June 22: Love and Peace
Nehemiah 4:1–5:19; 1 John 4:16–21; Psalm 109:1–15
“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in you.” Augustine’s prayer, spoken so many years ago, is still poignant for us today. It appeals to our created purpose: bringing glory to God. When we’re living outside of that purpose, we try to fill that void through other means.
In his first letter, John shows how the love of God and communion with Him ultimately brings a sense of peace and confidence: “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love and the one who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him. By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as that one is, so also are we in the world” (1 John 4:16–17).
God Himself has addressed the great rift we created between ourselves and Him. Through the sacrifice of His Son, He has made it possible for us to abide with Him and find peace in Him (1 John 4:15). Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God experience this love that brings peace and confidence.
But this love isn’t merely an emotion or a feeling of fulfillment; it’s a growing desire to be like Christ. Because God dwells in us, we will become more like Him in love. We can be confident of His work in us when we display self-sacrificial love for our neighbor.
How are you resting in God’s love? How are you loving others?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- But when Sanballat heard that we built the wall, then was he wroth and sore grieved, and mocked the Jews, And said before his brethren and the army of Samaria, thus he said, What do these weak Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they finish it in a day? will they make the stones whole again out of the heaps of dust, seeing they are burnt? And Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and said, Although they build, yet if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stony wall. Hear, O our God (for we are despised) and turn their shame upon their own head, and give them unto a prey in the land of their captivity. And cover not their iniquity, neither let their sin be put out in thy presence: for they have provoked us before the builders. So we built the wall, and all the wall was joined unto the half thereof, and the heart of the people was to work. But when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodims heard that the walls of Jerusalem were repaired, (for the breaches began to be stopped) then they were very wroth, And conspired all together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder them. Then we prayed unto our God, and set watchmen by them, day and night, because of them. And Judah said, The strength of the bearers is weakened, and there is much earth, so that we are not able to build the wall. Also our adversaries had said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come into the midst of them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. But when the Jews (which dwelt beside them) came, they told us ten times, From all places, whence ye shall return, they will be upon us. Therefore I set in the lower places behind the wall upon the tops of the stones, and placed the people by their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. Then I beheld, and rose up, and said unto the princes, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not afraid of them: remember the great Lord, and fearful, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. And when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, then God brought their counsel to nought, and we turned all again to the wall, every one unto his work. And from that day half of the young men did the labor, and the other half part of them held the spears, and shields, and bows, and habergeons: and the Rulers stood behind all the house of Judah. They that built on the wall, and they that bare burdens, and they that laded, did the work with one hand, and with the other held the sword. For every one of the builders had his sword girded on his loins, and so built: and he that blew the trumpet, was beside me. Then said I unto the Princes, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. So we labored in the work, and half of them held the spears, from the appearing of the morning, till the stars came forth. And at the same time said I unto the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that they may be a watch for us in the night, and labor in the day. So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the ward (which followed me) none of us did put off our clothes, save everyone put them off for washing. Now there was a great cry of the people, and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said, We, our sons and our daughters are many, therefore we take up corn, that we may eat and live. And there were that said, We must gage our lands, and our vineyards, and our houses, and take up corn for the famine. There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute upon our lands and our vineyards. And now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, and our sons as their sons: and lo, we bring into subjection our sons and our daughters, as servants, as there be of our daughters now in subjection, and there is no power in our hands: for other men have our lands and our vineyards. Then was I very angry when I heard their cry and these words. And I thought in my mind, and I rebuked the princes, and the rulers, and said unto them, You lay burdens every one upon his brethren: and I set a great assembly against them, And I said unto them, We (according to our ability) have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen: and will you sell your brethren again, or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and could not answer. I said also, That which ye do, is not good. Ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God, for the reproach of the heathen our enemies? For even I, my brethren, and my servants do lend them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this burden. Restore, I pray you, unto them this day their lands, their vineyards, their olives, and their houses, and remit the hundredth part of the silver and of the corn, of the wine, and of the oil that ye exact of them. Then said they, We will restore it, and will not require it of them: we will do as thou hast said. Then I called the Priests and caused them to swear, that they should do according to this promise. So I shook my lap, and said, So let God shake out every man that will not perform this promise, from his house, and from his labor: even thus let him be shaken out and emptied. And all the Congregation said, Amen, and praised the Lord: and the people did according to this promise. And from the time that the King gave me charge to be governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year, even unto the two and thirtieth year of King Artaxerxes, that is, twenty years, I, and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor. For the former governors that were before me, had been chargable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver: yea, and their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God. But rather I fortified a portion in the work of this wall, and we bought no land, and all my servants came thither together unto the work. Moreover there were at my table an hundred and fifty of the Jews, and rulers, which came unto us from among the heathen that are about us. And there was prepared daily an ox, and six chosen sheep, and birds were prepared for me, and within ten days wine for all in abundance. Yet for all this I required not the bread of the governor: for the bondage was grievous unto htis people. Remember, O my God, in goodness, according to all that I have done for this people. Nehemiah 4:1–5:19
- And we have known, and believed the love that God hath in us, God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is that love perfect in us, that we should have boldness in the day of judgment: for as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear: for fear hath painfulness: and he that feareth is not perfect in love, We love him, becasue he loved us first. If any man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar: for how can he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we of him, that he that loveth God, should love his brother also. 1 John 4:16–21
- Hold not thy tongue, O God of my praise. For the mouth of the wicked, and the mouth full of deceit are opened upon me: they have spoken to me with a lying tongue. They compassed me about also with words of hatred, and fought against me without a cause. For my friendship they were my adversaries, but I gave myself to prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship. Set thou the wicked over him, and let the adversary stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned, and let his prayer be turned into sin. Let his days be few, and let another take his charge. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let the children be vagabonds, and beg and seek bread, coming out of their places destroyed. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath, and let the strangers spoil his labor. Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to show mercy upon his fatherless children. Let his posterity be destroyed, and in the generation following, let their name be put out. Let the iniquity of his fathers be had in remembrance with the Lord: and let not the sin of his mother be done away. But let them always be before the Lord, that he may cut off their memorial from the earth. Psalm 109:1–15