Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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27 The Parade of Peace

Luke 19:36-44

36 As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. 37 When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. 38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” 39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” 40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” 41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.

As Luke records the final events of Jesus life he makes it very clear that Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem was an intentional act on Christ’s part. Jesus was not lured, trapped or tricked; he deliberately chose to enter Jerusalem and journey to the cross. It is here that we see the contrast between Christ crying and the crowd cheering, between the tears and triumphant entry. While all the people are praising the one that the parade is thrown for is crying. In the midst of the praise we see His pain because the people are missing the plan of God, peace. They are so preoccupied with their personal plans that they miss the very purpose of God, His provision of peace. Jesus is crying because He knows that in a matter of days the shouts of “Hosanna” will turn to “Crucify, from save to slaughter. Yet what I marvel at is that the Messiah is not crying over the pain and rejection that he will endure, he is crying because of what their  rejection of Him will mean for them. Jesus looks down the road, past the momentary rejoicing and to the ruin that awaits those who reject Him. He sees the death and destruction for those who denounce His offer of peace.  “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.” The people of Jerusalem were blind to the path of peace Jesus presented. They sang about peace, “38 Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” they just never surrendered to it. The sad reality is that this is not the first time that the people of Jerusalem missed the peace that God provided. In Isaiah 30, Jerusalem was being threatened by Assyria and instead of trusting God as their power and provision for peace, they like many of the nations around them turned and trusted in Egypt.

Isaiah 30:1-3 “What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the Lord. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. 2 For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection.     You have tried to hide in his shade. 3 But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated, and by depending on him, you will be disgraced.

30:15-17  ”This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! 17 One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.”

Jerusalem put their trust in Egypt’s horses for their peace, they trusted in the tanks of their day. They turned and trusted in man’s power but God reminded them and us that it is only when we trust in Him that we will experience true peace. Now as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, Rome is ruling the world, providing a temporary peace, Pax Romana. It was an uneasy peace and as long as no one got out of line, the brute force of Rome was not used. It was peace without freedom, the kind of peace that this world still offers. The nation in power providing worldly peace might have changed but God’s people hadn’t, they were still groveling for temporary peace instead of trusting in God’s. They demanded that Jesus silence the singing, they rebuked the rejoicing because what if the Romans heard? If the Romans thought that this Jesus was going to lead the Jewish people in a revolt against them it would lead to a crackdown and they would lose what little peace they had. Jesus cries because here are His Father’s chosen people passing on His provision of peace once again. They are far from the faithful followers they pretend and project themselves to be. God was offering them true peace and they reject it, turning from truth they trusted in the temporary peace of a tyrant. The peace that God offered them was not just a lack of war, it was a life of worship. At our core we long for peace and rest, but we often reject true peace and chose what leads to death. When it comes to peace often our perspective is perverted, we are naive failing even to grasp the reality of our situation. I love the story about the two little brothers who presented their mom with a houseplant. They had used their own money to buy it and she was thrilled. The older of them said with a sad face, “There was a bouquet at the flower shop that we wanted to give you. It was real pretty but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said ‘Rest In Peace,’ and we thought it would be just perfect since you are always asking for a little peace so that you can rest. Because we long for peace we willingly run ourselves ragged, searching for that thing that will provide rest, when it’s right here in front of us. Only Jesus offers us forgiveness for our sins and peace with God, something society can’t and never will.  We were created to be in communion with our creator, and when that intimate connection was severed by sin we lost our peace along with our purpose, worshiping the One who is worthy.  Without God, nothing works, and all the places that we go searching for peace always come up short. Without God nothing works, but with him everything is put into perspective. Not only do we experience peace but we find our purpose, which leads to us living a productive life instead of a pointless one. The problem is that we can get so comfortable in the conflict that we no longer realize how bad it is.  We can get so used to the lack of peace in our world that we ignore the longing for something better. Like people living in a war zone, who sooner or later just get on with their life. They learn to run between buildings, they no longer flinch and duck at the sound of gunfire. This constant conflict becomes their new normal, the abnormal is accepted and they adjust their life accordingly. Only Jesus can bring us back into a right relationship with God the Father, only He can provide lasting peace, Ephesians 2:1-5 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.” So what about you are you missing the miracle, are you seeking after a peace apart from God? Are you turning to the culture instead of Christ? Are you trading peace for what is popular? Are you finding your security and satisfaction in something other than the Savior?

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26 Praying for Peace

2 Thessalonians 3:16 – “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.”

The terror attacks of groups like isis remind us of the wickedness and unrest that ravish our war weary world today. They also remind us of the renewed need to pray for peace. Are you pursuing praying for peace in the hearts of people?  As Paul closes his letter to the church in Thessalonica he prays for them that they would experience true peace, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.” This is a church that began in the throes of persecution, where new believers were subjected to assault, civil prosecution and economic persecution (Acts 17:8-9). This is more than just a model prayer for peace, this is a prayer that points to the power of peace, the very presence of Jesus. It is here that Paul weaves into the fabric of prayer a revelation of Jesus Christ whose person assures us that our petition will be granted. As Paul points to Jesus as the LORD OF PEACE he is reminding us that he is the:

  • Presider of Peace

Over the years there have been many who have presided over peace talks and negotiations. Some have secured peace treaties while others have even won peace awards like the “Nobel Peace Prize”. Yet in Jesus we have one who is not simply a presider at peace treaties, he is the presider of peace itself. When we cry out to Christ and pray for peace we are not depending on one who merely negotiates, arbitrates, or compromises for peace. No when we pray to Jesus Isaiah 9:6 reminds us that we are praying to the Prince of peace, the One who is able to command peace. This is the One Luke says commanded the winds and the waves to be calm, (Luke 8:24). When you pray remember that you are praying to the presider of peace. Not only is Jesus the presider but He is also the:

  • Presenter of our Peace

How distressing and depressing it would be if peace rested solely on the results of our efforts. If that were the case, that it rested only on our work would we really ever obtain it? But Paul here declares that Jesus Christ is the presenter of our peace, “Now may the Lord of peace himself GIVE you his peace” Paul in his prayer is reminding us that peace is a gift given by God. Yes there is a peace we must labor for, a peace that comes as a result of our relationships with others. Jesus in Matthew 5:9 promised a blessing to the peacemakers, those who work for peace: “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” When it comes to peace with others we must work for it but the peace that permeates and creates harmony in our heart is not attained through our efforts. The reality is that the harder we try to achieve an inner heart peace the more it evades our grasp because inner peace is a gift from God. Paul also reminds us that Jesus is the One who personally presents this gift to us. This is personal you see it is one thing to receive a care package in the mail it’s another when the person giving the gift shows up personally to present it to us. Paul prays: “Now may the Lord of peace HIMSELF, give you his peace” Not only is Jesus the presenter of peace but He is also the:

  • Preserver of our Peace

The peace which many trying to secure today is shallow and temporary, here today and gone tomorrow. The peace which most people talk about is either a past peace, that they remember and reminisce over or a future peace they are forever looking forward to, but few seem to be enjoying the peace of God now. Paul says that we can enjoy God’s peace in the present tense; at least that is the implication of Paul’s prayer “NOW may the Lord of Peace himself give you his peace…” This is not only a present peace but there is a promise that this peace is of the caliber that it will keep on lasting. It is not temporary like the world gives, no Pauls prayer reads: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at ALL times.” This is not a peace limited to certain times in our life but is available to us ALL the time. Jesus is also the:

  • Prescriber of our Peace

This is seen in the phrase “in every situation” the King James says ”by all means” It would be easy to pass right over this part of the prayer but we need to especially pay attention to this detail. For when we make these words part of our personal prayer for peace, we are living by faith. We are saying that we trust God’s wisdom in the way that He chooses to answer.  We trust Him to provide peace by all means, regardless of the context that the answer comes in. It could come through joy or sorrow, health or suffering, wealth or poverty, the point is that we surrender to His purpose and His prescription of peace. We show our maturity by how much we trust the Master because the matter of our peace is in the hands of a faithful Father. As Paul closes his prayer we see in his final words the hub around which all the others revolve, it is here that we see that Jesus is the:

  • Presence of our Peace

“The Lord be with you”. Without His presence the fact that He is the presider, presenter, preserver, and prescriber of peace would be of little consequence. Because we are blood bought children of God the Lord is with us which means that all the benefits of his presence belong to us. It  should be a great comfort to know that Jesus is with us but many Christians today rarely benefit from this knowledge because they are so distracted by the world that they have simply lose all awareness of His presence. This is what happened with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus was right there with them walking and talking to them yet they failed to have inner peace because their minds were diverted from the Lord. They were caught up in their circumstances instead of in Christ, they were living overwhelmed lives instead of being overcomers. Only when they were redirected and recognized the presence of the Lord did they experience peace (Luke 24:13-35). So today what are you praying for, are you petitioning the Lord for peace in the hearts of people?