Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Legacy

Posted: 07/06/2018 in Life lessons
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…LEGACY…

Psalm 145:4 – “One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”

On Monday, June 18th, 2018, at 2:42 AM…just hours after Father’s Day, my dad exhaled his final breath. He was only 74 years old. He entered eternity peacefully with my sister on one side of his bed and me on the other. We each held one of his hands and silently watched as he transitioned to his new address.

Without struggle.

Quietly…

Serenely…

Dignified…

His work, done…

…treasure…

Matthew 6:20-21 – “But lay up treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

As his eldest son, dad called upon me to officiate his memorial service in the event of his earthly demise; a task abounding with bitter sweetness. Dad was a simple man. He lived by a simple code which I will expand upon soon enough. As I labored for words to say, I knew my tribute to his legacy must also be simple. Suffice to say, it was my privilege to memorialize the man responsible for my own manhood; the man who touched so many lives by his own. If God creates life to touch life, dad fulfilled his purpose.

In its technical use, legacy is a legal term referring to a gift of property, money, or other material wealth bequeathed by will as an inheritance. Many families…good families…since the beginning of time, have come undone while disputing the disbursement of this sort of legacy. You see, some men lay up treasures in banks only to be hoarded and quarreled over after they’re gone. Other men lay up treasures in heaven. And, who on earth contends or disputes over heavenly treasure? Who on earth can? The disbursement of heavenly treasure seldom, if ever, shreds a family to pieces.

In its more informal use, legacy refers to anything that is handed down from one generation to the next as by an ancestor or predecessor; such as a tradition. Typically, this sort of legacy is less tangible, but frequently, especially to its beneficiaries, more valuable. Such is the case with simple men who live by simple codes. If God creates life to touch life, dad fulfilled his purpose and, in so doing, he left a rich legacy. Not just to those of us who bear his name or carry his DNA, but to all who were blessed to know him. Therein lies the value of an earthly legacy supported by heavenly treasure.

So, today, I present to you part one of my tribute to the legacy of Sonnie Martinez; what he gave; what he taught; how he lived.

…faith…

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

For years, early on in my walk with God, I pridefully boasted about being the one who led dad to saving faith. Through my witness to dad, and his witness to others, members of at least three generations in our family, as well as other families, have heard the Gospel and have believed. They witnessed his faith and his witness continues. For many years, I took credit. It was a jewel in my crown. Or, should I say, a feather in my cap? At any rate, it’s what prideful men do. They take credit for glory that is not theirs to take. I am thankful that I have long since learned from the error of my pride. Now, I will share the real story of faith in our family.

Hebrews chapter 11 begins with a definition of faith. Man’s logic, with all its finite prowess, must see to believe. Faith in God, however, believes without seeing because it believes and is founded upon the God that is. And, faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. Dad modeled faith my whole life. And he moved mountains.

IMG_7837Hebrews chapter 11 goes on to list the Old Testament heroes of faith. Faithful men and women of God who, because of their belief in the Unseen, endured all manners of barbaric persecution, hardships, injustice, and tragedy. They also received miracles and accomplished extraordinary things. All this, they did, believing in but having not received their promise. In so doing, they demonstrated what faith in God looks like to their respective generations because, although they did not receive the Promise, they judged the Promise Giver faithful. Today, in the margin of my bible at Hebrews, chapter 11, I have written in a new hero of faith. It reads, Sonnie Martinez, June 18, 2018. Here’s why.

My parents married very young. Dad was 16 or 17 years old and mom was two years his senior. What many outside our family do not know, is that I have three brothers who died as infants. I never met them. I am the eldest son by default with one older and two younger brothers. Years later, my sister and two more brothers came. Unfortunately, I do not know with certainty the chronology of their deaths. I know that one brother survived only months before succumbing to crib death. Another, born with severe birth defects and under-developed organs, survived only hours after his birth. A third brother was stillborn. Tragedy, upon tragedy, upon tragedy. No parent should ever have to endure the death and burial of even one child, let alone three. And so early in their marriage. So young. I was the lone and very sickly survivor. Distraught, devastated, angry, my Catholic parents knew only one thing to do. According to both their stories, mom was understandably most angry at God. She cringed at the idea dad proposed. Begrudgingly, hopelessly, angrily, she agreed. Mom, led by dad, took her sickly, sole survivor to the Catholic Church in Florence, Arizona. There, they pleaded with God and presented me to Him in a desperate act of dedication. Years later, dad would convey the story to me. In his own words, he could not recollect the actual words he spoke to God that day, but he was choked up and overcome by emotion as he tried. “Heavenly Father, Almighty God. We have no idea why you have taken three of our sons; why we are experiencing this pain and going through this. Here we have one son who is still alive, and we ask that you allow us to keep him. Let him live, and we will do our best, with Your help, to raise him to be good and to honor You with his life. We dedicate him to you. Amen” Admittedly, dad didn’t even know if he prayed right. He just made his request known to God believing He would hear.

This is what fathers of faith do. Against all odds, from amidst the burning flames of devastation and heart rending pain…and anger, they believe in the Unseen. And, they plant seeds…

Like the sower in the Parable, dad planted seeds of faith in my sickly, infant heart. Seeds that he would water and nurture by his example over the course of my lifetime to bear fruit…as he promised he would. All my life, dad modeled faith. Perhaps not blatantly or theologically as some within the ranks of church might expect or require…or approve. Perhaps, it was only mustard seed faith. You know, the kind that moves mountains? We never took a trip or vacation without dad driving by the Catholic Church, doing the sign of the cross, and asking God for a safe trip and to bless the families we were going to visit. We never returned home from a trip or vacation without first driving by the church to thank God for keeping us safe. We never encountered a difficult time where dad didn’t ask God for direction and guidance. All my life, everything that dad represented, all that he did, his success, his benevolence, every bit of it, was, by his own words, por la voluntad de Dios (by God’s will) or, con el favor de Dios (with God’s favor). His life and example leave much to be said for the idea of “primitive faith” as it is sometimes called by more faithful people. But that’s a different story…

So, you see, although years into the future, God may have used me to bring dad into a deeper understanding of the faith he had always lived and to reconciliation with God through Christ, it was he who first planted the seeds of faith that would bear an abundance of fruit.

That’s what faith does. It moves mountains to ensure God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

And that’s what fathers of faith do. They plant seeds and believe in the Unseen.

And they store up treasures in heaven.

And they leave a legacy.

And so, his legacy begins….

…more to come.

~ Peace and Blessings…

joe

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So far on our Pathway to Peace, I have defined the difference between the peace that the world gives versus the peace that Jesus gives, discussed what I perceive to be the biggest hindrance to receiving biblical peace, and presented what I believe to be the source of peace.  Today, I would like to delve into the topic of the product of the peace that Jesus gives; PATIENCE.

Patience

Courtesy of Google Images

It has been accurately stated that if a child does not learn patience, he will seldom learn anything else.  This is true of our children and it is equally true of God’s.  Patience is key to our spiritual maturity and it is the product of this great peace we receive from Jesus.  Read some thoughts on the subject of patience:

·         One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.  (Chinese Proverb)

·         For the friendship of two, the patience of one is required.  (Indian Proverb)

·         The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.  (Arnold H. Glasgow)

·         It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.  (Albert Einstein)

The dictionary, Noah Webster in particular, defines patience as “the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation, or other evil, with calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness.  Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a heroic pride, or from Christian submission to a divine will.” (Emphasis, mine) Webster goes on to say that patience is “the ability to possess a calm temper which bears evil without murmuring or discontent and the act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.”  These are all qualities that the majority of us DO NOT possess naturally.  Rather, patience is a grace obtained as the product of right relationship with Father God through Jesus Christ.

Now, here’s the catch.  In order for patience to be patience there has to be a reason to be patient.  Maybe I’m being simplistic here but, truly, patience is not developed simply because you wish it so.  Have you ever prayed for patience?  You really don’t have to because it is living life that produces patience in us…if we are willing to learn.  Hear what Jesus had to say about living life in this world. 

John 16:33 (NKJV)  

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Do not be deceived.  Jesus made it clear to His disciples that this world will certainly have its share of hard times.  However, along with His caution, He offered an encouragement.  He said, “You can be comforted during the hard times by knowing that I have OVERCOME THIS WORLD.”  The statement Jesus makes here, “be of good cheer,”can mean to take courage and exercise daring boldness in the face of adversity.  Does that sound a little bit like patience as defined above?

Remember Jeremiah 29:11?  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Once again, the idea of “thinking” in this passage means to plait or interpenetrate, i.e., to weave (braid).  In a more general sense, it can mean to fabricate.  As discussed in a previous blog, the New Testament idea of “peace” from the passages we have considered means to join with in a state or union of harmony.  We can join with Jesus or we can join with the world.  Each union renders its version of peace.  This New Testament idea of union is akin to the idea of God’s thoughts from Jeremiah 29:11; “the thoughts HE thinks toward us.”  When we discover and embrace the purpose He has ordained for each of us, His peace interpenetrates our lives and provides us with the ability to meet life’s hardships with a patience that those around us may not comprehend.

So, stop praying for patience.  God, the good Father that He is, desires to see patience developed in each of His children.  He knows that until we learn patience we will not learn anything else.  As such, He will allow life to teach us the lessons if we are willing to learn them.  And, the patience that I speak of is produced within us as we learn to believe and embrace the fact that we each have purpose designed by the very mind of God, our Father.

Before I close, let me share one last passage of Scripture with comment. 

Luke 21:7-19 (NKJV) 

So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”  8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am  He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.  9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”  10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.  12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.  13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.  14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.  16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.  17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost.  19 By your patience possess your souls.  (Emphasis, mine) 

The conditions under which the disciples were to patiently possess their souls described by this passage were adverse, to say the least.  And, it certainly adds to the case for the modern believer’s need to develop patience.  How many would-be saints will be impatient and lose heart under circumstances and hardships to the demise of their soul?  Only God knows.

So then, by definition, patience is the ability to calmly endure hardships in life with confidence in a divinely, predetermined, good and expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).  FURTHERMORE, patience gives evidence that the child of God is placing trust in something and SOMEONE that transcends the present conflict and this present world.  And, all this, is the product of the peace that only God can give through Jesus Christ.

~~Food For Thought~~

Peace and blessings……

~joe

To be sure, God does things on purpose.  His Magnificence and Majesty are on display in the minute details of the world in which we live.  Naysayers may balk at this idea but that’s okay.  Regardless of what scientific minds may be able to explain…and, truly they can explain much…they generally fall short at answering a key question.  Take the atom as a small example (pun intended).  Brilliant minds from the world of science can explain a lot about this very fantastic and basic component of matter…of life.  Shoot, they can even split these microscopic bundles of energy.  But, in all that they can understand and explain about what atoms are and how they work and all that this means to scientific discoveries of the past, present, and future, the one thing they cannot adequately understand or explain is, “where did they come from?”  Well, not scientifically, anyway.  Is it really that hard of a stretch of faith to believe or, at least, consider, that if there is design in the universe there is also a DESIGNER?  For some, it apparently is…but I digress.

Do not be mistaken, my friends.  God, indeed, does things on purpose.  That includes you.  Noah Webster defines purpose in the following way:  “That which a person sets before himself as an object to be reached or accomplished; the end or aim to which the view is directed in any plan, measure or exertion; Intention; design.”  In a nutshell, purpose, as defined here, is a plan with the desired end result in mind.  Once again, I say, “God does things on purpose.”  What a powerful reality!  Consider the following quotes:

·      This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. (George Bernard Shaw)

·         Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.  (Helen Keller)

·         The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.  (William James)

·    Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purposes; lesser ones exist on wishes and inclinations.  (Kenneth Hildebrand)

·         To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to begin to think with purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment; who make all conditions serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly, and accomplish masterfully.  (James Allen)

And, my favorite…

·         The sense of paralysis proceeds not so much out of the mammoth size of the problem but out of the puniness of the purpose.  (Norman Cousins)

Whether or not their thoughts about purpose were inspired by relationships with God, I do not know.  One thing is certain, though; they were all on to something divine.  Take a look at the following passages of Scripture:

Psalms 139:13-17 (NASB)

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.  17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (Emphasis, mine)

Does this sound a little like God had your end in view when He formed you in your mother’s womb?  How about this one?

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

The passage from Psalms concludes by noting the “vast number of thoughts” our Heavenly Father has about us.  Jeremiah informs us that He “knows them all.”  And it’s not just that He knows them because He thought them.  He knows their intent and design.  He knows how they all fit together.  He knows the plans that those thoughts contain. He knows the purpose for which He created you. The word “thoughts” in the Jeremiah 29:11 passage refers to a “firmly fixed purpose.”  A variation of this word found in Isaiah 55:8-9 refers to the idea that God’s thoughts mean to braid, weave, or fabricate.  The context of this passage discusses the fact that God’s thoughts are higher than ours.  This being the case, so are His purposes.  In other words, He is absolutely capable of weaving a better life for us than we can.  He is the only One who can. Read it here:

Isiaiah 55:8-9

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

got_purpose

Courtesy of Google Images

Now let’s backtrack a bit to the first session in this series.  I referred to a passage found in Isaiah 26:3:  “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”  The word for “mind” in this passage of Scripture refers to a  form (as in a mold or template).  Figuratively, it can mean a conception or purpose.  It carries with it the idea of “squeezing into shape; to mold into a form.”   I like to think of the idea of extrusion.  Remember the old Play-doh, Pumper Number Nine?  It was a fire engine shaped toy with cavities in the back end.  You would place the play-doh into the cavity and press down a plunger.  The plunger would then force the play-doh through various shaped holes to form the hoses.  This is extrusion in its simplest form and that is exactly the power your mind has to shape the course of your life!  Your mind is the pumper and your life is the play-doh.  So, Isaiah’s words announce peace to the second power when this ability to shape the course of our life (our mind) is focused on the ONE who created us on purpose.

Another word used in the definition of “mind” above is conception.  Conception is the act of conceiving.  It is the first formation of an embryo…LIFE.  It can also refer to the act of conceiving in the mind, i.e. thoughts.  It is the mental act or combination of acts by which an idea or notion of an object is formed.  What’s more, the object doesn’t even have to be present.  When we see an object with our eyes open, we perceive it.  When we can see the same object with our eyes shut, we conceive it.  God conceived your life before you ever perceived it!  Thoughts precede action.  And His thoughts about you cannot be numbered.  Not only that, He’s been thinking them since before you were born.

Have no doubt; our Heavenly Father has created each of us with purpose.  There is intent; there is design.  And, when one, by a step of faith, embraces God’s intention and purpose for his or her life, it is accompanied by a peace that this world cannot compete with.  Remember, if God gives it to you, the world can’t take it away.  Seek His purpose.  Embrace His purpose.  Experience His peace.

~~Food For Thought

Peace and blessings…

~joe

Stay tuned for the 4th and final part of this series…

In the previous blog, I spent some time defining peace from a biblical perspective and demonstrating that there is a peace that can be obtained from this world and a peace that only Jesus can provide.  This premise is derived from the passage of Scripture found in John 14: 27-29.  In it, Jesus states that He is leaving His disciples with peace and that it is not the peace that the world can give.  This sets up an obvious distinction between two kinds of peace.  The peace that mankind can achieve is dependent upon the devices of men, therefore, true, lasting, peace in this world is fragile, at best.  If the world can give you peace, the world can take that peace away.  However, the peace that Jesus can give is purchased and provided for by His finished work at Calvary.  Although men were used by God for the fulfillment of Scripture in that they falsely accused and crucified Him, they had nothing to do with His willingness to die or the power of His resurrection.  All this being said; His peace is provided by a source outside and far beyond the control of men, therefore, men can do nothing to remove or disrupt the peace He gives.  AMEN!

So why, exactly, do many people fail to possess this blessed peace?  I suggest to you that the primary reason many people do not yet experience this surpassing peace is pride.  Good ol’ fashioned “me first” pride.  English writer, John Ruskin wrote, “In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.”  In John 14:27-29, Jesus offers an invitation to be “joined in agreement and harmony” with Him and to obtain the peace that only He provides or to remain “joined in agreement and in harmony” with the world’s imitation of peace.  Pride is the very element of a man that will keep him from choosing the superior peace.  Regardless of the reasoning or justification a person can offer, at the heart of this great mistake is pride.  You see, it is this kind of pride that says, “My way is better than your way” or “My way is more comfortable than your way.”  Sound familiar?

God’s Word is packed full of direct and indirect statements about the pride of man.  God’s desire is that mankind would humble itself and live as His sons and daughters in service to others.  There is no greater example than that of Jesus Christ.  Read this excerpt from Philippians 2: 5-9:

“You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,  who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name…”  (Emphasis, mine)

prideThe King James Version states that Jesus “made Himself of no reputation.”  Although “emptied Himself” is a more accurate translation, the idea of a man making himself of no reputation has substantial meaning. Reputation, simply put, is how someone is known. Men go to great lengths to create and maintain their reputations.  Jesus, however, did nothing with the intent of making a name for Himself, rather, He took upon Himself the form of a slave…a common servant.  In James 4:6-8, the Scripture has this to say:

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (Emphasis, mine)

Submitting to God requires you to deny yourself; to empty one’s self. Our Heavenly Role Model demonstrates this so beautifully.  This means denying the self-will and being transformed by His grace from self-ISH to self-LESS.  It IS something we can do willingly…if we choose to do so.  Romans 5:1-2 says this:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  (Emphasis, mine)

Basically, this passage from Romans is letting us know that because of what Christ has done by His death, burial, and resurrection, sinful mankind has been justified and now has access to peace with God.  By the sacrifice and blood of Jesus, peace has been gained and people can be restored to a right relationship with Father God.  Peace with God is the doorway to the peace of God.  Unless we make peace with God we cannot experience the peace of God.  Peace with God speaks of a restored relationship made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  A person must empty him or herself to accept this blessed gift.  The peace of God is the product of a restored relationship with Him through Christ.  It is demonstrated in the life of a believer by all those descriptors mentioned in the last blog.  Without having made peace with God, the best anyone can hope for is the peace that this world can give.

So where does pride come into the picture?  Very simply, it is the pride of a person that will keep him or her from the heart of God.  For whatever reason one may state, ultimately, it is pride that hinders the acceptance of God’s great mercy and grace.  Remember one thing:  No matter how far you think you are from God or how far you think He may be from you, you can’t turn around without bumping into Him. Why?Because He will never leave us or forsake us.

So…what hinders you from making peace with God and experiencing the peace OF God?  Wait, I know…… It’s prIde!

~~Food For Thought….

Peace and Blessings….

~joe

Stay tuned for Part 3

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) 

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict.”  – Dorothy Thompson (First American journalist/correspondent expelled from Nazi Germany)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PeaceNoah Webster defines peace in the following way:  “In a general sense a state of quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation; applicable to society, individuals, or to the temper of the mind.”  Webster goes on to include as part of his definition; “freedom form war with a foreign nation, freedom from internal commotion or civil war, freedom from private quarrels, suits, or disturbance, and freedom from agitation or disturbance by the passions, as from fear, terror, anger, anxiety, or the like.”  (Italics, mine)  He concludes his definition of peace: “heavenly rest; the happiness of heaven” and “a state of reconciliation between parties at variance.”

I don’t know about you, but I immediately picked up on a pattern here.  Webster repeatedly uses the word freedom to depict peace.  And, it is only fitting when you consider freedom to mean a state of exemption from the power or control of another.  Freedom is liberty and exemption from slavery, servitude, or confinement.  It can be personal, civil, political, religious, or spiritual (to state at least a portion of its scope).  All of this stands to reason when you consider the fact that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, came to free us from “slavery to sin” and to delivers into “abundant life.”  (See Romans 6:15-18, John 10:10)  In keeping with this train of thought, there is a powerful passage of Scripture in Isaiah 26:3 regarding the peace God will provide for His children: Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)  You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. In this passage, peace is the Hebrew word “shalom.”  It carries with it the idea of safety and well-being.  It refers to a sense of welfare, health, prosperity, soundness, and completeness.  If something is complete, it has no deficiency or lack.  If something is sound, it is entire, unbroken, and stable.  This condition describes the peace God’s children can enjoy when their minds are focused on Him.  Not a bad place to be.

Here’s the kicker!  In this passage of Scripture there is no Hebrew word used for perfect in the statement “perfect peace.”  It is actually a double emphatic.  The Hebrew Scripture goes something like this:  “You will keep him in peace peace (literally, shalom shalom), whose mind is stayed on You.”  That’s basically everything in the previous paragraph that describes peace to the second power…peace squared, if you will; a double portion! This is the condition God provides for those who keep their minds on Him.  And, therein lies the key…we have to keep our minds on Him.  What does that mean?

First, let’s look at the word “mind.” Figuratively, this word refers to a form or conception (purpose).  It carries the idea of “molding something by squeezing it into shape.”  You get the idea of a potter and his clay here.  I think of the old Play-doh Pumper Number Nine.  Maybe you remember it.  It was a fire engine shaped toy with cavities in which the play-doh was placed.  You would then press a plunger down and force the play-doh hoses out in various different shapes.  Remember?  At any rate, this is a form of extrusion.  In like manner, our minds have the ability to shape (extrude) the course of our lives.  Our mind is the Pumper Number Nine from which our paths are extruded…or shaped.  The mind can be a very powerfully useful or destructive force…depending on what it is focused on.  In the case of Isaiah 26:3, God keeps us in peace to the second power when the shaping and molding capacity of our minds are focused on Him.  To say that a mind is “stayed” on Him is to say that it rests upon, is supported by, or braced by God and His principles for living righteously.

In John 14:27-29, Jesus says:“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This passage sets up the idea that there is a difference between the peace that the world gives versus the peace that Jesus can give.  It’s not that peace cannot be obtained through worldly measures.  It’s that the peace Jesus brings is different and far superior to the peace the world can offer.  The peace that the world can offer is contingent upon man’s abilities and what mankind can accomplish through finite means and efforts.  The peace that Jesus can give is contingent upon what He has already done…and finished.  Simply stated, if the world can give you peace, the world can take that peace away.  However, when Jesus gives you peace, there is nothing the world can do to take it away.  This, in effect, becomes a powerful witness to people in the world who are hopeless and void of peace beyond man’s (or their own) ability to keep it.

The word “peace” used in John 14:27, means “to join,” (literally or figuratively).   It carries similar meaning as its Hebrew counterpart in Isaiah 26:3; that is, welfare, well-being, and harmony.  The state of well-being and harmony is obtained by “joining with” the source.  The idea of “joining” in this application implies the meaning of forming an alliance with another.  Hence, one can join with and form an alliance with the world or one can join with and form an alliance with Christ.  In this sense, a more literal translation of John 14:27 would go something like this:“To join with me in agreement and harmony, I give to you; not to join in the agreement and harmony that the world gives do I give you.  Don’t let your heart be agitated or fearful.”

So, there you have it.  You can join with the world and obtain its rendition of peace.  Or, you can accept the invitation that Jesus has extended to join with Him. In so doing, you will enjoy the peace that passes understanding; the peace that only He can give. Remember, Jesus overcame the world to grant us His version of superior peace, therefore, once you have received it, nothing in this world can take it away.  The peace He offers can stand the test of life’s adversity because its source is out of this world.

Which version of peace do you prefer?

Food For Thought…

Peace and blessings….

~joe

Stay tuned for Part 2

If you challenge your assumptions, you won’t be limited by them.

Want to change the world? Here is a four-pronged strategy that anybody can employ.

  1. Love God
  2. Love others
  3. Live by the Golden Rule
  4. Mix it all together with lots of hugs.

Changing the world is not rocket science.