"My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you, do not let your hearts be troubled nor let them be overwhelmed..."
"Defending the peace" is a term I've heard a lot.
But it wasn't until this morning I actually thought about what that meant. I'm in the middle of reading an interesting book (as always) and had just finished the chapter describing how a police officer was defending the peace against a gang who were bringing violence and darkness into the neighborhood.
Just as I discovered resting is usually an active choice (but that's another topic) it's also an active effort to defend the peace in your environment.
Growing up with constant anxiety I became pretty interested in what peace really meant and how to gain lasting peace that doesn't waver with circumstances and emotions.
For some people it's easier than others to live in peace and it doesn't require a ton of effort on their part. My brother for example, he's a pretty laid back guy. As long as you don't come between him and his french fries he's alright. He naturally stays calm, (at least most of the time.) he was born with an even disposition.
I, on the other hand, was the complete opposite.
From the time I learned I could open my mouth and shriek I've been using my vocal chords. I pushed my way to the front, I was constantly on stage, and a bit of a diva... okay maybe a lot.
As I've gotten older I've learned so much and while I'm still a work in progress (we all are) I understand how keeping the peace is an active effort and why God places so much significance surrounding peace in the bible.
Okay, basic concept of life here you need to understand:
Light / Darkness
There is both working and alive in our world today. In our hearts, in our families, in our homes.
The Devil comes to "steal, kill and destroy." - John 10:10
But God comes so that we may have life and life more abundantly!
Meaning the enemy is always trying to take away from us while God is constantly giving and pouring into us. If we represent God and are his children then we should also be looking for ways to give and pour back into other people's lives with the gifts, abilities and power we have through him.
The enemy can work through people too and let me know if you can relate to me here but have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you can almost feel the life, joy and peace being sucked out of you? Replaced by simmering fear, anxiety and dissatisfaction.
Those are the people who are negative, constantly complaining, fearful of the future, focused on themselves and their lack so that all they can see is the lack in the world which is what they choose to focus on.
Most people aren't even aware that's the way they are thinking and speaking out but it has a huge affect, not only on themselves but on everyone they interact with!
I've heard once that if the enemy can't destroy you, he'll distract you.
That's so true, if he can't destroy you he'll sure as heck try to distract you and it starts with you mind and your thoughts!
I would definitely recommend Battle field of the Mind by Joyce Meyer for more info on that topic.
So what does this have to do with peace? I'm sure you're already connecting the dots!
The enemy is actively trying to steal your peace, often working through other people giving negative reports or making things difficult for you, which is why you cannot remain passive about peace!
Actively choose peace and decisions that you know will bring more peace.
When we follow the bible's story we can see how a perfect peaceful paradise descended into chaos and darkness because of sin. God created order and took one day (the seventh day, shabbat) for rest and commanded us to do the same. Right there we have two things that we can apply into our lives to greatly maximize our peace.
"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people." - 1 Corinthians 14: 33
1. Get Organized!
- Everything goes wrong when you're unorganized. When I was struggling with harsh anxiety I would clean and organize my room. Even though it's an external thing and peace needs to be addressed internally having your surroundings in order helps to calm your mind.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Mathew 11:28-30
2. Work 6 days // Rest on the 7th!
- God gave Adam and Eve the task of overseeing creation, even in the garden of Eden they had a task, they had purpose and it's so extremely important for us and our peace to be working towards something and having responsibility but what's even more important is that we take the 7th day of the week to rest. Not to work, not to deal with money but to rest and honor God.
It shows that we respect him and respect ourselves.
I don't know about you but I turn into a bear when I'm tired and overworked eventually. Just trust me on this, not only will you be happier but everyone around you will be thankful if you take that one day of rest to recharge.
As we continue reading through the bible there are the pitfalls that Adam and Eve fell into that we can fall into as well.
Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. - Psalm 119:165
- They sinned. They went from walking with God in the garden, being close to him, being cared for and protected to spitting in God's face, rejecting an intimate relationship with him and doing their own thing. They wanted to do what seemed good to them and because of their pride they wanted to be like God.
They thought they could replace him, that they knew better than him.
When God called out "where are you?" he didn't need to ask he already knew but he wanted Adam and Eve to realize that they've strayed. They walked away and became lost.
Do you really know where you are? Where are you? Are you walking with God? Are things in order and perfect peace or are you wandering around, lost in chaos and darkness?
Yeshua came for the lost sheep, we all need a Shepard. God redeems and he has given us his word as a lamp unto our feet, to direct us and keep us on the right path which is why I love using examples from the bible, both good and bad that can help us when we stray from God and put us back on track.
- After their sin they tried to hide, when that didn't work and they were forced to confront the issue. Instead of repentance, humility and turning away from sin they blamed each other!
There is such strength and freedom when we can accept responsibility for our actions and words instead of sweeping them under the rug or blaming them on a bad role model or past experiences.
I'm not trying to downplay whatever you've been through, I know that a lot of people have been through a lot of stuff I wish would never have happened that they didn't have control over but blaming your problems on that person or experience that caused you harm will keep you captive and imprisoned. Speaking from experience when you can walk in humility and forgiveness letting the yourself heal from the past or maybe even recent events you move forward in freedom and peace.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:31-32
I've heard "well I wouldn't be so bitter all the time if he hadn't dumped me," or "I wouldn't be so temperamental if my parents had been kinder to me."
The thing is that you're only hurting yourself if you continue to blame others for you attitude and your actions. What they've done they will have to take up with God and give an account for one day but you have a lot of life left, what are you going to do with it?
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. - Psalm 34:14
When you google the definition of 'pursue' this is what comes up on google:
- follow (someone or something) in order to catch or attack them.'
I love that! That is the kind of aggression or active effort is requires sometimes when we are seeking after more peace in our lives.
The second definition is this:
- (of a person or way) continue or proceed along (a path or route).
I love this definition as well because it shows us that pursuing peace is not only a one time thing. Like my previous blog post on the Key to Consistancey it is a every day thing.
You can't just pursue peace once and that's the end of it.
It's a lifestyle choice. It's in every step of your daily walk with God. It's the path you choose to go down and which direction you turn to.
Now that we've defined how we get peace we should probably define peace itself! The bible does it for us actually!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
- John 14:27
There is a difference between the peace of this world and the peace that God has to offer that is available to us through him.
How do we know the difference? Again we see this principle of God giving (my peace I GIVE to you) while the enemy takes away.
God's peace leaves us full and satisfied while the devil whispers empty promises in our ears leaving us feeling more and more empty in pursuit of worthless things.
The flesh is never satisfied. Sometimes we think "if I could only get that promotion I would have peace. Or That perfect relationship, that perfect house etc"
It just doesn't work that way.
While having material things are not bad and it's good to want to live a prosperous life that's not what brings you peace. Not matter how much you have, how successful you are, or how many people love you it won't leave you with that deep peace that only God can give us.
It's really dangerous to try to run after the peace that the world gives because you always end up losing. Maybe you sacrifice your family for that promotion or your innocence for that relationship, your inheritance for that house, and still you end up feeling empty.
That's why Yeshua who is our prince of peace spoke against seeking after material things for our fufillment. It's not that he was against wealth or prosperity I believe he was actually for it but because he cares so deeply for us he can see the trap we fall into when we place our trust in material things that don't satisfy. It just leaves us wanting more, our flesh's hunger just grows and we can quickly spin out of control. Fame, money, power. We think it's what we want but I've learned that what each one of us truly want is to be at peace.
3 Principles of Peace:
A few days ago I was discussing different principles for mental health with my Uncle on a 3 hour car ride back home. Over those 3 hours we primarily talked about a new book he was reading that talked about these 3 principles for life. The more I thought about it the more I realized how perfect the formula was for creating an environment where peace can grow and flourish in homes, hearts and relationships.
"Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past." - Isaiah 43:18
1. Don't Dwell on the Past.
- Stuff happens, traumas occur throughout our life, unfortunately most of us don't have a perfect childhood. I can clearly see the affect it's not only had on myself but also my close friends who have grown up with unstable households at some point in their lives.
Again, this isn't an excuse for bad attitudes or behavior but it can most definitely be part of the reason.
When you can find healing from the past and let go of whatever mistakes, heartache, or traumas you've been through it will help tremendously so you can get unstuck and start moving forward down the right path towards peace.
Talk to a counselor or spiritual leader, confide in close friends who are positive examples you don't have to go at it alone!
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. - Matthew 6:34
2. Don't Worry about the Future!
- On the opposite end, don't worry about the future! This is something I did ALL THE TIME and it was a huge contributing factor of my anxiety. When you're looking back at something in the past holding you back, as well as being fearful, full of doubts and stress over future plans you are withholding peace from your life!
It's good to have goals, to have plans, but when things change or don't turn out how you thought it would you need to let it go and trust that God has a plan for you. It's all about flexibility!
What's something in common with both these things?
They are OUT OF YOUR CONTROL.
You can't do anything about them. Which leads me to point #3.
3. Live in the now.
- If you looked at my life right now you would not believe that I used to be somewhat of a control freak.
A few months ago I left my home, my school, my friends, basically life as I know it and moved to a place I didn't even necessarily want to be, staying with people I don't know and have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next but I did it out of obedience.
I did it because I know that it was what God wanted me to do, what he was calling our family to be a part of and it went against what most people thought, my friends weren't all supportive, and we were criticized by some others.
But it didn't even matter because God was leading us and when he's in charge things work. Things fall into place, miracles happen right before our very eyes.
Don't get me wrong, it's good to plan ahead. I have plans, I have goals, I have dreams. Sometimes it's even necessary to deal with the past, I draw on past experiences to learn from them and grow but I have the most peace, the most joy when I'm living in the now.
No, I'm not talking about saying YOLO and buying a giant flatscreen t.v. or moving to Hawaii (even though that sounds amazing.) I'm just trying to get my point across which is that God has given you a life to live. Be present, appreciate everything you have right now and don't take anything for granted. Things change so so fast, this world is moving at such a rapid pace it's hard to keep up sometimes but live in the now and peace will follow.
It's a Choice.
If you want to see more peace in your relationships, in your family, in your home it needs to start with peace inside of your heart.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7
Even though it may not feel like it is It's our choice to have peace or not.
We've all seen, and probably been, this person where one minute they're yelling at you and then their phone rings or the doorbell rings and they instantly pull themselves together with a smile for whoever is on the other side.
I'm not just telling you to suck up any negative emotions you might have because I know it's not as simple as that but sometimes it requires us putting on a smile even if we don't feel like it and being brave.
Most of all you need to turn things over to God. Come to him in prayer, remember what I said about the enemy trying to distract you? Yeah now would be the time to shut off your phone.
Ask God for what you need he is ready and able to give, he will supply all your needs in time.
Also, be thankful! It's so easy to get focused on everything that's wrong, and needs to be changed, even about yourself! Living in the now, being grateful for what you have while remaining in prayer, asking God for what you need will bring peace into your life.
"the peace of God transcends all understanding." Meaning that even when it would make the most sense to have an absolute panic attack and meltdown under crisis you can have peace that transcends other people's understandings.
While most people only react to circumstances through God you are equipped to conquer and rise above.
Then it goes on to say "will guard your hearts and your minds in the Messiah Yeshua."
I love that because you're going through a stressful situation the devil is going to try to attack your heart (emotions) and your mind (thoughts.)
So if we can take control over those areas of our lives and be conscious over our hearts and minds since it is a choice after all God wouldn't tell us not to be anxious if we were not able to stop it.
He doesn't leave us hanging though he gives us instructions.
Alone, we aren't very capable, lets admit it but with God, through prayer, through principles that will help build us up and instill wisdom into us we are able to gain control over our hearts and minds.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God." - Mathew 5:9
I believe that God honors and protects peace makers.
Here's the thing. If I knew I was right, and someone else was wrong. They were not going to walk away without hearing about it. That kind of attitude usually stems out of pride and it's wrong.
I want to make a really important note here:
There is a HUGE difference between arguing a point because YOU want to be right and prove everyone else WRONG.
And actually standing firm on the truth, the Word of God, uncompromising on your beliefs despite pressure from other opinions.
"But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, arguments, and quarrels about the Law, because these things are pointless and worthless." - Titus 3:9
Notice how it says avoid foolish arguments about the law because they are worthless? Yeah well not all arguments are foolish. Sometimes the truth does need to be spoken.
If we said that we should never say anything about the law that could offend someone or cause strife then I guess we should throw the Ten Commandments out of the window if some believers don't want to keep those.
We still need to uphold God's word, this is where discernment and wisdom kicks in and has to come into play because not everyone is willing it hear.
One great example from the bible is Abraham. He was greatly blessed and he was a peacemaker.
His herdsmen and Lots herdsmen were arguing and so he parted ways with Lot and let him have first choice of the land. Even though it seemed like Abraham lost it was actually Lot who became destroyed while God honored Abraham and he was greatly blessed.
Sometimes when we are called to be peacemakers it may feel like we're losing, like we're the only ones giving but God sees our hearts and he will bless those who's desire is for peace.
I have to touch on this because it's so so important.
There is a time for war too.
God called the Israelites to fight many battles.
Israel has the right to defend itself.
You cannot forsake truth in order to obtain peace.
Avoiding confrontation out of fear is not desiring peace because in the long run it's just going to bring more chaos and destruction.
God calls Jerusalem the apple of his eye. Israel is close to his heart and he gave the land to the Jewish people, it should be close to our hearts as well.
Thus says the Lord: “Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit—behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them." - Jeremiah 12:14
It later goes on to say that if the people learn the ways of God's people, follow his commandments then they will be established, then he will have mercy on them.
But God has not made a place for people who are against his children and against the ways of his Torah.
Lastly, if you want more peace in your life surround yourself with people who have what you want. If you're around people who are negative, constantly complaining and make you feel stressed out and anxious that's going to be a big hurdle for your to jump and will most likely wear you out. Pray for those people but until you can strengthen yourself to be in a healthy place don't try to support those when you yourself need to become stabilized.
Today the world is constantly moving, changing, growing and it's hard to keep up. The stress of school, work and relationships can get to us and it can be difficult to live in true peace.
But it's possible and it's for you.
God offers a peace that doesn't change, isn't momentary, it's lasting and it's satisfying but it comes with a choice we have to make, and the daily pursuit of right thinking and a right heart attitude.
"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You." - Isaiah 26;3
One of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, we become more and more like whoever we choose to spend our time with, God included. "Seek first after the kingdom of God and then all these things shall be added to you."
I understand how hard it is to live without peace. It's pretty dang misrable. And I'm not perfect, I definately have my moments where I lose my peace.
I'm not looking down at you at all, but hopefully I was able to come alongside and help lift you up.
The Aaronic Blessing
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’ - Numbers 6:24-26
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