Peace is Possible
- As we continue our study in the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23) – this week we will focus on peace. Peace is a frequent topic in Sarah Young’s devotional entitled ‘Jesus Calling.’ Here is the October 13th devotional (it is written as if Jesus is speaking directly to you):
Take time to be still in My Presence. The more hassled you feel, the more you need this sacred space of communion with Me. Breathe slowly and deeply. Relax in My holy Presence while My Face shines upon you. This is how you receive My Peace, which I always offer to you.
Imagine the pain I feel when My children tie themselves up in anxious knots, ignoring My gift of Peace. I died a criminal’s death to secure this blessing for you. Receive it gratefully; hide it in your heart. My Peace is an inner treasure, growing within you as you trust in Me. Therefore, circumstances cannot touch it. Be still, enjoying Peace in My Presence.
- Doesn’t that sound wonderful? And the Bible tells us that it is possible! One of the titles given to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 is Prince of Peace. Where ever he is, there is peace. So, if we follow him, peace is available to us!
- The Greek word for peace means ‘peace of mind, tranquility.’ It is more than a lack of strife or anxiety or fear; it is being filled with the contentment and tranquility of God.
- Some people have simply numbed their emotions in order to avoid the painfulness of fear or worry. But that is not peace - it is not feeling. God created our emotions for our benefit and for us to feel them to their fullest. Beth Moore says it this way, “Peace means the absence of fear and turmoil, but not the absence of pain and grief. We can be filled with sadness and still possess a wonderful sense of God’s peace. God is not a proponent of emotional annihilation.”
Signs that you are Lacking Peace
- Since we are designed by God to live peaceful lives, whenever we are experiencing turmoil or chaos in some area of our life, peace is missing. In Job 3:26, Job said, ‘I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.’
- Beth Moore says it this way, “Without doubt, God’s peace is paramount to spiritual, mental and emotional wholeness.” I would add physical wellness to that statement. Proverbs 14:30 says, ‘A heart at peace gives life to the body.’
- A lack of peace can emerge in a multitude of ways and it is important for each of us to identify how our thoughts, emotions and bodies react when there is turmoil within us. Here are a few ways turmoil exhibits itself:
- Sleepless nights filled with tossing and turning
- Worry & anxiety
- Tasks seems difficult, burdensome – no motivation or being overwhelmed
- Mind and/or body in perpetual motion – you don’t want to stop and simply be still
- Memories that imprison you and that you can’t stop thinking about
- Life circumstances that have never-ending strife and chaos
- Sense of being out of control
- Physical ailments such as headaches and digestive issues
The Source of Peace
- An important component in understanding and embracing peace is knowing whose it is. Most of us believe it is ours – that it is something we can attain of our own accord. We strive to create peace in our lives. We try to manipulate and control the circumstances of our lives and the behavior of others in an effort to make our lives go in a predictable, steady order. Then, we believe, turmoil will be gone and peace will enter our hearts. Or we may try to control our minds and emotions directly through meditation and peaceful music or by telling ourselves over and over again, ‘Let it go.’ Some of us use distraction techniques, such as focusing on food, shopping, work or ministry to block out the turmoil.
- We may be quite adept at some of these techniques and even have a measure of success. But ultimately we will run into a brick wall. A circumstance will be beyond our manipulation or a person will not go along with our agenda or we find anxiety creeping into the middle of our meditation.
- That is when we are in the best position to realize that peace is not ours to acquire – it is God’s to give to us. God owns peace and he is the only one with the ability to impart it to us. The good news is that he has already said that it is available to us! In John 14:27, Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.' Ephesians 2:14a says, ‘For he himself is our peace.’
- It can be a challenge for those who are followers of Christ to stay in his peace, but how impossible it is for those who do not have Jesus as their Lord to maintain any measure of true peace. Isaiah said, ‘the way of peace they do not know’ (Isaiah 59:8). How grateful I am to have God in my life!
Abiding in Peace
- We play an active role in our peace. It is a gift we have already been given, but it’s up to us to unwrap it. As Beth Moore states, ‘The key to being filled with the Holy Spirit, so that God’s peace may be released within, is a mind focused on him.’ Romans 8:6 says, ‘The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.’
- We naturally focus on the circumstances of our everyday lives. We are busy and things need to get done. And God does call us to be productive and active in our lives. In the process, we often make the tasks of our day our primary focus. All the while, God is longing to be our main focus. Matthew 6:33 says, ‘Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’
- I realized recently how often I am not ‘in the present moment.’ Preparing for this study, I found myself in a state of turmoil at one point because I felt I should be further along than I was. I was calculating the time I had left to prepare the study compared to how much more I had to do and it took my peace completely away. It seemed ironic, and very frustrating, that my peace would vanish while preparing a talk on peace. But with the help of Godly counsel, I realized that it is exactly like God to use this opportunity to teach me more about my peace journey. I was not seeking him first above all – I was seeking to ‘get it done.’ But above all, he wants an active ongoing relationship with us. He doesn’t need me to do this study; he is giving me the opportunity to create this study with him. In all we do, he wants to do it with us. He is not as concerned about what we do as much as he has a desire to do it with us!
- Isaiah 16:3, Isaiah says, ‘You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.’ Trust is vital to keeping our minds focused on God and filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, ‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ (Matthew 6:27, 34). He calls us to focus on and live in each day, embracing whatever joys or sorrows it brings, letting the next day work itself out.
- This is equally applicable to our worries about our own lives as it is our worries about the lives of those we love. In describing how Jesus feed 5,000 with a few fish and some small loaves of bread, Beth Moore said, “Jesus was perfectly at peace with the needs of his followers because he had perfect confidence in his Father’s provision.” We can leave our needs and the needs of others at his feet, because God is capable.
- Philippines 4:6-7 has always been one of my favorite verses: ‘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 and minds in Christ Jesus.’ But I was struck recently with something I had missed all these years – the peace which transcends understanding comes to us simply by talking to God! It does not say, ‘present your requests, be thankful and then God will resolve your troubles and then you will have peace.’ It says, ‘present your requests to God and the peace of God’ will come upon you. It is so simple – Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so we cannot help but be in a measure of his peace when we are talking with him!
The Glorious Outcome of Peace
- One glorious outcome of God’s peace is that it is reveals his power and ability. Philippines 4:7 says that God’s peace is beyond understanding. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ You can be in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, yet have contentment as you walk through the dark valley. That unnatural response to difficult circumstances shines a light in your life that proves to both you and others that God is capable of doing things that no one else can do.
- Another glorious outcome of God’s peace is that it will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippines 4:7). My study bible says that guarding your hearts and minds is “a military concept depicting a sentry standing guard. God’s ‘protective custody’ of those who are in Christ Jesus extends to the core of their beings and to their deepest intentions.” 1 Peter 1:5a says we are those ‘who through faith are shielded by God’s power.’
In her study on the fruits of the Spirit, Beth Moore states, “Jesus has greeted us with the most liberating words known to spiritual humanity: ‘Peace be with you!’ Praise his holy name. My heart pounds within me, ‘Lord, I want your peace!’ I want peace in aloneness, peace in provision, peace in the storm, peace in the wait, peace in the tears, peace in your plan – and even peace in my death.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
1. How do you define peace? Have you ever mistaken numbness for peace?
2. Review the signs indicating a lack of peace. Are you experiencing any of those signs?
3. How are you doing at keeping your focus on God and his kingdom? Can you identify a circumstance when the task at hand became the all-important focus and communion with God became secondary? What was your level of peace during that circumstance?
4. Are you being challenged to trust God in a particular area of your life? Explain.
5. Share a time when you or someone you know experienced one of the glorious outcomes of God’s peace: peace beyond understanding which displayed his glory and power or protection of your heart and mind.