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

Daring and Desperate Determination

When you read the Old and New Testaments together, you will find some companion verses.  These Scriptures complement each other.  Even though there are hundreds of years between the times of their writing, they state the same timeless truths.

Notice the words of the Psalmist and the Savior:

  • Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
  • Matthew 6:33: Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Do you “delight” yourself in the Lord as much as you delight yourself in your children and grandchildren?  Do you seek God’s kingdom and righteousness as much as you pursue your passions in life?

I think of these verses when I read the story of a woman in Matthew 15.   She cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is possessed by a demon. Have mercy, Lord!”

customoko-its-time-to-have-bold-faith-kids-tshirt-featured-imageThis woman was persistent and kept on seeking and asking and knocking until she got the attention of Jesus and His disciples.  This woman was daring, desperate, and determined in her quest to request divine intervention on behalf of her daughter.

Because of her faith, Jesus responded and blessed her with the desires of her heart.  How daring and determined are you in your life of faith?

Discreetly Discrete

character_stonesSometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with strange or random thoughts on my mind.  When this happened recently, I was thinking of two statements that Jesus made:

  • The first is an admonition to be discreet: Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
  • The second is a command to be discrete: Be in the world, but not of the world.

As I thought about these two statements, the words discreet and discrete came to my mind.  Even though these words are homophones, they are not synonyms.  Discreet implies wisdom in your behavior or speech.  Discrete means: distinct or separate.

What section of the Bible outlines a discreetly discrete Christian life?  I think it’s the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

What change can you make to help you become a discreetly discrete person?

Are You Eyesome or an Eyesore?

in_the_eyes_of_god_by_rainacornasusgirl-d652cziEyesome is a word that I had never seen or heard of until yesterday, and it means, “Pleasant to look at.” When I discovered its meaning, I thought of the words of Peter when he spoke of the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (I Peter 3:4).”

I see fewer eyesome people who are noted for their “incorruptible beauty” and “gentle and quiet spirits.” Instead, there seems to be a proliferation of people who proudly exhibit a spirit that is reckless and impetuous.  This sort of person is less eyesome and more of an eyesore with a spirit that is rude, crude and arrogant.

What can you learn when you focus your eye on some of the Scripture below?

  • In Ephesian 4:1-3, Paul said I “urge you to live in a way that is worthy of the calling to which you have been called, demonstrating all expressions of humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another in love. Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace.
  • In his advice to young Timothy, Paul instructed him to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness (I Timothy 6:11).”
  • Paul emphasized the importance of gentleness when he wrote to the church at Philippi: “Let your gentleness be known to all men (Philippians 4:5).”

To be perceived as more eyesome and less of an eyesore, I encourage you to give some thought to Psalm 90:17:  “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us.”

The “beauty of the Lord” does not speak of any physical feature, but it does mean that God can make you an eyesome creature.  When His beauty is upon you, He will begin to develop the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious” in His sight.

Paul: Judaism to Jesus

church-of-christA person’s concept of Christ often undergoes a dramatic change from the first time he thinks about Him to the time he trusts Him as Savior.  This was the case with the Apostle Paul.  He started his life as Saul of Tarsus and sought out Christians with a raging hatred similar to that of mad dog infected with rabies. When Saul first heard of the “hope of the resurrection,” it sounded like empty rhetoric and a powerless promise.  After he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road, he experienced the transforming power of Christ’s salvation and his name was changed to Paul.

By developing a dynamic relationship with God, Paul came to know Him in several dimensions.  When he wrote to the Hebrews, Paul said God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”   Paul also spoke of this in 2 Timothy 4:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.

To know God as a rewarder, you must first know Him as a redrawer.  Paul had been the rising star of Judaism, but he walked away from the Law to a life of grace:

As far as keeping the Law is concerned I was a Pharisee, and you can judge my enthusiasm for the Jewish faith by my active persecution of the Church. As far as the Law’s righteousness is concerned, I don’t think anyone could have found fault with me. Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake . . . I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions!

For whom have you livedDevil or Jesus?  You will be known for either the good way you live or evil will define you.

When you meet the Gateman will you be wearing his nametag?    If so, you just might hear Him say: “You have fought the good fight; you have finished the race; and you have kept the faith.”

 

Note:  I enjoy playing with the English language.  Go back and find the single words I have italicized in a couple of sentences.  Forwards and backwards, what do you see?