From the Sidelines to the Seat
Have you ever felt a shrug of heart, you know that ‘Blah’ feeling, perhaps leading to anxiety or even agitation? The only way to put it into words is ‘I’m off, just… off.’ May I offer – something may have shifted – shifted from the sidelines to the seat; something/someone is now sitting on the throne of our heart, pretty weighty isn’t it! This, my dear friend, is found deep in the factory setting in the design of man, a component known as the Peace Barometer. (Ok, maybe not – but that is what I call it). Peace.
In the Old Testament, (Hebrew) the word for peace is shalom, (in short) meaning tranquility, harmony, wholeness. It has been referred to as evidence of the absence of strife or war. I would define peace not necessarily in what you do not have, but what you do have. In the New Testament, the word for peace (in Greek) is eirene, which literally means ‘to set at one.’ The picture is something that was once set in place has either been removed or toppled over – (think of the game Jenga, remove foundational pieces & over it goes) chaos, strife, irritation even war are the results. Once it is set back in place, PEACE reigns.
Here’s a brief (VERY brief) explanation: Remember God and man (and Eve) in the Garden, their relationship was good and whole (peace-filled). Then there was a sin outbreak, the relationship was broken, toppled over. For generations (begetting) generations there was a missing element – what was, is no longer. Later Isaiah speaks of the coming of the Prince of Peace and the government resting on His shoulders (9:6). Fast forward to Luke chapter 2, the angels announce, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace…” (v14). Peace was back on earth among man. Jesus is the missing piece, He came bridging the gap (which was big & ugly) between man and his God – He set it all back in place, God the Father planned it, God the Son accomplished it, God the Holy Spirit applied it, the God package delivered – PEACE REIGNS.
Paul writes, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” (Col. 3:15) Here’s where the peace barometer comes in: If God is not ruling on the throne of our heart, be assured another will occupy it! We will know peace to the degree that we YIELD to Christ, the Prince of Peace, if NOT – chaos, strife, irritation. Paul again, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7, emphasis mine) ‘Present your requests to God’ (KEY!) We are NOT to go looking for solutions elsewhere, if we do, we can potentially be placing things on the throne that shouldn’t be there, (thus the ‘off’ feeling). Our peace barometer will TILT if Jesus is not the center of our life, the One residing and reigning on the throne of our heart. Peace is not about peaceful circumstances, it’s about the applied authority of Christ. Let’s cut to the chase: God doesn’t come to take sides (help sort our stuff) He comes to TAKE OVER. It is His design, His throne.
“May God Himself, the God (of Peace) who makes everything holy and whole, make YOU holy and whole, put you together – spirit, soul, and body.” (1 Thess. 5:23 The Message) God the Maker – God at the center – God on the throne.
Taking inventory of my heart. Peace.
*This is an excerpt from my teaching at our local women’s Bible Study.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
When I was in college, there was a book on the required reading list. It impacted me. It wasn’t so much the content of the book, but the title – ‘The Kingdom of Self’ (by Earl Jabay). The summary of the message was; by divine design within the heart of every man & woman is a throne – and WE are not to be on it. That is all I remember (it has been 35+ years). The throne of our heart.
God spoke to the children of Israel through Moses, telling them (I paraphrase) you were once captive and I took you out (of Egypt) we are family and within our family, we are not like other nations, we have family standards. (Queue conversation in your head “But Mom, everyone’s doing it!”) May we take note; God does not give suggestions – He gives commands, family commands. He opens with “You must not have any other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3) Continuing: “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind… you must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” (vv 4-5 NLT)
Oh, we may not erect a stone statue in our back yard these days and bow to it – but we do create, buy and harbor gods of the heart. When we think of an ‘idol’ we tend to think of controlling stuff, stuff in the ‘bad bucket’ – you know abusive things like drugs, alcohol, pornography, adulterous affairs… (The list is long, these have to be addressed!) BUT, what about ‘GOOD’ stuff? An idol is anything that takes the place of God in our heart.
While teaching this to the women at church, I pulled out a tie, representing my husband. He is a good man, our marriage is good, and it is God ordained GOOD. HOWEVER, I can elevate him to such high status that he takes the prominent place on the throne of my heart and God is moved aside. It is the same with all relationships, with our children, friends, even our leaders. The same with position, dreams, endeavors and yes, our ministry or vocational careers.
I pulled out a calendar (we are busy-bustling people) does our calendar reflect the PURPOSE God has for us? The central motivating plan of our life as designed by God or does it center around MY stuff. (OUCH! The throne of my heart – cluttered to overflowing). The same is true with (as the women groan aloud) when I pulled out my cell phone. THIS technological gadget is the leader among all distractions. It distracts us, making us pay with our time, attention and yes affection, elements we are potentially allowing our phone to be stealing from God. We can tell of its importance when we panic when just one block from the house and we realize we forgot it and screech on the brakes. Remember how Jesus describes the enemy of our soul, ‘the thief whose ONLY aim is to steal – kill – destroy’ (John 10:10) folks one of his tactics is to distract. (Enough said)
I then pulled out a miniature whirly metal windmill, it was created with an erector set. Using a screwdriver twisting a bolt, a gal asked me what I was doing – “I’m building.” I said, “Building my expectations.” Our creation is never complete; we are continually tweaking and adding to it. It seems to always be with us, we take it to church, work, family gatherings and when visiting with others we force them to ‘hold it’ – putting in their hands all the bells and whistles to make us happy. THIS too can be a ruling attitude of the heart factor.
God is either taken off the throne or He is added to. Numerous times, it is said of the Israelites ‘they worshipped God AND they served others gods…’ TOTALLY getting them in trouble. It is not God and… It is God ONLY. Jesus tells us to ‘seek FIRST His kingdom, His righteousness…’ (Matthew 6:33) AND (the only ‘and’ in God’s economy) we get all the stuff we need. To be very frank, all the ‘other’ has to be at the feet of Jesus, at the feet of the throne, NOT on it.
Move over throne cluttered mess – God is coming for more of our heart!
*This teaching is from our current local women’s Bible Study, titled ‘No Other Gods.’
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)