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What Gets In The Way Of Your Peace | Advent

Monday “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”  John 14:27

So there it is, right there. Jesus gave His followers peace as a parting gift before He went back into heaven. But it was a particular kind of peace, “not as the world gives.” Even ungodly bozos have peace when their circumstances are peaceful. If you have eighty-million dollars, a paid-for mansion, decent family, servants and cars, you can enjoy a certain level of peace. However, the people Jesus was talking to would be soon be slandered, stoned, crucified, or beheaded. That’s certainly not peaceful. If peace is the freedom from earthly troubles, then Jesus must have meant another kind of peace.

His peace gives freedom from: 1. Fear of death (We know where we’re going). 2. Fear of being alone (He’s always with us). 

  1. Fear of judgement (He already took our punishment). 4. Fear of human opinion (He’s the only One we need to please). 5.Comparison (He delights in our uniqueness). 6. Competition (He doesn’t compare us to anyone but Himself). 7 Insignificance (We were designed for purpose). 8. Sin (It no longer masters us). This peace is available to anyone who trusts in Him as Lord of their lives. He’s paid for our peace with His own blood and we receive this peace when He becomes our measuring stick.

 

Challenge: Which of those is getting in the way of your peace?

Prayer: Father, I have accepted your Son as my Lord and Savior, but I still struggle with some of those peace-stealers. Show me where I’m going wrong. I don’t want to waste the peace Jesus bought for me. In His name, amen.

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Tuesday— Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4: 6-7 

It was three a.m. when she made her final trek around the halls of the ICU where her child lay on life-support. Thirty tubes and wires snaked from every part of the tiny body and the prognosis was not good: “wheelchair…comatose… paralysis… death.”  Anxious thoughts choked her mind and every thought was a prayer. “It’s in My hands now,” came the whisper. “Do you trust me?” She stopped and spoke to the wall. “Sure, I trust you, Lord, if she’s fine tomorrow. But nobody’s offering us that.” She shut her eyes. “Okay, I trust you. Whatever happens, I trust you.” And like the first snowflakes of winter, peace came.

How is it possible to have peace when your life is careening out of control? When your baby is on life-support. Your spouse leaves. Bankruptcy threatens. Only God can bring peace when tragedy strikes. Nothing about the situation is peaceful and yet, God offers a peace which defies explanation. When we’ve done all we could, thanked Him in the midst of it, and purposed to trust no matter what, peace comes. His peace. It’s the peace of a child in the backseat while Daddy drives. She doesn’t know where they’re going or how to get there. But she trusts Daddy. He knows. He can handle even detours, road construction, and Siri’s bad directions. So she settles into her car seat and goes to sleep, at peace, because Daddy’s in charge.

Challenge: When you’ve done all you can, trust yourself to the Driver and let His peace guard your heart and your mind.

Prayer: Father, I’ve worried when I needed to just trust your plan. I want this verse to define me every time I start to get anxious. No matter how it turns out, I know you’re a good God and you’re in charge. May your peace carry me.  Amen.

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Wednesday “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  Luke 1:34

This verse is one of those BIG BIBLE QUESTIONS we stumble over. Just a few verses earlier (18-20), Mary’s cousin Zechariah had asked a similar question and he got a gag order for it. So why was Mary’s question honored and Zechariah’s punished? Is God inconsistent? The answer lies in the motivation behind the question. Mary was curious; Zechariah was doubtful. Mary wondered; Zechariah declared. Mary said, “How will you do it, God?” Zechariah said, “I don’t believe you can do it, God.” BIG difference in heaven’s courtroom. It’s the difference  between saying, “I didn’t do it” instead of “You didn’t see me do it.”

God doesn’t mind our questions. In fact, He invites them. But He weighs our motives more than our words. We look at our bills, then our bank balance, and uncertainty hits. We read His promise: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches…” (Phil. 4:19), and have a decision to make. Fear says, “I don’t think God can fix this.” Faith says, “I don’t know how He’ll do it, but I trust Him.” That’s why Mary’s question was not like Zechariah’s. One was gently answered; the other harshly rebuked. Neither understood God’s plan, but each responded to it differently: one in faith, one in doubt. God welcomes honest questions but despises our challenges to His character. We have His attention when we ask questions with the intent to obey.

Challenge: When you’re uncertain about how God will deliver you, check your motives before asking your questions.

Prayer: Father, I’ve been like Zechariah in the past. Make me aware of my motives when I question things in your word. Even when I don’t know how you’re going to do it, give me faith to believe your word like Mary did. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday—  After the angels had left…the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see…”  Luke 2:1

What if the verse read like this: “After the angels left, the shepherds said, “I’d like to go to Bethlehem, but I’ve got a meeting…” Or, “…my kid has soccer practice…we planned to go to the lake…it might not be exciting enough…I need to finish bingeing   my Netflix show…” Busyness could have kept the shepherds from the greatest experience of their lives. But because they listened to God’s instruction, they witnessed Peace on Earth in the flesh. They’d been entrusted with watching the sacrificial lambs for the temple. But sheep were just sheep once they’d seen the Lamb of God. They now had a holy purpose.

What is in the way of your peace on earth? EXCUSES. American culture insists that rush-rush-rushing everywhere means we’re important, and we assume God thinks that too. So we give excuses instead of listening to His instructions. But His peace is reserved for those who spend time in His presence. When we abandon our excuses and make His instruction our highest aim, life has a holy purpose. We view our jobs, our families, and our world through new eyes. We realize everything we do has eternal significance and we pour ourselves into what matters. Daily humdrum is not wasted when we do everything to honor the Lord. Allowing busyness to derail us keeps us from experiencing peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Challenge: Are you allowing busyness to keep you from obeying God’s instructions?

Prayer: Jesus, would I have been too busy to go to Bethlehem and see you? If I make excuses now about going to church, serving in ministry, or spending time with you, then I probably wouldn’t have gone then either. Forgive and change me. Amen.

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Friday Peacemakers who sow in peace reap the fruit of righteousness.    James 3:18

“Get over here!” bellowed Harriet and backhanded her husband. “You too!” He raised a fist while across the room a group of children scattered. “I ain’t sayin’ it again!” Harriet yelled. “Get your lazy fannies to the truck right now!” She heaved to her feet as children darted past, bickering all the way. Their father trailed after them, swearing at them and the car parked in his spot. “Stop it!” Childish voices pierced the air. “That’s mine!” “Shut up! Let go!” “No, you let go!” Harriet rolled her eyes and huffed. “Fool kids,” she grunted as she lumbered after them. “Why can’t they get along? I get no peace and I’ve done all I could…”

Harriet was reaping what she sowed but missed the irony. She claimed to want peace in her home, but her words and actions sowed strife, anger, and chaos. We claim to want peace, but what are we sowing? Not sure? Consider how Jesus, Peter, and Paul did it. They were not afraid to create conflict, but they chose their battles carefully. Peace is not moral compromise, blanket agreement, or wishy-washiness. Where truth was challenged, they refused to budge. But personal insults and abuses rolled right off their shoulders. They were peaceful while standing their ground, but not every hill is one to die on.  We are peacemakers when we choose our battles based on eternal consequences instead of self-centered offenses. We learn ways to engage others without malice. When we sow in peace, we reap a harvest of righteousness, both here and for eternity.

Challenge: If your home or work environment is not peaceful, what might you be doing that gets in the way?

Prayer: Father, what am I doing to sow peace? Or am I expecting peace while sowing discord? Help me become bold about spiritual truths but gentle in the way I deliver them. I want to reap a harvest of righteousness. In Jesus’ name, amen.