"Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Colossians 3:15).
This one verse contains an incredible command: The entire body of Jesus Christ has been called by God to let His peace rule and govern our hearts, minds and bodies!
The peace of God is to be the arbitrator of our lives, sitting as ruler over everything. If ever there was a time this call needed to be sounded, it is today in this hour of turmoil and confusion! Revelation 6:4 speaks of a red horse riding over the whole earth, with this mandate:
"...and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword" ( Rev.6:4).
The man on the red horse is galloping through the world right now, taking all peace and wielding a bloody sword! He has galloped through the Soviet Union and swept away all peace!
In recent years we have witnessed the total disintegration of a godless, Communist empire. But now the red horse has galloped through, and there are ethnic wars, turmoil, strife, chaos, confusion.
In the formerly Soviet state of Georgia, warring factions have no compassion. Three civilian planes have been shot down and hundreds of lives taken.
Yugoslavia is no more!
The red horse has galloped through that once-peaceful nation, making it a raging hell of ethnic wars and disputes. Bosnians, Serbs and Croats have divided, exploding into an inferno of hate, fear and bloodshed. They are murdering and raping by the thousands, with no conscience whatsoever.
Peace is disappearing in South Africa, West Africa, Somalia, Korea, Ireland and countries we hardly know about!
The red horse is galloping through these nations, snatching peace and leaving nothing but war.
"We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!" (Jeremiah 8:15).
Beloved, this is all a fulfillment of Revelation 6:4! The red horse has been released, and everywhere he gallops he leaves in his trail an ethnic spirit of hate: race wars!
Catholics against Protestants in Ireland, Serbs against Croats, Muslims against Christians, whites against blacks, blacks against Asians. Nations that lived in peace for decades are now erupting in wild orgies of hate, murder, killing! Whoever thought we would live to see this day of violence and bloodshed?
Yet what amazes me most is that so many Americans, Christians among them, react smugly, viewing America as an "island of peace." We tell ourselves, "God will never come to America and snatch away our peace!"
It's true that America has been a haven of peace in a restless world. Our shores have been an impregnable fortress no foreign troops could touch. People have come here from all over the world to secure their money and their families. But now all that is about to be taken!
The Red Horse Has Been Set Loose and He Will Not Bypass Godless America As He Takes Peace From the World!
During the past year, I have heard the snorting and the hoofbeats of this red horse. He is galloping on the winds, headed for America's shores and he is about to gallop through our cities, taking away all peace and order as he goes!
On what authority do I stand in saying this? On God's own Word!
"There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked" (Isaiah 48:22).
Even the most liberal people now acknowledge that America has become a wicked, godless nation. No one can understand the unraveling of our society. Now the red horse of the apocalypse is galloping! Our peace is about to be forever taken from us and in its place will be a bloody sword! An increasing spirit of hate and murder will take over. Cities will be on fire, guns will blaze, rioting and bloodshed will fill the streets. America is going to become a bloody war zone!
I prophesied a few years ago that in the coming days more than 1,000 fires would set New York City ablaze. Today, every time I look out my apartment window onto this city, I see those fires in my mind's eye! I smell the smoke — and I hear the galloping of the red horse! Most Christians don't like to hear any of this — we don't want any more "gloom and doom." It's too upsetting, too frightening. We'd rather sit back in front of our televisions with nothing to disturb us.
But this violence is exactly what the Bible tells us to prepare for!
Our entire outlook on life is about to change. The way we pray, the way we think — everything is going to be different. Drastic changes always follow in nations where all peace has been taken away!
Just over three years ago, Yugoslavia's biggest problem was how to increase its tourist trade. The country was emerging from years of backwardness, preparing to enter the twenty-first century with growing production and trade. Tourists were beginning to visit its many peaceful, quaint seaside resorts. Now war has come to Yugoslavia. There is bloodshed in the streets, with horrifying rapes and killings reported every day!
Everything in Yugoslavia has changed! The people there no longer focus on building factories, increasing tourism, retiring, improving their homes. No — suddenly, overnight, their country is in turmoil!
They can only think about surviving: where to find enough food for the next day; how to walk four blocks for water without being killed by a sniper; how to live another week without a wife or daughter being savagely raped. Their whole mentality has changed because all peace has been taken from them!
The Time Is Coming in America When We Will Not Be Thinking in Such Materialistic, Covetous Ways!
Soon Christians won't be thinking about marital differences, the right dentist, the right schools, credit-card bills, hair styles, shopping malls, vacations, "how to cope" psychology. Instead, we'll be thinking, "Where can I send my children to spare them from all the bloodshed? Is some disenchanted madman coming to torch our building? Do we have enough food stored for the week? Please, God — what am I going to do?"
We will no longer be preoccupied with our psyches, egos, luxuries, depressions. We won't be praying, "God, give me grace this week to put up with my kids and their problems." No — we'll be thinking of mere survival! We'll be thinking about the total disintegration of a nation under the judgment of God!
America has already had one Civil War — and President Lincoln called it the judgment of God! That war was North against South. But now we're facing another civil war — and it won't take place in some tranquil setting like Gettysburg. It's going to be in our midst — in major cities like New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, Denver. And the bloodshed is going to be beyond all imaginings!
Yet even with all of this turmoil coming upon us, I want to reassure you of one thing:
No matter what happens to America or the nations of this world, no power in hell can rob you of the peace of God through Jesus Christ, which He implants in your soul!
God will have His people governed by peace. The red horse and its rider can never rob you of the peace He puts in your heart!
"Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Colossians 3:15).
Why did the Lord command the early church to let his peace rule their lives? It was because He knew what was coming — and He wanted to prepare them! In just a few years' time, incredible turmoil would come upon them suddenly. They would be tortured and persecuted. They would face hard times, loss of homes, confiscation of all worldly goods, attacks from vicious men who thought they were doing God a favor by killing them. God was warning them, preparing them: "You are going to have to be grounded in My peace — because it alone will see you through all the incredible changes ahead!"
"...the God of peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:9).
Right now in America, there is a false peace sweeping through churches — a peace that will fail in the troubled days ahead. It is the false peace of stubborn, sin-blinded Christians! Moses called such believers "self-blessed" — meaning, self-deceived. He warned Israel that a curse would come upon all wicked, disobedient children of God who walked in idolatry. He said they would plaster over their sinful ways with a false sense of peace:
"And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst" (Deuteronomy 29:19) .
Moses here is describing the child of God who decides to satisfy his lust for evil! He finds a cozy doctrine that tells him he's all right, still saved, heaven-bound — yet he can still indulge his sins. He says to himself, "I will do what I please, and still not lose the peace in my heart."
Not long ago, I got a call from a dedicated woman of God. She was asking for prayer about what was going on in her church. The youth pastor had fallen into sin, and the senior pastor refused to let him go. Parents begged the minister not to allow this young man to teach their children. But the pastor refused! In addition, the elder pastor had brought some disturbing changes into the church. He had made it "outsider friendly." The church now held country-western nights, square dancing, all kinds of things to attract people. He even preached a sermon on being too serious as a Christian: "It's time to laugh! Kids, quit working so hard for grades. Play hooky once in a while — break a few rules!"
This pastor preaches a theology that you can't ever lose your salvation. No matter what you do, you're redeemed! He and his wife attend R-rated movies and recommend them to the congregation. He whitewashes people's sins, assuring them, "You're okay." Deacons can drink, smoke and sleep around on Saturday night, then take up an offering on Sunday morning, thinking, "All is well." This compromising shepherd has blinded his congregation to their sins! He is peddling a false peace — causing young people to think they can drink, take drugs, sleep with each other and still be saved! He is damning them, lulling them to sleep!
All the False Peace in America Is Going to Come Tumbling Down!
When the red horse gallops through America — when our cities are in flames, race riots break out, federal troops and tanks roll down our streets — all false hopes will vanish into thin air! Do you think any false peace will stand then? No! Every false prophet operating today will have to hide! People will no longer listen to them crying on television, "Send me a hundred dollars!" Instead, people will smash their TV sets in anger against such foolishness!
Preachers who stood in the pulpit and said, "Peace and safety," are going to see their churches fall apart! Desperate men and women will stand up in the middle of meetings, crying, "Pastor, what's going on? This is not what you told us would happen. What does the Bible say?" But he won't know! And the people will turn on him, shouting, "You lied to us!"
Today, the whole world looks at Russia and can hardly believe what is taking place in that country. Yet soon the world is going to look at America and not believe what they see and hear! God says, "I'm going to do such an incredible thing, it will make their ears tingle! They'll stand back and say, 'What's happening?'"
Already the message in Europe is, "Don't go to the United States — you'll get killed!" Headlines in Berlin shout: "Bloody America!"
The London Sun reads: "Land of Violence! American Killers!" Because of all the shocking chaos, men will cry out, "Where is peace anymore, a place of security? America was our last hope. Where can we go now for peace?"
But there will be no peace! The Bible says there will come upon the world "sudden destruction" (1 Thessalonians 5:3)!
I want to show you what it means to let God's peace rule in your heart during troubled times. The Holy Spirit impressed on me these two things:
1. Don't Get Upset When God Does Not Soon Answer Your Prayers!
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
When I reread this passage recently, I was struck by something I'd never seen before. In it, Paul instructs us to stop worrying, go to God with prayer and supplication, and thank Him for the answer. But he never says anything about getting any answers! Paul says nothing about receiving a word of direction, deliverance, miracles, healing. Instead, he says, we receive a gift, the gift of the peace of God!
God answers all our requests and supplications with the gift of His peace:
"...let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God,which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (verses 6-7)
In other words, God's first answer to our every prayer and heart-cry is His peace! All praying people have this one thing in common: No matter how bad they feel going into their secret closet of prayer, they come out filled with His peace! You see, God has limited Himself to His own government. This is known as the providence of God. He does things here and there, preparing people's hearts and orchestrating events. But until His providence works out the answer to your prayer, He says, "I'm going to give you not what you think you need, but what I know you need — peace of mind and heart!"
Most praying Christians will tell you they're still waiting for answers to many prayers. They may have prayed earnestly, fervently, with fasting and weeping, not just for months but for years — and still they have no answer! Yet they wait in peace, fully persuaded that God is at work — and that in His time and His way, He will answer.
Many of us wrestle with the Lord in prayer. We petition Him with crying and tears, we pound heaven's gates, we claim every promise. But as the days, weeks and months go by, we begin to wonder: "Why won't You answer, Lord? What's blocking my prayer? What have I done to grieve or displease You?"
The fact is, God already has said to us, "Here — here is My peace that passes all understanding! Take it — let it rule in your heart while I work all things for your good!" We are to be kept in God's peace until His promise is worked out by the Holy Ghost!
The apostle Peter tells us God has promised us "...new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13)
Do you believe it is coming? Will God keep His Word? Yes, He will! But it is not here yet. And until then, we are to be careful to wait in peace and not in despair: "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligentthat ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (verse 14)
Often we cry, "Oh Lord, speak to me! You said Your sheep know Your voice and I've got to hear a word from You. I'm not moving till You speak to me!" We wait and wait for that still, small voice to come. Yet He already has spoken to us but we don't recognize it!
The book of Hosea gives us a picture of this. God told Hosea, "Ephraim... knew not that I healed them" (Hosea 11:3). Ephraim in this passage signifies the true people of God. The Lord was saying, "I answered My people, but they didn't know it! I heard their cry and gave them My peace!"
The fact is, we no longer have an excuse for leaving the prayer closet disappointed and thirsty! You may say, "I prayed so sincerely. I was so ready, so open. But I heard nothing!" Yes, you did! You heard,"...my peace I give unto you..." (John 14:27).
He healed you, but you didn't know it! He gave you peace, but you're not enjoying it! You walked out and let it dissipate because you didn't appropriate it!
Hold onto His peace let it rule and reign in your heart!
2. You Have to Do a Lot of Quitting Before His Peace Can Rule You!
If you want the peace of God to reign in your life, you have to quit several things:
- You have to stop trying to figure out how God will work everything out.
- You have to quit worrying and fretting: "Be anxious for nothing..." (Philippians 4:6, NAS).
- You have to stop telling God what you think is right for you.
- And most of all, you have to quit thinking you are a failure: Stop thinking you don't please God!
One of Satan's most effective traps for robbing Christians of peace is to convince them they must strive in the flesh to please God. He springs this one on me all the time!
Sometimes when I need a quiet place to pray, I drive two hours to the hills of Pennsylvania. I was there not long ago, praising the Lord and enjoying His presence, looking out over green fields and forests. But suddenly something hit me: I felt as if I weren't doing anything for the Lord!
I prayed, "Lord, I'm just not accomplishing much for Your kingdom. All I do is pray, get messages for sermons, and go to church and preach. The whole world is going to hell, and I'm not doing anything for You!"
Have such thoughts ever hit you? You do everything you know how to please the Lord, yet still you don't feel holy. I know I didn't. In fact, I hardly ever feel holy. That is true even in my best times — even when I'm preaching under the Spirit's anointing!
You say, "You, Brother Dave? You feel at times as if you're not doing much for God?" Yes! The devil comes in and makes us all feel unworthy, unfulfilled. And we lose our peace by giving in to these awful feelings!
Listen to Paul's prayer for us:
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the holy Ghost" (Romans 15:13).
Paul was saying, "You are to be filled with hope, joy and peace while you're walking with Jesus!" You may say, "I want to walk this path full of hope, joy and peace. I want to be filled continually, as Paul says. But how?" I don't think God's peace can ever come to us in full measure until we quit seeing the Father only as our Judge and let Him be to us what He most wants to be! He tells us in His Word what His desire is: He wants to be our loving nursemaid!
God describes Himself this way in Hosea:
"I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them" (Hosea 11:3).
The Hebrew in this verse translates, "I came to them in their despair and tenderly nursed them through foul, rugged places. I held them in my arms as a nurse!" But, Scripture says, Ephraim was "...bent to backsliding from me..."(Hosea 11:7). The word "bent" here means "hanging in suspense, hanging in doubt."
Ephraim was not sure of the Lord's love and tenderness. And God was saying to Hosea, "My people are doubting My love for them. They don't really know Me — they don't know My nature. They're unsure of My love!"
It was true — Ephraim could not believe God still loved them. They were idolaters, backsliders, doubters — hung up with fears of all kinds! They probably were thinking, "We brought God's displeasure on ourselves. We sinned willfully. Surely He will judge us and send His wrath down on us all!" But God said "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? ...mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together" (verse 8).
What love and mercy! God was yearning over them, saying, "How can I give up on you? Yes, there was a time when I was angry with you. Yes, you are disobedient, and at times you grieve Me. But you're still My child — and I love you!" Beloved, the Lord will never give up on You! Even now His heart yearns for you. He is overseeing you, caring for you as a nurse!
Listen to His words of comfort and healing to you:
"For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made" (Isaiah 57:16).
The Lord is saying, "I will not be angry with you. If all you saw in Me was anger, your spirit would fail! You couldn't handle it — it would be too overwhelming. You'd be tempted to give up!"
"For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart" (verse 17).
"I was angry over your failures. I expressed My anger to you, but it didn't do any good. You simply continued in your stubborn ways, resisting My warnings and disobeying Me. So I hid Myself from you!"
"I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners" (verse 18).
"I see your heart — I know all your failures. But I also see you mourning over your sin, yearning and longing for Me. Even though you've failed, you haven't turned from Me. And now I am going to heal you! I'm going to restore comfort to your soul. I will once again lead and guide you!"
I ask you: Does this sound as if God gives up on His people when they fail?
No — never! He may hide Himself from you for a while; He may spend His anger for a season. But, He said, "I will draw you back with bands of love. Take off your yoke, your burden — I want to heal you!" "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love..." (Hosea 11:4).
Dear saint, you may be going through deep waters right now. I don't mean sin, temptation, or trials necessarily; I'm talking about events that are being thrust on you that are overwhelming, that you can't understand. Winds and waves of all kinds are flooding you, things beyond your comprehension. They're coming to your home, your church, your job, on all sides. But God wants to carry you through it all! He wants to nurse you back to spiritual health! If all you can believe right now is that He loves you in spite of all your stubborn ways — that He begs you to see Him as your Divine Nurse — that is enough!
Trust in His goodness. Believe in His love and mercy. Don't accuse Him any longer of being angry with you, of not speaking to you. Turn to Him and say, "Lord, You are my nurse. Carry me!" Let His peace rule in your heart and over your whole life.