Saturday, September 22, 2018

My Peace I Leave with You


I have many favorite verses, but both of these are near the top of the list.  They serve as stand-alone affirmations.  They by themselves are sources of encouragement, but we should consider them in context.

They are great on their own, but they come with a story.  This part of John’s gospel takes us right up to the time of Jesus being betrayed and crucified.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  It has been labeled the triumphal or triumphant entry.   It seemed that things were looking up for these dozen men who had followed Jesus all over the Holy Land for about 3 years.  Things were finally about to happen.

They were, but not as these disciples expected.  Greeks came seeking Jesus and Jesus would not see them, not because he didn’t like Greeks or they would be excluded from salvation, but because his hour had come.  In that hour, it was as if the disciples were given an advance course of study in a very compressed time.

Drinking from a fire hose would have been an appropriate term had there been such a thing as fire hoses then.

Jesus kicked off this time by washing the feet of his disciples.  I think the sound track for this might have started with “Y’all ready for this?”  Well, they weren’t ready for this.

This caught the disciples completely off guard, but Jesus began this compressed time by modeling servanthood.  How would these men serve God when Jesus was gone?  Here was a model.

Peter was still entrenched in his own power to take care of his Master’s business.  Wash my feet?  No way!

When Jesus told Peter that if he didn’t wash his feet, he would miss out on everything, Peter wanted a full bath.  Peter also boasted that he would never deny his Lord.  Jesus told him that his machismo would not hold up to the pressure of the world and a crowing rooster would remind him of this in a very short time.

Jesus knew that he would be betrayed during this time and told his disciples as much, but they still did not understand.  He told them that he would go away for a while then be with them again, but they did not understand.

Then he gave them a command.  He called it a new command.  It sounds like the old command, but it is more.  He told them that as he had loved them—they didn’t really know how much he loved them at this point, but they would soon find out.  That as much as he loved them, they should love each other.

This would clearly mark them as his disciples. There would be no mistaking them as followers of anyone else.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

This is a very intense command.  Love God with everything you have—even to the death—and do it by loving each other.  This is an all-in command.  This is not bringing some grain and a couple goats to be sacrificed.  This is not giving ten percent of your income.  This is love one another with everything you have and all that you are.

Jesus had stopped seeing anyone for teaching and healing, he washed the feet of his disciples and challenged them do likewise in serving God, he told them he was going away, he burst Peter’s bubble as far as never denying him, and now he gives them this command about loving each other with everything that they are.

I can imagine there were 11 deer in the headlights looks.  Jesus gave these shell-shocked disciples words of comfort.  He told them to trust in God and also in him.  He said that he was going away and preparing a place for them.  He told them that they knew he spoke the truth and they knew the way to the place that he was going.

Thomas said, we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way.

Thomas was still worldly minded.  These men had followed Jesus for a long time. They did not always know what was next or where they were headed, but they knew to follow Jesus.

Jesus answered Thomas and told his disciples then and into this age, that he was and is the Way.  Jesus told them that they knew the way.  They did.  Jesus was and is the Way.

But the disciples wanted to see the Father!  Just let us see the Father and we will be happy

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

He went on to explain to them that if they knew him, then they knew the Father.  Consider the men to whom Jesus was talking.  They were Jews.  The self-righteous Jews would have counted them as a lesser form of Jew because they were mostly from Galilee and not Jerusalem, but they were Jews nonetheless.

That is, they knew there was one true God and they believed that the one true God would send a Messiah one day.  They believed Jesus to be that Messiah.  They did not comprehend a triune God.  Father, Son, and Spirit in perfect harmony each doing what was required where it was needed.

Jesus explained that if you know me, then you know my Dad.  He explained that when he left to be with his Father—something that his disciples should be happy about—he would not orphan them but that the Holy Spirit would come to them.

Think, deer in the headlights.

Jesus gives the analogy of the vine and the branches.  He told them to remain in him and they would produce fruit—fruit that will last.  God himself will be working in them and through them.

Again, Jesus charged them to love one another.

Jesus reminded them that they did not choose him, but that it was the other way around.  Jesus, in whom these men knew the Father, chose them.

Because the world did not know the one true God, the world would hate them.  And oh by the way, Jesus said, I will be leaving you soon.  He not only modeled servanthood for these few men, he was about to demonstrate complete obedience to the Father—even unto death, death on a cross.

Think, jaws dropped and deer in the headlights

Jesus had promised them the Spirit and the Spirit would give them a very accelerated learning curve in another six weeks or so, but these men were truly overwhelmed. 

How could they deal with all of this?  The world would hate them and Jesus gave them what seemed like an impossible command. 


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I have quickly gone through what we would often take weeks, months, or lifetimes studying.  I have done so to bring us to consider two verses concerning peace.  One you just heard.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The other came a couple chapters earlier.

All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Do we understand these words?

Do not let your hearts be troubled.
My peace I give to you.
Take heart!  Take courage!
I have overcome the world.

I think we might see how the disciples did not grasp these words of assurance and peace.  I think that deer in the headlights is as good an analogy as I can find.  Things would change with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, but these men would be dumbfounded, scattered, and afraid at the death of their Master.

I doubt that any of us could truthfully say, “Oh, I would have been steadfast for my Master.”  Ask Peter how that worked out for him.  I think we know that we would have been as dysfunctional as these disciples had we walked in their shoes.

But we don’t walk in their shoes, at least as far as their first-century experience goes.  We know the rest of the story.  We know of victory over sin and death.  We have this promise of life eternal.  We can sing Blessed Assurance without crossing our fingers.  We know the word of God to be true!

But do we accept and receive the Lord’s peace?  Jesus said: “My peace I leave with you.”  The peace of the world is grounded in the circumstances of the world.  Jesus said that his peace and the peace that the world gives you are not the same.

You have a nice home, you feel some peace.

You make a good living, you feel some peace.

Your kids get good grades, you feel some peace.

The Cowboys win, you feel some peace.

OK, the Sooners win, you feel some peace.

The severe weather alert is over, you feel some peace.

The last kid gets picked up on Wednesday night, you feel some peace.

That’s the way the world works.  Something goes your way or the way you think it should go and you have a little peace.  You have temporary peace.

You have a day full of trouble, you feel some peace.  That’s the way the Lord works.

You have a day full of joy and you have peace.

You have joy, trouble, trouble, joy, bewilderment, clarity, confusion, exhilaration, and more trouble, but you have peace.

The peace that comes from the Lord is not rooted in your circumstances.  It is a gift from him.  It is not conditional as to how your day went.  In fact, it may have been very essential to getting through the trials of your day.

But peace is peace, right?  How can there be a difference?

The kids are home safe.  You have a little peace.

Your kids are washed in the blood of the Lamb.  You have more peace.

You know the one true God through Christ Jesus.  You have real peace.

You know that God loves you with an everlasting love, not just until you goof up again.  He loves you now and forever.

His love is not contingent upon how your day went.

His love is not contingent on how the elections go.

His love is not contingent upon a conference or national championship.

His love is not contingent upon you getting that new job or promotion.

His love for you is so great that he shed his own blood for you.  By his stripes we are healed.  We are forgiven.  Our sins are not counted against us.

His love for you is so great that you will never live another day without purpose.

His love for you is so great that he gives you love to share.  He commissions you to be a part of sharing his unbelievable love.

His love for us is so great that before God laid the foundation of the world, he stored up an eternal inheritance for you.

His love for us is so great that God made courage, not fear the governing factor in how we are to live.

His love for us is so great that he is ready to listen to us any time of the day or night.

His love for us is so great that his own Spirit lives within us.

His love for us is so great that he grants us wisdom ever so generously just for the asking.

His love for us is so great that even in our worst moments, we may live in his peace.

We will have trouble in this world.  That’s a given.  Most people agree 100% with that statement.

Jesus told us to take courage.  He has overcome the world.  He gave us his peace which is not contingent on any worldly factor.  It comes from the heart of our Father in heaven who is transforming our human heart into his divine heart of love.

The peace of God that is so much more than we can understand is his gift to us in this world full of trouble.

I ask that this week, you meditate upon 2 verses that I hope are now very familiar to you.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Take heart.  Take courage.  Do not be afraid.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Receive the Lord’s peace.  It is a gift of love and we are blessed to receive it!


Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Peace and Fear: Empathizing with the Servants in the Parable of the Talents


In August and September each year, I do my annual sermon planning.  I search the scriptures, listen for God’s leading, and draft a plan for what I will preach for the next year.  It is, of course, subject to change. 

For the past 12 years, I have preached the Parable of the Talents at least once each year.  Usually, I work it in more than once.  When I set forth my plan for this year, I did not include the Parable of the Talents, but thought, it will come up somewhere.

It did.  As I looked at where we had been with love and love and action, and where we were with peace, I thought, “How on God’s green earth did I leave the Parable of the Talents out of this discourse on peace?”  I have mentioned peace in passing but never focused on it with regard to this parable.  We will fix that today.

The parable mentions many things put does not address peace directly, so we will have to empathize with the 3 servants.  The first two took their master’s money and put it to work at once.  They were prepared to be trusted with more.

They put their master’s money to work with urgency.  Was there risk?  If they wanted to make more money, there was some risk.  In fact, there was risk in doing nothing.

Did they have to deal with fear?  Everyone must deal with fear.  They just did not let fear debilitate them.  They might have even had the savvy to turn it to their own motivational advantage.  In any case, fear did not govern them.

They acted with urgency and therefore I contend that they had purpose.  Urgency comes with purpose, otherwise it’s just busyness.

In their urgency, I proffer that they had peace.  When you know your purpose and know what you are to do, and you are doing it, peace happens!

I might get me some shirts made with a smiley face and the words PEACE HAPPENS.

If you know what to do and do what you know to do, peace happens.  It’s hard to explain but you get in a zone, in a rhythm, in sync with everything good. 

If you are just busy but not purposeful, peace doesn’t visit too often.  Inactivity is not peace.

We know what happened in this parable.  The master returned.  The first two servants were excited about the return on investment they had to show their master.

The master responded with words anyone would want to hear: 

Well done! 
Good and Faithful Servant
You did great with what I gave you.  Now, I am putting you in charge of more.
Come and share your master’s happiness.

Who would not have joy at getting all these accolades, a promotion, and treated as family by your boss?  But I don’t think that either of these first two servants was surprised. 

Remember, each was given money in accordance with his ability.  The master knew what each could handle.  They had surely been in charge of smaller trusts before and did very well.  They knew if they did what they knew to do and did it to the best of their ability, they would produce a good return.

I doubt that these two had doubts about what to do.
I believe that they had peace while they put their talents to work.  They had joy upon their master’s return, but I put before you that they had peace while he was away.

The third servant was a different story.  He buried the talent trusted to him in the ground.  He dug a hole and buried it. 

Many speculate that it might have been in the floor of his own house.  Some houses had dirt floors. 

It could have been out in a nearby field, surely in a place that was not cultivated.  Either way, you must have some system of checking on it.

If it’s out in a field, you must find a way to nonchalantly stroll by and glance at the ground to make sure that it has not been disturbed.  Of course, if it has been disturbed, it’s probably game over.

If you go by too frequently, people wonder why is this guy hanging out there so much?  If you don’t, you wonder if your money is still where you put it.

If you buried it in the floor of your house, you likely felt like you were on house arrest.  Every time you left your house, your mind was on someone breaking in and finding your cache.

How much peace can you have when you are worried about what has been entrusted to you?

The first two servants were glad to see their master return.  They wanted him to see what they had done with the money entrusted to them.  The third servant was glad to see his master return.  He could finally get rid of this burden given to him.

The third servant was afraid.  If he invested the money, he might fail.  If he invested the money, he might succeed, and then more might be expected of him.

If he had put the money in the bank, it would have been safer than anything else he came up with, and it would have earned a little interest.  It would have been better than burying it in the ground.  It would have taken less effort than burying it in the ground.  He would have had some peace.

But fear ruled in this servant.  Fear ruled, and I suggest to you that this man had no peace.

Fear and peace don’t play well together.  In fact, fear is something of a bully.  Now, they won’t let you teach this in school these days, but the best way to deal with a bully is to punch him in the nose.  I don’t know how that works with cyberbullying, but here is how it works with fear.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Here’s the thing.  You must choose whom you will fear.  You can’t be afraid of everything.  If you fear the world and its ways, you don’t fear God.  That makes you what the Bible calls a fool.  You have chosen to deny the truth.

If you fear God, you will not fear anything else.  God grants you wisdom and provides instruction and disciplines you when you get off course.  Remember that God disciplinesthis is not punishmentthose he loves.

How do we deal with fear and function fully in this life?  We choose to fear only the Lord.  But there is more.

We are told that God did not give us a spirit of fear.  So, when fear comes upon us, we recognize that this is not a good gift.  All good gifts are from above.

Fear has to do with punishment and we are not people subject to wrath.  We live in the Lord’s favor.  God grants us power, love, and a sound mind. 

When we act out of fear we feel powerless, unloved, and feeble minded.  This verse from Paul’s second letter to Timothy proffers a dichotomy.  It’s either fear or power, love, and a sound mind. 

Think of the Lord’s words to Joshua.

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

These words were important enough that Joshua heard them again two verses later.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Here is another dichotomy.  Be strong and courageous or be afraid and discouraged.  This dichotomy comes with the promise that God is with us. 

So here is our choice as we deal with the fear bully.  Trust God or give in to fear. 

Trust God and know peace or fear the things of this world have no peace. 

We will have trouble in this world.  There is risk.  Fear is a real thing.  We will have storms, but will we have peace in those storms?

Two servants in this parable took what their master had given them and put it to work at once.  They were ready to be trusted more by their master.  They anticipated greater trust.  They wanted to please their master so much, they could not delay in putting his money to work.

I think that they worked as hard as they had in their entire lives, but I also believe they lived in the perfect peace of the Lord.  How could they not?  They were doing exactly what they knew to do.  The words, Well done good and faithful servant, were of greater value than any of the money they would produce as a return on their investment. 

Their daily return on investment was peace in knowing what they were doing would please their master.

And one servant—one who gets the label wicked and lazy—was governed by fear not by the desire to please his master.  Fear ruled in his life.  Fear is real but must not be given command.  It must not be in charge.

Our return on investment when our mind is governed by fear is that we will have no peace.  I will add that is a good thing.  Remember my recent message on Disturbing the Peace?

If we who know God and say we are following Jesus do not have peace in the decisions that we are making and the life that we are living, we need to inventory the things that govern our lives.  If we find fear among them, kick fear to the curb.

The only fear that belongs in our lives is the fear of the Lord, and remember, that is the starting point.  Our destination is perfect love which casts out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  We will not know God’s wrathWe live in his favor.

We discard fear and receive power, love, and a sound mind.  Within those three we know peace.

We know peace.  We often look at the Parable of the Talents as a what happens at the end sort of lesson.  It is, but I challenge us to consider that during the long time when the master was away, two of these servants enjoyed peace because they poured themselves into doing exactly what they knew would please their master.

Are we ready to do what pleases our Master and enjoy his peace while we do it?

Are we ready to kick the fear of the world to the curb?

Are we ready to be faithful in the things appointed to us now?

Are we ready to live bringing glory to God and enjoying his peace?

I say that we are!  Let’s bring glory to God and enjoy his peace!



Amen.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Disturbing the Peace

Read Luke 16

We have talked for some time now about God’s peace and living in God’s peace and knowing God’s peace even when the world is a mess.  We can have peace in the worst of circumstances.

We will have trouble in the world.  We can enjoy God’s peace in spite of and in the midst of that trouble.  We are growing in God’s grace and learning to live in his peace.

For us, peace is part of an abundant life

For some, peace is a part of existential tribulation.  For some, peace causes turmoil in the here and now. 

Whoa!  Hold your holy horses preacher!  How can peace bring turmoil and tribulation?

Many have made peace with the world.  The world is their friend.  The peace that they know is not the peace that our Lord gave us. 


If you have heard me preach for a few months or many years, you know that I don’t really have a hellfire and damnation sermon.  I could preach one, but it would be contrary to the ordination given to me.  I am educated enough to give you a Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God message and it would have fidelity with Jonathan Edward’s message by the same name.  It’s not that I don’t know how to give one. 

It is that they are not effective and use one of the primary tools of the enemy—fear.  People who come to profess their faith in Jesus through fear often are only professing their fear of hell.  Even the demons are not looking forward to that experience.

I am not talking about the fear of the Lord.  That’s a good thing and the starting blocks for greater things.  I am talking about coming to Jesus out of the fear of hell.  That’s the road most traveled in too many places and the road that ends before reaching discipleship.

And there are many who are not blind but still live by the rules of the world.  They may have even professed their faith in Jesus but do not trust him with their lives.  They believe but don’t trust

These are people whom we know.  These are people whom we help.  These are people who may pray every day but have not trusted the Lord with anything important for a single day.

These are people that want the salvation of the Lord and likely have received it.  Only the Lord knows if they indeed professed their faith—that they professed aloud that Jesus is Lord and believe with their hearts that God raised him from the dead.

They want their salvation from the Lord, but they seek their peace in the world.  We talked before about Jesus bringing a sword.  We have entered the third millennium since the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  We are approaching the beginning of the third millennia since he ascended into heaven and the world has made a lot of friends. 

I don’t know the day and the hour but I suspect the axe is at the root of the tree.  Surely the time is near when God’s Spirit will be poured out.  Surely we who follow Jesus must make the most of every opportunity

Many do not know salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ but many others have professed their faith; yet both groups have united themselves to the world.  Both groups are friends of the world.  They seek their peace from the world.

Some have become friends of the world over time.  I have used this analogy for years.  It’s not my own.  It was around for decades before I employed it.  Leadership gurus, management analysists, and paradigm pioneers use it still today, as will your preacher.

Drop a frog into a pot of boiling water.  It jumps out of course.  But if you put another frog—it probably wouldn't be the same frog.  If you get thrown into a boiling pot once, you're not going to get caught by these crazy management analysts again.  If you put another frog into room temperature water, it will sit contently as you heat up the water one degree a minute until the frog boils to death. 

There are many Christians in this world boiling to death one degree at a time.  They are making peace with the world.  They are seeking the world’s peace.  They are vested in the world’s peace.

Many have received the salvation of the Lord but their response is to sin and sin profusely.  What shall we say then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound even more?

Paul was asking a rhetorical question, but he must have thought that some might take him up on this as a challenge, so he answered his own question with a resounding, “No!”

Have you seen the posts that pick on one group and sarcastically ask us to quit saying, “Could they get any more stupid?  They are taking it as a challenge.” 

It seems that some people today are doing the same with becoming a friend of the world.  We died with Christ.  We come to life in Christ.  We belong to Christ.  Why would we unite ourselves with the world when we belong to Christ?

The answer is that most of us do not, but we know so many who do.  Are we content to leave them in the peace of the world?

If the answer is no, how do we keep them from boiling to death?

The world is becoming busier by the minute.  The world demands more and more of you.  The psalmist proclaims, “Be still and know that I am God.”

The world says, “You don’t have time for that” as it turns up the temperature by another degree.

I look at parents today.  Sports take up big chunks of life.  You can’t not play.  You have to play every chance you get, or you kids will be left behind.

I look at technology today.  You can’t not be connected.  You can’t not play video games.  You can’t not miss a day checking posts.

I look at addiction today.  It seems like it used to just be alcohol.  Then it was alcohol and drugs.  Then it was pornography.  Then it was tobacco.  Then it was video games. 

I look at today’s world and see so many things and events and substances that offer friendship to us.  It’s not real friendshipThe world has no real friendship to give.

So many people will go through this life and will have known little else than busyness.  The sum total of their lives will be defined in one word:  busy.

Now, if that is us, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  When we feel the peace of the Lord slipping away, we have the presence of mind to ask, “Am I becoming a friend of the world?”

We should have the efficacy to make the desired changes.  That is, we should know what to do and have the desire, initiative, and courage to do it.

What about those who have tied the knot with the world?  How do we reach them?  Do we try to scare the hell out of them, so they have peace?

What do we who believe in Christ, are doing our best to trust in the Lord, are working hard to be his disciples, and who enjoy the peace of the Lord to do?  What are we to do?

We could say, “I’m good.  Good luck buddy.”

We could throw a Bible at them and say, “Better get after it.”

We could sling some Bible verses at them.  That always works. 

We could bring them to worship and they could hear Tom preach.  That’s guaranteed to fix them!

What are we who have peace to do with those whom we know have made peace with the world?

We should do the very thing our Lord and Savior did.  What’s that?  Disturb the peace!

For all the Kangaroo Courts that Jesus went through before his execution, none could prove any charge against him.  Had the self-righteous prosecutors thought about it, they could have come up with the perfect charge:  Disturbing the Peace.

By his own words, he did not come to bring peace but a sword.  Jesus came to disturb the peace.  If you were friends with and at peace with the world, your world was about to be turned upside down, at least from your perspective.

Jesus came to give people a chance to get right-side up, but to do that he disturbed the peace that they had with the world.

So how should we disturb the peace?  Should we start making signs and working on ridiculous chants?  No!

We must shine as a light before people.  We put our very lives on display and the light that shines from us is love, hope, and peace.  There are other attributes, but for now let’s focus on peace.

Do you remember the psalm-like words of Isaiah?

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

When our minds are steadfast in the Lord, when our thoughts always have the Lord first, when our thinking comes from the mind of Christ and not our own understanding, then we have peace.






We are not screaming at people.  We are not constantly reminding people that they are going to hell.  We are living a life of love and of hope and of peace in spite of this world’s demands, and some people who have become good friends with the world and its ways see this and wonder.

Wonder what?

How are these people at peace in the middle of chaos?

How are these people generous when they make less than I do, and I am stressed over money all the time?


Just what do these people have that I don’t?

That’s where the conversation begins.  That’s where in conversational exchange and gentle words we reveal the love and hope and peace that we know.

That’s when we remind people that we are friends of God—the one true God who has loves us with an everlasting love—and not friends of the world.  We stand firm.  We don’t waffle.  This is who we are, and we are not interested in being a friend of the world.

We tell our neighbors that we will be their friend but not a friend of the world.  We remind them that being their friend might disturb the peace that they have with the world.  Realize that we might not get invited to all of the birthday parties anymore.

When people wonder what’s up with us, that’s when we humbly explain that while we have financial challenges, we are at peace because we are master of our money.  We are master in this relationship.

That’s when we take a risk and become a bit vulnerable and let these friends of the world know that we too face similar challenges, but we have learned to trust in the Lord and be a part of a mutual support network known as the body of Christ, and we have received his peace.

That’s when we tell them face-to-face—remember that speaking the truth in love is an indicator of our maturity—that our prayer for them might not be their prayer for themselves.  We are praying that their peace with the world is shaken beyond belief.

We look them in the eye and tell them that we have come to disturb the peace they have with this world and help them find true peace in Christ Jesus.  We are not condescending.  We are not judgmental.  We are commissioned to make disciples.

We are not commissioned to save people.  That’s the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are commissioned to take the gospel to the world, make disciples, and teach others what Jesus taught us.

So many in this world have professed their faith at some point in their lives but have not taken a single step in discipleship.  Instead of following Jesus wherever he leads and receiving his peace, not because of our circumstances but because of our faithfulness to him, they have made peace with the world.

Do you remember God’s instructions to his people as they prepared themselves for war while in the wilderness?  One day they would enter the land promised to them.  They might negotiate peace with cities outside of the Promised Land, but once they were claiming this land, they were to leave no breathing thing.

This sounds harsh, but God is a jealous God and any ungodly people still left in the land would corrupt his own people and steer them away from the laws that he gave them.

Today, we must not be a friend of the world if Jesus is our Savior and our Lord.  Consider these simple dichotomies.

Friend of the world or friend of God?
Make peace with the world or receive God’s peace?
Trust in the world or trust in the Lord?

Not everyone will be happy with us speaking the truth.  Many only want to hear what they want to hear and have no problem omitting or redacting the truth.  Disturbing the peace is not the most direct route to acceptance in the world, but we are only temporary residents here.

Consider Gideon.  God called him to tear down the altar to Baal and destroy the Asherah poles.  He did and the people wanted him to pay for it.  So the people came to Gideon’s father and demanded that he turn over his son so that he could be put to death for offending Baal.

Joash, Gideon’s father told the people that if Baal is indeed a god, then he can take care of this himself.  From that point on, Gideon was known as Jerub-Baal, meaning let Baal contend with him.

Are we afraid today that we will offend Baal if we destroy his altars and smash the Asherah poles of our day?  Exactly who are we afraid of offending with the truth?

We are not talking about pulling down statues as seems to be the fad these days.  We are talking about a different sort of confrontation. We take down false arguments.  We speak the truth.  We lead people to see a house build on sand that needs to be firmly affixed to solid rock.

The truth is that you cannot be a friend of God and a friend of the world.  You are not going to enjoy God’s peace if you have made peace with the world.

You know that, but do your neighbors?  Isn’t time that we disturbed the peace?  Isn’t it time that we loved our neighbors enough to disturb the peace that they have made with the world.    

How?


Our language must be so purposeful that it says as for me and my house we serve the Lord even when talking about the football game.

We must be thankful and full of hope even in our worst trials, so people know that our strength comes from the Lord. 


Let’s disturb the peace.


Amen!