Eirene 5

Ephesians 2:13-16

In a lesson about Jeremiah and the potter (Jeremiah 18:1-10) I was taught that potters will take pieces of broken pottery and mix them in new clay. The potter takes two substances that are normally separated and brings them together to be a new creation, the two parts blending into one substance. The broken bits give strength to what is made.

In the same way, Jesus, through his brokenness that brings reconciliation, gives us strength and peace. Paul presents the idea quite clearly. How have we been brought near to God? Who is our peace? What has Jesus done? What was the purpose of this?

Although primarily directed at the Gentiles who now believe in Jesus, this is a summing up of the Gospel message for all believers. Jesus came to remove that barrier of sin that separates us from God. Through his sacrifice he brings us together with him so that we are all made one – one body, the body of Christ. All believers are then made into part of the body of Christ.

Like the clay, Jesus becomes part of who we are. We are given strength. We are made into a new creation, a better creation. Clay by itself will not have the strength and integrity of clay mixed with broken pieces of pottery.

A good potter will not keep the clay and the pottery separate. The barrier will be removed and the two will be made into one. The broken parts will give strength to the clay.

We are no longer separated from Jesus or from God, the Father. Nor are we separated from others. We are not separated from our hope of eternal life.

As we are part of the body of Christ, one with Jesus, then Jesus is within us. And his presence in us is a source of peace for us. We can be at peace knowing we are at one with the Savior.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to remind yourself that you are one with Jesus?

Eirene 4

Philippians 4:6-7

Many years ago we encountered some financial and career struggles – job loss, debts, tight budget. The problems brought sleepless nights and hours of wringing our hands. Eventually things turned around and improved, but what sticks with me is the memory of the fear I had in that difficult time.

We have already looked at the verse just prior to this passage. The church at Philippi is experiencing some conflict, but Paul encourages them to rejoice. What attitude should they have? How should they present their requests to God? How is God’s peace described? What will it do?

We know that there was conflict in the church at Philippi – large or small, we do not know. Regardless of the size of the conflict, Paul encourages a Godly attitude in the approach of the faithful.

They should not be anxious about anything. They should have no fears or worries. Instead, they should trust that God will be with them and answer their prayers. But these prayers should be offered with thanksgiving, with the gratitude that comes in knowing that God is with us in all things.

When the faithful have achieved that type of confidence, of trust and thanksgiving for God’s presence, then they will achieve peace in their hearts. Once they have achieved peace in their hearts, they can address all disputes and disagreements with a peaceful attitude. Then that inner peace will flow to the outward relationships.

Over the years I have grown in my faith and learned to trust completely in the Lord. There are times when the future is uncertain. There are times when challenges present themselves. But I no longer have the fear that I once had.

The reason my fear is gone has nothing to do with my finances, my family, my age, or any other tangible thing. I have peace in my heart because I know I can trust and rely in the Lord.

The inner peace I have from God flows out in my life and helps bring peace in all things.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Find the one thing that brings you the most anxiety and offer the situation to the Lord in prayer.

Eirene 3

Psalm 122:6-8

When I was in high school my family lived across the street from a very nice family who kept an eye on our house all the time. At times their “watchfulness” became “nosiness,” but for the most part it was a comfort to know that very little could happen to us without someone else knowing about it. If ever there was an accident or emergency someone would respond.

Knowing someone was watching out for us brought a sense of peace.

The writer of Psalm 122 is praising Jerusalem, celebrating that this city is the center of the Jewish faith. What does the psalmist urge others to do? Who will benefit from this type of prayer?

Although meant to be a prayer for peace in the city of Jerusalem, the words of this psalm would apply to any religious group. The desire for peace can also be intended for a church, a gathering of believers, or any faith organization.

Whenever two or more are gathered, there the Lord is also. But, whenever two or more are gathered there will be conflict at times. But, those who are in step with the Spirit should exhibit the fruit of peace. Those who are true believers should be aware that conflicts in their faith family may arise, but they should be prepared for these occasions.

The first way to prepare for such situations is to be in earnest prayer that there will indeed be peace among the believers. As Christians we know that God hears our prayers. As believers we know peace can be achieved if all who are part of the body of Christ will display the fruit of peace by living with an attitude of peace, desiring peace, and hoping for peace.

We can’t keep conflicts from ever happening, but I believe conflicts can be reduced in amount and severity by taking a peaceful, Christian approach to all that we do. It begins with those who are in step with the Spirit being those who watch over the flock and provide a sense of peace.

If we can approach all decisions and all of our involvement in our faith organizations with the attitude that “For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’” then we are much more likely to have a faith life that serves the Lord in love and peace.

You can be part of the peace that exists in your worship organization if you will be among those who watch over your place of worship with the frequent prayer for peace within its walls.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Make it a regular part of your prayer life (weekly, monthly) to pray for peace within your church.

Eirene 2

Mark 4:35-41

As a child, one of biggest fears was tornadoes. The thought of that unpredictable devastation scared me beyond reason, so much so that whenever the sky darkened during the spring and summer I would experience feelings of panic.

My father was able to accept he fact that the weather is beyond our control and that we just need to trust God for our safety. Seeing his calm attitude, no matter what the weather, gave me a sense of peace.
In Mark we have a story of a strong storm. Where are Jesus and his followers going? What happens as they cross the lake? Where is Jesus when the storm hits? What does Jesus do?

I believe this story is intended to mean many things. A sudden storm blows in and the boat is nearly swamped – nearly filled with water – yet Jesus sleeps through all this. The disciples can do nothing but quake in fear and whine that their teacher doesn’t care. But Jesus is able, with just a few words, to stop all the chaos. And these followers are amazed.

Scholars have pointed out that this storm story takes place when Jesus expands his ministry from Judea to the Gentile territories in the are. He is going somewhere new, somewhere that can seem a bit frightening. Yet, Jesus is able to overcome the storms he will face.

This story can also apply to all of our lives. Each one of us faces storms in our lives, and not just wind and rain. We face emotional storms – the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, broken relationships, physical illness. We may think the “boat” of our life is about to sink.

What we need to do is find the peace of calling on Jesus, just as the disciples did. But, rather than doubting – “don’t you care?” – you can turn to Jesus in confidence – “I know you care, and I need you.”

Jesus may not remove the storm, but we can find the peace of knowing that no matter what, he is with us. And that should give us peace in our hearts, peace enough to face the storms of life.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Is your cry to Jesus “don’t you care” or is it “I know you care?”

Eirene 1

Philippians 4:1-3

Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, a gathering of believers which (as we have mentioned earlier in our 10/2 Grow) probably began with the conversion of Lydia (Acts 16:12-14). Paul has a history with these people. What is his attitude in verse 1? What is going on between Euodia and Syntyche? Who does Paul invite to help out? According to verse 3, what is the history of these two women?

Paul and all the believers in Philippi may have had a good relationship when he last saw them, but a dispute seems to have come up. It is clear from what is being stated that dissension has broken out between the two women Euodia and Syntyche. What that dispute is can not be determined, but it must be large enough that it is worth mentioning in a letter from Paul.

Is it possible this disagreement between these women is splitting the church? After all, Paul has encouraged the others in the church to help them resolve their differences. And apparently these are important people, because they have a history with Paul contending at his side for the sake of the gospel.

Well, I would say that it doesn’t matter who these two are or what the disagreement is. Paul urges them to agree “in the Lord.” What could that mean? Agreeing in the Lord could mean that although they may disagree on certain specifics, they agree in that they believe the same things, desire the same success for the church, and they both accept the same Savior.

It could also be a plea from Paul that they learn to agree so that the kingdom of the Lord may be furthered and not hindered.

Regardless, it is important for Christians to learn to agree or disagree in the Lord. It is essential that if an area of contention should arise, we should not allow our disagreement to grow into a dispute, a fight, or any rift where hatred and anger enter in.

We do not have to agree with every aspect of all our Christian brothers and sisters, but we do need to agree to accept one another, love one another, be joyful with one another, and be at peace with one another. Differences between Christians need to find a common ground, be resolved, and be accepted so that peace and love will prevail.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Is there a fellow Christians with whom you disagree? Can you find the common ground you both agree on?