Peace My Soul

Psalm 116: 7 – 8             TLV

Return to your rest, my soul, for Adonai has been good to you. For You delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

This is a good psalm and I think you will find comfort in many of its verses. I chose these two verses because they shouted to me about the peace we can find in our Lord.

To be honest, it is not always easy to walk in the Lord’s peace. There is trouble in the world. We’ve got problems we’re dealing with and decisions that keep us awake at night. This psalm, though, reminds us of peace we can enjoy when we sink into our relationship with Jesus. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that he gives us immeasurable peace. We have to stop in the middle of our thoughts and remember that he left his peace with us (John 14: 27). In all our reminding, let us be reminded of this from Philippians 4: 7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God’s peace is so big, so comprehensive that it defies understanding.

Anytime our souls get anxious, we can turn to some of these magnificent verses and remind our inner self to relax, be at peace. Today’s psalm begins with praise and thanksgiving that the Lord, Adonai, hears our prayers. He hears our cries, our petitions, our worries and concerns and He answers and comforts us. Let us, therefore, speak to our own souls the way the psalmist talks to his. “Return to your rest.” Be still and calm O my soul. The Lord has been good to you.

Our God has delivered us. He has been on the site for us in times we don’t even know about. I know this to be true and knowing it helps me to remain confident that I can greet tomorrow in the peace of the Lord for He is with me and will not fail me. He will not fail you either. Let this be your refrain and confession. Bless the Lord.

Peace

John 14: 27           TPT

I leave the gift of peace with you – my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts – instead, be courageous!”

There is no version of this verse which is not excellent. I chose the Passion Translation because it makes clear that Jesus gave us the gift of peace, his own peace he gave to us. Not only is it superior to the peace the world has to offer, it is perfect. Imagine that – perfect peace. See yourself in perfect peace.

Now, if Jesus has given us this perfect peace why would we let anyone steal it from us. That is the point I want to make today. Don’t let anything or anyone steal your peace. It is Jesus’ gift to you.

I have known people who aren’t happy unless they are upset. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but you probably know someone like that too. No matter how things are in their lives, they find a reason to be upset – either angry, hurt, sad, etc. That’s craziness if you ask me. Why does anyone want to live that way?

Here is the reality. Being angry, worried, injured, offended; all these things steal our lives from us. Peace is where we find health and wholeness. Every minute we spend in turmoil is hazardous to our bodies. Why should we let some goofball steal minutes of life and health from us?

Sometimes you need to change your associations. I like my friends at the YMCA I attend because they are uplifting, positive people. They are intentional about edifying others, not tearing them down. So, it is a good group to be associated with. There are other people you can’t get away from easily, such as co-workers or family. You may sometimes need to, kindly, let people know what you will accept and what you will not. I don’t like to be a party to gossip. It is an insidious habit that can easily suck me in, so, I try to break off conversations that head in that direction and I will just tell the person I am with that I don’t like to get into that. It is a sin after all and one that I know would be all too easy for me.

The greatest tool for maintaining your peace, though, is the quiet time you share with Jesus. That time seems to reinforce the gift of peace he gave us. It is easy to get upset with someone but if you value Jesus’ peace it makes it much easier to hang on to it in the crunch. And remember, one of the reasons we should hang on to peace is for our health. None of us wants our heart affected by someone else’s junk invading our peace. There is no health issue that is desirous, yet so many of them begin in the stress that we allow other people to create in our emotions.

Make the peace of Jesus a sacred part of your soul. Be jealous of it and don’t let anyone steal it from you.

Peace

Micah 5: 2, 5

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. And this one will be our peace.

Here is a foretelling of the coming of Jesus. He was expected and the Jews were looking for Him. It is just like Father God to use some small town, one of insignificance to bring His son into the earth. From the small and weak He is able to do great and mighty things.

When God sent Jesus into the earth, He also sent our peace. In other words, He sent peace to us and for us. Just before Jesus left the earth, he told us that he was going to leave his peace here with us (John 14: 27). The Father and Jesus are always in unity. God promised to send Jesus into the world to be our peace and Jesus promised to leave his peace with us. It is a godly anointed peace which is with you at all times. He left it here for you so that you could live free of the turmoil of the world. Though you may encounter troubles you don’t have to be tortured by them because you have the peace of God.

This peace must be very important since both the Father and the son have worked to get it to you. Treasure it and don’t let go of it lightly. And don’t let anyone steal it from you; not your brother-in-law, not that jerk at work. Preserve peace; especially your own. It is a gift from God.

Alone and Afraid

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

This is one of those verses we want to be true. It is also a good verse upon which to test your resolve. Are you a believer? Do you believe this verse is an actual promise from God to you? Can you stand on it? Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

Face it, there are times that despite our spirituality, we just feel alone. Intellectually, we know better. At least we know that the Bible says that God will never leave nor forsake us. Sometimes, though, you look into your spirit, you try to quiet yourself and all you hear is silence. It is in those times we must preach to ourselves and that is exactly what Father told me to do recently in my journaling. He said, “Preach to yourself what you would say to someone else.” That advice and the idea that He is with us all the time has stayed with me a lot lately.

The whole truth is that God cannot leave us even if He wanted to. Of course, you know He wants to be with you 24/7. He said to me, “That has been the point of this whole thing. It’s the reason I sent Jesus to earth.” This brings to my remembrance the promise in John 14: 23, “If anyone loves Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” God’s purpose in sending Jesus to earth was so that we could again come into communion with Him. He wanted to establish a community of believers for Himself where He could set up His home within our hearts and be with us forever. Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “. . . but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you,” (John 14:16). If He abides in us and with us, how can we ever be apart from Him? Those verses account for the abiding presence of the Father, Jesus and the Spirit. That’s pretty good company.

This should give us GREAT comfort and confidence. Today’s verse is from the Old Testament. How much greater is the good news since Jesus graced the earth. Even back then it is said, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed,” (Deuteronomy 31: 8). Why should we be fearful or forlorn? Why should we be depressed or lonely? Our Father, our beloved, is with us every minute of every day. He and His heavenly host even watch over us while we sleep. God gave up Jesus whom He loves so that He can be with us night and day. He is not about to abandon us now after all the work He did to make His home with us.

Jesus said he left his peace here for us (John 14: 27). This verse is only four verses after Jesus said that he and the Father would make their abode with us. Part of that peace, it seems to me, is in knowing that the Holy Trinity is with you all of the time, day and night, at work at home. Whatever you do, wherever you go, they are there, with you. I write this hoping it will help you create more of a “God with me” identity. We need not be afraid or tremble. We can be strong and courageous of whatever tomorrow brings for our Lord and God is with us and goes before us. He will never, for one minute, leave us nor will He ever forsake us. You have a friend, a permanent friend, who, if you will let Him, will be your best friend for all time.

The New Kingdom

Romans 14: 17

The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has already established his kingdom here in the earth. He called it the Kingdom of God and it is mentioned no less than 51 times in the gospels. It is said that Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God (Luke 8: 1) but what are the characteristics of this kingdom? We get different segments of that answer in the New Testament, especially in the gospels but also in the letters. In today’s verse Paul writes about the values of the kingdom.

I have read many English versions of this verse and in so doing arrive at a much clearer understanding than in reading only this, the New American Standard Version. For example, the New Century Version reads, “In the kingdom of God, eating and drinking are not important. The important things are living right with God, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The picture begins to reveal itself. Paul is defining what has value in the Kingdom of God. The Passion Translation reads, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy.” The Kingdom is not all about rules. In the Kingdom what is most important is that we follow God, follow His ways. The Kingdom is not about works of the flesh or self-stylized righteousness. In Jesus’ Kingdom, legalism falls at the feet of love and devotion to God and our fellow human beings; even in devotion and kindness to all of God’s creation including the animals and the earth itself. Further, the Kingdom of God is living in the realm of the Holy Spirit. That is what the kingdom is and in that place there is ever-abiding joy, peace and righteousness.

There is a difficult lesson in this. This verse flies in the face of the law. Sometimes we separate God made law from the man-made laws which has so imprisoned us. The problem here is that there were laws about food which were given by God. Food and drink choices were a major separation between Jews and all the other nations. Now Paul writes that the rules about food are not important in the Kingdom of God. Other laws fall as well because Paul is revealing that living in Christ is the key, not legal adherence to rules of law. Living right with God is righteousness, being in your right place with Him and that trumps law. This teaching would have been a major challenge for the first century church who stood upon the law. It challenges us as well but let us look at another translation.

The God Word Translation brings the image of the Kingdom of God into even greater clarity, “God’s kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks. Rather, God’s kingdom consists of God’s approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives.” Do you see that the Kingdom of God is not a work-based realm? The right to live in it is not earned either. Our right standing in God, or living right with God, was purchased by Jesus. When we live in Him and the Spirit rather than in the work of our hands and minds, then we are in the kingdom and to live in the Kingdom means you automatically have God’s approval. You do not have to earn it. You do not have to measure yourself by a book of rules, and you do not need to worry. God is for you. He approves of you just as you are. Isn’t that a refreshing concept? You have favor with God.

Jesus established His kingdom in the Holy Spirit. He came preaching this kingdom which depends upon living in the Spirit and the Spirit living within you. Jesus’ message confounded and infuriated the preachers of his day because membership wasn’t earned and, equally important, because he consistently spoke about us in him and him in us, and his being one with the father, all of which was crazy talk to them. The same is true today, really. Revelation still tends to blow the top off our heads but that is Jesus’ way. As soon as you get a handle on one thing, he stretches you over to the next mountain top. But, truly, it is a fun way to live and we see from this verse that when we take the giant leap of faith to live in and by the Spirit of God, there is complete peace, shalom. Paul also lets us know that if we are not in joy, then we are not deep enough in the Spirit. Joy is in the Spirit of God. Remember that Jesus said he left his peace here for us to live in (John 14: 27). Then he gave us his Spirit. Therefore, it is an easy conclusion to reach that joy and peace are ours in him.

In Him, then is the Kingdom of God. And in the Kingdom there is complete approval, joy and peace. Is that good news? If you have ever felt left out or unaccepted it is time for your joy to come to full measure because in Jesus’ kingdom, the Kingdom of God, you are accepted. It is no longer about the rules but rather about seeking the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and leaning into him daily.

Guarded Treasure

John 14: 27

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.

Jesus was leaving planet earth. He told his disciples what was to come. Can you even imagine how distraught they must have been? I place myself in their shoes and it seems devastating. Not only were they about to lose their leader, but also their best friend and even beyond that, their Lord. He was everything to them, truly. Then he announced he was leaving. Oh, heart of woe!

Jesus knew the anguish of their souls. I am sure he was feeling sorrow as well and probably concern for them. He gave them something to soothe their souls, a promise for their well-being. He told them that he was going to leave his peace here for them. That would have been a profound statement to them because they had witnessed him remain cool under tremendous pressure. They knew his peace was special.

This same peace is available to us today. He left his peace here on the earth for whoever wishes it or needs it. In his peace is such tranquility. It literally has calming, restorative breath in it. It enables us to face trying situations without raising our blood pressure. In his peace we have the ability to face all manner of challenging circumstances while remaining in calm confidence instead of dread and panic.

You can see that it is very precious. One of the things our heavenly Father told me in my journaling is that the devil wants to steal this peace from me. Father encouraged me to resist the devil’s attempts to steal my peace, that is the peace which Jesus gave me. I see how valuable it is and that is was a key component in Jesus’ last days. He knew each one of us would need his help on a daily basis and his peace was the treasure he gave. The Father showed me that this gift should be guarded.

Don’t let anyone have what Jesus has given you, whether that be his peace, freedom, salvation, acceptance, redemption, etc. Why should I give some idiot on the freeway the power to steal the peace Jesus gave me? What stressor is important enough to you to allow it to steal your peace? There is nothing that is worth it. Hang on to this valuable treasure from Jesus. Peace is health, it is feeling good. Don’t let it go!

Peace, Peace

Matthew 10: 13

If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.

Jesus talked about peace or blessed people with peace quite a number of times. Before he left the earth he even made a point of leaving his peace here with us (John 14: 27). What is so compelling about peace that caused him to frequently say, “Go in peace” or “peace be with you?” We have to dig into our Hebrew roots to get an appreciation of this peace which Jesus speaks of and even directs us to bless others with.

The Hebrew word is Shalom, and it is very rich with many shades of meaning. The simplest way to describe the Jewish idea of peace is wholeness in every area of life, or I have heard others say, “nothing missing, nothing broken.” This necessarily means that your health is not broken, your finances are whole, your relationships fruitful, your spirit vital, and every other facet of life you can think of functions perfectly. When Jesus, or any other Jew, says “peace” to you, they have spoken a blessing which covers every aspect of your life. Now, consider today’s verse. Does it take on more meaning?

Jesus intimates in this passage that we have the right and perhaps even the obligation to speak a blessing of peace on the households of others. This may manifest in you praying peace as you enter a friend’s house. Maybe you are invited to attend a party or even a Bible Study at someone’s house. You can give that home YOUR blessing of peace. In so doing, you are speaking wholeness to that household – nothing missing, nothing broken. That is a powerful privilege the Lord Jesus has given us. So, think of that as you visit people’s homes and maybe also stop at your own front door and speak “Peace.”