Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Peace of God

The past several months I've had the incredible opportunity to disciple a young lady about my age. She was recently saved after 2 years of being part of the ministry here. Before she was saved, she would come over to the house each week. We would sip tea and work on English and Russian by talking and reading together. Now we start with discipleship and then move into just talking and getting to know each other while we work on language learning. I have thoroughly enjoyed this!

For part of our discipleship we each read the same passages of Scripture and write down how the Lord spoke to us. This past week I decided on Philippians. This book has always been one of my favorites, especially chapter 4. One of my favorite verses is verse 7. "And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." 

This time as I was reading, I was particularly drawn to this verse and decided to do a bit of word study. This is always a great way to understand God's Word better. The English is an older English and some words have really changed over the years. Verse 7 is pretty simple and straight forward I thought, but as I looked up these words the verse came to life for me. I understood it in a way I hadn't in the past.

 Oh the peace of God! The quiet rest that we find as we trust Him. Life around us is often so loud and confusing. We try to understand. We read books. We talk to people around us. We google. Of course these things aren't wrong. God has given us a mind to stretch our intellect and understanding. He has also given us a heart - the inner man, the will, the conscience, the seat of emotions and passions - the heart that we are instructed in Proverbs 4:23 to keep or guard with diligence.

The word "passeth" is what really got my attention. I have always understood this to mean God's peace is more than I can understand.  Indeed, especially in difficult times, we experience this special peace that only the children of God can experience...and understand. Let me explain. The word "passeth" here has a completely different meaning than I anticipated. It means to stand out, to rise above, to be superior in rank, better than, higher. The peace of God exceeds and surpasses all the understanding that we might have. To have the peace of God is better than what we are able to determine, judge or perceive. When circumstances in life come, we don't need to understand because we have something greater than understanding, peace...the peace of God!

Proverbs 4:23 reads, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are issues of life." The word "keep" here is to watch, guard or preserve. Our heart is the source of our life. It is what makes I know we can all agree that there are many things, people, noises that are trying to break through the barrier to our hearts and minds. We are commanded to guard against it, and Philippians 4:7 tells us how. The peace of God, that is greater than our own understanding, guards our minds and hearts. How? Through Jesus Christ!

Yes, the peace of God is hard to explain or understand. As is His love, His forgiveness, His grace, His mercy, His comfort. How can we really grasp that God, in all of His majesty, would send Jesus Christ to be the payment for the debt of sin we could not pay? Now as children of God the Holy Spirit lives in us. Can I explain how He comforts, teaches and convicts? No, but I am amazed as He works in my heart and it flows out into my life. We are just vessels to be filled. We are just branches to bear fruit. We are just pieces of clay in the Master's hands.

As we go through life, we can enjoy this incredible peace that only God can give. It exceeds all of our intellect and understanding. Understanding something can bring a form of peace, but not like the peace of God. This peace offers protection against fear, worry and pain. This peace comes through trusting God, our Heavenly Father.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5,6

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