At the end of WWI ,both sides of the “great war” were exhausted and an armistice was declared—-this was an agreement for both sides to stop fighting. It was not a surrender by the Germans (the triple Alliance of Germany, The Hapsburg Monarchy and Italy.) But once hostilities stopped, the German Alliance was forced to capitulate and accept the humiliating peace treaty that was dictated by Triple Entente—-France, Britain, Russia (and of course the USA). The Germans never forgave the ones that pushed them to that horrible “Peace Treaty of Versailles”. I talked to a history buff from Florida (Andy Stone) and he remarked: When you consider both the amount of money extracted in reparations by the French and British victors over the Germans, and how that sent the German economy into a free fall (not to mention the land seizures of Alsace-Lorane and Prussia in the East of Germany), it was no wonder that revenge would be extracted by the Germans through Hitler on both counts (due to the lack of “fairness”….mercy and grace). Why would we find it shocking that hate would build in the hearts of the Vanquished? The seeds of WWII, the greatest military catastrophe in the history of mankind, were sown because of a cease fire, rather than an unconditional surrender. Nations were torn apart, Germany had land seized and the lives of millions were destroyed.
At the end of WWII, as you know, a total surrender took place. Germany and Japan were required to absolutely surrender, and what followed was the resurrection of Europe and the establishment, through the Marshall Plan, of the robust recovery of Japan, Germany and Italy. Peace came to Europe and has been maintained for the past 80 years—but first, someone had to surrender. Because of this, there’s not been a WWIII.
“And the peace of God, that is surpassing all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”
The peace that passes understanding? What is this and what must we do to enjoy and live in that unspeakable peace? That’s the question. I want to live in peace—-don’t you? I want to have peace within my family…..in my country……with those that don’t like me…..with God…..with myself! Jesus had perfect peace because He, the Son, was in perfect relationship with the Father. There was no anxiety, uncertainty, doubt or misgiving about who HE was and who HIS FATHER was.
He will keep your minds at peace. Think of it—-we cannot do it (i.e. have this perfect peace), only HE can establish it because He is the one that created that emotion with us in the first place. HE will keep us at peace if we are intimate with Him and looking to Him for that peace (and not the cheap imitations—alcohol, drugs, possessions, success, etc). He will create this heart and mind of peace within us as we look to God as our Father and Provider—Jehovah Jireh! I must learn to think about Him as the Shepherd of the sheep. I am not a shepherd, but I had sheep at my first camp, and though they are very stupid and stubborn, they’re also very lovable and you get attached to them. They trusted the hand of our shepherd and they rested when they knew that he was near——they knew that he loved them. Do you know the Good Shepherd? Do you now that He loves you? Have you felt His hand upon your shoulder lately?
I, on the other hand, have pet ducks. And ducks are far more stupid and stubborn than sheep. But each day when I go to the lake and call them, they break their necks trying to be the first to get to me. They eat out of my hand, allow me to stroke their feathers and even pick them up. They trust me because I care for them and feed them and I have never harmed them. It’s hard to take a duck very seriously, but it’s also hard to hate a duck. My ducks know my voice.
Jesus said that, “My sheep know my voice”…..and He was talking about those that call Him Lord and Master. Do you know His voice? Has He spoken to you during this pandemic? Are you listening? I defy anyone to hear His voice and be the same or not be at peace. His voice is peace and certainty. Our lack of peace is the result of either self-pity (the most childish of all sins), we have slipped away from His flock, or we are refusing to do or go where He is sending us.
Each morning I try to get up before anyone else in my family to have my time of prayer and Bible study. And each morning all four dogs leave their respective rooms and follow me downstairs. As I read and pray they’re all laying around me, sleeping. I wonder why? Why do they leave the warm beds of the boys to follow me into a cold room each morning? But they know, it appears, that I am “master of the house”, that I will not hurt them, that I am the one that provides for them, etc. They know my routine, they expect my touch on their heads and they are ready to rush to the door for our morning walk. In a word, they have “peace” when I am nearby—and when I am gone I have been told that they are anxious and sad.
Paul understood that having peace was not the same thing as being “happy" or even knowing where your next meal was coming from. He said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (Phil. 4:11-12). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.)” (Phil 4:13 Paul was clear that possessions and the good life are not signs of God’s blessing—peace and contentment are. And the secret to holding on to peace is to get into the habit of praising Him in all circumstances knowing that He will never abandon us! Paul said we should “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again "rejoice"” That’s the heart of peace—-rejoicing that He has counted the hairs on our heads and knows when a sparrow falls from the sky——-that He knows your name and will never let go of you. Be at peace little flock.
Am I thanking Him, rejoicing in all things, praising Him throughout the day? Have I learned that this is the domain of inner peace—the peace that comes from being content with what He has given me? Jesus told us to think about a child’s peace and comfort when the parents are watching and hovering, as an example of what God wants to give—-as well as the how we are to approach Him. “Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of God…” That means that I come to Him expecting Him to teach me, care for me, protect me and show me what to do and how to do it. It means that I come to Him profoundly humble and readily admitting my poverty in all regards. You simply cannot come to God in arrogance and pride and expect to be invited in to His Kingdom! You have to open your eyes and realize just how unfit and in need of Him you are? And then the peace that defies explanation follows.
Recently during prayer I was so overwhelmed with the tasks at hand and my personal challenges that I cried out to God: “I don’t understand why this is happening! I don’t see how this is going to help me or the work of your Kingdom! I am not able to handle all this pressure—why are you letting this happen to me?” I was not at peace!
But as I listened to myself talk to God, I realized that I was not speaking as a child to his father, but as an employee to his employer, or as a private to his sergeant. I was placing myself into a relationship with God that He never intended and that was totally inappropriate! Christ reminds us that we must come to God as a “child to a father” if we would have our prayers answered, be a part of His Kingdom and enjoy His sustained peace. I must understand that there are no adults (or teenagers) in heaven. Only children. The peace comes from the experiencing the relationship a child has with his parents as they watch over them.
A child does not have to understand things, because he knows that his dad does. A child does not have to worry about shelter or food or clothing, because he knows that his father takes care of those things. A child does not fret about how things are going to work out, because his father always is looking after him to be sure that things do work out. In fact, childhood, in a proper home, with godly parents, is the most secure and peaceful time of life for a child. There are no worries, no pressure, no need to be afraid or uneasy. This is peace that Jesus was talking about.
Oh, the joy of knowing that He loves me and is proud of me! What peace I have in relaxing and trusting Him to figure things out. Yes, I do not understand many, many things in life—but He understands everything... and I belong to Him. This is my source of “self-esteem” and personal confidence: I am His and He approves of me.
My quiet times are not so much revelations of new spiritual truths but reminders of things I have known all along. After He reminded me to simply be a child, I spent the next many minutes simply praising Him and being at perfect peace. It might sound strange to someone that’s never done that, but something is “released” within you when you merely praise Him and ask Him for nothing. I was created and born again to praise Him, not whine about how difficult I have made things! That’s how one finds peace.
Never allow anything to remain in your life that steals your peace in Jesus Christ! Think of every detail of your life that is causing the disintegration of peace as something to fight against, not as something you should allow to remain. Beware of allowing anything to continue that takes away that peace, because slowly but surely it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is satanic.
- Do you know that the Good Shepherd love you? Have you felt His hand upon your shoulder lately?
2. Do you know His voice? Perhaps, just maybe, He is speaking to you even as you read these words….
3. Remember, a lack of peace is the result of either self-pity (the most childish of all sins), or we have slipped away from His flock, or that we are refusing to do or go where He is sending us. I wonder: have you truly surrendered to Him or are you involved with an armistice? Until you surrender, you will harbor seeds of distrust, anger and defiance towards God.