Chapter 19: Peace
God has a lot of things to say about peace:
“Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11 ESV
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 ESV
“A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18 ESV
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 ESV
Our peace comes from God:
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 ESV
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 ESV
And He commands us to walk in HIs peace:
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:9-11 ESV
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 ESV
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19 ESV
Peace is a gauge by which we assess our hearts before and within the Lord. Peace is not something that we impose on others from without, rather, peace is something that flows from the heart of God, through our hearts as we are surrendered to Him, and then out to others.
Yet the peace of the God pouring through our lives is not something that happens automatically. In our flesh-selves we find ourselves striving with each other, demanding of each other, condemning each other. Chaos and strife are our natural bent.
“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28 ESV
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:14-16 ESV
“For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” 1 Corinthians 3:3 ESV
As in all things there is a process in becoming men and women of peace. To be conduits of peace there are a few things that must be accomplished in our own hearts and minds.
1. First, we come to understand that we do not really know His peace. We recognize that there is much to learn about the peace of God and we admit our need and confess the lack of peace in our own hearts and minds. We allow the revelation of the Lord to show us our jealousies and to highlight our contentions and then we confess these things to God. Bringing our lack of peace out into the light makes a space by which God’s peace can begin to change and inhabit our lives.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 ESV
2. Second, we must bring our ego needs to the Lord. Where we are insecure we must rest in God and what He declares about us. We do not take our sense of self from our outward lives, but rather we settle into self that is settled in the Lord. We come to Him and He wraps us in His peace.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 ESV
In this, we loose off our demanding of others. The way of peace is the way of walking in forgiveness and understanding.
- Are we contentious in our spirits? We need the peace of the Lord.
- Are we unsettled in joy and faith? We need the peace of the Lord.
- Are we unwilling to set things right with others? We need the peace of the Lord
“For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:20 ESV
Peace is powerful and active. Sometimes we believe peace is passive and lays down at the first hint of trouble. But peace is far more than just refusing to engage chaos or give voice to dissension, peace is the heart of our Father God and when our hearts are transformed by his peace, our hearts become a conduit of His peace.
Out of this work of the Lord in our own lives, peace flows out of our person to others around us. And when we walk in the peace of the Lord the darkness around us must submit to this spirit of peace carried in the love of the Lord. Peace enters in the kingdom of God just as light illuminates a dark room.
Where there are spirits of chaos and destruction, we ignore the spirits of the enemy and instead we pray peace, “God we declare your peace in this place.” Rather than focussing on evil, we focus on God. Instead of going after the enemy, we bring God himself. In this way God’s ways take preeminence – peace does this.
“God, we say yes and amen to your peace over this community.”
“Jesus, we agree with your peace this day over this home.”
“Holy Spirit, bring your peace to our hearts and minds.”
“God, we enter into your peace.”
The enemy cannot stand against peace, for peace is the exact opposite of the nature of the enemy, peace is wholly the nature of God. Most particularly, our own sin nature loses it’s power when brought into the peace of God.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 ESV
“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.” Jeremiah 17:14 ESV
“Creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord, “and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:19 ESV
Where the enemy seeks to destroy, peace seeks to heal. Where our hearts wish to condemn, peace forgives. Where communities are embroiled in dissension, peace brings a balm of the Lord and tensions ease and life increases.
The peace of God changes our lives, transforming our communities. The peace of the Lord begins in our own hearts and spreads from there. May we become people of peace. And as we do this may we enter in the Kingdom of God on earth.
“Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Psalm 147:1-5 ESV (read all of Psalm 147:1-20)
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,” Psalm 103:2-4 ESV
I want you to try an experiment: For one month’s time I want you to stop praying against or mentioning Satan. Instead, I want you to:
- Pray peace
- Be the light of Christ
Here is how you pray peace:
“God, we lift ourselves, this home, this place, this village (a person even, whatever needs the peace of the Lord) to you. I declare your peace over them today. I pour your peace into this place today. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we say, “Peace be upon us.” Amen.”
Here is how you can be the light of Christ:
At the end of the book of Matthew we read Jesus last instructions to his disciples,
“ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the command I have given you. And be sure of this, I am with you always and even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NLT
Some time back I was reading this verse and I noted that Jesus tells us to obey the commands he has given us. And I had to think, ‘What are the commands that Jesus gave?’
So, I went through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and made note of the general instructions that he gave. Here is what I came up with:
- Know your heart poverty and need for Christ (5:3)
- Make sure to mourn when needed (5:4)
- Walk in humility (5:5)
- Be and do justice for others (5:6)
- Be merciful (5:7)
- Open your heart for the Lord’s purity (5:18)
- Go after peace in all things (5:9)
- Don’t concern yourself if you are persecuted (5:10)
- Thank God for your persecution (5:11-12)
- Be wise as you interact with the world (5:13)
- and be a healer and be holiness for those in the world (5:13)
- Be light, do not shrink back from influence (5:15)
- Do good deeds for others (5:16)
- Be aware of the nature of sin (5:17-20)
- Refuse to curse others in any form (5:22)
- Reconcile with people before coming to church service (5:23-24)
- Be serious about sins of the heart (5:27-30)
- Take sexual unity seriously, not flippantly (5:31-32)
- Do not make vows, just say yes or no (5:33-37)
- Be generous without retribution, hatred, being exacting or stingy (5:38-42)
- Overcome evil with Sulha, expansive forgiveness (5:43-48) (footnote below)
- Don’t make a big deal about your service (6:1-4)
- Pray in secret, with few words, without show (6:5-13)
- Forgive everyone (6:14-15)
- Fast unto the Lord only (6:16-18)
- Do not store up possessions or money on earth (6:19)
- Invest in treasures (people) for heaven (6:20)
- Take care with what you view (6:22)
- Do not make ministry into a business (6:24)
- Do not be concerned with your own care and comfort (6:25-34)
- Do not be judgmental of others in your spirit (7:1-3)
- Attend to your own heart, spirit, and sin (7:4-5)
- Be prudent with you share the glory of God (7:6)
- Remain in a position of asking and receiving from the Lord (7:7-11)
- Be aware of how you treat others (7:12)
- Know what is the narrow gate versus the wide gate (7:13-14)
- Pay attention to the fruit of people’s lives (7:15-20)
- Do the will of God (7:21-23)
- Follow these teachings (7:24-27)
What is interesting of course, is that Jesus did not give any commands about church or crusades, about evangelism or about being pastors or building church buildings. Rather, he drew our attention to the kind of people we are.
To bring the light of Christ, to be the light of Christ, we merely live out his teachings.
I encourage you to keep this list handy. Refer to it each day. Let the teachings of Jesus soak deeply into your soul and life. Focus on him and his ways. Follow in his foot steps.
After a time of this, stop and take note of your life. Have there been changes? And if so, how has it changed?
Then, continue on in the strength of the Lord. Find him as light in your life, then live him out to others. Be blessed in him.
Summary – peace
God brings us peace. 2 Thessalonians 3:16
We are to walk in the peace of Christ. Colossians 3:15
We confess our fear and worry. Isaiah 41:10
We declare peace. Isaiah 57:19
Footnote: You will learn more about Sulha later in this course.