The Pursuit of Peace

Pursuit-LogoI was flipping through the pages of the Psalms late yesterday afternoon, and 5 words from Psalm 34 caught my attention:  “Seek peace and pursue it.”  When I examined the words of this verse, I came away with the idea that it is a faith and works verse.

The faith part is found in the word “seek.”  The original meaning of the word has the idea of seeking within the context of worship, or praying for peace.

The works part of the verse is even more interesting.  The word “pursue” should be understood within the scope of intense persecution.  You should pursue peace with same energy and intensity of a zealous persecutor.

There is considerable harmony between the uses of pursue in the Old Testament, and the way Paul uses it in the New Testament:

  • In Romans 14:19, Paul encouraged the Christians at Rome to “Pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.”
  • I Thessalonians 5:15: “See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.”
  • I Timothy 6:11: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”

It has been said that whatever catches your attention, catches you.  I trust you’ll turn your attention to the business of “seeking peace and pursuing it.”  Peter confirms the importance of this endeavor:

Whoever desires to love life and see good days let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.    ~I Peter 3:10-12

Building Character

“Because I gave him my word” was the answer to the question I had just asked.  The question was, “How does he know you will pay him?” It was an interesting conversation, and one that I’ve remembered for almost 50 years.

Even though the word “reputation”was not used, it was the subject of the discussion.  Pop finished the conversation with this statement:  “A man is only as good as his word.”

I posted a comment about reputation to my Facebook page yesterday:  People wouldn’t have to spend so many minutes protecting their reputation, if they would pause for 60 seconds to guard their character.

You can read the character-focused Scripture I’ve provided below in less than 60 seconds:

  • Proverbs 22:1:  “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
  • Ecclesiastes 7:1:  “A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.”
  • Hebrews 11:1-2:  “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old.”

It was Helen Keller who said:  “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

The quote above reminds me of Romans 5:1-5:

Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.  Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Do you see the cause and effect links in the verses above?  “Suffering produces endurance,  and endurance, character, and character, hope.”  

 

 


Character_Building (1)
I’m not sure that Paul would agree with Calvin’s dad, but you may have the opportunity to build some character with snow in the forecast for this weekend.

Enduring Life’s Hurdles

There are times when the burdens of life are incredibly heavy.  When I experience these times in my personal life and when I walk with others who are struggling, Hebrews 12:1-3 is the Gatorade that keeps me going:  let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Heartache, sickness, and grief can present circumstances that are difficult to endure. Like it or not, they are hurdles that are a part of life’s race.  Regardless of how hard we train, we will find it difficult to cross the finish line if we do not keep our eyes on the goal.

The key to finishing the race is to keep your eyes focused on the next step and not the hurdle three steps in front of you.  Even though tragedies and  trials can appear to be insurrmountable obstacles, a person needs to see more than just the mountain ahead.

Instead of bowing to the mountain,  focus your faith on the God who made the mountain.  When troubles come, do you see just the storm or do you see the rainbow?  When you feel there is no way out, do you hear the roaring lion or do you feel the presence of Daniel’s angels?

When it comes to endurance, you do not have to walk alone.  Jesus extends an invitation to walk with Him and He offers to help carry the load:  Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Mattew 11:28-30 The Message).

Go ahead and read these words from The Message, they should be enough to keep you thinking:  Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!—Hebrews 12:1-3