March 16, 2017

Incredible Peace

At a funeral, it is often said of the deceased that they ‘look so peaceful’ which is a comfort to the living. However, one type of being dead does not enjoy peace, at least a certain type of peace:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1–3)

This ‘death’ is separation from God, without any release from sin, without any relationship with God, and without the hope of eternal life. For some, this is a troublesome situation because they are aware of their lack of peace with God. For others, they feel nothing because they are not concerned about their eternal destiny. Nevertheless, anyone who is dead in sin does not have peace with God — but it is available . . .

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:4–10)

Not only is it available, peace with God is freely bestowed by grace through faith. The lack of it may not be ‘felt’ yet those who have this peace almost always experience it. I can remember the day I sat on my front step in the sunshine and marveled at what God had done. My life was full of trials and troubles, but the peace of God put joy and great hope in my heart. None of the troubles bothered me compared to the richness of knowing my sins were forgiven and God was standing for me and with me.

There is another kind of peace in this rich chapter of Ephesians. At that time, Gentiles were excluded from God by the Jews. However, Jesus Christ changed that separation and brought peace between them:

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:11–22)

In our travel we have met many Christians, some of them from different ethnic backgrounds or nationalities than ours. This has never been an issue in our fellowship. God breaks down those barriers so that we not only have peace with Him, but also peace with other members of His family, the people of God.

A third kind of peace is within my heart. Jesus does that too. Peace with God is a miracle, but the peace of God is also a gift beyond compare. At times, it makes no sense to be filled with peace except that deep in my heart I know that He is with me and will never forsake me. He is in charge of all that happens to me, and has a loving and perfect plan that He is totally capable of fulfilling.

My Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Prince of peace, and also my peace. Because of You, my relationship with God is secure, my relationship with other Christians is in place, and my own heart has lost all the agitation that comes with sin and its baggage. Thank You, thank You, thank You. 

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