Thursday, November 17, 2011

Power Thought #9

I pursue peace with God, myself, and others.
[Unlabeled quotes are taken from the book Power Thoughts, by Joyce Meyer.]

We've lingered long in this chapter, using various portions as springboards for morning discussions around the breakfast table.  Sin breaks relationship and multiplies our fallen state, that comes naturally.  But peace?  We need a lot of practice...we need to pursue it.  God tells us in Psalm 34:14 to "Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."  In Romans 12:17-19, we're instructed to "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."

Notice in both of those passages, departing from evil/doing good is connected with the pursuit of peace.  The author's starting point is rightly that we must recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior; we must believe Jesus died for us, taking the punishment we deserved upon Himself.  Then she jumps right into this idea of departing from evil/doing good (according to God's definition, not whatever we want to call good or evil apart from His Word). "We must always come clean with God," she says.  As we work to put off the old man and to put on the new, we will still sin and when we do, we need to run to God (see 1 John 1:9).  God is good and kind and merciful to the contrite of heart, to those who call upon His name...believe that and confess your wrongs and move forward in His grace. 

"...focusing on my faults only increased them.  I had to learn how to focus on Jesus and what He had done for me, and I had to truly believe that He loved me."  

With God, forgiveness works one direction: God forgives us.  What we broke with our sin, He fixed with His sacrifice and loving forgiveness.  God never needs our forgiveness, but He does invite us to pursue peace with Him.  Our end has to do with departing from evil and doing good, and that too is done only in dependence upon His grace.  Soak that in because we can only give what has first been given to us.
As we pursue peace with other people, we all get the opportunity to seek and to extend forgiveness, to love and be patient and make sacrifices.  The author gives a few helpful hints on how to improve our relationships with others:
  • Maintain peace with God and yourself...understand the grace extended to you and you'll be better prepared to pursue peace with all types of people.
  • "Don't expect people to be perfect, because they won't be."  If you think everything needs to be perfect, you are "destined to be frustrated and discontented most of the time. Don't spend your life trying to make the impossible possible.  People have faults and there is no way around it!  No matter who you are in relationship with there will be times when they will disappoint you, so plan on forgiving frequently."
  • Plan to enjoy the uniqueness of others.  God has given us temperaments and strengths and weaknesses and interests that differ from one another...this is His design.  Appreciate others for who they are; don't try to make them into what you want them to be.
  • Look for opportunities to encourage and celebrate the handiwork of God in others.  Avoid being a nit-picky faultfinder.   There is certainly a place for loving admonishment when needed, but this point is describing the one who is always snarking at others about how they left the light on or they missed a spot when they washed the car.  
"Most people want peace, but they don't do what they need to do in order to have it."  
May God help us to want and to do...
"as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" 
(Rom. 12:18)

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