Father, as we come before you this evening we ask that you would open our hearts to be ready to receive whatever you have for us, that we would willing to respond to the challenges you put in our lives and act upon them, whatever they may be.
We first want to thank you for your faithfulness to us. It is impossible to find a friend that is like you.
You have been patient. You have been kind. You have never failed us. You have sustained and provided for us in all ways. You have never ceased loving us and have always hoped for us and believed in us even when we could not believe in ourselves. You have always held us in your hands and You have never failed us. You have always rejoiced in the good that we have done and forgiven us when we have done wrong. You have been the perfect friend even when we haven’t seen You. Let’s take a moment to thank God for a specific time that He has been a friend us.
Father although we believe that you have never failed us and that you are always near, we also admit that at times we feel as though you’re far away. We have missed your friendship because we have chosen not to draw near to you. Let’s take a moment to share a time with God where we’ve felt we needed Him and ask Him to draw near to us and to reveal to us the way that He was there in that situation.
And Father we know that being your friend begins when we choose to obey you. Help us to seek you out in all things and in all circumstances. Help us to draw closer to you and love your more. Help us to trust you and through this trust to learn to obey you. Lord, I pray that we would become like Nehemiah who prayed to you in a time of trial. He trusted you would come through. Help us to believe in your goodness for us like David, who never doubted in your great plan for him even as he was tested in great trials. Help us to love you in all things and to choose to be comforted by you instead of others. And Father help us to believe that you are able to fill the void in our lives that we believe others should fill. Help us to relinquish anyone in our lives that we’ve put in that place and instead trust you fill our lives with Your love.
Lastly Father we want to ask that you would teach us how to BE a friend. We ask that you would instruct us in the ability to see the best in others; that you would show us how to accept others where they are at, as we recognize that we are all in need of your saving grace. We pray that you would teach us how to recognize Your great love for others and that you would help us to be courageous as we choose to walk alongside them and love them with Your love. Father help us to be purposeful and persistent on behalf of others in prayer as you give us a glimpse of what Your plan is for them. Let’s take this time to allow God to place a specific person on our hearts that we can be a friend to.
As we think of this person and others that we are friends help us to be willing to listen and hear them with our hearts when they choose share their lives with us. Take away our tendency to store up assumptions, opinions, and defensiveness in all situations and simply be a friend. Help us to learn how to love like you and leave others feeling whole, heard, healed, instructed, corrected, and gladdened. We ask all of these things in Your faithful name, believe that you will do it.
A Peace that is For Real-Jesus Christ: Prince of Peace…Jesus the One who makes peace.
Jesus Christ IS my Prince of Peace.
As I prepared for this talk I wrestled with this statement. Clouds of doubt and struggle have rolled around my world this past week in addition to showers of rain and tears when a friend of mine decided that life was not worth living if he could see Jesus today instead and have all of his troubles disappear. Jesus had become his only source of peace and he wanted to be with Him. There has been lighting shots in a dark sky as family members and loved ones have been so sick they could not get out of bed. These things blew like a harsh wind in my life and yet the pain doesn’t stop there. Does it? In addition to all of our personal trials our world experiences difficultly. With bombings and shootings we find our minds filled with confusion and yet…there is hope. Isn’t there?
Jesus Christ. Prince of Peace. A Peace that is for real.
As I look at and experience the world around me I see a peace that is NOT for real. An attempted peace that is based on a persons ability to free themselves from the trouble around them. A young non-Christian friend of mine has been struggling with anxiety and has been kicked out of school. I asked him how he would describe peace and he said that peace would be ultimate happiness. Although this may be the world’s definition of peace it is unattainable for them.
When the Hebrew Christians used to greet each other they would say Shalom. I learnt at a very young age that this means “peace be with you” The word shalom is not simply peace as the world sees it, but instead: completeness, soundness, and welfare. The Greek word for peace is Eirene and it refers to inner tranquility and poise of a Christian whose trust is in God through Christ. And so this is the difference for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our saviour… We believe that peace is not just found when life appears to be free of trouble: when there is absence of war or freedom from disagreement or quarrels. We believe that amidst those things because of our hope in Jesus Christ we can find ourselves complete. Psalm 119:165 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
As I was think about peace I was reminded of the story of Paul. Paul exuded this Godly peace all throughout the book of Acts. He says in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked…I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” Although most of these things are only things we can imagine we can empathize and often experience the feelings that Paul probably went through himself. I know that I’ve personally been sent into a spiral of feelings of rejection or inadequacy. I’ve gone without sleep and often gone without the things that I felt I needed. But amidst all of these things the only time I’ve gone without peace is when I’ve chosen to go my own way, without Jesus Christ.
Paul says…We have peace with God through our LORD JESUS CHRIST.-Romans 5:1
And so this is where our belief as followers of Jesus differs from the worlds definition of peace that pleads for freedom from difficulty and trouble. We believe that Jesus is our Prince of Peace. We believe that regardless of the trials in this world, Jesus has won the battle, that when He rose from the grave He defeated spiritual death because he broke the divide between us and God. And we believe that His love in large enough to overcome the pain and suffering that we experience in this world if we will just choose Him.
I can find myself believing all of these things until it effects someone that I love. When I found out that my friend had decided to try and end his life I felt I had the right to give God a good talking to about my feelings. I told Him very clearly that He had hurt me because He had allowed someone to be hurt that I loved. At that time when I was choosing to doubt God’s love for my friend and God’s sovereignty in the situation I felt anything but peace. Of course I would say that I believed God knew what He was doing. I would also say that I was trying to understand the situation. But the reality was that I doubted that God knew best and that I doubted that God loved this young man as much as I did. Can you empathize with where I’m coming from?
Although we often say that we believe that God is good and that Jesus is the Prince of Peace we refuse to acknowledge the things about God’s character that come with those statements. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace He must also be all knowing in the ways of justice and abundance in love, even when we can’t comprehend why He allows suffering in the world around us and in the lives of those we love. If Jesus is the Prince of peace He must be able to understand our hurts and hearts as we experience the world that He once lived in even when we feel alone. And if Jesus is our Prince of Peace we must believe that He was the perfect peace treaty between us and God, even when we don’t feel redeemed. We cannot separate the truth of God’s sovereignty with our situation while trying to find peace. We are given peace when we can trust in a God and Father who does all things because of His great love for us. And while we are not promised a perfect world for today but we are promised a Saviour who is able to bring peace because of our hope in Him through the trials. Jesus said “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
There’s a story in the book of John, in the 20th chapter that I’d like to tell before I finish off. The story begins after Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.” Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,”…But Thomas (a man I can often relate with in his doubt) was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”
Jesus pleads with Thomas. Don’t be unbelieving! Believe in Me. Believe in who I’ve told you I will be and believe in all I’ve taught you.
Thomas then replies, “My Master! My God!”
Up until this point the disciples were in turmoil because their saviour had been murdered right in front of their eyes. This is a great turning point for the disciples as Jesus appears in a room that has been locked and sealed. My mind wanders to reasoning that if Jesus can appear in a locked room without any struggle and command, “Peace be with you.” Then Jesus can appear in my life and do the same. Now while the other disciples believed as soon as they’d seen Jesus, Thomas needed proof. Jesus said to him, so, you believe because you’ve seen with your eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
And so the same is for us. At times we may feel as though God isn’t in control and that this Prince of Peace isn’t bringing peace at all; but what we see and how we feel are often different than the truth. The lyrics of a song that I love go like this, “I lean not on my own understanding, My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven. I give it all to you, God, Trusting that you’ll make something beautiful out of me.”
A young wise man asked a beautiful lifetime friend of his if she would begin a relationship with him. Although “dating” isn’t the final product of a relationship it can be the beginning of a life-lasting one. And although these two didn’t say, “I do.” they said, “I will.”
I will cherish the friendship we already have. I willcontinue to accept you; mistakes and all. I will be there througheverything.
Because, you see, this didn’t spring from a couple of teenagers who thought that someone appeared vaguely attractive to them but from two children who became friends a long, long time ago.
And so, as this relationship began, I was humbled with the beauty of our LORD’s love for us in His long and Awaited journey in our lives. These two, like the LORD and us, know each other’s struggles, faults and frustrations and have still decided to begin a relationship. Like the Lord and us, they don’t expect perfection and have many times seen the fight of opposition. Like the Lord and us, they have not gotten scared away by family situations and honesty. They have not become bewildered in finding out each others pasts or fears because they have been in each other’s lives all along. They fought each other but never fled and because of that they have persevered to the place they are at now. And although I know this isn’t a perfect example of God and us, they, like God and His church, have found that love always hopes, always endures, and never fails.
They are beginning the journey of the long and awaited, the one that is being continued between us and God everyday.
Nobody’s perfect. No not one.
This week I will be choosing to face that which I have come to dread the most over the past few months. Silence. Instead of the voice of others opinions: silence. Instead of the congratulations of a job well done: silence.
For it isn’t in the winds, the fire, and the flood that God is heard as much as the still small voice and it is that still small voice I have been missing for so long.
More to come and prayers are appreciated.