"Peace on earth, good will to men." We are hearing these words on the radio and reading them on Christmas cards. We ask, "What can we do to foster peace on earth?" I believe that if every person found their own personal peace with the Lord, we could make a difference in the world. Let us remember one of the names of God—"Jehovah Shalom." Shalom/peace comes when we live in harmony with God. He is the true source of peace. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is called the Prince of Peace or "Sar Shalom." The prophet Isaiah declared it: "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) And, it tells us in Galations 5:22 that one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace. A relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the key to peace. What does that relationship look like for us? I have some thoughts:
1. We must practice the Lord's presence. - This means meditating on Him and fixing our eyes on Him. When we set aside times of solitude and quiet with Him meditation will be enhanced. "Be still, and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10) Jesus modeled this for us, and we can read about it in Matthew 14:23. "After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone."
2. Do not worry about tomorrow; instead give thanks. - Philippians 4:6-7 is the Scripture we must look at carefully that is the basis for this conclusion. Verse 6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything; but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." The result is described in Verse 7. Rick Renner, scholar and author, wrote this verse the way it would read if we interpreted it in the Greek that Paul used. "And the peace of God—a peace so wonderful that it cannot be compared to any other type of peace; a peace that stands in a category by itself and rises far above and goes beyond anything the human mind could ever think, reason, imagine or produce by itself—will stand at the entrance of your heart and mind, working like a guard to control, monitor, and screen everything that tries to access your mind, heart and emotions." Bill Johnson makes an insightful comment about these verses: "In order to have the peace that passes understanding, we must be willing to give up our understanding." It means total surrender to God. This word leads us to another way to obtain peace.
3. Trust in the Lord and believe His promises. - This requires us to be like little children, placing our hands in His and allowing Him to guide us. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6) Remember the promises of God for us. "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3 - NKJ) "The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." (Psalm 29:11) Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)
4. Praise Him for what He has done and will do again. - Samuel set up a stone of remembrance for God's people. "...He named it Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far has the Lord helped us.'" (I Samuel 7:12) "It is good to praise the Lord and make music to Your name, O Most High, to proclaim Your love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night." (Psalm 92:1-2)
All of us are faced with difficult situations in life. We have a choice to make: Are we going to let our circumstances steal our peace or are we going to put into practice the suggestions above? "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace." (Colossians 3:15)
The Faithfulness of God
What is the greatest sign of God's faithfulness to us? I believe it is His constant, uninterrupted, dependable presence with us. God demonstrated that faithfulness when He sent His Son to earth. The fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy as written in Isaiah 7:14 was realized through the birth of Jesus. He is called Emmanuel--"God with us."
In the November issue of "The Chosen People," president Mitch Glaser teaches us that the Hebrew Bible uses three terms to describe the faithfulness of God:
As we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, we have an opportunity to express our gratitude to God for His faithfulness. By acknowledging His goodness and faithfulness we will be able to enter a place of rest and peace. It is appropriate that Thanksgiving falls in the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and that Kislev is derived from the Hebrew word for trust and security. Personally, I will be working on trusting God for a situation that occurred this morning. My left wrist is broken as a result of a fall. The doctor expects I will need a cast on my arm for six weeks. I want to tell you, however, that I am at complete peace and know that the Lord is with me and will redeem this situation and use it for His glory. Together, let us declare His faithfulness and thank Him for the truth that He is omnipresent. He is truly "God with us," Emmanuel!
Reflections of Christ
According to Space.com, the moon is the earth's only natural satellite. It has quite an influence on the earth, the main one being that its gravity pulls at the earth, causing the ebb and flow of tides and waves. As I sat and watched the mesmerizing rise and fall of the waves on a beach in Hollywood, Florida, I remembered the One who put the celestial bodies in the sky and gave thanks for His loving care over the Universe.
The cycles of the moon are so predictable that the Jewish calendar is based upon them. At sunset on November 9 the month of Kislev began. It is the month to enter into a new level of trust in the Lord. Contemplate the precision of the moon's cycles and their impact on the earth. Remember how God cared for all the creatures of the earth in the days of Noah and how He placed a rainbow in the sky (during this month--Kislev) to make a covenant with Noah and all his descendants. This should boost our trust in Almighty God. Every time we look at the moon, we should worship the Lord who placed it in the sky. Psalm 148 is a poem commanding all of creation to praise the Lord. This includes people, angels, heavenly hosts and even the heavens. "Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars." (Psalm 148:3)
The cycles of the moon and the way we see it depend upon the moon's position in relation to the earth and sun. The beauty of the moon is in its light, for it reflects the light of the sun. It depends upon the sun for illumination. And we depend upon the Lord to keep all creation in motion so that we can live a life of order. Psalm 8:3-4 says it well: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?"
There is a passage in Song of Solomon 6:10 where the beauty of the Bride is described like that of the moon. "Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession?" Isn't it interesting that the beauty of the moon is in its light that comes from the reflection of the sun? Jonathan Cahn, in his devotional called "The Moon Bride," in The Book of Mysteries, points out that there are imperfections and patches of darkness in the moon's surface. However, as it shines with the radiance of the sun, the irregularities fade into the background. Jonathan says, "We are as the moon. And He is as the sun...Our light and beauty come from God...Focus on the beauty of His radiance, then you will shine with His light. And that light will overcome your imperfections...Dwell in the beauty of His presence."
The prophet Isaiah tells us that the beauty of the moon and sun cannot compare to that of the Lord. "The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously." (Isaiah 24:23) The Bride of Christ needs to turn her attention away from herself and toward the Son of Righteousness who shines brighter than the moon and sun. As we dwell with Him our imperfections will fade, and our lives will shine the light of His radiance.
Treasure Inside - Geodes
My recent visit to Luray Caverns in Virginia only served to enhance my fascination with geodes. These sphere-shaped rocks contain hollow cavities that are lined with crystals in the interior. On the exterior the rocks look rather common and unattractive, so one must crack them open to discover the beauty within. The caverns reminded me of a huge geode that I could walk through. Discovered by five local men in 1878, the caverns were eventually designated a National Natural Landmark. Over thousands of years, water that dripped through layers of limestone containing calcium carbonate, iron and manganese dioxide formed stalactites (hanging from the ceiling) and stalagmites (growing from the floor up) and columns of varying shapes and colors. Until the caverns were discovered no one had any idea of the beauty held below the ground.
The treasures held in underground caverns or inside geodes are only discovered when one looks deeply within. The glittering crystals such as agate, chalcedony, jasper or amethyst are unique to every stone, and the common appearance of the exterior gives no clue to the beauty and value held within. Did you ever consider that God made each of us in His image with unique characteristics of value? In fact, He called His people treasured possessions. "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the people on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession." (Deuteronomy 7:6)
The Psalmist says, "Your hands made me and formed me..." (Psalm 119:73) "For you created my inmost being...I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." (Psalm 139:13-14) God knows what He has placed within each of us and expressed that to the prophet Samuel when he was searching for the next king of Israel from among Jesse's sons. God told Samuel, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) The shepherd boy, David, was chosen because he was a man after God's own heart.
Consider Jesus, God's son. Here is how He is described in Isaiah 53:2-3. "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men..." Yet, within the Son of God there is a beauty that can only be seen by those who take the time to be with Him. Deep within the Lord Jesus Christ is an invaluable treasure that was put on display when He was broken on the Cross for our salvation. As the writer of Hebrews says, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being..." (Hebrews 1:3)
There is treasure hidden inside of every person on the face of the earth. As members of the family of God, it is our responsibility to find these encapsulated gems in those who we interact with each day. In essence, we are treasure hunters! Just as it takes patience and perseverance to sort through a field of common stones and open them in a search for treasure, we must have the same characteristics as we look for what God has placed deep within each of His children. Look at your family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances in a new way. Unique treasure lies inside waiting for us to discover it.
Joan E. Mathias