14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
This week as I found myself in a frustrating situation, and for a couple days having no peace, I sat and prayed for God’s guidance. Whenever I get this way, a feeling of no peace, I always bring it to God because during these times I know that I will not always see correctly and may see through emotional eyes. When I was done praying and asking God to give me direction, I grabbed my Bible and began reading where I left off. I read a few lines in Hebrews, turned the page, and saw in big bright letters the words “Pursue Peace” (taken from the Spiritual Warfare Bible – Ron Phillips). Here is what it said:
“We must pursue peace – run after it, chase it down, use all our resources to live in peace with each other. The word peace means that everyone in a society or relationship operates harmoniously. Notice that it doesn’t me we all operate the same. We celebrate our godly differences in our common pursuit of righteousness instead of demanding cookie-cutter Christians who look, act, and think exactly the same way. This means we do not let bad talk, unforgiveness, or poison take root in our lives. Get rid of it and choose peace! In Hebrews 12:14-15, notice the phrase “cause trouble.” The word trouble in the Greek is enochleo, which means, “to be harassed by a mob”. There is nothing peaceful about a rumor-filled mob. How many churches have exchanged peace for the despotic Satan? (despotic meaning tyrannical or domineering). So the bottom line is, partake, put away, pardon, and pursue; then your life will know peace!”
How many times have we allowed our thoughts or someones words or actions towards us, cause us to live without peace? How many times have we allowed other peoples problems or situations to filter into our own lives and cause us to lose peace and rest? Probably more than we can count!
A couple days ago, our Pastor’s wife posted a page from a women’s devotional on our women’s ministry messenger that talked about how we are adopted and precious to God. It stated how adoption takes determination and planning, but most of all it takes love – the gritty kind of love that doesn’t give up. It’s a tenacious love that keeps moving forward no matter what the cost. And God approached our own adoption into his family with that similar determined gritty love.
That got me thinking to something I wrote several years ago about adoption and it had to do with our church. When you adopt children, you get someone from a totally different background than yours. They may think act, think, speak and look differently than you do. Though we all may have similar likes at times, there is something different about an adopted family. In a church, it feels more like an adopted family because we aren’t from the same background. In our church we have Hispanic, English, African-American, and other nationalities (which really covers all churches). This means we sometimes have to work harder to make things work and to get along. All families do, but there is something more unique about an adopted family because in that family the adopted child was chosen. WE are all chosen by God to be in His family. Sometimes I’m not sure why when we can be stiff-necked and stubborn, prideful, arrogant, disobedient, want things our own way and can just plain be hard to get along with. Yet, out of all of that, God still wanted us. Why? Because He looked past our downfalls, faults and irritations and saw the good in us. It doesn’t mean He tolerated bad behavior, it simply means He chose to deal with it through love, acceptance, forgiveness and patience. Sometimes He even has to take a step back and allow us to fall and hurt ourselves when we aren’t listening because we choose to carry a heavy yoke instead of His easy one. Jesus states in Matthew 11:28-30:
“28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Sometimes we make things harder than we need to and in that we lose peace. Sometimes we allow the words or actions of others to harm us instead of surrendering it to Jesus and praying about the problem and for the other person. Sometimes we allow disagreements and misunderstandings to cause division instead of bringing it to Jesus and working out the problem while praying for peace and unity. Sometimes the enemy likes to cause a bit of chaos in our lives, enough so that we lose sight of our peace. And sometimes two or three or four people aren’t always wrong though they may have different ideas about something. It just means God has put great minds together to see things from a different perspective that can lead to a fantastic solution. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John didn’t always write exactly the same thing in the gospels on a topic. They saw it from the perspective or position they were viewing it from. Some added more and some added less. Sometimes one or two left something out while the other two added it. It didn’t mean they were wrong or that some were wrong and others right…it’s according to what they saw or how they saw it. But what it did was lead back to Jesus and glorify Him. If God, in all His glory and wisdom, can love us through our faults, our shortcomings, our irritations, can’t we do the same for each other?
Romans 12:18 states:
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
Do you want to survive difficulties, trials and tribulations? Pursue peace. Do you want to work well with others, pursue peace. Do you want to have healthier relationships, pursue peace. Do you want to become the person Christ wants you to be…part of that means getting rid of bitterness (along with other junk) and pursuing peace. Whatever is stealing your peace, give it to Jesus and get your peace back.
I’ll close with the scripture our Pastor recently posted on Facebook from Matthew 5:9:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”