Peace In Tribulation

“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

Here is a perplexing phrase from Jesus, directed towards His closest companions. In this life they, and by extension we, can bank on suffering through trials, and all this on the planet which Jesus not only  brought into being but subsequently subdued after humanity’s rebellion made it unruly. Jesus triumphed over it by living a life of complete purity (despite being tempted in every way) and conquering it once and for all by His death and resurrection. And yet Jesus tells us that not even the cross undoes the trouble we experience presently, “In the world you will have tribulation.”

While tribulation is guaranteed (even for believers)—bushfires still devastate and Christians are still martyred—Jesus unlocks for us the means to meet it head on by making a deep-seated peace available to us in Himself and through what He taught.

Lord Jesus, equip us, by Your Word, so that we may mimic You, being courageous in the face of suffering and overcoming this world. Help us remain in You that we may know Your peace amidst this world’s tribulations.

Prioritise Prayer

Despite the busyness and all of the demands of ministry, Paul did not neglect the discipline of prayer. Instead—after requesting prayer of the Romans—he modelled it, rounding out Romans 15 with prayer:

I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. – Romans 15:30-33 (ESV)

Paul soon moves to bring the letter to the gathering in Rome to a close, this time with a prayer of praise (Romans 16:25-27):

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (ESV)

It is not sufficient to just give alms or merely talk to people about Jesus, these things need to be accompanied with prayer. Of course there is no guarantee that prayer will sanctify our actions (sometimes our actions are plain sinful), nor will prayer make everything turn out the way we hope. However, if we do things without praying, how can that be in accordance with God’s will? In many instances, the difference between doing what we want and what God wants, will be prayer. If you take nothing else away from what I’ve been saying on Romans, please, soak everything in prayer, absolutely drench it. We need to douse every situation and person we encounter in prayer, and watch God light it all up by His Spirit.

It seems fitting, then, to finish this series of blogs on Romans by casting our cares on our Loving Father:

Magnificent Father, when our lives get busy, one of the first casualties to go is time spent chatting with You. We pray for all those reading these words, don’t let any of us deviate from the privilege of conversing with You. As we seek your face may we know Your peace. Let us embody Your strength as we accept the news about our Messiah, Jesus. As we trust in Jesus and what He achieved for us by the cross, bring about obedience in us. We struggle together on behalf of those who risk their lives for Your gospel, please let their service be warmly received and rescue them from the ranks of stubborn Jesus refusers. Help us see that, through Jesus, you have placed in us the words of eternal life, how tragic to imagine could we ever keep Jesus to ourselves? Don’t let us squander such abundant fruit. Give us hearts that spill out because of what Jesus has done for us. Make our hearts pine for the wellbeing of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, regardless of where they are, or how different they are from us. Give us agony over the eternal destination of those we love most, may our love and care for them match Your care and affection for us. Unite us in the favour and protection of Jesus and in His name cast satan under our feet so we may trample him. Purify us by removing disruption and dissension caused by the unholy trinity of money, sex and power. Remake us with generosity in place of greed, holy wedded union, or satisfied and sexualy pure single-life, in place of godless sex, and deep humility in loving service to Jesus, instead of grasping for power. Replace our reluctance to get involved with a willingness to help others. Raise up willing workers from among us, who desire to tell people all about what Jesus has done, and make us all bold for Jesus. Amen

A Closer Look (Part II)

29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. – Romans 15:29-33 (ESV)

Paul highlights the importance of prayer by requesting it of the Romans, and also by praying for them.

Paul is confident (verse 29) of the abundant favour and protection of Jesus when rocks up in Rome. Paul gets along side the Romans (verse 30) to encourage them because of their shared Lord and Saviour and because of the Spirit’s love, to struggle as one with him in approaching God in prayer for himself, that (verse 31) Paul would be rescued, delivered from the ‘stubborn refusers’ in the Jewish capital, and also to seek God that Paul’s efforts for Jerusalem have an appropriate reception from the ‘holy ones’. Their prayer will also have the further upshot of allowing Paul (verse 32) the great pleasure, in conformity with what God’s wants, of relaxing in the company of the Romans.

Then Paul turns (verse 33) his request for prayer into a prayer for the Romans, that they will experience the company of the God who alleviates disruption and dissension. Amen. Paul expects this God of peace will have them trample Satan under their feet before long (Romans 16:20):

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (ESV)

If you look at the very end of Romans, you will notice Paul concludes the entire letter with prayer for the church in Rome.

Father of Peace, Paul teaches us how vital prayer is. By Your Spirit, unite us as we saturate everything in prayer and, by doing so, to crush Satan under foot.

Beautiful Feet

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. – Revelation 2:18 (ESV)

Next up, Jesus’ feet have the appearance of highly polished bronze. In other words, beautiful to look at. Beautiful because Jesus’ feet brought good news and glad tidings, by proclaiming peace and salvation (Isaiah 52:7). So beautiful, in fact, that His feet were bathed with tears then anointed for burial with perfume (Luke 7:38).

If we back track a little to Revelation 1:15, Jesus’ feet look like superheated metal, glowing in a furnace. The furnace, used to refine and purify metal, which I think alludes to Jesus’ testing when He “learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8; see also Philippians 2:8). It is also God’s good pleasure to place all of Jesus’ enemies under Him, to rest His feet upon (Ps 110:1).

Lord Jesus, we thank and praise to You for Your beautiful feet which heralded, and instituted, terrific news: peace with the Father, ensuing from Your salvation. Your obedience in death is richly rewarded, overcoming our sin and turning us—Your enemies—into friends. Those who remain defiant Your Father transforms into Your footstool, defeated already.

Life and Peace

My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 2:5-7

Via the cross, Jesus enacted God’s covenant. One of life, peace and of fear. Jesus revered His Father’s name. Only truth departed from Jesus’ lips and His feet kept pace with God. So Jesus enables many to repent. If we desire life eternal and peace with God we need to pay close attention to Jesus, the LORD’s delivery boy.

Father, we thank You for Jesus bringing us eternal life and peace with You. Help us fear Your name like Jesus. May we turn from our iniquity and talk and walk like our Saviour, Your Messenger.