Monday, April 19, 2010

Peaceful Living in a Stress-filled World

We live in a world that will destroy our peace if we let it. Media often sensationalizes contention, conflict, and crisis. Sometimes even turning in the television or radio can plant seeds of worry or fear in our hearts.

In his book God's Power to Change Your Life, Rick Warren describes three types of peace. The first is spiritual peace or peace with God. Romans 5:1 say, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” As we seek to know and love God better, we experience more of his peace.

Next comes emotional peace. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since….you were called to peace.” I love the thought that God wants to call us to peace, to give us peace. I picture Him with open arms asking us to come to Him, that we might have peace. Remember that shortly before Christ was crucified, He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Third, we need relational peace or peace with other people. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” I have discovered that when I seek to strengthen my relationship with God, I experience greater emotional and relational peace.

So how do find the perfect peace that God wants us to experience? Rick Warren suggests that we can do five things.

First, we find peace when we obey God’s principles found in his Word. The psalmist says, “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble….I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly” (Ps. 119: 165, 167). God has taught us the secret to living a peaceful life, and we discover those secrets as we read his words.

Next, if we want peace, we must accept God’s pardon, his forgiveness and release from punishment. We suffer torment and misery when we fail to repent of our sins and experience the healing power of forgiveness. Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a god like you, who pardons sins and forgives…transgression?...You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Third, we must focus our thoughts and hearts on God. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” What an amazing promise! I have discovered that when I lose my feelings of peace, I am focusing on problems, concerns, worries, or fears and have forgotten to focus on God. As we always remember God and recall His infinite love for us, we experience His peace.

Next, to experience God’s peace, we must trust in Him. Proverbs 3 5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). I know that when I trust completely in God, I allow Him to guide me and comfort me. This is not always easy to do, but as we remember that He knows and loves us more than we can imagine, we can begin to accept His will in our lives, even when we do not understand the meaning of all things.

Finally, we need to ask God for peace. In Phillippians 4, Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (vv. 6-7, emphasis added.)

I have discovered that sincere and earnest prayer can overcome worry. Jesus told his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God trust also in me” (John 14:1). Rick Warren reminds us, “You will not experience true or lasting peace until Jesus Christ is in charge of your life. Remember: peace is not a trouble-free life; it is a sense of calm in the midst of life’s storms.”

All of us experience trials that would destroy our peace. As we give our worries to God in prayer and allow Him to direct our lives, we will find peace. Perhaps the Serenity Prayer can help you to do this:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As we obey God’s teachings in His Word, accept His forgiveness, focus our thoughts on Him, trust in Him, and ask for His peace, He will give us peace. Then, we can meet the sorrows of the world with serenity, knowing that God is walking beside us and that He will direct our paths for good.

© Carol Brown

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