Pursue Peace!

Life has been pretty crazy lately, pretty full of “shoulda’ dones,” “shoulda’ knowns,” “shoulda’ been tolds” —so much going on! …aaaaaand my daughter and I have been involved in a Bible study on the armor of God.

I don’t know if you have had this experience, but it seems like every time I study about spiritual warfare or the armor of God, my commitment to “standing firm” gets rattled in one way or another.  I’m not sure the battle becomes more intense; I think it likely that I become more aware of the circumstances surrounding me that have the potential to shake up my faith, my intimacy with God, and my responses to life as it happens.

Lately, my attention has focused more on two of the lesser emphasized pieces of armor—the “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace,” and, “the helmet of salvation.” (Ephesians 6:15, 17)

I’ve kind of faltered in my understanding of having gospel shoes on. …sort of thought that meant being equipped with proof texts for convincing people to believe in Jesus.  Kind of overlooked the peace part; and feeling the pressure to “prove” something has very little to do with peace!

Here’s the good news, the gospel: “…God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed:  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.  He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.  They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.  To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:34-43) Might I add, Hallelujah!  We have peace through Jesus Christ! 

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

Here’s my dilemma, though.  I’m not always ready with the good news of peace to “count it all joy…when [I] meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2) In fact, it seems, more often than not, I forget “that for those who love God [I am one of “those”] all things work together for good, for those [that’s me] who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) So, instead of the peace that comes through my relationship with Jesus, I frequently respond to those impositions of life on my happy little place of well-being with grumpiness, entitlement (“why is this happening to me” or “they could have handled this better”), a sense of imposition (“you’re bothering me”), fear, or just plain old anger—essentially, anything but joy!  It becomes a serious problem when I choose to talk to others about my frustrations and disappointments instead of “casting all [my] anxieties on him, because he cares for [me]. (1 Peter 5:7)

The “helmet of salvation” is the other piece of armor that, as reading through this portion of scripture, in the past I’ve quickly skimmed over, thinking, “I’m saved, it’s all good, I’m covered on this one!” …not recognizing that, even though I am saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus and his redeeming blood, I still need take up the helmet of salvation.  I still need work getting my thoughts in line with His thoughts.  I still need to confront the enemy’s lies and tear down the strongholds where he holds sway over my thoughts, my attitudes, and my reactions to life happening in ways that seem challenging.

Interesting.  It is to my extremities, my head and my feet, that I haven’t paid careful attention regarding the armor of God.  Not even quite sure where to put that in my “significance” file … just something to note.  Perhaps we need to consider that the enemy likes to focus his attention on the places in our lives where we are not so careful to pay attention!

I’ve found that demons take fiendish delight in launching attacks against the very core of our identity in Christ.  I think those of us who experienced damaged relationships growing up and broken relationships as adults wage a significant war grasping and holding on to who we are in Jesus.  One of the lies that echoed throughout my soul was, “I am too broken to be used by God.”  The truth, on the other hand is, I have been chosen by God to bear fruit! (John 15:6) Because of Jesus, I am holy, and I share in God’s heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1); and, I belong to a chosen race, a royal priesthood a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession and created to sing His praises (1 Peter 2:9-10).

There are places in our souls that provide target practice for the enemy—we need to remember that we have an adversary prowling around, seeking someone to devour!  Sometimes critical thoughts consume me, sometimes pride.  Sometimes frustration screams in my ears—yet always I know the only way to combat lies is to overwhelm them with truth.  And the only solid, unwavering basis for truth is in Jesus and God’s Word, the Bible. 

 

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind

is stayed on you,

Because he trusts in you.

 Isaiah 26:3

tryagain

I’ve had a lot going on in my life since I began writing this post, which is why it has taken me so long to finish it.  Just recently, someone very close, very dear to me, discovered a lump in her breast.  The trying to get in to see the doctor, the uncertainty of what they will find, the fact that she is away from home because of work…

Life happening has a way of threatening our peace, exposing our thoughts and our vulnerabilities to the onslaughts of the enemy—  NOW is the time to take our thoughts captive to Jesus.  NOW is the time to dress for battle, ensuring that our helmets are in place. …and it is ALWAYS the right time to walk in the peace that comes from knowing Jesus! 

 

 

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