The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Peace "of" God

When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior they cross a line that moves them from being at war with God to being at peace with God (Romans 5:1). Being at peace with God is a wonderful thing. Knowing you will spend eternity at peace with God is a stupendous thing. But did you know that it is possible for a Christian to experience peace with God but be missing the peace of God? It’s true; there are many born again believers who are wracked with anxiety and worry and lack Gods peace. Many Christians have peace with God but miss the peace of God.

In Romans 5 Paul uses phrases like “and not only that” (5:3), and “much more” (5:9.10.15, 17, 20) to show that God’s grace is limitless and inexhaustible. Just when we think God’s grace can’t get any better, He exceeds our expectations and understanding to bless us all the more (Ephesians 3:20-21). That’s the way God is, He just can’t stop loving us! Let me share one way God goes beyond our expectations.

It is one thing to have peace with God; it is another thing to have the peace of God. Not only does God provide peace with Him, but He also provides His peace to help us live in this life. The peace of God is that steadying force, that inner sense that God is in control no matter what. The peace of God is that settling effect that guards the believer’s heart from being overwhelmed as they trust hopefully in God to be faithful in all of life. How can we receive the peace of God? There are two practical steps to experiencing the peace of God.

First, the peace of God is received as we commit all things to Him in prayer.
Paul speaks of this to the Philippians when he is inspired to write:

  • Philippians 4:6-9 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

The peace of God can permeate the believer to the depths of their being and take up residence in the mind and heart. By prayer in all things, we declare our dependence upon God who comes to us in our time of need to guard and quiet our anxieties and fears. Fear is the foe of faith and is overcome by prayerfully putting faith in God. In prayer we can literally cast our cares upon the Lord; we can throw off our worries; we can ax our anxieties (1 Peter 5:6-7). Then we rest in the peace of God trusting the Lord to be in control.

The way we think can also determine if we experience the peace of God. Paul tells us if we meditate on the pure, true, noble, just, lovely, good report and praiseworthy things it will facilitate Gods’ peace being poured out in our lives. He then says if you “do” the things you learned, received and heard and saw in him “the peace of God will be with you.” Put God’s word into practice friend, and God’s peace will be with you! If you want the peace of God there is no substitute or alternative to saturating yourself with God’s word.

Second, the peace of God is fueled by the word of God, worship and Christlike doing.
Paul was inspired to write to the Colossian church:

  • Colossians 3:15-17 – “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Paul says, “Let.” This is an exhortation that implies God wants to give you His peace. All we need do is let Him give it to us. The peace of God is from Him and received by faith. Paul tells us to let God’s peace rule our hearts and be thankful for it. That means we let God’s peace be our referee to determine the way we ought to go in life.

The word of God fuels the peace of God in us because the word of God testifies to the faithfulness and provision of God. The word of God also guides us so that when we cast off our cares it does not lead to irresponsibility.
One of the best ways to counter anxiety and fear is to consume the word of God, read it, meditate on it, and study it prayerfully. Paul points us to the psalms in particular. I always find the psalms comforting to read during times of trials or difficulties.

In Colossians 3:16 Paul also points us to worship as a means of bringing the peace of God into our lives. If you’re having a hard time of it, worship the Lord. Turn off the TV and turn on the praise and worship. Worship in the Spirit and the peace of God will come upon you and settle your heart and mind.

And lastly, we should do all that we do “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” That means we do all that we do in the power of Christ and in a Christ like way. When we do things in His strength His way we have no reason to regret and the peace of God is unleashed in our lives. Do your best and trust him with the rest and God’s peace will be released in your life.

God doesn’t only provide the opportunity to have peace with Him, but “much more,” He provides His peace to help us through life now. Charles Ryrie, in his book So Great Salvation, tells a story of a Father and child that illustrates the practical nature of peace with God.

The 3-year old felt secure in his father's arms as Dad stood in the middle of the pool. But Dad, for fun, began walking slowly toward the deep end, gently chanting, "Deeper and deeper and deeper," as the water rose higher and higher on the child. The lad's face registered increasing degrees of panic, as he held all the more tightly to his father, who, of course, easily touched the bottom. Had the little boy been able to analyze his situation, he'd have realized there was no reason for increased anxiety. The water's depth in ANY part of the pool was over his head. Even in the shallowest part, had he not been held up, he'd have drowned. His safety anywhere in that pool depended on Dad. At various points in our lives, all of us feel we're getting "out of our depth" -- problems abound, a job is lost, someone dies. Our temptation is to panic, for we feel we've lost control. Yet, as with the child in the pool, the truth is we've never been in control over the most valuable things of life. We've always been held up by the grace of God, our Father, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we're safe when we're "going deeper" than we've ever been.

When we come to rest by faith in Christ, in the peace of God, we rest in His arms. Resting in His arms, we should fear nothing in this life. By faith we receive peace with God; by faith we receive the peace of God; and then no matter what happens in life, God holds us and we get through.

[1] Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, Victor Books, 1989, p. 137ff.

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