In John 20, “Peace be with you” was the first thing Christ said when, shortly after His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, who were hiding behind locked doors, saddened and afraid.
The Apostle Paul’s letters all include the greeting “grace and peace to you.”
Clearly peace is God’s will for His children.
So what is this peace that Jesus wanted His disciples to have and that he wants us, His children to also have?
And how do we find peace in our own lives?
Notice the following from the fourth chapter of Philippians:
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
To answer the question “what is peace” for the Christian we need look no further than verse 7. It is a peace that ‘passes all understanding’, in other words, a peace that the world does not comprehend.
Listen as Jesus speaks in John 14:27:
“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.”
To the world that doesn’t know Christ, peace is believed to come from the absence of conflict or having enough money or being healthy, any number of things all related to circumstances. Peace to the Christian, however, is not determined by where we are in life but by Who we know in life. Because we know the “God of Peace” we can experience the reality of peace, despite our circumstances.
However, if you’re like me, that’s sometimes easier said than done!
We know the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ is available to us as believers, but we don’t always know how to appropriate it in our own lives.
Fortunately, God has not left us in the dark regarding how to ensure that we experience His peace.
I want to point out three things from our Philippians passage that will lead to us experience peace in our lives:
· Let go of anxiety through prayer.
In verse 6, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything!
We’re told also in I Peter 5:7:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
This is one of the functions of prayer in believers’ lives, to transfer to God that which is troubling us, knowing that He is sufficient to handle any situation we’re facing.
What are you worried about right now? No matter what it is, you can take it to God in prayer knowing that He promises to take it from you and give you peace in return.
Isaiah 61:3 paints a beautiful picture of this exchange:
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair…”
· Take care what we put into our minds.
Paul tells us that if we think about true, lovely and noble things, among others, we will find God’s peace. However, that has become hard to do in the world we live in.
In fact, unless we make a specific effort to fill our minds with the things of God we can rest assured that our minds will be filled with what the world offers.
Paul tells us in Colossians 3:2:
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
It’s clear that we must make a conscious choice to ‘set’ our minds on the things of God. The primary source for the things of God is of course, scripture. That’s why it’s so important to practice daily scripture reading and to memorize scripture.
Find scripture passages that are particularly meaningful to you at the moment, ones related to a struggle you’re going through or a temptation you’re facing and memorize them.
Nothing chases away the enemy and restores peace to our souls quicker than countering the lies that Satan whispers in our ear with the truth of God’s Word.
David tells us in Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.”
Remember when Jesus was being tempted in the desert (Matthew 4)? How did He respond to Satan’s temptations?
Every time Jesus began His response with “It is written…” countering Satan’s lies with the truth of God’s Word.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 4:11 that after this the “devil left Him and angles came and attended to Him.”
· Apply what we learn from prayer and scripture.
Finally Paul says in verse 9:
“9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
I don’t know about you, but this is probably the hardest of the three for me!
It’s not nearly as difficult to read and agree with Scripture as it is to actually DO what it says!
However, unless we put them into practice, the principles taught in scripture have no affect on our lives.
In Matthew 7:26-27 Christ tells us:
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
James also tells us in James 1:22
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Some of the most unhappy people I know are those who know what the Word of God says, yet they’ve chosen to live contrary to it’s teachings.
Nothing will rob us of peace more quickly than trying to live this way!
James tells us that a double-minded man is unstable in all that he does (James 1:7)
We cannot live with one foot in God’s camp and one foot in the world’s camp and expect to be at peace.
However, when what we know from scripture is in harmony with how we live, we will find peace and joy in abundance.
Next time you find yourself restless and lacking peace quickly think about where you are in your relationship with the Lord.
· Have a made a list of those things which are troubling me and have I taken that list specifically to the Lord and cast it upon Him for help?
· Perhaps you may even want to share those things with a Christian brother or sister so that they can pray about them with you. I know in my own life some of the most difficult burdens I’ve carried were made lighter because I didn’t carry them alone but with the support of other Christians.
· Have I been careful lately what I’ve allowed myself to see, read and hear? Have I been consistent in filling my mind with the things of God or have I just taken in what’s come my way day by day?
· Finally, am I living in a manner consistent with what I know is true from God’s Word?
If any of these things is missing, chances are that is the reason for your lack of peace.
However, the good news is, by correcting any areas where we’ve fallen short, we can again experience the peace that God intends all His children to have!