The Peace of God

boat in fog

Many people feel that they have some form of peace in their lives. But what most are experiencing is merely peace with their own conscience. This is not the peace of God. Some think that when their anxiety level eases up, they have found peace. And others have what they call peace just because they don’t bother to think! But not one of these forms of peace can compare with the peace that God brings. They will not make your soul content.

The peace of God is the kind of peace that “passes all understanding.”

How many people realize that peace is what they are trying to find? Some think it would be nice to find it, but they don’t really pursue it. Yet they spare no effort in pursuing other things they feel are desirable. The search for peace for many others does not begin until they have become disillusioned and worn-out. Then they will often search for just enough peace to enable them to sleep at night and perhaps dream of a way of escape.

Real peace, according to God, relates to His attitude toward man. The “peace of God” refers to a state of total contentment because the mind is at rest. This, in turn, puts the conscience in a state of blessedness and tranquility. This only happens when man gets into the right kind of relationship with God. A person who is not right with God can never turn his mind anywhere but on himself. But man cannot begin to have peace with God until he comes to the point of seeing, and then stating, that God is righteous in requiring the death of Jesus Christ as payment for man’s sin against God.

“Peace of God”—what does this mean? It can be called a condition of the heart, where those who believe in God know that He is always watching over them. But the peace of God cannot come into your heart until you realize that you are guilty of sinning against God. If you have sin in your life, there can be no harmony between you and God, or even with your fellow man.

No true peace can be had until sin’s curse on your life is taken away.

Those who realize that they are sinners [someone who transgresses the law of God] can come to God and tell Him how sorry they are for their sin. If they are sincere, He will forgive them and have mercy on them and save them from sin. Then they can experience what His peace is. But no mercy is promised to those who will not admit that they are wrong. The only way to find true satisfaction for the heart, mind, and conscience is to have peace with God. Any other form of peace is false and deceptive. True peace never involves deceit. Once you find this peace with God, then you can finally achieve peace within yourself and with others. But “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21).

The state of peace between God and man was made possible by Jesus giving up His life on the cross.

All mankind had gotten into a terrible, sinful condition, which was highly offensive to a holy God. This made it absolutely necessary for Jesus to give His life as the only way to save mankind. For those who, in turn, give their lives to Christ, He becomes the Prince of Peace, and God the Father is the God of Peace.

We don’t have to be disturbed concerning what to do about our troubles and our sins, because Jesus already took them all upon Himself when He hung on the cross. He paid the ultimate price (giving up His life) for our sin against the heavenly Father, and now we don’t have to pay it ourselves. In fact, the cost is so enormous that we never could pay it. “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20). When we come to understand this, then our sins will not be able to overcome us anymore and deprive us of peace. We can come to the point where we can live in a state of true peace with God.

But don’t start running after peace—run after Jesus, and His peace will follow you. He is the only source of real peace.

When Jesus left Earth to return to Heaven, He told His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The peace He gives is nothing like the peace the world gives. His peace drives out trouble. Jesus told us to not to let our heart be disturbed out of its relationship with Him. In a world always at war with God, can there ever be real peace? Jesus also told His disciples: “These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The world hated Jesus, and it still does. It hates His followers too. But, even in the midst of all this, He has assured us that we can have peace.

It is not usually the big things which upset us the most, but the ordinary, little, everyday things that disturb our peace continually. What can we do about this? We need to lay out all our troubles before God. Whether we are confronting little difficulties, or large ones, like sorrow or death, we need to hear Him telling us, “Let not your heart be troubled.” The picture of real peace can be seen by looking at the life of Jesus while He was on Earth.

Jesus is not the least bit worried about the difficult situations you find yourself in. But if you worry about them, He won’t get involved in your situation—because you are determined to handle it yourself. Then you get what you deserve. We are to live in Him, but we get disturbed, because we do not take Him into consideration when we look at our difficult situations.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

What is the case with you? Are you trying to find peace with God? Why haven’t you found it yet? Could it possibly be because of your unbelief? To find God’s peace, you need to have faith in God. The more you have faith in Him, the more peace you will have from Him. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

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Choking the Word

thorny plants

“And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them…” (Matthew 13:7). “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

The parable of the sower was one of the first parables (simple stories to teach a moral or deeper truth) that Jesus began to teach the people. In this parable, He was talking about a sower of seed who had distributed it among different kinds of ground. The seed here represents the Word of God. While each of the types of ground that the seed landed upon is important, the focus here is just on the thorny ground. When the Word is sown or distributed among thorns, or the cares of this world, then the Word is choked and has little usefulness.

Many today have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and they usually want to read His Word, the Bible. But they don’t want to yield to what His Word says.

They are driven instead by a desire to succeed. They have obtained many material goods and are determined to enjoy them.

They spend much of their free time entertaining friends, neighbors, and themselves. When approached by someone about God, they will readily mention that they are Christians, and might even quote a verse from the Bible. Yet, if the conversation turns to something deeper, they are quick to change the subject and move on to something else. Their lives are shallow and restricted. They may regularly attend a church and read the Bible some, but they find no real time to do what God says. They always have something else that needs to be done. (But if the Bible was an action-packed movie or a television show, they would easily make some time to watch it!)

thorny cactus

When thorns surround and choke a healthy plant, its growth will be significantly stunted. While it may still be green and appear to be thriving, it will never reach its proper fullness of growth unless the thorns are removed. In fact, it can’t grow anymore, because the thorns have taken control. The plant is basically helpless and will eventually succumb to the thorns. Unless something greater than the thorns comes and removes them, the plant will then wither and die.

When we allow thorns—the cares and pleasures of this world—to take over our life, then God’s Word no longer holds real importance to us. It may reach our heart, but we don’t grow, due to thorns like our job, our home, our vacation overseas, our vehicles, our friends, our movies, our television—on and on the list goes. But our relationship with God must come first. Our main focus should be on Jesus Christ, not social media, the Super Bowl and World Cup, or what restaurant our friends are eating at right now.

“…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 emphasis mine).

When we yield to Him and let Him pull out these thorns, then His Word will become clearer and we will desire to read it again. The more we eagerly want to know about Jesus, the more He will reveal Himself through His Word. The more we learn about Him through reading His Word, the more we will want to do what He tells us in His Word.

When Jesus sows His Word in our heart and we allow the thorns of the cares of this world to choke it out, we are saying that we do want Him, but we also plan to continue to do everything our way by ourselves. He then becomes like just another material item we own that we can proudly boast about to others.

Let Jesus be the source of your care, concern, and pleasure, not this world and all of its sources of temporary satisfaction.

Jesus said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21 emphasis mine). Go before Him in prayer and make Him your treasure, yielding the thorns over to Him. Then His Word will be able to blossom abundantly in your heart and give you real satisfaction.

Coveting or Content?


(flickr photo by jaguarmena shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license)

Versus

“Let your conversation [lifestyle] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for [Jesus] hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Paul appeals urgently here to Christians to be content with what they have. Since we are still traveling through this world, we are still subject to the trouble it can bring. Coveting (an excessive craving or longing for some part of this world’s wealth) is the opposite of being content. It also includes envying anyone who has more than we do. But Christians should not find it hard to resist coveting, because God Almighty has already promised that He will not forget His children—He will take care of them. What possible reason could we have to covet, therefore? In fact, this kind of promise should keep us from worrying about anything, not just being fearful of doing without.

Let your life be free from covetousness…”
“Covetousness” is commonly called “the love of money.” …they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Don’t wish you could have more than God has already given you. And don’t fall into the trap of coveting what God has given someone else. Why not go and rob that person’s house and take what you want for yourself if you feel this way? This is how God sees it when we covet what others have.

Be content with such things as ye have…”
How can Christians keep from coveting? Let what you have satisfy you. Stop craving other things just because they are newer or different or you don’t have one of that kind already. People who covet are never satisfied with their present state of affairs. They are always looking ahead to see what else they can acquire, before they have even enjoyed what they already have. This kind of attitude gets worse and worse as the years roll on if nothing is done to restrain it. What do we really own here, anyway? We know that none of it will go with us when we go to be with the Lord. Whenever you confront tight circumstances or have a need, be confident that our God will be with you and He will provide.

God arranges it so that we have just enough money to use in this life as we make our way toward our heavenly home. We already know that we have treasures waiting for us in heaven. That should be all we need to know in order to be content with the ordinary things here.

Realize also—if we Christians can’t be content here, we won’t be content in Heaven either. Look at Adam—he was discontented in the Garden of Eden—Paradise itself!

But then look at Paul. The great apostle found himself with nothing and was held very low in the estimation of others in his time. But he had already learned to be content in any and every state he might find himself in. Christians have good reason to be content with their present lot in life. God promised that He “…will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is not a man that He should lie (see 1 Samuel 15:29). If He promises something, He will follow through on what He said. If we truly believe in God, we know He will not only always be with us throughout our life, but even when we die.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [riches]. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:24-26).

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought…”
“Thought” here means “anxiety”—which is just what Jesus wants to protect us from. There is nothing wrong with giving thought to the future. It is appropriate to give some thought to the things of this life at times. But if we entertain thought as anxiety, or anything that causes care or concern or trouble, that is wrong. When we let our cares and troubles become our supreme concern, then anxiety arises and interferes with our devotion to God. We need to “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians. 4:6).

Jesus’ disciples were being warned in Matthew 6 not to be greedy, and not to be anxious about how their needs would be provided. What difference is there between God’s people and those of the world, if we worry all the time about how we are going to be taken care of, like they are always doing? Does this show that we trust our God? Can’t we depend on Him to provide our needs here, no matter what they may be?

“Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
“Meat” refers to all kinds of food when used in the Bible, while “raiment” refers to clothes. Jesus told His disciples to take “no thought” about how their wants and needs would be supplied. If God can give us life, surely the same God can see that the body He created is fed properly! And won’t He provide clothing for this same body as well? Or is our body merely a receptacle for receiving dainty food and wearing fashionable clothing?

The apostle Paul wrote: “…godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content…O man of God…follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness…do good…be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for [yourself] a good foundation against the time to come, that [you] may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:6, 7, 11, 18, 19). Let’s be content with what we already have. If we have Jesus, we already have everything anyway! He is our source of supply or support—all that we need.

Never forget His promise to us: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

“Fear Ye Not!”

Moses and the crossing of the Red Sea

“…Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever” (Ex. 14:13).

“Fear ye not”, Moses ordered the people of God. Yet here they were, with no weapons, facing the mightiest army on Earth at that time. But their lack of weapons really did not matter, because they had no courage to stand against the Egyptian army anyway.

“Stand still”, Moses then ordered them. They were not to even try to fight, or to help God out in delivering them. What they did need to do was to just stand quietly, reining in their fear, panic, and confusion. That was how they could ‘help’ God!

“See the salvation of the Lord”, Moses told them next. But how could Moses be so sure himself that God would deliver them? He knew there was good reason for hope that God would intervene. His courage and confidence came from seeing the supernatural cloud that had come with them. He also knew that God always positions Himself in between His people and their strong enemies. “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them…” (Exodus 14:19).

The Lord frequently leads His children into very difficult situations from which they are unable to see any way of escape. And they would not have judged this to be a good idea if God had asked their opinion in advance. But God’s cloud always guides them in the direction He deems best.

You may also be in a difficult situation right now, from which you can see no way of escape. Do not worry, do not fear—if God leads you into the situation, then it is appropriate for you, and it will prove to be justified in due time. God will use it later as a way to show His grace and power to you and to others.

Most people tend to place situations between themselves and God. But the man of God places God in between himself and the difficult situation. Has God said “Go forward!” to you? Then watch Him clear the way and lead you, along with other men and women of God, the way a shepherd guides and cares for his flock. His way will be a way unknown to you. But if He chooses to put you in dire straits, He will also be the one to lead you out again.

Where else could Israel go but up? And that is just where their deliverance came from. You may be doing what you should to follow God and make your way to Heaven, and still find yourself troubled every direction you turn. Some of the Israelites cried out against Moses, because they were so afraid. They acted like the same God who had performed miracles to get them this far could no longer perform more miracles on their behalf. Others who were afraid cried unto God in prayer. But this was good for them, because they needed to learn to cry unto God, and no longer rely on Moses or themselves.

kneeling in prayer

Why does God still bring His people today into trying and difficult situations? so that we will go on our knees at once, seeking Him for answers and deliverance. When we cannot find a way to get out of the trouble we find ourselves in, we need to rise above our fear, and use it instead to spur us into prayer. We should never permit our fear to stifle our hope and faith in God.

“Stand still,” instead of trying to fight or flee in order to save yourself. Be a good soldier of God and wait to receive further orders from Him. Then carry out His orders once He gives them to you. Settle yourself to put all confidence in God no matter what situation He has led you into. Then you will see what a great deliverance He is going to accomplish on your behalf!

Hold your peace. Don’t raise your hand to the enemy. Don’t even shout against him. God will do the work needed without any help from you. It is wise when times are hard to keep your spirit calm and quiet. This puts you in the right frame of mind to do the work you are supposed to do and to consider God’s work.

If you can’t figure out what to do, don’t do anything. Stand still until God tells you your next move. It is His concern to defend those who believe in Him and to direct them. “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14).

“Fear ye not!”