U-turn toward peace

I’ve always wondered why peacemaking is not considered a spiritual gift. Jesus called the peacemakers among us blessed. There are people who seem to have a natural inclination toward peace. Those are the people that bless the rest of us as they show us the more peaceful way of Christ.

Let’s be honest.

As much as we say we want peace, we’ll make it difficult. A sermon or Spirit-filled prayer can inspire us to seek the peace of God one moment. We’ll feel inspired to do what it takes to live in peace with other people. Before we know it, we’re back to our waring ways.

Peacemaking doesn’t come that easy to a lot of us. It requires something of us we aren’t always willing to give. That’s right, making peace is something we have to be willing to do. I know we have the ability; we can make peace. 1 Peter 3:11 says that those who love life must “turn from evil and do good” and to “seek peace and pursue it.”

God doesn’t direct us where we can’t go.

So, what do we do if we aren’t those natural peacemaking people? According to what we just read from 1 Peter, we have to turn. I’m reminded of a title of a book I once read: God Allows U-Turns.

Amen to that.

But you can’t just tell an addict to stop, right? They need help. They need support. They need encouragement and love. That’s why we have the church, too. Those of us who aren’t prone to making peace learn by the witness of those others we are walking with in faith. We aren’t admiring them from afar. It’s easy to point to people like Mother Teresa or MLK and thank God for their work. We should be thankful for what they were able to accomplish.

But also look to the people the rest of the world will never know that are close to you. They should be in your church. And you should be walking with them. Also, within the fellowship of God’s family, the Holy Spirit inspires, corrects, leads and comforts us all.

James 3:18 says, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.” That tells me we also need patience. Patience with others and with ourselves.

A harvest doesn’t appear. It grows. Much has happened before the harvest is ready. There’s been a lot of work to get to that moment. Think of the sweat, backaches and tiresome nights. Some days have been perfect for the work. Others have been disastrous.

Still, the work continued. Now, the blessing is the harvest itself.

Let that be our image today. If we seek peace, as hard as it is to do, there is a blessing of peace we will know. Isn’t that worth your u-turn?

Stay blessed…john

Me and Oreos

You are what you eat.

We all know that.

Yesterday, I wanted to be a dark chocolate Oreo. Did you know they even make those? I didn’t. But ever since I found out last night, I’ve been thinking about them.

I’ve patrolled my sugar intake for a while now. Believe me, before it would have been nothing for me to take down a stack of dark chocolate Oreos. See? I’m thinking about them so much I’ve already mentioned them twice to you today.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You are what you think all day long.”

There’s so much truth in that statement. Of course, scripture speaks that truth as well. Proverbs 4:23 says to “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Colossians 3:23 admonishes us to “set your minds on things above.”

Jesus, too, picked up on this when he called out the scribes and Pharisees. When you clean the outside of a cup but not the inside, you still have dirty dishes (Matthew 23:25).

Those examples point me to my favorite psalm. The psalmist knew that the blessed person is the one who mediates on God’s word day and night.

Meditating on God’s word and God’s goodness both leads to and stems from a closeness to God. The closer you want to be to God, the more you’ll reflect on the Lord’s loving-kindness. The more you learn about the love of God, the closer you’re drawn into God’s mercy. It isn’t rocket science.

But it can take effort.

In Psalm 4, David seems to be at odds with other people. They have spoken against him and tried to shame him. His response is to turn to God. The first verse speaks to what we’re talking about today. Not only does David ask God to hear his prayer, he remembers how God has already done so.

If you receive my daily text messages, here’s one that’s coming soon: You can trust in what God will do because you know what God has done. That’s what David did; he recalled God’s previous deliverance. Since the Lord answered him before, David was sure God would listen again.

As a result, even as he endured the attacks of his enemies, he was able to lie down and sleep in peace. I take that to mean David made the effort to reflect on God’s protection every day. He needed to remind himself of God’s goodness. He had God’s peace because he sought it and thought about it all the time.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of a song on the hearts of believers. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3). The message is clear from scripture. If you want to renew your mind (Romans 12), stop thinking so much about the dark chocolate Oreos.

Now, cookies aren’t bad; they just don’t compare to the peace of God. And cookies may not consume your thinking. Great. Find out what does and what is keeping you from knowing more the peace of God.

Stay blessed…john