Who knew there was so much to know about achieving peace!? Who knew there were different kinds of peace to be had, and we’ve only barely scraped off the frosting from one type of them? Today, we'll review and highlight 20 ways to experience peace (the rest, peace and prosperity type) in our lives.
As every good student knows (at least the ones who know how to study for exams and ace them), you need to encapsulate all of the information you’ve been fed, and then ingest and digest it. Really well. Not just read it over once or twice, but chew it up, get the nutrients out of it, and be able to apply it and perfect it. And if you can do those things, then you know you’ve got the material nailed down.
To begin the review, you write a brief synopsis of the point, and then you abbreviate that further through a one or two sentence memory jogger. Following that review, you might highlight one word and use it to reinforce the information. You formulate and write down manageable steps to incorporate it into your daily schedule or routine and practice it over and over and over again. Like a musician, dancer or athlete you practice, practice, practice! That’s when it really starts taking hold, developing new brain neuron connections, (honestly!) and changing how you think and react in life.
Being a teacher, I thought we should take a rest stop and do some “reviewing” of all of this important peace material. Reduce it to a more manageable amount and be able to refer to it on a daily basis so it can transform our lives, so we can experience and rest in this peace we so desperately desire!
So let’s embark on a review of what we’ve covered the last eight weeks.
On January 11 we had our “classroom introduction” to peace, where we learned some “peace and tranquility” definitions and discovered that often the best place to stand in a storm is right in the middle of it—in the eye—which is often the calmest part of the storm.
On January 18, we discussed how peace just doesn’t show up one day and stick around. We have to pursue it, hunger for it, look for it. We reminded ourselves that there’s a thief who likes to steal from us, and he’s all too happy to snag our peace and run off with it. Most important, even though we are guaranteed trouble in this world, the freedom we have in our relationship with Christ allows us to walk hand-in-hand with peace and tranquility, no matter what turmoil swirls around us. Remember: You are free! Free to love, free to laugh, and free to be at peace!
Then, in our first stop on our real journey, we saw how our lives can be robbed of peace when we look upon others’ prosperous positions with envy, and that the converse can also be true: When someone envies our prosperity, he might choose to try to make our lives difficult and rob us of the peace we’re enjoying.
Through the study, we realized that it is sometimes necessary to remove ourselves from a person or situation in order to restore or have peace—regardless of how inconvenient that action might be for us.
Isaac’s story also shows us how we can be blessed with peace because of a promise God made to someone else, like a forefather. Through generational promises, we can enjoy peace! (That’s a good one to remember if you are a parent who wants your children to enjoy peace.)
If we really want peace, Isaac’s actions also show us that we sometimes need to move on, without standing our ground and fighting for our rights. We need to deny our ego and “let it go.”
This encounter also taught us about how humility, thankfulness, and being strong and prosperous affect our peace. We give credit to God for our prosperity, because He’s the one who should receive the credit. We don’t apologize for our strength. We’re both humbled by it and grateful for it. We enjoy the peace surrounding us because of our prosperity and strength. No false humility here. We are happy!
Our next stop taught us that if we desire peace then we should be hopeful, prepared, assuring, and forgiving. Jacob showed us that having a hopeful heart can give you a peaceful heart. His son Joseph taught us that preparing for the future—even if it looks potentially disastrous—will cloak our hearts in peace. Just knowing what to expect, even if it isn’t so rosy-colored, grants our hearts a quiet satisfaction of knowing we’re prepared. Then Joseph extends peace to his dishonest and vindictive brothers by giving them a word of assurance, (but only after he sneakily learns a few things about them first). And he also provides them (and himself) with peace when he forgives them. Hopeful, prepared, assuring and forgiving.
February 15 found us learning the peace benefits of being respectful, wise, and following our God-ordained path.
After God calls Moses, and gives him the mind-boggling undertaking of returning to Egypt, confronting Pharaoh, and leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses approaches his father-in-law, Jethro, (who is also his employer), and humbly, respectfully asks for his blessing of peace to leave. In return for that respect, his father-in-law extends Moses the peace he seeks.
Then Jethro teaches Moses how to have peace in his life and help others to enjoy peace, too, through wisdom. In this case, good organization and legal hierarchy. We learned that wise delegating can bring peace to everyone—us and others. Taking sound advice can bring us peace.
Our lesson also reminded us that following our God-ordained path—heeding His words and following His life instructions—allows us to enjoy peace. In our sin and trouble-riddled world, that may just be the peace and joy we have in our hearts from knowing we are following Him and doing the right thing.
Be respectful, be wise, and follow your God-ordained path!
Numbers 6:24-26 directed us to the “priestly blessing,” where we encountered the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A simple, beautiful picture of God’s love and desire to bless us, to look and smile upon us, and grant us the favor of a life of rest, prosperity, and happiness. It’s a reminder of the total security we have as children of God.
And how do we receive this blessing? We focus our hearts on Him, set them in order in preparation to receive the blessing! Prepare yourself to be blessed!
Numbers 25:10-13 showed us how being zealous (having strong, energetic support) for God, and demonstrating it, stopped a sin-provoked, national plague, and brought generational blessings to a man named Phinehas and his family. There is a reason Jesus tells the church in Laodicea that he’s going to spit (actually, he says vomit) them out his mouth. Because they had convinced themselves that they were rich and had everything they needed, their hearts had grown lukewarm for Him. They had lost their zeal and passion. Like the putrid water in Laodicea, they nauseated Him.
I know we’re in the review phase, but I’m going to interject a hard question here: Would you want Jesus thinking or saying that about you? Examine your heart and faith in Him. Have you lost your zeal? Are you lukewarm toward Him? Do you demonstrate your zeal for Him?
If you feel as though you have lost that zeal, do some serious soul searching and praying to find out why, and then ask God to restore unto you the joy of your salvation. And then be zealous for God and expect rest, peace and prosperity to follow!
Then Numbers 23:5-6 gave clear instructions for not expending your energy on pursuing your enemy’s peace and prosperity, and the reasons why you should not. And this only makes sense. While you are called, as a Christ-follower, to pray for your enemies and forgive them, I don’t find in Scripture where Jesus instructs us to expend energy working for our enemy’s prosperity and peace.
I can hear you yelling at me through your computer screen: “Now wait a minute, Andrea! Jesus tells us to hand over our overcoat when someone requests our shirt. And we’re supposed to love our enemies as we love ourselves!”
Those rebuttals are true. But my ears also ring with His firm teaching of being shrewd as a serpent (about the world), and not casting our pearls before swine. Which means there are “swine” in our world, and he’s not referring to the kind that end up on your breakfast table! What he specifically says is even rougher than that: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine,” And then He gives the reason for it: “lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Wow! And, ouch! So we need to be on the lookout for “dogs” and “swine.” Clearly, Jesus is not referring here to the four-legged type. He’s referring to people. He’s telling us that there are certain people we expend our words, time and energy on; and there are people we are to love and pray for from afar. Here’s what Dr. J. Vernon McGee says about it:
“How to meet the people of this world is the greatest problem facing a child of God.
Every day we rub shoulders with princes and paupers, gentlemen and scoundrels,
true and false professors. Some folk need our friendship and help, and we need them,
and we ought to pull them to our hearts. Others are rascals and will destroy us, and
we need to push them from us.”
In common vernacular: If you’ve been kicked in the teeth, you don’t give the offender the opportunity to kick you in the teeth again. And be very careful and discerning about who you welcome wholeheartedly (and naively) into your Christian fellowship!
So let’s break this down further into points we can write on note cards, print out and post near our work areas, or write in our journals to be used as frequent reminders for how we pursue, and experience peace! It’s a great way to remember, and personalize, the most important points of our lessons!
Do you want to experience peace? Then ~
1. Remove yourself from the storm and stand in the eye of it.
2. Pursue it, hunger for it, seek it. And when you’ve got it, fight to hang onto it.
3. Don’t allow yourself to envy someone else’s prosperity. Doing so steals your peace.
4. Realize that your prosperity may cause someone to try to rob you of it, and the peace it provides you.
5. Discern when to remove yourself from an antagonizing situation, even if the removing is inconvenient.
6. Remember that your relationship with God, and the promises He makes to you, can have generational effects for your children and grandchildren.
7. Be careful about when, and with whom, you choose to stand your ground. You may need to just deny your ego and let it go.
8. Be strong and prosperous. Be thankful for the blessings of both and the peace they bring to your life.
9. Learn and practice hopefulness.
10. Be as prepared (as you can be) for the future.
11. Offer words of assurance and peace to others.
12. Be forgiving. (Offer someone peace through your forgiveness.)
13. Be respectful of those in authority over you.
14. Take sound wisdom and apply it to your life—to bring you and others peace.
15. Follow your God-ordained path. Heed God’s words and follow His life instructions.
16. Set your heart on the Lord to prepare yourself to receive His blessing!
17. Be zealous for God. And don’t be afraid to demonstrate it!
18. Don’t be surprised when arrogant people reject your peace overtures and start a fight.
19. Don’t expend time and energy pursuing your antagonist’s peace and prosperity.
20. Put God first, remember His blessings, and be careful about following your heart.
Next week, we’ll say goodbye to Moses and venture forth into the Promised Land with Joshua to see what he learns about Shalom.
Until then, may your week be full of blessings that you receive and give, your heart be full of joy and thankfulness, and your days be filled with laughter! Build a little heaven in your life right now, and watch your heavenly garden grow!
In Christ’s love and peace,
When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth. ~ A. W. Tozer
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