Preparing for Battle
Are you seeking an oasis - a peaceful resting place from the stress of modern life?
Like a cool stream of mountain water in the heat and confusion of today's rapid changes, true peace flows from our heavenly King. Many people outside and within the church yearn for escape from the feverish pace of today's world. The way begins and ends with a personal relationship with the Prince of Peace Himself -- Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, peace remains an optimistic illusion. While the world ignores the true source of peace, Jesus offers Himself as the answer to everyone who seeks Him:
"Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
Covered by His Peace. One day, years ago, when I felt anything but peace, I discovered this little verse in an old hymnal:
Shut in with Thee, far, far above
The restless world that wars below,
We seek to learn and prove Thy love,
Thy wisdom and Thy grace to know.
Suddenly my mind grasped an amazing truth, and my broken spirit began to soar. "I live in the heavenlies with Jesus," my heart sang. "Nothing can disturb me here."
The comfort of this truth has never left me. Often, in the rush of the day, I remind myself that the real me is "far above" with my King. When by faith, I put on peace, He transports my soul to His high places where I view the world and its circumstances from His perspective of quiet triumph. Nothing can touch me there.
The Prince of Peace. Spiritual warfare is a constant reality. Yet peace is ours as citizens of His kingdom, for His life is our shelter. As long as I stand firm in my Prince, peace reigns. But when I shift my focus from Him to my wants and circumstances (including my own desire for peace), anxiety, guilt, fear, resentment, and confusion creep in. Quietly my Prince reminds me, "Be still and know that I am God." In a moment, my eyes are back on Him, He fills His place in the center of my heart, and peace again reigns.
In order to stand firm, I must remember that the Prince of Peace is also Truth and Righteousness to me.
First, I affirm the truth of His greatness and my own need. He is the mighty sovereign God who wisely and lovingly cares for me. He is my Warrior, my Strength, my Wisdom, and my Love. Nothing is impossible for HIM.
Next, I remember that the Prince of Peace is my righteousness. Not by my effort, but by His death, and resurrection life, I stand pure and holy before my God. Satan cannot disturb me with his accusations and lies when Jesus, my righteousness, covers me.
Coming to Him. Mary and Martha both loved Jesus. One sister drew near to Him; the other, concerned about her circumstances, became anxious and lost her peace. To her, Jesus spoke a very special message:
"Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)
Resting at the feet of Jesus - this is the life of peace. Its single focus - God! Its one desire - to know, please, and honor Him. Its solitary pursuit - to walk with Him in His purpose. All else is secondary.
Steps to peace. Jesus took the first step for me. Through the cross, He "broke down the barrier" between His holy character and my sinful nature (Ephesians 2:12-22).
The next step is mine. I believed and received Him who is my Peace. Now, when I choose to put on His garments, the Prince of Peace covers me, and I am filled with His peace.
The same four choices that produce a lifestyle of truth and righteousness also bring the peace that triumphs over any earthly disturbance: feeding on the peace in His Word; meditating on truths that promote peace; filtering for truths about peace; following His lifestyle of peace.
Finally, God calls me to share His work. With the privilege of enjoying His peace comes the responsibility of a peacemaker. But before I go, I must seek Him and listen to His voice. My seeking and listening continue while I work, if not by conscious thought, by an inner attitude of attentive submission to the will of God.
Any resistance to His voice or will stirs up strife and leaves me powerless against my enemies. On the other hand, when I surrender to the Prince of Peace, He fills me with His life and gives me His love-filled peace of reconciliation and rest to share with everyone in my path.
Peace with each other. While peace (eirene) refers to the inner tranquility which flows from oneness with the King, it also means harmony and concord with others. He desires our cooperation to make this bond of peace a living, practical reality among us.
Consider these facts:
Through God's unconditional love in you, others can experience their total acceptance in Christ. He offers forgiveness, worth, a caring community, a new life.
The most persuasive proof of His accepting love is unspoken - your love and appreciation for each person, your availability, your willingness to listen and participate in another's life. When you do speak words that affirm someone's worth in Christ, be sure your action matches your words.
Differences should build unity and interdependence, not disharmony. Each of us, with our own pattern of strengths, weaknesses, and temperaments, carries a special fragrance of the life of Jesus. Thus we fit into each other's lives and complete the body of Jesus.
The way of a peacemaker. Jesus calls me to follow Him, to live, walk, love, and restore as He did, and to guard my heart against any hindrance to His work in and through me. Most people in my own neighborhood remain separated from Him. They are my mission field.
Jesus' ministry of reconciliation is a simple, but not a soft, way of life. It calls me to love sacrificially, lay down my life, share the suffering of others, bear their burdens, and witness the triumph of truth whether or not people will believe.
We are adequate-in Him! I must choose to depend on Him for everything - wisdom, guidance, provision, and strength. When He directs, I must follow. If I deviate from the path of faith to follow the way of self-effort, I lose my peace.
Jesus never strayed from His Father's direction and strength. He had learned, as we must, that He could "do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing" John 5:19).
His Father's work brought Him to the end of self’s resources. Likewise, my Father's work for me will gradually produce freedom from self in me. Then, as that death nears completion, I will know increasing peace and surrender in His will. For the lifeless corpse of self cannot complain, argue, disobey, or run away.
Peace reigns when I am yoked to Jesus. When the path of peace becomes steep and rocky, He points my heart to the joy that lies ahead. When storm clouds threaten, He reminds me that the sunlight of His love never dims. As I behold my King, see His purpose, and receive the peace and power of His life, He transforms the weary climb into sweet fellowship with Himself, and the pressing tumult into peaceful rest in His arms.
Unconditional peace. Jesus knows how easily I forget my heavenly citizenship, focus on circumstances, and lose my peace. Therefore, He reminds me to take and wear His peace which never changes:Jesus knows how easily I forget my heavenly citizenship, focus on circumstances, and lose my peace. Therefore, He reminds me to take and wear His peace which never changes:
"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, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27
Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived.
The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while viewers clapped and cheered.
The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.
The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace? A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-grey clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.
A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.
"Put on" the Prince of Peace and enjoy His stillness through every storm in your life.
Precious Prince of Peace, I come to You for rest. Teach me Your truths, then cover me with peace. Keep me immovable in You no matter how hard the storms blow. Make me one with Your heart and purpose, so that my life may spread the message of Your perfect peace. Thank You.
Prayerfully review Psalm 23.
1. Which part(s) of this psalm brings you His peace today? Why?
2. What must a lamb do in order to rest peacefully with the Shepherd? See John 10:4, 27.
Review Ephesians 6:10-18.
3. How can you keep your "feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace"?
4. Define peace both from the world's point of view and from God’s perspective. What is the main difference?
5. Why is it so important to be "girded with truth" and to wear "the breastplate of righteousness" before we can know and live in His peace?
6. All the following verses contain the promise of God's peace. What condition do you see in each for realizing that peace?
7. Which of the above Scriptures affirm the fact that you already have been given His peace?
Study Ephesians 2:13-22.
8. In verses 13 and 14, what is God saying to you?
9. What had to take place so that you would have peace?
10. Define the word reconcile (v. 16).
11. Describe Jesus as you see Him in verses 17-18.
12. Look at your identity in verses 19-22. Enjoy it! Count on it! Who are you?
13. Second Corinthians 5:17-20 gives further insight into the wonderful meaning of reconciliation. Because Jesus reconciled you to Himself, you are a _____________ (v. 17) and an _____________ (v. 20). Since you are one with Him, what ministry do you share with Him?
Read Isaiah 52:7.
14. Having your feet shod with the Gospel of peace brings responsibility along with the blessing of personal peace. What message is God speaking to you here?
15. You cannot bring peace unless you are wearing peace as part of your armor. Did you lose your peace any time this week neglecting other parts of the armor?
16. Pray the words of the hymn "Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting" (click here for the melody). If YOU believe and affirm its message with all your heart, you are putting on His armor and you are being filled with His peace. Write a prayer of thanks for His great gift.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.
Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!
Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.
Wearing His Wardrobe
To experience peace we must transfer the focus of our heart from the people, pace, and pressures around us to the presence of our King. His Word facilitates both the choice and the change. You don't have to read long passages. A few verses made alive in your heart may be your catalyst to peace year after year. Psalm 23 continues to bring this comfort to me. Try working through its verses, then repeating the journey every day this week. If you follow these steps, you will find each day's meditation richer than the one before.
1. Review chapter 2 of this book.
2. Find a quiet place where you can meet your Shepherd. Be ready to receive whatever He wants to give you.
3. Pray with the psalmist, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Thy law" (Psalm 119:18).
4. Slowly read the first verse of Psalm 23, taking time to meditate on every thought and picture. Who is your Shepherd? How does He care for you? What does it mean to be His sheep?
5. Having received His word, pray back the words from your own heart. As you give back what He has given, His gifts become more fully yours, because by them you are more deeply joined to Him.
6. Go on to the remaining verses, letting the Shepherd lead you through the pastures, the valleys, and the joys of communion with Him. When you have finished, carry the memories of your journey with you to keep His peace throughout the day.
Next: Chapter 5 - Clothed with Faith
My High Tower: Seeing the world from His perspective
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