Peace by Storm

I am tired, frustrated, and restless. I guess this year was not what any of us expected. I know that’s an understatement.

I just – feel so tired. Physically, spiritually and mentally. I don’t feel peace.

However, God’s truth and love triumph over my feelings. I know that. Then why can’t I bring myself to bathe in the Word?

Why, oh my soul, do you not just breathe and give thanks?

Praise Him, oh my soul! Bless Him.

I thank the Maker of the skies for a blanket of dark blue clouds heavy with rain. I will thank Him for the rain that is yet to come.

I thank the Maker of the birds for the soaring wings of seagulls. They don’t worry or fret. They soar, held up by His hand.

I thank the Maker of the storms for the lightning far away and the gray rolling in. I thank Him for the silence that has hushed all creation before He roars with thunder.

I thank the Maker of the winds for the gentle cool breeze, bearing whispers of a strong loud gale to come.

I thank the Maker of the storms for the thunder I now hear. For the power to be displayed. I thank Him for the reminder that He is. He is.

Hush my soul, be still. He is nearer than you know. Trust Him. He is faithful, it is so.

Rumble. Deep and full. The thunder is His voice stilling my soul. He is powerful and mighty.

The dark gets darker. But I am not afraid.

Even the bird scurries to hide for cover from the oncoming rain. It’s coming.

White. Flash. Like God took a photograph. It’s bright and nothing stands in its way, lighting up all. As to crash down into a busy world and say: “Look! Look! Look!”

Up. The blue patches become scarce as the pregnant clouds form a deep, dark wall. Thick.

The clouds are the backdrop. White flashes through and lights up the wall in purple and blue.

Boom. The thunder yells.

The first drops fall.

Birds scurry.

Windows close.

The long-awaited blessings stream down.

The thunder becomes deeper and louder and closer. The cracks of electricity rip apart the clouds with light.

The rain flows earth-ward.

The hum of raindrops hitting the ground fills the air and it grows louder. It whispers… and shouts. Be still.

Be still.

All are drenched in wet and peace.

The air is full of heavenly waterfalls.

Lavender – neon light fills up the sky.

A display of majesty.

Long-awaited silence.

Hush my soul, be still. He is nearer than you know. Trust Him. He is faithful, it is so.

Peace That Passes All Understanding

Before I start this post, I want to apologize for not posting on Tuesday. We had a crazy busy week and it slipped my mind. I hope the post will be worth the wait. And it’s not as long as the last one, I promise 😉

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. It means not only the absence of war and strife but “wholeness”. When a complex world is working together as one piece, in harmony, there is shalom. When a “broken” relationship is “restored” or “made whole”, there is shalom. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death, He made whole our broken relationship with God on the cross. He made Shalom between us and God. That’s what I explained in my last post. Jesus’ death provided judicial peace.

But that judicial peace also allowed us to have experiential peace. This is the peace that is spoken of in Philippians 4:7.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Experiential peace is the peace that we feel in our hearts and minds.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

When we worry, the shalom of our trust in God is broken. We don’t believe that God can provide, or carry us, or that He can love us. The wholeness of our relationship is broken. We try to put the pieces back together by our strength. It doesn’t work. We were never meant to live without God. We were never meant to live without His friendship and presence. We cannot live a life of shalom, a whole life, without Him. So when we trust Him with our lives, He restores our broken relationship. And we have peace. We are whole.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

This world does not have shalom. It’s broken. People search for peace. They search for that missing thing that will make them whole. Some think they’ll find it in power. In money. In human relationships. In family. In a career. In fame. But as humans created by our God, we can find shalom only in the one that created us because we were created for Him. Without the One we were created for, pieces are missing. People can not feel true experiential peace before having judicial peace. People cannot feel true peace without first being restored to their God.

As believers, we are already restored. We stand before God in Christ’s righteousness, with no strife between us. So when we feel the temptation to worry, or to search for wholeness in other things, let us approach the throne boldly and go to the One who can make us whole, and give us peace.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16

Peace: Our Standing Before God

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:15-17

Here’s the post I promised on the 1st point I made about Colossians 3:15-17 in this post. 

As I was pondering different verses about peace, I realized that two different kinds of peace are talked about in the Bible regarding our identity as believers. As I further researched, I found more on the subject. One kind of peace is regarding our standing before God “judicial peace”, and the other is our state of mind and heart as believers “experiential peace”.

Judicial Peace

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 

And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:20

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  Ephesians 2:13-16

We were once enemies with Christ. We were in rebellion against God. The Old Covenant (the Law of Commandments) separated us from God because, to be with God, we had to faithfully fulfill all of God’s commandments. However, because of our sinful flesh, we couldn’t. Only the completely holy could be in the presence of a holy God. We could not access His presence. God created the sacrificial system so that the Old Testament believers could atone for their sins. In Hebrew, atonement, “kafar”, it means covering or blotting out (one might even say “painting over”). The blood of the animal symbolically paints over the sin. The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and eternal death, at that. Death is separation from the living. So the penalty for sin against an eternal living God is eternal death. The sacrificed animals covered the sin of the person up to that point so that they would be clean. It was a result of their repentance, and it served as a reminder to them that sin was deadly. In spilling the blood of an animal, they were restored to the covenant, where they received God’s mercy and forgiveness because God is faithful to be Himself (He is who He is).

Death was the only way to Life. Only through the death of the living could one satisfy God’s wrath and atone for debt. We could not provide that sacrifice. We had already sinned. If we were to die, we would forever remain indebted, in eternal death in hell. If we were ever to access God’s presence, we needed a sacrifice that could satisfy the debt eternally. 

This is where we get to the doctrine of Atonement. Atonement, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “the reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ”. Before, the sins of the Jews were atoned for once a year by the animal sacrifices. But now, our sins are atoned for by the death of Jesus Christ. The atonement of animal sacrifice only covered the sins of the here and now, but the atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cover all our sin, past, present, and future. 

If our debt is paid, and God has blotted out our guilty record, then there is no reason for us to be in enmity with God any longer. If we believe this to be true, we are reconciled to God. 

Reconciliation is what I talked about before when I said we could not enter God’s presence. Before the Fall of humankind, we had access to God. Adam and Eve would walk with God in the garden. They would talk with Him. However, when Adam and Eve sinned, they could no longer enjoy His presence. They were unclean. They were guilty and ashamed. Jesus’ death and sacrifice erased the guilty record of humankind before the Righteous and Holy God. Since our sins are atoned for, we can now go back into God’s presence. 

How Judicial Peace Transforms Our Lives

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:5–9

We are no longer hostile to God. We are no longer enemies with Him. Therefore, we can set our minds on the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us life, and gives us experiential peace.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

 “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

  we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31–37

Unlike our relationship with God before, where we were against Him, we are now on His side. When God, the immortal, eternal, all-powerful, strong King of the Universe is for us, nothing can stand against us. We can now stand in His presence, come boldly to His throne in times of need (Hebrews 4:16), with the promise that He will graciously give us all things. We are reconciled to Him. There is no more separation! Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing! 

We are safe in His love because we have peace in our standing before God.

I used ESV for all my verse quotations.

Many thanks to my uncle who helped out with the tricky and deep theological bits.

Tuesday’s post will be on experiential peace, the second kind of peace.