Robert D. Pace
I want to begin our lesson with a question. Which command of Scripture, whether an instruction or prohibition, is the hardest for you to obey? Is it:
- Keeping a pure conscience and heart?
- Loving your enemies?
- Refraining from wrongful judgment of others?
- Avoiding pride and walking in humility?
- Sharing the Gospel?
- Trusting God at all times?
Each of these issues can be difficult to practice. But I want consider something that can seem, at times, almost impossible to implement. That is, God’s instruction for Christians to remain at “peace” in all situations. It’s the prohibition against worry and anxiety dominating your life.
The “peace of God” should be a quality that distinguishes Christians from the world. It’s a quality that our family, friends, and neighbors should recognize encapsulating us from all that challenges us, whether it is loss, disaster, pain, confusion, or crisis. The Bible offers Christians the peace and trust in Christ that is unavailable to those outside the Christian Faith.
We know people are beleaguered with anxiety, worry, and depression in light of the billions of dollars they spend each year on medicine and preventive therapy. People are plagued with fear and stress! But this isn’t the only way a lack of peace infects humanity. Many people live with a discordant, inner anxiety that constantly plagues their heart. Enough is never enough. Their job isn’t the perfect job. Their spouse isn’t their perfect spouse. Their house isn’t the ideal abode. Nothing, regardless of what it is, satisfies them. They are never able to apprehend peace. You see, peace is not necessarily the absence of turmoil; it’s also the lack of satisfaction in God.
Unfortunately, many Christians struggle with the issue of claiming perfect peace too. There are many discontent Christians today. And there is a reason for this: Accepting Christ as Savior does not deaden your nerves to dealing with life. God doesn’t place Christians inside an “iron dome” to withstand worry, anxiety, and discontentment. We have “feelings” and “issues” to manage, just like everyone else. The difference is this for Christians: The Lord offers Himself as Jehovah-Shalom, “God our Peace,” to deal with whatever confronts us. And it’s our duty to claim the promise of peace and live by it regardless of what happens.
(Definition) Before I examine the ways Scripture says we can claim the “peace of God” let’s first define it. First, you must understand that the Biblical perspective of “peace” is gigantic! It involves many nuances and is absorbed with many applications. But since this message involves how we can claim God’s peace I want to reduce its definition to this: Peace involves maintaining harmony with God. It’s resting in God’s ability to handle anything and everything in all situations.
Peace is one the richest legacies that Christians can claim. Notice the Bible’s perspective of peace:
- Jesus said to His followers: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” And after his resurrection, the first time he met with his disciples when assembled together, he said, “Peace be unto you.” He gives peace not as the world gives.
- Jesus claimed to be the “Prince of Peace.”
- The Bible is the “Gospel of Peace.” (That’s because God authored the Bible!)
- Peace is a “fruit of the Spirit.”
- Peace marks the eternal and unlimited reach of the universe when Isaiah says, “Of the increase of his government and rule of peace there shall be no end” (9:7).
(Transition) With the importance of the “peace of God” established, let’s now discuss several ways you can implement the peace of God.
How to Practice the Peace of God
1. Face Life with Prayer!
Look at Philippians 4:6. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Many people make prayer an emergency cord that’s only pulled at the height of danger, but prayer should be more than that. Paul said, in this passage, that spending time with God in prayer provides us with peace.
(Example) In 1995 Harvard University released a study that investigated the value of prayer. And the study concluded that prayer positively affected circumstances. It showed that prayer helps people cope with stress and even recover from illnesses. Isn’t that amazing? Prayer helps people conquer whatever they face.
So how should we pray in order to claim the peace of God? Well, let’s return to Philippians 4:6-7 once again: (a) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by (b) prayer and (c) petition, with (d) thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And [when you do this] the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
a. In the first portion of this passage Paul says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything”!
Notice what Paul suggests when he says “Do not be anxious about anything.” He wasn’t saying to ignore your difficulties. He didn’t say, “Imagine your problems have disappeared.” Paul simply suggested that we shouldn’t let life overwhelm us. He wanted us to know God is bigger than our problems.
You see, inordinate worry distrusts God. It’s a lack of confidence in the Almighty Lord of Creation. It suggests that we aren’t sure that God is for us. And in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said “worry” is what Gentiles do. A Gentile is someone who lives without God. But if there’s anything a Christian should know it’s this: God is in our lives! He’s Emmanuel, “God with us.” And as sovereign, omnipotent, and omniscient nothing is impossible with Him! He is for us.
b. Then, the next admonition Paul offers is that we spend time with God in prayer.
True prayer is more than dashing in and out of the prayer closet. It’s communing, fellowshipping, and giving your time to God. And when you worship and reserve time for God’s presence, peace will follow! When you take time to practice the presence of God your crisis diminishes and your Creator seems larger.
c. Paul then adds: Petition God.
In other words, tell God what you need. Be specific and enunciate your concerns to Almighty God. He can help you!
Here’s what results after you carefully articulate your requests to God: When He supplies the answer, you know that you know that God has intervened in your behalf!
d. Finally, Paul urges Christians to “present their requests to God with thanksgiving.” Thanks should be something Christians excel in!
Let me tell you another trait the Bible relates to “Gentiles.” Gentiles will admit that God exists but they refuse to acknowledge His goodness toward them. Listen to Romans 1:21: “although they [the Gentiles] knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
When you spend time with God in prayer and ask for His assistance, make certain to crown your prayer with thanksgiving. “Let your prayers and supplications be made known to God with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6).
Notice what the act of thanksgiving does: When you take time to thank God for answering your prayer, you are affirming your trust in God and His ability to intervene. The thanks you express is but a trickle of faith that God can turn into a “river of peace” to flood your soul. “Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
(Transition) Let’s turn to Ephesians 6:18 and examine another dimension of prayer Paul mentions.
2. “Pray in the Spirit.”
Paul says we should “pray at all times in the Spirit.” There’s a reason we should “pray in the Spirit.” And it’s because there is a direct correlation between peace and the Holy Spirit’s assistance in your prayer life. Thus, it makes sense that we should allow the Holy Spirit to grant His mysterious and divine utterance to our circumstances.
I want you to notice what Isaiah 28:11 says: “. . . with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, (12) to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose.” The Bible couldn’t be clearer: The Holy Spirit’s assistance in prayer helps instill God’s peace deep within our hearts. “Pray in the Spirit.”
3. Peace is claimed when Christians Trust God’s Word.
Psalm 119:165 says, “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.” The KJV states it this way: “Great peace have they that love Thy law and nothing shall offend them.” In other words, when you’re full of God’s Word, trusting God’s Word, believing God’s Word it is certain to bring you “great peace”!
God has often helped me through difficult times by giving me a word from His Word or even a prophetic word! You see, God doesn’t design all trials with an early exit. The “way of escape” that 1 Corinthians 10:13 presents could include walking “through the valley of the shadow of death.” It could include temporary suffering. But when you secure a “word from God” it has the ability to sustain you through anything.
(Bible Example) Acts 26 talks about Paul’s trip to Rome when he made plans to appeal his innocence to Caesar’s Court. He boarded a vessel and set sail in the Adriatic Sea. While he was on the journey he urged the Captain to delay the mission. That’s because the Lord had shown Paul an incoming storm. But the Captain ignored Paul’s revelation and they encountered a “Nor easterner” that ripped apart the ship. Nevertheless, Paul gained further encouragement and peace when an angel appeared to him and promised everyone’s safety. The prophetic revelation brought Paul perfect peace.
(Example) Folks, there have been times when the Lord has spoken to me in prayer or given me a dream about my future. And when life later placed me into the crucible of affliction the “rhema,” vision, special revelation from God secured me in a confident fashion. It assured me that God would stand with me regardless of what happened.
• You can’t control others insulting you.
• You can’t control every accident or misfortune.
• You can’t always control the nation’s economy or even your job security.
• But what you can do is rely on God’s faithfulness in every situation. That’s why God has directly attached His name to your welfare:
He is Jehovah-Shalom, “The God of Peace.”