Perfect Peace and a Perfect Mind

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Peace in good and bad times

I recently meditated on Isaiah 26:3 and my eyes froze on it as though time stopped. All other words might as well have slowly faded away as the only thing in crystal clear picture and vision were these words:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind (both its inclination and its character) is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

My eyes kept circling back and forth those words and my mind tried to follow through. Eventually I began to feel it resonate deep within me as other verses relating to peace and the mind sprung forth. I discovered something interesting as I kept thinking about it. This is more of an inner peace that cannot be shaken by any situation. The Jews were singing a song to God in order to re-establish their own land and, in essence, devote it to Him. He is to be their strong city, their everlasting protection. The peace that is to be their soul-soothing comfort (as well as ours) is said to be perfect peace, which is undisturbed in any and every way. Free from persecution, poverty, sickness, want, or bereavement.

The Trade And Reward
There is a reward for holding to our end of the deal. To be kept guarded and given perfect peace is invaluable. All we have to do is simply (because it’s not complicated) keep our minds on Him. How so? By staying commited to Him, leaning on Him, and cofidently hoping in Him. Happiness is situational and temporary, but joy is eternal. Since there is joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11) then the easiest way to practice all three is to be joyful. That means both in the good times and in the bad (Psalm 34:1). In a literal sense we have to picture Him beside us at all times so that He is Someone very close to us, because He is (Hebrews 13:8 cf Josh 1:5). Think long and hard about that.

Heaping Coals Of Fire

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I recently read this passage on how to make amends with your enemy and thought it was quite interesting. It actually has a lot to do with the counterintuitive aspects of life. I will talk more about that in a later post. I believe this scripture is so easy to misunderstand because of taking it literally as it is. Let’s check it out:

Proverbs 25:21-22
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;

For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Paul referenced this passage when encouraging the Romans to live a life that exemplifies peace and godliness. Starting from verse 17 we read:

Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.

18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.

20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his headRomans 12:17-20

Breaking Down Verse 20
God wanted His saints’ minds to be so far from revengeful thinking that He lays down one prior condition: Vengeance is Mine. This means that at the actual moment we harbour the thought of paying back the enemy for what they have done, we are first of all to remember that revenge is not our place. Revenge implies that we think of ourselves as more important than our enemies, I would go as far as including those who hurt us but are not necessarily (regarded by us as) our enemies. This is because the principle applies in that situation as well. The reason I say that revenge suggests we think of ourselves as more valuable is because we believe in that moment that being right (meaning justified) is more significant than maintaining our relationship, but Paul said, “I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance].” Romans 12:3

Chapter 12 of Romans begins with Paul asking us to give our bodies to the Lord as a living (and holy) sacrifice, and then goes on to discourage us from patterning ourselves after the ways of the world; an attitude that begins in and with the mind. Therefore in order to preserve the holiness of our bodies we are not to entertain any thoughts that desecrate that holiness, particularly to the extent of multiplying the damage dealt to us. That is what revenge is all about. You slap me, and I will crush you with a bat.

This word of encouragement from Paul, as well as Hezekiah (he wrote chapters 25 through 30 of Proverbs), may be difficult to apply but bears enormous importance. It is almost as if everything that happens to us and “our enemy” hinges on that split-second choice on whether or not to deal eye-for-an-eye, which has huge ramifications.

Taking this word of exhortation literally, means as you do good to those who do bad to you, the idea in that case is to shame and embarrass your enemy. I know some people think that when God says, “Vengeance is Mine, ” He is to bring His wrath all the more fiercely on your enemy so as to justify you (especially if that is the whole purpose behind you acting kindly towards him in the first place). That could not be further from the truth! Here is one extremely substantial reason why:

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them. Proverbs 24:17-18

That is a consequence you do not want befalling you. The idea behind doing good to your enemy, even in a literal sense, giving him food when he’s hungry and drink when he’s thirsty (including any other necessity), is so that he feels so ashamed for what he has done that it leads him to repentance, loves the person he once hated and is careful not to both repeat the wrong he has done, and also not do any further wrong in the future.
Think about this statement:

“When he remembers the food and drink thou hast given him, thou shall burn him, as if thou puttest coals upon his head to burn him, and “he will take care of doing thee any ill. This matter will be hard unto him, as if thou heapest coals on his head to burn him, because of the greatness of his shame”, on account of the good that he shall receive from thee, for the evil which he hath rendered to thee.”

How amazing would life be on earth if we understood that so far should the saints be from meditating revenge upon their enemies, that they should do good unto them, as Christ directs, (Matthew 5:44 ) , by feeding them when hungry, and giving drink unto them when thirsty.

NB: The results from such an act of faith can possibly take a long time flourish. Patience is vital before, throughout and after the action has been implemented. It is the consequential process, one that tests the heart to see if diligence in seeking to please God, is the order of the day. Hebrews 11:6

The Lord Rebuke You: Looking At Why The Lord Said This

Why did the Lord say this?

In 2009 Christmas our family was going through our church’s daily reading program and at the time we were reading Zechariah 3.  After my dad broke down the chapter for us he asked an interesting question: Why did God say, “The Lord rebuke you,” instead of I rebuke you”? Over the past few years I had been battling with this question. I have also been on and off with the research only because I forgot about it until now!

The clue he gave us was that it had something to do with Daniel. He said nothing more than that. I began to wonder what connection Daniel had with the problem Satan had with Joshua presenting himself as a priest to God in His presence. Looking more into the book of Daniel I noticed that he walked with God very closely and had an extremely strong faith! He had a special type of faith which could draw from God a power to understand His mysteries. Daniel shared the knowledge and the wisdom of God and also the mysteries of God’s doings. He walked very close to God. Daniel’s book is a difficult book to understand. Many of the present events and future events are there. Daniel is the John of the Old Testament. He would see a vision and be so overwhelmed by its impact as to fall down and become weak. When God’s mighty thoughts enter our mind, sometimes we become weak. But Daniel would not leave God.

Zechariah 3:2 in context

Earlier on I had asked about what Daniel had with Satan stopping Joshua entering the presence of God to minister as a priest.  Before getting into what I believe the reason is, first let us find out what this portion of the Scripture is all about. Here are verses 1-3

Then [the guiding angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before [a]the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at Joshua’s right hand to be his adversary and to accuse him.

 And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! Even the Lord, Who [now and habitually] chooses Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [returned captive Joshua] a brand plucked out of the fire?

 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and was standing before the Angel [of the Lord].

Alright let’s break this down:

Verse 1
The guiding angel (most versions just say “he”)– The Lord represented to me in a vision

Standing– Ministering in his office

The Angel of the Lord (most versions just say “angel”)– Christ

Verse 2

The Lord — Christ, as a mediator, rather chooses to rebuke him in his father’s name, than in his own.

Is not this
 — Joshua.

Verse 3

With filthy garments — The emblem of a poor or sinful state.

The Angel (of the Lord) — Christ.

It seems as though the One mentioned as The Lord in verse 2 is actually the Father Who is being referenced by Jesus. He chose to be a mediator and rebuke Satan in His Father’s name as opposed  to His own. This makes perfect sense because it will clearly explain why the parallel passage in Jude has the same expression:

Jude 1:9

But when [even] the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, judicially argued (disputed) about the body of Moses, he dared not [presume to] bring an abusive condemnation against him, but [simply] said, The Lord rebuke you!

So the archangel Michael rebuked Satan in the name of the Father, the same way Jesus did it. Taking careful note of this suggests that directly rebuking the devil is not what we are supposed to do. Besides how many demons does he have chasing us every moment of every day! As far as our responsibility towards the devil is concerned, all we have to do is:

James 4:7

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.

2 Corinthians 2:11

To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.

1 Peter 5:8

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

1 Corinthians 10:13

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.

Ephesians 6:12

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

 For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,

 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)

Making The Connection

In my studies about the passage of Zechariah 3 I looked further into the specifics Daniel had with the scene taking place in the presence of God. Satan was just trying to make Joshua feel belittled for entering as a priest into God’s presence with filthy rags! That’s proof that you can come to Him just as you are:

Hebrews 4:16

 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Thankfully Jesus was there to rebuke Satan in the name of the Father. When I observed the book of Daniel I noticed that Michael was one person that played a big role in Daniel’s life. I noticed here that Michael was the one my dad was referring to. Check out what I discovered in a commentary I read:

Yet Michael the archangel by whom is meant, not a created angel, but an eternal one, the Lord Jesus Christ; as appears from his name Michael, which signifies, “who is as God”: and who is as God, or like unto him, but the Son of God, who is equal with God? and from his character as the archangel, or Prince of angels, for Christ is the head of all principality and power; and from what is elsewhere said of Michael, as that he is the great Prince, and on the side of the people of God, and to have angels under him, and at his command, ( Daniel 10:21 ) ( 12:1 ) ( Revelation 12:7 ) .

That means there is a very close connection between Jesus and Michael. It is not to say that Michael had the same authority as Jesus but rather that they both held very high ranks. From the above statement you can see that a part of Michael was in Jesus and a part of Jesus was in Michael. In Jude Michael also stood as a mediator and rebuked Satan in the name of the Father. My guess is to respect rank since Jesus rebuked Satan in the same way.

Discern God’s Daily Agenda

Your agenda (schedule for today) should be decided in the presence of God. Your daily agenda will create miracles or tragedies depending on whether or not you are led by the Spirit of God. HOURLY. Obedience Is An Hourly Event. Your peace is a signal. Don’t make a phone call, an appointment or decision unless you are at peace in your heart about it.

When we put God first all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives- Ezra Taft Benson.

Seeking the face God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; this is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world- Mother Theresa

Don’t seek God in temples. He is close to you. He is within you. Only you should surrender to Him and you will rise above happiness and unhappiness– Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Romans 8:14

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Pray Over Every Decision

Something happens when you pray that would not have happened had you not prayed. Every decision you make is a turning point in your life. Making the right decision determines whether you succeed or fail. Prayer is the proof you respect God. It is a sign that you recognize His power to change your circumstances. It attracts God. Do it.

“Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us. He is our Father. He is accessible to all who will seek Him.” Gordon B. Hinkckely

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” 
― Meister Eckhart

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” 
― Corrie Ten Boom

James 5:16b

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

 

Pinpoint Problem People

The worth of any friendship can be measured by its contribution to your victories. People are different. Choose friends who make deposits into your life instead of withdrawals. Your warfare will reveal the true character of those around you.

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence– George Washington

Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go– Maragaret Walker

“Silence make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying, but the never needing to say that counts.” Margaret Lee Runbeck

Romans 16:17-18

 I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them.

18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating and flattering speech, they beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting andsimpleminded [people].

Remember Your Miracle Begins In Your Mouth

Your Enemy Reacts To Your Words. He will believe whatever you tell him. Feed Faith-Words into his ears and he will be demoralized. Talk like a victim and he will be encouraged to attack you. Let your words creste the current that sweeps you into the heart of God.

Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. –Pearl Strachan

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. – Plato

The words we say will teach if we practice what we preach. –Unknown

Matthew 12:37

For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.