Has anyone else lost something recently?
God seems to often speak to me around one subject from many different sources. This last week it has been around the concept of peace, what it is and how it can be lost. The dictionary defines peace as freedom from or the cessation of war or violence, secondly as freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. In our study of Romans 5 the first dictionary definition of an end to war is demonstrated through the concept of justification. “Just as if I never sinned”. What an amazing benefit of salvation. There is an end to enmity with God. Because Jesus paid the price, God is now our friend, we are not at odds, relationship is restored.
Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Knowing that you are justified, are at peace with God, can freely enter into His presence, and have the hope of Heaven is more than one could ever hope for. There is a heart peace that comes from knowing where we will spend eternity. We do not need to believe this life is all there is or concern be concerned with the possibility of eternal torment. Jesus promised us a glorious next life spent with Him and all who we love. That takes away worry and gives us great peace about our eventual future. But there is more!
We have been promised freedom for disturbance, quiet and tranquility.
Jesus told us he was leaving us his own peacefor today and everyday.
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]
Here Jesus not only makes us a promise of this amazing gift of peace, He goes on to tell us what will rob us of that gift: fear, agitation and intimidation. These are things that we allow! We seem to have the power choose to live in the peace of Jesus or let ourselves be agitated and disturbed or intimidated or cowardly or unsettled!
Fear and its fellows enter our hearts and minds through various avenues. It may be listening to lies that have been spoken over us or to us, or it may be the enemy telling us God really does not care about the details of our lives. Fear that in what ever lack or challenge we are facing God will not be there… our fears are almost always preceded by a lie that we have believed and we have spent time reflecting on.
Recognizing what is happening when fears creep in is essential. “Keeping” our inner peace, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, takes intentionality. We have to be on guard when we sense our peace slipping away and act swiftly.
Sometimes things come out of the blue that rob us of peace. My husband Dave is currently away taking care of business for a few days. So I planned my time out strategically. Sunday I had a very peaceful day planned for myself after church. Creating this study was part of it but so was a good book, a bit of baking, a little prep for guests coming in a couple of days and some needed rest. Sounds like a peaceful plan however when I went downstairs to clean our guest suite I walked into a flooded bathroom. Not just any flood, oh no. Our septic system backed up into our shower! For the next three hours I was busy with a bucket and towels and lots of Lysol. Then I started stressing on how I was going to entertain. Dave is unable to come back to help and this is not my area of expertise! Peace had evaporated. Frustration and stress took its place. Thank heavens I had been thinking about this teaching for the last couple of days. I had to stop, breathe, pray and laugh. I had to calm down and make a new plan. I am hoping this will be fixed before our guests come, I have already arranged another room upstairs and we may be eating out….life happens but we always have a choice of how we will respond. Even it we have to do an about-face mid stream …pun intended.
Peace is not always about dealing with a fear or challenge it can be robbed from us simply by not being mindful of the atmosphere we are living in.
I have been reading a great book; “Win Win Parenting” by Seth and Lauren Dahl. I bought this book after hearing Seth speak with the intention of reading it, highlighting it and then giving it to my very busy son. Seth talks about placing a high value on peace in their home. If it’s missing they find out why. They found they were always rushing to get out the door as a family ( how I remember that stress…) The kids were picking up on their frustration and there was a total lack of peace. After spending time thinking about the reason for the chaos they decided to give everyone more time to get ready. Sounds simple but it took analysis and then planned change. Another variable causing peace to evaporate was that mom needed some quiet time and wasn’t getting it with two small children. So they started a quite time every day where the kids knew everyone had to have a quiet activity for 1 hour each morning. Mom got the mental space she needed and things settled down. As I read many other examples I actually felt more peaceful and recognized the importance of paying attention to what disturbs our peace and taking appropriate action to restore that which we value.
Most of us are no longer raising small children but the peace in our homes can still be disrupted. The solutions will be different for every household. The point is to figure out what robs your home of peace. Are you too busy, saying yes too often, not taking time out for self-care? Maybe there is simply too much screen time in your home or you are not taking time to really be in the presence of the Lord each day and need to re-work your schedule. I appreciated just evaluating what might be a distraction and making some adjustments for us. We are listening to more music at night and watching less TV. I am making sure I schedule in rest each day, something brand new for me!
Peace within relationships with each other is also vital to our sense of abiding inner peace.
Paul shares with us of the importance of living in peace with everyone.
If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
For He is [Himself] our peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one [body], and has broken down (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us,
Paul makes it clear: we are to do everything we can to live in peace and unity with our family, our friends, our neighbors, those we work with and especially the entire body of Christ. We all know this takes work and Paul states” as far as it depends on us”, if possible we should live in harmony. Most often this means we are the ones to take the first step, the first to forgive, reach out, pray for reconciliation, whatever we can do. Is it easy? No, it usually means dying to our self-interests or our pride. It means going the extra mile, sometimes straight up hill.
Inner Peace. It is a gift from God and it is so real and yet can often times feel so fragile. We must constantly renew our minds and remind ourselves that He is our peace and how we have been instructed to maintain it. Take every thought captive that would contradict His promises. I love the instruction Paul gives to the Colossians:
And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].
The Peace of Christ is a gift. We have the Holy Spirit acting as umpire! He tells us when we are off base. We just have to listen. Our hearts and minds can rest as we praise Him, trust Him and ask what we need of a good, good Father who loves us and desires that His peace be ours.
This week as I was sharing what God was teaching me about peace with my prayer partner. She shared with me that her son in law had called her to come quickly, her daughter might have to go to the emergency room she was in so much pain and they needed her to watch the kids. After arriving she asked her daughter where the level of her pain was. She told her it had been an 8 on a scale of 1-10. However the moment her mom came in it dropped to a 3. She also shared that her anxiety had simply gone. Her story reminded me of another scripture:
13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Matt 10:13
You see not only is peace a gift from God to us, it is a gift we are able to give to others. We are atmosphere changers!