Thursday, February 09, 2017

God’s Perfect Peace



“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.”
(Is 26:3 NASB)

When all is going well, it’s easy to read this scripture in a very superficial way. But it was given to Israel in a dark period of her history. That makes it even more precious to us. The Bible doesn’t promise that we’ll be free from troubles, wars, trials, temptations, tears and sorrows in life. God promises something better. He promises peace in the midst of the storm. In the fiercest of battles, while the storm is at its height, the trusting soul can know inward peace and tranquility. There can be a deep down calm and quiet confidence. How much do you want God’s wonderful peace? Do you long to experience it?

“For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
‘In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.’
But you were not willing,”
(Isa 30:15 NASB)

Are we willing? That’s the question each one of us has to ask ourselves.

PERFECT VS IMPERFECT PEACE

God’s peace is described as “perfect peace.” In Hebrew, this is “shalom shalom.” It’s like a “man’s man” or “pizza pizza”. This is the kind of peace that peace has! Not necessarily freedom from conflict on the outside - but freedom from disturbance on the inside. “Shalom” has an idea of soundness or health. I would equate this to being spiritually healthy. This is Jesus saying “Peace be still” to your soul.

We all want the “perfect peace” that God offers us, but if we’re honest, most of what we call “peace” is actually something less than God’s best. God’s Perfect peace is qualitatively different from our own imperfect peace. For example, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss.” We can believe that all is going well in our lives when it really isn’t. Sometimes we choose to ignore reality because it is uncomfortable to face – but don’t mistake human comfort for God’s peace! Satan can delude the minds of people and make them think all is well when it just isn’t so.

“They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
But there is no peace.”
(Jer 6:14 NASB)

Stagnation is another form of imperfect peace. A pool of water may appear beautiful and serene, but underneath it is a foul, green slime. The peace some people know is just like that. We can stagnate out of complacency – “things aren’t so bad, I’m doing OK,” so I’m lulled into a false sense of peace. Stagnation can also come from dependence on someone or something. But that “thing” can fail and that “someone” can let us down. It doesn’t take much to stir up the waters of our lives: illness, financial difficulties, problems at work or at home. These circumstances have a way of revealing what lies beneath the surface. Unfortunately, when trouble comes, we may discover that we have no real peace at all.

God’s peace is “perfect peace.” It’s a peace despite our circumstances, not because of them.

DOUBLE PEACE

God’s peace isn’t just perfect in quality, it’s perfect in quantity. The supply is more than sufficient to meet our needs. Going back to the Hebrew, this “shalom, shalom” is “peace, peace” in English. It means a “double peace.” (Mother of all peaces!) There’s enough peace in this double peace to guard both our hearts and our minds! How? First by giving us peace WITH God then giving us the peace OF God. Peace WITH God comes at salvation.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
(Rom 5:1 NASB)

Jesus gave us this peace. He obtained it for us and it is our through saving faith in Him. You’ll never know the peace OF God until you come to peace WITH God.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
(Phil. 4:7,9 NASB)

The peace of God is with us because the God of peace is with us!

HOW DO WE GET (AND KEEP) THAT PEACE?

It is only through Jesus that the peace of God flows through our souls. Only the Christian can know that peace. So it’s not surprising that the same activities that are associated with having a healthy relationship with God are also associated with having peace.

“Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.”
(Psalm 119:165 NASB)

“If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out…  I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble…”
(Lev 26:3,6a NASB)

Peace is given to those who love God’s law – which is God’s Word. When our relationship with God is vibrant, we’ll want to spend time in His Word. It won’t just be an obligation; it will be something we love! And it won’t just be an intellectual exercise, we’ll want to do what it says!

Peace is a result of obedience. “If you walk in My statutes…” God guarantees us that if we will do our part, He will do his part. It might be tempting to read that as a legalistic statement – some sort of spiritual quid-pro-quo. But it’s not a transaction, it’s a relationship, and relationships need to be cultivated!

Having a peace problem? How are your daily devotions going? How’s your obedience?

Remember, Jesus purchased our peace on the cross and He is the source. But it is CONVEYED to our hearts and minds through the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As we give ourselves over to Him more, we are filled with Him more. And as He fills us and controls us, He produces in us more and more peace.

So that means we need to be “Spirit-filled” believers! I don’t mean that we’re supposed to be emotional chandelier-swingers - although there’s nothing wrong with that at times! In fact, having God’s peace doesn’t mean that we’re always outwardly calm – we can be exuberant in praise and worship. But the reality is, we’re to live submitted to the Spirit at all times, constantly listening for His nudgings and promptings as we seek to please Him in all respects.

I know that the idea of being “Spirit-filled” might have different connotations for different people, depending on your church background. But I believe we can all agree that a person who seeks to live filled with God’s Spirit is going to demonstrate that, not necessarily by certain gifts, but most definitely by the fruit of their lives. Whatever is inside them is going to overflow onto the outside! That's how you can tell what a person is filled with! And since peace is certainly listed among the fruit of the Spirit, if we're filled with God's Spirit, His peace will overflow our lives!.

I do believe we have a lot to do with whether we experience God’s peace or not. Because, ultimately, experiencing God’s peace comes from trusting that God is in control, even when it doesn’t look like it! So when we are troubled, we bring our concerns, fears and worries to the Lord in prayer. And when we finally choose to leave them there, we leave with God’s peace. Listen to Paul’s description:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Phil 4:4-7 NASB)

Ultimately, peace is not a thing. It’s not some experience, doctrine, a code of belief, or even an “it.” God’s Peace is a Person – the Lord Jesus Himself. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For He Himself is our peace…” (Eph 2:14a) Have you experienced God’s Perfect Peace yet? If not, may I introduce you to Jesus?
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