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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where is peace? 5

Lets move back into Paul’s exhortation found in Hebrews. (Hebrews12:15)

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile [or destroy] many.

When we allow bitterness and anger to go on without dealing with it, we will not only destroy ourselves, we run the significant risk of destroying many others too. 

Take care of problems while they are small before they have a chance to grow into bushes that are entrenched in the ground.”

We may have to dig a little bit to really get a good picture of what's actually going on in our heart. The hardest person to be honest with is frequently ourselves. One of the most difficult things to change is our own minds.

The roots of bitterness, though not seen from above, reach way down into the heart and are very difficult to weed out and pull up.

We will never have peace in our hearts until the poison of anger and bitterness is removed, and it is replaced with forgiveness and love.

Paul moves beyond the immediate situation that the church was facing and communicates to them how they can have peace in their hearts as well as in their relationships.

When I do not have peace within my own heart, then it is extremely difficult for me to have peace  and be at peace with the people around me.

James is all over this concept when he says in 4:1-2:

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.

You do not have, because you do not ask God.”

I have to stop here for a moment. This is where our souped-up, glossed-over, easy-living prosperity gospel stops. But let’s go on to add just one more verse for the full and correct context:

When we ask, we do not receive, because we all too often ask with wrong motives. We want things to satisfy our own pleasures and desires. 

James isn’t simply saying that we do not have “stuff” because we haven’t asked for it. He is saying very clearly, that we don’t get when we truly need because, first, we haven't asked for what we needed. Second, we ask with the wrong motives in our hearts, for the wrong reasons. We ask for personal gain and personal pleasure. Ok? Back to work…

Fights on the outside come from fights on the inside.

If there is no peace within, there will be no peace without.

Where do we get this inner peace?

2. Peace comes through a mind that doesn’t fear. (verses 4-7)

Before we move on, there is something important that we need to know about Paul. When Paul wrote these words and gave these instructions, he wasn’t lying on a lounge chair on the beach at an all-inclisive resort on the Mediterranean Sea. He was in prison in Rome.

He was separated from his friends, prevented from starting new churches, and anticipating death at any time. Yet, he was concerned about what was happening to his friends and fellow laborers.

It was the kind of situation where we would expect a person to be exhibiting fear and despair, not peace.

Back to Paul’s instructions…

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Turn over a few pages to your left, and look at Philippians 1:12-18.

Can you see the connection? Paul has been imprisoned for preaching. So what does he do while he’s in prison – he preaches!

I find that amazing. Most of us, myself included, can't concentrate on what we're supposed to when things are going well!

But, here is Paul, so confident in his faith and ultimate future that he stays focused on the goal. He never loses sight of the prize. I'm not saying that he never had fear, he was human.

He had moments of fear, but his faith pulled him back in...

What ONE thing are you supposed to be focusing on that you have let go?


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