RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE AND JOY – THE PERFECT GIFT:
Romans 14: 17-19 (KJV)
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
With Christmas approaching, we look forward to a time where we can get together with family and friends, and celebrate the Lord’s arrival to this earth two thousand plus years ago. Of course, if you are not a Christian, then Christmas may just be that time of year where it is all about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gifts, reindeers and all the paraphernalia that goes with it and yes, as Christians we may have a Christmas tree and gifts too, but our focus at this time of the year is centered on Christ, His entrance into this world and why He came in the first place, at least that is what it should be all about. It is important that our focus does not become lopsided leaning towards all the materialistic external things that go hand in hand with Christmas, but rather we remind ourselves that we are celebrating this time of year because of Jesus and the gift of salvation that He brought with Him, and oh, what a beautiful and perfect gift – the gift of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Of course it may not be a time of peace and joy for everyone. Feasting over a delicious Christmas meal should be a way of bringing people together and enjoying one another’s company, but quite often, especially in the case of families, it can be a trying time of stress and tension because of issues that exist between members within family units. On the other hand, for some there may be no meal to feast over or loved ones sitting around a dining table. With all that has been going on in our world around us over these past two years, many may have lost their jobs or a loved one, and hence Christmas is going to be a painful and heart breaking time of year for them. In some parts of the world there are people who are living with anything but peace and experience constant conflict and war day in and day out, and so for them the word peace is a word which really doesn’t exist in their vocabulary.
According to Google, the world’s definition of peace is the following: World peace is an ideal of freedom, peace and happiness among and within all nations and/ or people. World peace is an idea of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare.
So, while governments are seeking to have a world that is absent of conflict and war, which would be wonderful for everyone living in this world, it really will never be realized because apart from God, man can never experience true everlasting peace.
Peace is not a thing – Peace is a person, He is the Prince of Peace and His Name is Jesus Christ!
Luke 2: 14 (KJV)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
When looking at this verse, there is certainly a lack of peace on this earth especially in the times we are living in currently – there are wars and rumors of wars, and in every nation of this world there is contention and strife building up among people for many different reasons and it is only getting worse. So, when Luke says, ‘and on earth peace, goodwill towards men,’ it really seems like a contradiction of terms. The thing is, is what this verse is really saying is that there will be peace on earth and good will towards those who accept the little baby who was born in a humble inn and placed in a manger. The righteousness, peace and joy that Paul is speaking about, only comes as a result of accepting and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. It really will not matter what is going on in this world around us or what the circumstances of our lives are, there is an inner peace and joy that comes from knowing Christ and knowing that your salvation is secure. Because we are anchored in our righteousness, and grounded and established on the Rock of our salvation, we will not be shaken!
We don’t know in exact detail what the future holds apart from what we read about in the Apocalyptic books of the bible, but we certainly know Who holds the future in His Hands and it is good for those who have put their faith in God’s Son, but it will not be good for those who are outside of Christ, in fact it will be downright terrifying!
THE DIVINE EXCHANGE:
2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV)
“For He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Righteousness means right standing with God. It is positional and is not based on your performance. It can never be obtained through your own works – in other words, you can’t earn it through keeping to a set of rules and regulations. This righteousness is Christ’s righteousness and it is a gift which you receive the minute you put your faith in Jesus Christ. It is not received because of anything you have done or anything you will ever do in your future, but because of what Jesus has done for you and as you through the finished work of the cross. We certainly don’t deserve it, but because of His great love for us, He took our place and went to the cross. A divine exchange took place – our sin for His righteousness! WHAT A GIFT!
The second you put your faith in Jesus, He made His home within you and because He is the Prince of Peace, His peace fills you through the Holy Spirit and brings calm to your storms. Not only will you be filled with His peace, but also His joy and therefore you are positioned in His righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Just look at the two following verses:
Romans 5: 1 (KJV)
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:2 (KJV)
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God,”
PEACE EQUALS JOY WHICH EQUALS REJOICING! So where there is peace, there is joy and rejoicing!
It doesn’t matter how evil and dark the days are becoming, we can be at perfect peace because of His gift of peace and joy which reside within us through the Holy Spirit, and will abound from us no matter what the circumstances around us are. The deeper our relationship with God is, the more stable and anchored we will be in His peace and joy.
This life that we are navigating through every day cannot be lived without total dependence on the Holy Spirit. He teaches us, guides us and helps us to walk out righteousness every day as well as walk in peace with others which in turn brings joy when we spend time with one another. A good relationship with people can only be built as a result of and dependence on our relationship with a living and loving God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come to make you conscience of your sin, but rather He comes to remind you of your positional righteousness which in turn enables you to walk out this righteousness effortlessly resulting in peace and joy in your daily walk.
His righteousness, peace and joy must become evident in our lives. The Holy Spirit will not only help us to conquer sin and walk in righteousness, but He will also help us to conquer quarrelling and disputes we may have with one another. When an atmosphere of peace and joy is present, then the kingdom of God will abound. The kingdom of God is the reign and rule of God. His reign and rule will be present which changes the atmosphere ushering in the presence of God which brings restoration, healing and deliverance. Only God can do in a split second in that atmosphere what we may have been trying to do for years and could never do in our own efforts. The reign and rule of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and it all begins by receiving the little baby born in a humble inn and placed in a manger.
The kingdom of God is not something that flows from the outside in, but flows from the inside out!
Romans 14: 19 (KJV)
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace; and the things wherewith one may edify another.”
Romans 14:19 (MSG)
“So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other and to help one another with encouraging words.”
Romans 12: 18 (KJV)
“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Looking at the times we are living in now with all the craziness that is going on around us, there is a division that is being created between people. As believers, we cannot allow this strategy of the enemy to contaminate the church. Let us as the Body of Christ strive to break down the walls that keep us apart and create division among us. Governments around the world are taking advantage of this pandemic to create division among people even within the church. Yes, there are even churches now that are dividing the congregation up and separating the vaccinated from the unvaccinated. Could you imagine Jesus separating all of us based on our vaccination status! Whatever happened to come as you are? During lockdowns, governments can keep the churches closed preventing us from gathering, but what they have failed to understand is that we are not bound by a mortar and brick building. Each one of us is a living stone, unique and individual, which make up the church. It only takes two or three of us to gather in His Name, even if it is via zoom meeting, and He is in the midst of us – we are the church!
Now is not the time to hold grudges and un-forgiveness with one another. Perhaps walls have been built over time in our personal relationships creating dis-unity and contention, but now is the time to break those walls down and be at peace with one another. Paul the apostle instructed us in these verses to strive to live at peace with one another in the power of the Holy Spirit – let us forgive one another, let go and put our issues with one another aside, humble ourselves, encourage one another and live peaceably with each other. I believe this is the greatest gift we can offer to our Lord Jesus as well as each other, and what a perfect time in which to do it – the season for giving!
Let us agree to rejoice in one another, to build each other up with encouraging words and to be kind and loving. Where there is love and unity, there is power! Righteousness, peace and joy must start with us individually by looking within ourselves and repenting regarding the walls we have built up over time with one another. There may be issues within church family members or one church having issues with another church. Whatever the issues may be, it is time to fix it – if we cannot get it right here as the church, then how will we be the witness we are called to be out there in the world?
True everlasting peace with God, who is the God of peace, can only come through the Prince of Peace in the power of the Holy Spirit who bears the fruit of peace in our lives and through our lives. As children of God we must remember that we have been forgiven much and have received much as a result of the finished work of Jesus at the cross, therefore freely we can give and forgive!
When the lost and perishing look upon us manifesting this righteousness, peace and joy, love, unity and power they will be drawn to that humble inn to that little baby in the manger and receive the gift of salvation that He brought to the entire world. The most important gift you will ever receive in your life! JESUS IS THE PERFECT GIFT!
I end with His words,
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14: 27 (KJV)
May you have a blessed Christmas season!
Until my next post,
Blessings and love,