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Sunday May 3 Peace in times of uncertainty

A reflection for worship for your family or just between you and God

Peace in times of uncertainty

Psalm 125

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds his people
    both now and forevermore.

The scepter of the wicked will not remain
    over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
    their hands to do evil.

Lord, do good to those who are good,
    to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
    the Lord will banish with the evildoers.

Peace be on Israel.

 

In a world filled with uncertainty and unrest … Jesus speaks peace.

On that first Sunday of the resurrection while the disciples were still filled with a lot of questions and wonderings over what was going to happen next … Jesus stood in their midst.

They reacted as if he had ghost-bombed their meeting.

 

Luke 24:36-49

36 While they were still talking about this [the resurrection appearances of Jesus], Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

 

Because of COVID19 pandemic our world has been turned upside down – many are filled with uncertainty, fear and despair.

 

Government officials order a lock down on travel, non-essential businesses and gatherings in order to lower the rate of infection – our laws give authority to elected officials to make emergency declarations for a short time. They are in a difficult position of making hard calls. And whatever decision they make there will be criticisms and unintended consequences.

  • Loss of jobs – huge increase in unemployment
  • Slowdown in the supply chain of food and home products – empty shelves
  • Longer food lines and greater dependency on governmental assistance

The sharp decrease in social contact has heighted problems in mental health

  • Domestic violence, abuse and suicide
  • Relapses in drug and alcohol use by those needing social groups to help fight their addiction
  • Depression from isolation and grief over lost loved ones who have died

 

We are told that we should make decisions based on science …. But scientists do not all agree. So we follow scientists who make pronouncements to the best of their ability but they also are human and can only make inferences out of the data … and the models they have used have not been reliable. Scientists are subject to political biases and professional biases as any of us. Uncertainty come from conflicting advice from the experts.

  • We have been told that masks are not needed; next we are told they are
  • Early on we were told to have no fear of the outbreak in China – only later to discover the WHO was not on top of things as they should have been
  • Some report that self-quarantine reduces individual immune systems since we need contact with germs to keep our immune system strong

 

We celebrate the font-line workers

  • Doctors, nurses, police and fire
  • Grocers, truckers, home delivery people
  • Volunteers at food distribution centers
  • Entrepreneurs who have re-tooled to make masks, ventilators and plastic shields
  • Drug makes who have increased efforts to discover a vaccine

But also parents who juggle homeschooling and working from home

And all the law-abiding citizens who dutifully stay home and when they venture out to the stores, stand in lines and like first graders follow the lines marked out as to where to stand

 

There is discussion as to when to open the economy and open the stores and how to do so in a safe manner and yet others are engaging and protests calling out lawmakers for draconian measures. Some clamor that their constitutional rights have been abused – they should have the right to make their own decisions …. To go to the beach, restaurants, etc.; you can’t keep everyone safe from all harm

 

Uncertainty in the Stock market causes volatility

Shortages of foods and products we took for granted …. This week it is the prediction of meat shortage …. Couple weeks ago, it was paper product and cleansers

Schooling has been interrupted; uncertainty over the future of education

Sports and entertainments of all kinds have ceased; national and state parks and beaches closed

Streets and stores once filled and once busy are silent

 

Uncertainty, doubt, fear

 

What brings peace? Peace of heart, mind, soul, spirit

  • It is not scientists who often differ in their assessments
  • It is not a job that can be eclipsed with a pandemic
  • It is not politics or elected officials
  • It is not health that can vanish
  • It is not always human relationships – that can bring pain

 

In troubled times Jesus came to the disciples and he wants to come to us

Jesus says, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Peace be with you.”

For them … he opened their minds (Luke 24)

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

 

He wants to open our minds to the scriptures … to give us his perspective. Uncertainty in the world is normal – it is to be expected. The scriptures reveal there will be wars rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine, unsettled times of uncertainty when fear grips the hearts of our fellow citizens. Through difficult days he gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit – he is with us. God has not forsaken us. We need not run in fear or turn in despair to false and frail support systems. We need not cover our heads in fear.

 

At times when our plans and our normal is interrupted and circumstances arise for which we were not planning we can wail, “My life is ruined”. But really for the Christian there is no such thing as a circumstance that will utterly ruin your life. Not every hardship is a disaster. And a pandemic is not necessarily ruination.

 

People bemoan many things and claim their life is ruined. Peter along with Judas could have thought his life was ruined – for Judas there was not future worth living for.

And this week, a doctor working on the front lines of the COVID19 pandemic in New York took her life – apparently the future was too dark to go forward.

 

Janie Chaeney writes (World Mag, February 29, 2020):

In theory, “ruin” lurks within every hour. Carelessness can be failure to look both ways, set a parking brake, or lock the gate to the pool. Weakness can be co-signing a risky loan or agreeing to drive a getaway car. We’ve all felt like a pair of dice tossed into the air after a bad decision, hoping the damage will be minimal when we land. Still, ruin is a relative term and applies to no situation less than an unplanned pregnancy. A developing human being in the womb is a disruption, as all humans are—we disrupt each other’s lives continually. In times of dissatisfaction it may seem like a spouse is in the way but even if he wasn’t “in the way,” something or someone else would have been. That’s how life is: continual traffic in and out of our plans, enhancing, supplying, suppressing, crushing, or redirecting them.  

 

Though the unexpected development is not always fun, it’s a powerful tool for shaping and teaching. Carefully constructed futures that work out as planned don’t teach anything but what we already know or shape anything but our prejudices.

 

That’s not to say an unplanned pregnancy, or any other life-altering event, will never be a severe hardship. Terrible things happen in life—ask Job. Children can be more heartache than joy—ask David. But to determine so ahead of time is to deny life itself, both figuratively and literally. 

 

To a Christian, life can’t be “ruined.” To see nothing but disaster ahead is no way for a disciple to read the future, even while suspended in uncertainty after a terrible mistake. Until we get there, the future is in flux. Disruptive, sure. But nothing could be more disruptive than Jesus Himself. Everything after Him is creative destruction of the old man, to build something entirely new.

 

Psalm 125 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,  which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

Jesus said in John 14 :26-27

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. 

 

Isaiah 9:6 prophesied the Messiah would be the “Prince of Peace"
   “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
   And the government will rest on His shoulders;
   And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”

In a world filled with war, violence, disease, death, shortages and disruptions, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace. But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about. The Hebrew word for “peace,” shalom, is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word eirene means “unity and accord”; Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”

 

Rom 5:1-4

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God. This is the deep, abiding peace that cannot be taken away and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”

Christ’s sacrifice also allows us to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Helper who promises to guide us (John 16:713). Further, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in us by having us live in ways we couldn’t possibly live on our own, including filling our lives with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). This love, joy, and peace are all results of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer. They are reflections of His presence in us. And, although their deepest, most vital result is to have us live in love, joy, and peace with God, they can’t help but to spill over into our relationships with people.

And we desperately need it—especially since God calls us to live with singleness of purpose with other believers, with humility, gentleness, and patience, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3). This unity in purpose and gentleness would be impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in us and the peace we have with God thanks to the sacrifice of His Son.

Ironically, the lightest definition of peace, that of the appearance of tranquility in a person, can be the most difficult to grasp and maintain. We do nothing to acquire or maintain our spiritual peace with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). And, while living in unity with other believers can be extremely difficult, living in peace in our own lives can very often feel impossible.

Note that peaceful doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation (John 16:33) and trials (James 1:2). But He also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us.

 

Song: There’s a Deep Settled Peace in my soul

1. I cannot tell thee whence it came,
This peace within my breast;
But this I know, there fills my soul
A strange and tranquil rest.

 

Refrain
There’s a deep, settled peace in my soul,
There’s a deep, settled peace in my soul,
Tho’ the billows of sin near me roll,
He abides, Christ abides.

 

2. Beneath the toil and care of life,
This hidden stream flows on;
My weary soul no longer thirsts,
Nor am I sad and lone. [Refrain]

 

4. I cannot tell thee why He chose
To suffer and to die,
But if I suffer here with Him
I’ll reign with Him on high. [Refrain]

 

Jesus says,

“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Peace be with you.”

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. 

Psalm 125 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

 

Songs chosen by Carol with the theme of Peace. Let Christ be your peace. Fill your mind with the truth of Christ – he is with you.

Like a River Glorious        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnIcKms_IUY

Peace, Peace Wonderful Peace, Don Moen           https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWybM-ECclY

Still- Hillsong      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n01-5SQFa8

Hope Darst: Peace Be Still            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsIpGiz3SfQ

 

Douglas Leslie

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