Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

12. From fear to following – Part 2

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John 20:19-23

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

 As we continue in John 20 we see that not only should we expect His presence but second we should:

  1. Embrace His Peace

I wonder if the disciples’ first reaction to his presence was one of guilt and shame because they thought Jesus was going to rebuke them. But instead of blasting them, Jesus blesses them saying, “Peace be with you!”I’m sure this startled them because it wasn’t what they were expecting at all. Many of us have a perverted view of God, seeing Him as a punisher instead a provider of peace. We don’t embrace His peace because we expect punishment. This greeting of peace in the Jewish culture is the word shalom, a state of wholeness and harmony that is intended to resonate in all relationships. When used as a greeting, shalom was a wish for outward freedom from disturbance as well as an inward sense of well-being. To a people constantly harassed by enemies, peace was the premiere blessing. In Numbers 6:24-26, God gave Moses these words to use when blessing His people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” The New Testament describes at least three spheres of peace:

Peace with God– This is the vertical dimension that Romans 5:1 describes: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”Our sin separates us from God, but the Saviors sacrifice puts us at peace with God. This is what I call a Saving peace

Peace of God– This takes place internally as Philippians 4:6-7 reveals: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”This is a what I call a Securing peace

Peace with others– When we have peace with God and we experience the peace of God, we can then extend peace horizontally as Matthew 5:9 talks about: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Jesus didn’t call us to be “peacekeepers,” but “peacemakers.” Fear tends to bring friction and factions, but peace provides a platform to confront conflict, and to compliment instead of competing with others. We are called to be peace workers not war workers. This is what I call a Serving peace

Do you want to live in His peace or in the panic? Jesus offers you peace today but it’s different than the peace the world offers. Our culture communicates that peace is the absence of something. That’s probably what the disciples were thinking as they tried to lock out their worries and concerns. But peace is not the absence of problems it’s the presence of Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus we can have peace with our past. Because of His forgiveness we don’t have to live in the failure and the fear of our past. Because of His peace we can also have peace with our present. What are you worried about right now? Your marriage? Your finances? A health issue? Jesus came to “bind up our brokenness” (Isaiah 61:1). But His peace doesn’t just impact our past and our present but also our future. Some of you are fretting about the future because you have forgotten about His faithfulness. Do you want this peace or are you content to cower in the corner? Stop locking yourself behind thick walls and embrace His perfect peace. Contrary to our culture peace doesn’t come from popping pills it only comes from Christ. I know what you’re thinking it’s just not that easy. You are going through the same struggle that the disciples had, how do I trust in the trying times? But the reason you have not embraced His peace is because third you have never:

  1. Examine His Proof

Jesus offered evidence to His doubting disciples,showing them His hands and His side. If you want to forsake your fears, then you need to pay attention to the proof. Christianity is not just a system of rules and regulations, it’s a relationship with the living Lord. Mary missed Jesus because she mistook God for a gardener, here Luke 24:37 reveals that the disciples miss Him because they mistook God for a ghost! “And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 37 But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!”Fear creates a false perception, it perverts your perspective causing you to miss the Messiah. Many of us are living in the panic instead of the promises because we haven’t taken time to examine the proof. We are living in the fear instead of the finished work. Phobia comes from the Greek word for fear, but it refers to a panic that is completely out of proportion to the perceived threat behind it. They were afraid of people because they had forgotten about God’s power. I think today we need to come back to the cross, to ponder the proof so that we can live in the power. If Christ has conquered the cross, and defeated sin and death then what do we have to fear? Are you living in the reality of the resurrection or the ruin of religion? If you believe the proof, then it should change your practice. Instead of being consumed with panic we should be concerned with proclaiming.

 

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