Sunday, 9 May 2021

The Peace of God that Surpasses all Understanding

We can say that we trust God in all things, but we don’t really know that we do, until we have been through trials and practically put our trust in God through them

Source: BibleVerse to go
A dictionary definition of peace is ‘Peace is freedom from hostile aggression, a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or diverse groups’. This represents the world’s view of peace, basically the absence of conflict. True peace, however, is the peace that only God can give. In Philippians 4:7 the Apostle Paul says, ‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. Also, in John 14:27 Jesus says, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’. So, know that God’s peace is far beyond anything we can understand and that it protects our hearts and minds in Jesus, it is a gift Jesus gave us, it is not the peace that the world can give. Jesus tells us not to be afraid, but that is easier said than done. 

Of course, worldly peace is short lived. There are always wars going on somewhere in the world. There are always major conflicts between countries or within governments and all sorts of examples of man’s inhumanity to man. Even in our own lives and among the people we know and love, we see disagreements, unexpected sad and tragic circumstances that appear unjust to us.  So how can we have God’s peace with all that going on? Well, Jesus’ promise of peace does not mean we are free from tribulation; John 16:33 ‘And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world, you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!’ (The Passion Translation (TPT)).

There are many more scriptures to back up the fact that God says, if we believe in Jesus and walk in His ways, we will certainly face trials and persecution in this world. Sometimes, even as Christians, we can mix up the world’s peace and God’s peace. When we go through trouble, we can think God is punishing us for our sins or we are not good enough. We can believe God does not love us or has abandoned us and we can even believe that life should always be a happy and joyful existence if we are leading a Christian life. However, all of these are false. It is perfectly clear that as Christians, we will suffer but God’s Word tells us that we can still have peace in all circumstances. 

God lets us go through persecution, but why? Firstly, if we are followers of Christ, we will suffer because he suffered; John 15:20 (TPT) ‘So remember what I taught you, that a servant isn’t superior to his master. And since they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. And if they obey my teachings, they will also obey yours’. Secondly, God is instructing us. He allows bad things to happen to us, he is not punishing us, but rather teaching us. When we are taught something, it is to further our knowledge and understanding. We can learn a lot from textbooks and teachers, but we also need to get practical experience. As Christians we have the most amazing full and complete textbook, the Bible. We also have wonderful teachers and other books, that help us understand and interpret what God is teaching us. Just as in education there are certain things we have to accomplish practically before we can say we can do it.  Each of us have our own walk with God. We can say we have faith, but unless our faith has been tested practically, then it is just words. If we say we are long suffering and have perseverance or patience, it is just words, if we haven’t been tested through it practically. We can say that we trust God in all things, but we don’t really know that we do, until we have been through trials and practically put our trust in God through them.

Source; embroiderypanda
James 1:2-4 tells us; ‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’. We can’t be expected to feel joy at all times, can we? No, of course not, we are not expected to be robots without feelings and emotions. When my mum went to be with the Lord, two good friends of mine prayed with me that my grief would not overwhelm me. I didn’t understand at the time what they meant, but later, I realised that though I needed to grieve, my grief did not overwhelm me, as it does with some people, because of my relationship with Christ and the gift of His Peace.

Numerous devout people in the bible suffered many trials. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Stephen, who was stoned to death, Paul who came close to death many times and was eventually killed for his faith. There are many more examples, and all of these had the peace of God in them because they trusted God and lived to please Him and not themselves or the world. Jesus himself, in the knowledge that He was going to suffer an inhumanely painful death of crucifixion, went ahead with the Father’s Will for Him. He didn’t, smile with joy, no, He went into the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed a heartfelt prayer to His Father in heaven, sweated blood, asked for the cup to be taken from Him but then obeyed the Father and died for us so that we might have eternal life. 

Some of us can tend to get temptations and trials mixed up, however, temptations never come from God but from within ourselves or from satan. Satan only tempts with that which is desirable to us. He put temptation in Jesus’ way, but as we know Jesus resisted him every time. James 1:13-15 tells us ‘Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death’. James 4:7 gives us some advice on how we might deal with these situations; ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’.

So, how can we obtain this peace that surpasses all understand? The bible, as ever, offers this advice:

Pursue our relationship with God - Acts 4:12 ‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’.  Peace will allude those who don’t have a relationship with God. Without that knowledge of Jesus there will always be fear of death and judgement within the hearts of people. Yet knowing the Lord enables believers to have peace even within the worst of storms.

Put away anxious thoughts and place our trust in God - Philippians 4:6-7 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. Believers can struggle with doubt or unbelief leading to anxious thoughts. However, we are clearly taught not to worry about anything! By praying to God and giving thanks to Him for everything and trusting Him in everything we can receive His peace

Prioritise our spiritual walk - Matthew 6:33-34 ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’Peace can be difficult to find when we become distracted with the cares and worries of this world. It is easy to fall away from our spiritual walk after a series of small compromises of faith that slowly drain peace from our lives.  Making our spiritual growth a priority is essential to having a life of peace to sustain us in hard times.  We have to ask ourselves: How is our prayer life? Are we constantly in the word? Do we fellowship regularly with other believers?

Push past our present situation - 2 Corinthians 5:7 ‘for we walk by faith, not by sight’. It is easy to get stuck in our present situation and let our peace evaporate just like it did for Peter when he stepped out on the water to walk towards Jesus. Peace isn’t the absence of a stormy situation - it is the ability to remain calm and faithful in spite of the uncertainty. Faith is about hoping for what we don’t yet see in this world and as we grow in our faith, the peace of God will infiltrate our heart and minds with his peace.

Peace, be still – In Mark 4:39-41, When the disciples were afraid for their lives because of the fierceness of the storm, and in a frenzy, they woke Jesus. He said three simple words ‘Peace be still’ and the entire weather system complied. Can you imagine the amazement of those tough and experienced fishermen? The Lord desires that we step back from the anxieties and perplexities of this world to see His power displayed in magnificent ways. Jesus knew about the storm brewing while He slept on the boat and He knows about the storms hovering over our lives even today, yet He still says, ‘Peace be still’

We can take great comfort from what the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength’. I pray, that as followers of Jesus, we may demonstrate the peace of God every day so that others may know Him too. Philippians 4:4-7 ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let our gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus’.

I leave you with these final words from Philippians 4:8-9 which I use as a prayer for all those read this and myself too; ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever 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’.

Be blessed.

Author: Barbara Dragunas

May God bless and enrich your life

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