Peace Comes With a Price

By Linda Tancs

Two world wars and numerous other conflicts provide us with ample evidence that peace comes with a price. This is illustrated biblically as well, particularly when Jesus shows His disciples the wounds of his crucifixion and offers them His shalom peace (John 20:19-23), a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

What price are you willing to pay for peace—in your family, in your work, in your life? What do you need to sacrifice? Maybe it’s your ego, your identification with material things or a toxic relationship. What do you need to do to amplify your shalom peace and extend it to others?

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

Gifts and Earnings

By Linda Tancs

John Houseman was a British-American actor who became known for his commercials for the brokerage firm Smith Barney. He famously stated that they made money the old-fashioned way—they earned it. Of course, in the physical world, we work to earn a living, sometimes striving after the best that money can buy.

Thankfully, though, the most important things in life are not earned; you don’t have to punch a time clock to get them. They’re gifts from God. For instance, you receive salvation through Christ, not by your own works (Ephesians 2:8-9). You also receive peace. Jesus devised, gave and bequeathed His peace (John 14:27) to His followers, like a bequest under a will. It’s a gift, yours for the taking.

Receive your gifts with grace. They’re good and perfect (James 1:17), and there’s nothing old-fashioned about that.

Know Your Enemy

By Linda Tancs

The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy. In the physical realm, you may view your enemy as someone whose interests, values, beliefs or actions are antagonistic to your own. According to Scripture, however, your true enemy is not a physical opponent—it’s the devil (Ephesians 6:12). And, unlike a physical opponent, this enemy is in constant warfare with you, every second of every day. Every time you become offended, hurt, angry, jealous, resentful, hateful, unforgiving or self-loathing (to name a few things), you are battling the devil, public enemy number one. He’ll never quit, and neither should you. Resist the bait (James 4:7). Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16). Forgive others as you would have God forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). As you obey God’s commands, you’ll have a peace that obstructs the wiles of your greatest enemy (Psalm 119:165).

The Best-Kept Secret

By Linda Tancs

It isn’t unusual to see a travel destination touted as the “best-kept secret.” Typically, that’s because it’s beautiful, quiet, unspoiled, or all of these things.

You have those same things in your heart when you dwell in God’s secret place (Psalm 91:1-2), a place of protection and provision for those who place their trust in Him. Trust is the key that unlocks the secret place (Jeremiah 17:7-8), and you don’t have to spend a dime to get there.

 

The Right Move

By Linda Tancs

Chess is a game of strategy, requiring players to master the art of manipulating how the pieces move. Sometimes, life feels like a never-ending game of chess, doesn’t it? We spend countless hours, days, or even years trying to manipulate people, events and circumstances to achieve an outcome that best suits us, or so we think. There’s no shortage of manipulators in the Bible, either. Consider Jacob, who manipulated his father Isaac into giving him the family blessing (i.e., the first son’s inheritance) by posing as his older twin brother Esau in the presence of his blind father (Genesis 27:34-38). Even Satan poses as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

What kind of move are you making? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)? A smooth talker (Romans 16:18)? Do you callously disregard others (Ezekiel 34:4)? You might have made the wrong move for so long that you’ve forgotten what the right one looks like. Well, here’s a hint: it’s whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely or whatever is commendable (Philippians 4:8). Let the Holy Spirit guide you to the right move, to all truth (John 16:13). How do you do that? By reading the Bible faithfully, which we’re reminded is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

A Brain, a Heart and Courage

By Linda Tancs

In the movie The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy meets up with three characters, each seeking a different attribute. The scarecrow wants a brain. The tin man wants a heart. And the lion wants courage. That’s a pretty good summation of what we need to persevere through life: wisdom, love and courage.

The Bible exhorts us to gain wisdom (see, e.g., James 1:5; Proverbs 3:13-18). How do you do that? By reading the Bible, the source of all God’s knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is a gift from God, the means to discern the truth in all things. We’re told to love wisdom, and wisdom will protect us (Proverbs 4:6-7). Above all, though, we are commanded to love God (Deuteronomy 10:12) and extend that love to our neighbors (Luke 10:27). It’s fair to say that the pursuit of wisdom and love takes courage. It’s so much easier to hide one’s head in the sand, avoiding truth and neglecting the work to build strong relationships. Yet we’re reminded to be strong and of good courage (Deuteronomy 31:6). That’s because fear, insecurity and anxiety undermine the courage we need to foster effective personal and professional relationships. But you’re an overcomer! Stand firm and apply the power formula of wisdom, love and courage to persevere through life’s tasks and struggles.

The Challenge of Love

By Linda Tancs

Is there anyone in your family who is difficult to love, who pushes all the wrong buttons? Maybe it feels like you’re surrounded by fiery beasts or tongues like sharp swords, as David described in Psalm 57:4. Perhaps your nemesis is a child, parent, spouse, sibling or extended family member, or even many of the above. You might be tempted to think ‘well, I don’t have to love anyone who won’t love me back or treats me unfairly.’ Don’t give in and fail to accept the challenge of love. Love is, after all, the foundation of our existence and evidence of our oneness with God. There is no commandment greater than love, as Paul reminded the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:13) and John told his readers (1 John 4:16). Likewise, Jesus exhorted his followers that everything hinges on love of God and love of others (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28; John 13:34-35).

We should give thanks for the difficult people in our lives because they teach us how much work we may still need to do in the love walk. Those who are easiest to love actually teach us very little. So put on an “attitude of gratitude” the next time you feel tormented, and work on walking it out.

Shake It Off

By Linda Tancs

Singer Taylor Swift wrote a song called Shake It Off. The hit song reminds us that sometimes you just have to “shake it off.” Shake off the rude behavior, the office politics, the insults, the deceit and so on. The apostle Paul knew how to shake it off. So did Jesus. In one instance in Paul’s case, he literally shook it off when a snake attached itself to his hand and he simply shook it off, suffering no ill effects (Acts 28:5). And Jesus reminded his disciples to shake the dust off their feet and move on if a town was unwelcoming (Matthew 10:14).

What do you need to shake off? Are you holding on to a grudge, resentment or anger? It hurts you more than the person who offended you. As someone once said, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Shake it off.

Rinse and Repeat

By Linda Tancs

You can find biblical inspiration anywhere, even on a shampoo bottle. The instructions to “rinse and repeat” offer a reminder to put off the old nature so you can put on the new nature (Ephesians 4:22-24). Of course, Paul is talking about abandoning a sinful nature and adopting a new nature, one that incorporates a pure heart (Psalm 51:10). A pure heart clothes itself with a spirit of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12-14).

You’ll likely need to renew your spirit over and over because the devil is always on the prowl, seeking to throw you off course (1 Peter 5:8). That’s when resentment, impatience, unkindness, arrogance and anger—the old nature—set in. So, like the instructions on a shampoo bottle, be sure to rinse off the old nature and repeat as necessary.

Oh, No You Don’t

By Linda Tancs

Writer and poet Khalil Gibran once wrote that we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty and obey only love. That’s pretty much the foundation for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Those rules illustrate our ideal relationship with God (verses 3 through 11) as well as our relationship with others (verses 12 through 17).

Have you ever wondered why so many are written as negative injunctions (thou shalt not) rather than positive ones (thou shalt)? The discipline of social psychology did not yet exist, but the basis for the commandments’ efficacy may lie there. According to some scientists, we judge the violation of a “shalt not” more harshly than the failure to observe a “shalt.” So for the sake of an ordered society, we probably need more “shalt nots” in the form of proscriptions against theft, murder and deception as dictated in the commandments. And for the sake of our relationship with God, we need proscriptions against idolatry and defamation to define, develop and enhance our relationship with Him. Regardless of the form of the injunction, though, we learn through the Ten Commandments to love God and love His children, something Jesus would later say sums up all of the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:35-40).