07 Dec PEACE
Imagine joining your closest friends in a late night sail boat ride, there is this one friend who is an expert sailor, wise and sharp. He leads everyone on the boat and already everyone feels safe and care free because of the expert on board with them to guide and direct the boat. Nothing to worry about. The water is amazing – beautiful breeze and moonlight to make it a spectacular ride. Then all of the sudden a storm arises out of nowhere, the most violent storm you have ever seen. The water is pouring over the sides and the boat rocks back and forth, friends are sliding left and right, failing down. The mast is hit by lightning and falls onto the deck and the sails are torn. Fear and terror are on all your friends’ faces. You look for your friend, the expert sailor, and see that he is sleeping on a cushion! Sleeping through the worst storm of your life. You scream out, “Help us! The ship is going down!” So what do you think happens next? Does the expert wake up, masterfully taking control of the boat – lifting new sails and getting the boat safely to a nearby dock? Does he wake and freak out alongside everyone else in the boat as the boat sinks? No. The expert wakes, sees the fear and disbelief on his friends faces and hearts, and tells the wind and rain, “Peace. Be still.” The water becomes still, the raindrops fall down onto the deck mid air, the boat comes to balance, and friends all around are amazed, stumbling to catch their breathe, now in fear and disbelief of what was just witnessed. The expert sailor responds, “Why didn’t you trust me?”
The expert in scenario three is definitely different than the experts we run across here in the flesh, but He is real. He exists. His name is Jesus. He has dominion over all things, He doesn’t panic, He doesn’t just fix the sails and mast and help the boat sail to safety. He tells the elements – the wind, rain, and ocean, that which is affecting us – what to do. He is not just an expert, but rather Creator of all things, Author of the universe, Sovereign over nature, disease, sin, and evil. He lays His life down for those He loves and suffered once for all of our sins, so that we would be brought to God, Who has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son. (1 Peter 3:18, Colossians 1:13)
Isaiah 9 gives us a perspective to what hope in the Messiah looks like – the end of all oppression with justice and righteousness forever giving way to a kingdom of peace. Isaiah 9:6-7 refers to a Prince of Peace. He literally brings unending greatness, reign, justice, and righteousness – He brings peace forever.
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.”
Mark recounts Jesus’ sovereignty over nature in chapter 4 verses 35-41: “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’”
He satisfies and allows our soul to rest no matter what is going on around us. Psalm 23:2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” No matter what is crashing down or what mountains quake around us, He leads us by still waters if WE are with Him, and there with Him, He provides good things. Ask yourself, do you run from God when chaos or crisis starts because your fear and control take over, or do you abide with Him – staying and remaining in His presence? A friend and I like to say, “you are leaving the Kingdom,” when one of us starts to panic about circumstances, lists off the worst case scenario storyline, or allows fear to run freely in our thoughts. We encourage one another to stay in the Kingdom, stay in His presence. He doesn’t walk away from us, but we can walk away from Him by doubting His promises.
When anxiety and doubt creep into our minds, it separates us from God. Doubt is defined as believing something is not true; fear that separates us from God. The enemy looks for a moment where he can use doubt to bring us out of the Kingdom merely through our own thoughts. That is the moment when peace is lost – when we separate ourselves from God.
In the passage above, Jesus calms the raging storm and He shows us a few very important aspects of His Lordship. He is sovereign over all things, even nature. He can tell the wind to Be Still or the rain drops to stop mid air. His words command the wind and rain to cease. Even the disciples were so shocked that this person in the boat with them had that authority and it scared them. Jesus acknowledges their fear in Luke 8:25, “Then he said to his disciples, ‘where is your faith?’” He inquires, “Why can’t you trust me?” to the men He has chosen, revealed Himself to, loved unconditionally, called out of sin to live a life with Him, freed from the bondage of their pasts, and performed numerous “miracles” over and over again in their presence. But did they see? Even when we lack faith, He doesn’t leave us. Hebrews 13:5 says that “He will never leave us, He will never abandon us.” We have to believe this is true because it is. God always keeps His promises to us. He has promised a relationship with us for eternity and in that relationship, the Prince brings Peace.
Peace is a deep foundational understanding of who God is, what God is able to do, and what has been done through the blood of Jesus for you. Know where your hope comes from – look back at what God has done. Nothing is more important, better, satisfying, or more fulfilling than the love and freedom you have in Christ. You do not have to work hard for the peace that is promised, all you have to do is seek Him with all of your heart and see Him for who He is – a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
God is always with us, but are we choosing to be with Him? He always has open arms saying you are welcome here, stay as long as you like. This Advent season, the build up to Christmas can be stressful. We may be grieving a loss or heartache, we may be in a desert place with the Lord and not feel that closeness we once had, or we may feel the warmth of His love and strength of His mighty fortress and the peace that surpasses all understanding. No matter where you are with God today, I challenge you to see where you are in relation to Him – are you near Him, are you seeking Him daily, pleading with Him, praising Him for all that He has done? Are you aligning your heart with His? Are you living for the Kingdom or for the world?
Who is He to you and why do you not trust Him? Do you have Him in a box? Do you feel like Jesus leaves you in a crisis, do you see Him as incompetent to handle your mess, or do you see that He has authority over all that is going on in and around you, not just the circumstance, but the heart and mind of us all? He is who brings peace to our storm. Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” His favor rests on His children, He leaves us peace, but not the worldly peace. He tells us to not be afraid (John 14:27), for He gives a peace that transcends all human understanding that will guard our hearts and your minds through Jesus Himself (Philippians 4:7).
“Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Cease. Did you hear that? STOP striving. Just KNOW (and rest) HE is GOD! HE. IS. GOD!