Peace of Mind

No God, No Peace…Know God, Know Peace.

I have always loved this saying! …That’s what the bumper sticker read on the car in front of me at the stoplight many years ago. Amazing…after all these years it has still stuck in my head!

Peace of mind…something everyone wants in their life…don’t they? Don’t you?

We all want to be able to rest…not worry…enjoy life. We all want to be able to enjoy ourselves and not be burdened down with worries that can rob us of our vigor, joy, and purpose in life.

It comes as no surprise that as Christians we can know peace…because we know God. Like the bumper sticker…right?

But how many Christians…how many of us…still struggle with peace and specifically with peace in the day to day details of our lives?

“Peace” comes from the Greek word eirene, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word shalom, which expresses the idea of “wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul” that is unaffected by outward circumstances or pressures. The word eirene strongly suggests the rule of order in place of chaos.

Sounds good to me! I certainly want to have peace…tranquility that is not affected by outward circumstances or pressures. And I certainly like order over chaos! Don’t you?

We may face various circumstances in life…we may make many decisions in life (some harder than others) …we may experience busy days full of commitments and pressures in our lives… all seeming to push peace so far out of reach.

So if we are Christians and have a relationship with Jesus and God gives us peace…then why do we still lack peace?

I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. John 14:27 NLT

If our Father is the Prince of Peace…if our Father is Jehovah Shalom…then what robs us of our peace?

Some of the things that can rob us of our peace are worries in life, difficult circumstances, discontentment, and busyness of life. (FYI…a great acronym for BUSY is Being Under Satan’s Yolk.)

So how can we experience peace of mind on a daily basis and in our lives?

Right Focus

Having our focus on God helps us experience peace of mind. Many times we may dwell on our circumstances and problems which rob us of our peace. We can become so consumed with our problems that we can lose focus of our problem-solver…our Prince of Peace…our all-knowing, all-powerful God!

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3 NIV

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace Romans 8:6 NASB

Right Perspective

Having an eternal perspective will help us have peace of mind. Understanding that our time on earth is short compared to eternity will help us not get caught up in the unimportant details of our daily lives. Having an eternal perspective will also help us push through our difficult seasons knowing that our trials here on earth are temporary.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT

Right Attitude

Having a thankful attitude will help us have peace of mind. Thankfulness demonstrates that we are content with what we have. Many times we are robbed of our peace when we become discontent and begin to focus on what others have and what we don’t have in life. Having a thankful attitude will eliminate a comparing attitude.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT

Rejoice always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Right Thoughts

Having right thoughts will help us have peace of mind.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 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. Philippians 4:8-9

Think on these things – Esteem them highly, recommend them heartily, and practice them fervently. Clarke’s Commentary

Think on these things; or take account of. Let these be the considerations which guide your thoughts and direct your motives. The apostle implies that we have the power of governing our thoughts, and so are responsible for them. If the thoughts are ordered well, the outward life will follow. Pulpit Commentary

Right Heart

The key to having peace of mind is having a heart that fully trusts God…no matter what. Because our understanding is so limited…and God’s is not…we are not to depend on our own understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

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 NLT

And because our hearts determine our actions, a right heart will lead to right actions.

Right Actions

Growing in our relationship with God through prayer and reading His Word will help us have peace of mind. This is how we will actually know God and consequently know peace!

Through prayer we can come to Jesus and cast our worries and burdens upon Him. Through reading God’s word we will grow in our hope, faith and trust in Him…and then we will experience rest and peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

 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. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble. Psalm 119:165 NASB

Our thoughts will ultimately determine what is truly in our hearts. And our hearts will ultimately determine our actions.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

As Christians, we can Know God…Know Peace.

We have the power to control our thoughts and what we choose to focus on. We can choose to have the right focus… right perspective…right attitude…right thoughts…right heart…and right actions…helping us have peace of mind in our daily lives as well as life in general…no matter what circumstances we face…no matter what decisions we face…no matter what may try to rob our peace.

Reflection Points:

1) Do you struggle with peace of mind in your daily life? Or life in general?

2) What seems to rob you of your peace?

3) Do you have the right focus… right perspective…right attitude…right thoughts…right heart…and right actions?

4) What areas do you need to work on to help you bring peace of mind in your life?

Action Points:

1) Review and put to action the 6 points above in order to experience peace of mind in your life.

 

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Be Still and Know

I don’t know about you, but I am a person who can never seem to be still! I keep going and going and going! It’s already in my nature as a woman to be a multi-tasker…and add on to that my type-A tendencies? Yup, I pretty much never take a break…until my head hits the pillow at night! Even my husband will ask me to just sit down on the couch with him and hang out for a little while…Hang out? Seriously?

Ok, yea sure, I have a load to put in the washer…a load to put in the dryer (because the Lord knows if my 3 year old doesn’t have a dinosaur shirt to wear to school tomorrow…well let’s just say a battle I choose not to fight in the morning!) …dishes to wash and put away…toys to pick up….thoughts of dinner lurking in my mind…do I really have the time to sit down and hang out? Yes, I just might have some Martha tendencies…like in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)…but that’s a topic to discuss at another time!

When I think of my busy life, I can’t help but be reminded of the scripture in Psalm 46:10.

Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10 NLT

Throughout the years in growing in my relationship with God, I have heard a few interpretations of this verse…interpretations such as…

You have got to sit still and not be so busy so you can spend time with God and get to know Him better!

You need to stop talking so much and be quiet so that when you pray you can actually hear God…

Have you ever read Psalm 46:10 and felt this way too?

Well,  just recently this scripture caught my attention…so much so that I began to play and replay in my mind the words…be still and know…be still and know…be still and know. And so the desire to dig deeper grew inside of me.

“Be still” is defined in the Webster’s dictionary as “motionless, stationary; quiet; calmness or silence.”

Not surprising… definitions I most certainly expected in defining “be still” and definitions that most certainly do not describe my life!

But check out this out!

The word translated “be still” actually comes from the Hebrew term raphah which means “to let go” or “to release” or “to be weak.”

“Be still” implies that an action takes place…that we must actually do something (let go, release)…which seems contrary to the Webster’s definition of being motionless or stationary.

One commentary states:

Be still – means properly to cast down; to let fall; to let hang down; then, to be relaxed, slackened, especially the hands: It is also employed in the sense of not making an effort; not putting forth exertion; and then would express the idea of leaving matters with God, or of being without anxiety about the issue. Barne’s Notes

I believe this seeming contradiction can be clarified by understanding that the first aspect of this scripture… “be still” …goes hand in hand with the latter aspect… “know that I am God.”

So what are we exactly letting go of? And why do we need to let go?

We must first “be still”…let go…release…surrender…control to God.  And then we will know that He is God! It almost appears conditional, doesn’t it?

When we realize that we are truly incapable of controlling our life (as much as we may try!), we can surrender our will to God’s will. It just may be a matter of finally saying that we trust Him completely. This will then open the door so that we may experience the fullness of all God wants and has for us. Then we will know that He is God!

And so what exactly does it mean to know that He is God?

“Know” is defined as “to be aware of the truth or factuality of; be convinced or certain of; to understand.

Do you know God today? I mean really know God? Are you aware of the truth or factuality of… are you convinced or certain of… who God is? That He is God?

We can know God by having an intimate relationship with Him. That does not come from knowing about Him, but rather getting to personally know Him by what He says (in the Bible), recognizing the things He does in our lives, and by way of His Holy Spirit who comes to guide and comfort us.

And know that I am God – See, in what I have done, the evidence that I am God. See a work accomplished which none “but” God could effect. Barne’s Notes

Know that I am God – Understand that I am the Fountain of power, wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth. Clark’s Commentary

Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, LORD, are the only God. Isaiah 37:20

When we can “be still” …and release control to God….we open the door to see who He is!

Control must be surrendered to unlock the doors for us to truly know God and to know who He is. It’s just like when we admit that we are weak, then we are strong because God’s power and strength is made apparent in our weakness.

…My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2Cor 12:9 NLT

By letting go…we will know! We will know how awesome and amazing God is and His name will ultimately be glorified and lifted high!

As important as it is to literally “be still” so that we can spend time with God, it is important to also understand that the context of Psalm 46:10 is greater and deeper.

My hope and prayer for you and for me is that we would “be still” and “know [He is] God!

Reflection Points:

1)      Have you read Psalm 46:10 before? How have you interpreted it?

2)      Does understanding that the Hebrew translation of “be still” means “to let go or to release”, help you to see that releasing control to God is important in knowing who He is?

3)      What areas of your life do you need to surrender control over to God?

4)      What exactly does it mean to know that He is God?

5)      Do you really know God?

Action Points:

1)      When we are able to “be still” …let go…release…surrender control to God, we will know that He is God.

2)      Control must be surrendered to unlock the doors for us to truly know God and who is. It’s like when we admit that we are weak, that we are strong because God’s power and strength is made apparent in our weakness. (2Cor 12:9) Then we may experience the fullness of all God wants and has for us.

3)      Pray and ask the Lord to show you areas of control that you need to surrender to Him. And then pray for the strength and willingness to let go. You will be amazed to see what God will do!

Passed Your Past

My youngest son Bryce began to crawl when he was approximately 7 months old.  Of course a huge milestone for a baby and a mommy!

I clearly remember on one occasion when Bryce crawled a short distance towards a little toy that he desired. When he reached the toy, he grabbed it with his left hand. He seemed quite content with his newly found toy and then after a brief period of time, he lost interest.

He then he saw another toy in front of him that he desired. This time he attempted to move forward but was unsuccessful because he was still holding onto the first toy.

He just couldn’t figure out that he needed to let go of the toy he was holding onto in order to propel himself forward! Holding this toy prevented him from moving forward and reaching his goal.

Hmmm…sound familiar? Anyone?

Just like Bryce holding onto this toy  prevented him from moving forward…many times we too similarly hold onto things that prevent us from moving forward….moving forward into the purpose…the plans… and ultimately the destiny that God has for us.

Are you holding onto something that is holding you back from moving forward in your life today?

Are you holding onto something that is preventing you from moving forward in your relationship with Jesus and moving toward spiritual maturity?

Are you stuck in your past and having a hard time moving passed your past?

In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul… acknowledging that he himself has not yet arrived (Philippians 3:12)…shares 3 actions that help him….and can help us…in moving forward and progressing toward the plans and purposes God has for us….progressing toward Christlikeness and spiritual maturity.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:13-14 ESV

Action One: Forgetting what lies behind

Forgetting what lies behind…forgetting our past…getting passed our past…is easier said than done, isn’t it?

Especially if we are holding onto deep hurts…a painful experience…failures…mistakes…guilt …unforgiveness…or even sin!

It may be hard to move forward but if we keep holding onto our past, it will prevent us from moving forward…just like Bryce holding his toy prevented him from moving forward!

Forgetting can be defined as “disregarding intentionally; overlooking.”

We can’t change our past (as much as we may really want to!)…and in order to get passed our past, we need to be intentional…intentional about forgetting our past and intentional about changing the meaning of our past.

The past teaches us many valuable lessons…lessons about God…lessons about life…lessons about ourselves. We are to learn from what lies behind, and then take those lessons and move ahead… progressing toward Christlikeness and spiritual maturity.

Notice the verb tense of the word “forgetting”…it is present continuous. Hint: our past experiences and events don’t necessarily get erased from our minds…we must continually be intentional about “forgetting” our past when we find ourselves dwelling…hanging on…holding on…to our past.

We will certainly face challenges and difficult circumstances in our life…some we have control over and some we do not. But it’s our response in the present…our actions in the future…which determine the meaning of the events in our past.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

God will use our past…the good…the bad…and the ugly…and He will use not just “some things” but “all things” for our good!

God will use our past to encourage us and strengthen our faith. God will use our past to be relatable to others and give us the opportunity to share what we have faced to minister to others.

Action 2: Straining forward to what lies ahead

It’s interesting to note the word “straining” used here.  Straining implies that moving forward to what lies ahead may not necessarily be an easy task!

Straining can be defined as “exerting to the utmost; stretching to maximum extension; stretching beyond the proper point or limit.”

Sure doesn’t sound like a stroll in the park, huh?

Have you ever felt stretched in your attempts to move forward…stretched in your attempts to move forward to what lies ahead…stretched in your attempts to fulfill the purpose and calling that God has for your life?

When Paul talks about “straining forward to what lies ahead” the context of his words suggests a runner racing toward the finish line. Paul fixes his eyes on the goal…living for Christ, becoming more and more like Christ and growing spiritually mature. And with all his energy…mental, emotional, and physical…he is committed, focused, and disciplined to running this race.

Leaving in God’s hands the elements of our past…which can hold us back and drain us of mental, emotional, and physical energy…is an important step in the race toward living for Christ, becoming more like Christ,  and growing in spiritual maturity.

Action 3: Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us! He says…

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 Message

Press on means “to act upon through steady pushing; to follow through; to force or push one’s way; active and earnest endeavor.”

To press on toward the goal of Christlikeness and spiritual maturity…like Paul… is a race we will run for the rest of our lives. And pressing on…pushing forward…following through… can seem difficult…But God hasn’t left us alone!

We are to draw on God’s grace and strength every step of the way. And only then we will persevere!

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV

We are all a work in progress…especially when our goal is to become more Christ-like and progress to spiritual maturity. Let’s follow Paul’s example so that we may run this race…called life…fixing our eyes on Christ to reach the goal and ultimately the purpose that God has for each of us.

“I may not be where I need to be but I thank God I am not where I used to be.” Joyce Meyer

I am sure we can all say amen to that!

Reflection Points:

1)      Are you holding onto something that is holding you back from moving forward in your life today?

2)      Are you holding onto something that is preventing you from moving forward in your relationship with Jesus and moving toward spiritual maturity?

3)      Are you stuck in your past and having a hard time moving passed your past?

Action Points:

Review the 3 Action Points that Paul shares  to help you forget what lies behind…move passed your past…strain forward to what lies ahead…and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!