Tag Archives: The Holy Spirit

Meet the Holy Spirit: A Proper Introduction

 

A Proper Introduction

Our discussion on “surrender” has raised new interest in a topic WordBytes has “directly” addressed only ten times since our first publication in 2010.   Although each bible teaching makes mention of the works of this person, I have failed to dedicate a study about Them.

Who is it?  The Holy Spirit!  My failure was not my belief that teaching about the Holy Spirit wasn’t important.  On the contrary, I wrongly supposed that everyone knew everything about the Holy Spirit.  Faulty assumption!

Therefore, for the next few weeks, I’m going to dedicate time to reintroduce us to the Holy Spirit.  It is my prayer that at the end of this series, we will desire to draw closer to God after learning about His Spirit (Psa. 42:1-2). Why is this important?  As we will learn, the Holy Spirit is vital for victorious living and kingdom building.   That’s why we need a “proper introduction”.

The Holy Spirit of Pentecost

This month we celebrated Pentecost in churches across the nation and around the world.  With Christ’s completed work of salvation—His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—the promised Holy Spirit would come and dwell within us (Acts 2).

It was the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence that would enable Jesus’ disciples to continue the work He had begun. Pentecost marked the availability of the Holy Spirit to everyone who would “call upon the name of Jesus” (Rom. 10:13).

While we may know about the various ministries of the Holy Spirit, it is even more important to fully grasp the enormity of His Presence within us. Deity is living within us! I love the way Jesus described this phenomenon: “I (Jesus) in them (Believers) and You (God) in me, (so) that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23).

Like the disciples on the day of Pentecost we need the Holy Spirit’s power and direction as we live for God’s glory. We are invited to join with the Triune God in Their ministry of deliverance, wholeness, and grace (Eph. 2:10).

God wants to lead you to places you cannot get to without Him, and He does that by the power of His Spirit. He can bring you into the realm of the miraculous—not as a show, but as a demonstration of His love and compassion for the lost, hurting, or needy. Who among us doesn’t want or need that?[1]

Another like the Other

In anticipation of His departure, Jesus promised the disciples “another Comforter” (allon parakletos)—another of the same kind to aid (John 14:16).  The Holy Spirit would represent God to the disciples as Jesus did in his incarnate state.

The Holy Spirit would direct the disciple’s decisions, counsel them continually, and remain with them forever.  Jesus knew the heart of His disciples and the importance of His presence in their life.  That same Comforter now dwells within each of us who are in Christ (Eph. 1:13).

Jesus knew that, even in the 21st century, we would need the loving reassurance of His presence.  With the uncertainty of the world we live in, it is comforting to know that we are never outside the watchful eye of God IN ADDITION to being indwelt by the very presence of Jesus, who is the Holy Spirit living within us.

“The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and

the Church is famishing (starving) for want of His Presence.”

                                                  A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

God never changes and His promises are still true—”He will never leave or forsake us” (Gen. 28:15).   We are never out of God’s watchful eye or reach.

[1] Stormie Omartian, Lead Me, Holy Spirit:  Longing to Hear the Voice of God.

A New View of Surrender, Part 2

 

 

A New View of Surrender, Part 2

What, why, when, how… to surrender?

It is not easy for us to surrender.  It is, therefore, important to understand how surrendering operates in our daily lives.  This is where we will begin today.

As we stated earlier in this study, to surrender means to give up power, control, or possession of a thing.  For believers, that thing is us!  Spiritual surrender is the relinquishing of our will to the will of God.  Each day we are tempted by our flesh, the world, and Satan to give up power, control, or possession of our life (1 John 2:15-17).  That’s why it is important to be alert and watchful to decisions that lead us to death or to obedience (Rom. 6:16).

Why surrender?

This question, for me, was a game changer!  To truly understand “why” surrender, it is important to understand what it means to be “filled by the Spirit”.   While the definition of “filling” or “indwelling” of the Holy Spirit may vary based on one’s denomination, I will share the most common understanding by theologians.

The filling of the Spirit refers to a continual process of spiritual growth and maturity, where believers are constantly controlled by the Holy Spirit in their mind, emotions, and will. It is not a feeling or emotional experience, but rather the yielding of one’s life to the Lord. The filling of the Spirit empowers us to live the surrendered life.

When to surrender?

At the moment of salvation, we surrender to the Holy Spirit who brings us to repentance (John 16:8).  The Holy Spirit regenerates our spirit and we become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:16-17).  It is at that time that the Holy Spirit takes permanent residence in our life (1 Cor. 3:16).

We continue this process of surrender so that we will “act more like Jesus” or “be conformed” to His image (Rom. 8:29).   This is only possible through our obedience to the Holy Spirit.

How to surrender?

As we stated earlier, the Holy Spirit’s filling is the yielding of our life to the Lord.  Key to this definition is the word, yielding.  Yielding implies an act of cooperation by us as recipients of the Spirit.  Unlike our initial salvation, it is a continual process in our spiritual growth.  This is the daily work of surrender (2 Cor. 3:18).

I offer three “R’s of Surrender” to help us practice this critical element in our Christian walk.

    • Repentance.  Continually examine our life to identify those things that act as idols and influences.  Be brutal in discarding those things that hinder our absolute surrender. (2 Cor. 13:5-6)
    • Realization. Depend wholly on the directions and leanings of the Holy Spirit.  Surrender cannot be accomplished by our “good works” or best efforts.  It is the work of God. (Luke 18:27)
    • Relationship. Understand the will of God by spending time with Him.  Prayer, meditation, and His Word are direct paths to surrender.  Practice His presence throughout the day. (Psa. 42:1-2)
God blesses when we surrender

To live in the fullness God has planned for our life, it is important that we surrender to God.  This means we must give up those things that hinder the Holy Spirit’s work in our life.  This includes not only personal sin, but our self-will, self-confidence, and self-effort.

I close with these insightful words from Andrew Murray as to the blessings associated with our surrender to God.

I say again, God will bless you. You have been praying for blessing. But do remember, there must be absolute surrender. At every tea table you see it. Why is tea poured into that cup? Because it is empty and given up for the tea. But put ink, or vinegar, or wine into it, and will they pour the tea into the vessel? And can God fill you, can God bless you if you are not absolutely surrendered to Him? He cannot.[1]

To be filled, we must empty ourselves.  We must surrender.

[1] Absolute Surrender, Andrew Murray

A New View of Surrender, Part 1

A New View of Surrender, Part 1

What does surrender look like?

To surrender means to give up power, control, or possession of a thing.  It is often used in military terms to express a point of “handing over” a town or a fortification to an enemy.  It is punitive, in nature, when viewed from this vantage point.

However, from a spiritual standpoint, surrendering offers greater benefit when viewed from our loving God.  Spiritual surrender (surrender to God) is based on His grace and love (Eph. 2:4-8).  Through His Holy Spirit, we respond with trust and obedience.   We learn to surrender to God!

Sin and surrender

Sin and surrender have more in common than their first letter.  Sin has at its core the stubborn resistance to surrender oneself to the authority and rule of God.  Remember Adam and Eve?

Often, we fail to see the spiritual reality of these two conflicting influences in the world. Each day we, unknowingly or knowingly, choose one we will surrender to.  Who will rule, control, and influence our life?  This requires that we continually examine our position of surrender.  In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul makes clear this truth.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  (Rom. 6:16)

God Expects Our Surrender

Surrendering to God allows the Holy Spirit to accomplish the plans and purpose that God has created for us (2 Tim. 1:9).  Through our surrender, we understand and live a life that reflects our prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

The perfect example of surrender is seen in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  He often proclaimed that His life was focused only on the things of God.  God’s will versus His own (John 8:29).  Revisit Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and see how the Holy Spirit undergirded our Savior as He agonized between His fleshly will and the will of the Father (Matt. 26:38-42).  Strengthened by an angel, Jesus fulfilled the purpose for which He came to earth to save mankind.

Absolute Surrender

In his book, Absolute Surrender, Andrew Murray gives a key as to why we must surrender to God.

You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it.  

If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly. And now, do you expect that in your immortal being, in the divine nature that you have received by regeneration, God can work his work every day and every hour unless you are entirely given up to him? God cannot.[1]

For God to accomplish His purpose in our life, we must be absolutely surrendered to Him.

[1] Absolute Surrender and Other Addresses, Andrew Murray

Throwback Wednesday: Living in Resurrection Power

Throwback Wednesday: Living in Resurrection Power

Easter, for Christians, is  more than a one day event.  It is a 50-day celebration. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost (see Acts 2).

Eastertide, is also, an excellent  opportunity to expand our  understanding of the power Christ’s resurrection continuous to offer, even in the 21st century (Eph. 1:19-20).

That being said,  we offer for your reading, “Living in Resurrection Power”.   This is an excellent follow-up to our series, “Spiritual Blessing for Victorious Living.”

The Knowledge of God: An Enlightened Conclusion

An Enlightened Conclusion

Knowledge of God: Recap

Knowledge of God is critical.  For believers, it establishes the moral authority and inspiration in our life, which results in purposeful living, and understanding what God has given to us. For non-believers, it can influence their decision to either accept or reject Jesus Christ’s offer of salvation.

Knowledge of God is not only to be intellectually informed, but to be experienced as our personal reality.  With the coming of Christ, this experience is possible as a result of our faith response and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  (John 14:7; 17:3)

As believers, we are instructed to “grow in the knowledge of God” (2 Pet. 3:18).  The driving force for knowing God is relationship.  Relationship with God requires both commitment to Him and connection with Him.  We abide in Him (Psa. 91:1), we dwell with Him (Psa. 27:4), and we thirst for Him (Psa. 42:1-2).  We grow!

And in doing so, our minds are renewed, and we are transformed:  changed into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29; 12:2).  Our knowledge is continually expanded as more about God is revealed through the Holy Spirit.  What we currently know is only a foretaste until we see Him “face-to-face” in eternity future (1 Cor. 13:9-10).

Knowledge of God or spiritual ignorance?

We’ve all heard that “knowledge is power,” often to the point where it seems like a cliche. The idea that “knowledge is power” is used often in the business world, especially in negotiations.  Knowledge of God is also powerful.  In 2 Peter 1:2-3, the apostle encourages Christians to persevere in persecution.  Why?  How?

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. 

The Apostle Paul concurs with this thought in his letter to the saints in Ephesus who had power through their knowledge of God, yet they were living as beggars.  They had relegated themselves to live in “spiritual poverty” amid God’s abundant grace including adoption, acceptance, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, inheritance, the seal of the Holy Spirit, life, grace, and citizenship (Eph. 1:3-14).

As believers in Christ, are we exercising the power that has been given to us through our knowledge of God?  Knowing “who we are” and “whose we are” gives us extraordinary advantage and power.  Our relationship with God (as His children) and our position (in Christ) gives us access to unlimited resources to stand firm, immovable, always abounding in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).

Knowledge of God and power

Paul prays for “revelation” for the church; that they may see (and know) how to navigate the challenges they face as a new church in a pagan and hostile city.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. (Eph. 1:17-19)

Paul sets out to explain how the wisdom and knowledge of God can address the needs of the church.  In this context, that knowledge is obtained as a result of accepting Jesus Christ’s offer of salvation.

“may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him

Some commentaries interpret spirit (pneuma) as a disposition or attitude one might possess.  Of course, we cannot obtain such a disposition apart from the Holy Spirit.  Wisdom gives insight into the true nature of things.  Revelation is the unveiling of God Himself.  The purpose of both wisdom and revelation is to know God better.

“the eyes of your understanding being enlightened

Paul prayed that they might have true spiritual insight into God as a result of the eyes of their heart being enlightened.  It is the heart where transformation begins.  Paul testifies to the church at Corinth that “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, had shined in his heart to give the glory of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

That we might know

Having prayed that the Ephesians might know God personally, Paul gives the reason why knowledge of God is important.  THAT WE MIGHT KNOW.  Know in this context is factual knowledge.

The hope of His calling.  This pertains to the believer’s present hope when he was called to faith (2 Tim. 1:9).  This occurred for the believer in the past. Hope in Scripture is the absolute certainty of a believer’s victory in God (Col. 1:5).

The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.  “His” in this text pertains to God Himself.  At the time of the resurrection of believers, God will inherit those whom He has purchased at a great price according to the riches of His grace. This will occur in the future. God’s inheritance will be the saints themselves.

The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.  This power of God is directed toward believers. This pertains to the present time. Using three different words—power, working, and mighty—Paul underscores the magnitude of God’s great power available to Christians.

I close this series with this quote from Dr. Max Anders, pastor and noted author:

To know God and to find one’s full satisfaction in that knowledge is the ultimate goal of the Christian experience. The Lord’s greatest delight comes when His people discover the ultimate value lies in the knowledge of God. Nothing in the material world can complete the delights that are present in His Person.  

Keep Hope Alive: Hope that Won’t Disappoint

Hope that Doesn't Disappoint

Experiencing real hope

Last week we concluded our teaching, with the secret to experiencing “real hope” in our lives.  

It is important that we are intentional in claiming what Christ has already obtained for us through His sacrificial death and powerful resurrection.  We know that as believers in Christ we live continually in the presence of God who is the great I AM.  It is God who provides us with what we need for the challenges we face (Isa. 43:2). 

We recognize and acknowledge that God alone is the true source of our hope and salvation (Psa. 62:5-12).

Hope that is true

Ultimately, the question of what the world should places hope on is a complex one. There is no easy answer, and different people will have different beliefs.

We hope that technological advances will solve many of our problems, such as climate change, disease, and poverty. We also place our hope on human ingenuity, believing that humans have the ability to solve any problem they set their minds to. Those with gentler dispositions hold on to the hope that the world’s problems will be solved through love and compassion.

How does God’s hope compare with that which this world offers?  Is God’s offer of hope better?

The cluster of attributes (of God) which we classify as “integrity” relates to the matter of truth.  There are three dimensions of God’s truthfulness: (1) genuineness—being true—”He is what He appears to be” (Isa. 45:5-6); (2) veracity—telling the truth (1 John 5:20) — “He tells the truth” (John 17:17, 19); and (3) faithfulness— “He proves true” (Num. 23:19).[1]    

As believers, our hope rests fully on the integrity of God—His genuineness, His veracity, and His faithfulness.

Hope that does not disappoint

Through Jesus sacrificial gift of life, we have a hope that “does not” and “will not” disappoint.

Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Rom. 5:1-5)  

The Holy Spirit reassures us of God’s love.  This provides us with a steadfast foundation for hope. This love is unconditional and everlasting, providing security and assurance even in the face of trials and tribulations. (Heb. 6:17-19)

Hope kept alive

How do we keep hope alive?  Not by might, nor by power, nor by strength (Zech. 4:6).  Not by the wisdom of man nor the understanding of scholars (1 Cor. 1:27-29).  These offerings of hope are temporary and subject to change—change brought about by the reality of time and the ultimate demise of life as we know it (2 Cor. 4:18).

But we keep hope alive through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of God (Eph. 1:17).   Armed with this we have access not only to life on this side of heaven but also throughout eternity.  Through the love and grace of God, we can keep hope alive.  May we forever rest and abound in the God of hope.

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (1 Pet. 1:13).

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology.

 

Keep Hope Alive: True Hope

 

Keep Hope Alive: True Hope

Hope and faith

In our first teaching on hope, we shared that hope is included as one of the three theological virtues mentioned in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth.  “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three.” (1 Cor. 13:13, KJV).  Our faith becomes a key ingredient with hope and love to offer us peace, guidance, and unwavering hope.  It provides us strength and solace in time of uncertainty.  This is true not because we are “optimistic”, but we believe that God is truly in control regardless of the circumstances we face.

Paul admonished the young Christian converts of Thessalonica (as he does for us today) to arm themselves with these key virtues that will withstand dangers, toils, and strife they might face in this fallen world.  Paul wanted to help believers look not only to their present situation but also to their secure future in eternity.

But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.  (1 Thess. 5:8, NLT)

The Apostle Peter shared this same message to God’s elect that had been scattered because of persecution.  He encouraged them to persevere in a “lively hope” because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  (1 Peter 1:3).  He told them:  “Gird up the loins of your mind and rest your hope fully upon the GRACE that is revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (1 Pet. 1:13).  That “revelation” came and still comes through the Holy Spirit.

Hope and the Holy Spirit

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace In believing (as you trust in Him) that you may abound (overflow) in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

This verse is a benedictory prayer.  A benedictory prayer is a short blessing given at the conclusion of public worship.  Paul begins by recognizing and acknowledging God as the true source of hope. He then adds that his readers will be filled with joy and peace.  Joy relates to the delight of anticipation and seeing one’s hopes fulfilled. Peace results from the assurance that God will fulfill those hopes. As a result, believers overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The achievement of all God’s purposes for his children come from the power given by the Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit instills hope in believers by:

    1. Reassurance of God’s Love: The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into the hearts of believers, providing a steadfast foundation for hope. This love is unconditional and everlasting, providing security and assurance even in the face of trials and tribulations. (Rom. 5:5)
    1. Guiding and Strengthening Faith: The Holy Spirit strengthens believers’ faith, enabling them to trust in God’s promises and plans. This faith is the source of hope, as it allows believers to anticipate God’s goodness and believe in the fulfillment of His promises. (Heb. 11:1)
    1. Empowering for Perseverance: The Holy Spirit empowers believers with resilience and perseverance, enabling them to endure challenges and maintain hope amid difficulties. This empowerment allows believers to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward towards God’s purpose. (Gal.5:22-23)
    1. Revealing God’s Plan: The Holy Spirit unveils God’s plan and purpose for believers’ lives, providing a clear direction and motivation for hope. This understanding of God’s plan instills hope for the future, as believers see how their present struggles fit into God’s overarching design. (Eph. 1:17-18)
    1. Interceding in prayer: The Holy Spirit intercedes for believers in prayer, expressing their deepest yearnings and hopes to God. This intercession ensures that believers hopes are aligned with God’s will and that their prayers are heard and answered. (Rom. 8: 26-27).

The Holy Spirit serves as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path forward and guiding believers toward the fulfillment of God’s promises. Hope, anchored in the Holy Spirit’s presence, becomes a source of strength, resilience, and unwavering faith, enabling believers to navigate the challenges of life with confidence and anticipation of God’s goodness.

Real Hope

For hope to be real in our life, it is important that we are intentional in claiming that which Christ has obtained for us through His sacrificial death and powerful resurrection.  We know that as believers in Christ we live continually in the presence of God who is the great I AM.  It is God who provides us with what we need for the challenges we face (Isa. 43:2).   Want to keep hope alive?  Believe in God!

Return to Fellowship

Return to Fellowship with God

We must draw near.

There are two (2) biblical truths that should motivate believers to live their lives “more fully and abundantly” (John 10:10).

The first truth is that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, presently lives within us.  Jesus promised this to those that “believeth on and in Him” (John 14:16-17).  The second is that we live continuously in the presence of God (Ps. 139:7).  There is never a time nor is there any circumstance in our life where we will find ourselves outside God’s love and purview.

Both truths are “spiritual blessings” gifted to us from our heavenly Father (Eph. 1:3).   But even with God’s commitment to be in and among us, we as believers have a responsibility to draw “near to God” (James 4:8) by entering into intentional fellowship with Him.  God will not force His presence upon us.  God is daily inviting us into the joy of fellowship.

What is Fellowship?

What does “fellowship with God” look like in the life of the believer?  Fellowship has been described as the sharing of experiences with likeminded people.  However, fellowship with God is much more, for “who has known the mind of God (Romans 11:34)?” Through Jesus Christ, believers are able to “know by experience” God’s heart and mind.  Such was the case with the Apostle John.  John and the disciples were uniquely privileged to witness, firsthand, the person and works of Christ.

    • “That which was heard” were truths that Christ declared concerning the kingdom of God and His offer of eternal life (Luke 4:43; 9:11).
    • “That which was seen” included the many miracles of Christ; miracles that would attest to the coming of the promised Messiah (Matt. 11:2-5).
    • “That which was looked upon and our hands handled” recounted the disciples’ examination of Christ’s glorified body after the resurrection (John 20:27).  All of the disciple’s senses were engaged as Christ manifested (revealed) Himself and the Father.  

Get up close and personal!

The disciple’s experience with Christ was not viewed from a distance but “up close and personal”.   Since Father and Son were one (John 17:11, 22), the disciples concurrently experienced fellowship with the Father (v. 3).  Fellowship is translated as “communion” and “participation in a common life.”

John’s personal witness was an invitation to the early church to participate through a common lifestyle that was centered on relationship—unending communion with God the Father and the Son.    Therein is the basis for John’s statement that their “joy may be full” (v.4).

Fellowship with God is a lifestyle.

Though John’s letter was written thousands of years ago, its message is still relevant for today.  Fellowship with God begins with a lifestyle that seeks to draw near with faith (Heb. 10:22) and learn of Him (Matt. 11:29).

It includes our living by “that which we have heard”—the truth found in God’s Word and the counsel of the Holy Spirit.  It involves our personal witness to “that which we’ve seen”—God’s unconditional love and salvation in exchange for our sin and brokenness (1 John 1:3-4).

Are we experiencing fellowship with God?   We must daily ask the Holy Spirit to show us those things that stand in the way of being in fellowship with God and how we can draw closer to Him.

In Search of Peace: Perfect Peace or Peacelessness?

Perfect peace or peacelessness?

Peace Recap

We closed last week’s session by putting forth the truth that true peace can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.

Through Christ’s sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, we as believers have peace with God (Rom. 5:10), the peace of God (2 Peter 1:3-4), and peace from God (2 Cor. 4:8-9).    God’s peace is underwritten by His unchanging promises and experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.   So why is there so much peacelessness?

What causes “peacelessness”?

Is there such a word?  I don’t know but, for me, it is the perfect description of what we are experiencing while living in this fallen world. Increases in depression, anxieties, and mental distress.  Conflict and violence in our world, in our nation, in our communities and our families.

Even nature is experiencing peacelessness as we adjust to the effects of global warming and climatic changes.  Peacelessness (no peace) is one thing we can all agree is going to be difficult to attain in our immediate future!

Why peacelessness?

For both believers and nonbelievers, the difficulty in finding peace lies in where we are looking for it.  Unfortunately, we most often look for peace in the wrong place and from the wrong source.   We place our dependency on the world and on self.

    • The world offers a false sense of security and hope that it cannot produce. Its knowledge and technology are God’s gifts of wisdom, but it cannot replace our all-knowing, all-seeing, and everywhere present God.  The world’s “fallenness” makes it neither trustworthy nor truthful (1 Cor. 7:31).
    • Our flesh, our pride, and our disobedience often lead us down the wrong paths for our life. When we lean on our own understanding, we are placing our trust in the fragility and the weakness that is innate in humanity (Prov. 3:5-7).

We must also consider the influence of Satan’s lies and deception. All these factors result in the same outcome which is the failure to hear and accept God’s offer of peace.

God, however, offers a solution to the peacelessness (lack of peace) in our life.  The God of hope wants to fill us with joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the   power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).  How can we access this joy and peace?  By believing in God and in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  By faith, God offers “shalom shalom”—perfect peace.

Perfect Peace

The prophet Isaiah gives us both the outcome and the pathway to God’s peace (Isa. 26:3).

You (God) will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

    • “God will keep”. God will guard and watch over us.  Just as a watchman in a high tower of an ancient city continually surveyed the terrain for potential problems.  God watches over us.  If there is a problem, the watchman will defend and protect.  So will our God.
    • “our mind”. Our intellectual framework “continually processes” the daily trauma we’re exposed to.  It guides our decisions as to the best solutions for the problems we face.  It holds our thoughts and our imagination.  It also houses our fears and brokenness.
    • “in perfect peace” (shalom shalom). Why is it perfect?  Because God is its source.  God commands the “right resources” we need to address life’s situations.  His peace is underwritten by His promises, His presence, and His power.  He is the Great I Am (Exod. 3:14).
    • “he trusts”. Trust, translated, means “to have confidence; to make secure”. This is our part to perform.  Our trust is reflected in our obedience to God’s Word and in our allegiance to Him.  Trusting in God is a non-negotiable.  Rather we are “abound or abase” (Phil.4:12-13) or “pressed on every side” (2 Cor. 4:8-10), we trust God!  (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
The Final Peace

God alone can give us the peace we so desperately need in our life and in this world.  I leave you with these words from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  While He shared them with His Disciples in the moments prior to His crucifixion, He speaks to us today.   Read them; meditate on them.  God is our peace (Eph. 2:14).  He is our “Shalom Shalom”.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NLT)

In Search of Peace: Whose peace do we want?

In Search of Peace: Whose Peace do we Want?

In Search of peace.

As we learned last week, peace can be defined in many ways. From a world perspective, peace is a stress-free state where there is perfect harmony and freedom. However, peace from a biblical perspective provides us with more precise descriptions on which to focus our attention.

Both the Old and New Testaments use the root word, salom or shalom to capture the meaning of peace as “completeness, contentment, rest, and harmony”.

Peace by any definition can be very elusive and subject to change because of external influences.  That’s why we need to be clear as to what we’re looking for and where we think we may find it.

Loss of our Peace.

At one time man experienced “perfect peace”.  That peace was found in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve.   There was completeness, contentment, rest, and harmony.  On Maslow’s Hierarchy they were “at the top” of the pyramid.  Their peace, however, ended with the entrance of sin.

In the beginning, all creation was in a state of shalom, and this is the environment that Adam and Eve entered into. This Shalom was a perfect peace, where the infinite Creator of all things was in complete communion with his created beings Adam and Eve. Yet sin destroyed that shalom and cast the world into a place of brokenness. The fallen world we live in, with its violence, heartache, pain, and death are very visible results of the Shalom that was lost so very long ago.[1]

As we view the challenges of living in the 21st century with its social challenges, spiritual deficits, and moral vice, we might ask if peace can become a reality in our lifetime.  Peace can be achieved but it must begin with an understanding of the true source of peace.

Man-made peace.

There are two types of peace we can experience.  The first is man-made peace which is based on the creation of external systems to ensure safety and security.  It also includes safeguards to support peaceful interactions between individuals, groups, and communities (relationships).  On a large scale we see governments (local, state, or national) serving in these roles.   Our best efforts in fabricating peace will only leave us in disappointment and despair because our skewed understanding of peace is dependent upon things outside our control![2]

God-given peace.

The other option we have is God-given peace. The pursuit of God-given peace begins with being spiritually reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10).  Because of our sin nature, our relationship is estranged.  The way back to God is only possible through acceptance of Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sin (Rom. 5:8-9).  Once reconciled to God, we are no longer in enmity with each other.  We have peace with God.

Once we have peace with God, we become heirs of salvation and part of God’s Kingdom (Rom. 8:17).  As children of God, we receive the Holy Spirit who dwells within us to comfort and strengthen us during difficult times. The Holy Spirit brings peace by reminding us of the faithfulness of God.  The Spirit speaks to the promises and blessings that are ours because of our righteous standing made possible through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Peter 1:3-4).   We have the peace of God.

As we daily walk in newness of life with the Holy Spirit as our guide, we begin to act like Jesus.  We are told to be conformed to the image of Christ who provides us with the model of how we act and react while living in this fallen world.  We have escaped the corruption that is in the world through our knowledge of God—His power, His purpose, and His presence.  This provides us with great confidence even when pressed on every side (2 Cor. 4:8-9).  We have peace from God.

True Peace

Jesus promised to give His Disciples peace.  Jesus’ peace quiets the inner turmoil that comes with danger.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you: I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled, or fearful.” (John 14:27, CSB)

The Apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians that God’s peace is true peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7, Living Bible)

Whose peace do we desire?  True peace can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.  God’s peace is underwritten by His unchanging promises and experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.   God’s peace meets the perfect biblical standards.  It is complete, leading to contentment, giving us rest (from worry), and creating harmony in our relationships.

[1] Jason Soroski, “What does shalom mean and why is it important?”, Crosswalk.com.   

[2] Samuel Stephens, “The Pursuit of Peace”, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.