Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

And having shod your feet in preparation [to  face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.  We put on the shoes of peace, in our next step of preparing for spiritual war.  We have put on the belt of truth, and the breastplate of righteousness, and now, we put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  He is the one who said, "My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, but as I give.  Peace that passes all understanding."
     The worlds peace says, "Come together.  Let's live in harmony.  Let's not fight.  Let's all just chill together."  I see a bumper sticker around our town.  It says, "Co-exist" and then it has all the symbols of different religions on the sticker.  The problem with that, is that our relationship with Jesus is not a religion.  It is a life changing realization that we need Him desperately in our lives, and we cannot exist without Him.  It is the deepest relationship of our lives, and it is not a religion.  It is knowing Him intimately, and being known by Him intimately.  That means, we can't co-exist with any religion, because we aren't in a religion, we are in a relationship, and that can't be changed, no matter how the world tries to change it.
     Yes, we go to church, but that is so we can have fellowship together with other believers, who also have that same intimate relationship with Jesus.  We are to live in the world, but to be seperate from it.  Our separateness is not of getting away from the world, but in our relationship with Jesus, we no longer think as the world does.
     Jesus told His disciples, that when they came into a home, they were to speak His Peace upon that home, and if a man of peace lived there, His Peace would stay upon that home.  If a man of peace did not live there, he was to take the Peace of Jesus away with him, when that disciple left that home.  That is how we are to be wherever we go.  We bring the Peace of Christ with us into every situation we go into.  If we are not living the Peace of Christ ourselves, we are bringing chaos and division, because we are being double minded, and it says in God's Word, that "a double minded man is unstable in all his ways."  We cannot have the Prince of Peace living in us, and walk in strife and division, without causing others harm.  We have to walk in Christ's Peace.
     Christ's Peace is not easy to walk in.  It means turning the other cheek when you have been wronged, and forgiving those who wronged you.  There is a passage of Scripture that says, "If you come to the altar, and you know someone has something against you, leave your gift at the altar, and go make it right with that person."  You see, God's peace has a cost to it.  It is not a touchy feely peace.  It is a peace that asks hard things of you.  Forgiveness, making things right, going the extra mile, praying for your enemies, blessing them, allowing God to be in control, and not you.
     The world's peace depends on "feelings".  You hear all the time, "Well, I don't feel I can forgive them, so I won't until I feel it in my heart."  Jesus says, "Forgive those who hurt you and despisefully use you."  It doesn't say anything at all about "feelings".  I remember a time I was having trouble forgiving, and Jesus told me, "Let Me do the work, you just choose to forgive, and I will take care of the rest."  In other words, it was my choice to forgive, that brought Christ's Peace into that situation.  It had nothing to do with my feelings, because my feelings were to continue waiting for a time I felt forgiveness in my heart.  Jesus asks us to "Choose".  Choose His way of peace.  That forgiveness meant, when that situation came to mind, to bless those people that had hurt me, and say again, "I choose to forgive them, Father, because that is Your way, and I want to be in step with Your Spirit, and to please You.  I am still hurting, but I know Your way is best for me.  Help me to feel that forgiveness inside of me, but until I do, I will choose to forgive them, whether I feel it or not, because You have asked me to."
     The world relies on blocking out all the bad feelings and only allowing the good ones in.  Cleanse your mind, feel the good, throw out the bad.  Jesus knows we can't forget, but He can help us forgive and live forward, in spite of those bad situations, and memories.  It may take months or years to get to the place where you will think of situations in your life, and not feel the pain of that time.  It's ok.  Just continue to forgive.  To bless.  To give it to Jesus.  Some time in the future, God will use that painful place to bring healing and hope to others, if you will allow Him to.
     The peace Jesus brings to us, will cause rifts and wars, just because it cannot compromise at its very heart.  The truth is the truth, whether it feels good or not.  When you are walking away from God, the Gospel message will not "tickle" your ears.  It will irritate and annoy you.  It will bring conviction and challenge to your life.  It will keep at you, until you  either acknowledge it, or turn from it in your own attempt to run from God.  That is why God's message of the Gospel cannot be compromised with.  Because the Gospel message is Jesus.  Jesus, who was born of a virgin, lived among us, died on a cross, and rose after three days, and went to heaven on a cloud of glory, and Who will come back again, to gather His people.  He came to give us the keys to the Kingdom of God.  To restore to us, the lordship of earth.  If we walk in His ways, we have the authority given to Adam in the garden of Eden.  We are no longer bound by the curse, but set free to walk with God.  Other religions won't accept who we say Jesus is.  We cannot say He is any different than Who He IS, God dwelling among us.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  Because He lives, we live.  His divine blood bought us the right to be called "sons of God".  Hallelujah!
     So, we do want to walk in peace.  We don't want to fight, but we are in a war, and that war means we live at peace as much as we can, but we hold our ground on God's Word and His promises to us.  We allow others to be themselves, but we share the Truth of God's Word, when God opens those doors to share with others.  We allow Him to show us the way.  Remember, our war is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in heavenly places.  That is why we need to walk in God's peace.  He will show us when we need to listen, when we need to talk, and when we need to fight.  Let Him be your guide.  Remember, we are to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit will tell us when to go left or right or stop or turn around or which way to go.  If we are listening.  If we have hardened our hearts, because we don't want to hear "God's plan", or to "do God's plan", we will not be able to hear Him so clearly.  Let His peace soften your heart.  Be willing to be the one to forgive and to walk in forgiveness.  To be kind and do good, so you can overcome the evil plans of the enemy.  Remember, this is not just about you or me, Jesus came to save and seek the lost.  He wants to bring everyone into the Kingdom of God, and we need to be open to listening to the plans.  Let's remember when division and strife start acting up, it means there is something important at stake here, and we need to be extra alert and willing to be calm and listening to the Spirits call.  Let's not be a part of the problem, but a part of the solution.  Let's let God lead us into His Peace that passes all understanding.
     When we are in His peace, we will feel a stability that will ground us.  We won't be double-minded.  We will just know that God is working, and we will have an unerring trust in God's protection and covering.  I pray you will feel that true and blessed peace that can only come from God.  Jesus.  Let His blanket of love comfort you, bless you, and bring you to a greater understanding of your destiny here on earth.  You are called and chosen.  You are an ambassador of the Kingdom, an ambassador of peace.  God bless you with an abundance of His precious peace.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Breastplate of Righteousness

     "And having put on the breastplate of (righteousness) integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God."  We put on the breastplate of righteousness next.  We put upon ourselves, Jesus.  He is our righteousness.  He is the One God sees when He looks at us.  We are covered by His Presence.
     Remember, in another blog how I told you that our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.  It is only the blood of Jesus that gives us righteousness.  All our good works and deeds are nothing, if they are not done in obedience to Jesus.  It is His blood that bought us our freedom and right standing with God.  Our righteousness.  Rejoice in the fact that we are called "the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus."
     As we put on that breastplate of righteousness, let us remember that it is the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, that won us that freedom.  His blood bought us power over ALL the works of the enemy, because Jesus triumphed over them, as He conquered the grave.  One drop of His precious blood, wins us the battles, as we stick close to Him.  We are surrounded and covered by His protection.  He covers us with His wings, and He surrounds us with His angels.
     When I was first married, I was in a bad accident.  I was trying to help a friend learn to drive, and we were on a gravel road.  She was going very fast, and I looked over and I told her that she should slow down.  I thought she'd take her foot off the gas, and let the car slow down normally.  Instead, she hit the brakes.  I knew we were in trouble the second she did that, and I breathed, "Jesus, help" and then I saw us going from one side to the next, and then we flipped.  After the dust settled, we all got out.  She had her young son in the back seat, and this was a convertable.  We had landed in the only ditch along the road, right in the middle, so we were all ok, except where I had gotten hurt, and a few cuts and bruises they had.  The miracle didn't stop there.  If my cut had been just an inch right or left, I'd have been dead.  You can't count how many miracles happened in this one accident.  God's protection was there big time.  I had put on my breastplate of righteousness, as I breathed, "Jesus, help".  That righteousness, covered us.  Jesus.  He is our righteousness.  He covered me and my friend and her son.  Hallelujah.
     There are times in your life, too, that I am sure Jesus covered you with that breastplate of righteousness.  Why not begin to put this on each and every day.  Put Jesus' righteousness on your heart.  Ask Him how He wants you to act and walk and work today and each day.
     I encourage you to think about this.  To let Jesus show you the path of righteousness.  Sometimes, we think we know it all.  We think in our own intelligence, but why not let God help us to look into our hearts for His understanding and wisdom.  That is what the breastplate covers, our hearts.  You see, the Bible tells us our hearts are wicked.  They want their own ways.  Each night, I put on my armor, and I also pray that" the eyes of my understanding would be opened."  I pray that "my eyes would see, my ears would hear, and that my heart would understand."  He is the only One who can help me to see, to hear, and to understand.  I know He has helped me in more ways than I can ever imagine.  Try it, and see if you don't have better eyes to see with, ears to hear with, and a more understanding heart.  Let your heart be surrounded by His righteousness and see what happens.
     Each piece of this armor is vital to our lives.  Each piece brings a part of Jesus' power, to help us in our battles with the enemy.  As we surrender to His authority in our lives, we will see a more peaceful, loving, forgiving and understanding life happening inside us.  We will be more stable and secure in our understanding of who we are in Christ.  I encourage you to rejoice and be glad.  God is definitely for you.  God bless you with His covering.  God bless you with His righteousness.  God bless you with a more powerful witness in your life, due to your letting Him change you from the inside out.  I know you will have people asking you, what has happened to you?  How do you have so much peace, joy, or love in your life?  It is due to Jesus covering you.  It is due to you surrendering to Him.  Love and prayers to you all, my dear ones.