Great Peace

 

‘Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.’ Psalm 119:165 ESV

Jesus told His disciples: ‘in this world you will have trouble.’ (John 16:33 NIV) That’s putting it bluntly. We might hope life’s a breeze but it’s usually stressful and demanding. We have deadlines, expectations and personal pressures ganging up and constantly trying to rob us of peace.

No one is immune to anxiety, frustration or the feeling that we’re on the ‘treadmill of life’. When we feel like that, we’re definitely not feeling at peace. And the answer to stress and worry can’t be found in anything apart from God. The Bible talks about three different kinds of peace. Let’s look at them:

(1) Peace with others. ‘As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ (Romans 12:18 NIV) This is external peace, and we need that in order for our relationships with others to work.

(2) Peace with yourself. ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.’ (Colossians 3:15 NIV) This is internal peace, a sense of calm in our minds and souls which a lot of us never seem to experience.

(3) Peace with God. ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 5:1 NIV) This is eternal peace, and it comes from knowing that we’ve got a relationship with a God who loves, cares, protects and forgives us. So here’s how it works: when you’re at peace with God you’ll be at peace with yourself, and when you’re at peace with yourself you’ll be at peace with others. That’s how peace radiates outwards.

SoulFood: Joel 1–3, Mk 3:1–6, Ps 56, Prov 10:14–16

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2018

Today’s Readings

Joel 1–3 (Listen)

1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:

  Hear this, you elders;
    give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
  Has such a thing happened in your days,
    or in the days of your fathers?
  Tell your children of it,
    and let your children tell their children,
    and their children to another generation.
  What the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
  What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
  and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.
  Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
    and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
  because of the sweet wine,
    for it is cut off from your mouth.
  For a nation has come up against my land,
    powerful and beyond number;
  its teeth are lions' teeth,
    and it has the fangs of a lioness.
  It has laid waste my vine
    and splintered my fig tree;
  it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
    their branches are made white.
  Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth
    for the bridegroom of her youth.
  The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
    from the house of the LORD.
  The priests mourn,
    the ministers of the LORD.
10   The fields are destroyed,
    the ground mourns,
  because the grain is destroyed,
    the wine dries up,
    the oil languishes.
11   Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil;
    wail, O vinedressers,
  for the wheat and the barley,
    because the harvest of the field has perished.
12   The vine dries up;
    the fig tree languishes.
  Pomegranate, palm, and apple,
    all the trees of the field are dried up,
  and gladness dries up
    from the children of man.

13   Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
    wail, O ministers of the altar.
  Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
    O ministers of my God!
  Because grain offering and drink offering
    are withheld from the house of your God.
14   Consecrate a fast;
    call a solemn assembly.
  Gather the elders
    and all the inhabitants of the land
  to the house of the LORD your God,
    and cry out to the LORD.
15   Alas for the day!
  For the day of the LORD is near,
    and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
16   Is not the food cut off
    before our eyes,
  joy and gladness
    from the house of our God?
17   The seed shrivels under the clods;
    the storehouses are desolate;
  the granaries are torn down
    because the grain has dried up.
18   How the beasts groan!
    The herds of cattle are perplexed
  because there is no pasture for them;
    even the flocks of sheep suffer.
19   To you, O LORD, I call.
  For fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness,
  and flame has burned
    all the trees of the field.
20   Even the beasts of the field pant for you
    because the water brooks are dried up,
  and fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness.

2:1   Blow a trumpet in Zion;
    sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
    for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near,
  a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
  Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
    a great and powerful people;
  their like has never been before,
    nor will be again after them
    through the years of all generations.
  Fire devours before them,
    and behind them a flame burns.
  The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
    but behind them a desolate wilderness,
    and nothing escapes them.
  Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
    and like war horses they run.
  As with the rumbling of chariots,
    they leap on the tops of the mountains,
  like the crackling of a flame of fire
    devouring the stubble,
  like a powerful army
    drawn up for battle.
  Before them peoples are in anguish;
    all faces grow pale.
  Like warriors they charge;
    like soldiers they scale the wall.
  They march each on his way;
    they do not swerve from their paths.
  They do not jostle one another;
    each marches in his path;
  they burst through the weapons
    and are not halted.
  They leap upon the city,
    they run upon the walls,
  they climb up into the houses,
    they enter through the windows like a thief.
10   The earth quakes before them;
    the heavens tremble.
  The sun and the moon are darkened,
    and the stars withdraw their shining.
11   The LORD utters his voice
    before his army,
  for his camp is exceedingly great;
    he who executes his word is powerful.
  For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome;
    who can endure it?

12   “Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
  with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
  Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
  slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster.
14   Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
    and leave a blessing behind him,
  a grain offering and a drink offering
    for the LORD your God?
15   Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    consecrate a fast;
  call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
  Consecrate the congregation;
    assemble the elders;
  gather the children,
    even nursing infants.
  Let the bridegroom leave his room,
    and the bride her chamber.
17   Between the vestibule and the altar
    let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep
  and say, “Spare your people, O LORD,
    and make not your heritage a reproach,
    a byword among the nations.
  Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

18   Then the LORD became jealous for his land
    and had pity on his people.
19   The LORD answered and said to his people,
  “Behold, I am sending to you
    grain, wine, and oil,
    and you will be satisfied;
  and I will no more make you
    a reproach among the nations.
20   “I will remove the northerner far from you,
    and drive him into a parched and desolate land,
  his vanguard into the eastern sea,
    and his rear guard into the western sea;
  the stench and foul smell of him will rise,
    for he has done great things.
21   “Fear not, O land;
    be glad and rejoice,
    for the LORD has done great things!
22   Fear not, you beasts of the field,
    for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
  the tree bears its fruit;
    the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
23   “Be glad, O children of Zion,
    and rejoice in the LORD your God,
  for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
    he has poured down for you abundant rain,
    the early and the latter rain, as before.
24   “The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
    the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25   I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
  the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you.
26   “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of the LORD your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
  And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27   You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
  And my people shall never again be put to shame.

28    “And it shall come to pass afterward,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
  your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.
29   Even on the male and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

3:1 “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.

“What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will return your payment on your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their own border. Behold, I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will return your payment on your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away, for the LORD has spoken.”

  Proclaim this among the nations:
  Consecrate for war;
    stir up the mighty men.
  Let all the men of war draw near;
    let them come up.
10   Beat your plowshares into swords,
    and your pruning hooks into spears;
    let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”
11   Hasten and come,
    all you surrounding nations,
    and gather yourselves there.
  Bring down your warriors, O LORD.
12   Let the nations stir themselves up
    and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
  for there I will sit to judge
    all the surrounding nations.
13   Put in the sickle,
    for the harvest is ripe.
  Go in, tread,
    for the winepress is full.
  The vats overflow,
    for their evil is great.
14   Multitudes, multitudes,
    in the valley of decision!
  For the day of the LORD is near
    in the valley of decision.
15   The sun and the moon are darkened,
    and the stars withdraw their shining.
16   The LORD roars from Zion,
    and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
    and the heavens and the earth quake.
  But the LORD is a refuge to his people,
    a stronghold to the people of Israel.

17   “So you shall know that I am the LORD your God,
    who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain.
  And Jerusalem shall be holy,
    and strangers shall never again pass through it.
18   “And in that day
  the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
    and the hills shall flow with milk,
  and all the streambeds of Judah
    shall flow with water;
  and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD
    and water the Valley of Shittim.
19   “Egypt shall become a desolation
    and Edom a desolate wilderness,
  for the violence done to the people of Judah,
    because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20   But Judah shall be inhabited forever,
    and Jerusalem to all generations.
21   I will avenge their blood,
    blood I have not avenged,
    for the LORD dwells in Zion.”

Mark 3:1–6 (Listen)

3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Psalm 56 (Listen)

To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

56:1   Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
    all day long an attacker oppresses me;
  my enemies trample on me all day long,
    for many attack me proudly.
  When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
  In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me?
  All day long they injure my cause;
    all their thoughts are against me for evil.
  They stir up strife, they lurk;
    they watch my steps,
    as they have waited for my life.
  For their crime will they escape?
    In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
  You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?
  Then my enemies will turn back
    in the day when I call.
    This I know, that God is for me.
10   In God, whose word I praise,
    in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11   in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can man do to me?
12   I must perform my vows to you, O God;
    I will render thank offerings to you.
13   For you have delivered my soul from death,
    yes, my feet from falling,
  that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

Proverbs 10:14–16 (Listen)

14   The wise lay up knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.
15   A rich man's wealth is his strong city;
    the poverty of the poor is their ruin.
16   The wage of the righteous leads to life,
    the gain of the wicked to sin.

Mon 16 April, 2018


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