How are you doing with that third characteristic of the life of the Holy Spirit? Forgotten it? Love, joy … and, yes, come on … PEACE! (Galatians 5:22) We are not living in an era where peace is easily found. Our political and social states are in turmoil. Prosperity is threatened. The future is murky.
Jesus says that peace is not only possible, it is part of our divine birthright. “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.” (John 14:27, NIV) Re-read His promise! Are you living in God’s promised peace?
Let’s explore how the Scripture defines that word. In the Old Testament, first written in Hebrew, the word “shalom.” Shalom describes much more than simply the absence of conflict! Shalom is a state of being: whole, complete, prosperous, as well as tranquil. Shalom is more than a momentary rest.
God’s people could live without the fear so common to those who felt that their ‘gods’ were hostile, in need of constant appeasement. God taught that He was a caring, benevolent Father. When the lived in right relationship with Him, they found ‘rest for their souls.’ (Jeremiah 6.16) The sense of being ‘at rest’ because of God’s care, continues in the New Testament. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11, NIV)
In Christ Jesus, we find completion, full assurance that we are reconciled to God, His very own. When we receive His gift, we no longer live in dread. Indeed, God becomes our Source of serenity. Paul tells us “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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
There are choices we must make to enter His rest, to remain in His peace. Though peace is a gift of God, but we cannot receive it unless we align ourselves to God’s will.
Most basically, we abandon our attempts to prove ourselves worthy, receiving Christ Jesus as Savior. We will never be ‘good enough for God’ through our own efforts. As hard as we may try, we will not live in peace with God based on our own merit. Jesus entered His Creation, lived with us, died for us, raised to life, and returned to the Father’s Presence. When we trust Him, the peace of God envelopes us.
Knowing peace with God, we begin to choose to live ‘in peace’ with others. Are you in constant conflict, simmering resentment with members of your family, angry with your neighbor, quick to defend ‘your rights?’ Jesus makes much of two choices – forgiveness and gentleness. Forgiveness is a willingness to put offense in the hands of God, trusting Him to bring justice. Gentleness goes even further. It refuses offense at all! Neither quality is widely admired in our culture, but they are keys to knowing the peace of God.
We trust God to provide. When He taught us to pray, Jesus showed us how we best think of God: “Our Father.” He told us ‘become like a little child.’ No, he did not mean childishly irresponsible, but with a faith that accepts each day, each moment from the Lord along His provisions for that day. We must be responsive to the Spirit. When He says, “no,” we stop! When He says, “go,” we move! A rebellious, willful person cannot enjoy blessed peace.
Peace requires acceptance of live as it is, not as we think it ought to be. Related to that is the understanding that we cannot be everything that others want us to be. We must choose simplicity as our way of life. Peace is impossible to find as long as we want to be someone else, somewhere else, convinced that life will be better only if and when …
God has provided ALL that we need for peace, right where we are. Don’t confuse acceptance with apathy. Giving up and resigning to ‘fate’ can look like peace but leave our inner being tore up with regret and resentment. True acceptance includes a healthy dose of faith that allows us to take God’s hand, led from this day to the next, confident of His care!
Disciple, part of our spiritual inheritance is the peace of God. In a fractured, pressured, stressed world, we can be people who enjoy holy peace, the blessing of shalom. We don’t have to escape into isolation, or disconnect from reality to live in it. It flows out of our relationship with the One who loves us most.
Here’s a word from the Word. I pray that you will live in the promise. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27, NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)
In 2020, this song from Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes has become well-known around the world. As you listen today, let The Blessing become real to you.
The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make his face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
he Lord turn his
Face toward you
And give you peace
Amen Amen Amen
May his favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children and their children
May his presence
Go before you and behind you
And beside you all around you
And within you
He is with you He is with you
In the morning
In the evening
In your coming
And your going
In your weeping
He is for you
He is for you
He is for you
He is for you
Chris Brown | Cody Carnes | Kari Jobe | Steven Furtick © 2020 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Kari Jobe Carnes Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Worship Together Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Writer’s Roof Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)
CCLI License # 810055