Elevate 28 - A 28 Day Challenge to Intentionally Engage with God's Word
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart;
I have overcome the world.”
"God's Peace is Different from the World's Peace"
By Navine Richie
People everywhere search for peace. They sing songs about it and travel on pilgrimages to find it. They even wage war to protect it. Many wealthy, famous, and powerful people would trade everything for just one moment of peace. What they often find, however, is the world’s false peace which is different from the peace offered by Jesus:
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)
The peace offered by the world is an empty promise and can only bring temporary comfort. God’s peace is a permanent peace offered by the only One who can be trusted to keep his Word and heal our sin.
The world’s peace is fleeting and changes with circumstances.
During times of prosperity, nations experience temporary peace. But when economies struggle, countries find themselves on the brink of civil war as well as war with their neighbors. The peace of the world is a precarious thing. Conflict erupts when people are hungry; peace disappears when circumstances turn ugly:
Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths. (Micah 3:5)
The world’s peace is built on the weak foundation of compromise.
In the Old Testament, God warned the Israelites that if they inter-married for political reasons, they would face the temptation to compromise their love for the one true God and end up serving false gods. This compromise, though it would create a temporary absence of conflict, would ultimately lead to destruction:
Be careful not to make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land that you are going to enter; otherwise, they will become a snare among you. (Exodus 34:12, NIV)
Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever. (Ezra 9:12)
The world’s peace ignores the root of the problem.
When asked, “What’s wrong with the world today?” many will point to volatile stock markets, corrupt governments, disappearing rainforests, poor diets, lack of healthcare, broken families, overcrowded schools, and more. The world tries to fix these problems by doing good: feeding children, building wells, regulating markets, conserving wildlife, funding charter schools, and thereby achieving a type of peace.
The world’s peace tries to fix the symptoms of sin but fails to see how the root of the problem is the sin-disease itself, something that can only be healed by Christ—not by money, regulation, or reform. Dealing with the symptoms of sin but failing to diagnose the sin itself is not new. In the Old Testament, the false prophets treated sin “lightly” and proclaimed the problem “solved” when it wasn’t:
They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).
Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash. (Ezekiel 13:10)
In contrast to the world’s promise of peace, God’s peace is permanent and firmly grounded in his Word. He doesn’t ignore our sin—he heals it, making his peace a different kind of peace from what we find in the world.
God’s peace is permanent and secure.
When circumstances are free of conflict, we enjoy momentary peace. But when we face difficult relationships, health problems, and financial crisis, the momentary quiet is disrupted and chaos rules the day.
Our God offers peace in the midst of chaos. His peace doesn’t change with the circumstances; it is secure in spite of the circumstances.
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
God’s peace is built on the sure foundation of his Word.
Young or old, male or female, we’ve all experienced the pain of a broken promise. No matter how much our families, friends, and coworkers love us, at some point, someone will disappoint us. And despite our best intentions, we are likely to disappoint someone else by saying one thing and doing another. God’s Word, however, can be trusted. He never contradicts himself or acts in a way that is out of character. He will never disappoint.
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
God’s peace is ours because Jesus heals our root of sin.
All religions other than true Christianity have one thing in common: They try to achieve peace with God by doing works and following rules. Christianity is different.
In Christ, we are offered peace with God because we who “once were far off” (Ephesians 2:13) have been reconciled to God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus’ sacrifice addresses the root of the problem that the world ignores. By his sacrifice, he bridged the gap that sin inserted between us and God. He took the punishment for our sin and, in exchange, he gives us peace with God.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. (Isaiah 32:17)
While we experience eternal peace through reconciliation with God in Christ, we also receive the gift of his Holy Spirit. Because of him, we enjoy the blessing of peace in our daily lives—even when we find ourselves in the midst of turmoil.
Nivine Richie is a women’s Bible study author and teacher in Wilmington, N.C. She is the author of Enduring Faith: An 8-Week Devotional Study of the Book of Hebrews. A university finance professor, she is actively involved in the Christian faculty association on campus. Nivine has participated in and taught many small group studies over the years, and she seeks to help others launch their own small groups. She loves the coast, camping, and a good cup of coffee. Find her at www.unfoldinghisword.com.
REFLECT & RESPOND
1. Create an Acrostic poem using the word PEACE.
2. Select verses from the Bible that begin with each letter of PEACE that represent faith foundations of your family.
3. Do this as a group, in pairs, or individually.
4. Share your Acrostic poems with each other.
5. Display your Acrostic poems in your home as reminder of God's expectations for how families love each other.
Here is an example:
This activity was provided by the Teacher Love Project - a Why Not Charleston community education initiative. The Teacher Love Project aims to provide love and encouragement to teachers that will elevate their wellness and care and therefore, enhance student achievement. We must care for those who care for our children - we must love each other because God loved us first.
"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
by Taraea L. Griffith
Lord you promised me that out of my obedience to you that you show great peace in the land so that I may lie down with no one making me tremble.
You promised to eliminate harmful bees from the land and all sorts will pass through the land because you were chasing my enemies, and they will fall before me now Lord, as you lift up your countenance on me and give me peace.
I depart from evil and I do good and seek peace and I pursue peace for those who love you.
I have a great peace so nothing causes them to stumble.
I walk in your peace daily. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper who love you.
May peace be in their walls and prosperity in their palaces.
For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, "may peace be in you for the sake of the house of the Lord our God."
I will seek your good. I have, as mine, which you Lord keep in perfect peace because my trust is in You for you promise to make peace my administrator and make righteousness my overseer.
I now administer peace in every area of my life as I write the operating file in the test set before me. I walk with the gospel of peace sandals commanding every atmosphere to shift change.
I obey the anointing of peace with every person I encounter. I pursue peace with all men and the sanctification without which no one will see God. For Jesus Christ is my peace bringing unity and breaking down the barriers of division.
I rejoice as I am a completely confident knowing like-minded members of the body. I live in peace and God‘s love and peace are with me now. God I command your peace which surpasses all comprehension guarding my heart and mind.
In Jesus Christ Holy Name Amen
Sources: Leviticus 26:6,7, Numbers 6:26, Psalms 34:14, Psalms 119:165, Psalms 122:6, Isaiah 26:3, Isaiah 60:17, Hebrews 12:14, Ephesians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 4:7
Taraea L. Griffith lives in Charleston with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She is a poet and writer, and making an offering of her special gifts and talents as a Why Not Charleston 2020 contributor.
THRU THE LENS - FINDING YOURSELF IN GOD'S WORD
A blog by regular men and women about finding themselves in God's world
" His Peace Brings Wholeness"
By Ashley Russell, 2018
Peace can be hard to come by, especially in the world we live in. Constant noise, around-the-clock access to media, and the stress of work or home life can make finding peace difficult.
Jesus says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14:27)
Jesus is our source of peace. It's the same peace that calmed the storm and the same peace that was offered to the woman who touched Jesus' garment.
About 7 months ago I lost my grandmother, my Mema, to cancer. She was a huge part of my everyday life so loosing her was more than hard for me. About a month in a half after loosing her, unexpectedly I lost my grandfather, her husband, my Papa. That was a complete shock! How could this happen? What are the odds that this happened so close to each other.
If you ever had the chance to know or meet my grandparents, you knew that their love ran DEEP! They were married for 45 years and lived to serve the Lord and each other. A true testament to what God intended for marriage. They were always together, day in and day out.
Their sudden death shook our family to the core. But knowing that they were together, with the Lord, somehow made things a tiny bit easier. Although grieving is an on going process and I'm know I will struggle more at certain times, having that peace that they are praising God in heaven together is a nice feeling. I believe God has placed that peace on my heart, through the Holy Spirit, to remind me of his goodness and love.
Going through this has taught me not to fear death because Christ died on the cross for me. Loosing my grandparents has brought me closer to God than ever before. I seek him first, daily and find that I have overflowing peace throughout the day.
God's words give strength, purpose, grace and peace. His Word reminds us to put the kingdom of God first and the things we need will be ours. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33, ESV). When we devote ourselves to God, all the worries and stress will work itself out, which will then bring peace.
Lasting peace comes from Jesus!
His peace is deep and soul satisfying. His peace brings wholeness.
Ashley Russell lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina with her husband, Jon, and two boys, Austin & Caden. She is a creative entrepreneur, a local business owner, and a
Why Not Charleston contributor.