Monday, January 21, 2013

Following The Path To Peace

"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; 
and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, 
and in sure dwellings, 
and in quiet resting places..."
Isaiah 32:17,18

Could you find any more comforting two Scriptures?

What brings you peace?
Is it not when your heart is completely right with God?
When there is nothing in the world between....
you and Him?
When all sins are forgiven and under the blood of Jesus,
and you are walking in every shred of light He has shone across your path?
When you are completely and wholeheartedly obedient...
to His perfect will for your life?

If this most important relationship is off-skelter,
there is no peace.
There is inward turmoil...
a lack of serenity.

But, when everything is balanced...
when we are doing all we know to do...
to follow Him...
and the path of righteousness He has winnowed before us...
all is calm,
all is tranquil.
Life is sweet.
Even when the storm rages all around us,
we are at rest.

I have found that when I do whatever is necessary
to maintain that inward peace with God,
it stabilizes me.
When my spiritual equilibrium is balanced,
so is the rest of my life.
When I do what needs to be done to keep clear with God,
it automatically includes a secondary path to peace...
maintaining harmony with others.

As God forgives me,
I am empowered to forgive.
Even when I am not asked to.

God's command to us to forgive others 
is not contingent on whether or not they have apologized.

Did you ever think of that?

Sometimes, we hold a grudge simply because we feel
that the ball is in the other person's court.
That they did us wrong,
and until they make the next move to make amends,
we can give our grudge safe harbor...
and never forgive...
and we are completely justified.

Not so.

Because no matter what the other fellow is doing,
I am responsible for me.
You are accountable for you.
Making excuses to God for our refusal to forgive
is a waste of time.
It is pointless.

Because Jesus forgave.
Do you think the Roman soldiers responsible for His cruel, violent death
knelt at His profusely bleeding feet,
looked up at Him,
and begged His forgiveness?

Yet, what did He do?

From the depths of His anguished, tortured soul,
He cried...
to His Father...
the Judge of all men...
the One Who determines where we spend eternity,
"Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do."

He wasn't asked to forgive.
The vicious, callous, bloodthirsty perpetrators weren't sorry in the least
for the intense humiliation and inhumane cruelty they had inflicted...
upon His mutilated body.
They felt no remorse.
It was all in a day's work...
to them.

But, did they even have a clue...
as to what they were doing?
As to Who they were killing?
Jesus knew they didn't.
He read their minds.
He viewed their hearts.

He chose to forgive.
And because He forgave,
we can, too.
There is nothing that has ever happened
or will ever happen
to any of us
that will come remotely close to
what happened to Jesus Christ.

He came to reconcile.
To bring a path to peace...
between us and Almighty God.
To be the bridge.
To light the way.
To suffer the most extreme of all injustice,
then turn around and forgive it completely.

He is our Example.

This, my friend, is the work and effect of righteousness..
spoken about in Isaiah's prophecy in today's Scripture passage.
Jesus is righteousness personified.
If we trust Him,
if we follow Him,
if we do what He did,
the effect in our everyday lives
will be quietness and assurance.
This is the path to peace.
This is the peaceable habitation...
the sure dwelling...
the quiet, resting place.

Isn't this what we all long for?
What we all crave?
In this chaotic, noisy, unsettling world?

The formula is so simple.
Sins forgiven equals peace with God,
all because of what He did on the cross.
Then extending that same forgiveness to our fellow man,
all because He forgave us.

That's it.
That is the path to peace.
Not so hard to understand.

Love compelled Jesus to do what He did.
Love overpowered every other emotion He had.

It is all about love.
Loving God with all our hearts.
Loving people as Jesus loves.
Love caused Jesus to build the bridge.
Love enables us to cross it.

"Jesus said unto him,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
(Matthew 22:37-40)

Did you catch all of that?
It all boils down to the two components.
Love God with everything you've got.
Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
This is the path to peace.
This is what every other word in the Bible hangs on.
It all hinges on this.

Loving God with everything you've got translates into
doing everything necessary to maintain the fellowship you have with Him.
Making your relationship with Him the top priority of your life.
Giving Him what is right, not what is left.
Doing every, single thing He asks.
Keeping everything clear.
Doing whatever it takes.

Maintaining that sweet, precious, invaluable communion...
isn't it worth it?
That means more than anything else ever could.

Loving your neighbor as yourself translates into
doing everything you possibly can to keep the peace.
Who is your neighbor?
The question is more, who isn't?
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
(Romans 12:18)
All men.
Loving your neighbor means forgiving your neighbor...
even when he doesn't ask you to.
Letting it go.
Doing what you need to do to keep bitterness at bay.
Showing the attributes of Jesus,
even when it is hard.
It will never be harder for you or me than it was for Him.

If we long for quietness,
a peaceful household,
and quiet rest....
this is the path, my friend.

This is the path to peace.

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