VIDEO Making Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

Most of us are familiar with the activities of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. Members of the Peacekeeping Forces are universally recognized because of the light blue helmets or berets they wear when deployed. Their mission is not to make peace but to help keep peace. In general, they employ numerous civil strategies in support of governments and militaries who are attempting to make peace, that is, to settle disputes.

That mission brings to mind Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers”—not the peacekeepers. While peacekeeping is undeniably challenging, peacemaking is harder. And Jesus assigns us the harder task of making peace in a world that leans toward conflict. In Romans 14:17-18, Paul summarized why peacemaking is so important. First, peace is one of the characteristics of the kingdom of God (verse 17). Second, those who pursue peace are “pleasing to God” (verse 18, NIV). Or to use Jesus’ words, peacemakers are “blessed” by God.

Peacemaking and peacekeeping are two sides of the same coin. We can start by “[pursuing] peace with all people” (Hebrews 12:14). Look for situations today in which you can introduce the peace of God to those who may lack it—and be blessed for your efforts.

Humility solders Christians together in peace.  Thomas Watson


Charles Spurgeon: The Beatitudes – Blessed Are Peacemakers / They Shall Be The Children of God 8/8

Bright Spots in Bleak Places

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5

When my husband and I were exploring a small, rugged corner of the state of Wyoming, I spied a sunflower in a rocky, dry place where sagebrush, nettles, prickly cactus, and other scraggly plants grew. It wasn’t as tall as the domestic sunflower, but it was just as bright—and I felt cheered.

This unexpected bright spot in rough terrain reminded me of how life, even for the believer in Jesus, can seem barren and cheerless. Troubles can seem insurmountable, and like the cries of the psalmist David, our prayers sometimes seem to go unheeded: “Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (Psalm 86:1). Like him, we too long for joy (v. 4).

But David goes on to declare that we serve a faithful (v. 11), “compassionate and gracious God” (v. 15), who abounds in love for all who call on Him (v. 5). He does answer (v. 7).

Sometimes in bleak places, God sends a sunflower—an encouraging word or note from a friend; a comforting verse or Bible passage; a beautiful sunrise—that helps us to move forward with a lighter step, with hope. Even as we await the day we experience God’s deliverance out of our difficulty, may we join the psalmist in proclaiming, “You are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God”! (v. 10).

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

Out of what difficult place has God delivered you? During that time, did you experience any “sunflowers” that helped you persevere?

Loving God, thank You for being compassionate and gracious. Help me to remember how You’ve been faithful and answered my prayers in the past—and will again in the future.

Be Accountable to God

Acts 24:24-25

Are you accountable to anyone? We all need accountability because it serves as a guardrail, keeping us on the right path. Some people act as if they answer to no one, and yet ultimately we’re all accountable to God and will one day stand before Him to be judged.

The Bible describes two separate judgments—one will be for believers (2 Corinthians 5:9-10) and the other, for unbelievers (Revelation 20:11-15). The basis for both is a person’s works, but the outcomes are quite different. Since Christ bore divine judgment for the sins of His followers, they will never be held accountable for transgressions. So when Christians stand before Christ, their works will be evaluated for the purpose of rewards. But unbelievers will be held responsible for sins they committed and will be sentenced to eternal punishment.

What is your first reaction to our future judgment? You might feel scared if you have not trusted Jesus as your Savior. If so, this is an opportunity to consider asking Him into your heart. But for those of us who have placed faith in Him, the thought of evaluation should inspire thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice. It should also motivate us to live in a manner pleasing to God so we can hear Him say, “Well done!”

Keep The Fear of the Lord

“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” (Psalm 34:11)

This psalm has been a source of great comfort and encouragement to many down through the years. The first section (vv. 1-7) of this acrostic hymn (the first letter of each verse begins with successive letters of the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet) consists of the testimony of one who fears the Lord, and the last section (vv. 16-22) describes the deliverance promised those who do fear the Lord, contrasted with the destinies of those who don’t. In the center section, David explains what it means to fear the Lord and invites all who read to join him in fearing God.

Here, the “fear of the LORD” is not so much an attitude as it is a life commitment. “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?” (v. 12). A God-fearing man or woman desires a long life of ministry to others. “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), yes, but we should ask for lengthy opportunities to “see good.”

“Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” (Psalm 34:13). We know that the tongue is capable of incredible harm. The one who fears the Lord should be characterized by a lifestyle of guarded speech.

Not only is our speech to be free from evil, but we are to “depart from evil, and do good” (v. 14) in every area of life as well. Our life’s motive should be to “seek peace, and pursue it.” Attaining peace may not be easy, but we should strive for it.

The results of such a lifestyle should be reward enough, but our gracious Lord promises even more: “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (v. 7).

“O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him” (Psalm 34:9). JDM

Too Easy To Convert

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

—Matthew 13:20-21

 

First, we must consider the person who becomes a disciple of Christ on impulse. This is likely to be the person who came in on a wave of enthusiasm, and I am a little bit suspicious of anyone who is too easily converted. I have a feeling that if he or she can be easily converted to Christ, he or she may be very easily flipped back the other way. I am concerned about the person who just yields, who has no sales resistance at all….

Actually, I go along with the man or woman who is thoughtful enough about this decision to say truthfully: “I want a day to think this over,” or, “I want a week to read the Bible and to meditate on what this decision means.”

I have never considered it a very great compliment to the Christian church that we can generate enthusiasm on such short notice. The less there is in the kettle, the quicker it begins to boil. There are some who get converted on enthusiasm and backslide on principle!   FBR055-057

Lord, thank You for this perspective on serious consideration rather than flippant acquiescence. Amen.

 

A High Note of Holy Joy

Walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.

—Ezekiel 33:15

Our religion must interfere with our private lives [because] we live in the world, the Bible name for human society. The regenerated man has been inwardly separated from society as Israel was separated from Egypt at the crossing of the Red Sea.

The Christian is a man of heaven temporarily living on earth. Though in spirit divided from the race of fallen men, he must yet in the flesh live among them. In many things he is like them, but in others he differs so radically from them that they cannot but see and resent it….

But we must not get the impression that the Christian life is one continuous conflict, one unbroken irritating struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. A thousand times no. The heart that learns to die with Christ soon knows the blessed experience of rising with Him, and all the world’s persecutions cannot still the high note of holy joy that springs up in the soul that has become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. OGM042

There is never a day so dreary,

There is never a night so long,

But the soul that is trusting Jesus

Will somewhere find a song. HCL528

 

Fulfilling the Law

Romans 8:1-4

There is not a word, rightly understood in the Scriptures, in the whole New Testament that disparages or ignores or sets aside the Law of God. As the Apostle Paul comes to the climax of his argument, the great end and purpose towards which he has been advancing, he writes: “that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us” (Romans 8:4). Jesus Christ shall destroy the work of the devil, restore man, and enable him to walk in the light.

What the law tried to do by a restraining power from without, the gospel does by an inspiring power from within. That is the difference. I could not keep it in the letter, but, united to my heavenly Bridegroom, I can keep it in the Spirit. He fills me with His love, and this enables me to keep the law, for love is the fulfilling of the law.

The apostle evidently considered this fulfillment of the law of righteousness in us as the highest end of our existence and of redemption; for he says, God sent His Son that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us.

How? We shall be delivered from the reigning, condemning power of the law by virtue of an infinite, vicarious sacrifice punished in our stead, and then, married to Him, we shall serve in the newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Now let us look at the fruit brought forth. Those people who are thus united to Christ fulfill the law in their affections. It is commonly said that if you get hold of the affections of a man or a woman you get hold of him or her. So you do. This is the touchstone. If you want to keep the precious things you have, hold them in subordination to Him. Oh, if Christ had your affections, how it would operate in everything!

This fruit will also appear in our family relations. When we have the fullness of love, it enables us to love God best and our neighbor as our self.

This fruit will also appear in our church relations. Is it not a fact that we are each other’s keeper? Is it not a fact that God will require our influence over other souls? I believe it.

And now let us go down on our knees before God and ask Him to work this love in us and give us this spirit, that we may thus fulfill this law in all its relations.

Catherine Booth, Aggressive Christianity