November 7 - 13
The God of Peace
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Ps. 119:165; Matt. 10:34; Gal. 5:22,23; Phil. 4:6,7; Col. 1:19-22; Heb. 12:14.
MEMORY TEXT: : "The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" (Isaiah 32:17,18, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: Our God has provided that each one who receives Christ and obeys the Spirit will experience a peace and contentment beyond imagination.
GOD MAKES NO STATEMENTS THAT ARE NOT TRUE. Nor does He make promises He does not keep. What He says concerning the relationship between righteousness and peace is altogether true, and what He promises His people is altogether certain.
It is the very nature of righteousness to bring peace to those who are righteous and the end of inner strife to all who accept righteousness. It is true now in this world, and it will be true in the new earth forever.
Since the saints look forward to a new world of righteousness in harmony with God's Word, they can look forward with certainty to a heaven of peace in accord with His promises. The people of God are those who have permitted peace to replace strife here in their own hearts and lives. For this reason, the land they will inherit forever will consist of sure dwellings for all, with quiet resting places.
This week, learn about the relationship that exists between peace and righteousness, plus some of the results of allowing God's righteousness to be manifested in our lives.
In what state of being do we exist before we accept Christ? After we accept Him? Col. 1:19-22; Rom. 5:1.
"When peace enters the human soul, it will enter by that door [the gospel]. A young woman, whose letter tells its own story, wrote: 'I haven't found Christ's way smooth. Perhaps because I had chosen so long to walk my own. Until one day quite unexpectedly I caught sight of His; and my plans for the future faded before the blaze of one great certainty: whatever the cost, I must follow Him. It meant fighting through years that I had pledged to work against Him. It meant losing one job after another, and one friend after another. But I couldn't turn back. I found in him a measure of life so strong, so joyous, and so unafraid that I had to keep on. He has come to mean not a dusty figure of ancient history, but a living, vibrant Presence; and the throbbing grandeur of the steady purposes of God.'
"There is a peace which is of this world-a spurious peace at the last. And a peace that this world cannot give. 'My peace.'"The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, p. 341.
What is the nature of the peace that comes to the Christian through Christ? What will it do? Phil. 4:6, 7.
Jesus tells us that His sense of security, His peace, rested not on the circumstances in which He found Himself, not even on His being able to understand the meaning of those circumstances, but in absolute, unwavering confidence in His Father (John 14:27-31). He knew that the Father would permit nothing to come into His experience that was not a part of Their plan.
God instructed Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites with the following
"'The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace"' (Num. 6:24-26, NIV).
How long has it been since you claimed this blessing?
If we are to see God, how should we relate to others? Heb. 12:14.
That such a command exists suggests it is not an easy one to follow. It requires a goal we are to pursue with effort, giving no heed to obstacles.
We should note that relating thusly toward others means more than the absence of war or trouble. It means we deal justly with others, that we are no longer motivated by jealousy, greed, or hatred but by God's great love shining in our hearts.
How do we achieve such a relationship with others? Isa. 26:3.
"In his autobiography, Robert Louis Stevenson tells of a day in his childhood when he accidentally locked himself in a dark room. He could not turn the key to release himself, and he was in terror by reason of imagined enemies, until his father came to the door and called to him. Then he became quiet. In a little while the music of his father's voice made him forget his surroundings and his terrors. And he actually enjoyed the remaining time of his imprisonment before the coming of the locksmith. So we may bear terrors, difficulties, dangersevery unto ward thingas we remember that God is with us, Who speaks reassuringly.F. S. Corbett."J. Gilchrist Lawson, ed., Greatest Thoughts About God (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1920), p. 282.
What other attribute must go along with peace, and why? Heb. 12:14. How can we "pursue" such attributes as this text indicates?
Peace is very closely connected to holiness, and holiness is closely connected with God. It is not a matter of peace at any price! The Christian must pursue the goal of peace only in ways compatible with Christian principles. Genuine peace is a matter of the heart and spirit.
Peace within produces happiness. God's people are a happy people because they are a peaceful people. Heaven will be a place of happiness because it is a place of peace. "The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Ps. 37:11).
|Is there someone with whom you are not at peace? A family member perhaps? Or a co-worker? Pray that the music of your Father's voice will bring peace to your heart and your relation ships with others.|
Describe the connection between the law and peace among people. Ps. 119:165.
God designed His law to preserve a close and happy fellowship between Himself and all created beings. If we violate any of its first four precepts, there will be conflict between us and God. If we violate any of the last six commandments, there will be conflict not only between us and others but also between us and God. Loving obedience to God's will brings forth His peace in our hearts.
Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Neither peer pressure, mob psychology, loss of position, nor safety from physical pain and death could influence them to waver in the least from their allegiance to an unseen God!
Let us sense the "calm contentment with which they stood their ground in face of Nebuchadnezzar's ultimatum-'if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Their reply (Dan. 3:16-18) is classic: 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.' (No panic!) 'If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us ... and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.' (Courteous, but unanswerable-they knew their God!) 'But if not'-if no deliverance comes-'be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods.' (It doesn't matter! It makes no difference! Live or die, they are content.)"J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1975), pp. 26, 27. "Great peace have they which love thy law" (Ps. 119:165, KJV).
What is the source of fightings and wars? James 4:1-3. How does being "a friend of the world" fit into this picture? See verse 4.
War erupted in heaven because Lucifer violated the very first principle of the law in his attempt to set his throne above the throne of God. Because Adam and Eve disobeyed, Eden was deprived of peace, and humankind was robbed of the tranquility and happiness God had placed in its soul. Sin brought unrest.
Heaven will be the eternal home of all happiness and peace, because all who abide there have God's law of peace written in their hearts, and they live it out in their lives.
|Have you had a difficult time viewing the Ten Commandments as a source of God's peace? Review how each command can be a source of peace in your life.|
What is the only way we can have peace in our hearts? Gal. 5:22, 23; Rom. 8:6.
Although the natural heart is against God, against right, against peace, it need not remain so. God has provided a remedy. He has sent His Holy Spirit into the world to convict us of sin and give us strength to overcome. Instead of the works of flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), we are to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit. In place of hatred, discord, wrath, and strife, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace. Sometimes peace floods over the Christian in a dramatic way. Dr. R. A. Torrey, founder of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, and his wife passed through a period of severe trial when their 12-year-old daughter died. Their hearts were leaden; their grief keen. Even the weather added its gloom on the day of the funeral. Rain was their companion as the little coffin was lowered into the ground. The next day Dr. Torrey felt a renewed surge of grief as he thought of their loneliness in the years ahead, the emptiness of their house, and the many changes their daughter's death would introduce into their lives. With tearing heartache, he looked to the Lord for help. He wrote of that moment:
"And just then this fountain, the Holy Spirit, that I had in my heart, broke forth with such power as I think I had never experienced before, and it was the most joyful moment I had ever known in my life! Oh, how wonderful is the joy of the Holy Ghost! It is an unspeakably glorious thing to have your joy not in things about you, not even in your most dearly loved friends, but to have within you a fountain ever springing up, springing up, springing up, always springing up three hundred and sixty-five days in every year, springing up under all circumstances unto everlasting life! "Quoted by Ray C. Stedman, Secrets of the Spirit (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming W. Revell Co., 1975), p. 120.
"The mighty power of the Holy Spirit works an entire transformation in the character of the human agent, making him a new creature in Christ Jesus.... The peace that dwells in the soul is seen on the countenance. The words and actions express the love of the Saviour. There is no striving for the highest place. Self is renounced. The name of Jesus is written on all that is said and done."Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1117.
|In what area of your life do you particularly need to experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His peace? Look to the Lord for help and experience the transforming power of His Holy Spirit.|
How can you harmonize Christ's promise of peace with His statement in Matthew 10:34?
The parallel scripture, Luke 12:51, reads: "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (RSV). The verses following-in both Gospels-clearly reveal how those who follow their Master will suffer ostracism, how those who are closest to them will become their most stubborn enemies. God and mammon, light and darkness, righteousness and sin have nothing in common. Christ's sword is His Word of truth. Those who abide in His Word are separated from those who reject His Word, as a sword cleaves the flesh. "It was the mission of Jesus to reconcile men to God, and thus to one another. But the world at large are under the control of Satan, Christ's bitterest foe. The gospel presents to them principles of life which are wholly at variance with their habits and desires, and they rise in rebellion against it.... It is in this sense-because the exalted truths it brings occasion hatred and strife-that the gospel is called a sword."The Great Controversy, p. 47.
What danger does the Christian face? But what victory assures us of final peace? 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:7-21.
Christ's word about the sword had a sure, early, and sad fulfillment. His own disciples were to experience it. John the Baptist had already fallen. Stephen was soon to fall. Peter and John in prison (Acts 4:1-3), the apostles in the common jail (Acts 5:18), the scattering of the church before the persecuting Saul (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1, 2), the vexed church at the hands of Herod, and the death of James (Acts 12:1, 2), the numerous persecutions of Paul (2 Cor. 11:23-26), and the banishment of John to Patmos (Rev. 1:9)-all point to the certainty that the forces of evil will make war against the teaching of righteousness. In the last days, God's people will experience those forces again (Rev. 12:17).
|"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Pet. 5:10, NIV). Pray to God for the strength and steadfastness to withstand your "most stubborn enemies."|
FURTHER STUDY: To learn how we can enjoy inward peace de spite outward turmoil and strife, read Philippians 4:6, 7. For images of the peace we can experience as Christians, review Psalm 23. What images of peace in this psalm are the most meaningful to you, and why? Why not try writing your own psalm of peace? Also read Christ's Object Lessons, "To Meet the Bridegroom," pp. 419-421.
"Those who take Christ at His word, and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest."The Desire of Ages, p. 331.
SUMMARY: When the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they sang of peace. God was freely providing His grace and mercy for all who would accept them, bringing forgiveness of sin through the Saviour of the world. Scripture reveals that Christians may experience peace with God and the peace of God. The first means the end of God's wrath against the sinner; the second, the tranquility that floods the mind with the assurance that one is reconciled with God. It is not enough to say that God through His Son brought peace to this earth or that peace is a euphoric substance that can be injected into the human experience. Rather, peace becomes ours when we receive Jesus Christ, for He is our peace. (See Eph. 2:11-18.)
A Priest's Long Search
J. H. Zachary
A priest stepped inside the Adventist church in Milasauti, Romania. The woman cleaning the church welcomed him then continued her work while the priest sat down and meditated. Later, when the woman returned to the sanctuary, she was surprised to hear someone playing the organ in the balcony and went to investigate. She found the priest playing an Adventist hymn from memory, singing along with all his heart.
How was it that an Orthodox priest knew this Adventist hymn? the woman wondered. But she did not ask. Before leaving the church, the priest asked directions to the Adventist church in Radauti, a city near his monastery.
A few days later Pastor Benone Lupu of the Radauti Adventist Church watched as the same priest entered the churchyard. Lupu greeted him. "May I see inside your church?" the priest asked. Pastor Lupu smiled and showed him the way. The priest was deeply impressed by the church, especially the children's Sabbath School rooms. The two men began talking. When it grew dark, Pastor Lupu invited his guest to stay the night, The two talked until long past midnight.
The priest told Pastor Lupu that during his teens he had some times attended an Adventist church. But when his father learned of his visits, he beat the boy brutally and even chained him to a post so he could not go to the church. Once the man threw him into a well, intending to drown him, but the neighbors saw what had happened and rescued the teenager. Finally, to make peace with his father, the teen agreed to enter a monastery and become a priest But he had no peace. Now, seven years later, he saw the Adventist church and stopped to visit.
A few weeks later, while gathering alms from the people to help finance the monastery, this priest saw another Adventist church. He decided to attend church that Sabbath. He did not want to go in his clerical robes, so he used some of the alms he had collected to buy civilian clothes. He packed his robes in a box and sent them to t the monastery with a note. "I have found Jesus in the Adventist church. Please forgive me, Father, for leaving you." This former priest found Christ and the peace, joy, and fellow ship he needed in the Adventist church. Would he have found them in your church?
J. H. Zachary is international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour in Redlands, California.
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