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21 Ways to Finding Peace and HappinessOvercoming Anxiety, Fear, and Discontentment Every Day
By Meyer, Joyce
FaithWordsCopyright © 2007 Meyer, Joyce
All right reserved.
The first forty years of my life, I lived without the blessing and benefit of peace; therefore, I can say from experience, life without peace is miserable. One cannot enjoy life without first having peace. Without it, we live in turmoil—always worried, anxious, and upset about something.
I came to a point in my life of being so hungry for peace that I was willing to make whatever changes were necessary in order to have it. As a result of that decision and the investment I made during the following years, I now enjoy a life of peace that often passes understanding. In other words, I enjoy peace during the storms of life, not just when the storms don’t exist. I am not saying that I have arrived at a state of perfection in my pursuit of peace, but I have made a lot of progress. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:12, I have not arrived but I press on.
There were times in my life when I could be peaceful if everything was going my way, but since that seldom occurred, I rarely had peace. Now I have learned to change what I can change, accept what I cannot change, and regularly seek wisdom to know the difference. What I can do, I do with God’s help; what I cannot do I turn over to Him so He can work. This leaves me free to enjoy my life.
A life of frustration and struggle, a life without peace, is the result of trying to do something about something you cannot do anything about. The apostle Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NKJV).
Once we realize we are struggling with something and feel upset, we need to start praying and immediately turn the situation over to God. You and I are not called to a life of frustration and struggle. Jesus came so we could have righteousness, peace, and joy (see Romans 14:17). He said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” (John 10:10). The Word teaches us to “search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]” (1 Peter 3:11, italics mine).
Simply desiring peaceful relations is not enough. We’re to pursue peace with God, peace with ourselves, and peace with our fellow man. In this book, I will share with you many things within these three areas of relationships that needed to change in order for me to enjoy peace.
If you sincerely want a life of peace, you will need to be willing to change too. Peace does not just come; we have to pursue, crave, and go after it. Walking in peace must be a priority, or we will not make the effort needed to see it happen. I spent years praying for God to give me peace and finally realized He had already provided peace, but I had to appropriate it.
Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” We will refer often to this verse throughout this study.
We can see that Jesus has already provided peace, so now we must take action and stop responding to unpleasant things by being upset. Being upset certainly does not change anything, but it does make us—as well as the people around us—miserable.
Jesus made the statement recorded in John 14:27 after His death and resurrection and prior to His ascension into heaven. There were many things He could have taught His disciples, but He chose to talk about peace. This fact alone reminds me of how important peace is. What a tragedy it would be if we spent our lives without peace when it was available all the time.
Some people don’t have peace with God because they are not born again and need to trust Jesus Christ to be their Savior. But some, even Christians, still lack peace because they have not responded to the leading of the Holy Spirit simply to do what is right. They don’t have peace because they are living in disobedience or they have built up a bad habit of worrying over the years. And some people don’t have peace because they are mad at God. Perhaps they prayed for something and it didn’t happen. Perhaps somebody else got what they wanted. Perhaps somebody they loved died, and they don’t understand why, or they were praying for a healing and didn’t get it.
There are many, many reasons why people don’t trust God, but in order to enjoy peace, we must learn to trust Him in all things. We must trust that God is totally and completely just, which means He always makes wrong things right if we continue to lean on Him. The Bible says we know “in part.” I believe God has an individual plan for everyone. God is perfect; He never does anything wrong. We don’t know everything, and we’re not ever going to know everything. Sometimes we make ourselves unhappy because we don’t trust enough.
We always want God to change our circumstance, but He’s more interested in changing us than He is our situation. A lot of people have faith to ask God for deliverance from something, but they don’t have enough faith to take them through anything.
Job said, “Even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (see Job 13:15). If we’re asking God for something and don’t get it, then we have to believe God knows more than we do. We need to trust God beyond what we see and beyond what we know. We cannot have peace without that trust in God.
We tend to think that the persons with the greatest faith are the ones who get the miracles. I’m not really sure about that, myself. We make so much out of miracles when they happen. We think, Oh, what great faith they have! They got a miracle. But I think the ones with the greater faith are the ones who keep their peace even when they don’t get the miracles they wanted. I think the greater faith is in those who have to walk it out and decide to love God anyway. The people who don’t get everything they’re asking for, and who might not understand why, but yet continue to love and praise God, are truly trusting God. They stay in church, give their tithes and offerings, and stay full of peace. That is remarkable faith, in my opinion.
Thomas wanted proof that Jesus really had risen from the dead. He said he would not believe unless he could see in Jesus’ hands the marks made by the nails and actually put his fingers into the nail prints and put his hand into Jesus’ side. Jesus allowed Thomas to do so but told him that those who believed without having to see were blessed and happy and to be envied (see John 20:24–29).
We all would enjoy a miracle breakthrough every time we had a need, but we should have enough faith to stay the course if God chooses to take us on the long, hard route.
If you are ready to do whatever you need to do to enjoy a life of peace, this book is for you. I cannot promise that all your unpleasant circumstances will change, but I sincerely believe you can have and enjoy peace no matter what your circumstances are if you are willing to learn how to respond to people and situations the way Jesus did.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you and grant you revelation as you press toward a life of peace. The book includes twenty-one ways you can do this. Even after you have completed the book, I suggest you read it often to remind yourself of the principles of peace. If you find you are slipping back into old ways (something we all do at times), go back over the principles and see where you have begun to backslide. I pray this will be one of those books you can use the rest of your life to help you maintain peace, which I believe is one of the most important benefits and blessings that God has given us.
Be at Peace with God
Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
—The apostle Paul, Romans 5:1
Trust the Lord of Peace
God wants us to enjoy life and see good days. In fact, God’s Word tells us to search for peace, and seek it eagerly (see 1 Peter 3:11). We are not to merely desire peaceful relations with God, with our fellow men, and with ourselves, but we are to pursue and go after peaceful relationships!
The first way to find peace is in learning to trust God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We cannot have peace with God, others, or ourselves without His lordship in our lives. The Bible says that Jesus is our wisdom from God (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). His Word teaches us how to live properly. He doesn’t just give us wisdom—He is our wisdom. Through trusting the Prince of Peace and having a personal relationship with Him, we actually have indwelling wisdom from the Lord’s presence in us.
If we would get still long enough to let that wisdom rise and minister to our minds, we wouldn’t do so many foolish things. Too many times, we react through our emotions and we don’t pay any attention to the wisdom in our hearts. We tend to make decisions according to our thoughts rather than living by discernment and according to what the Holy Spirit is placing in our hearts. Consequently, we get ourselves in trouble.
I believe that Jesus is everything we need in any situation. He is sufficient to meet the need for every circumstance that we will ever face. So, we certainly must learn how to go to Jesus for much more than just salvation or a ticket into heaven. We need to take Him as our everything in life, including as our Prince of Peace.
JESUS GOVERNS OUR LIVES
Isaiah 9:6–7 says, “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end” (italics mine).
The government that is upon the shoulders of Jesus is not a political government; the verse is referring to the governing of our lives. We are not supposed to be running our own lives. In fact, we are not capable or qualified to run our own lives. Not one of us is intelligent enough to know what is best. That is why we should be thankful for God’s interference.
I like the promise that there will be no end to the increase of His government and peace. The more His government increases in my life (the more He governs my life, my thoughts, my conversations, my decisions, and my actions), the more peace I am going to have.
Peace doesn’t come from success and money and promotions and feeling good about everything in life. We find peace in the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy within us. Being right with God, knowing we are right with God, and doing the right thing out of knowing who we are in Christ is a process, but it leads us to peace, and peace leads us to joy.
And if we don’t have righteousness, peace, and joy, then we are not enjoying the kingdom of God as we should. Sometimes we may need to take a vacation from all the other things we look for and instead seek the kingdom. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides” (italics mine).
We work and struggle and strive at “all these things,” such as food and clothing and position in society. But what we should be doing is searching out God’s kingdom; we should seek Jesus and His government in our lives. Colossians 1:10 says, “That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things.”
BE A DISCIPLE OF JESUS
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34 NIV). If we want to have peace, we have to stop following other voices; we must be God pleasers, not man pleasers, and we must choose to follow Jesus on a daily basis.
For many years, I was in a church that gave me a great foundation about salvation, but I never learned much past that. I had many problems in my life, but I wasn’t getting any victory over any of them. I certainly didn’t know how to pursue or go after peace. Satan distracted me by getting me involved with many activities that did not produce good fruit in my life.
I was not taught to study God’s Word myself, and because I didn’t know the Word of God, I wasn’t aware of the many deceptions that can grossly mislead people. For example, before I was in ministry I worked at an office where a coworker studied astrology. At the time, the things she talked about seemed to make sense (because I had no knowledge of God’s Word on this subject). She believed the position of the planets and stars directed her life. She said there were even optimum times to get a haircut to have the best results.
Today, advice is easy to obtain from psychics, tarot card readers, sorcerers, and people skilled in divination who would like to run people’s lives. They may give information that seems to make sense, but it will not produce lasting peace in a person’s life. As I look back at those early years of being a believer, I am sad to say that nobody in my church told me not to follow these voices of deception. No one warned me that the Bible clearly says those who practice these types of things will not enter the kingdom of heaven (see Revelation 21:8). We are to follow God, not psychics, astrologers, mediums, tarot card readers, or any such thing. God’s Word actually says that these things are an abomination to Him. To enjoy peace, we must be led by the Lord of Peace.
To be a disciple of Jesus means to study His teaching, imitate His life, and correctly analyze the Word of Truth (see 2 Timothy 2:15). We will have God’s power to live our lives well if we devote our attention to God’s Word and allow Jesus to transform us by following the peace that He alone can give.
Peace is our inheritance from Jesus, but we have to choose to follow Him daily. Colossians 3:15 teaches us that peace is to be the “umpire” in our lives, settling every issue that needs a decision. To gain and maintain peace in our hearts, we may have to learn to say no to a few things.
For example, if we don’t feel peace about something, we should never go ahead and do it. And if we don’t have peace while we are doing something, then we shouldn’t expect to have peace after we have done it. Many people marry others they didn’t have peace about marrying, and then they wonder why they don’t have peace in their marriages. Many people buy expensive items they didn’t have peace about buying, then continue to lose their peace every month when they have to make payments on them.
I want to repeat the text I used previously because it is vital to living life well. Colossians 3:15 says to let the peace from Christ “rule (act as umpire continually)” in our hearts. The presence of peace helps us decide and settle with finality all questions that arise in our minds. If you let the Word have its home in your heart and mind, it will give you insight and intelligence and wisdom (see v. 16). You won’t have to wonder, Should I or shouldn’t I? I don’t know if it’s right. I don’t know what to do. If you are a disciple of Christ, He has called you to follow peace.
Dave, my husband, and I were trying to make a decision on a large purchase we needed to make. We called some of our board members from the ministry and presented the need to them, asking, “What do you think?”
They all gave their opinions, but as I listened to them I knew suddenly that I didn’t have peace about going forward with the plan. We have learned by experience to wait if we don’t have peace for something. Everyone agreed to wait on God to give us all peace before we proceeded.
I was out shopping recently and went into a children’s clothing store. It was one I had not been in for perhaps a year or more. I saw some items that I thought would be perfect for two of my granddaughters. They were little pink shirts with rhinestone hearts on them. It was Valentine’s Day and I wanted to give them something, so I called my daughter to check on their clothing sizes before making my purchase.
She said, “I cannot believe this! I was in that shop last night, looking at those exact shirts, but I didn’t have peace about spending any money. I really wanted to buy them for the girls but felt I needed to honor God by not doing something I did not have peace about.” Then she said, “Mom, I believe God is blessing me because I obeyed Him.” She was very excited.
Letting her girls receive the shirts as a gift was much more fun than purchasing them. Had she disobeyed what she felt in her heart and done what she did not have peace about, she probably would have been uncomfortable in her spirit, perhaps even miserable. We both got to be part of a miracle because she chose to follow peace!
Following the Lord of peace may mean that you have to make some adjustments in your life. You may not be able to do everything your friends do. You may not be able to buy everything you want. You may not be able to have something just because a friend, or a sister or a brother, has one. You may have to wait. But I believe that peace is the most important, the most valuable thing we can have. If we follow peace, we will end up living holy lives and thoroughly enjoying them.
Many people cannot hear from God because they have too much turmoil in their lives. Their insides are like a freeway during rush-hour traffic. They literally don’t know how to be peaceful; it is as if they are addicted to turmoil. They keep things agitated and stirred up, seemingly on purpose. In fact, they get comfortable living in a state of chaos. It has become their normal state, even though in God’s economy it is not normal at all.
It sounds strange, but when I started learning to be peaceful, I was bored at first! I was so accustomed to having something major going on in my life all the time that I wondered, What am I supposed to do with myself? Romans 3:17 says, “And they have no experience of the way of peace [they know nothing about peace, for a peaceful way they do not even recognize].”
That describes how my life used to be. I had no experience at all in enjoying a peaceful life; I did not even know how to begin. I had grown up in an atmosphere of strife, and it was all I ever knew. I had to learn an entirely new way of living.
But now I’m addicted to peace. As soon as my peace disappears, I ask myself how I lost it and start looking for ways to get it back. I am believing that as you read this book you will become so hungry for peace with God, peace with yourself, and peace with others that you will be willing to make whatever adjustments you need to make in order to have it. I am also believing that you will begin to follow peace at all times, because peace will lead you into the perfect will of God.
Jesus said that if we follow Him, He will give us peace (free of charge). In fact, He said He will bequeath His own peace to us (see John 14:27).
THE GOSPEL OF JESUS BRINGS PEACE
I want to see people love God’s Word and put it first place in their lives. I believe there is an anointing on the Word; it has inherent power that makes positive changes in us. The Word of God is truth, and John 8:32 says, “And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” Truth sets us free from turmoil and leads us into a life of peace when we follow it.
The gospel of salvation through Jesus makes peace available to us in all areas of our lives. First Corinthians 1:21 says that when people failed to find God through earthly wisdom or by means of their own philosophy, God saved people through the preaching of salvation “procured by Christ.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible says the Greek word translated as “save” in that verse is sozo, which means God “delivers, protects, heals, preserves, saves and makes whole” those who believe, trust in, and rely on Him.
We will experience peace in our personal lives when we stop trying to do so many things ourselves and just rely on God to deliver, protect, heal, and save us, as He wants to do.
And God will also lead us to peace in our relationships. Ephesians 2:14 is an awesome Scripture that says, “For He is [Himself] our peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one [body], and has broken down (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us.” Where there is no unity, no harmony, God Himself will break down and abolish the walls that divide people. He has broken down walls between so-called classes of people. He makes equal those who have higher education and those without any education at all. Somebody with a lot of money is no better to Him than somebody without money. The preacher is no better than the person who cleans the toilets.
The Lord loves each of us unconditionally. The hand of God uniquely created and personally designed each of us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need some sandpaper to smooth our rough edges or polishing to make us shine. We all need to change and grow, but we can still be at peace about who we are without comparing ourselves with somebody else. We can stop thinking we are flawed because we are not like anyone else we know. We must have peace with ourselves before we can have peace with others.
I believe God wants you to have peace about where you are in your spiritual growth and to realize that you won’t always stay the way you are. Anyone seeking God regularly is always changing, but we can enjoy where we are on the way to where we are going.
In the next chapter, I will share more about how we can surrender our will to God’s leading. He doesn’t want us to wait to have peace until we have all the things that we may want and desire or think are necessary to our lives. He doesn’t want us to be jealous or envious of those who have the things we want and don’t have, or those who can do what we can’t do. He wants to prove to us that He is our peace.
God has an individualized, customized plan for your life. As you trust Him, He will bring it to pass in His timing, not yours. Waiting on God’s plan and timing is wise because His ways are always best. He is the Lord of peace, and as you surrender your heart and life to Him, you will experience the peace that passes understanding.
Make Peace Through a Surrendered Will
The apostle Peter challenged believers to find “every kind of peace and blessing, especially peace with God, and freedom from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts” (1 Peter 5:14). Surrendering our wills in order to maintain agreement with God is the foundation for all peace in our lives. God has a good plan for each of us, but when we go against His will by pursuing our own wills, we experience turmoil rather than peace. God is the source of all peace, and it stands to reason that He will not release peace to us unless we are following His ways and not our own. God desires for us to live free from fears and agitating passions, and He does not want us to be in bondage to immorality of any kind.
The Bible teaches that God will lead us by the presence of peace. Again, peace is the umpire in our lives that lets us know if we are in God’s will or out of it. Ask yourself the following question, and be honest with your answer: Are you walking in God’s known will to the best of your ability, or are there areas in your life in which you know you are not obeying God?
You will not experience peace if God is pulling in one direction and you are pulling in another; you will feel as if you are being torn apart. God will not force us to do what is right. He shows us what to do but leaves the choice to us. If we make right choices, we will reap good results that we can be happy with; if we make wrong choices, all we have is regret. Many individuals want their lives to change, but they don’t want to do what God is showing them to do. If we are really serious about having change, we must follow God, no matter how difficult it is.
Carnality and God do not mix well together. We are called to walk in the Spirit, to be guided and willingly controlled by the Holy Spirit, who will lead us to make choices that make and maintain perfect peace.
We read in the book of Jonah how God told him to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to the people there. But Jonah did not want to, so he went to Tarshish, which, according to geography, is the exact opposite direction from Nineveh. Running from God does not help us to be at peace with Him.
What happens when we go in the opposite direction from where God has directed us? What happened to Jonah? When he boarded a ship and headed in his own direction, a storm arose. Many of the storms we face in life are the results of our own stubbornness, and nothing else. We may try to blame them on other things and people, but the truth is that in many instances, we have been disobedient to the voice and leadership of God.
The violent storm that came upon Jonah frightened the men on the ship, and they knew if something did not change, they would all die. They cast lots to see who was causing the trouble, and the lot fell on Jonah. They asked Jonah what he had done that made God so angry. He knew he had disobeyed God, so he told the men to throw him overboard in order to deliver them from danger. They did as he requested; the storm stopped, and a great fish swallowed Jonah. From the fish’s belly (not a pleasant place), he cried out to God for deliverance and repented of his stubborn ways.
The fish vomited Jonah upon the dry land and in chapter 3, verse 1, we see that the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, and it was no different from the first time: God told him to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there.
No matter how long we avoid God’s instruction, it is still there for us to deal with when we stop running. God’s will makes us uncomfortable only as long as we are not pursuing it. In other words, we always know when something is just not right in our lives. Eventually we see that being in God’s will, not out of His will, is what brings peace and joy to us. We have to surrender our own wills, because walking in our self-centered ways is what keeps us unhappy.
Running from difficult things never works long term. I know a woman who ran from everything in life that was difficult. She ignored things she needed to deal with, including abuse in her home. She lived in fear and actually had a very miserable life. She ultimately carried so much turmoil she had a complete mental and emotional breakdown, and she has never totally recovered. Pretending that her problems did not exist did not make them go away. They were there, pressuring her, all the time. God was trying to lead her to deal with her conflicts, but she would not trust Him enough to do so.
God never leads us anywhere that He cannot keep us. If God is leading you to deal with some unpleasant situation in your life, don’t run from it. He promises to be with you at all times and never to leave you, or forsake you.
Surrender can be frightening when we first begin to practice it because we don’t know what the outcome will be if we yield ourselves to God’s will. However, once we have surrendered, and we begin to experience the peace that passes understanding, we learn quickly that God’s way is better than any plan we could ever devise.
Not knowing exactly what will happen in the future, but trusting God to take care of us and enjoying peace, is far, far better than erroneously thinking we have life all figured out while continuing to live in fear and anxiety. To enjoy peace with God, we must become comfortable with not knowing what the future holds. There is no such thing as trust without unanswered questions. If God is leading you to do something difficult, just begin to take baby steps of faith, and after each one He will show you what to do next. We don’t have to have an entire blueprint for the future; we don’t need to have all the answers. All we need is to know the One who knows, and that is Jesus Himself.
We must realize that we are not nearly as smart as we think we are. God’s Word advises us not to be conceited in our own wisdom and not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. God has the answers; we don’t. We need to seek Him, and He will lead us.
Proverbs 3:5–7 are some of my favorite Scriptures, and ones I have to return to frequently. They say, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes.” Notice we are told to “be not wise in [our] own eyes.” To me that simply means we should not even think that we are smart enough to run our own lives. We need an attitude of humility that helps us lean on God for everything. An independent, I’ll-do-it-myself attitude and dependence on God can’t coexist.
Reasoning, struggling, and trying to figure out everything in life will steal our peace. God says to trust Him with all of our hearts and minds. I used to say I trusted God, yet I worried; therefore I did not truly trust Him. As I learned to keep my “ways” before God for alteration according to His will, He started guiding the events of my life, and the quality of it improved greatly.
GOD LEADS US BY PEACE
One of the major ways we hear from God is through peace. As I mentioned before, peace is our umpire in life. “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]” (Colossians 3:15).
We are to follow peace. If our decisions and actions produce peace, we know God approves and we are safe in going ahead. If we don’t have peace, we need to stop or at least wait. What we are doing or considering may be wrong, or the timing may be wrong.
People do so many things they don’t have peace about, and then they wonder why they have big messes in their lives. If we follow His Word, God has promised us that we will enjoy blessed and peaceful lives. He also warns us that we will be miserable and live in turmoil if we follow our own will and walk in our own ways (see Deuteronomy 28:15-33).
I hear people say things like this all the time:
• “I know I shouldn’t do this, but—”
• “I know I shouldn’t buy this, but—”
• “I probably shouldn’t say this, but—”
What they are saying is, “I know this is wrong, but I am going to do it anyway.” They have a check in their spirits, a little bit of an uncomfortable feeling deep inside, a “knowing” that the action they are taking is not right or good for them, but they won’t surrender their wills to God’s leading.
We have to learn to release our plans when we don’t have peace and wait to find God’s good plan for our lives. When we sense we are losing our peace, we should know that it means danger to press on the way we are going. We really need to have a healthy fear of not following peace. We should respect what God says in His Word about peace being the umpire in our lives, and let peace make final decisions for us.
Over the years, I have learned many things, but one of the most significant is the importance of walking in peace and staying in the rest of God. It is God’s will for us to live free of upset and frustration. He wants us to enjoy our lives, and we cannot do that if we don’t have peace.
Do you enjoy a peaceful atmosphere most of the time? Do you keep your peace during the storms of life? Are you at peace with God? These are important questions. We need to take a “peace inventory,” checking every area of our lives to see if we need to make adjustments anywhere. Jesus said, “My peace I’ve given unto you.” If He gave us His peace, He wants us to walk in it and enjoy it.
We must resist the devil at his onset. The minute we sense that we are losing our peace, we need to make a decision to calm down. Even allowing ourselves to become upset places us out of God’s will. To establish it in our hearts, let’s look again at what Jesus said:
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] (John 14:27, italics mine)
We can see plainly from this Scripture that Jesus has provided the peace, but we must appropriate it, not letting our hearts be troubled or afraid. We cannot just passively wait to feel peaceful. We are to pursue peace and refuse to live without it. As Jesus said, “Stop allowing yourselves to be upset.”
In 1 Peter 3:10–11, the Bible teaches us that if we want to enjoy life and see good days, we should keep our tongues free from evil, we should do right and search for peace and harmony with God, with ourselves, and with our fellow man. These Scriptures have had a major impact on my own life, and I pray they will impact yours. They are core principles to enjoying peace in our lives.
What is life worth if we are at war in our relationship with God, people, and ourselves? Not much of anything, as far as I am concerned. As I mentioned, peace with God is the foundation for all peace in our lives. How can we be at peace with ourselves if we are not at peace with God, and how can we enjoy peace with other people if we don’t have peace with ourselves?
There may be personal issues you need to settle with God before you can enjoy peace. God may have been dealing with you about certain things for a long, long time which you have been ignoring. Remember, ignoring God’s will does not change it. You can go around the same mountains again and again, pass through storms, or find yourself in uncomfortable places the way Jonah did, but when all is said and done, God’s will is still the same.
Do you sense a tug-of-war inside yourself about some issues in your life? If so, I encourage you to not spend one more day in turmoil. Face the issue, and give God the right of way. In other words, lay your ways down and adopt His ways. Make a decision to stop running and deal with any issues God may be placing before you. Are you doing something that is bothering your conscience? If so, that is God letting you know He is not pleased with that action or decision. Your conscience is actually intended to be your friend; it is a great blessing in life. It will keep you out of trouble if you learn to respect and listen to it.
When God has His will for our lives and we have other wills, life gets hard and uncomfortable. But we can have and enjoy peace by surrendering our wills to God’s. God will not surrender to us; He is waiting for our surrender.
TRUTH LEADS US TO PEACE
We gain peace with God through facing the truth about the changes He is asking us to make. God never asks us to do something without giving us the ability to do it. Truth is not easy to face, but it is the avenue to peace. When we hide from, avoid, and evade God, we are usually running from His will for us.
A man once told me he had run from God’s truth for so long he had finally run past himself. He meant that he had totally lost himself and any understanding of what God wanted for him. He was confused and miserable. He felt like a total failure, as if he had completely wasted his life. He was depressed, discouraged, and without vision for his future.
I don’t think I have ever seen anyone who was more unhappy and pitiful than he was. Why? Because he had spent his life doing what he wanted to do, what he felt like doing, rather than walking in God’s plan for him. He was reaping what he had sown, just as we all ultimately do.
I thank God for the ability to turn around and go in the right direction. That is actually what true repentance is. It is not just a feeling of being sorry, but also a decision to go in the right direction from now on. We get into trouble through making a series of wrong decisions, and we will get our lives straightened out by a series of right decisions. It took more than a day to get into trouble, and it will take more than a day to get out. Anyone who is ready and willing to make a real investment of time and right choices can see his or her life turn around for the better. God’s mercy is new every day. He is waiting to give you mercy, grace, favor, and help; all you have to do is say yes to whatever God is requiring.
The miserable man I referred to did what was right for about two years, and his life really began to change. He had every opportunity to have a great life, but he did not “keep on keeping on.” He eventually went back to his old ways.
Recently I talked with a Christian sister who was very depressed and felt as if she was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. As we talked, I discovered she had spent years not making right decisions and then found herself overwhelmed with the outcome of her own poor choices. She had not raised her children in church, and she said they were out of control and impossible for her to manage. She had been very difficult to get along with, and the result had been the loss of several friendships and family relationships. She certainly had serious problems, and I did not have an easy answer for her.
She wanted me to tell her what to do, so I seriously pondered before the Lord what I should suggest. All I could tell her was that she needed to start making right decisions, and eventually they would overtake the crop she was now reaping from her previous bad decisions. People usually want to overcome a lifetime of bad choices in a short period of time without much effort on their parts, or they want other people to deliver them from the messes into which they have gotten themselves.
I sincerely felt compassion for her, yet I also realized she had been a Christian for over twenty-five years and had spent much time (at least in the early years of her walk with God) studying God’s Word and ways. I felt she knew better than to behave the way she had. When we lack knowledge, we often experience a “special grace” in our lives from God. However, once we have knowledge of God’s Word, we become responsible to apply it to our lives, and I personally believe we reap what we sow much quicker as knowledgeable persons than as ignorant ones.
God wanted to work with this sister and help her. He would give her mercy and grace and another chance, but there really was no easy answer like the one she appeared to be seeking. We cannot do right a few times—we must continue on. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (see John 8:31–32 KJV).
Both the brother and the sister I have mentioned gained help in their lives through applying God’s principles, but they did not maintain. They did not continue in the truth they had learned. Galatians 5:1 teaches us to stand fast in the liberties we have; that means to gain and maintain. It has helped me to realize that I will need to stand fast for the rest of my life.
We cannot get lazy and start letting things slip. Each time God convicts us of wrong behavior, we need to listen to Him. Anytime we lose our peace even slightly, we need to stop and find out what is wrong. That loss of peace is God letting us know something is not going the way He wants it to go.
We gain a right relationship with God through complete surrender to Him, and through repentance of all of our sins. We maintain it through continued right living: making right choices, honoring our consciences, and following peace. Being a successful Christian is a full-time job; we must be on guard all the time against the deceptions of Satan.
Just going to church for one hour on Sunday morning is not enough to maintain peace. We need megadoses of God’s Word, prayer, and regular fellowship with God and other godly people in order to stand fast in God’s will.
Peace with God is available to every person, but we cannot have it on our own terms. Surrender seems so frightening because we are not sure what God may require. Will we suffer? Will God ask us to do things we don’t want to do or don’t even know how to do? Will we ever get to have any of the things we want? We all have these questions.
We may not get things our way, but we can trust that God’s way is better. God is a good God, and He said that He has good things planned for His children: “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome” (Jeremiah 29:11).
We should not be afraid of harm, because God is not an ogre, He is not mean. He is good. Everything good in life comes from God. He wants us to trust Him, and when we take a step of faith to do so, we will see the goodness of God manifested in our lives. The more we surrender, the better life becomes.
THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLS US WITH PEACE
In Acts 2:4, we see that believers were all “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and later in Ephesians 5:18, we find the instruction to “be filled with the Spirit.” One Scripture tells us what happened on the day of Pentecost, and the other is a command.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? It does not imply a state of high excitement, or being perfect in all of our ways, nor is it a state in which we have no need for growth. It is having our entire personalities yielded to the Holy Spirit and being filled through and through with His awesome power daily. It is daily surrender; it is yielding to God’s ways and plans for our everyday lives.
The following Scriptures are absolutely wonderful; I encourage you to meditate on them often.
May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]…[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! (Ephesians 3:16, 19, italics mine)
Just imagine having your personality filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God and being a body wholly filled with God Himself! The apostle Paul was a man filled with the Holy Spirit; he was also a man who had forsaken all to follow Jesus. Any area of our lives that we hold back from God is an area where we cannot be filled with His Spirit. I encourage you to open and surrender every room in your heart to God. Your time is His, your money is His, as are your gifts and talents, your family, your career, attitudes, and desires. He wants to be involved in every area of your life: how you dress, whom you choose for friends, what you do for entertainment, what you eat, and so on.
After conversion, Jesus is our Savior, but is He our Lord? Any area we claim as our own is one we have not surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
I lived a defeated life for many years simply because I was not fully surrendered. I had accepted Jesus as Savior; I had enough of Jesus to stay out of hell, but I had not accepted Him as my Lord, I had not accepted enough of Him to walk in victory. There is a difference. I lacked peace because I was still trying to manage my own life.
The blessedness of being filled with the Spirit is clearly visible in the change in the people’s lives after Pentecost. Peter, for example, who had displayed great fear in not being willing to even admit that he knew Jesus, became a bold apostle who stood in the streets of Jerusalem and preached the gospel so fervently that three thousand souls were added to the church in one day. Complete surrender brings good change into our lives. Surrender to God actually opens the door to the things we desire, and yet we waste our own energy trying to obtain access to them our own way.
Realize that every act of obedience brings with it a corresponding blessing. Consecration, commitment, yielding, surrendering, obeying: all these words may sound frightening, but remember that fear is not from God. Fear is from Satan; he uses it to prevent us from entering God’s plan for our lives. He uses fear to prevent progress. Each time we feel fear, we should recognize it as opposition from the enemy of our souls.
I share more about living a Spirit-filled life in my book Knowing God Intimately. I encourage you to read that book if you feel you need to surrender to the Lord in a deeper way. Being filled with the Spirit is like finding the “pearl of great price” that the following verses speak of:
The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls, who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44–46)
The kingdom of heaven, as God intended us to enjoy it, includes being wholly filled with the Holy Spirit. These Scriptures teach us that we must “sell all” to buy the pearl of great price. That simply means we surrender everything we now have in order to gain the one thing we truly need to enjoy kingdom living. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17).
Perhaps as you read this book today, you realize you have something against someone. Perhaps God has dealt with you to give up some bitter attitude, but you have stubbornly held on to it, feeling justified in your anger. I tell you that if you will surrender that attitude, God will give you peace in the place of it.
You may spend many days feeling sorry for yourself or being jealous of what someone else has. God has asked you to lay aside those bad attitudes and be content. If you will do so, His peace and joy will fill your life.
People may have more possessions than you do, but they can never have more peace and joy than you do if you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is not what we own that makes us happy and peaceful; He is our joy and our peace.
A CONSECRATED, DEDICATED LIFE RESULTS IN PEACE
God’s Word instructs us to be vessels fit (consecrated) for the Master’s use. To be consecrated is to be set apart for a special use, as these verses explain:
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work. (2 Timothy 2:20–21)
To God, we are precious treasures. According to His great plan, we are vessels He has set aside for a special purpose. God wants to show His glory through us. He wants to use us to bring others to Himself. We are His representatives, His ambassadors here on earth. God is making His appeal to the world through His children (see 2 Corinthians 5:20).
To dedicate is to give, to offer to another, or to set aside for a purpose. If I were to say a room in my house is dedicated to prayer, that would mean I wanted that particular room used primarily for that purpose and not for other things.
I own some dresses that I use only for fancy parties. I have set them aside in a certain place in my closet and keep them inside garment bags for protection. This makes them special; they are not used for ordinary purposes but are set apart for special purposes. That is the way God views us; we are not to be used for the world’s purposes, but for God’s. We are in the world, yet Jesus tells us we are not “of” the world. Don’t be worldly, adopting its ways and methods. Even after we have dedicated ourselves to God, we should rededicate ourselves to our real purpose, as the following verse encourages: “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
It is not too much for God to ask us to dedicate every facet of our being. It is actually our worship and spiritual service. Under old covenant law, God required animal sacrifices to atone for sin. He no longer wants dead sacrifices; He wants us offering ourselves as “living sacrifices” unto Him for His purpose and use.
There is nothing we can offer to God that He has not first given us, so we are only offering what already belongs to Him anyway. In reality, we are stewards, not owners. Andrew Murray taught in his book Consecrated to God that if God gives us everything and we receive everything, then what comes next is very clear: We must give everything back to God again. God gives us a free will so we can freely and willingly give ourselves back to Him. He does not want robots, who have no choice, serving Him. He wants us to choose Him! What a privilege, what an honor to give ourselves willingly to Him.
Offer Him your mouth to speak through, your hands to touch through, your feet to walk through, your mind to think through. Dedicate every area of your life to Him, remembering that anything we give to the Lord He gives us back many times over, and we get it back in much better condition than when we gave it.
When I gave my life to the Lord, it was an absolute wreck. He has now given me a life that is wonderful and beyond imagination. Ephesians 3:20 states that He is able to do much more than we could ever imagine if we will give Him the opportunity.
God wants you to enjoy a life of peace, the peace that passes understanding, and it begins by being at peace with Him. This requires regular surrender, consecration, dedication, and a willingness to let God be in the driver’s seat of your life at all times. But beware; you have an enemy who plans to make it difficult to surrender your life to God. Next, we will look at what God’s Word says about that enemy.
Know Your Enemy
If finding peace is a struggle for you, it is a sign that your enemy is working hard to keep you from receiving what is rightfully yours. Are you confused about who your real enemy is? According to God’s Word, your enemy is not a person, or even circumstances—it is Satan himself. Knowing your enemy, and the weapons that God has given you to defeat him, is the third way to keep in perfect peace with God.
“For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere” (Ephesians 6:12). We can never win our battles if we are fighting against the wrong source in a wrong way. The source of our troubles is Satan and his demons. We cannot fight him with carnal (natural) weapons, but only with supernatural ones that God gives us for the destruction of Satan’s strongholds (see 2 Corinthians 10:4).
What exactly are these weapons? I believe the weapons God gives include His Word used in preaching, teaching, singing, confession, or meditation. Our weapons are righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and we can and should use these against Satan, our enemy. Yes, peace is a weapon! The Bible talks about putting on the shoes of peace. Righteousness is a weapon! “By [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend]” (2 Corinthians 6:7).
Through faith in Christ we are placed in right standing with God. And by faith, we are covered with His robe of righteousness (see Isaiah 61:10 AMP). In other words, because we are trusting in Jesus Christ’s righteousness to cover us, God views us as right instead of wrong. His righteousness becomes a shield that protects us from Satan. He absolutely hates it when a child of God really knows who he or she is “in Christ.”
In and of ourselves, we are less than nothing; our righteousness is like filthy rags, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (see Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23). But we are justified and given a right relationship with God through faith.
“Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)” (Romans 5:1). This Scripture teaches us that righteousness brings peace and joy. When we feel all wrong about ourselves, we do not have peace. Satan seeks to condemn us in order to steal our peace. Remember that Satan is your enemy, and you need to know that it is he who tries to make you feel bad about yourself. He works to steal your peace.
Satan uses people and circumstances, but they are not our real enemy; he is. He finds things and people through whom he can work and delights in watching us fight and war without ever realizing he is the source.
When Satan used Peter to try and divert Jesus from going to Jerusalem to complete the task God had sent Him to do, “Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]” (Matthew 16:23, italics mine). Satan used Peter, but Jesus knew that Peter was not His real problem. He turned away from Peter and addressed the source of His temptation. We need to look beyond what we see or initially feel and seek to know the source of our problems too.
Usually we blame people and become angry with them, which only complicates and compounds the problem. When we behave in this manner, we are actually playing right into Satan’s hands and helping his plans succeed. We also blame circumstances and sometimes even God, which also delights Satan.
Yes, we need to know our enemy—not only who he is but what his character is like. The Bible encourages us to know the character of God so we can place faith in Him and what He says. Likewise, we should know Satan’s character so we do not listen to or believe his lies.
SATAN IS A LIAR
First and foremost, Satan is a liar, and Jesus called him “the father of lies” (John 8:44 NIV). All lies originate with him. He lies to us in order to deceive us. When a person is deceived, he believes lies. This is a terrible condition to be in, for one does not know that he believes lies. The lies are his reality because he believes them.
For example, I believed the lie from Satan that I would never overcome my abusive past. I believed I would always be tainted, second best, and soiled merchandise because of the things that had happened to me in my childhood. As long as I believed these things, I was trapped in my past. I could not really go forward and enjoy the future God had always planned for me (see Ephesians 2:10). I could not receive it because I was not aware of it. I believed what Satan said because I did not know what God had said.
I was miserable, hopeless, bitter, and in turmoil all because Satan was lying to me, and I believed his lies. When I began to study God’s Word and His truth started renewing my mind, I knew Satan for what he is: a liar!
People who have had long-standing financial pressure are often convinced by Satan’s lies that things will always be the way they are. The enemy tells them they will never have anything, never own a decent car or have a nice house. They believe they will never have enough, and so it becomes reality for them. We receive what we believe, whether what we believe is positive or negative.
God’s Word says that He wants us to prosper (see Deuteronomy 29:9). It states we can and will be blessed in every way when we walk in God’s statutes. Satan seeks to keep people hopeless. Hopelessness steals our God-given peace and joy.
Refuse to be hopeless. Be like Abraham, of whom it is said that although he had no reason to hope, he hoped on in faith that God’s promises would come to pass in his life. As he waited he gave praise and glory to God, and Satan was not able to defeat him with doubt and unbelief (see Romans 4:18–20).
SATAN IS A THIEF
I often repeat John 10:10, which states that “the thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.” The passage is referring to Satan and his system. Just as God has a system that He encourages us to live by, and He promises blessings if we do, Satan has a system and his hope is that we will live by it so he can steal our blessings. Remember, he wants to prevent us from having righteousness, peace, and joy.
He steals through lying, and all of his tactics are connected in some way. They are all perverse in nature and the opposite of anything God would have for us. Satan steals from us through fear. Actually we receive from Satan through fear, just as we receive from God through faith. One might say that fear is faith in what Satan says. Fear threatens us with thoughts of harm or disappointment. Satan shows us a circumstance and then makes us afraid it will never change. God wants us to believe His Word is true even while we are still in the midst of the circumstances. Romans 8:37 says, “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.”
Excerpted from 21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness by Meyer, Joyce Copyright © 2007 by Meyer, Joyce. Excerpted by permission.
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