Hey fam, long time no blog! Unfortunately, I've been out of town for the past month so I haven't been able to write any blogs, but I'm so glad to be home and to be back to writing. When I left, we had began the Fruit of the Spirit series. Just to refresh our minds, the Fruit of the Spirit-- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, are physical representations of our walks with God. (Galatians 5:22-23). We've already covered love and joy, so this week we'll be studying peace.
1) What is peace?
Up until now, I always thought that peace meant no troubles. I assumed that peace would show up in my life if I had no problems. But the thing is, peace doesn't come naturally. It doesn't just happen by chance or when life seems to be going well. At birth, our sinful nature has already declared war on God; our world is filled with so much temptation and deceit that it is nearly impossible to live a life of peace. Luckily, God doesn't expect us to have peace because our lives are perfect and nothing bad happens-- He knows that we have struggles.
So what does peace REALLY mean?
To have peace means to be content and calm, not because we don't have troubles, but to be content in spite of our troubles.
***Peace can be broken down into multiple types:
- Peace with God
- Peace with each other
This week I'll be focusing on how we can achieve peace with God, which is fundamental to finding peace with others.
2) How do we find peace with God?
Understand God's offer of peace
Because peace isn't in our sinful nature, we can only find it through our relationships with God. Knowing that He was our only path to peace, God gave us access through Jesus. According to Romans 5:6-9, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, He has saved us from God's condemnation. God offered us peace through what Jesus did on the cross. When we accept Christ and grow in Him, His Spirit brings peace within us. "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7).
Root our identities in Him.
So we've accepted Christ, now what? The toughest part about achieving peace is that the only way to gain true peace is to give everything to Him. Surrendering ourselves to God is scary to say the least. But when we try and control everything-- our relationships, our finances, our futures by ourselves, our sinful natures start to bring worry, fear, stress, impatience, and temptation into the equation. Our lives become filled with chaos, rather than peace. My personal obsession with controlling everything stems from my struggle for perfection. I can't put my trust in anyone or anything that doesn't strive for perfection like I do. Here's the problem though-- I, myself, am not perfect. I can't control everything, not matter how hard I try. However, God is perfect. God is all-powerful, and He loves us. Who else would be better to put our trust in? When we root our identities in Christ, He begins to grow in us and reveal His heart and His plan for us. When we let go of our insecurities, we allow God to lay out our lives in the best way possible for our relationships with Him.
I still struggle everyday with letting go. I only let God take over little aspects of my life, and then wonder why I still can't find peace in my life. But we can't compartmentalize our lives. While we can only see our lives on a personal level, they're worth so much more than what we know. When we give our lives to God, He will give us the world in return.
"You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:8-9)
3) How do we preserve peace with God?
Like I said before, giving everything to Christ is scary, overwhelming, and difficult. While sometimes we like to think that we are giving our everything to God, we always revert back to relying on our sinful natures at some point. So how do we combat that?
Keep our minds set on God
This goes back to understanding God's sacrifice and rooting our identities in Him. While it's easy to dwell on the stress and worries that worldly struggles bring into our lives, God provides us with a much better option. By sacrificing Jesus, He offers us everlasting peace with Him and through our growth in Him, peace with each other. Isaiah 26:3 tells us that when our thoughts are fixed on God, "[we] will keep in perfect peace."
Be diligent in prayer
God expects us to pray "at all times and on every occasion" (Ephesians 6:18). Struggles are inevitable, but when we are diligent in prayer God is attentive.
I have always struggled with prayer. I always make excuses that I don't have the time, or that I don't have anything important enough to pray about, etc. But about six months ago, I hit a rock-bottom moment in my life and I prayed genuinely to God for the first time in perhaps months; I was ashamed, to say the least. I spent a lot of time apologizing to Him and honestly didn't think He would even acknowledge me because of how inadequate I was. But as I asked Him to help me find peace with the situation I was in, I was amazed at how He was constantly showing up in my life and reminding me of how much He loved me. No situation is too little or too big for our God to handle.
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Learning the Word
One of the reasons why it's hard for us to put our trust in God is because we cannot see Him. How can we put our trust in someone we don't feel on a daily basis? He cannot possibly be great enough to handle all of our problems. But God shows us endless examples of His greatness and power in the Word. We just need to be disciplined enough to learn about Him. One of my favorite books to delve into when I'm feeling discouraged is John. The book of John is famous for recounting 7 miracles that Jesus performed while on Earth, many of which ya'll have heard. But trust me when I say it's such a different feeling when you read the stories, and I really encourage you to delve into the book of John whenever you feel like God isn't acting in your life. By reading about these miracles, I felt like I had textual and visual evidence of the power of Christ and I couldn't help but feel in awe whenever I read about the work He has done.
I have personally always struggled with blaming my problems and stress on others, and I think that this is a really common issue. But when we stop focusing on why our lives are going wrong and instead on how God allows our lives to go right, we are able to be gain peace-- even when we encounter trials and tribulations. So I encourage you this week to reflect and meditate on His offer of peace and how rooting our lives in God can help us find it. Sleep easy, fam.
SUMMING IT ALL UP:
- Peace means to be content not because we don't have troubles, but that we are content in spite of our trouble.
- We can find peace by understanding God's sacrifice and rooting our identities in Him.
- We can preserve peace by keeping our minds on Him, being diligent in prayer, and learning the Word.