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A friend of mine referred an expression to me that he felt was “great” and “worth passing on”, although neither of us is certain as to who originally coined the phrase, “No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.”

In this world of brokenness and angst, few will argue that there is very little peace to be found. With the mists of confusion that constantly swirl about us, attempting to obscure all surety of truth, the fumes of inner turmoil very nearly choke the good air of hope within us and genuine peace appears to be all but unattainable.

What is it about peace that leaves everyone talking about it but so very few ever finding it? Is it merely the absence of conflict as we all learn to live without making waves in the ocean of society? Or perhaps it is really just some vague and esoteric inner feeling of contentment and tranquility that only a very few will ever find while the rest of us wallow in misery, hatred and bitterness. Hmm.

Well, there obviously has to be more to it than accepting evils in the world as they are without ever challenging them as we drift in the currents of the status quo. And let us certainly hope that the latter is not true since “wallowing” is never pretty and only underscores the ugly and repulsive condition of rationalizing one’s miseries. Besides, who wants to “wallow” when we were created to “fly?”

Peace is first and foremost the uniting of our lives with the life of God. It involves the ending of hostilities as we lay down our arms of selfish ambition and personal rebellion against the will of God, as well as both blatant and subtle idolatry. It is essentially the surrender of our lives to Him as we raise the white flag of submission and cry out, “Not my will, Father, but Yours be done,” (from Luke 22:42).

“Remember that you were… separated from Christ… having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, Who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility… that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:12-17 ESV).

The peace of God carries with it a profound sense of freedom in our new identity in Jesus Christ!

The peace of God carries with it a profound sense of freedom in our new identity in Jesus Christ!

Thus, God’s zealous ambition to judge sin and yet provide us the means by which we as men and women may be set free from that judgment and be established in a personal relationship with almighty God has been realized.

As we place our faith in His sacrifice on the cross, repenting of our sin and confessing our need for a Savior, He washes our sin from His sight and receives us as children.

“Therefore, since we have been justified (made right) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:1-2a ESV).

Peace is, in large part, our ability to stand free and unashamed in the presence of God, confident in His power to forgive and wash clean the muck of our lives.

But peace is also a confidence in our spiritual inheritance. Having once been enemies of God, we have been transformed by faith into His children, subject to not only a new and exalted title (as a “son” or “daughter” of the King of kings) but also an entirely new reality, invisible perhaps to the naked eye, but the very real fruit of our new identity as citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Consequently, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” (Romans 5:2b-5 ESV).

This peace of God carries with it a profound sense of freedom as we revel in our new identity, released from apprehension about our present painful circumstances or a plague of uncertain days ahead. And how can you not rejoice to know that He has settled on the cross forever the uncertainty of your eternal destiny if only you’ve placed your faith in Him? If you have really trusted Christ as your savior, then you’ve been set free!

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by Whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:15-17 ESV).

And don’t you need the anchor of assurance that God’s promises are in these turbulent times? Don’t you need to know that there is an eternal hope that can never be quenched or even dimmed by the cares of this life if you’ve trusted Christ as your all-in-all?

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 ESV).

Finally, as peace with God secures a new standing for us in our relationship with Him and a new outlook on life as we’ve been brought into His royal family, that peace of Christ must find its way into not only our attitudes but into our relationships with one another as well.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body” (Colossians 3:12-15a ESV).

Jesus Christ has secured for all who believe in Him an open door to know the Holy One as Father. Knowing Him as Father sets into place our perceptions about our worth and eternal destiny, giving us sure footing for the handling of the “here-and-now”. And now, having Him as Lord of our lives and with His Spirit at work in us enabling us to love others as He loves us, we have the means to supernaturally show the world what true peace between people can look like as we joyfully serve Him together in unity and love.

What a great saying for it is infinitely true: “No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.” In the human heart in which there is no acknowledgement of God, there cannot be peace. But where the heart has shed its darkness and sin and allowed God’s healing love to come in, there is a peace that no power can overcome.

Said the Savior to a troubled group of men on a dark night long ago, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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That You May Prove

They all got quiet, turned and began to stare at me.

They all got quiet, turned and began to stare at me.

Although I had been a Christian since I was a much younger child, I was confronted with one of the most important Christian questions with which we must come to grips when I was twelve years old. Some Christian teens, in a youth group that I attended, were asked to lead the worship service one Sunday morning at the church. After a great deal of brainstorming, different roles and contributions were thought up and assigned.

Two girls would each sing a praise song. Another would lead a prayer. One teen boy would plan to play a tribute to God with his trumpet. Two other boys would be greeters before the service. One older teen girl was going to share a testimony as to how wonderfully different her life became when she met Jesus as her personal Savior.

And then someone asked, “Now… who will preach the sermon?” I have since wondered if there had not been a conspiracy afoot with that bunch. They all got quiet, turned and began to stare at me.

I stared back. After a moment or two of exchanging our meaningful stares, my blood began to run cold and I abruptly sat all four feet of my metal chair down from where I had been leaning back against the wall. “What?” I asked, breaking the silence.

“Well, we thought maybe you could preach the sermon,” they said. I laughed nervously, trying to sound like I thought that it was merely a joke. For some reason though, my blood ran even colder. But I didn’t answer. I thought that they might burst out laughing at any moment and move on to someone who could really preach the sermon.

But they didn’t move on. They just kept staring at me. “We’re serious,” they said without a trace of humor in their expressions.

“Uh, I don’t think so. Couldn’t I do some other job?” I asked imploringly.

“Nope… we’ve got everything covered and all the other jobs are filled. There is only one thing left to do and you’re the only one who isn’t already listed as doing something.”

“I don’t think so, guys. I don’t even know what I’d talk about,” I said. “Besides, I’m just twelve; who would even listen to me anyway?”

They let it drop, looking disappointed (probably because they realized that one of them would now have to share the sermon). I slipped out that evening after the meeting breathing a sigh of relief. “That was close!” I thought on my way home.

But God had other plans for me. When I got home, I reached into my pocket and found a small Bible verse that one of my youth leaders had written for me some time before. It was also a verse that my grandparents had quoted to me, sharing with me an admonition to not settle for anything less than God’s dreams for my life.

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 NAS).

I have learned that as we read His Word, God can embrace us so closely to Himself, that there is no escaping the realization that you have encountered Him. So it was with this instance.

Like a thunderbolt, the depth and breadth of God’s mercy for me was starkly pictured in my mind. The image of God’s Son, dying upon a roughly hewn cross for my benefit, was so clearly etched in my mind that I was overcome with awe and love for Him. Then a little shame crept in, too, as I understood that were He as reluctant to take on my punishment for sin as I was for speaking in public for Him, I would have had no Savior. But thankfully He had not been reluctant in securing my salvation for me. He had not dragged His holy feet all the way to Golgotha, complaining about how “it isn’t fair” or whining “can’t someone else do it instead?”

Nor had He reluctantly received me as His child when I turned from my sin and placed my faith in Him. Jesus is by no means a “reluctant savior.”

“A living sacrifice?” I mused as I reflected over my dilemma. “It does seem pretty reasonable. So how can I say no to Him in this?” I walked slowly over to our telephone, dialed the number of one of the youth group leaders and told him that I had changed my mind.

“Great!” he exclaimed. “I’ll put you down for it.”

When the night of our service finally arrived, the church building seemed full… fuller than I could ever remember. But then again, I was petrified with fright. My imagination was undoubtedly inflating the reality.

The music was wonderful as the girls used their voice talents for God. The boy who played the horn had every heart thumping as his music rallied the soul around the banner of Christ’s love. The greeters were faithful and gracious, making sure that everyone who walked through the door felt welcomed. The testimony of the girl was powerful, moving, inspiring and… long. In fact, she spoke for about twenty minutes (far and away beyond the five minutes allotted to her). Still, I think every eye in the building had shed a tear as living water poured through this young woman’s words.

When my turn finally came, I was glad that the podium was very large and made of heavy wood. It both hid my trembling knees and also served as a solid foundation: I felt a need for something strong and steady on which to lean.

Then I opened my mouth and began to talk about the verse that God was using to tame my wild heart and aided me in rendering it to Him a “living sacrifice.”

I spoke only about eight minutes but when I was done with what I believed God had given me to share, I knew that I had done His will and that my obedience had pleased Him. As far as the message goes, I think things went well… at least, people told me that they had. Even if people simply felt that they just need to be nice to the “green-horn” twelve-year-old, I didn’t mind for I had done the one thing that needed to be done: I had offered myself to my Savior as a living sacrifice. And I had found that as I depend on Him, I have truly found Someone strong and steady on which to lean… a fact which daily renews my soul as I turn to Him for wisdom, grace and strength.

That event was the occasion that God used to bring me face-to-face with how I was going to live my life. Would I live it for myself? Or for God and others? The realization that living my life for Christ was both “reasonable” and rewarding anchored me in years to come and is the bedrock for how I live my life now. My heart’s desire is that others also know that He Who mercifully calls us to Himself through faith in Christ is worthy of our love and service. And take heart! There is surrounding a wholehearted walk with Jesus an orchard of unimaginable blessing as well as streams of cool refreshment that flow from fellowship with Him.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Several years ago, as some have heard me tell the story, I had the opportunity to go with several teams of college students to the Middle East to do some ministry. On an occasion in which we could “take the day off”, I arranged for my team to tag along with a group of Dutch workers on a hiking expedition in the desert surrounding the city. We started early, knowing that the relatively cool ninety degrees would quickly roar up to nearly 120 in the blazing sun, and were soon far out in the rocky waste, toting water bottles on our shoulders.

We walked a few miles under the scorching sun, explored some gullies, and listened to the absolute silence of the desert wilderness enjoying the reminder that one needs to pull aside from the noise of life and work at times to find a quiet place to meet with God in prayer and in reading and meditating on His Word.

During the day, we stopped to drink some coffee in the shade of some large rocks. By the way, if you think drinking regular coffee in that kind of heat is for the truly dedicated coffee drinker, than you should try Bedouin coffee: so strong and thick that it is actually syrupy and, given that it is also loaded with sugar, it definitely perks you up!

Soon our “coffee break” was over and we turned to head back to our cars. As we trudged our way along the bottom of a dusty ravine, we came upon a boulder covered with bones. Recently gnawed camel bones, to be precise.

A Dutchman named John, who had been working in the area for a number of years, pointed out a large opening in the side of the cliff wall behind the boulder. “Dat is a jackal den,” he explained. “Let’s see if der is anyone at home.” He reached down, picked up a baseball sized stone and tossed it inside the hole. When nothing happened, he got down on his hands and knees and began to crawl inside. “Da coast is clear. Come on!” he called over his shoulder.

Jackel den

On whatever path God calls us, He accompanies us and He has sent others ahead to show us that we too can make it through and that He will never leave us stranded in those tight spots if we’ll trust Him.

Our little group just stared as he disappeared into the darkness of the jackal den. Then we stared at each other and wondered what to do. Finally, one of the people in John’s group shrugged his shoulders and headed into the cave as well. Of course, I thought that they were both crazy at first, but I was then struck by the thought that I might never have another chance to crawl into a jackal’s den. Why that thought suddenly kindled within me such an irresistible impulse to explore the cave I may never know, but I suddenly found myself also crouching down to climb into the cave after them.

The first twenty feet or so in the cool darkness were easy. I moved on my hands and knees able at first to hear the two ahead of me as they pressed ahead. After awhile, however, the tunnel began to wind around. The walls on either side drew in and the ceiling dropped so low that I was forced to lie flat and crawl on my elbows. When the tunnel narrowed even further, I began to get nervous. When I realized that I couldn’t hear the others anymore, I began to panic.

I had never experienced the wave of unreasonable terror that began to rise up inside me as images of desert snakes and scorpions appeared in my mind’s eye. Here I was, stuck in a tight spot, alone and in complete darkness, prey to who knows what lay in wait. Stuck in that tight spot, I was too afraid to move forward but too ashamed to go back in defeat.

But just as quickly came the realization that if there really were snakes and scorpions in the tunnel with me, more than likely one of the two ahead of me would have been bitten already. But they hadn’t been. They had passed through and had made it.

I then breathed a sigh of relief, shrugged off the feelings of fear, and pressed on. Soon I left the darkness of the tunnel behind and came out into sunlight again to join my companions. My team members simply looked at me as if I was crazy but I just laughed knowing that I had something to tell them that I am now sharing with you.

There are occasions in life in which we must leave the safety and warmth of what we’ve always known. When in these tight spots, we may feel that we are lost in the darkness of the unknown, that we are all alone, that we are being pressed in upon every side, and that something lies in wait to hurt us and destroy us.

But the Bible says in Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

These witnesses are simply those Believers who have “gone before” us (see Hebrews 11). There has been since the beginning of time others who have been called out of their own affairs to join God in relationship with Him. What you wrestle with, they also have wrestled with. Some have given up and turned back. Some, too busy or too afraid of the cost, have chosen to not follow Him at all.

How sad. God gives us an opportunity to join Him in the “great adventure” of knowing Him and too often we say, “It’s too scary. It’s too hard.”

But some have come to realize that on whatever path God calls us, He accompanies us and He has sent others ahead to show us that we too can make it through and that He will never leave us stranded in those tight spots if we’ll trust Him. As Savior, He’ll see us through them no matter how long and winding, dark or frightening the path and He Himself will be there to greet us at the end.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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skepticWhile our response to a another’s need for Christ should be the bold, but loving sharing of the Truth of Jesus, the solution to resistance is not a more persuasive argument, but the Holy Spirit’s opening of the person’s mind and the softening of his or her heart.

So pray accordingly… even as you bear witness to Christ, serving in His name and telling of His grace.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Young man or woman,

Jesus is God’s Good News to you.  He is the message of hope that satan does not want you to hear.

A message to you, young man or woman

Place your faith in Jesus as your only hope for heaven and happiness and see that He is faithful like no other.

And if you do hear, it’s a message that he doesn’t want you to believe.

And if you do believe, it’s a message he’ll do everything in his power to keep you from fully experiencing.

Just for a moment, let the static of the world and the lies of satan fade into the background.  In this moment, come to know that Jesus loves you and died for your sin.

Place your faith in Jesus as your only hope for heaven and happiness and see that He is faithful like no other.

That is my prayer for you and it is my hope that you’ll trust Him now before you spend your life on something less, before you find that you’ve sown for yourself only a garden of regret.

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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As we click through various “news stories” on the web or watch them on our televisions, and lest we despair as we hear or read of new problems or horrors characterizing our world today, let Christians pause and consider the great opportunity we are being given. How profound is the thought that you and I have been born for just “such a time as this!” Though we may initially be tempted to lament the chaos of our day and age, crying out over the moral confusion and fears that sit on the eaves of our lives like frightful gargoyles casting their shadows on our paths, let’s remember the Great Plan which encircles us and the Great Planner Who has chosen us for “such a time as this.”

“Such a time as this?” Yes! Like young, unassuming Esther (in the Bible), picked from a simple, unassuming life as a contented “nobody”, yet chosen out of all the rest of the young women to be queen, we may wonder why we are where we are in life. Faced with the extermination of her people, she reads the situation rightly and, as her cousin Mordecai explains, comes to understand her destiny: that she has been made queen “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

A destiny has been appointed for her in spite of her background, her limitations and her fears. Instead of running from it, she embraces it. In fact, knowing that standing up for what is right may grant her a death sentence, her resolve is hardened to the point that she does not look at what may happen to her if she does what is right, but what will happen to her people if she does not. She sends word to her cousin, “… I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

Most heroes are yet hidden away in the crowds, still unknown and still unmoved.  It's time for them to come forth now and lead.

Most heroes are yet hidden away in the crowds, still unknown and still unmoved. It is time for them to come forth now and lead.

America has forgotten what heroes look like and grasps for phantoms, phonies and fakes who make big promises but have never learned that true heroism always begins with integrity in the heart and in the home. When one learns integrity and courage in the “small things” of life, he or she won’t be blown over by temptation, pride, anger and selfish ambition in the town square. He or she can “flesh out” true heroism because it is grounded in who they really are and is not just a show.

I am glad to say that I’ve known heroes. These brave men and women have stood for righteousness though it cost them dearly. Such men and women courageously acknowledged their own weaknesses but then sought to grow beyond them or at the least to not be defeated by them.

Though I have known and still do know heroes today, I am convinced that most are yet hidden away in the crowds, still unknown and still unmoved. I am further convinced that God may be stirring even now more men and women in our community and more in our country who will stand up, embrace their destiny, and face evil fully in the face. There are some yet even now who I believe will not be chained by fear for their own safety and well-being, but, driven by the knowledge that they have been appointed for just “such a time as this” by God, will lead the way for His righteousness to prevail.

…..O solemn town, why your gloom? Why wear your mask of night?

……….We looked for a hero, friend; we looked with all our might.

…..To our dismay, there is none who’ll play the man and stand.

……….Heroes have all gone away; none now defend our land.

Let the words of this lament ring untrue as more men and women allow God to make His plans, purposes and presence known through them. May His hand even move in you in such a way that you become a hero in whatever station He calls you. May you, like Esther, realize that your background, limitations and fears have no power over you if you’ll trust God and allow Him to use you. May you realize that you can be a hero, too, appointed by God for “such a time as this.”

…..O happy day!  We know our call!  It’s time to rise and stand!

………The ache of darkness cries for light to spread across the land!

…..To us is given the keys to life through Jesus Christ our Lord!

……….We go with love and go in faith as we boldly share His Word!

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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