Larry Roques

Larry Roques

The Pastor's Journal of House of Joy Church

PURSUING PEACE

 

                         Pursuing Peace

                          September 7, 2014

 

 

 

 

James 3:13-18 NKJV

 

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are  done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 

God’s Word tells us in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Ro 12:18 NKJV) Now, with the insanity that we see in the world daily, it seems as though we get slimed every hour on the hour with some new atrocity. According to our scriptures we have just read, our goal should be to allow God to shield us, not from the eventuality of its existence, but that we should rise above it and live according to another ecosystem. 

 

Anyone you ask will tell you that one of the worst petri dishes for the sowing of strife and discord is the American Christian church. It is a shame that a place intended to be a temple of God’s presence becomes a cistern of man’s offenses.  Many times they are filled with hidden offenses, gossip, and clique behavior that is better handled on a public school playground.

Here in James 3, the Apostle tells us essentially, to behave ourselves. The job we have to do in this hour is extremely important and the message we carry is life itself. In order to do this, our churches must be emptied of self and everything that comes with it and instead be filled with God’s Holy Ghost that the work of the church might get to the heart of the matter and achieve her goal  of reaching the lost for Christ.

 

 

 

 

Live and learn

 

Proverbs 9:9-12 NKJV

 

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man,  and he will increase in learning. “The fear of the Lord  is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be to you. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”

 

Many people have lost sight of the fear of the Lord. It is one reason why we see the things we do in society today. Call it what you want, callousness, signs of the times, forgetting our roots, whatever it is, it all stems from man’s loss of a true reverential fear of the Lord.  It is the same animal that causes us to choose money over morality, football over family, gambling over God. 

 

It is an inherent loss of common sense that tells us the obvious truth but we ignorantly choose the simple foolishness.  Here in Proverbs we are pretty much told that in order for us to see any kind of quality of life during our short span of earthly existence, it will have to include God.

 

An ESSENTIAL key to peace in our lives is this element of “fearing the Lord.” When we fear the Lord, our lives find its order because it is in commune with its master. When we fear the Lord, we have gained an understanding of our limitations and we are in harmony with the way things are. When we fear the Lord, our time here is not spent in pursuit of impulse items to keep us happy, but in the company of the good things that God gave us to bring true joy into our lives.

 

 

Legal separation from self

 

 

Galatians 2:17-21 NKJV

 

“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

 

Self-Justification is the payday loan of this life. You never get ahead of it. The more you find to justify yourself about, the more trouble your life get you into. This is why surrender to God just makes good sense. You can’t drink enough booze to find peace. You can’t shoot enough drugs or pop enough pills to numb the reality of who you are alone without God. You can’t earn enough money to silence the scream in your soul that you are deeply and grievously scarred by an earthly condition called sin.

When Jesus died on the cross, he did so to achieve our freedom. He did not make a loan, he paid a price. When we die to self, we separate ourselves from the flesh that we continually owe our lives to serve and instead we adopt the freedom that Jesus brings into our lives. When we die to self, we also enter in to his provision of peace. The stress of this world is no longer attached to us and we are set free of owing allegiance to a taskmaster, but we have been adopted into a heavenly family where the prices have all been paid and His righteousness covers all of our sin.

 

 

I call this a “legal separation” from self, because we must drop all of our earthly defenses and take our flesh to court before the righteous judge and ask him for a legal separation from the insanity of this unhealthy relationship and let him declare our flesh and everything that goes with it, legally dead.  I am dead and it is now Christ who lives in me.

 

 

 

Sower of peace

 

 

Colossians 3:14-17 NKJV

 

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

 

To change the course of the church and our lives, we must become sowers of peace. We must no longer carry on the business of the world inside the Kingdom of God.  People are not looking for more of what they find outside the walls of the church.  The people of God must also become a people of peace. Our angers and our frustration with this world will not be changed by our display of flesh. It will, however be revolutionized by our faith, our trust in God, and our positive confession. We must never exchange the olive branch of peace for the hickory switch of self-importance.

 

Here in Colossians 3, Paul tells us to put on love which is God’s bond of perfection. It is very persona of God’s peace. People are looking for peace. There is very little to be found and we are in possession of endless mountains of peace found in God’s presence. We have enough to fill up on when we come to worship, or when we pray, or when we seek his Face to go outside the doors of the sanctuary and spread it until Jesus returns...why don’t we do it?

 

Paul further admonishes us to Let Jesus’ words dwell richly in all of us and to accentuate each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We will show up for a football game or a movie an hour early for a good seat, but people mosey into a church service like it’s a burden. Here is the time when we pursue peace for us....that we might take it to the streets and give it abundantly to others later. The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace...

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