Our God of Peace
Mentioned around 249 times in the Bible - PEACE (Shalom) is central to the character/attributes of God. Peace is a very profound thing - most desired yet most elusive. It is the most precious commodity on earth especially nowadays. This week alone I’ve had a lot of pastoral calls, counselling and ministering to people who are in desperate need of peace. Sociologists say, that according to studies, this present generation (humans alive for the past 40 years), is "the most anxious generation".
Last week I posted this photo on my IG and FB account:
According to John Brogden, chairman of Lifeline Australia, they received the highest daily number of phone calls in the 58-year history of the business on August 2, as Australia's Covid-19 crisis continues to take its toll. Callers sought support from the suicide prevention service on Monday, to seek support through the isolation, anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic.
Q1: Why do you think peace is so elusive or hard to get especially in our generation?
We live in unprecedented times and there is a shaking happening in the world, that's why all the more that we need to be established in the peace of God. In Luke 21, we find Jesus prophesying about such times:
25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near.”
JESUS is coming soon and we ought to be excited because He is gonna come and rescue His people. We have already been rescued (spiritually - ), but He will come and rescue us physically as well (alluding to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture - which is a discussion for another time). In this season, what matters is where we fix our eyes:
WHERE YOU FIX YOUR EYES ON, WILL DETERMINE WHETHER YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE IN FEAR OR IN PEACE.
Q2: What can help you or someone you know, each day, to be encourage to "look up and lift your heads"?
Let me say it straight from the start:
THERE IS NO TRUE AND LASTING PEACE OUTSIDE OF GOD. You cannot buy peace. It can only be found in God. It is a free gift He offers to those who will believe in JESUS and receive Him - our PRINCE of PEACE!
For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The apostles love to reference God this way:
The God of peace be with you all. Amen. - Romans 15:33
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. - Romans 16:20
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. - Philippians 4:9
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thessalonians 5:23
“Now may the God of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” - 2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. - Hebrews 13:20-21
I. GOD of SHALOM means three things:
A. GOD of WHOLENESS / COMPLETENESS
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Q3: How is Psalm 23 a Psalm of Peace? Which parts inspire peace of mind to the believer?
This Psalm is a Psalm of Peace. Its headline says that because God is our Good Shepherd, we will be supplied amply with everything that we need. WE WILL NOT LACK ANYTHING. That is the essence of Shalom - in Him we have wholeness / completeness.
B. GOD of ORDER
PEACE, when it pertains to God’s attribute means that He is a God of Order. I don’t find peace in a messy house... (And all the clean freaks in the House say…Amen! :)
“God is not a God of confusion but of peace” - 1 Corinthians 14:33, ESV
Paul says that God’s actions are characterized by “peace” and not by “disorder” (akatastasia, a Greek word meaning “disorder, confusion, unrest”). God himself is “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33, 16:20, Philippians 4:9). But those who walk in wickedness do not have peace: “‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked’” (Isaiah 48:22, 57:21).
Q4: How is PEACE related to ORDER? Share a personal example of this based on your experience.
Remember the first words of the Bible? “In the beginning God…” Then the text goes on to say:
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” - Genesis 1:2
In the subsequent verses, God speaks creation into existence. He brings about ORDER (form out of chaos) through his creative Word. He orderly brings creation into order. This reflects him as the God of peace. God still speaks peace to the chaos and formless darkness of our lives and breathes order and beauty out of the mess. So whenever we feel like our minds and hearts are cluttered with noise and void, allow God to speak Shalom within.
Q5: What chaos or clutter in your life do you need God to speak over and breathe shalom?
C. GOD of RECONCILIATION
Within a couple of chapters in Genesis, however, we read of the fall of man. Adam and Eve sin and plunge not only all of humanity but all of creation into a world that is cursed by sin (Gen. 3:15) - a much worse mess and chaos. As a result of this, this previously perfectly ordered world no longer functions as orderly and perfectly as designed. It still reflects beauty and design, but not in its fullness.
Every evil, darkness and ugly realities we experience in our human existence flowed from that fall in the garden. Many things are not functioning properly because of the prevalence of the disorder. Specifically, we see disasters, diseases, and death. All of which are assaults upon the God of peace and what he has originally ordered in creation. We know from reading the Bible that these things are not accidental intrusions in God’s creation but consequences of our sin. Sin creates chaos. It invades God’s good creation with disorder. Isn't it true even until now?
Ever since the fall of man, God has been in the business of making all things new - restoring what was broken and the ultimate act to do that - to restore humanity to Himself is to sacrifice His Son on the cross - to allow the brokenness of this world to break Him so that the broken things of this world can be restored - it was the only way to reverse that which was lost.
In the culture of the world, it is the guilty that pays for the price and penalty to make amends and reconcile - but with God, we find mercy - it is us who were sinners but to reconcile us to Himself - He was the one who paid the price - the Cross.
TRUE PEACE BEGINS WHEN WE ENCOUNTER THIS PERFECT LOVE! - It is Complete - It brings Order - It Reconciles us to the Father. His PEACE offers us an eternal friendship with our Creator.
II. 3 Kinds of Peace:
A. Spiritual (Eternal)
This is what the Scripture pertains to as “Peace WITH God”
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
Q6: What does being "reconciled with God" mean? What does enmity with God mean in the Bible?
B. Emotional (Internal)
The Bible calls this the “PEACE OF God”
for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
YOUR LEVEL OF PEACE WILL ALWAYS BE DEPENDING ON YOUR PROXIMITY TO JESUS.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…
If you have the Holy Spirit in you, then you will bear fruits - PEACE is a fruit of the Holy Spirit - you can’t have the Holy Spirit in you without first surrendering to God and receiving Jesus to be Lord and Saviour of your life.
EVERYTHING GOD DOES IS PEACE AND LEADS TO PEACE. GOD WILL NEVER USE FEAR. HE ALWAYS USES PEACE. GOD WANTS YOU TO LIVE IN PEACE. SATAN WANTS YOU TO LIVE IN FEAR. PEACE is the promise of JESUS to every believer - it is the birthright of every believer!
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The PEACE of JESUS - Abiding, Internal, Transcircumstantial peace Easy to get, hard to lose
The PEACE of the WORLD - Fragile, Elusive and Circumstantial Peace Hard to get, easy to lose
Q7: Share a time in your life when you experienced a flood of God's peace in the midst of a difficult season.
It is physiologically evidenced that a lot of sicknesses and diseases, physical ailments, from the simple migraine to serious conditions are related to some extent to a lack of peace - the body reacts and manifests negative ailments when we are not living in peace. What this shows us is that WE WERE NOT DESIGNED BY GOD TO LIVE IN AN ATMOSPHERE THAT ISN’T PEACE. YOUR BODY HAS TO LIVE IN PEACE TO BE HEALTHY.
C. Relational (External)
This is what the Bible exhorts as "Peace with Everyone"
"Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord."
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
We cannot have true peace on earth without first having peace WITH God and having the peace OF God.
16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
RELATIONAL PEACE is GOD’s WILL. PEACE WITH GOD leads to PEACE WITH MEN.
Because peace is a communicable attribute of God, we can and should display it too. Grudem suggests that this is indicated by the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 including both “peace” and “self-control.” Thus our lives should be marked not only by calmness but also by our contribution to order in our environment.
Q8: Write down in your journal or a piece of paper a name/s of person/s you think you don't have peace with. Begin to regularly pray for that person.
III. THE BENEFITS OF THOSE WHO LIVE IN THE PEACE OF GOD
A. Guide Us
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
The word “rule” here means to umpire, i.e. in a Tennis match. It means God uses peace for situational guidance. The evidence of a right decision is a deep sense of PEACE. As Christians, you know when you have it and you know it when you don't. It can be the right thing but not the wrong time. Everything can look right on the surface but there is an internal umpire that says it doesn’t feel right. THE PRESENCE of PEACE CAN BE FELT AND THE LACK OF PEACE ALSO.
Q9: Share a time when you felt the peace of God guide you in making a decision.
2. Protect Us
6 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.
ANXIETY is NOT A CONDITION - IT IS A CHOICE!
If it isn't, the Bible wouldn't tell us to not be anxious for anything. As children of God, the devil should find it hard to make us anxious!
1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.
Prayer doesn’t work if you don’t transfer the burden on God. When we learn and become intentional to pray and to praise; it serves to protect our minds and hearts from the toxicity of anxiety.
Q10: Write down on your journal or a piece of paper the things you are worried about today. Then, on the top of the paper, write down "My Prayer List". Begin to cast to God all these things and see what happens.
3. USE US
PEACE is so attractive to unbelievers. People look for it every day in all sorts of places and things and you have it! Christ in you and me is the fountain of PEACE that won't run dry.
"...and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace..."
People in the hospital who are sick cannot take care of their fellow sick patients. If you don’t have peace in your life, it will be hard to minister peace to others. But we are called to be "peacemakers". Having experienced God's Peace ourselves, we have been commissioned to be Ambassadors of the GOD of PEACE on the earth.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God!
2 Corinthians 5:18-21