Barriers to Peace:
Busyness. Lack of rest. Life lived with a lack of quietness. Stress. Burdens. Total frustration. Do you recognize your own decision fatigue? We arduously spend the week. We need resting places.
The days can seem so long, so full. How many times have you wondered was it just yesterday that happened?
The books/studies pile like unread mail on the counters. The flood of messages keep coming, the dishes are endless, the messy beds need making, the laundry is more constant than snow this winter.
Working more, doesn’t produce more it only robs you of your rest after a job well done.
Make a list of works done well, and give astonished praise. Recall the stories of healing, recall His confirmations, His mercy washing us and making us new, His grace cleansing us of our wrongs.
Isaiah 32:17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace [internal and external], and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever. 18 My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.
Lack of Connection. It is impossible to bear the fruit of peace without connection to God.
HOLY SPIRIT Connection:
1. Become aware of God’s presence and know He has a peace both internal and external for you. He has an I won’t back down from life with you no matter challenges you face. You can experience this peace physically in your needs being met an I’ll buy you lunch ie the feeding of the 5,000. You can connect to the peace regardless of the storm you are in (Mark 4:35-41).
Mark 4:35-41 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Calms the Storm
That day when evening came, (my favorite time of day) he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.
You are in the circumstance because Jesus invited you to go.
There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
2. Review the last few days and identify moments where you experienced the care of God. Thank him for those places.
3. Pay attention to your emotions not to be ruled by them but to acknowledge them. Jesus clearly stated the disciples were afraid. And like them we must call out to God and acknowledge our weaknesses. We do so to align them with the truth of God’s unfailing steadfast love. GOD IS PRESENT with us. To connect ourselves to this, think of the safest person in your life. The person who knows the most about you and when you are in their company you are safe. Your Husband? Your mom? Your grandma? Your dad? A close friend? My Grandpa Barry is like this for me. I was pregnant and 16 living with them while I sorted my life out, and grandpa said these words to me, “Charity, we take care of our own.” God is here today saying he will take care of you.
4. Find one area of your life that is experiencing peace. Mentally thank God for the calm. Thank him for the people to remind you that God is in your boat. People who bring hope to your circumstance. Allow the Holy Spirit to renew your mind with the Scriptures. These thoughts are like the Lord’s thoughts in Jer 29:11 thoughts of peace and not of harm- we benefit by meditating on thoughts of peace.
5.. Look toward tomorrow with an expectation that God is there too. He is with us in our past, our present, and our future. Whatever he is calling you to do, he will be with you. Storms are inevitable, sometimes they are sudden, they are temporary, and they have purpose. Today’s connection is for our own awareness of God and that HE is in the storm with us.
Community Connection: (there are other boats out here too)
1. Support one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Your trial is my trial.
2. Listen to the testimony of others. My breakthrough is your breakthrough. Philippians 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
3. Stay in community. Thomas had all those doubts, yet because he stayed in community he was there when Jesus walked through the wall with the power of the Spirit, breathed peace upon them, and gave the needed proofs to Thomas. Jesus said, “touch my nails and my side.” Thomas was able to survive the storm of doubt he was in.
4. Choose a few close friends to let into the challenges with you. Jesus chose Peter, James, and John to pray with him in the garden before the cross and this decision was an example. They failed him, by sleeping and yet Christ still leaned on their presence. It’s not perfection from others it’s proximity to others.
LACK OF TRUST
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
A mother’s nightmare is the loss of her child. Just over year and a half after having my fourth baby- my hands full and my life even more so -it happened.
It would test my faith like no other. Around Easter, we had buried Josh, Jared’s brother to heart failure at age 33. It was August. They had spent a hot summer day playing outside with the hose in the garden on our property. One child in rubber boots and diapers. Two boys, 3 and 5, in rubber boots and underwear with dirty faces and smiles. Justus age 10, just old enough to really be of help.
Calm. The ability to hold your reactions. When every thought tells you to at least try something. Anything. Stand up, and resist every urge to react in panic.
Jonah, age 5, was helivaced and on complete life support. I had no bearing in the sea of emotion raging in my chest. I was a wreck. My little boy was having a prolonged seizure threatening his life. And if he came back would he be normal? Would we ever be normal again?
Prayers are spilling everywhere. Phone calls are made and help is sought. Jared and I had to drive to Harborview Medical Center. Later that day I rode in an ambulance with Jonah to Children’s hospital.
I would softly say “mercy” over and over. Similar to when you’re wrestling an older brother and you know the rules are just “say uncle” and it stops. You are sweaty and exhausted and quietly give in and the word “uncle” rolls off your tongue. It’s more half-breath half-spoken as you give in to defeat.
The circumstance was a giant and I was a small child in comparison. Father, save me from this hour, the prayer Jesus prayed before the cross comes to mind. And that is exactly how I felt.
A peace and a strength filled me on the drive over. When Jared looked over at my trembling prayerful frame and said, “Charity, this is where we trust,” I wouldn’t pray my way out of this trial. We would trust our way through.
It would be 2 years in and out of Children’s Hospital. Ultimately Jonah was healed by God and then when in the Dominican Republic God redeemed that trial yet again by allowing me to visit parents and children with our team who were facing life threatening sicknesses with their children. God and the specific trial of Jonah’s life threatening seizures qualified me to bring hope to the parents and children.
Whatever your circumstance the Lord Almighty is with you. This is God’s promise. It is a powerful indication of someone’s relationship with God when you see a transcendent peace in their storms. We are in relationship with the Son of God who says in John14:27 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.
We are connected to the Holy Spirit who in Galatians 5:22 has definitive fruit (the most reliable) to be tasted in our lives. PEACE is one of the nine characteristics described. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
FROM BARRIER TO BREAKTHROUGH, just do what HE tells you.
THE FIRST MIRACLE OF JESUS (nothing can rob you of peace like running a wedding!)
1 Now on the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there 2 and both Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” 4 Jesus replied, “Woman, why are you saying this to me? My time has not yet come.” 5 His mother told the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”
Water Into Wine
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the water jars with water.” So they filled them up to the very top. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,” and they did. 9 When the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper wine when the guests have become drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!” 11 Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, in Cana of Galilee. In this way he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
Proverbs 3:6 Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. MSG version
God’s direction plus obedience brings peace.