A Peacekeeper or a Peacemaker?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could declare a day for all conflicts to be resolved? Well, someone came up with that idea and declared October 15 Conflict Resolution Day.

Actually, true and perfect conflict resolution will come when Jesus Christ returns. Still, I don’t think that’s what they had in mind when the originators set aside a day for this purpose.

So in light of Conflict Resolution Day, I offer this devotional excerpt from Daily Reflections on the Names of God:

Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace

Making Peace

The LORD is Peace (Yahweh Shalom)
Luke 12:49-53

“Do you think I came to bring peace to earth? No!”
(Luke 12:51 God’s Word®).

Are you a peacekeeper or a peacemaker?

Peacekeepers avoid conflict at all costs. Their motto is, “Don’t rock the boat.” Peacemakers focus on reconciliation, and they recognize that healthy conflict may be necessary for reconciliation to occur.

Jesus was a peacemaker. He was less concerned with keeping peace than He was with making peace. His earthly life—and His death—centered on making peace between God and man. Yet some of the things He said did not sound peaceable at all.

Jesus understood that real peace does not ignore conflict. True peace addresses the cause of the problem to remove it permanently. For man to have peace with God, Jesus dealt with the problem of our sin with finality and in the most violent way possible.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means we are to say what people need to hear rather than what they want to hear. Of course, we are to do so gently and lovingly. Avoiding conflict may be easier, but Yahweh Shalom doesn’t call us to take the easy way. He calls us to be peacemakers.

In which of your relationships have you avoided speaking God’s words of true peace?


 
A Sense of Entitlement

I deserve this.

I earned it.

It’s my right.

A sense of entitlement. We see it in political debates about whether certain government benefits are a “gift” or have been earned.

We see it in marriages and other relationships as individual people focus more on their rights than on the relationship.

We see it in our culture as people promote their own right to privacy over the sacredness of someone else’s life.

We even see it in our relationship with God, although we don’t always admit it.

But a sense of entitlement isn’t a new wrinkle in human development. I’ve recently been studying the ancient Israelites, and their sense of entitlement was as strong as ours today. First they complained about a lack of food. Well, okay, I can understand a desire for daily sustenance in the middle of the desert. But after a year of God miraculously providing daily food in the form of manna, they complained about a lack of variety!

That account started me thinking. How often do I carry a sense of entitlement into my relationship with God? Of course, I don’t call it that. Instead, I say things such as:

It’s not fair!

Why did this have to happen to me?

When is this suffering going to end?

One of the names of our great God is Adonai, the sovereign Lord. It means He is in control. Because I’m a Christian, He is not only the sovereign Lord, He is my sovereign Lord.

Adonai

Each time I complain about my circumstances, in effect I’m saying I know better than He does about what is best. That’s a bit arrogant on my part, isn’t it? My finite assessment versus the viewpoint of the infinite, sovereign Creator of the universe.

I may claim to trust God’s leading and provision, but I’m ashamed to say, too often I allow my situation to distract me from remembering His faithfulness. Like the ancient Israelites, I grumble and complain, not because I don’t believe He is Lord, but because I don’t like the circumstances my Lord has engineered for me.

The sense of entitlement I criticize in others is just as ugly in me.

The demand for my rights to be honored is just as conceited in me.

Worst of all, every time I complain about what the Lord has allowed in my life, I become arrogance personified.

But demanding what I deserve is not really what I want. Because if God were to give me what I deserved, it would mean living without the assurance of His salvation through Jesus Christ. The result would be spiritual death and eternal separation from Him. It would mean living without His Spirit, His love, and His guidance.

I may be foolish at times, but I’m not stupid. I don’t want what I deserve. Thankfully, in God’s mercy, He doesn’t give me what I deserve. And that’s just fine with me.


 
He is Mine

woman reading Bible - lightstock_112728_medium_user_8104670When you read a Bible verse, how do you decide which words to focus on?

For example, which would you say are the important words in the following verses:

“Blessed be the LORD, my rock…
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My stronghold and my deliverer;
My shield and He in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 144:1-2 (NASB)

The first time I read these verses, my attention was drawn to the various attributes and names of God listed there: LORD, lovingkindness, fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, refuge.

But the last time I studied the same verses, my attention was drawn to a word I had previously overlooked: my. Each name and attribute David listed was preceded by personal ownership. David didn’t just know about God, he had experienced these attributes in a personal way.

The author, David, was the second king of the unified nation of Israel, but he wasn’t born into a royal family. David was a shepherd and with that experience, God prepared him to shepherd a nation. Still, before he became a king, David was also a fugitive. For his own survival, he had to question the faithfulness of supposed friends even as he strove for godly responses to those who declared themselves his enemies.

The one constant throughout all his experiences, from shepherd to fugitive to king, was David’s relationship with the Lord. So when David wrote his psalms, he wrote out of personal experience. My rock. My lovingkindness. My fortress. My stronghold. My deliverer. My shield.

David didn’t just take someone else’s word for it. This was personal. He understood who God is because he had experienced who God is. David was able to say of God, “He is mine.”

Can the same be said of you and me?

Daily Reflections on the Names of God

 


 
Powerful Names

Names can ignite treasured memories or they can bring to mind people and experiences we’d rather forget.

When I hear the name Barbie, I think of the iconic doll from my childhood. Elizabeth reminds me of the Queen of England. Sandy reminds me of…tragedy.

Two years ago this week, Hurricane Sandy formed in the Atlantic Ocean, traveled up the east coast, and made landfall in New Jersey. Dubbed “Superstorm Sandy,” it is the largest Atlantic hurricane on record. Storm surge resulted in severe flooding in New Jersey and New York. Residents and businesses are still trying to recover.

In 2004, Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne set records for making landfall three weeks apart in the same town—my town. Then there’s Andrew, another name that stirs memories of disaster. In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew landed near Miami. The resulting damage was so severe that it was directly responsible for changes in Florida building codes.

It’s no wonder the names Andrew, Frances, Jeanne, and Sandy have been retired from future storm name lists.

In ancient Egypt, 3,500 years ago, another name was associated with natural disasters. Through ten plagues, the God of Israel waged war on Egypt’s gods. Water-turned-to-blood, frogs, insects, hail, locusts, even oppressive darkness were all used to manifest the power and glory of the one, true, living God. His name is Yahweh, and that name is not retired.

Yahweh, the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush, is more than just a name. It describes the very nature of God: the self-existent One who is not dependent on anyone or anything. The great I AM who chose to be in a covenant-relationship with His people.

But Yahweh is just one of many names God revealed for Himself in His Word. How many of His names do you know? How many do you want to know? What will you do about it?


 
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