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“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God. (Matt 5:9, AMP)
Andrew Klager from Glasgow University, writing for Sojonors Magazine, defines the difference between violence and conflict. “Violence is any action that undermines the dignity of another human being, whether direct, structural, or institutional. This can be emotional, psychological, spiritual, or physical abuse; actions that dehumanize the Other; forms of injustice, oppression, or marginalization; and war, genocide, mob violence, and armed insurrection. But violence is not the same as conflict. Conflict provides the space to air grievances and exposes injustice; nonviolence entails ending conflict by eroding its causes without succumbing to the allure of violence.” Nonviolence requires “the willingness to face conflict head-on, to resolve it, and to make it a link in the chain of a new process,” explained Pope Francis.
Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean avoiding conflict but a willingness to dialogue, and if need be, to stand your ground in a non-violent manner. It starts by pledging allegiance to a king who does on a cross, and by living a life in the ‘Red’ letter words of Jesus.
This is all part of the great commandment to love God and love your neighbor, stepping into your neighbor’s world and linking arms with them, even if it doesn’t impact your world.
God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!
7-9 “‘Therefore, shepherds, listen to the Message of God: As sure as I am the living God—Decree of God, the Master—because my sheep have been turned into mere prey, into easy meals for wolves because you shepherds ignored them and only fed yourselves, listen to what God has to say:
10 “‘Watch out! I’m coming down on the shepherds and taking my sheep back. They’re fired as shepherds of my sheep. No more shepherds who just feed themselves! I’ll rescue my sheep from their greed. They’re not going to feed off my sheep any longer! (Ezek 34:1-10)
Ezekiel’s message to the shepherds of Israel could be used today.
They made sure that they lived a life of luxury, eating the finest foods, wearing the best clothes, they were wealthy and rich. They didn’t feed the sheep with the true Word of God; instead they preached a false word, tarnished with manipulation, control and witchcraft. False visions, and prophecies, they left the sheep open to attack, exposed, and vulnerable.
When the sheep find out that they have been led astray, they will scatter and be lost.
Today, we are in the same situation, false prophets, pastors and teachers that choose to follow the empire and ignore the truth. When those sheep scatter because you have led them astray, God will hold you accountable.
For this reason, I remind you to kindle anew the gift of God, which is in you by the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of self-control. Therefore you should not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, His prisoner; but suffer together for the gospel, according to the power of God, (1 Tim 1:6-9, Ber Lit)
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” MLK
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” MLK
We might have read the Timothy text and thought about a fear of heights, or spiders, or even dying. However, the text here is neither of those things. Paul is reminding Timothy, be strong, don’t ever be a coward, bowing down to the powers of this world.
Dr. King’s issue was not with those who were evil; their intent was there for all to see. His problem was the Christian that remained silent, and worse still took on a spirit of cowardice in the warfare of the kingdom of God, against injustice and oppression.
It’s here where the words of Jesus shout loudest. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set[j] a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 10:36-39)
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. Matt 5:38-42
On Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, we get the chance to look at the subject of nonviolent protest. Nonviolence is a more than simply agreeing that you won’t physically attack your enemy, it goes beyond that to love your enemies. King’s greatest influence, however, was not the Bible but the civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi referred to his form of nonviolence as satyagraha, meaning “truth-force” or “love-force.” Practicing satyagraha means a person should seek truth and love while refusing, through nonviolent resistance, to participate in something they believe is wrong. Today, we might call that speaking truth to power.
Dr. King once said, “In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.” “We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Ge 6:5–8)
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Mt 24:37–39)
Complacency: a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, often combined with a lack of awareness of pending trouble or controversy.
In 1680 a comet passed so close to the earth that it was visible during the daylight hours. Terror gripped the people as they feared impending doom. The comet passed by and back out into space. A scientist, William Whiston, using the calculations of Edmund Halley, and working backward, noted this same comet had passed by before in 2342 B.C., which, at the time, was believed to be the date of the great flood.
Whiston argued that the gravitational pull of the comet unleashed waters from above and below the earth, causing a natural disaster. Whiston didn’t deny divine judgment; instead he saw that God had placed the comet on this path back in eternity.
The people treated Noah’s Ark building with skepticism and complacency, much like today’s warning of climate change, global warming and the fires currently ravaging Australia. God may have hoped that man would take better care of the planet, but alas, in foreknowledge new that we would become complacent and do nothing.
As in the days of Noah, we will repeat history.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Ge 1:1–5)
Welcome to 2020! The first day of a new year and a new decade. You may have made some ‘New Year’ resolutions, and chances are they will join the pile of unfulfilled resolution of 2019, 2018 and so on. Genesis gives us four great tips.
- Start with God—put God at the forefront of your life; it’s the only way.
- Allow the Spirit to hoover, brood and speak into your life.
- Make the Word part of your decision-making process. “And God said…”
- Fill your life with light. Don’t allow the darkness any space.
Now go and be a part of the change that you want to see in your life and pass it on.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Heb 6:19–20)
You would think that just dropping the anchor on a boat would be all you would need to do to stop your boat drifting away. However, in Alaska, the difference between low tide and high tide can be up to 27 ft. Dropping anchor at low tide might cause the rising tide to sink your boat as the rising tide exceeds the length of your anchor chain. So, some folks have an anchor system where the anchor is attached to a buoy, with a rope attached to the beach. A boat ties up to the buoy and is safe from changing tides, and from being pushed onto the rocks.
Having faith in Jesus is a sure anchor of our faith. However, that faith often comes with traditions, dogmas, and beliefs, many of which may not be found in the Bible. When change comes your way, it can be all the extras that will sink your faith. The gospel will never change, but our understanding of scripture, God moving in new ways and doing new things is always possible. Our understanding should be flexible as we grow as a Christian. If your anchor has some flexibility, you will be able to move with the tides.
As Robert Critchley wrote:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus name
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
Write this to Sardis, to the Angel of the church. The One holding the Seven Spirits of God in one hand, a firm grip on the Seven Stars with the other, speaks: “I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you’re dead, stone-dead. “Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there’s life in you yet. But I wouldn’t know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God’s work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God. “If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I’ll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night. “You still have a few followers of Jesus in Sardis who haven’t ruined themselves wallowing in the muck of the world’s ways. They’ll walk with me on parade! They’ve proved their worth! (Rev 3:2-4)
Scottish theologian, John Caird says, “Sardis was a perfect model of inoffensive Christianity.” Their problem was not that they were wicked. Their image said “alive,” but in substance, they were dead. They weren’t passionately conservative, wanting to evangelize, or that they were more liberal, reaching out with a social gospel, they were just nothing.
Yet despite all that, they gave the appearance of being alive. Perhaps today’s Sardis would have all the multi-media, the lights, and the smoke machine. A program that geared to the audience, but excluded the Holy Spirit.
The danger for those in Sardis was they might lose everything, even their salvation.
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
“ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev 2:18–29)
The infamous Jezabel, a title often used against women in ministry or just strong women in general, and yet, the title has nothing to do with gender. The real-life Jezabel was controlling, manipulation, and used words of witchcraft to put fear into the heart of Elijah. These attributes have their origin in the spiritual world.
The reality is, I have known male pastors and leaders that have had that same spirit, wanting to control, manipulate and yes preach and speak words that border on witcraft. I even had a pastor put a curse on me because I wasn’t interested in following him. If that ever happens, break the curse and reverse it in Jesus’ name. Don’t let anyone control you by manipulating the Word of God for their benefit, or tell you that they have secret mysteries, that’s nothing less than occult.
Only Jesus is Lord!