BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

Last week I wrote about the fact that most people long for that illusive thing called peace.  I said that peace is first and foremost a personal condition and that it will never envelop this world until it is first found in the heart of men.

Thinking a lot about that in the last few days, I have come to realize that it is possible to enjoy a “sort” of personal peace without affecting or influencing the world around us.  I am admitting to you that I am ready to turn off the news and watch Andy Griffith instead.  I don’t want to watch “out of control” people destroy our historical landmarks.  I don’t want to hear how the pandemic has spiked in Arizona.  I don’t want to be a captive audience for looters, burners and killers.  I hurt for the people who have had to board up their businesses, and get out of the way of hoodlums.

When I was a child, I had a little figurine of the “Three Wise Monkeys.”  They are a Japanese pictorial maxim.  We always called the monkeys “See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil.”  One monkey covers his eyes, one covers his ears, and the other covers his mouth.  

Various meanings are given to these wise monkeys.  See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil was meant as an example of being of good mind, speech and action.  The phrase could also mean just remaining quiet, or denying reality.  That’s exactly what I want to do some days.  I want to shut my eyes, stop my ears, clinch my teeth and forget about what is going on outside my door.  Then I am reminded of the quote I shared with you last week.  “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”  So, the so called peace I may experience by turning off the television may simply be a refusal to face reality.

The phrase “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” is often used to refer to those who deal with evil by turning a blind eye implying a lack of moral responsibility and refusal to acknowledge wrong doing.  It seems to me that many of the leaders in our country fall into this category.  They are turning a blind eye refusing to acknowledge the havoc that is being wreaked, afraid of reprisal, if they speak out. 

I cannot turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to what is happening, nor can you.  If I possess any real peace in my heart, that peace must become active in some way.  I am not called to be a peacekeeper.  I am called to be a peacemaker.

When Jesus was here on this earth, great multitudes followed Him.  One day, seeing the multitude, he climbed up a mountain, sat down, and began to speak to the people. He shared with them eight conditions whereby they would be blessed.  The seventh condition was, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”  Matthew 5:9.

“Blessed are the peacemakers…!” A peacemaker is a person who brings about peace, especially by reconciling adversaries.  

2 Corinthians 5:18 tells us God “…has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” If we possess that wonderful peace of God in our heart, then we must ask the question, “How can I sow this peace into a world that is devoid of peace?  I am asking myself that question today.

Here’s what I think.  Serious divisive conflict is everywhere, within families, in the church, and in the world.  As a lone individual, I probably wouldn’t make much of an impact in Minneapolis or Seattle, but in my home—in my neighborhood, I can be a Peacemaker.  That’s a good place to begin my ministry of reconciliation.

  It is said that “Time heals all things,” but that is not true.  Often hurt is swept under the carpet and never dealt with, and bitterness, resentment, and anger fester.  As a peacemaker, I can take the first step, face the conflict, and deal openly with the problem. 

Of course, I have to forget about my own interests.  I have to listen to, and consider my spouse, my child, my parent—the person who is hurting.  Arguing never solves anything.  Blame destroys any possibility of reconciliation, and peace flies out the window.  I must attack the problem and not the person.

I council you today to let the “Peace of God” reign in your own heart.  Keep your eyes and ears open to those about you.  Deal honestly with problems that arise. Take every opportunity to speak the truth.  There is a devastated world out there. Be aware of those who are afraid, angry and hurting, and speak to them a word of understanding—a word of peace.  

This world needs an army of peacemakers, an army commanded by The Prince of Peace.  He is our source.

Remember, Peacemakers are blessed.

“…They shall be called sons, (daughters, children) of God.”

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

AN ILLUSIVE PEACE

During these unusual and unprecedented days, when fear, worry, panic and depression take over our thoughts, and lockdowns, supply shortages and uncertainty leave us feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, peace is the thing we most need, the thing we most long for.  We just want things to return to normal.  We want life to be as it was before last January.  It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t always peaceful, but …

Achieving peace seems to be a continuous journey many of us are on.  We hear it in political speeches:  “Peace for our time, peace in our time.” At Christmas, we sing with longing, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister from 1937 – 1940, desperately wanted peace for his time.  He wanted to appease Germany’s aggression in Europe, and avoid another world war.   He thought it was horrible and incredible that the Brits were digging trenches and trying on gas masks, “Because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom they knew nothing.”

Chamberlain was hopelessly, dangerously naïve about Hitler’s intentions. Returning home from Germany, in September 1938, he spoke to his fellow Englishmen telling them that he had returned from talks with Hitler, bringing “peace with honor.” 

He said, “I believe it is peace for our time…Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

People wanted to believe him.  It had been only twenty years since the end of WWI and its unimaginable horror.  Now they could see the end of the Great Depression, so they certainly did not want another war.

Chamberlain desired above all things to find a peaceful solution to Hitler’s wish to create a new enlarged German homeland.  He would try in every way to figure out the problems and remove them.  He thought, by discussion and in a spirit of collaboration and good will, he could change Hitler’s wish.  

However, the enemy would not be appeased.  A year later, Hitler referred to the agreement with Chamberlain as just a “scrap of paper,” and invaded Poland, and the war was on.  

Mankind has been trying to find peace ever since the war between Cain and Abel.  It doesn’t matter how diligently we have searched, we still haven’t found it.  War rages continually in one place or another.

Since the Civil War our wars have always been fought on foreign soil—not so today.  We are waging war in our own streets.  While I believe in the right to protest, I do not believe in the right to riot, loot, kill and burn.  While I believe that renegade cops must be punished and dismissed from the ranks, I do not believe that this nation can function safely and efficiently without a police presence.  There is no semblance of peace in our land today.

Peace is first and foremost a personal, individual state of being.  The word “Peace” denotes a personality free from internal or external strife. Peace will never encompass this world until I am at peace.  Only when I am in a quiet, tranquil state, when I am free from troubling or oppressive thoughts or emotions, only when I am in harmony with personal relations—when this kind of peace possesses mankind, only then will this world be at peace.

I am not implying that peace is possible only when life offers no problems.   That’s never going to happen.

Ronald Reagan said, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”  I am not able to handle conflict by peaceful means, if peace does not reign in my life.

Lasting peace is not achieved through discussions, collaboration and easily broken agreements.  Some would have you believe that you can create your own peace.  I don’t really believe that.  If it were possible, we would have conquered this thing ages ago.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”

Someone else has said, “When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives.  Be it.  Live it.  Radiate it out.”

How do you do that?  I cannot create my own peace.  God is the only one who can give us perfect, lasting peace.  He is our source.

In Isaiah 9:6, we read, “For unto us a child is born…and His name shall be called…Prince of Peace.”

In John 14:27, Jesus says to us, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.”

Again, in Philippians 4:7, we are encouraged, “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.”

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.”

That’s the secret!  Fix your mind on God.  Love and obey His law.  Regardless of the circumstances, trust in Him, and that surpassing peace will reign in your heart and life. You can be at peace in the middle of this time of uncertainty and unrest.

PEACE IS AN INSIDE JOB!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

LIFE CHANGING DECISIONS

 

We are told that Americans make seventy conscious decisions a day.  That’s seventy distinct moments of wading through options and committing to a certain choice.  I believe that we are unaware of most of these decisions, for they deal, for the most part, with routine choices which we make every day.  What shall I wear, what shall I eat, where shall I go, etc.?  

Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions.  We often go through life unaware of the action we are taking.  Yet, every single decision we make contributes to the kind of life we will live and the person we become.

Since the on slot of this pandemic, and being confined to my home, I have had a lot of time to think about my future, something that, up to now, I have not thought much about in detail.  It didn’t seem necessary until everything came to a screeching halt, and the possibility of death loomed large.  

Now, at the age of eighty-four, I am asking myself, “How many more years do I have?  What does the future look like for me?  Should I sell my house, and move to a senior facility where I will not be alone?  Can I afford to do that?” 

These are heavily weighted questions requiring life changing decisions.  Of course, God alone knows how long I will live, and what the future holds, but one day, I will, of necessity, have to make these difficult choices.

Four years ago, when my younger sister was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the decision making responsibility fell to me.  It was necessary to go to court, one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, in order to assume responsibility for her.  I decided where she would live.  I decided whether or not to sell her house and her car.  I sold, gave away, or threw away her whole life.  

It took every bit of energy and emotion I could muster to make such decisions.  At a certain point I reached what is called “decision fatigue.”  Fatigue hit when I began to lose the ability to think through my decisions.

When the junk man arrived to cart away everything else that remained, I just closed my eyes and let him do it.  My brother kept asking, “Are you sure you want to throw that away?” I was no longer sure of anything.  Some very good things, which I now regret, wound up in the city dump, because I couldn’t make another decision.

My brother, who is now ninety years old, is suddenly facing some of these life changing decisions.  He is in great health, still very active, but he is tired of being along.  Last year he sold his house, where he and his wife lived for forty-five years, and moved, with his little dog, into a two bedroom apartment, but he hasn’t enjoyed it as much as He thought he would.  

Now, his daughter and her husband, who live in Tulsa, have invited him to come live with them.  They have plenty of room and they want him. 

All of sudden he is faced with this enormous decision that will totally change the years left to him.  I don’t think he should give up his independence.  I think it is too soon for him, but I am not making the decision.

He must make the decision to please himself, not someone else.  He must ask some hard questions.

“Do I want to do this, or do I need to do it? 

“Am I doing this because my daughter wants it, or because I want it?”

“Will I regret having done it?”  

“What’s the worst possible outcome, and what is the best?”

I know my brother.  He will never make this big decision without praying diligently for God’s will.  Then he will have to listen to his heart.  We are emotional beings, and we rely on our intuition more than we think.  

My brother’s best decision must be based on two things:  What God speaks into his heart and what he himself honestly needs.  It won’t be easy!

Last week I made a decision of my own.  Arizona is opening up to a degree, and like everyone, I am tired of being cooped up.  Still I am hesitant to go out around others.  Yet, that is exactly what I need to do.  Oh, I am not rebelling, nor will I take unnecessary risks, or behave foolishly, but I need to put away my fears.  Doing everything I can to be safe, I need to trust God to take care of me.  So, I’m going to start doing some normal stuff—going to the bank, the Post Office, the grocery store and the car wash.

Like Queen Esther I have said, “If I perish, I perish.”  I can say that confidently, because Psalm 139 tells me that every day of my life is written in God’s book.  I have reminded myself that I am not going to die one day sooner or one day later than God planned.  

Perhaps you are, at this moment, wrestling with one of those “Life Changing Decisions.”  You do not know what to do, but God does, and He has made some wonderful promises that directly address your dilemma.

In Psalm 32:8 God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.  I will guide you with my eye.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.”

Again, in James 1:5 we are counseled, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…and it will be given him.”

DO IT.  IT WORKS!

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!