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pEACE A VALUABLE GOAL

Finding Peace August- day 223 of 365     Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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It was no easy time in Philippi when Paul wrote these words. In hard times it is very difficult to “rejoice”. Even more to “rejoice in the Lord, all the time”, without ceasing, continually, without interruption. It is simply crazy talk.  How can I rejoice when the car needs tires, my children are being overwhelmed by their own trials and health situations? When I get close to anyone in any meaningful conversation, I keep feeling their pain, their struggles and, it robs me of my joy.  How can I be full of peace and joy in a world that is all about division, and selfishness? Then Paul piles on with “don’t worry about anything.”

Then when life seems so frustrating and less than meaningful, we find the solution: “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” God’s guarding peace is promised to who pray, with thanksgiving, about everything. No matter how bad or troubling is our situation, we are to pray and give thanks about it all.  Then we will have peace in our situation. And this peace will transcend our ability to understand it.

Justice at God’s speed

John 5:21-23 – For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

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Jesus is totally just; there is no injustice in Him at all. I look forward to the time when righteousness and justice will be the order of the day and injustice will be banished forever. My concern is in the delivery system.  I often would like to either speed it up or slow it down.

God delivers justice in different ways. There are times of conviction and resulting repentance. Occasionally justice is served through routine personal and peaceful interaction. There are times when confrontation following normal church procedures result in a just solution. And sometimes justice will not be revealed until after our deaths, recognizing that God sees an eternal picture that we cannot comprehend while wrapped up in our temporal, earthly matters. But do know this: God will bring about justice. Maybe it won’t be as dramatic or as timely as our expectation. But in the end, God’s justice will most certainly be done.

Tension of Justice

John 5:26-30 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

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In the world today, I sense a tension between the implementation of Justice as man sees it and justice as demanded by a God. One a man-centered approach and the other a God-centered approach.  The vision of the current man-centered justice is one of bringing a utopia through policies.  To see government as the savior to all the world.  They would legislate morality, through laws and regulations.

The God-centered approach sees Jesus as savior.  Jesus bringing heaven to earth when He returns. At His return, Christ will restore all things and execute perfect justice. In the meantime, I will express God’s love and justice by showing kindness and mercy to those who are less fortunate.  I will be the hands and feet of Jesus to my little world around me.

It is my decision

Luke 16:10-13 He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous 1awealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

My belief includes a concept of stewardship.  I am called do many things in the name of my God.  One of them is to give to others.  If I have a Christian heart for the unborn, I can support charities that promote the sanctity of life.  If I have a Christian heart for the hungry, I can work in a food pantry distributing food.  If I encounter someone who is broken down along the road, I can stop and see if I can provide assistance. If I am prompted to mow my neighbor’s lawn because she can’t physically do it, I can pull the lawnmower out. I listen to the voice of God, that little, small voice within me revealing my responsibilities. It is not the responsibility of the local government.  It is not justice warriors standing on the steps of the capital holding signs for justice who dictate my love.  It is not those people or the sum of all these people that dictate to me what I can do for my neighbor.  I do because that is what God expects of me.  It is not your picture of justice, or some politician.  Lord give me a heart for those you want me to help.

I will wait

Isaiah 51:4-5 “Pay attention to Me, O My people, And give ear to Me, O My nation; For a law will go forth from Me, And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples. “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait for Me, And for My arm they will wait expectantly.

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If you haven’t discovered it yet, I believe all justice. Further, no matter the level of acceptance or measure of punishment, Justice is set by a single standard.  That standard is God.  I guess that would put me at odds with the current social environment.  Those who would cry for social justice rejects the premise of a single standard. All I see in the current cultural revolution of “wokeness” is a rejection of one justice for all. There seems to be an obsession with control of the result, or the end justifies the means. Justice is seen as a bendable thing.  Is it acceptable to burn down a building in the name of justice?  Does the new norm permit the invasion of a public building if it is in the name of justice? The new social understanding of justice sees the world divided into groups. One group includes the oppressors and the other victims. There is no place outside of this separation.  Every issue is shadowed by which group you are put into. There is no middle ground. There is no place for equality. There is no place for justice before God.

Oh, God, please, if there was ever a time and place for your justice it is now and right here. Lord until that time comes, I will wait.

Micah and justice

Micah 6:7-8 — Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

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Micah was a prophet from the Old Testament. Here is an instance of his boldness, courage, and impartiality.  Here he strikes out at the ruling class of the land, and charges them with sins, and reproves for them, and denounces judgments on account of them; that abhor judgment, and pervert all equality.

It is a sad day when the very character of those charged with justice are not doing so. In our culture our elected who should well know and love justice. They should take delight and pleasure in the distribution of justice to all. It is terrifying to have judges see justice with a personal perspective and not in equality. Here in Micah, he was almost overwhelmed with the terribleness of it all.  The powerful hated to do that which was right and just; and perverted all the rules and laws of justice and equity, clearing the guilty, and condemning the innocent.

What does the Lord require?  Act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

True Justice

Romans 3:28-31 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

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Paul was a dedicated, energetic, almost driven keeper of the Law. For Paul, the law was kept by acts of the will: doing things. Further the law was a social construct of behavior: it was designed for his group, his ethnicity, his class. All his life he had been taught the exclusivity of the “People of God”, the “God of the Jews”.

Then he encountered Jesus. That encounter changed everything. No longer was his fixation on class, race, gender, or lifestyle.  No longer were they a part of his life.  He saw through the eyes of God and saw the unity of faith. He now saw the law and justice as divine gifts, bestowed upon everyone. No longer was anyone defined by the group to which society was placing upon them. Sure, the law was kept.  But it was kept by faith in the perfect vision of God’s image of all people.  True justice.

Slay the dragon

George is living his life. He doesn’t do anything that would hurt anyone.  “Can’t we get along” is his mantra. There are times of happiness, but they are fleeting. There are occasions when George is moved to go the extra mile for someone else. In his own keep calm and carry on he has made great strides in being a good person.

 There is a foreboding presence in George.  Deep inside of George a terrible dragon dwells.  A dragon living in a dark and dank cave. A cave hidden from everyone but himself. That dragon craves for power, and reputation and self-reliance. Occasionally George is overcome by the dragon. Especially when he is really stressed. Out of the unfortunate events in his life the dragon growls.  The dragon shouts, “I can do it”.  Giving into the dragon brings guilt, pain, embarrassment. George has lost self-control and let the dragon direct his responses. Few see his dastardly dragon, but he is there.  The dragon shapes and overshadows all his beliefs, attitudes, and more than he would admit, his actions.

A day not to long ago, George heard the Gospel.

In the word of God, George hears, “I will make you mine and take possession of the cave and slay the dragon. Will you yield to my possession? It will mean a whole new way of thinking and feeling and acting.”

George replied: “But that dragon has always been with me.”  And with down cast eyes and with a whimper, “the dragon is me. Even though I am embarrassed by him, he is who I am.”

In a desperate instant George raises his eyes and shouts back at Jesus, “If you kill it I will die.”

Jesus says, “And you will rise to newness of life, I will give you a new identity, I will make my mind, my will, and my heart your own.”

In the depths of George’s hidden cave he hears the dragon roar.

George in a moment of great distress and resolve and willfully ignoring the dragon, says, “What must I do?”

He answers, “Trust me and do as I say. As long as you trust me, we cannot lose.” Overcome by the beauty and power of Christ, George bows and makes a pledge of eternal loyalty and trust.

George rises with a new resolve, “I will follow you anywhere.”

Jesus responds placing a great sword in George’s hand and says, “Follow me.” He leads George to the mouth of the cave and says, “Go slay the dragon.”

But George looks at him bewildered, “I cannot do it, I have tried to silence him.  He is invincible. He is more than anything I can or have tried.  I cannot do it without you.”

Jesus smiles. “Well said. You learn quickly. Never forget: my commands for you to do something are never commands do alone.” Shoulder to shoulder and the sword in hand, they enter the cave together.

It was a horrific battle.  But each swipe of the sword, the hand of Jesus was there guiding, enabling, strengthening. Christ’s hand became George’s hand.

At last, the dragon lies limp. George asks, “Is it dead?”

Jesus with a concerned knit brow states, “I have come to give you a new life. This new identity is what you received when you yielded to my possession and pledged faith and loyalty to me. And now with my sword and my hand you have felled the dragon of the flesh. It is a mortal wound. It will die. That is certain. But it has not yet bled to death. I will help you seal up the cave. You must hold constant vigil to make sure the spirit of flesh does not come and cause earthquakes in your life and loosen the stones. It is up to you to keep the entrance fortified and well built. I have this confidence in you.  With My sword and My hand in yours, this dragon will die, he is finished, your new life is secure.

Rule of Law – Equality

July is justice month day 9

Numbers 15:14,15 And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he shall do as you do. For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord.

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Just societies are founded and kept by the rule of law.  Further this established law must, if it is just, applied equally to everyone.  It is of little consequence if the person is a foreigner, same law.  It does not matter if a person is citizen or not, same law.  Those who create the rules and regulations for the well being of the people must adhere to that same law. Politicians who adapt or bend the law to produce a preferred outcome is simply wrong. They are not free to set one interest above another anymore than you can choose which law to obey or not to.  Equality or respect for the rule of law is and always be, one of the foundation stones of our culture. Justice before God is equality.

Revenge does not belong to me.

Matthew 5:38-42 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

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Revenge is an attitude the seems to permeate our culture. When we feel put upon, or canceled we quickly fall into response mode.  We want to react in to wreak vengeance upon the offender.  A simple sarcastic comment slips out of our lips or runs through our minds. Even occasionally even the most devout Christian has visions of due justice.  We want people to get exactly what they deserve.

God tells us we are not to seek revenge but submit these feelings to God and respond His way.  Jesus challenges His people to choose a different behavior when we are confronted with anger and want revenge. I must resist and convert my feelings of anger into attitudes of positive action.