About Kathleen Petersen

I love digging around for scriptural nuggets of God’s truth with our devotional team and being amazed how many facets of meaning we discover. Thanks for reading!

Power of Prayer to Heal from Persecution

by Kathleen Petersen

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 NET

Western Christians, especially those who live here in the United States, often say “I have never been persecuted for my faith”. Although you may say this is true of you, look closely at Jesus’ words about persecution in Matthew 5:43-48. Observe he did not restrict persecution to faith issues.

Here’s the definition for the Greek word translated “persecute” in this passage.

1) to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away 2) to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after 2a) to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal 2b) to pursue (in a hostile manner) 3) in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one 3a) to persecute 3b) to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something 4) without the idea of hostility, to run after, follow after: someone 5) metaphor, to pursue 5a) to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire

As you study this definition, you may be reminded of a persecution experience you have not yet fully processed or put into perspective the way Jesus prescribed. Perhaps an unidentified resentment has lodged in your heart because you feel a behavior exhibited toward you is one you don’t want to experience again. You may have wisely put up a barrier to further exploitation. It also may be because you have minimized the behavior and said to yourself “it doesn’t matter”.

Here is a challenging story from a young woman who was sexually abused by a family member and later became a victim of human trafficking. Notice the healing she experienced as she prayed for her persecutors. Here is part of her testimony:

I pray for people because God has taught me to give grace to others when I get upset with them. Sometimes the best thing I can do for someone is to pray for them and let God handle the situations that I can not control because he is the one who can change people.

As you read her story, also give attention to the roles that worship music, writing to God* and gratitude played in her transformation.

* “writing to God about my struggles and problems. …allowed me to realize that he was listening to me.…”

While you pray the Lord’s Prayer* today, consider how praying for your persecutors can prompt forgiveness.

* See also Didache 8:2.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Power of Prayer to Heal from Persecution2023-11-18T08:59:20-07:00

Was Jesus a Doormat?

by Kathleen Petersen

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your coat also. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42 NET

If you or someone you love has been a victim of an oppressor, you may be forming arguments against these words right now. Please take a deep breath.

Since Jesus is our primary example of how to live our everyday lives, one of my spiritual practices is to match Jesus’ teachings with his actions, especially if a teaching is difficult to grasp.

With this passage, my mind jumps immediately to the persecution Jesus suffered during the few days he was on his way to his death on the Cross. However, those days are unique, because they are the source of our salvation and will never be replicated. So the Cross should not be conflated with the persecution Jesus speaks of in today’s passage.

Here are questions that come to mind when contemplating how Jesus practiced “do not resist the evildoer” :

Was Jesus a passive doormat in the face of persecution? Earlier in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus established that, just like him, his followers will be persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:11-12).

Was the kind of persecution Jesus described in today’s passage a feature of his public ministry?

Here’s an example that intrigues me:

Jesus assigned the important role of treasurer to the avaricious Judas Iscariot. The other disciples were deeply troubled when they observed Judas stealing treasury money — especially the portion set aside for the poor (John 12:4-6). There is no record that Jesus ever confronted Judas’ theft. What puzzles me is that “Jesus knew what was in a man’s heart” (John 2:25).

Jesus’ failure to confront Judas is remarkable since there were many incidents where he confronted and challenged sinful attitudes and behaviors of Jewish religious leaders as well as other disciples.

During and after his Last Supper, Jesus made sobering disclosures about Judas Iscariot (Matthew 26:14-16, 20-25, John 13:27-30, and Mark 14:43-50) and Judas’ role in fulfilling prophecy. Judas’ habit of obtaining material advantage had escalated to the level of reckless betrayal of his long-suffering teacher.

This is one example of Jesus not resisting an evildoer. As you think about today’s passage, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal more examples including those in the lives of the apostles and other disciples.

Are you or is someone you love experiencing injury under an oppressor? If God has not yet provided a way of escape from the situation (as described in
I Corinthians 10:13), ask him to reveal his greater purpose for the oppression as well as his strength to endure in the midst of righteous suffering.

Continue to pray the Lord’s Prayer as you meditate on “do not resist the evildoer”.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Was Jesus a Doormat?2023-11-11T23:54:30-07:00

Old Time Religious Oaths

Just yesterday I electronically signed an oath (authored by Best Buy’s team of hundreds of lawyers) that I would: 1) install two new elements in the pressure cooker I purchased from them two years ago if they sent me replacements for the faulty parts, and 2) properly dispose of the faulty elements. Our consumer culture is awash in a world of impersonal, ambiguous, sometimes ridiculous oaths and promises.

Is Jesus concerned about inadequate, self-serving or deceitful promises? Apparently so.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not take oaths at all—not by heaven because it is the throne of God, not by earth because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem because it is the city of the great King. Do not take an oath by your head because you are not able to make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one. Matthew 5:33-37 NET

Religious leaders before and during Jesus’ time had developed a hierarchy of verbal oaths (supposedly reflecting Scripture) used in a variety of everyday transactions. In the above verses, Jesus comments on their order of reliability: God, heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and one’s own head. Oaths in the name of God were the only ones religious leaders considered truly binding. This hierarchy was being used to cleverly modify promises.

Jesus pointed out that all of the elements in that hierarchy belong to God. Therefore, promises/contracts should have the underlying simplicity of yes or no. Elaborate agreements are “from the evil one” if their purpose is to formulate a loophole.

Over the centuries, readers of Matthew 5:33-37 have sometimes thought Jesus meant for his followers to avoid all oaths. Other scriptures make this idea seem implausible. For example: Jesus makes an oath regarding his claim to be Messiah in Matthew 26:62-66; God makes oaths by himself in Genesis 22:16 and Isaiah 45:23; Paul swears an oath in I Thessalonians 5:27; Hebrews 6:13 elaborates on God’s oath to Abraham and further explains that the making of oaths is customary — at least at the time the letter to the Hebrews was written.

So, how else can we anchor our understanding of Matthew 5:33-37? Biblical commentators have most often linked Jesus’ words here with the third and seventh commandments. What is your assessment of how these commandments apply to taking oaths?

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain. Deuteronomy 20:7 NET

“You shall not steal. Deuteronomy 20:15 NET

As you make your way through the Lord’s Prayer again today, consider how to simplify your words before promising to serve God and others.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Old Time Religious Oaths2023-11-04T23:27:35-06:00

Marriage and Divorce Customs

Loving, nurturing family relationships have been highly desired and sought during all human history. Divorce causes multiple reverberations throughout immediate and extended families of the divorcing parties as well as the larger community. It’s also fair to say that marital discord can have similar effects.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Matthew 5:31-32 ESV

What Jesus says in these verses can seem obscure. Here’s an essay explaining some Jewish customs found in first century Israel that may enhance your understanding of customs around marriage and divorce in Jesus’ time. I will highlight two customs discussed in the article which still exist in parts of the world practicing marriage norms closer to those of the First Century — different than those now held in Western Europe and the U.S.

One custom, prevalent in a little over half of today’s world and held over from earlier times, is marriage arranged by parents of both the bride and the groom. Intermediary agents are sometimes employed to ensure the best match.

To us, it might be surprising that these arranged marriages end in divorce only 4% of the time while the overall Western divorce rate has wavered between 40%-50% in the last few decades. (It might be comforting to know that surveys of committed Western Christians record divorce rates half that percentage.) Some researchers have also observed that a steady increase in cohabitation as a replacement for marriage in Western countries has led not only to a decline in marriage rates but a predictable drop in percentages of marriages ending in divorce.

Another ancient custom that carries over into some arranged marriages is that newlyweds are expected to live in such close proximity to their extended families that constant daily contact is inevitable. This extended family model is one Westerners experience far less frequently.

The U.S. has also been affected by two developments that have widened the gap between us and First Century Judaism in our attitudes about divorce: In 1937 women could file for legal divorce for the first time and in 1969 laws enabling no-fault divorce began to be instituted.

I will end this brief comparison of modern and ancient marriage and divorce customs with a final thought: It’s tempting to equate legal provisions developed by our secular government regarding marriage and divorce with what Jesus says about those subjects. While those government provisions can prove helpful in sorting out a distressed marriage, they may also lead us to discount Jesus’ teachings.

Using the Lord’s Prayer, pray for those you know who have been affected by divorce. Thank God for the godly, healthy marriages you have observed.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Marriage and Divorce Customs2023-10-29T19:05:57-06:00

Lust is Lazy & Short-term

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.” Matthew 5:27-30 NET

The word desire (also translated as lust) that Jesus uses in this passage, is an intense longing, not just a passing glance. If these cravings persist, Jesus warns that this heart attitude has tangible, negative consequences, including the possibility of sliding into sexual relations with a person who is not a marriage partner.

Perhaps you’ve seen a billboard that flaunts a claim similar to the following: “Porn is cheaper than dating”. This sexual pleasure package implies that an instant, temporary, and relatively inexpensive option is able to provide the same emotional satisfaction as a loyal, long-lasting, human relationship which includes Biblical marriage. Lazy people consistently choose inferior but seemingly easy options.

What does scripture say about the lazy person’s destiny? Here’s a sample:

The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway. Proverbs 15:19 ESV

Let’s compare that porn billboard offer with a financial investment promising a return of 100% in two weeks without any risk to the investor. It’s not difficult for a discerning person to ascertain that both proposals are too good to be true.

The lure of receiving something incredibly valuable or exhilarating for very little effort is sneaky. Indulging desires for such sudden jackpots is guaranteed to corrupt hearts and minds. The person who gives in to the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:24-26) also jeopardizes future rewards.

Read again what Jesus says about capitulating to lust in Matthew 5:30 (above). Do the consequences of lust really include hell? Jesus’ warning is dire regarding ungodly sexual glances, cravings that corrupt us. If in the short-term we fall into being lazy about sexual matters, we risk losing the good and truly satisfying experiences that God has designed for us.

Have you fallen for “cheap date” style schemes? It’s time to repent; (observe Jesus’ drastic language regarding offending eyes and hands above). Ask God to redirect you as you take the more difficult road of cultivating godly trust and intimacy in the marriage or relationships you already have or hope to have.

If you’re already following Jesus in this critical area of sex and marriage, what a blessing! You are experiencing human flourishing in the midst of a corrupt and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15-17).

Consider the impact of Matthew 5:27-30 on your life as you again make your way through the Lord’s Prayer.

Lust is Lazy & Short-term2023-10-22T13:27:23-06:00

Words as Weapons

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, *Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:21-22

* Also in the Old Testament Hebrew: “req”.

All of us have felt anger toward others, but not all anger leads to sinful actions. Here Jesus points out that anger nourished can lead to deadly practices. Those practices include labeling others and harmful gossip. Among other things, labeling kills initiative and relationships. Gossip leads to the killing of reputations and livelihoods. Both have ruined human potential and dimmed or extinguished stellar reputations.

Although the following passage in the letter of James is primarily aimed at those who teach scripture, it can be applied to any of us who are in a position of influence. I view it as an elaboration of Matthew 5:21-22.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and saltwater? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. James 3:1-12 ESV

We live in a cultural environment where it is difficult to find peaceful conversation around certain topics. Words characterized by “restless evil, full of deadly poison” seem to slip out too easily.

None of us can avoid being angry – scripture records God being angry. But we can ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us when we are tempted to nourish that anger and let it fester and overwhelm us, and even worse, to “take it out” on persons in our realm of influence with careless or malicious speech.

Here is a scriptural antidote to the all too human tendency of getting bent out of shape with poisonous thoughts to the point they spring a toxic leak upon those made in the likeness of God.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV

As you pray the Lord’s Prayer once again, recognize those of us who follow Jesus are on the same team. Let the prayer influence your thoughts and words about those in your path today.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser,

Words as Weapons2023-10-14T06:36:08-06:00

Dismantle, Deconstruct, Dismiss?

“Do not suppose that I come to dismantle the Law or the Prophets. I do not come to dismantle but to fulfill. For truly I say to you until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota or letter stroke will ever pass away from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever loosens the least of one of these commandments and teaches the same of men, he will be called least in the kingdom from heaven. So, whoever does and teaches them, this one will be called great in the kingdom from heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses more than the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter into the kingdom from heaven.” Matthew 5:17- 20 ESV

The Beatitudes are the preface to the Sermon on the Mount and the above verses are the launching pad into Jesus’ explanation of portions of the Law and the Prophets that had become most convoluted by interpretations and practices of the scribes and Pharisees. Elsewhere Jesus calls those interpretations and practices the “traditions of men” (Mark 7:13 and Matthew 15:9).

Jesus rightly anticipated that his audience might misconstrue his statements, believing he intended to dismantle the “Establishment” religion to start his own sect. Jesus did not intend to deconstruct the foundations of faith found in the Law and the Prophets — he merely clarified what scribes and Pharisees had obfuscated. Instead he reinforced and built on the Old Testament (the selected and recorded revelations, interactions, and conversations Jesus had as the * preincarnate Messiah with those who followed him over the previous centuries.)

* John 1:15, I John 1:1-2, John 8:58, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:1-11 and many other passages

In our era, the suggestion that Jesus was a revolutionary or a deconstructionist has gained traction. As prominent Church leaders follow that model, they almost always propose that the Old Testament is passe or should primarily be selectively gleaned for only its rich narratives.

Just recently, a visible American preacher –- apparently a cowboy –- said Jesus’ followers should “unhitch” themselves from the Old Testament. When trusted leaders so glibly dismiss Matthew 5:17- 20, it seems all too likely they are “grooming” their hearers to detach from culturally uncomfortable or unpopular subjects to replace them with the “traditions of men”.

Of course, dismantling, deconstructing and dismissing Matthew 5:17- 20 is not a recent development; the enemy of our souls has been infiltrating the Church since its inception.

Hopefully, you will take this introduction to the Sermon on the Mount as words of the Master Builder of our faith.

With Matthew 5:17- 20 in mind, continue ingesting the Lord’s Prayer.

…“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”

Dismantle, Deconstruct, Dismiss?2023-10-07T12:30:50-06:00

Revelation, Interactions, and Conversations

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17- 20

The phrase “the Law and the Prophets” was Jewish shorthand for what Jews call the * Tanach, the whole Old Testament. “Law” was a reference to Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, and “the prophets” was a “placeholder” for all the rest of the Hebrew Bible. Christians call all of those writings the Old Testament.

* The Hebrew Bible is often known among Jews as TaNaKh, an acronym derived from the names of its three divisions: Torah (Instruction, or Law, also called the Pentateuch),
Neviʾim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings).

In reading Matthew 5:17- 20, I’ve tried to grasp why Jesus seemed so passionate about the value of the Old Testament. When I was new to the faith, I heard Christians talk about the reliability and inerrancy of scripture. Some adherents have acted as if the “beloved” King James translation had been dropped down directly from heaven. That view unsettled me and propelled me onward in my search.

An insight emerged as the most convincing reason for Jesus’ passion for the Old Testament: It is the carefully chosen record of God’s revelation of himself brought about by personal interactions and conversations with his followers over the centuries prior to **Jesus’ incarnation as the Messiah. God has always entrusted his revelations to obedient followers who love him.

** John 8:58, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 7:3 and many other passages.

Here is a New Testament statement that advances that idea:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV

This reverence that Jesus had for the Old Testament has been dismissed by more than a few charismatic leaders who believed they were appointed to begin a religious order that supersedes the Bible. Arguably, Muhammed, the founder of Islam, has been most successful in that regard.

A few years ago I encountered a book, Holy Books Have a History, by the scholar Keith E. Small. In that volume, Small shares his investigation of Muslims’ claims about the ultimate authority of the Qur’an. In Chapter 1 he compares those claims about how the Qur’an was delivered versus the way the Bible was written. He observes:

the Qur’an “presents the idea of a dictated book delivered by miraculous means to the prophet Muhammed from a heavenly original…while the Hebrew scriptures and the Christian scriptures…claim that they are the the writings of people on earth who were directed in their writing by God.”

In other words, the Qur’an claims its revelation to Muhammed was intact and basically untouched by human hands. while the tone and words of the Bible integrate the actions and thoughts of God with his people. ***

*** There is much more to say about how each Biblical author had his own style, but this is a short devotional.

As you pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15 ESV) today, meditate on the plural nature of this prayer as well as its inclusive family language. Recognize that for nearly two thousand years this prayer has drawn the allegiance and sentiments of those faithful who were also devoted to the Old Testament.

…“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”

Revelation, Interactions, and Conversations2023-10-07T12:46:01-06:00

Functionality of Light

Our state of Colorado purportedly averages 300 sunny days per year. Studies have shown that availability of sunshine has more impact on mood than rainfall, temperature, or any other environmental factor. No wonder I became more positive after moving here!

Light affects the core of our being. So, when Jesus said to us, his disciples, “You are the light of the world….”, Matthew 5:14, it’s worth a deep dive into what he meant.

Light and darkness are the first contrasting elements mentioned in the book of Beginnings (Genesis).

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4 NIV

The first thing I see in this account is that light is “good”. When God said “let there be light” that culminated with light separating from darkness, it implies that light invades, permeates and dominates. Could permeation be the main quality of light? Here’s a partial list of the benefits of light:

  • Without illumination we can’t see at all nor can we see colors.
  • Light is the sole source of food generation for all living organisms on earth.
  • Sunlight provides the best source of vitamin D which is necessary for healthy bodily functions.
  • The temperature of the earth would drop drastically without sunlight.
  • Circadian rhythm from everyday light keeps plants and animals synchronized with the time of day or night.
  • Light, especially its ultraviolet component, is an excellent sterilizing agent.
  • Plants grow toward the sky as they are guided by the light.

In his gospel, John identifies Jesus as creator, mirroring the above passage in Genesis. Here John contrasts the light of Jesus with darkness and proclaims that the light of Jesus wins!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 NIV

Later in his gospel, John records Jesus identifying himself as “the light of the world”.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 ESV

A couple I know who were pursuing a “New Age” spiritual path, were challenged when her mother observed, “The light inside you is darkness“’.
After that proclamation they encountered Jesus and began to walk with him. Since then, the light of Jesus inside them has illuminated many other people.

Using the above list of the benefits of light, meditate on the affirmation that “You are the light of the world”. How does Jesus’ light inside you spiritually illuminate those in your sphere of influence and give glory to “your Father who is in heaven”? Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Functionality of Light2023-09-30T09:51:30-06:00

Prince of Peace

As we continue our study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, let’s contemplate the seventh Beatitude:

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9 NIV

Several famous world leaders have included this observation in important speeches: “Peace is not just the absence of conflict.” This rings especially true when we discover that the biblical word for peace ”שָׁלוֹם” (Shalom) means “to make something whole”.

However, conflict and disorder are woven into this life. Even the most successful human relationships are marked with trouble. Conflicts can be sudden, can open or fester under the surface and later break out in unpleasant, dangerous, even life-ending manifestations. On the other hand, seemingly peaceful relationships can suddenly and mysteriously end when conflict remains unaddressed. Here are some words of Jesus to stimulate thoughts about our peacemaking role:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 ESV

So, it is no surprise that Jesus commends the peacemaker. The Apostle Paul encourages us:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18, NIV.

I think Jesus also aims at something deeper in this beatitude. In Isaiah 9:6 NIV the prophet identified Jesus in this way centuries before his arrival.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

What is Jesus’ role as Prince of Peace? Briefly, he is the only one who can bring true, lasting peace, restoration, redemption, and reconciliation between you and God and others.

Salvation comes no other way; no other name [than Jesus] has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one. Acts 4:12 MSG

For this reason, when the Holy Spirit leads us in a peacemaking role, it’s valuable to remind ourselves that true reconciliation is found in the person of Jesus. Lasting peace reflects his Way and his heart.

How can the ordinary follower of Jesus be a peacemaker? A myriad of roles and professions come to mind. All these benefit from relying on the highest authority, Jesus; and some are even bolstered by worldly authority. Here are just a few roles and professions that qualify: parent, teacher, medical professional, therapist, pastor, law enforcement, athlete, legal counselor, tradesman, caretaker, military service – in short, just about any profession or role that doesn’t involve sinful or criminal activity.

As we steadily renew our minds, immersing ourselves in God’s word, and submit ourselves to his ways, we will find the Holy Spirit enabling us to be peacemaking sons of God in our own circle of influence.

Ask God if he wants to bring an unresolved personal issue to mind. (If nothing comes to mind, that’s OK.) The personal issue could be one of your own or that of someone in your realm of influence. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you prepare for your peacemaking role.

You may find the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15 ESV) helpful:

…“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Prince of Peace2023-09-23T10:17:12-06:00
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