I went into the United States Marine Corps when the United States was not very strong. Once they got me, things started looking up. I’d like to say that but shortly after I was commissioned in 1979, Iran overran the United States Embassy in Tehran.
I was pretty sure that Armageddon was just around the corner, but it wasn’t. We—the United States—did try a rescue that went terribly wrong. It was indicative of the state of our armed forces at that time. Every unit was short people. Equipment that was broken could not be repaired as there was nothing in the supply line. Budgets were nearly non-existent and ammunition for training was scarce.
When I went to Africa in 2013, I saw training aids made out of feed sacks hanging in the orphanage schools. I had a flashback to using C-Ration cardboard to make my training aids while at the expeditionary camp at the base of Mount Fuji.
It was a strange feeling to know that the nation’s finest had diddly squat to train and prepare for war. I had some first-hand experience with the saying that the Marines have done so much with so little for so long, they now believe they can do anything with nothing.
It’s a nice saying and reflects mostly upon the attitudes of initiative and industry and ingenuity. But being the cutting edge of the world's premier superpower and being ill-equipped for the task was not a good feeling. It got better in the 1980s.
Going farther back in time—the early 1960s--and closer to home, my father once worked in the missile silos that peppered the countryside of western Oklahoma. This was the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was too young to understand much about it then, but I knew it caused a lot of anxiety.
Some years later, my Dad revealed to me that we couldn’t have launched half of the missiles in those silos due to lack of repair parts.
I think that peace through strength is an effective national strategy for our nation, but I have known times when our strength was paper thin. Worldly power and strength is always tenuous. Worldly peace is ever so temporary.
Worldly peace is temporary.
We continue with Love and Peace. Last week we invested some time in the peace that goes beyond our understanding. This week let’s look at peace that comes from the strength of God.
The entire psalm is about the strength of the Lord. It is poetic in language, but it is about the power and might of God. From this poetry we glean:
God is due glory and honor and worship.
His voice thunders and is powerful and majestic.
His voice breaks giant cedars and twists mighty oaks and make the nations giddy.
The voice of the Lord sends earthquakes through the desert. The Lord is enthroned over his entire creation. That’s a forever deal, not just for one or two terms.
In the temple of the Lord all cry out about his glory.
You might think that this would be a psalm about the fear of the Lord. That it would conclude with how humankind should live in fear of being struck down by this mighty God. We should be on the lookout for lightning bolts headed our way.
Instead, David wraps us this psalm by noting that the Lord gives strength to his people; moreover, he blesses them with peace.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. This is a good thing. But the theme here is strength not fear. The gift is peace not fear. This theme surfaces again in Psalm 121.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
The Lord is strong. He is creator—the maker of heaven and earth—and yet he knows you and won’t let you slip. He is not away taking a nap. He shades you in the heat of the day and keeps you from harm.
Hear the last verse once again:
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
This is the God who numbers the very hairs on your head and he brings you strength, joy, and peace. He gives us hope. He is taking care of us. Why should we worry?
Consider these thoughts from.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”
Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”
And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul tells us that as we trust in the Lord—how do we trust the Lord? That’s right, will all of our hearts. As we trust in the Lord, he fills us with joy and peace so that we may overflow with hope. The Holy Spirit is at work in us.
God sits enthroned above all creation and lives within us. I don’t know that we can truly comprehend that this is not a dichotomy but the fullness and completeness of our mighty God. He is a God who grants us peace.
I think to the encounter of . Everyone there saw this giant warrior and a ruddy boy with a slingshot and five smooth stones. The odds makers were not even taking bets. This was a done deal.
The giant warrior taunted David. David replied that Goliath thought he had the finest weapons of the world; they were in the hands of ungodly people and were no match for the God of Israel. David would hit his target with one stone and cut off the Philistine’s head, but God delivered the victory. The battle belonged to the Lord.
All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.
David had courage. David had skill. David had experience in other areas—you seldom show up to kill a giant warrior noting on your resume that you had done this before, but he had tested his mettle in other ways.
But his strength came from the Lord. The battle belonged to the Lord. David walked into a lopsided battle. He was the only one who know that it was lopsided in his favor because his strength came from the Lord. His peace in the middle of battle was from the Lord.
I have ventured to different scriptures—it could have been more—to bring us to one place.
We serve a mighty God. When we are weak, his strength is more than enough for us, better than our own strength at its best.
In a single word, God could remove us from existence and eternity. God is that powerful. God is that strong, but he created us with the best of intentions for us, and he has not changed course. He still has good plans for us and is fully vested in seeing those plans through to complete us.
For God to discard us now, is not consistent with the God revealed to us in his holy word. He has good plans for us!
The Lord is not only strong, he is the source of my strength.
The Lord crushes Satan under our feet. He makes us victorious in himself.
The Lord desires us to live in peace. Our peace comes from his strength.
Anxiety, hate, vitriol, acrimony have no place in our lives. These come out of carnal quarrels. Peace comes from God’s strength. Our battle is won. God has won the victory for us.
God has given us peace.
Live in God’s peace. It is not a tenuous peace like the world knows. It is an eternal peace for God is enthroned above all forever.
Receive the peace of God through Jesus Christ and his Spirit who is alive within us!