Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shoes of Peace

What I wouldn't give some days to get up and simply put on a pair of shoes that had the power to bring peace to me.  The shoes would have a magical kind of power and when I slipped into them I would be able to feel the peace rise up from the soles of my feet and continue until it reached the top of my head.  Sadly, I do not own these shoes.  Most days my peace is disturbed in my own thoughts and in my own head first and then it is incorporated into everything I touch for the remainder of the day.  Am I the only one who experiences this phenomenon?  Usually I can feel it as my alarm goes off and before I ever get out of bed.  It starts with thinking about all I have to do for the day and then leads to how I think I need to respond to each encounter throughout the day and from there I take it to the shower and if I allow it - God intervenes and my thoughts are settled through praying in the spirit under the outpouring spout of my shower head.  When the shower doesn't touch it, I begin another day in turmoil rather than wearing those illusive shoes of peace that are apparently a necessary part of the armor of God intended to protect me in battle.

As I write this, the old song "It is Well with my Soul" runs through my mind.  The song was written by Horatio Spafford.  In 1871 Horatio's only son died at age 4 and then only 2 years later all 4 of his daughters died as well.  His daughter were lost after a ship they were on sank at sea.  The only survivor was his wife who sent him a telegram that simply said "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.  

I am fully certain it would not be well with my soul to experience that kind of loss.  As I look at my own circumstances I realize - it is not well with my soul.  I do not live or walk in peace.   Alright, enough.  Let's move into this "shoes of peace" and see what's to be learned.

Shoes of Peace:  So first let us take a look at Roman foot ware. The NIV Bible Background Commentary states:  “ Soldiers needed to wear sandals or boots (technically the Roman caliga, a half boot) so they could advance toward the enemy un-distracted about what they might step on; this gear was essential to their “preparation” for battle.” 
Wood notes:
“ Once the breastplate has been fitted into position, the soldier puts on his strong army boots or caligae . Josephus described them as “shoes thickly studded with sharp nails” (War VI.1.8) so as to ensure a good grip. The military successes both of Alexander the Great and of Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies’ being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.”

When we find peace with God, we have the opportunity to find peace with other believers.  This means the local body of believers is to be a place of safety and care. It is to be a place where we can forgive one another.  “ Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).  But, just as we are at peace with God and one another, we can have peace in the midst of the craziness of life. This doesn’t mean circumstantial peace, but inner peace.  “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

The extent Satan can keep a believer chaotic, (maintaining the absence of peace), we are defeated and unavailable to be used by God.

Peace Defined:  PEACE (Heb. shalom, peace, Gr. eirene, concord). “Completeness,” “soundness,” neighborliness (see Ps 28:3 KJV), well-being and security (Eccl 3:8), or the reward of a mind stayed on God (Isa 26:3). It is linked with honest dealing and true justice (see Zech. 8:16 KJV), and is a prominent feature of the coming Messiah (see Isa 9:6).  
1.  Peace results from God’s forgiveness (Phil 4:7) and is the ideal relation with one’s brother (see 2 Cor 13:11; cf. Matt 5:23-24). 
2.  Peace, a mark of serenity (see John 14:27) to be sought after (see Heb 12:14)
3.  Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (see Gal 5:22), will benefit those who practice it both now (see James 3:18) and at the Second Coming (see Rom 2:10), and is the opposite of disorder or confusion (1 Cor 14:33).
**On a side note, I am one of those unpopular girls who firmly believes in the second coming (Rapture of the church), a 7 year tribulation period that further consists of a time where the Holy Spirit is not present on this earth for the purpose of conviction.  I believe in a literal anti-christ who will come and deceive many, etc...  back to the topic at hand....
4.  Peace is the presence of God, not the absence of conflict.  Christ brought, preached, and is our peace (see Eph 2:14). “ … a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:8).  “ You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).  “ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).   “ For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Wearing the shoes of peace brings/allows 4 things:
1.  Stability - If Satan can keep us in chaos, we are useless, which is right where he wants us. Paul has already pointed out stability comes from walking with the Lord. And God provides the resources we need to walk with Him.  “ It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:11-14).
2.  Balance - A balanced person has a healthy view of scripture and is not off to one extreme or the other. Where individuals loose balance they are chaotic. In this context Wiersbie talks about balance this way.  “ The shoes of the Gospel of peace not only give you stability but also give you balance. A soldier doesn’t wear just one shoe into battle. To do so would throw off his balance and cause him to limp when he
walked. He knows that he must have both shoes so that he can have good footing and balance in battle.  Satan loves unbalanced Christians—those who concentrate so completely on one doctrine or practice of Scripture that they ignore its other teachings and what else God would have them do.”
3.  Mobility - Peace gives us a freedom to move and be mobile and about the business God has for us to accomplish.  Change isn’t always bad, though it is stressful. On one hand we are called to stand, but on another, we are called to go out. And going out always necessitates flexibility and being able to accept change. When I’m talking about change, I’m not talking about changing the truth of scripture, or the gospel. But, as Satan’s tactics change with the times, we need to be flexible in how we present truth so it is accessible to those who need it.  “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
4.  Opportunity: Remember we are talking about the  gospel which brings peace and out of that peace flows stability and balance. Action is another product. This action
works out in movement that is flexibility in the ways we serve the Lord. It also means action in taking whatever opportunity is presented in giving out the gospel.  “ How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” (Isaiah 52:7).  By putting on the shoes of the peace of the gospel, we are at peace with God. We are at peace within ourselves. And we are at peace with one another.

When it is all said and done we are awakened with a new clarity and sense of purpose.  I need more peace in my life - less chaos - more balance, less extremist thinking - in a nutshell more of God and less of me.

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