Practicing the Peace of God
I want to ask you a question. What is the hardest command of Scripture? Of all the things you are told to do or not do in Scripture, which is the most difficult for you? I have discovered that one of the most difficult tasks we have is to remain at peace in all situations. It is to prevent worry and anxiety from dominating our lives.
The peace of God should be one of the distinct qualities that should set apart Christians from the world. Our business associates and non-Christian friends should be able to recognize that we handle life's challenges and crises with a repose and calm that is quite distinct from the rest of the world.
We know this is a problem because Americans spend billions of dollars each year on medicines and preventive therapy to counteract fear and stress and ulcers. But how does the Bible say we can enjoy the peace of God and overcome this lack of inner repose? Let me suggest several ways:
Before I do that, let me mention one more thing about the peace of God. The peace that God has for Christians is not something that merely replaces anxiety or stress or worry. It is possible to live with relatively little stress or worry and yet be totally void of peace. Lack of peace also includes the absence of harmony with God. It's living without anything being able to fully satisfy you. You're just never happy. Peace is not necessarily the absence of turmoil; it's also the lack of satisfaction in God.
Now let's discuss several ways you can practice the peace of God.
1. Peace is practiced through prayer. Many people make prayer an emergency cord that's only pulled at the height of danger, but it shouldn't be; especially since God links the peace He provides His people with their prayer life.
Look at Philippians 4:6. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
(Example) In 1995 Harvard University released a study that investigated the value of prayer. And the study concluded that prayer positively affected circumstances. It showed that prayer helps people cope with stress and even recover from illnesses. Isn't that amazing?
Prayer helps us conquer whatever we face. So how should we pray in order to claim the peace of God? Let's read Philippians 4:6-7 once again.
A. (a) "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by (b) prayer and (c) petition, with (d) thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And [when you do this] the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
a. Paul says, Don't worry!
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->He doesn't say, don't think about the things that unnerve you. He says, don't obsess over them. Don't allow troublesome matters to overwhelm you.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said worry is what Gentiles do. A Gentile is someone who lives without God in their life. That means Christians shouldn't worry, because if there's one thing we have it is God in our lives!
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Worry implies a lack of confidence in God.
b. Then Paul says: Pray.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Prayer is communion with God. Worship Him. Spend time with Him. Get in His presence. Peace will follow!
c. Paul then adds: Petition God.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->In other words, tell God what you want.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Can you put down in a few words what you want God to do for you? Be specific with God. Tell Him what you want.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->If you can be specific with your requests with God you will know when He answers your prayers.
d. Then Paul urges his congregation to be thankful when he says: "present your requests to God with thanksgiving. Thanks should be something Christians excel in!
Let me tell you another trait the Bible relates to "Gentiles." Gentiles will admit that God exists but they refuse to acknowledge His goodness toward them. Listen to Romans 1:21: "although they [the Gentiles] knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
When you have spent time in prayer with God and have asked for His guidance, protections, help and maybe fifteen or twenty other requests make certain you crown your prayer with thanksgiving!
When you take time to thank God you are opening up your heart and mind to God's peace. You are saying, "God I believe You; I trust You. Thank You for Your help!"
e. Let me add another dimension of prayer that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians. Pray in the Spirit."
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->You might ask, "Does praying in the Spirit really help usher in the peace of God to our lives?" Yes! Turn to Isaiah 28:11.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->The Prophet Isaiah says: ". . . with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, (12) to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose." There's a definite correlation between peace and the Holy Spirit's assistance in your prayer life.
2. Peace is claimed when we Trust in God's Word.
Psalm 119:165 says: "Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble." The KJV states it this way: "Great peace have they that love Thy law and nothing shall offend them."
If you live full of the Word, trusting God's Word, believing God's Word it is certain to bring you "great peace"! Stay in God's Word.
God has often helped me through difficult times by giving me a word from His Word or even a prophetic word! You see, God doesn't design all trials with an early exit. The "way of escape" that He promises is 1 Corinthians 10:13 may be to walk through the valley. It may be to suffer for a season. And living with a word from God is all you need to sustain you through great difficulty.
(Bible Example) Acts 26 talks about Paul's trip to Rome when made plans to appeal his innocence to Caesar's Court. He boarded a vessel and set sail in the Adriatic Sea. While he was on the journey he urged the Captain to delay the mission. The Lord showed Paul a storm was coming. But Paul's words were ignored and they encountered a "Nor easterner" that began ripping apart the ship and threatening to kill everyone on board. However, Paul said an angel of the Lord appeared to him during the night and promised him there would be no loss of life. Thus, Paul stood firm and believed God.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->You can't control others insulting you.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->You can't control every accident or misfortune.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->You can't always control layoffs.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->But you can rely on God's faithfulness to see you through.