THE WALK OF PEACE
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
In the last few years there has been a surge in the interest for bible prophecy and rightly so as we are no doubt in the “last days”. Allow me to rephrase that time line and say with more accuracy that it is more like we are living in the last “hour”. Along with coming to the end of this dispensation, there are many different ideas and thoughts among Christians as to the order of events in Bible prophecy, but most all agree that judgment is happening now and will continue to increase. It is not my intention at this time to lay out my own personal interpretation of end time prophecy but rather to encourage all of us to keep our hands on the plow and to NOT look back.
The world is beginning to tremble under the stress of sin and these theological interpretations about what is coming upon the horizon have the religious community buzzing about how to prepare for the gradual increase of calamity. For the ones who believe the teachings about being “caught away” with a pre-tribulation rapture, today is not necessarily a day of worry or anxiety. Many Christians are convinced that Jesus will return before the time of intense judgment and will be rescued from what God has promised as punishment against the wicked. The idea with this particular brand of eschatology (which has been nicknamed the great escape) reminds me of a group standing around, patiently waiting at a bus stop. They are straining their eyes to see their transport device while being aware of the gathering rain clouds. I work with a man that comes in each morning saying that he is disappointed that the rapture did not happen while he was asleep. I have never heard him talk about God or share the gospel but only appear to be worried about leaving the darkness of this world and getting a good seat around the throne. Actually, I was raised with this doctrine along with the predestination teachings that are very difficult to understand. These two creeds are fastened together by some Christians to work hand in hand. If we believe that everyone has already been “selected” then there is usually not much concern about witnessing. This in turn pours cold water on the fiery passion for lost souls and excuses the attitude of burden for those who are lost. Some believe since Jesus is coming to rescue the chosen and leave the ones who were not chosen, He has made all the decisions and understands the lack of faith to believe in prayer. Many are convinced that any moment the worthy saints who have been made ready, will suddenly disappear from this earth to join Christ in the air. They will go to heaven for a while and feast at the wedding supper of the Lamb while the earth suffers under the tremendous wrath that God pours out on the blind. Then they believe He will return with His saints and destroy all evil as He establishes His new kingdom.
Then, on the other side of the fence, there are those who are persuaded the remnant church will remain on the earth and be used by God to walk the Christian walk in front of the world as a demonstration of God’s power and glory. These saints believe they will not be rescued but rather will be used to minister and stand for God’s truth to prove their faith as all other martyrs have throughout the ages. They may fall under the sword in persecution or be imprisoned and abused but they will be PROTECTED from the anger, punishment and WRATH from God. They believe the catching away of the bride will not happen until much later within this dispensation. They view the end of the age as Noah was protected within the ark but yet was still “in” the flood. Another type is the three Hebrew children who were “in” the furnace but was protected because Jesus was with them. Even in the story of the pass-over we notice that God said, when I see the blood I will pass – over – you. Therefore, we see the two camps of ideas and may I say that depending upon which side you are on – it does make quite a difference as to how you think and how you live. If you do not believe you will be exposed to the trials and temptations of the tribulation, you will not worry about being prepared. If you believe that God desires to use you when the world is reeling from fear, then you are no doubt hearing His instructions about what your mission will be and how to stand strong for Him.
Those who are waiting for the bus are constantly saying more and more as each day goes by – come Lord Jesus! This is not a bad thing to confess as long as it is not meant in a selfish way. I do not believe that we are demonstrating love and the character of Jesus if we just want to disappear away from all of this madness and not really care about all of the lost who are in our network. Salvation was never intended to be a secret or a golden ticket that we keep to ourselves. We were given the gift of grace like a anti-biotic that healed our infection. We in turn have been called to take this life saving medicine to the entire world so they will not die from the deadly virus of sin. If we keep the medicine locked up, what does that say about our love? Another serious thought is the attitude of not having to be prepared to face persecution and not having to worry about living in the midst of violent, chaotic world of demonic hatred. It is scary to think about living in a day like Moses did and it brings much relief and excitement to think that we would be snatched from the jaws of the dragon just in the nick of time. There would be no need to think about or pray about where to go or what to do as a survivor. There would be no need to pull away from the world’s power grid or be prepared to leave your home and flee to another location. You could just live for today, watch television and hope that Jesus would come while you sleep and save you from being uncomfortable. Let everyone search the scriptures for themselves and seek their salvation with fear and trembling. I am not trying to say what to accept and what to reject but only using these concepts as examples of what Christians embrace in their world-views. Pleased do not misinterpret my direction – Jesus is coming for His bride that He is making ready! The point is that God does not really want us to argue about when He is coming. Working until He comes and being ready everyday like it is the last day – is the key! Salvation is a finished work “and” a work in progress at the same time. Jesus paid the price for our redemption but has called us to live a life of obedience to Him. Instead of being so legalistic about doctrine, why can’t we stay in an attitude of prayer and love? “Peace comes not from the absence of troubles, but from the presence of God”. (Alexander Maclaren)
The opposite of peace is being anxious and we usually experience anxiety when we are uncertain of what is going to happen. We become worried and concerned when we have a serious need or faced with a threat. Everything that is connected to worry has the smell of negativity. This negative “dark” energy loves to consume us and control our mind because we have given it our blessing. Living in peace is a choice that we allow to happen. If we do not fight for this state of mind, the enemy will be more than happy to steal our peace and leave us in a fetal position of depression and fear. We talk about trusting God and how we must stand strong in the day of adversity – until our life takes a nose-dive. To really trust God means to believe (to KNOW that you KNOW) that He can see into the future and that nothing can ever take Him by surprise. This includes seeing you and all the emotions you feel and all of the circumstances you will face. Peace comes from knowing that He is aware of our needs and will provide for us. Peace comes from believing that His power is greater than any force of danger that might threaten us. Constantly reminding ourselves that He lives inside of us and is aware of us every second, will cause us to know and abide in “perfect peace”. Peace is connected to freedom, as we do not feel “bound” by panic or discouragement but rather totally resting and trusting in His perfect will. “The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)
One of the many names for Jesus is the “prince of peace” and someday soon, He will return to earth and establish His Kingdom of peace. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) All of this is true and we will know about His eternal peace very soon but we do not need to wait until then to know His peace. If we choose to stay in His presence no matter how intense the storms are raging, we can WALK in spiritual contentment. As the world grows darker and chaos increases, it does not mean that our peace will be altered or decreased. It is only when we drift away from His promises and become confident in our own decisions that we become perplexed. He is giving us an offer that we must not refuse. He desires for us to give Him our worries – in exchange for His peace. Listen to Philippians 4: 6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the PEACE of God, which passes all understanding, will GUARD your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” May we redirect the energy from our worry into prayer because worry never helped anything but prayer can change everything. He does not call us to understand – but to have faith that His ways are perfect. “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. In the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He restores my failing health. He helps me do what honors him the most. Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow. Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.” (Psalm 23 TLB) Knowing and believing are two different things.