Penultimate – next to last

Penultimate – next to last

“If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35

Mark 10:37-45

 37 James and John replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

 38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking!”

 40 “But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

 41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

People everywhere have a strong desire to get ahead. They are driven by the need for respect, recognition, approval, acceptance, and esteem. It is often a matter of self-worth and identity.

It is almost as though there is some type of invisible caste or ranking system. This unseen pecking order enhances or distorts our personal sense of identity, worth, and well-being. Some individuals bubble up to the top, while others remain mired at the bottom.

Recognition and social status or the lack thereof gives birth to comparison, jealousy, strife, and intense competition. For some, a battle rages for a sense of importance and prominence. Others seek dominance and autocratic control.

The apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ were not immune. In fact, their internecine intrigues are publicly exposed in the Gospels.

Mark 10:37, 41

 37 James and John replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

 41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

The request of James and John for special treatment, and places of honor, was bold and audacious. The Lord Jesus Christ corrected them with gentleness and kindness . The other disciples were furious. Why? Were they concerned about the feelings of the Lord Jesus Christ? This request came on the heels of a prediction by the Lord Jesus Christ regarding His approaching suffering and death. I think not.

Like most people, they were only concerned about their own feelings and well-being. They were probably all thinking exactly the same thing as James and John. But James and John asked first, beating them to the punch. The other apostles were jealous. They also wanted positions of prominence for themselves.

Were the apostles callously insensitive? I think not, they were clueless. They had totally failed to recognize the 500 lb. gorilla in the room. While they were getting ready to take their places in the kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ was getting ready for a funeral.

REFLECT & PRAY

Jesus did not abolish ambition or desire for greatness, He repurposed it. “For the ambition to rule, he substituted the ambition to serve. For the ambition to have things done for us, he substituted the ambition to do things for others.” (Barclay).

Father encourage me to be a servant and quiet my self-assertive spirit.  

INSIGHT

The Lord Jesus Christ offered an entirely different philosophy of leadership: servant leadership. The whole idea was innovative, radical, if not revolutionary. He proposed a whole new arrangement, an inverted hierarchy. The road to honor and recognition, goes through an offbeat, out-of-the-way, often overlooked sidetrack, service. “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35

The Lord Jesus Christ took the lead. He told them how things should be. But He didn’t just talk about it, He lived it. He modeled the behavior He wanted them to follow.

Mark 10:42-45

 42 So Jesus called them together and said, you know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.

 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

If you truly want to be great in the Father’s kingdom, you have to become a servant. Success is found in deliberately choosing to serve others, before we serve ourselves.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Here is an unpretentious proposal. Be a penult. Instead of seeking to be last, settle for being in almost last. Penult is the nominal form of the adjective penultimate. Penultimate means “next to last” The word penultimate comes from the Latin word paenultima from paenealmost and ultima last.

In my fallen condition, I have learned not to take my strengths nor my weaknesses too seriously. It is pretty clear I will never be a perfect servant. It is also fairly certain I will never be dead last, either. So I will seek to be a penult.

Roll over your life

Roll over your life

Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act on your behalf. – Psalms 37:5

Psalms 37:3-5

 3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

 4 Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

 5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Five evangelical missionaries dedicated themselves to Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Auca people of Ecuador. They knew this involved great risk. The Auca were universally feared by other tribes and outsiders. They were known to use force in order to be left alone. Any intruders were attacked and killed without provocation.

Missionaries Ed McCulley, Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian knew they faced great danger, even death. They put their trust in in the Father and committed their way onto Him.

They wanted to demonstrate that they came in peace and desired to be friends. They flew over the Auca villages and lowered gifts. Large numbers of the Auca began gathering at the gift drops. The Auca offered a gift in return, a feather headdress, which they tied to a line trailing from the plane.

The five men landed near a village. They assembled a prefab tree house. They shouted friendly words into the forest and waited.

No word was ever heard from them again. Another missionary flew over the area. From the air, he found the plane. Eventually, the pilot saw lifeless bodies, and knew all five men were dead.

But the story did not end there, it only began.

In the place of the slain missionaries, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint ventured into Auca territory. The unarmed women represented no threat. They lived out Christian forgiveness. The villagers were amazed by their acts of courage and their offer of forgiveness. They were able to share the gospel message. Large numbers of the Auca accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Among them were the killers of the five men. The two women became the first outsiders to enter Auca territory, and live to tell about.

But there’s more. A 10-page photo story appeared in Life magazine. Reader’s Digest and many other publications followed suit. The five missionaries, already welcomed in the Father’s presence as good and faithful servants, became famous worldwide on planet Earth. As a result of their commitment and sacrifice, many people of that generation were deeply impacted. That influence continues to this very day.

REFLECT & PRAY

It is almost incomprehensible to think that our Father God wants to be the source of our greatest delight, pleasure, and sense of fulfillment.

Father how I long to roll over my life to You and trust You with all that I am and with all that I have. Encourage me to do just that.

INSIGHT

Fallen creatures in a fallen world, do what comes naturally. What comes naturally for most people is to seek their own best interest and trust in themselves. All of the Father’s children have this tendency. But the Father offers something entirely different for His children. He wants us to follow a different path and live an alternative lifestyle. What is that path and lifestyle? He wants us to place our full confidence and trust in Him, and depend upon His precious promises found in the Scriptures. Psalms 37:3-5 provides some broad guidelines regarding how to do this.

Psalms 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

We are to trust in the Father. What is trust? To trust means to have strong confidence in or reliance upon someone. The Father God is trustworthy. Putting our confidence and trust in Him, is a natural response to His nature and character. The Father provides security and makes us feel safe. How do we demonstrate that we trust the Father? We demonstrate our trust through our actions. Rather than doing evil, we are to do good.

Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

In the world, there are many temporal pleasures to take delight in. There’s so many ways we can go about feeling good and pampered. There’s so many promises offered which claim to provide self-fulfillment.

The Father offers a totally different means of finding and experiencing pleasure. We are to take delight in Him. We are to repurpose ourselves to seek and receive boundless pleasure in Him. “The path to true self-fulfillment does not lie in a preoccupation with self but in selfless preoccupation with God. When the psalmist sets his heart on God, God reciprocates by making him truly fulfilled.” (NIDOTTE).

Psalms 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.

The Hebrew word translated commit is galal which means literally to roll, or roll away. To commit is not mere intellectual assent. Rather, it presents an all-encompassing alternative way of life. “It means to turn over to the Lord your whole life – all your desires, problems, anxieties. Let the Lord determine what your life is to be; trust in him” (UBS). It entails settled confidence and a deep reliance on the Father.

Picture yourself carrying an extremely heavy load. When the Father asks us to commit to Him, He wants us to simply roll the heavy burden off our backs and roll it onto His. Our heavenly Father then carries it for us.

When we commit, He takes action. He will do whatever is necessary (FRCL) to carry out His predetermined plan. This is where our trust and faith are put to the test. He does not tell us in advance what He will do, or when He will do it.

While the five missionaries were prepared to die in their service to the Father. But as it is with most twenty-somethings it is doubtful that they thought that they would be murdered almost immediately by the very people with whom they were seeking to share the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. For them, the outcome was totally unexpected.

But the Father had them exactly where He wanted them. It was through their sacrifice that salvation came to thousands. Tens of thousands of the Father’s children committed themselves to full-time service as pastors, teachers, and missionaries. They in turn influenced, and continue to influence millions.

In the Father’s calculus, the sacrifice of five of His dear, precious children, was a high price to pay. But it was worth it. It was His plan all along.

Consider the sacrifice of His precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the greatest price the Father ever paid. Yet through His sacrificial death, Lord Jesus Christ brought redemption and reconciliation to the world. This was also the Father’s plan all along.

Soul pollution

Soul pollution

John saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 John 3:5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him.

Pollution has become one of the scourges of the 21st century. One major area of concern is the dwindling abundance of clean, pure drinking water.

One obvious source of drinking water is rain and snow. But stormwater becomes polluted with toxic metals, organic pollutants, and pesticides as it runs through streets and gutters. Urban underground wastewater has historically been written off as a water supply because of this toxic pollution.

Enter “sustainable sand.” UC Berkeley engineers have developed a mineral-coated sand that can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water. It can also destroy organic pollutants and pesticides.

Sand coated with naturally occurring minerals reacts with toxic metals and organic contaminants. It removes harmful them during filtration.

Urban stormwater purified by sustainable sand could get much-needed pure water back into the ground. It could then be conveyed to underground aquifers.

As toxic chemicals and metals pollute our world, human sin pollutes our hearts, souls, and spirits. Has the Father provided a sustainable solution to remove our impurities?

The Father took the sins of the whole world and, on the cross, piled them on the back of Jesus Christ, the one person who had never committed a single sin. Jesus took our punishment so that we might receive His righteousness (Stanley).

REFLECT & PRAY

Soul pollution is no longer an issue for children of the King.

Father, thank you that you made it possible to remove the pollution that is toxic to my soul. You not only removed it, You replaced it with Your own righteousness.

INSIGHT

The Father provided a remarkable, miraculous means of removing soul pollution. His system involves a simple exchange. In essence, He takes our sin and unrighteousness from us, they are gone forever. In exchange, we receive the righteousness of the Father God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Because the Lord Jesus Christ was totally without sin, He had no personal sin problem to contend with and resolve. In the Father’s mind, this made Him eligible to be our sin bearer. He was able to take our sin upon Himself.

Somehow or another He became sin. Did the Lord Jesus Christ actually become sin? That is exactly what the Scriptures say. Rather than trying to explain how He became sin; the Scriptures simply state that He did. It is virtually beyond our comprehension.

Somehow, in some way the Lord Jesus Christ identified with sinful humanity. One African language has “God caused him to enter the ranks of sinners in our place” (UBS).

Christ becomes a transgressor through an act of substitution. A real transfer of sin and curse to Christ was essential. Christ must truly become polluted . . . A real death was necessary to put real distance between saved Christians and the power of sin (McLean).

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.

Sin is a violation of the Father’s law. When the law of God is broken, the outcome is a curse. In this sense, a curse is great trouble, harm, or condemnation. Because of our sin, we are cursed and condemned to the consequences.

To remedy this, the Lord Jesus Christ became a curse for us. As a result, we are no longer under the curse. We are redeemed.

When the Lord Jesus Christ became sin for us, we are no longer impure and condemned by our sin. We are justified, declared righteous.

The Lord Jesus Christ died as our substitute, our stand-in, “in our place.” The sum total of human sin and its consequences were laid upon Him. In exchange, when individuals receive him as their Savior, His righteousness becomes our righteousness. We do not merely have righteousness from God,we are the righteousness of God.

Now that’s not only a sustainable solution, but an eternal solution for soul pollution.

The reality of imputed righteousness is a deep, mysterious, wonderful theological truth. It is the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:10-12

 10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. His life is made an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

 11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their iniquities.

 12 . . . because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for transgressors.

The reinforcement facade

The reinforcement facade

Watch out! do not try to demonstrate how good you are in the presence of others, to be admired by them. If you do, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. – Matthew 6:1 

Luke 22:25-27 

 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’

 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.

 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde was published in 1999 and adapted into a film of the same name in 2000. The basic idea is that when you are a recipient of a good deed, you should pay it forward to others. Each recipient should assume a personal responsibility to do three good deeds for others. This would create a 3 to 1 ratio of doing good to others that would spread geometrically. The practice of helping one another could make the world a kinder, more caring and helpful place.

There are many different types of reinforcement, but when it comes to human beings, one of the most common is the naturally occurring social reinforcers that we encounter all around us every day.

Many acts of human kindness have their own reward and provide personal, private reinforcement. They basically make us feel good about us.  Social reinforcement refers to reinforcers such as smiles, acceptance, praise, acclaim, and attention from other people (www.verywellmind.com).

Sadly, in our fallen condition. Positive reinforcement becomes an enticement. We were lured to reinforce our reinforcement by getting others to feel good about us too. We are sadly short-sighted and grab for temporal rewards disregarding eternal ones. The Lord Jesus Christ unequivocally advised against this. Ostentatious displays of kindness or piety are unfitting for the Father’s children. Children of the King are in the business of  serving others rather than serving ourselves.

REFLECT & PRAY

Acts of human kindness and service should be Father-centered rather than self-centered.

Father, thank you for all the grace, mercy, and kindness you have shown me. Encourage me to be gracious, merciful, and kind to others.

INSIGHT

Matthew 6:1  Watch out! do not try to demonstrate how good you are in the presence of others, to be admired by them.  

The Greek verb translated take heed, beware,or watch out is prosecho. It was used as a nautical term. It meant to hold the ship in a particular direction, to sail towards, keep on course. It came to mean to apply one’s mind to something, attend to, give heed to, or pay attention to. The idea is “hold your mind fastened on this” (Richison). As a warning. It has the sense, “Be on your guard,”  “Be sure that you don’t,” “Don’t ever,” or “You must never.”

In modern colloquial English, we might say, “focus” or in the immortal words of Aretha Franklin, “You better think, (think, think)”.

Each child of the King should make this their all-encompassing maxim. We should be careful to do good in the right way, for the right reasons.

In Matthew 6:1-18, the word “Father” occurs 10 times. Good deeds and acts of devotion should be done for Him. We should be motivated by love and devotion for the Father, not to be seen and applauded by people. Public recognition is a sin of religious service (Richison). Motives count and there are wrong ways to do good things.

When good deeds are done, they should be done secretly not to be noticed by others. The Lord Jesus Christ uses hyperbole to communicate this idea effectively: not even our left-hand should know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3).

In Matthew 6, the Lord Jesus Christ highlights three areas where piety and worship become distorted: giving 6:2-4, prayer 6:5-15, and fasting  6:16-18. Be on your guard, do good, do it for the right reasons.

Many of the Father’s children are fooled by the facade of the world’s servant hierarchy.  In the Father’s kingdom, the servant hierarchy is inverted.

Mark 10:42-45

 42 Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.

 43 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;

 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

 45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

As children of the King, we should assume responsibility to pay forward acts of human kindness. Our ultimate motivation should be to pay forward the kindness that we have received from our Father God.

Christmas treasure from St. Petersburg

Christmas treasure from St. Petersburg

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. – Matthew 5:18

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

On December 24, 1933, a unique and irreplaceable treasure arrived in Great Britain from St. Petersburg, Russia: Codex Sinaiticus. The Soviet Communist government desperately needed cash. They sold the Bible to the British government for £100,000, $129,138, an enormous sum in those days. Today £100,000 is equivalent to $2,476,620. But this treasure is absolutely priceless.

Codex Sinaiticus or “Sinai Bible” is one of the most important books in the world. It is the oldest consequential book to survive antiquity. Handwritten over 1600 years ago in the 4th century A.D., it contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. It also contains a portion of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures. Of the estimated original 1400 handwritten vellum pages, 800 remain. It was written in uncial (all capital) letters without spaces separating the words.

It was discovered by the German Biblical scholar Constantin von Tischendorf at the Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula. Of all things, Tischendorf found some leaves of parchment in a wastebasket. To the monks, they were considered “rubbish which was to be destroyed by burning.”

He retrieved 129 leaves from the wastebasket. Tischendorf identified the pages as coming from the Septuagint. Tischendorf eventually convinced the monks to give the priceless manuscript to Tsar Alexander II of Russia in exchange for protection of their abbey.

It is thought that Codex Sinaiticus may have been one of the Greek copies of the Bible commissioned by the Roman emperor Constantine, after he converted to Christianity.

Codex Sinaiticus was unknown to the outside world for 1450 years. The Father had Tischendorf in the right place at the right time to preserve it from destruction. But it was virtually secreted away in various museums for another 150 years.

Finally in July 2009, this precious treasure was digitized and placed online. The Father’s priceless book was made accessible to the entire world.

John 1:1 from Codex Sinaiticus

REFLECT & PRAY

The Scriptures are true and dependable. They reveal all that the Father God intends for His children to know. They equip us to serve and to live lives that are pleasing to Him.

Father, thank you for loving us enough to reveal Your truth to us in the precious treasure, which we now call the word of God.

INSIGHT

Can you imagine the utter incongruity and pathos of discovering that the word of God is being burned by devout, religious people who have dedicated their lives to His service as they understood it to be? And why? Because they didn’t know what they had.

Do we really know what we have? Is the Bible the very word of God? To answer that question, there are two other questions regarding the Father in Whom we believe that we must first settle in our own hearts. Is our Father love? Is our Father, all-powerful?

If our Father in Whom we believe is an all-powerful loving God, there are two more questions.

Would a loving Father God desire to communicate His truth to His sentient creation? Does our Father God have the power to accomplish His desire and purpose?

Our faith in the truthfulness and accuracy of the word of God is based upon our answers. When we answer yes, we have the self-evident foundation of our confidence.

The Bible unequivocally states that it is the word of God. It claims to be the Father’s communication to mankind

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

In simple terms, the Bible is claiming to be the product of God. The Father is responsible for its creation. The Greek word translated inspired by God is theopneustos which can literally be translated “God-breathed.” Scripture was “breathed into by God” (Hughes and Chapell).

The Bible claims to be the “God-breathed” word of God. Either it is or it isn’t. There is no middle ground. It is self-evident that the Father who is Truth, would speak the truth and nothing but the truth. Our loving, all-powerful Father God would not mislead or deceive His children. His word is accurate and dependable.

The Father breathed out the Scriptures using people. The Father guided and guarded the human authors to record His message without dictating it. Employing human authors, the Father is the source, the creative intelligence, the driving force of the Bible (Ryrie).

2 Timothy 3:16 states three important facts about inspiration and inerrancy: All the Bible is included, all the Bible was breathed out from God, and all the Bible is, like God, without any defects (Ryrie).

Along with this claim is normally mentioned the word inerrancy. The word inerrancy is not found in the Scriptures. What does inerrancy mean? Inerrancy simply means that the Bible tells the truth (Ryrie). The Scriptures do not merely contain the truth, they are the Truth. When the original documents, scrolls, and parchments were written, they imparted the Truth without error.

The Father, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has breathed out the Scriptures to reveal Himself. They are Father’s witness to Himself.

2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

God used human authors to produce the Bible accurately and without error. The Holy Spirit carried human authors along produce the Father’s message.

The human authors were “carried along,” what does that mean ?

The Greek word translated carried along is phero. Phero means to carry, to bring, to drive along, to guide, to direct, to lead, to bear or carry something from one place to another. This word is used to describe what the wind and tides do to a sailing ship (Acts 27:17).

The prophets did not concoct or invent their message. The impulse came from the Father. The human prophets did not create the message, they conveyed it. The prophets spoke as the Holy Spirit impelled them. The human authors were active in writing as the Spirit directed. Their individual personalities, training, life-experiences, vocabulary, education, talents, and abilities are reflected in their words.The Bible is the Father’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit. It is accurate, truthful, and has divine authority in all matters upon which it touches. It is to be believed, as the Father’s instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as the Father’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as the Father’s pledge, in all that it promises (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy).

The Christmas Truce

The Christmas Truce

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2:14

Luke 2:10-11

 10 “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”

 11 “The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

On June 28, 1914, World War I began. The Western Front, consisted of trenches that stretched 450 miles from the English Channel to the Swiss Alps. Between the warring trenches was no man’s land. Vast numbers of soldiers fell and remained where they were shot between the trenches.

The sounds and stench of war permeated the air. As Christmas approached in December of 1914, the guns and cannons fell silent. On Christmas Eve, suddenly, unexpectedly, almost magically lit candles were placed atop the German trenches. They were soon joined by men holding tiny Christmas trees with lit candles.

A new sound lofted through the air. It was not the sound of war. It was the sound of singing. The melody was very familiar, but the words were being sung in German. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht drifted out over the killing zone. The English recognized melody and answered back in song, Silent Night, Holy Night.

Suddenly, unarmed German soldiers came out of their trenches and walked guardedly towards the British lines. Almost simultaneously, the British soldiers did likewise. “Merry Christmas” punctuated the cold dark night, followed by the words, “We won’t shoot if you don’t.” Cautiously, troops from both sides made their way forward and began to shake hands and exchange greetings. The soldiers traded plum puddings for cigars, swapped stories and souvenirs, reminisced about home, buried their dead and even played a bit of soccer.

On this amazing night, this magical night, their shared faith in the Lord Jesus Christ brought Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men for a few hours. This became known as the Christmas Truce of 1914.

After Christmas, the war began anew. Friends were once again enemies.

The Father seeks a permanent and eternal truce for all. It is His desire that all animosity and warfare cease. But only His children have laid down their arms.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Lord Jesus Christ came to establish permanent peace between people and within people. He offered peace, a special peace, personal peace with God. The peace of God, His quiet, calm, restful, tranquil character is now accessible for each person who would become His child.

Father thank You for making peace possible. Thank You that for inviting me to lay down my arms and be at peace with You.

INSIGHT

A magnificent promise was made by the prophet Isaiah that one day a powerful monarch would enter the realm of mankind and reign in peace rather than in authoritarian domination.

Isaiah 9:6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The promised Messiah, the Son of God, would come as a child born to the Nation of Israel. He would come as the embodiment of peace itself. He would rule as the Prince of Peace.

His kingdom would be unique, a kingdom of peace. This coming ruler would establish peace and reign in peace. He would usher in a time of peace on earth and goodwill to men. He would provide peace between individuals and nations. He would provide personal peace within the heart of each of His subjects. He would make it possible for peace to exist between the Father and mankind.

His reign would be marked not by intimidation and force, but rather gentle persuasion. He would rule over people “by sweetly and powerfully influencing their hearts by his grace: not governing them against their wills, but powerfully inclining their wills” (Ortlund and Hughes).

The promised Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ did far more than declare a truce between the Father and the human race. He procured and made possible the establishment of permanent peace and reconciliation.

Most of us, when we search deep within our hearts, will stumble across anger, hostility, resentment, belligerence and warfare lurking there. Why? Because, before we become His children, we are His enemies. A state of war exists between us and God. When we are adopted into the Father’s forever family, all warfare and enmity vanish. A state of permanent peace is established. This is true for each of the Father’s children.

But this is not merely a confident hope for the future. We do not have to wait until we enter into His presence.

When our adoption was finalized, we are no longer merely called the children of God, we are the children of God. Peace with God and the peace of God become our present possession. They are His Christmas gifts to us. We can now experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand (Philippians 4:7).

%d bloggers like this: