritual and emotional side.  Spend time in prayer asking for wisdom to raise your child.  On top of this we can take our anxieties and worries, and put them in God’s hands because we know that He cares for us both emotionally and practically.

Now here are some rapid-fire encouragements that all of us know, but need to hear often.  Be realistic in how you judge yourself.  We can expect far too much of ourselves and our children.  In fact, a unrealistic expectation can make our “failures” even worse, by an unhealthy emphasis on perfection.  Relax and realize that you are not God.  There is only so much that you can do.  God does not expect you to be super-mom.  But you can be a supernatural mom by relying on God for His help.

Also, learn to prioritize.  Priorities help you to decide between what is going to get done and what isn’t.  Being a parent is one of those jobs that is never done and you’re always on the clock.  Many things that we see as failures are simply our limitations as a human.  You can’t do everything and God doesn’t expect it from you.  Prayerfully set priorities that make the really important things primary and the not so important things tertiary at best.

Another important thing is to find some friends that can understand what it means to be a mother.  The power of being able to talk with someone who understands us cannot be underestimated.  Don’t wall yourself off from others because you are such a “miserable failure.”  Isolation can make a person feel lonely even when they are surrounded by family.  So purposefully counteract it by seeking out friends who are raising kids themselves.  Alongside this, you can pray for God to lead you to a good mentor who is further along in life, a seasoned mom who can help you gain perspective.  In the now it feels like it is never going to end.  But a mom who has raised her kid can help keep you encouraged.  Normally this would be your mom and/or grandma.  But if this isn’t an option for you, don’t sit there.  Proactively seek out a mentor.

Lastly, moms, trust God.  Ultimately this is what we all have to do.  Many kids have come from horrible homes and grown up to become amazing servants of God and society.  So clearly you don’t have to be perfect for them to become all God wants them to be.  However, this is not an advocacy for not even caring.  You will have to give account to God for how you raised your kids, but not in the perfectionist way that you often do to yourself.  Your kid is going to grow up and make their own decisions.  You will be a powerful influence on them, but yet only an influence.  It doesn’t take perfection to do a good job; it just takes a love that is willing to be perfected.  “Lord, teach me to love my kids as You would have me!”

What now?

It is called the empty nest syndrome.  Some people look forward to the empty nest with far too much glee and, yet, others dread it with far too much gloom and depression.  A hyper-desire for what is down the road can adversely affect our actions in the now.  No, you don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be engaged in the here and now.  Emotional abandonment can be a very heavy thing to place upon the shoulders of a child.  On the other hand, those who are depressed over the emptying of their nest can develop an unhealthy selfishness and lack of faith that God has other good things ahead for you.  If God gave you kids to enjoy then He will be faithful to give you things to enjoy at the next stage.  Yes, all you have known for the last 20-30 years is suddenly gone and you face an unknown future.  But you have been there before.  The same God who has led you to this point has a plan forward.  Take His hand and rejoice!

We see such attitude in Hebrews 11:24-27.  Moses is given a task by God.  He knew what was being asked on the macro-level.  But there was much ahead that required trusting God.  Surrender to the next stage and let God lead you forward just as God led Moses.  There is a reward ahead.  This highly transitional time can go in many different directions and will definitely go through several transitions.  Some of them will be your choices, and yet, some of them may not.  Many a couple has emptied the nest only to immediately be presented with failing parents who need their care.  Or perhaps you have an adult child who has special needs and will never be able to live on their own.  Many things can lie ahead: grandkids, travel, new professions, hobbies, and expanded horizons.  No one thing is necessary for you to have a full and rewarding life.  The only thing you really need is to trust God as He leads you into the next phase of your life.

Let me close with a passage in Titus 2:1-4.  Here Paul encourages the older women to help the younger women to see the importance of loving their husbands and children.  Though he doesn’t use this word, I would see this as mentoring.  You have alot of experience that you can share with younger women.  It should not come across as a “know-it-all” attitude.  In fact mentoring is not so much about showing a young mother what she is doing wrong (this can short-cut her own learning and developing process).  At its heart is one woman telling another woman that, if she will lean on Jesus, she will be woman enough to meet the daunting things in her life.  Encourage them and keep them trusting in Jesus and His wisdom.  And, a practical tip from time to time won’t hurt at all ;)

Motherhood in Perspective audio

Tuesday
Jan012013

The Calling of Believers

As we approach the New Year it is helpful to evaluate where we have been and where we are headed.  This is true for both groups and individuals.  It is has been common in the last several decades for companies to develop a mission statement.  Such a statement lays out the purpose of the company in one or two brief, clear sentences.  Probably not very many individuals do this.  But it might not be a bad idea.  We all need to be reminded from time to time about our main purpose.

Today we will be looking at 1 Peter 3:8-12.  This section begins with the word, “finally.”  Peter started with some general comments to the believers, but then moved to some very specific groups within the church.  He starts with citizens, then speaks to slaves, then to women, and then to men.  Here he does not mean finally in the sense that he is done with the letter.  But rather, finally in the sense of wrapping up this section of directives to Christians both specifically and generally.

How We Should Treat One Another

Peter reminds the believers how they ought to treat each other.  He will speak to several different things, but begins with the mind.  He calls them to be of “One Mind.”  This “one mind” that we are to all have is not the mind of the leader or each of us fighting for our mind to be “the one.”  But rather we are to have the mind of Christ.  The mind and thinking of Jesus needs to be what all believers use in their words and deeds.  Paul speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 2:16 when he says, “We have the mind of Christ.”  There are two ways to look at the mind.  We can first focus on the purpose or goal of the mind.  Jesus was focused on glorifying the Father.  He did nothing for himself.  But rather did all things to bring glory to God.  He only spoke the words of the Father and only did the deeds of the Father.  The second area is one of attitude.  The mind of Jesus operated in a humble way that was willing to submit to the plan of the Father.  Thus in Philippians 2:5 it states “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.”  Paul goes on to talk about how Christ lowered himself to the lowest place.  If we all operated from such a mind this would be a different place.  We need to work and pray every day that God would help us to think like Jesus.  This starts by reading the Word of God and moves to trying to do it and ends in prayer as we wrestle with God over what we discover.

Next Peter calls them to have compassion towards each other.  The word literally means “to suffer with someone.”  It is natural to want to avoid negative things and difficult situations.  When someone is suffering, it affects those who come around them.  We are way too quick to “sniff out” suffering people and run from them.  We are called to suffer with each other, to have compassion on each other.

Next he calls them to brotherly love, Philadelphia.  This is a family type of love.  When brothers are young and immature, they often step on each other’s toes and don’t have great feelings for each other.  However, later as they mature, they realize that no one else understands them and what they have been through like a family member.  There is a strong bond that is more and more appreciated over time.  So are we going to be stuck at the stage of Jacob’s 12 sons back in the book of Genesis?  Or, are we going to go on to the brotherly love they found later when they wept with Joseph in Egypt?

Next he speaks about being tender hearted.  This speaks to our intentions and actions.  Do they come out of a heart that seeks the good of others?  Do you have good will towards them or ill will?  Our Father demonstrates this attitude in John 3:16.  He so loved the world that even though it was in rebellion to him he gave his only begotten son so that WHOSOEVER would believe on him would not perish but have everlasting life.  Such good heartedness leads to God not crushing the rebellion, but making it possible for everyone to make a choice.  He is willing to forgive.

Next we talk about being courteous.  This is simply being “low minded.”  Not low in the sense of being bad, but low in the sense of being humble.  We are courteous to people when we not only think lowly of ourselves but also when we in “honor prefer them above ourselves.”  No matter how great we are in this world’s eyes, we ought to recognize how Christ lowered himself and served us as if we were the greater.  Can we follow him in this example?

Next he speaks to a “payback” attitude.  We need to stay away from an evil for evil, revenge oriented attitude.  Even if we don’t seek revenge, we can fall into a low form of hostility towards others because of things they have done.  We act like a bunch of banty roosters around each other, strutting, and pecking at each other.  This ought not to be among God’s people.  In fact it is the opposite of what our Lord commanded us in Matthew 5:44-45a. 

“I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” 

We are not called to curse people, but to be a blessing to them.

Thus Peter ends with the call to blessing.  God has given us as a blessing to this world.  After the cross, he could have sent legions of angelic warriors to slay all mankind.  Instead, he sends us as his ministers of peace.  He speaks a gracious word of reconciliation to the world.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t a judgment day.  It just helps us to see why we are here.  We are here to bless the world in the name of Jesus.  Now, blessing is not defined by the world.  It is defined by Truth and Reality, and thus by God himself.

Reminded Of Our Inheritance

In the second part of verse 9, Peter reminds them of the inheritance that is theirs in Christ.  Our inheritance involves some things in this life, but it is ultimately and largely in the Age that is coming.  However Peter does remind them of this blessing with its present reality of enjoying God’s goodwill or favor.  So let’s break down exactly what Peter is saying in the second part of verse 9.

First he says “knowing.”  They have come to know certain things that should affect their present treatment of one another.  Sometimes we can forget or choose to ignore these realities.  This is complicated by a spiritual enemy who works in many ways to assail our mind.  The more he can get us to lean on our natural mind more than the mind of Christ, then the more he can cause us to fall in this spiritual battle.  Thus, this mental battle can keep us in the spiritual battle, or knock us out of it.  This battle is for our soul and the souls of others.

Next he says that they were called.  This is a reference to the fact that they are disciples of Jesus.  Jesus had come up to certain ones and called them to follow him.  In a similar way, believers are followers of Jesus.  He has purposefully called us and we have intentionally followed him.  It was a personal choice to follow the purpose of Jesus.  However, when the way gets difficult, it is easy to pull back from what we are called to do.  Will I turn back and walk away from Jesus?  Or will I, like Judas, continue to hang out with Jesus only to betray him in the end?  It is our inheritance to be followers/disciples of Jesus; to take our place among that great company of people who belong to Jesus.

Lastly he reminds them of their blessing by quoting a passage from Psalm 34.  It begins by listing some natural blessings such as life, and long life.  But it goes on to a largely spiritual blessing, in which God is favorably disposed to us.  So as he determines we see him favorably disposed to hear our prayers and to answer them (not that we get whatever we want).  But ultimately this favor of God is demonstrated in what he is bringing us to; making us to be like him.  God is actively against those who reject his ways, but he is favorably disposed towards those who embrace his ways and his nature.  Our inheritance is to be transformed to the point that we are like God.

Final Thoughts

If these things were easy the apostles would not have kept reminding us about them over and over.  We can shrink back from these things for different reasons and need to be encouraged in them.  In this world evil tends to be “rewarded” immediately.  So we can be tempted and leveraged by our own fleshly desires.  We need to remind ourselves that the delayed reward of righteousness (aka our inheritance) is better in the end.  It is better because it is eternal and it is better because it makes us to have a place wherein we can have a relationship with God and be like him.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday
Sep042012

Our Heavenly Inheritance

We are going to start a series where we walk through the New Testament book of 1 Peter.  It is clear that Peter’s main concern is persecution because each chapter deals with it and many of the other subjects are an encouragement to those enduring it.  However, today we are going to be dealing with the inheritance that we have in Christ.

Who Is Writing

In order to set the stage, we want to recognize that this is a letter from the apostle Peter.  Peter was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus that lived with him wherever he went.  Within this group Peter was one of three who were closest to Jesus.  In fact, Peter is actually a nickname that Jesus gave to him.  Some try to make Peter out to be the head Apostle and first Pope, however, it is clear from Scripture that this is simply not true.  In Acts 15 we do not see Peter presiding over the council and decreeing God’s will ex cathedra.  Rather we see all the apostles speaking what God has been saying to them and coming to a consensus about what the Holy Spirit wanted them to do.  Also, though Peter eventually ended up in Rome and was put to death there, he does not appear as the first Bishop of Rome, nor was he the instrument to raise up a church in Rome.  This is not to diminish Peter, but rather to clarify who it is who is writing.  He is an apostle of Jesus; one who was sent by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel to the world alongside of the work of other apostles.

Who Received the Letter

This letter was written specifically to believers who had been spread out from Jerusalem due to persecution.  Believers went many directions to many places.  Here Peter describes areas that are in what we would call central and northern Turkey today.  Though some try to say these are Jewish believers, I don’t believe that is Peter’s point in speaking of the “dispersion.”  Most early Christians were Jewish by the fact that it started in Jerusalem.  So clearly there are many Jews in this group if not most of them.  The dispersion is not a reference to the overall Jewish Diaspora that had been going on, but rather to the issues of Acts 8:4 when persecution of Christians by fellow Jews caused them to disperse and scatter into the surrounding nations.  What Satan meant for evil God meant for good.  Thus the Gospel was spread beyond Jerusalem at a faster rate than would have occurred under the believer’s own direction.

Peter reminds them that they are “elect” (literally chosen) by God.  God chose them according to his foreknowledge.  God knows in advance what men will chose and how they will respond and He made a choice.  He did not choose to save the strongest or the wisest, but rather to save the humble.  Thus even the strongest and wisest can be saved, if they will humble themselves.  God did not choose our works of righteousness but rather chose a path of salvation that required men to confess their sin, humble themselves before God and put their trust in His righteousness, specifically in Jesus Christ.  Remember that God  has chosen you to salvation and to an inheritance not because of your great works, but because of simple trust in Him. 

They are chosen by God “in sanctification of the Holy Spirit.”  Sanctification is when we are set apart by God for his purposes.  That sanctification has aspects that are immediate and some that are ongoing.  When we believe in Jesus we are separated from the world as God’s children and recipients of his favor.  However, as we follow Him, the Holy Spirit enables us to be separated from the ways of this world and the image of this world.

Next they are chosen by God for Obedience and for Service.  Part of Obeying God is to first believe on Jesus and then to pick up our cross and follow him.  In other words we enter into a life of dying to things that Jesus may live in us.  Just as Jesus was obedient to go to the literal cross, so God will call us to do many things that are like a cross to our soul.  We won’t want to die to certain desires and fears, but to obey God we will eventually have to learn.  We may be disciplined at times, but as a loving Father, we need not worry that he seeks to disqualify us.  On the contrary, he died that we might be his children.  Trust him!  The reason I said we are chosen for Service is because of the imagery behind the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.”  It is pointing back to the Old Testament sacrifices.  Anything that was going to be used for holy purposes, whether it was an altar, clothing, or a person like the priests, had to be sprinkled with blood from a sacrifice.  It represented that it had been cleansed and set apart for God’s work.  That physical lamb that was slain and the blood that was literally sprinkled on things point to the death of Jesus.  So, how are we metaphorically sprinkled with the blood of Jesus?  This is done by the Holy Spirit when we believe on Jesus as our substitute.  He died for me that my sins could be covered.   I believe an then God applies the blood to cover my account.

Peter’s Desire For Them

Peter ends verse 2 by praying Grace and Peace for them and that it be multiplied.  Clearly our greatest need is God’s grace, peace with Him, and peace from Him.  Though God’s grace and peace are already potentially multiplied towards us all the time, we do need to rest in that grace and peace.  If we allow our confidence to be undermined then we can lose our grip on His blessings.  Thus Peter prays that it will be in constant renewal and supply.

Peter’s Praise of God

God’s plan for mankind is truly magnificent.  It is not the plan we would have made for ourselves, but it is amazing.  Thus Peter blesses the Father because of His abundant mercy, which is a mercy that is inexhaustible.  If every soul on the planet repented today, God would have enough mercy to draw them all in and more.  However his mercy is not just abundant in quantity.  It is also abundant in quality.  Thus the next phrase, “begotten us again,” is a reference to the new birth or spiritual birth of John 3:3.  Simple mercy would be allowing us to be His slaves.  As you increase that mercy we can rise from slaves to friends.  But God’s mercy is so great that he adopts us into his family and makes us his children.  He spiritually births us into his family.  No, we do not become gods as some may claim.  But our Father is God and His Spirit does live within us, which is an abundant mercy.  We also have a “living Hope.”  It is living because Jesus who was dead is now alive.  However, it is also living in the sense that the Hope is lively.  It can’t be put down or quenched.  When satan tries to convince us that there is no hope, the hope we have in Jesus jumps up and sends him fleeing.  In Christ our hope cannot be touched by satan.  Even his death words can’t destroy the living hope we have in Jesus.  Lastly it is a living hope because it is the hope of eternal life that we have in our own personal resurrection by Jesus.  Thus the resurrection of Jesus becomes the assurance or proof that the Father will do all he has said he will do.  Our hope is a hope of life eternal.

But notice the reason God has given us spiritual birth.  In verse 4 we are born for an inheritance.  A divine inheritance has been created for those who are God’s children.  This inheritance is “incorruptible.”  That means it can’t diminish or be lost in the stock market.  It can’t grow old and die.  It is imperishable.  The next word to describe the inheritance is “undefiled.”  It is a clean and pure inheritance.  God didn’t steal it from anybody and it is not ill-gotten gain.  It is a righteous and pure inheritance that does not “fade away.”  How?  It doesn’t fade because it is kept in heaven for you.  Here things fade and luster is lost.  But our inheritance is just as shiny as the first day God made it.  Nothing, not even satan himself, can get near it to tarnish it.  In fact in verse 5 Peter says that even we ourselves are “kept by the power of God.”  This is a military picture of a spiritual guard that is placed upon us as his children.  This doesn’t mean Satan can’t attack.  It just means that his attacks are only as successful as we let them be.  That is why he couples the guarding power to our faith.  When we simply believe God in the face of every lying demon of hell then Satan can’t touch us.  Like Job of old we can lose everything and yet not, because our faith is in God.  “Though God slay me yet I will trust him.”

God has revealed the plan of his salvation.  But the day is coming when the heavens will open and Jesus will return.  And , in that day, his salvation will be revealed in all its power and glory!  This is our heavenly inheritance that we have in Jesus.  Amen.

Tuesday
Aug142012

Peace in Troubled Times

Historically there have always been times of fighting, whether between nations, clans, or individuals.  Even when one place is relatively peaceful, there is somewhere else where trouble has broken out.  It is important for us to also realize that the peace we may have in our little world is not guaranteed tomorrow.

In John 14 Jesus knew that he and his disciples would be going through some difficult times.  He was preparing them for the inevitable times of turmoil and trial ahead.  We really need to pay attention to what Jesus says here because it is the same thing that will enable us to make it through the difficulties of our day.

Ultimately this passage is about the peace that we can have in Jesus no matter what is going on around us.

The Peace Of Jesus Is Our Inheritance

In verse 27 Jesus says that he is leaving his peace with them.  This picture of him going away but leaving something behind is that of a death and inheritance.  When a person makes a last will and testament, they describe who gets the things that they leave behind.  Hebrews 9 makes use of this metaphor by telling us that it was necessary for Jesus to die in order for his “will” to be carried out.  We are the recipients of the riches of Christ because he has died for us.  Jesus did not die intestate.  That is, he did not die without a will.  Part of that inheritance is his peace.  However in the case of Jesus, he is alive to ensure that his will is correctly carried out.  Now it is important for us as believers to realize that the peace of Jesus is a very real thing.  He has given it to us so that we might not be troubled by this world.  If we don’t have peace then we need to look into the reasons why.  It cannot be that somehow the Holy Spirit is keeping it from us. 

Now the language used of this peace is very personal.  Jesus said “my” peace.  This was the peace that he personally experienced and enjoyed.  It was a peace that was based upon the foundation of the intimate relationship Jesus had with the Father.  Because he has loved us and drawn us into an intimate relationship with himself, we can enjoy the same peace that Jesus had.  The Father loves the Son and the Son loves us.  Therefore the Father also loves us and we should love the Father.  This is the source of our peace.  However, it is also the peace of Jesus because it is the peace that he has created.  When Jesus died for our sins, he made peace between us and the Father whom we have offended with our sins.  Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

It is also true that because we have peace with the Father and thus an emotional peace, so we can be at peace with other believers.  We have nothing to prove because we both are acceptable to the Father.  We can rest in His love and acceptance in Jesus.

Thus our peace is not based upon currently visible circumstances.  In that moment Jesus was being betrayed by Judas and would soon be railroaded in a kangaroo court and unjustly executed.  However, in spite of all this, it would be possible for the disciples to have peace because their acceptance by the Father hasn’t changed.  No matter what the present earthly reality is it cannot change the heavenly reality that God loves you and has adopted you into his family.  If He allows something to happen that is unpleasant then we can trust that he is working it out to a greater good.  Just as Jesus was put to death on a cross and yet great good has come out of it.

The Peace Of Jesus Is Not Of This World

Just as this peace is not based upon the circumstances of this world, so too, it is not given by this world.  No governmental army has obtained it for us and thus no governmental powers can take it away.  O, we can lose our peace, but it is not because of the circumstances.  It is because we have quit trusting and believing.  This world obtains peace through the objects of its desires: wealth, power, fame.  But all of these can be taken away in a heartbeat.  Don’t let fear rob you of your inheritance of peace.  Always remember that the things that make for your peace are not of this world and thus nothing in the world can take it away.

The Peace Of Jesus Should Affect Our Hearts

Jesus uses several terms that speak to how his peace is meant to affect our hearts.  The first word is troubled in verse 27.  Our hearts can be troubled, stirred  up, agitated by the events of this world.  Jesus knows what it is like to be troubled.  In John 13:21 Jesus was troubled as he approached his coming betrayal.  It troubled his heart that he had loved Judas and yet Judas was about to betray him.  Nevertheless, “Thy will be done.”  Jesus had peace because he was secure in his relationship with his father in heaven.  Are you secure in your relationship with Jesus and thus the Father?  Don’t let your heart be agitated and stirred up into turmoil in this area.

The second word is Fear.  Often it is fears that agitate and trouble our heart.  Fear not only steals our courage but it builds a spirit of timidity within us when trouble threatens us.  Jesus does not desire you to be ruled by fear and a troubled heart.  Instead he has far better things in mind.

The third word leaves the negative and moves to the positive, “Joy” (in verse 28).  Jesus points to our relationship with him.  If you love me you would rejoice.  Our joy is directly tied to our love of Jesus, not our accompanying Jesus.  Judas was with Jesus but he had no peace, nor joy.  The other disciples however came to know the peace and joy of Jesus.  When Jesus was resurrected it was meant to assure our hearts that we can be confident in God’s love of us.  This is a cause for great rejoicing.  Each day we can walk in the joy that the same power that resurrected Christ from the dead is working on our behalf as well.  Wow!

The fourth word, in verse 29, is faith.  Jesus told them in advance about his going away and available peace so that when it happened they would believe.  The word “believe” is the verbal form of Faith.  If agitating and troubling things come into your life then realize that God is going to use it to bring a greater joy to you.  Even death itself becomes a toothless enemy when you are loved by the Lord of Life.  Who, by the way, has personally guaranteed that he will resurrect your body in a glorified form.  Jesus said that if he went away then he would surely return so that we can be with him.  These are the things we can believe in because of the resurrection.

Let me close by pointing out four barriers to our peace.  If we are ignorant of what Jesus has done and made available for us then we can miss out on the peace he intends us to have.  However, if we do know but don’t believe then our unbelief will rob us of that peace.  Another barrier is sin. Our own sin robs us of confidence in God’s love and the sin of others often offends us.  Offended people do not like to let go of the offense.  As long as you cling to the offense you will lack peace.  Lastly the deceptive thoughts, ideas, and doctrines of the enemy can delude us and lead us away from the true peace we are meant to have in Jesus.  So be at peace in Jesus it is the inheritance that he has left for YOU!

 

 

Peace in troubled times audio