Be A Peacemaker

 

‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ Matthew 5:9 NIV

Zig Ziglar told a story about a little guy who was confronted by three big bullies, any one of whom could have flattened him. And clearly, that’s what they had in mind. But the little guy was very bright. He backed away, drew a line in the dirt, backed up a few more steps, looked into the eyes of the biggest bully and said, ‘I dare you to step across that line!’ And of course the bully did. Then the little guy grinned and said, ‘Good, now we’re both on the same side!’

When you find yourself in the midst of conflict, you can decide to do one of two things: become a troublemaker or a peacemaker. You can add to the stress or try to bring a solution. Peacemakers look for common ground and try to get everyone onto it. Their goal is to find a win-win solution.

Barnabas, whose name means ‘Son of Consolation’ or ‘Son of Encouragement’, stood up for the newly-converted Saul of Tarsus. The leaders of the church felt threatened by him, and you could hardly blame them. Saul had been out to kill them. But Barnabas wasn’t thinking about Paul’s violent past; he was considering his value to God. In essence, he was thinking, ‘If we can harness and direct this guy, he can win the race for us.’ And he was proved right. Saul the persecutor became Paul the apostle. But not until Barnabas took a huge risk for him (see Acts 9:26–30).

Peacemaking calls for taking such risks. It means evaluating people by their best moments and qualities. Peacemakers are ‘big picture’ thinkers who are governed by grace, not petty opinions and temporary conditions. So be a peacemaker.

SoulFood: Lam 1:1–3:39, Mk 12:28–44, Ps 108, Prov 13:24–25

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

Lamentations 1–3:39 (Listen)

1:1   How lonely sits the city
    that was full of people!
  How like a widow has she become,
    she who was great among the nations!
  She who was a princess among the provinces
    has become a slave.
  She weeps bitterly in the night,
    with tears on her cheeks;
  among all her lovers
    she has none to comfort her;
  all her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
    they have become her enemies.
  Judah has gone into exile because of affliction
    and hard servitude;
  she dwells now among the nations,
    but finds no resting place;
  her pursuers have all overtaken her
    in the midst of her distress.
  The roads to Zion mourn,
    for none come to the festival;
  all her gates are desolate;
    her priests groan;
  her virgins have been afflicted,
    and she herself suffers bitterly.
  Her foes have become the head;
    her enemies prosper,
  because the LORD has afflicted her
    for the multitude of her transgressions;
  her children have gone away,
    captives before the foe.
  From the daughter of Zion
    all her majesty has departed.
  Her princes have become like deer
    that find no pasture;
  they fled without strength
    before the pursuer.
  Jerusalem remembers
    in the days of her affliction and wandering
  all the precious things
    that were hers from days of old.
  When her people fell into the hand of the foe,
    and there was none to help her,
  her foes gloated over her;
    they mocked at her downfall.
  Jerusalem sinned grievously;
    therefore she became filthy;
  all who honored her despise her,
    for they have seen her nakedness;
  she herself groans
    and turns her face away.
  Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
    she took no thought of her future;
  therefore her fall is terrible;
    she has no comforter.
  “O LORD, behold my affliction,
    for the enemy has triumphed!”
10   The enemy has stretched out his hands
    over all her precious things;
  for she has seen the nations
    enter her sanctuary,
  those whom you forbade
    to enter your congregation.
11   All her people groan
    as they search for bread;
  they trade their treasures for food
    to revive their strength.
  “Look, O LORD, and see,
    for I am despised.”
12   “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
    Look and see
  if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
    which was brought upon me,
  which the LORD inflicted
    on the day of his fierce anger.
13   “From on high he sent fire;
    into my bones he made it descend;
  he spread a net for my feet;
    he turned me back;
  he has left me stunned,
    faint all the day long.
14   “My transgressions were bound into a yoke;
    by his hand they were fastened together;
  they were set upon my neck;
    he caused my strength to fail;
  the Lord gave me into the hands
    of those whom I cannot withstand.
15   “The Lord rejected
    all my mighty men in my midst;
  he summoned an assembly against me
    to crush my young men;
  the Lord has trodden as in a winepress
    the virgin daughter of Judah.
16   “For these things I weep;
    my eyes flow with tears;
  for a comforter is far from me,
    one to revive my spirit;
  my children are desolate,
    for the enemy has prevailed.”
17   Zion stretches out her hands,
    but there is none to comfort her;
  the LORD has commanded against Jacob
    that his neighbors should be his foes;
  Jerusalem has become
    a filthy thing among them.
18   “The LORD is in the right,
    for I have rebelled against his word;
  but hear, all you peoples,
    and see my suffering;
  my young women and my young men
    have gone into captivity.
19   “I called to my lovers,
    but they deceived me;
  my priests and elders
    perished in the city,
  while they sought food
    to revive their strength.
20   “Look, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my stomach churns;
  my heart is wrung within me,
    because I have been very rebellious.
  In the street the sword bereaves;
    in the house it is like death.
21   “They heard my groaning,
    yet there is no one to comfort me.
  All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
    they are glad that you have done it.
  You have brought the day you announced;
    now let them be as I am.
22   “Let all their evildoing come before you,
    and deal with them
  as you have dealt with me
    because of all my transgressions;
  for my groans are many,
    and my heart is faint.”

2:1   How the Lord in his anger
    has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!
  He has cast down from heaven to earth
    the splendor of Israel;
  he has not remembered his footstool
    in the day of his anger.
  The Lord has swallowed up without mercy
    all the habitations of Jacob;
  in his wrath he has broken down
    the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
  he has brought down to the ground in dishonor
    the kingdom and its rulers.
  He has cut down in fierce anger
    all the might of Israel;
  he has withdrawn from them his right hand
    in the face of the enemy;
  he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob,
    consuming all around.
  He has bent his bow like an enemy,
    with his right hand set like a foe;
  and he has killed all who were delightful in our eyes
    in the tent of the daughter of Zion;
  he has poured out his fury like fire.
  The Lord has become like an enemy;
    he has swallowed up Israel;
  he has swallowed up all its palaces;
    he has laid in ruins its strongholds,
  and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah
    mourning and lamentation.
  He has laid waste his booth like a garden,
    laid in ruins his meeting place;
  the LORD has made Zion forget
    festival and Sabbath,
  and in his fierce indignation has spurned king and priest.
  The Lord has scorned his altar,
    disowned his sanctuary;
  he has delivered into the hand of the enemy
    the walls of her palaces;
  they raised a clamor in the house of the LORD
    as on the day of festival.
  The LORD determined to lay in ruins
    the wall of the daughter of Zion;
  he stretched out the measuring line;
    he did not restrain his hand from destroying;
  he caused rampart and wall to lament;
    they languished together.
  Her gates have sunk into the ground;
    he has ruined and broken her bars;
  her king and princes are among the nations;
    the law is no more,
  and her prophets find
    no vision from the LORD.
10   The elders of the daughter of Zion
    sit on the ground in silence;
  they have thrown dust on their heads
    and put on sackcloth;
  the young women of Jerusalem
    have bowed their heads to the ground.
11   My eyes are spent with weeping;
    my stomach churns;
  my bile is poured out to the ground
    because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
  because infants and babies faint
    in the streets of the city.
12   They cry to their mothers,
    “Where is bread and wine?”
  as they faint like a wounded man
    in the streets of the city,
  as their life is poured out
    on their mothers' bosom.
13   What can I say for you, to what compare you,
    O daughter of Jerusalem?
  What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you,
    O virgin daughter of Zion?
  For your ruin is vast as the sea;
    who can heal you?
14   Your prophets have seen for you
    false and deceptive visions;
  they have not exposed your iniquity
    to restore your fortunes,
  but have seen for you oracles
    that are false and misleading.
15   All who pass along the way
    clap their hands at you;
  they hiss and wag their heads
    at the daughter of Jerusalem:
  “Is this the city that was called
    the perfection of beauty,
    the joy of all the earth?”
16   All your enemies
    rail against you;
  they hiss, they gnash their teeth,
    they cry: “We have swallowed her!
  Ah, this is the day we longed for;
    now we have it; we see it!”
17   The LORD has done what he purposed;
    he has carried out his word,
  which he commanded long ago;
    he has thrown down without pity;
  he has made the enemy rejoice over you
    and exalted the might of your foes.
18   Their heart cried to the Lord.
    O wall of the daughter of Zion,
  let tears stream down like a torrent
    day and night!
  Give yourself no rest,
    your eyes no respite!
19   “Arise, cry out in the night,
    at the beginning of the night watches!
  Pour out your heart like water
    before the presence of the Lord!
  Lift your hands to him
    for the lives of your children,
  who faint for hunger
    at the head of every street.”
20   Look, O LORD, and see!
    With whom have you dealt thus?
  Should women eat the fruit of their womb,
    the children of their tender care?
  Should priest and prophet be killed
    in the sanctuary of the Lord?
21   In the dust of the streets
    lie the young and the old;
  my young women and my young men
    have fallen by the sword;
  you have killed them in the day of your anger,
    slaughtering without pity.
22   You summoned as if to a festival day
    my terrors on every side,
  and on the day of the anger of the LORD
    no one escaped or survived;
  those whom I held and raised
    my enemy destroyed.

3:1   I am the man who has seen affliction
    under the rod of his wrath;
  he has driven and brought me
    into darkness without any light;
  surely against me he turns his hand
    again and again the whole day long.
  He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
    he has broken my bones;
  he has besieged and enveloped me
    with bitterness and tribulation;
  he has made me dwell in darkness
    like the dead of long ago.
  He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
    he has made my chains heavy;
  though I call and cry for help,
    he shuts out my prayer;
  he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;
    he has made my paths crooked.
10   He is a bear lying in wait for me,
    a lion in hiding;
11   he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;
    he has made me desolate;
12   he bent his bow and set me
    as a target for his arrow.
13   He drove into my kidneys
    the arrows of his quiver;
14   I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
    the object of their taunts all day long.
15   He has filled me with bitterness;
    he has sated me with wormwood.
16   He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
    and made me cower in ashes;
17   my soul is bereft of peace;
    I have forgotten what happiness is;
18   so I say, “My endurance has perished;
    so has my hope from the LORD.”
19   Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
    the wormwood and the gall!
20   My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
21   But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
22   The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23   they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24   “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”
25   The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
26   It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the LORD.
27   It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.
28   Let him sit alone in silence
    when it is laid on him;
29   let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;
30   let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
    and let him be filled with insults.
31   For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
32   but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33   for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.
34   To crush underfoot
    all the prisoners of the earth,
35   to deny a man justice
    in the presence of the Most High,
36   to subvert a man in his lawsuit,
    the Lord does not approve.
37   Who has spoken and it came to pass,
    unless the Lord has commanded it?
38   Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that good and bad come?
39   Why should a living man complain,
    a man, about the punishment of his sins?

Mark 12:28–44 (Listen)

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

  “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
  “Sit at my right hand,
    until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Psalm 108 (Listen)

A Song. A Psalm of David.

108:1   My heart is steadfast, O God!
    I will sing and make melody with all my being!
  Awake, O harp and lyre!
    I will awake the dawn!
  I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
    I will sing praises to you among the nations.
  For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!
  That your beloved ones may be delivered,
    give salvation by your right hand and answer me!
  God has promised in his holiness:
    “With exultation I will divide up Shechem
    and portion out the Valley of Succoth.
  Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
    Ephraim is my helmet,
    Judah my scepter.
  Moab is my washbasin;
    upon Edom I cast my shoe;
    over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
10   Who will bring me to the fortified city?
    Who will lead me to Edom?
11   Have you not rejected us, O God?
    You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
12   Oh grant us help against the foe,
    for vain is the salvation of man!
13   With God we shall do valiantly;
    it is he who will tread down our foes.

Proverbs 13:24–25 (Listen)

24   Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
    but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
25   The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
    but the belly of the wicked suffers want.

Thu 31 May, 2018


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