I, personally, love it when a characteristic of God the Father in the Old Testament is used to verify the authenticity of Jesus Christ, His son. Not only is the literary significance of these occurrences in the Bible profound, but it’s like landing a direct hit on the three milk bottles at the Puyallup Fair with only a palm-sized sand bag in your hand. Essentially, there’s no way it’s an accident. Although it stands verifiably plausible that sons often exhibit characteristics of their fathers, it is far less likely for a characteristic of a father used to verify the son. And, getting to know the Lord better through scripture is merely part of God’s master-plan of self-disclosure to his human creations. Or, as Pastor Dave said in this week’s sermon, “When you learn someone’s character better, you learn how to connect well and relate to them better.” How true this is and what a miracle that the Heavenly Father actually wants – even desires – us to know Him more on an individual basis.
This line of thinking leads us to the difference between intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge, an actually important distinction. You may “know in your head” the truth of what the above paragraph says, but to “experience” – in real life, not just thought – that the Lord is a compassionate God…that is an entirely different matter. As Pastor Dave defined, “Compassion” means “To suffer with the urge to help.” It is common Christian knowledge that Christ suffered in body and spirit when He died for our sins, but did you know that God suffers when you choose to reject Him or take a path that only produces pain? He cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)
I can hear many of you asking: “Well, Ms. Blogger, if God cares so much, then how come He doesn’t listen?” To those of you asking this I would reply with one of Pastor Dave’s recommendations about capturing thoughts: “The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.” Haven’t you ever been in a situation where all you’ve needed is not the words of somebody’s righteousness, but a simple hug? Even more so, a simple nod of understanding or a smile? Very often, when the Lord is seemingly quiet, it’s because He’s already occupied, on your behalf, telling the enemy to shut his mouth. (Albeit, a very distinct paraphrase of the concept in the famous Footprints poem.) On a serious note, you can rest assured that – in both practical experiences and intellectual knowledge – “peace” is the presence of someone…the Lord…not the absence of something.
As Pastor Dave explained, in Christianity, “legal peace with God” is made through the blood of Christ on the cross, and “experiential peace (physical/emotional)” is the peace “of” God. In other words, peace with God opens you up to the peace of God. (John 14:27) All we need to do is put our trust in Christ. (Romans 5:1) Even Gideon in Scripture recognized the Lord (Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is Peace) as the Almighty, not just the Lord of Authority. (It’s a great story. You can find it in Judges 6:11-16.) It’s a wonderful feeling. I urge you to let your guard of emotional apprehension down and give God a chance.
Questions for Reflection:
1. This week’s sermon centers around the Lord’s name: “Jehovah Shalom,” or “The Lord is Peace.” Can you remember one way in which there has been an unexplained sense of peace in your life during trial? Do you see where the Lord might have been responsible for that sense of peace?
2. Is it difficult for you to conceptualize that God is a God of Peace? If so, why?
3. Do you wish you knew the God of Peace? Do you know God by any other of His names? If you have trouble relating to the idea of the Lord, please do not be afraid or hesitate to talk to a trusted Pastor about this.
4. How do you think it is possible that the Lord can “guard” us, as well as “defend” us? (Hint: The link is Christ.)
5. What is something that you’re going through right now that you wish you had peace to endure? Have you prayed to God to give you strength?
House of Worship: Capital Christian Center – Lacey, WA