Peace Week: Good Sleep

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

It didn’t seem right to leave us all hanging at the end of Mad Week. So welcome to Peace Week! Peace isn’t always the opposite of being angry, but it’s close.

peace_350Remember what David and Paul wrote about anger last week – get rid of it before you go to sleep; lie down in your bed, think hard, and let it go. Today’s verse from David is part of the secret to doing that.

David was convinced that God was his protector. He didn’t have to hold on to his anger to protect himself or get even with his enemies or stand against injustice. He believed God handled all those things far better than he ever could. So he stopped being angry and went to sleep in peace.

Peace comes from trusting the God who loves us to exercise his enormous power to do what’s best.

Think: Have you ever noticed the connection between trusting God and letting go of anger? Have you ever noticed yourself become obviously more peaceful after consciously choosing to trust God about something?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust him so deeply that you sleep in peace even when the things that make you angry or worried aren’t fixed, yet.

Do: Ever have trouble sleeping because you’re angry or scared or stressed out? Try memorizing this verse and repeating it to yourself while you’re trying to blink out.

Peace Week: Chase It

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14)

Peace is not a virus. It’s not something you catch if you’re exposed to the right set of circumstances. It’s something you catch if you chase it down and wrap your hands around it. Peace is real, and God wants you to have it.

peace_350The problem is most of us are really lousy peace-hunters. A) We tend to run in the direction of evil. We make selfish choices to do wrong things. We won’t find any peace that way. B) We’re not looking for peace; we’re just hoping it finds us.

“God, please put some peace in my heart. And give me a pony.” God says, “Run toward the peace, and you’ll catch it. Run away from me, and you’ll miss it.” Peace isn’t a toy God gives and takes away. It comes with trusting him enough to obey him and rest in his arms. Run toward him and catch it.

Think: When you can’t find peace, do you ever check your life to see if you’re running toward sin? Do you believe that doing wrong things can keep you from having real peace?

Pray: Ask God to help you to look for peace and to pursue it and to catch it by trusting him and doing good.

Do: Notice this week how sinful choices impact your ability to feel peaceful.

Peace Week: Bone-Rotting Envy

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)

Stress comes in lots of flavors, and most docs will tell you that too much stress is bad for your body. One of the things that stresses us out is sin – the commitment to live our way over God’s way. Today’s verse points to envy as the stressor, the peace-stealer.

peace_350Envy can be defined as a refusal to be satisfied with what God has given to me because what someone else has looks way better. It’s like volunteering to give up our peace of mind.

There’s nothing wrong with my saying, “Hey, I think what you’ve got is really cool.” The wrong comes when we say, “Now I won’t be happy because you have it and I don’t.”

To hold on to envy is a choice, one that will “rot your bones.” In other words, unless you choose life-giving peace by thanking God for what you have and trusting him with what you want – envy will eat you from the inside out.

Don’t buy the lie: You really can let it go.

Think: Does envy usually feel like a choice or a feeling that happens to you against your will? Have you ever had success battling envy with gratitude? Why do you think that can be so effective?

Pray: Ask God to help you to let go of envy when it comes. Ask him to help you to choose to be grateful for all he gives to you – and to experience the peace of mind that comes with gratitude.

Do: If you know a doctor, ask if he or she sees any connection between physical health and holding on to negative, stressful attitudes like envy.

Peace Week: How Much Would it Take?

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

My good friend Kevin used to play this game with me called, “How much would it take?” It was a simple game. He’d ask me how much money I would need to do something outrageously embarrassing or dangerous. (e.g., “How much would it take for you to moon that big, mean-looking guy with the tattoo on his forehead?”)

peace_350My responses usually involved huge amounts of money. It’s a good thing Kevin wasn’t a billionaire, or I would have been in big trouble.

In essence, Kevin was asking me to place a value on my peace of mind. Was there a number that would justify filling my life with momentary and/or ongoing strife?

Today’s verse says, “Don’t do it.” Don’t trade your peace of mind for a life of strife. Being broke is better than having a house full of cool stuff if it comes with constant conflict around you or in your head.

Think: Does having money or nice stuff always bring some strife to a household? Why does it sometimes bring strife? Is there anything you could personally do to make your household more peaceful?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to value money or material things over peace of mind. Ask him to give you the wisdom to know how much of your time and energy to give to chasing either of them.

Do: Ask a parent or two how they feel about the ratio in their household between strife and “peace and quiet.”

Peace Week: Disciplining You

“Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29:17)

You might have noticed a theme developing about peace this week. God wants for us to have peaceful households. We’ve found several passages describing what robs the peace of our homes and makes them stressful places to live. One thing that should stand out about a Christian home is that it can be a peaceful, orderly place.

peace_350But how much can you really do about that? Isn’t it the other people who set the tone in the household? Isn’t it their job to make it a peaceful place to live together as a family? Well, yes and no.

Today’s verse says that one way parents, for instance, make it peaceful is by disciplining their sons. Loving discipline can bring peace and order to a home. But that also tells us that we all have the power to make home a more peaceful place by choosing to be disciplined people – no matter what anyone else does.

You might not have much control over the other people in your house, but you can control you. You can make your home more peaceful (less angry, less stressful, less chaotic) than it would be without you.

Think: Be honest with yourself. Do you think you make your home more or less peaceful than it would be without you? Without taking responsibility for other people’s choices, how could you be a peacemaker at home?

Pray: Ask God to help you to make choices with your words, attitudes, and actions to promote peace in your home.

Do: Notice this week the trigger moments that make your home more or less peaceful and make a mental note of which ones you contributed to.

Peace Week: One Hope

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

If I were to ask you, “What’s the ultimate source of peace?” You would answer “Jesus” or “God” or “the Bible,” because those are the right answers to every Bible study question ever. And, of course, all are correct, in a way.

peace_350But suppose we were standing in an airplane that had run out of fuel 30,000 feet in air and I asked you, “What’s the safest way down, this parachute or flapping your arms really fast?”

You wouldn’t guess at an answer you thought I wanted to hear, you’d take the parachute and put all of your hope in it to save your life – instead of foolishly believing you could save yourself.

In any given moment, the ultimate source of peace is to actively trust God to take care of everything that terrifies you. Why? Because he is perfectly powerful and good and loving. And nothing else is.

Think: Could you ever have perfect peace of mind without trusting God? If so, would that peace be reasonable, rational? Why or why not?

Pray: Ask God to help you to actively and “steadfastly” trust him so that you can regularly experience his perfect peace.

Do: Read today’s verse again and look up the world “steadfast” in a dictionary. Write down one of the definitions on any piece of paper that happens to be nearby.

Peace Week: Right Choices, Real Confidence

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)

The back half of Isaiah 32 tells an interesting story. The writer warns the women of Jerusalem that they’re living with false peace. They’re not worried about doing what God wants because everything is going so well. They’re fat and happy, rich and partying.

peace_350But in about a year, he tells them, God’s judgement will fall. And it did. The Assyrians invaded and brought an end to the false peace. All the money was gone, and all the unrighteous celebrations turned into pity parties.

But the writer also reported good news. True good times would return when God’s Spirit poured out on them. The people would finally have God’s power to live God’s way and then – today’s verse – that righteousness would bring a genuine peace, a real and lasting “quiet confidence.”

Every genuine Christian’s story is the same: We could never be righteous enough on our own to have real peace with God. We were willing to settle for the fake peace that comes with pleasure, possessions, and status. But then God gave Jesus’ righteousness to us, along with the Spirit to power our right choices. And that brought a peace that mattered, one that will last forever.

Think: Does it sometimes seem to you that unrighteous people are doing just fine without God? Does that seem unfair? Do you think they have a true peace or a false confidence in a moment that will soon end?

Pray: As a Christian, thank God for putting Jesus’ righteousness on you and allowing you to have peace with him. Ask him to help you to do right things and to find confidence in living for him.

Do: Read Isaiah 32:9-20.