Monday, August 22, 2016

Experiencing True Peace

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation (Ephesians 2:14 NJKV)

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6 NIV)

Dear Brethren, many of you might be going through tough trials and circumstances and we encourage you not to let your faith slip away but stand firm in the faith and keep fighting the good fight (Hebrews 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:12). If we do this, the Lord promises that He will turn our mourning into dancing (Jeremiah 31:4; Psalm 30:11). Furthermore, never forget that the Lord is with you even in your low and lonely times (Psalm 23:4; 139:1-18). If our precious Lord Jesus Christ saved you and did not give up on you while you were dead in sin, how much more will He save you and not give up on you now that you want to love Him and be with Him forever (Romans 5:6-10)? Therefore, trust in the Lord and resist the enemy's thoughts that the Lord has forgotten you or that you have no hope in Him (Isaiah 56:3). Keep the faith and stand firm in it, knowing that other believers are also enduring similar trials (1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Peter 5:9; Acts 14:22).

The word "peace" typically is used to refer to the absence of disturbance, strife, or hostilities. At a personal level, peace usually refers to a quiet and calm state of mind, free from internal and external strife. Biblically, peace (or the Hebrew word “Shalom”) carries a deeper meaning, referring to “being complete or whole" or "to live well". This concept of peace is best illustrated by the Apostle John’s statement: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).

In today’s article, we want to encourage you to be on guard against the devil’s schemes to steal your peace (John 10:10), leaving you offended, vengeful, holding grudges, complaining, cold, divided, anxious, and unforgiving. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and peace through the Lord Jesus Christ is good news (Acts 10:36)! Jesus Himself as the Prince of Peace is our peace (Isaiah 9:6; Ephesians 2:14. Contrary to the prosperity teachers who emphasize material things as the key to peace, we want to emphasize that true peace comes from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior (Isaiah 53:4-5; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3), and is focused on encouraging us to prepare for eternal life. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:26).

Having Peace with Oneself

As Christians aspiring to live holy lives, daily we are faced with challenges and circumstances that can get us out of God’s rest and peace, including anxiety and worry. As we mentioned in the Being Anxious article, children of God throughout the Bible were faced with distressful situations such as being mistreated, persecuted, and even killed (Hebrews 11:32-38). In spite of these fiery trials, they had exemplary responses of not worrying, but trusting in God and praying for His will and deliverance (Daniel 3:13-30; Luke 23:34; 23:46).

Have you had nights when you were unable to sleep peacefully because you were distraught or anxious about something or someone? Remember that the Bible admonishes us not worry about anything but to always pray, making our requests with thanksgiving, and casting all our cares on the Lord; and the Lord is faithful to give us peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 6:25-34). If you are afraid of man, the Lord says: "I, even I, Am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass...” (Isaiah 51:12). We are called to be those who lie down and sleep in peace, because the Lord keeps us safe (Psalm 4:8). With the Lord on our side, faithful believers do not have to fear the sudden ruin that overtakes the wicked, as the Lord will keep us from harm (Proverbs 3:23-26; Isaiah 12:2). And even if death comes, our hope remains in God (Psalm 116:15; Daniel 3:16-18).

Meditating on worldly things or bad news also steals our peace. However, if we meditate on the Word and trust in the Lord, He will keep us in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3; Romans 8:6). When we neglect to eat our daily bread through Bible reading, we leave our souls hungry and thirsty (Matthew 4:4). We also miss out on teaching and instruction that keeps our peace flowing like a river and empowers us to resist sinning against God (Isaiah 48:18). Just as a newborn baby craving the mother’s milk, we are blessed and filled when we read God’s Word (Matthew 5:6; 1 Peter 2:2). Obedience to Christ yields joy and peace within oneself (Isaiah 57:2; Isaiah 57:21). The greatest inner conflict comes from guilt and strong feelings of anxiety; in Christ however, we have secured rest if we accept by faith (Matthew 11:28).

Having Peace with Others

We are encouraged through the Bible to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18), and to “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). With offenses come hurt and thoughts to complain, slander, hate, and hurt others back in vengeful attitudes. As we already warned and shared with you in the Do Not Seek Revenge article, it is our responsibility to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18-19). The Bible teaches us not repay anyone with evil, but to seek to do good to one another and overcome evil with good (1 Thessalonians 5:15; Romans 12:21). You may ask, “What if the person who offended me doesn’t want to speak to me”? The Word of God teaches us to love our enemies, bless them, pray for them, lend to them without expecting to get anything back, and do good to them (1 Peter 4:8; Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-35; Proverbs 25:21).

There was a sharp rebuke from the Lord to one of our ministry members for being always provocative and finding fault with everything. He told her to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11). Brethren, this kind of behaviour is a demonstration that there is a lack of peace in the person. This is a restless spirit from the devil to torment and rob you of peace. Just like wisdom, if we lack peace, pray and God will give it to you liberally (James 1:5). Furthermore, just like this brethren (the one referred to above), if you don't have peace you will find it very difficult to get along with people, and in the absence of peace there is no love for these two fruits compliment each other.

We have heard people say, “I will not forgive somebody unless they apologize” or “I will forgive after this person asks for forgiveness”. Children of God are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Therefore, even if someone has not asked for forgiveness, it is right and good to extend it whether they know it or not; this is so that we also may be forgiven our own sins and have peace and assurance of eternal life (Matthew 6:14-16; Luke 6:37). Likewise, if you unknowingly hurt someone and they inform you that you hurt them, it is helpful to some people to hear you apologize if you are willing to repent genuinely (Luke 17:3).  But like the Lord Jesus, it is good to forgive regardless of whether you hear an apology or not (Luke 23:34). Your life is not guaranteed tomorrow, and you don’t want to die in sin – “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15).

Anger and strife also deteriorate peace. In the article, Spirit of Anger, Brother Glenn shared how the Lord showed that impatience and complaining (Numbers 14:2-3) result in hurling of insults, offensive comments with a raging anger. This is not only hurtful, but emotionally draining as well. This results and leaving those involved feeling down and “beat up” in the heart. Many brethren especially couples, co-workers, siblings, and friends may have experienced this. However, we must “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord “(Hebrews 12:14) and “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19).

In eagerness to maintain the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace, we are called not to sin in our anger or let the sun go down while still angry (Ephesians 4:3; 26). Indeed, sleep is sweet when we have resolved our issues and reconciled with others through repentance or forgiveness (Hebrews 12:15). Since we do not know the day or hour of the Lord’s coming, it will be good to be found at peace being ready when He comes “whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn” (Mark 13:35).

Furthermore, praying and interceding for our cities and for all people including our leaders and all those in high positions is encouraged that we may have peaceful, quiet, prosperous, godly and dignified lives (1 Timothy 2:1-2; Jeremiah 29:7).

In helping people who are in distress, wishing them peace is simply not sufficient; we should be ready and willing to tangibly help those who are in need (James 2:14-24).

Having Peace with God

Having peace with God means having assurance of eternal salvation (John 3:16). It begins with simply accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, repenting of our sins, forgiving others their sin, and obeying the Lord (Roman 10:9-10; 1 John 1:9; Isaiah 32:17). Those who believe in, trust, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ have been justified by faith and have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Loving and being obedient to God’s law causes us to please Him and yields great peace (Psalm 119:165). When we are at peace with God, He will make even our enemies to be at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7).

The Bible says, that Jesus "was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). The Lord gave us His peace and encouraged us not to let our hearts be troubled or be afraid (John 14:27). He also gave us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth (John 14:26; 15:26). God promises to take care of all our needs (Matthew 6:31).

The Lord has promised us that when He comes for His bride, and in His glorious new creation, all the former things will be forgotten and will not even come to mind (Isaiah 65:17). “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Therefore, whatever feelings you’re struggling with, including what others will think about you if you repent, those will be forgotten as long as you are right with God (1 Peter 5:6-7). He intends for us to have a covenant of life and peace with Him; therefore, let us fear Him and honor His name (Malachi 2:5).

Increasingly, as the Bible foretold years ago would happen in the last days, we are seeing a proliferation of false prophets (2 Timothy 3:5; 4:3; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude 1:4). Many Christians, especially those who, unlike the Bereans (Acts 17:11), don’t diligently study God’s Word for themselves, are therefore left either confused or with a false sense of peace. The Bible clearly tells us that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace...” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

In conclusion, we will leave with these encouraging words:
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
May the God of peace be with you all. Amen (Romans 15:33).
Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
Are you lacking peace within, with others, and with God? Would you like to repent of your sin and ask the Lord Jesus to set you free from your lack of peace? Please begin by with this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed Peace in Christ,

Brother Abes and Sister Janet.
Reviewed Updated by Brother Glenn.