Bringers of Peace (2)
“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.” Jeremiah 29.11
The new normal?
We are becoming so accustomed to the forsaking of traditional values, the undermining and fragmenting of long-established institutions, and the breakdown of morality and civility that we can begin to think that these conditions are the new normal, the best we can hope for in an age in flight from God.
Everywhere we look in our day, the prophetic words of William Butler Yeats, in his 1919 poem, “The Second Coming,” seem to be coming true: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world./The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
But the appearances, which press upon us daily, are only a matter of perspective. As a friend once reminded me, a penny is a very small thing – until you hold it right up next to your eye. In the same way, many believers today spend so much time analyzing, criticizing, and condemning the broken conditions of our hapless, hopeless world that they have lost sight of the larger reality within which those conditions are occurring.
That larger reality is unfolding according to the promises and Kingdom of God.
The people of Jerusalem, carried off to captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar, were in danger of making a similar mistake. But Jeremiah understood that they needed to keep a proper perspective on their situation, and the way to do that was by focusing on and striving toward the exceedingly great and precious promises of God.
The promises of God
Peter reminded a community of persecuted believers, mid-way through the first century, that their circumstances were not so bad as to cancel the promises of God (1 Pt. 1.3-9). Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8.38, 39), and nothing but our own unbelief can deprive us of the full and abundant life God intends. In Jesus Christ, our Lord holds out “exceedingly great and precious promises,” Peter explained, so that by these promises, leaving the corruption of the world behind us, we partake of the very essence of the divine King Himself (2 Pet. 1.4)!
In the same way, Jeremiah counseled the Jews in captivity to remember the thoughts of God, the divine plan, first spoken to Abraham, reinforced through Moses, and broadened under King David, in which God determined to redeem a people for Himself and to bless them so that they, in turn, could be a blessing to all the nations.
God promised to give Himself to His people, so that, in fellowship with Him they could know fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16.11). He promised to make them a great nation, who, by their righteousness, wisdom, and love for one another would be the envy of all the surrounding nations (Deut. 4.1-8). And He promised to send a great King to shepherd them, so that they could realize all the promises of God’s great and glorious plan for increasing righteousness and peace (Gen. 49.8-11; Is. 9.6, 7).
By focusing on these precious and very great promises, the exiled people of Jerusalem would find a proper orientation for understanding their times, and the right means and incentive to know the outworking of God’s plan for their lives.
By focusing on these same promises, we can bring the reality of God’s own presence and peace into our Personal Mission Fields.
Right where you are
Today, when things are falling apart all around us, when the center of Western civilization seems to be coming unglued, and anarchy and violence threaten on every hand, the followers of Jesus Christ must not lose sight of the promises of God. God has great plans for us, plans to bless us, and to make us a blessing. Plans to bring righteousness and peace into the world. Plans for revival, renewal, and awakening on a grand scale.
And the unfolding of God’s thoughts and plans begins right where we are, in the social and cultural arenas we travel, and with the people to whom Jesus sends us each day. We must not allow the unraveling times in which we live to obscure our vision of what God has promised. We must daily focus on those exceedingly great and precious promises, and strive toward their realization in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
The world can never get so bad, or our conditions so unfavorable, that the promises of God cease being true, and within reach. We must live toward the promises, challenging on every hand the cynicism, doubt, skepticism, and materialism of our day; for if we do, God will surely bless us and make us a blessing to our sad and weary world.
1. Peter says God holds out to us exceedingly great and precious promises. What are those promises?
2. What does it mean to “live toward” those promises?
3. How would you expect to see God’s promise of increasing righteousness and peace come to expression in your Personal Mission Field?
Next step – Preparation: Find a prayer partner who will agree to pray with you about living toward the promises of God more consistently day by day.
T. M. Moore
This week’s study, Bringers of Peace, is available in a free PDF download, suitable for individual or group use. Simply click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.