From the Pastor
Pastor Mike Burns
903.567.2072 (Ext. 3002)
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PEACE
WHAT IS PEACE?
The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines peace as “The state of harmony that is available to believers through having a right relationship with God and others and is especially associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
Peace is freedom from disturbance and disquieting thoughts. According to Dictionary.com it is “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety and obsession etc.; tranquillity; serenity.”
Peace implies much more than the absence of conflict. The Hebrew word ‘shalom’ means wholeness, completeness, well-being and soundness.
GOD IS OUR PEACE
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
God is peace and the source of our peace. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
He has reconciled us to a peaceful relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
In His kingdom is peace and rest. As children of God, the Holy Spirit within us infuses us with peace and tranquility irrespective of our circumstances as we keep our eyes on Him. The moment we take our eyes away from who God is to us and who we are in Him, and fix them on our circumstances, we will surely lose our peace. Basically, we cannot walk in the fruit of peace unless we know who God is to us, and who we are to Him.
We will not walk in peace until we know and are convinced that God loves us, cares deeply for us, delights in us, is happy with us, provides for us, strengthens us, etc.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
LIVING IN PEACE
Living in peaceful relationships with others can be challenging (to say the very least). However, as Christians, we are to be known and recognized by our fruit of peace. The Bible teaches us to live in harmony with one another and to love others as ourselves (1 Peter 3:8-9.) We are to seek peace and pursue it (where we can). (Psalm 34:14, 1 Peter 3:11.)
We also have to be at peace within ourselves. We cannot live in peace with others if we are at war with ourselves. God created us as His masterpieces. (Ephesians 2:10.) We are of great worth and value and we should see ourselves as such.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PEACE
- Depend exclusively on God for your peace. Know who you are in Christ. Let your identity be fully based on your relationship with Christ. Do not let your peace hang on how someone else perceives you or treats you. Again, do not allow how people treat you determine your peace.
- Plug into God, the source of your peace and purposefully fix your gaze on Him. Spend time worshiping, praying, and fellowshipping with God.
- Renew your mind with the Word. Study and meditate on Scriptures regarding peace.
- Cast your cares on God and trust Him. Learn to turn your worries over to Him. Yes, it’s not easy but it’s possible. God would not require you to do something He has not empowered you to do. Casting your cares is an instruction from Him, therefore, you can do it through His strength in you.
- Obey God in all areas of your life and avoid sin. If you sin, repent and ask for forgiveness immediately. Do not wait, do not postpone. The longer you wait, the more restless and agitated your spirit will become.
- Honestly seek peaceful relationships with people. Desire it, make a deliberate effort to pursue it and ask God for help.
- Walk in love. Give love freely, expecting nothing back. Repay evil with good. Show mercy.
- Forgive! Forgive!! Forgive!!! Unforgiveness will poison your soul and rob you of peace.
- Watch your words. Be slow to speak and give a gentle answer. Stop murmuring, grumbling and complaining.
- Be humble. Be content. DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS.
- Be thankful.
- Be wise. Do not overload your schedule. Learn to say “no” when appropriate.
- Greet people before they greet you. Give a handshake. Give a hug.
- Do something fun and enjoyable etc, etc, etc.
Published on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 @ 4:25 PM CDT
The original thanksgiving celebration was held by the Pilgrim settlers in Massachusetts during their second winter in America in December, 1621. The first winter had killed 44 of the original 102 colonists. At one point their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn apiece, but then an unexpected trading vessel arrived, swapping them beaver pelts for grain, providing for their severe need. The next summer’s crop brought hope, and Governor William Bradford decreed that December 13, 1621, be set aside as a day of feasting and prayer to show the gratitude of the colonists that they were still alive.
These Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom and opportunity in America, gave thanks to God for His provision for them in helping them find 20 acres of cleared land, for the fact that there were no hostile Native Americans in that area, for their newfound religious freedom, and for God’s provision of an interpreter to the Native Americans in Squanto. Along with the feasting and games involving the colonists and more than 80 Native Americans (who added to the feast by bringing wild turkeys and venison), prayers, sermons, and songs of praise were important in the celebration. Three days were spent in feasting and prayer.
From that time forward, Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a day to give thanks to God for His gracious and sufficient provision. President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November, in 1863, “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” In 1941, Congress ruled that after 1941, the fourth Thursday of November be observed as Thanksgiving Day and be a legal holiday.
Scripturally, we find things related to the issue of thanksgiving nearly from cover to cover. Individuals offered up sacrifices out of gratitude in the book of Genesis. The Israelites sang a song of thanksgiving as they were delivered from Pharaoh’s army after the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 15). Later, the Mosaic Law set aside three times each year when the Israelites were to gather together. All three of these times [Unleavened Bread (also called the Feast of the Passover) (Exodus 12:15-20), Harvest or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-21), and the Feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-36)] involved remembering God’s provision and grace. Harvest and Tabernacles took place specifically in relation to God’s provision in the harvest of various fruit trees and crops. The book of Psalms is packed full of songs of thanksgiving, both for God’s grace to the Israelite people as a whole through His mighty deeds, as well as for His individual graces to each of us.
In the New Testament, there are repeated admonitions to give thanks to God. Thanksgiving is to always be a part of our prayers. Some of the most remembered passages on the giving of thanks are the following:
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men" (1 Timothy 2:1).
Of all of God’s gifts, the greatest one He has given is the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus paid our sin debt, so a holy and just Judge could forgive us our sins and give us eternal life as a free gift. This gift is available to those who will call on Christ to save them from their sin in simple but sincere faith (John 3:16; Romans 3:19-26; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-10). For this gift of His Son, the gift which meets our greatest need, the Apostle Paul says, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15).
We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting.
May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material. God is good, and every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17). For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30). May He find us to be His grateful children.
We Love You. Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Mike and Janet
Published on Thursday, November 23, 2023 @ 6:42 AM CDT
What are the spiritual roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Can the conflict be solved politically?
The Meaning for the Church
Why should Gentiles in the Church of the 21st Century be concerned about what is happening among the Jewish people in the Middle East today? Why should we be following the events in that part of the world with bated breath? Why should we be concerned about the survival of
Israel? Why should we be searching the Scriptures daily concerning prophecies about the Middle East? Why should we be praying daily for the peace of Jerusalem? There are three reasons.
The events in the Middle East are proof that God is faithful to His promises. God is fulfilling in detail promises that He made to the Jewish people 2,500 years ago. And as we see each of these promises fulfilled, we can likewise be assured that God is going to fulfill every promise He has made to the Church.
God has promised that one day soon, Jesus will appear in the heavens, the dead in Christ will be resurrected, the living believers will be caught up to meet the Lord in the sky, and both the living and dead will be given new, glorified bodies. We will return to heaven with Jesus where we will be judged of our works to determine our degrees of reward. We will also celebrate our union with Jesus in a great feast that will symbolize the union of the Bride (the Church) with her Bridegroom (Jesus).
We will then return to earth with Jesus to see Him crowned as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will reign over all the world from Jerusalem. We will be scattered all over the world to assist Him in His reign, serving as mayors, governors, presidents, judges, and teachers. We will see the earth flooded with peace, righteousness, and justice — as the waters cover the sea.
At the end of His reign, we will be transferred to the new Jerusalem He is preparing now. From that vantage point, we will watch as the earth is superheated with fire, and the pollution of Satan’s last revolt is burned away. Out of that fiery inferno will come a new earth. We will then be lowered down to that new earth inside the new Jerusalem, and God Himself will descend to the new earth to live in our presence forever.
Those are the marvelous promises that have been made to what the Bible calls “overcomers” (Revelation 21: 1-7) — that is, to those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior (1 John 5:1-5). As I witness God fulfilling His promises to the Jews, my hope soars concerning
the promises God has made to the Church. I know He will fulfill every one of them.
The events in the Middle East are a testimony to God’s unfathomable grace. Think about it for a moment — any god created by the mind of Man would have annihilated the Jews a long time ago. Only a God of grace would have put up with the Jews and continued to love them. Their own prophets refer to them as “stiff-necked,” “stubborn,” and “rebellious.” Yet, despite their rejection of God as king of their nation, and their rejection of His Son as king of their hearts, God continues to love them and pursue them with the intention of bringing a great remnant to salvation. That’s grace.
When I first started preaching about the Jews, my wife came to me and said, “When you emphasize how much God loves the Jews, you make me want to be a Jew.” I made two points in response. First, I told her that she really didn’t want to be a Jew because if she were one, the overwhelming odds are that she would have a spiritual veil over her eyes that would keep her from recognizing Jesus as her Messiah. Then I made an even more important point. I stated that God is not doing one thing for the Jews that He is not willing to do for everyone.
The Jews continue to this day to be witnesses of God. Their history shows what it means to have a relationship with God. When they are faithful, He blesses. When they are rebellious, He disciplines. When they repent, He forgives and forgets and starts blessing again. And so it is with any person or nation.
The Jews are currently under discipline. They have not yet repented, and they therefore do not deserve to be regathered to their homeland. They do not merit God’s love and care. But neither do you or I. The only thing any of us deserve is death. We have hope only because our God is a God of grace.
The events in the Middle East are evidence that Jesus is returning soon. The Bible says that Jesus will return when the Jews are back in their homeland and their capital city. It also says that it will be a time when all the world has come together against Israel over the issue of the control of Jerusalem. The Jewish state was re-established on May 14, 1948. The Jews re-occupied the city of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967. Since 1991, all the world has been pressuring the Israeli government to surrender all or part of Jerusalem. The fulfillment of these prophecies makes it clear that we are on the threshold of the Tribulation. That means the Rapture of the Church is imminent. Jesus is at the very gates of Heaven, waiting for His
Father’s command to return. We are living on borrowed time.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), and remember, that when you do so, you are really praying for the return of Jesus, for Jerusalem will not enjoy true peace until the Prince of Peace returns.
Published on Thursday, November 16, 2023 @ 1:19 PM CDT
What are the spiritual roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Can the conflict be solved politically?
Why has God regathered the Jews to their homeland? What is the likely future of Israel? What does it all mean to the Church?
God has regathered the Jews from the four corners of the earth because He has a plan of redemption for a great remnant of them. His plan is to gather them to their homeland and bring all the nations of the world together against them over the issue of the control of Jerusalem. This will ultimately lead to another holocaust that will be worse than the one perpetrated by the Nazis. Zechariah says that two-thirds of the Jews will die (Zechariah 13:8). But out of that horrible experience, the Jews will be brought to the end of themselves, with no one to turn to for help except God. That’s when the remnant will repent of their rejection of the Messiah and will accept Him as their Savior (Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1). The apostle Paul taught this concept in the New Testament in Romans 9-11. He argues that a great remnant of the Jews (Romans 9:27) will turn to the Lord and be saved (Romans 11:25-26).
The Likely Future
There are some tough days ahead for the Jews of Israel. I believe the most likely scenario is a major war that will result in Arab missile attacks on Tel Aviv and Haifa. To survive, the Israelis will have to respond with nuclear weapons. This is probably the reason the Bible teaches that Damascus will cease to exist in the end times (Isaiah 17:1-14 and Jeremiah 49:23-27).
With the destruction of Damascus, the Arab world will be thrown into a panic. That’s when they will call for help from their natural ally, the Russians. The Russians will then send a great army to destroy Israel. The Russians will be motivated not only by their ingrained anti-Semitism, but also by their desire to seize all the Arab oil fields in the Middle East.
The Bible says the Russian army will be destroyed supernaturally on the hills of Israel in such a way that even the Israelis will know that they were not responsible for it (Ezekiel 38:17-23 and 39:1-6). At that point the whole world will be thrown into a panic, and that atmosphere of hysteria will provide the perfect opportunity for the Antichrist to step forward with the “perfect” plan for peace in the Middle East.
Next: Part 8 – The Meaning for the Church
Published on Thursday, November 16, 2023 @ 8:52 AM CDT