Monday, March 6, 2017

Peace: Is It a Noun or a Verb?

            THE frequency with which a word is used in a document or writing often gives you a clue to its importance. So let me ask: When you think about the important concepts or precepts taught in the Bible, which words come to mind? Would it be heaven? Hell? Or maybe Savior, God, Sin. How about peace, the “thing” we’re returning to our search for? How often would you say it appears in Scripture? And would you call it more of a noun or a verb?

            Using the King James Version of the Bible, I discovered that translation contains 788,258 words, and Peace occurs 470 times, twenty-six times fewer than soul, and thirty-one times fewer than spirit. Heaven occurs 644 times, and sin 441 times. While 470 times seems puny compared to 788,000, Peace did end up in the most popular list of words used. You could take just one verse containing the word Peace and end up studying it every day for 1.28 years.
            Any study of the Bible leads you to the conclusion that Peace is a pretty important concept. And anyone who’s living life right now (meaning anyone who is presently alive) can tell you Peace is critical to his physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
            When we last looked at Peace, we were concentrating on Shalom. The type of peace one person might extend to another, to wish them good health, prosperity, happiness, or wealth. In the Old Testament, people sought after it in their relationships with others; men looked forward to one day joining their deceased forefathers by lying down in peace with them. God promised it to those people who followed Him and obeyed His commandments. People signed Peace treaties with one another and promised to live in Shalom together. We learned that sometimes the fastest way to Peace is to keep our mouths shut and not fight for what is rightfully ours; and we learned that sometimes we must speak up and promote justice in order to have it.

            One of the most beautiful passages in the Psalms is found in Psalm 119:165 that says: “Great peace (shalom) have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.”
            How could law-lovers not stumble? Because when they focused on God and used God’s word as their guiding principal for life, they reaped the benefits of peace. They had knowledge and discernment and revelation that others didn’t enjoy. Instead of putting themselves, their wants, their desires and the world first, they put God first and He opened up the Heavens for them. Even when they were being taunted and persecuted by others for their faith, they experienced shalom because it pleased God to reward them with it.    

  The same can be said of God lovers and Christ followers today. They know where their treasure is, and it’s not earthly. Their treasure is the Kingdom of God, so that is where their focus lies—on Him and His Kingdom. And, like any loving, generous father, God is pleased to reward those who identify themselves as His children.

   There are other definitions for peace in Scripture, and we’ll start exploring some of those next week. But the more we study, the more we’ll learn that peace is not something we have to sit around and wait for, something we hope shows up one day if we just have the right amount of money, if we just live in the right neighborhood and go to the right church or school, if that difficult person at work just finds a new job, leaves your department, and stops irritating you. Sometimes it’s more of a verb than a noun, requiring some kind of action to attain. Or an action someone else takes in order to bestow peace upon you. Sometimes it’s more of a noun, something you possess. And sometimes it’s a combination of both.

            Next week we’ll look at the type of peace that brings much joy to both you and God. But before we go today, I invite you to think and pray about something.
            Why do you think your heart and mind struggle to have peace?
            We’ll link the answer to that question to next week’s discussion.

Until then, may your week be overflowing with Shalom!
May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

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