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Increase the Peace- Part 2

In Part 1 of ‘Increase the Peace’ we acknowledged that true peace is from God and that peace comes from believing God and obeying God.  Scripture also teaches that we can have peace in the following ways:

Be Thankful in All Things

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  I’ve often heard people say they find it difficult to believe that God would ask and expect them to be thankful in all circumstances— finding it hard to imagine He could expect thankfulness in ‘negative’ situations. 

Let’s look at a situation to see how we can be thankful even in the midst of life’s trials. A friend of mine was struggling to get along with co-workers who seemed to be intentionally trying to agitate her.  She felt that she was losing her peace in the midst of the situation. We discussed how she could be thankful in her situation. 

An example of something she could pray in that situation would be: “Lord, thank you for this job that helps my family to pay our bills. Thank you for these people who are trying to agitate me;  their actions make me aware of how much more I need you and to be filled with your love for others so I don’t respond in a way that would displease you and compromise my Christians witness. Thank you for using this situation to make me more appreciative of the humiliation you willingly endured for me on the cross, and for giving me an opportunity to model your love to those who I feel are persecuting me. If there is anything that I am doing that is the cause for their behavior, please reveal it to me so I can repent of it. Please give me the wisdom, discernment and strength to do only that which would reflect your heart in this matter. Amen.”

‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Your Mindset Can Bring Peace

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) God is telling us plainly in this verse not to focus our thoughts on the things of the world. He warns us not to think the way the unbelieving world thinks; not to desire what the unbelieving world says is important; and not to follow secular advice, which can be foolishness. Why?  Because God loves us, and He wants what is best for us. He knows that we will not have peace but death if our focus is on this world’s priorities instead of on God and His priorities. We need to set our minds on the things of the Spirit which alone can bring life and peace.  Here are some examples of how we can do this:

-  Pray

  • Read God’s Word and meditate upon it
  • Study God’s Word
  • Memorize scriptures 
  • Get involved in a mentoring relationship with a person who is further along in her walk with the Lord 
  • Join a small group Bible study
  • Listen to Christian music 
  • Read Christ-centered books/magazines
  • Ask God to replace your selfish, worldly desires with His perfect desires for your life

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

When the Spirit Leads You Will Have Peace

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

When our minds are focused on the things of God, the Spirit of God will lead you in peace.  Peace is an attribute of God’s character and is a fruit that God desires for every believer to have.  You can know the Spirit of God is leading you when you are at peace. The peace of God is not dependent on the outcome or circumstance, but is a character trait of God who lives in the heart of the one who believes in Him and has chosen to follow Him.  This peace transcends all understanding because it is always available regardless of what is happening in the moment.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

The peace of God ‘guards our hearts and mind’.  When we believe, obey, are thankful, and keep our minds focused on God, He will protect our hearts and minds from the kind of thinking that causes us to lose our peace because we will be confident that we can trust God no matter what.  We will be confident that God is in control, and He is faithful and to be trusted at all times. I have found that often restlessness and anxiety is caused by our desire to determine an outcome. What peace there is in knowing that if we obey God, we can always trust Him with the outcome! You can trust the Man who died for you— with everything that concerns you! If you want the peace that God longs to give you, stop striving, stop manipulating, and stop trying to control your life! Instead, relinquish control and put your full trust in God, Who is a wise and loving Father who always has your best interest in mind.  We may not always agree with His decisions because His ways are so much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55: 9), but we can choose to trust His power, His love, His wisdom, and His good and never changing nature.

Make the choice today to believe God, obey God, follow God and keep your mind fixed on the promises of God.  He is a wonderful counselor and the prince of peace Who will never leave you or forsake you. Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all (2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV).

Written by: Jamie Shaver

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

"Increase the Peace"- Part 1

Have you ever been around a “peace taker?” Have you ever started out your day filled with peace and joy and then realized by the end of the day you’d ‘lost’ your peace? Perhaps you noticed it was gone after you’d encountered someone who was fearful, anxious, critical, irritating, or someone who did something that offended you.  

The first thing we need to recognize is that nobody can ‘take’ our peace from us unless we are willing to give it away.  

Are you allowing someone to take away from you the peace that God has given to you as a priceless gift?  

What can we do to have true peace in all situations?  God’s Word speaks on this very issue.

True Peace is From God

As a believer and follower of Christ, we can have a peace that the world cannot possess or even understand.  It is a peace that is not determined by or affected by our circumstances. The amount of money we have in the bank; our physical health or appearance; our job status; our marital status; crises in our family, the nation, or the world cannot take away the peace that we can have in Christ. It is a peace that transcends all ‘human understanding’. (Philippians 4:7)  

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 ESV

Jesus tells us that He is giving and leaving His peace with us. He gives it to us and commands us to not let our “hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  (John 14:27) Jesus reveals that we ultimately determine whether we will have peace, regardless of our situation. “Let not” means that we have the ability to control whether our hearts will become troubled or fearful. Jesus knows that when we allow fear to enter our hearts, we will lose faith because fear and faith cannot coexist.  Where there is no faith, there can be no true peace.

Jesus came to the disciples who had locked the doors in fear of the Jewish leaders and declared “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)  Whatever your situation is, He is declaring the same thing to you today!  We can find ourselves full of fear about so many things, including what a person may think of us; our own or a loved one’s health diagnosis; our co-workers’ or boss’ expectations of our performance; or in a panic due to national or world crises. However, we need to recognize that it is our choice whether we will allow our hearts to be troubled over a situation and to think fearful thoughts. If that it the choice we make, we will be giving away our gift of peace that we have from God.

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Peace Comes from Believing:  

  • That God is Who He says He is
  • That God’s Word has power
  • That God can do what He says He can do
  • That all things are under God’s authority 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  Romans 15:13 ESV

“The God of hope” doesn’t just desire that we have peace. He also desires that we have joy, abounding hope, and all the things that He alone can give us that lead to an abundant life! He tells us exactly how we can get these things…it’s “in believing” in Him.  What do you believe about God?  Have you sought to learn about who He says He is as revealed in the Bible, His love-letter to mankind?  The God of the Bible is where peace resides, through His Son, the “Prince of Peace” Jesus Christ!  Do you believe in Him?  Do you believe His Word is truth?

Peace Comes from Obeying

God also tells us that peace comes through obeying His commands.  In His great love for us, God desires for us to have peace and He gave us many commands that He knew would lead us to quiet, peaceful confidence in Him, not in our own abilities.  “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”  Isaiah 32:17

Notice in Isaiah 32:17 what God tells us about ‘the fruit’— or the result— of righteous living; it will be peace.  The effect of that peace will be quietness and confidence forever.  What a contrast that is to when we choose to disobey His commands which results in confusion, chaos, uncertainty, and ultimately destruction. 

“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace” (Isaiah 32:17), and “the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  (James 3:18) This is the principle of sowing and reaping.  If you sow in peace, you will reap righteousness, and that righteousness will bring forth peace and steadfast love. (see also Hosea 10:12) 

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”  Psalm 3:1-2

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”  2 Thessalonians 3:16

Written by: Jamie Shaver

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Surrendered to Simplicity

A little over a week ago we pulled up the stakes of our life in Atlanta as my husband accepted a job offer in Knoxville, Tennessee. We had spent months before this move looking at houses in Knoxville. Our plan was to “downsize”, however every time we looked at a smaller house, I found myself wondering how we would fit most of our “STUFF” in it. Some possessions seemed to be negotiable… but most had sentimental value in my perspective, preventing them from being simply given away.  Our “stuff” presented a problem that was making it difficult to find a smaller house that would comfortably contain it all. After a period of unsuccessful house hunting we decided that we would build the perfect house, smaller than our old house, but bigger than what we truly needed…to house all of our earthly treasures!

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When we arrived in Knoxville, we moved into a small (compared to our former house), 3 bedroom apartment. We selected a few of our possessions and simply decorated the apartment that would be our home for the next nine months or so, until we could build our new home. The rest of our “stuff” was unloaded into two huge storage units. As I watched the movers pack most of our possessions into storage, I was struck by the quantity of items that we had accumulated over the years. The movers packed those storage units like a puzzle, not one square inch was left unfilled… and then we closed the doors. It was strange to me that as soon as the doors were closed that I had this feeling of freedom, reminding me of the expression, “out of sight, out of mind.” Within a couple of days living in the apartment I found that I truly did not miss any of that “stuff”…except maybe a few of my books. I marveled at the way God uses our life experiences to touch our hearts, and to constantly teach us His truth.

As I sat quietly with the Lord during my morning devotional time, I reflected on my perspective before the move as compared to my perspective now. I love that the Lord continues to teach me about what is truly important in my life. I find myself loving the simplicity of our life right now. It reminds me of moves we made when our children were young. For a time when they hadn’t made new friends yet, they clung very close to me as they slowly ventured into their new lives. The closeness during those times is something I still remember and that I loved.  I find myself as God’s child drawing even closer to my Father as I begin this new chapter in my life. This realization– combined with the purging of so many material “distractions” –has brought me to a place of surrender.  And I’ve discovered that with that surrender, there is an deeper connection with my Heavenly Father.

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I realize that my life will begin to fill up again as time presses forward, but for now the simplicity of this time is a welcome retreat for me. It is a time of quiet surrender, a time to get very still and listen to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is constantly whispering priceless truths to me about my life. He opens my eyes, my heart, and my mind to recognize the lessons He wants me to learn. He is sweetly reminding me that there is a time for everything. I am thankful for the years of my life; for the busy times, and all the stuff that comes with those times, because without those I do not think that I would fully appreciate the simplicity of NOW…the surrender of NOW. There is a surrender in the NOW…trading the noise, the busy life, and ‘the stuff’ for the simplicity of a quiet communion with the Spirit. I truly love this place and I don’t want to go back to the “stuff” of my old life.  I want to go forward being very selective about what and how I choose to fill my life. I want to cling to my Heavenly Parent, as my young children clung to me in those new transitions. I loved those times…and I know that God also loves that time with me.

Special thanks to guest blogger Jeanne East, Christian Elementary Education Teacher       

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Fret Not- Finding Abundant Peace in 6 Steps

Fret Not-Finding Abundant Peace- 6 steps to abundant peace

Frustrated that others seem to be gaining what you desire?  Tempted to become angry?    Psalm 37:1-11 offers wisdom so that we may not become angry when it appears that the evil doers are prospering.

1 - Trust in the LORD, and do good. (v.3)

2- Delight yourself in the LORD (v. 4)

3- Commit your “way” to Him (v. 5)

4- Be still before Him (v. 7)

5- Wait for the LORD (v. 7, 9)

6- Refrain from anger (v. 8)

7- Delight yourself in abundant peace (v. 11)

So in looking at the actions that these beautiful verses have to teach us it can be summed up in the following:

God’s Way

First, we must rely on the integrity, strength, ability, and surety of God by trusting Him, and do what is right by His standards.   Then once we trust Him, we must take great pleasure in who He is, and find satisfaction and enjoyment in the nature of God by delighting in Him.  Next, commit our way to Him by entrusting our chosen direction and the outcome to Him for safekeeping.  Then, be still before Him and wait on His perfect timing.   Doing these things will help you to refrain from anger.  Lastly, delight yourself in the abundant peace that comes.  Amen!

I am so grateful when scripture clearly lays out the action steps we need to take to find abundant peace.  Look at how this differs from the way many in the world do things!

“World’s Way”…

Trust in yourself, and get “even.”  Delight yourself in our own desires.  Act now, don’t wait, and show your anger and disgust/frustration.  Even post about in on Facebook, and finally find yourself with no peace, just turmoil and a frustrating life.

Thank you God that you have given us your Spirit to equip us to focus and accomplish on all that you have called us to that we may enjoy the peace that comes through a life that pleases you.

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

God Speaks on Anxiety

What are you anxious about? anx·ious -full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried; solicitous.

We cannot have both fear and peace at the same time.  Faith and fear cannot coexist.  You either trust God in this area of your life or you don’t.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Do you know the love God has for you?  Do you believe Him for all things?  Do you love God with all your heart, soul and mind?

This is what God says about anxiety.  Meditate on these verses.

Jeremiah 17:8 - He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

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Please note that God is saying below “do not be anxious”…this is a command; not a suggestion.

Matthew 6:25 [ Do Not Be Anxious ] “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 10:19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.

Mark 13:11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Luke 12:11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,

Luke 12:22 [ Do Not Be Anxious ] And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.

Finally,

Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Do not be anxious about anything…

Matthew 6:27

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

There is nothing that God wants us to be anxious about.

What should we do when we begin to worry?

1 Peter 5:7

casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.

Pray, cast your anxieties on Him, and meditate on His Word & character.  You can trust the man who died for you!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Strive Not...

Strive Not...

When we strive to “make” something the way we want it to be, or even the way we believe God said it would be without waiting on His timing, we will always be left with sin and relational wreckage.

God is always on-time, His time that is.  We cannot manipulate God into providing our “promise” any earlier than He has already decided.

Sarai allowed her husband to sleep with another woman and conceive a child who’s descendants are still living in strife and wanting to kill her offspring.

We see in scripture Sarai and Abram wait for over 10 years for the child that God promised.

We see in scripture that Rebekah and Isaac wait 20 years for a child.  Once finally pregnant, Rebekah inquires of God and He tells her that she is carrying two children and that the older one will serve the younger one.

Rebekah strives to make God’s promise of the older son serving the younger by concocting a wild scheme to fool her husband, and deceiving him to give the blessing for the “first-born” which would have been Esau, to the younger son Jacob instead.  This ultimately led to her two boys to be separated and Esau wanting to kill Jacob (family divided and in strife)

In both cases, God makes a promise.  In both cases the women strive, (by putting faith in their own way of doing things vs. waiting on God) to make true what God has promised in their own power.

strive

to exert oneself vigorously; try hard: He strove to make himself understood.

to make strenuous efforts toward any goal: to strive for success.

to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete.

to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance: to strive against fate.

to rival; vie.

I particularly like the definition “to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance” because I believe when we are “striving” we are trying to accomplish something in a way or timeframe that is in opposition to God’s timing.  Striving and sinning are found side by side, it is impossible to please God without faith.  We begin striving when our actions are based on faith in man and our plan vs. faith in God and His.   Is there anything that you are battling for right now?  How much time in prayer have you spent regarding this situation?  Are you confident that the actions you are taking to achieve your goal do not break any of God’s other commands?

Isaiah 45:9

Woe to him who strives with his Maker!—a worthless piece of broken pottery among other pieces equally worthless [and yet presuming to strive with his Maker]! Shall the clay say to him who fashions it, What do you think you are making? or, Your work has no handles?

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The only thing we should strive for?…..things of the kingdom

Jude 1:23

[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality.

Luke 12:31

Only aim at and strive for and seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be supplied to you also.

May we all learn from Sarai and Rebekah to not strive to make things happen in our time, but abide in His presence and wait upon the LORD to fulfill His promises in His time.

a·bide

to remain; continue; stay: Abide with me.

to have one’s abode; dwell; reside: to abide in a small Scottish village.

to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last.

verb (used with object)

to put up with; tolerate; stand: I can’t abide dishonesty!

to endure, sustain, or withstand without yielding or submitting: to abide a vigorous onslaught.

to wait for; await: to abide the coming of the Lord.

to accept without opposition or question: to abide the verdict of the judges.

to pay the price or penalty of; suffer for.

Written by Jamie Shaver

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

A "Little" Break Leads To Big Changes!

Have you ever taken a “little” break from something?  Maybe from your running schedule, or your Dave Ramsey envelopes, or your early morning devotional.  The definition of little is:

short in duration; not extensive; short; brief: a little while

small in number

small in amount or degree; not much

Well, I really enjoy working out; however, this summer I was not able to do my “regular” routine.  So I took a “little” break.  Sure, I went on a few runs through our hilly subdivision, I rode my Spin bike in the basement now and then, but I took a break from the consistent, regular, intense workouts that I had been doing.  This little break was 8 weeks long. 

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This past weekend as I prepared for the rapid arrival of fall I noticed 1 alarming thing…all my jeans are tight!  Like, really, really tight!  “How did this happen?” I exclaim!  I wishfully wonder if the dryer was on high heat last time I washed them, as I do air squats hoping to stretch out a little more space in the pants.  Unfortunately, the “muffin top” around the waistband doesn’t lie.  I have gained some weight!  Ever been there?

Since I don’t have a scale anymore (I was certain Satan himself lived inside of it) I gauge my current weight by the fit of my clothing and I was pretty surprised.  I knew I had taken a little break, but this just seems unfair!  Out of 52 weeks in the year, I can consistently workout for 44 weeks and remain the same size.  Take a “little” 8 week break and WhaaBaam!  Clothes don’t fit.   

This whole thing reminded me of Proverbs 6:9-11.  For the first time I realized this verse says a “little” sleep, a “little” slumber, and “little” folding of the hands.  I just love when God’s Word jumps into my mind mid-tantrum and reminds me of His truth.  It’s not unfair, it’s just…well, the way it is.  In our life it only takes a little rest, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to drastically impact our wellness both physically and spiritually.  

Think about it now spiritually.  What happens when we take a “little” break from bible study? A little break from prayer?  A little break from church?   Imagine how quickly we can fatten up in our worldliness, and fleshly desires.  

For me sometimes, it is the desire for more sleep that can cause me to miss my morning quiet time or an early workout, and that frustrates me.   As I looked at this verse again, I was struck that the desire for a little sleep was the very thing God said would bringing poverty and scarcity.  

Proverbs 6:9-11

New International Version (NIV)

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?    When will you get up from your sleep?

A little sleep, a little slumber,    a little folding of the hands to rest— 

and poverty will come on you like a thief    and scarcity like an armed man.

Written by Jamie Shaver

 

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?