Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peace in His Presence

"Take courage! Don't be afraid!"
Everybody is looking for peace. One time Jesus spoke to the storm and stilled it (Matt 8:23-27), but another time Jesus spoke in the midst of a storm (Matt 14:22-33) to calm his friends’ fears, “I’m here. Take courage. Don’t be afraid” (Matt. 14:27). Then he commanded his friend and disciple Peter to walk to Him in the middle of the storm (Matt 14:28-29). It was a test of his faith (Matt 14:30-31).  

The point? Jesus removes some storms, but when you are able to handle it, he will not remove some storms, even the storms of his friends. He chooses instead to be present with us in the midst. He walks right into them, in fact to demonstrate his greater glory. Even in the storm of Matthew 14, when the test was over, the wind ceased (Matt 14:32) and the result was worship (Matt 14:33).

Sometimes his presence is not so obvious (Psalm 77:19), but even the wind and waves are under those hands and feet pierced for us (Matt 14:25). More than that, he promises that the God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet, too (Rom 16:20). In the Old Testament, shalom primarily signifies wholeness (Josh 8:31; Ruth 2:12; Neh 6:15; Isa. 42:19). 

Peace is used in the New Testament to describe harmony between individuals (Matt. 10:34; Rom 14:19) and between God and man (Acts 10:36; Eph 2:17) and the rest and contentment that comes as a result (Matt 10:13; Mark 5:34; Luke 1:79; 2:29; John 14:27; Rom 1:7; 3:17; 8:6). Jesus is a God of rest (Matt 11:28-30). He is the God of Peace (Rom 15:33; 16:20; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20).

How is peace related to prayer? Paul connected prayer with a peace beyond understanding (Phil. 4:6-7).

When do you sense God’s presence the strongest? At the emergency room with a child? When you find your friend betrayed you? When the doctor says you need surgery? When you are waiting for the closing date? When the divorce papers arrived? In those precious few hours of a loved one’s last days? When you walked down the aisle dressed in white? When you arrived for your first chemo appointment? When you held that little bundle for the first time? When you knelt at the altar and poured out your heart? When the future was unknown but trusted that the Lord was guiding you? Was his presence challenging or sweet or both?

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:49; Heb 11:1). David said in the midst of a Messianic prophecy, “You will show me the path of life; /In your presence is fullness of joy; / At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Do you enjoy God’s presence and peace in your relationship with Jesus? Do you want to start enjoying them? Are you in the storm right now and need to know His Presence? Pray and tell Him you need to sense His close Person near you to minister to you his Peace.