Peace and Joy When the World is Falling Apart.

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One of the greatest mistakes that modern preaching made was getting us all to seek peace and joy.  Peace and Joy are not things we are to go after.  They are things that God adds to those who are going after the right things.

Let me make the case by using the story of the Wise Men.  Imagine the world they knew.  Tradition says they were from the school of the Magi in Persia.  They were Kings and likely billionaires.

They came under the influence of Judaism because of Daniel centuries before and because an edict from Solomon that the whole world should have knowledge of the Lord God Jehovah.

Let’s imagine the turmoil in their souls when they saw the star.  They knew it signaled the birth of the King of Kings because they had long before come under the Spirit’s influence.

Should we go or not?  How do you prepare your kingdom for a prolonged absence?  What if our enemies invade?

Then the real question hit them.  “What if we do not go?  Imagine living out the rest of our days knowing that we were invited to the greatest event in history and we stayed home.”

They found profound peace because they said yes.  Isaiah 26:3 says,  “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

The person kept in perfect peace is not focusing on peace, they are focusing on God and in trusting God.

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The Wise Men learned that God gives peace to those who willingly endanger themselves in a divine quest.  Peace has no place with bored believers seeking escape.  Matthew Henry said, “we cannot be safe so long as we are secure.”  No matter how hard you try to secure yourself against the upheaval in the world you will still battle anxiety.  You cannot ask life to leave you alone and think God will add peace.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Peace is clearly a byproduct in this verse.  It comes from believing in what Christ did on the Cross and what He did before His Father.

Here is the danger of seeking peace while ignoring God’s call:  Luke 19:41 “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”  Let that be a warning to us all.  We must pursue the things that make for our peace.

Joy overtakes those who obey orders.  Matthew 2: 9 “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Again, joy is not a feeling you work up but a gift God adds to those who are walking by faith and not by sight.  Two years before the star rose signaling the location.  It was their duty to get there and then they could see the star once more.

1 Peter 1:8 says, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”  Loving Him even though you cannot see Him releases joy.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Never forget: Peace and Joy are not things we are to go after.  They are things that God adds to those who are going after the right things.

The Amazing Edge over all other religions… and a joy we have overlooked.

Dear Friend,

Back in the 1900’s; its fun saying that!  Anyway,back in the 1900’s while leading a student ministry on the riot-torn Berkeley campus I was invited to speak at arguably the most bizarre event ever! It was called the Holy Man Jam.

This event had to be in Marin County. In the 1970’s, Marin was more of a state of mind than a physical place.  Hot tubs, peacock feathers and enlightenment reigned supreme.  There was even a guy who sold silence.  I kid you not.  He sound-proofed his garage and rented it out by the hour to anyone who wanted silence. He was often booked up 6 months in advance.

I wandered into this cosmic menagerie in order to speak for 7 minutes! It was an all day bliss-fest.  I was sandwiched somewhere between Transcendental Meditation and Scientology.  I did not have a clue how to frame the Gospel in a perspective that would be clear to these seekers.

The atmosphere was thick with arrogance and intimidation.  Every speaker outperformed the one before them.  They kept raising bar of bliss and my blood pressure right along with it.  What would I say?  My notes made no sense.  No verse came to mind. Then moments before I was due to speak, God  showed up in a blaze of mercy. The Holy Spirit let me see that these people worshipped achievement and that they all wanted an edge for sports, business, romance and every other human endeavor.  They all wanted ability.  They were merely embellishing their bankrupt soul.

I said, “Today I want to describe the one ability that all of these speakers have ignored.  There is one talent that will remove the desperate need to waste your money and time chasing mystical white rabbits. The teaching of these men comes at an exorbitant price.  The good news is that the Good News is free.  Someone already paid for it.”

Then, I turned to the host of speakers and said, “All of you have made wild promises of athletic excellence, mental superiority and even sexual prowess.  Can any of you show these people how to please God?  The greatest thrill of man is to make God smile.  To bring Him pleasure from a life well lived.  To lay down at night feeling God’s validation is the only true bliss.”   “Paul the Apostle described this one ability upon which all others hang.  ‘1 Thessalonians 4:1 “Furthermore, brethren, we admonish you in the Lord Jesus Christ,that you follow the instructions which you learned from us about how you ought to walk in order to please and gratify God.”  After reading this verse I took them straight through the Cross, the Blood and the Resurrection of Jesus

After I sat down there was a silence that fell upon the meeting that showed me that God had done the job.  Hungry hearts braved the ridicule and came to ask for prayer.  Glory to God!!

Have we forgotten the amazing benefit of simply walking with God?  Thank God for money, thank God for health, thank God for success but what would all these things mean without Him?  God led Abraham out of his tent to look up at the night sky and promised children as innumerable as the stars and the sands.  Then He topped it all off by saying “But Abraham, I am your exceeding great reward.”  The great reward of getting born again is Jesus Himself.