The Gift of Peace

The Hebrew Bible word, shalom, in its purest sense means “peace.” The meaning is positive, when someone says, “Shalom,” or, “Peace unto you,” it doesn’t mean, “I hope you don’t have trouble and difficult times “; it means, “I hope you have life with a capital L God’s type of life.”
Most people in the world today don’t recognize peace as a positive concept. Their minds focus on the simplest aspect of peace, which is merely the absence of trouble, which are the world’sand also the dictionary’s definition.
The Bible doesn’t share the same view point on peace; it’s not based on our circumstances or the absence of them. Peace is God-given and isn’t affected by outward circumstances.
We can still experience this God-given peace in our lives despite the trials and great storms we all face.
In the book of James 1:2 we read that Paul was content despite being in prison in chains, he could still sing knowing that God would still be good to him. In the end he shared that goodness with the jailer, and his family found salvation in our Lord.
Where can we find such peace in our lives and in the middle of those troubles and storms?
We see in the life of Paul, this God-given peace overcomes every trouble and storm in our life.
We learn from Paul that his focus was not on the negative and his circumstances but his focus was purely on thanking and praising God.
The result of all this was that he came through those circumstances and troubles with Jesus. The outcome of this was positive and everything worked for his good, although God didn’t take him out of his circumstances.
Perfect peace comes when our focus is off the trouble, and is constantly on Christ. Isaiah 26:3 says, “The steadfast of mind you will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in you.”  We learn two important lessons from Paul’s story: first, to keep our focus on God; second, to trust God to give us peace. 
This reminds me of a story a Chinese man ones told me about a man walking over four hills.
A man set off on a journey one day, the day was hot and sticky his clothes stuck to his body. He climbed to the top of this large hill when to his surprise a lion was standing in front of him. Being scared he cried out to God “Help” but he heard nothing. Then, out of the corner of his eye he saw a flower. As he concentrated on the flower for a while the lion became insignificant.
He continued on his journey up the next hill after an hour he reached the top of the hill to be met by two lions. Again he cried out to God but again he heard nothing from God but out of the corner of his eye he saw a bunch of flowers. The man concentrated on this little bunch of flowers and after sometime he realised that the two lions became insignificant and God gave him the courage to carry on.

He continued on his journey up the next hill after sometime he reached the top of the next hill to be met by pack of lions. The man was so scared that he broke down on his knees and cried out to God a 3rd time.  Again God said nothing. Suddenly he saw out of the corner of his eye a field of beautiful flowers as he gazed on those flowers the pack of lions became insignificant. God gave him the courage to go on. 
The man continued home to share his adventure with his best friend, his friend ask him what he had learnt from this experience. 
The man said, “Well I have learnt that the lions represent the troubles we face in life and the flowers represent focusing on God. 
Although the lions or troubles don’t go away we know by focusing on God that we can go through them with Him and that He is our help in time of need.
In order to allow the peace of Christ to rule your heart, you must first focus on God. We live in a world that continually demands our attention. We struggle to keep our thoughts in order and our task lists and projects completed. There’s no doubt that it’s hard to focus. But focus is crucial when it comes to our relationship with Christ. When we endeavor to read the Bible, and don’t focus, it’s so easy for our thoughts to wander to different places. You will go through the pages of the Scripture but you will feel like you are not being fed.
You may even come to a point where you feel like you’re wasting your time because you’re not truly connecting with the words you’re reading.
When we are facing troubles and trials in our lives then we need to focus on God. Focusing is a vital tool in knowing God’s peace in the middle of the storms in our lives.
I say in the middle of the storms of life, God does not take you and me out of the storms but He wants us to experience His presences through the storms.
If we want God’s peace to rule in our hearts we need to know the true and only source of peace who is God. We see in 1 Thessalonians 3:16 that God is referred to as the God of peace this is mentioned in scripture over and over again. True peace can’t be found in a quiet place alone or at the beach watching the sun go down. It can only be found in intimacy with God.
True and lasting soul-level peace is found only in a Person: Jesus Christ, the Source of all peace.

The next step, in knowing Gods peace, is trust in God, knowing that He is in control of your life and that He has promised to never leaf us or forsake us.
He is Emmanuel, God with us, that when everything in life is going well or we are experiencing the storms of life beating against us.

This was difficult for His disciples in the boat that stormy night on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus was asleep. The disciples focused on the storm buffeting them and didn’t trust Jesus words we will go to the other side. Again Jesus didn’t take them out of the storm but gave them the opportunity to put their trust in Him. When our circumstances seem bigger than our trust in God; this is because we don’t know him intimately.
This is why we need to focus our attention on building our relationship with God, building our trust in Him.
As humans we have a tendency to focus on the negatives. Our eyes are on the troubles, trials and storms in our lives instead of Jesus.

So far we have learned how important it is to: 
*Focus on God   
*Trust in God and to know him intimately     

The next step in knowing true peace is in receiving peace and applying it in our daily lives. Peace is a free gift from God but if we don’t receive it, and then He will not force it on us.
We can only receive God peace in our lives by turning our focus off our circumstances and putting our trust in Him to bring us through.
If all we do is focus on the troubles then that is all we will see and experience but if we focus on Jesus and trust that He is with us, then we can go through those troubles with Him.
For people who don’t know Jesus, then all that’s left for them is to grit the teeth and go through it all without Jesus at their side.
We apply Gods peace in our lives by learning to put our trust in Him and keeping our focus on Him. This does not fall from heaven. God wants us to put our trust in him and focus on Him to experience His peace in the storms of life.

The Holy Spirit is the Giver of this peace, and He dispenses it as a gift. Galatians 5:22 says one aspect of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. You might ask if it was Christ’s peace, why the Holy Spirit is giving it. The answer is in John 16:14, which says, “He will glorify me; for He will take of mine and will disclose it to you.” The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to take the things of Christ andhelp us to apply them to our lives.

This is the peace that Paul speaks about in Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension understanding, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God is not based on circumstances like the world’s peace, so it doesn’t always make sense to the carnal mind; Paul says it is a peace that surpasses comprehension. It doesn’t seem reasonable that such peace could exist in the midst of the problems and troubles Christians go through. But this is divine, supernatural peace; it cannot be figured out on a human level. This subjective, experiential peace—the peace of God—has its foundation in the objective, factual peace—peace with God. The peace of God is not obtainable by those who are not at peace with Him. God alone brings peace. In fact, in Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, and again in Hebrews 13:20, He is called “the God of peace.”
Then in perfect peace Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). That’s the kind of peace Jesus is talking about. That’s the kind He gives to us. It is unwavering fearlessness and trust. So the source of peace is Christ.
In fact, Christ is seen throughout the New Testament as the distributor of peace. In Acts 10:36, Peter says, “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace.”
Jesus Christ gives us His own personal peace. It has been tested; it was His own shield and His own helmet that served Him in battle, and He gave it to us when He left. It should give us the same serenity in danger, the same calm in trouble, and the same freedom from anxiety. Jesus also said, I am not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34-36)

The Giver of Peace

Notice that every promise Jesus made to His troubled disciples on the night before His death was rooted in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christ promised life, union with deity, full understanding, and peace to those who are His disciples, but it is the Spirit of God who takes the things of Christ and gives them to us.
Jesus shows us the proper response to His promise of peace, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). We ought to be able to lay hold of this peace. It is there, it is ours; but we must take hold of it. It is interesting that He says “I give you peace,” then He says, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” The peace He gives has to be received and applied in our lives. If we lay hold of the promise of the very peace of Christ, we will have calm, untroubled hearts, regardless of external circumstances.
If you have a troubled heart, my friend, it is because you do not believe God—you don’t really trust His promise of peace. Anxiety and turmoil seldom focus on present circumstances. Normally, anxiety is trouble borrowed from either the past or the future. Some people worry about things that might happen. Others’ anxieties come out of the past. But both the future and the past are under the care of God. 
He promises to supply our future need, and He has forgiven the past. Don’t worry about tomorrow or yesterday. Jesus said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34). Concentrate on trusting God for today’s needs.
People today live in a form of existential shock. They don’t understand their own being; they don’t know who they are, where they are going, or what they do when they get there—if they get there. I recently saw a sign on a man’s desk that said, “I’ve got so many troubles that if anything else happens to me, it will be two weeks before I can even worry about it.”

To experience this God given peace in our daily life we need to apply these 4 steps:
*Focus on God
*Trust in God
*Receive his peace
*Apply peace to your daily lives. Some of us may ask what if:
“What if my spouse is suing for a divorce?
What if my doctor says I have some incurable disease? Or a family member is killed by a terrorist?
Or my child is an addict and just landed up in jail for possession? Or tells you they’re gay?
Or when you’re loved one walks away from God and chooses an immoral life?
Can you really just smile and sail through?”
You may not experience these troubles listed above but you may face   severe trials of you own.
We are all faced with a choice to trust God and focus on Him knowing He is with us through it all, or we go through it alone.
The Bible says, “No temptation hath overtaken you but such as is common to man.” All people face troubles of one kind or another. God will not take us out of those circumstances but allows us to go through them, to strengthen our relationship with Him and teach us to put our trust in Him.
If I had to go through some of those things listed above without Jesus at my side I don’t believe I would be here today. But he has helped me though the troubles I have faced. He hasn’t taken me out of those situations but He has been with me in and through those situations.  It has strengthened my relationship with God and I am thankful for it.

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