The Fruit of the Spirit - Peace: The Hunger of Human Hearts

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The Fruit of the Spirit - Peace

The Hunger of Human Hearts

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The Fruit of the Spirit - Peace: The Hunger of Human Hearts

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Peace. Ah, the word itself stirs calming and pleasant thoughts.

Hearts yearn for peace. In fact, a common greeting in many languages is to wish someone peace, like shalom (Hebrew) or aloha (Hawaiian). Even Jesus Christ used it (John 20:19 John 20:19Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the middle, and said to them, Peace be to you.
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; John 20:21 John 20:21Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.
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; John 20:26 John 20:26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you.
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).

How about your life? Are you stressed out with life’s pressures and wanting more peace? Most people would say yes!

The Bible focuses on three areas of peace: personal peace of mind, doing what we can to have peace in our relationships with others and eventual peace among all nations.

True peace of mind is an inner calm, contentment and confidence no matter what the outer circumstances. This seems impossible, but “with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27 Mark 10:27And Jesus looking on them said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
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).

A planet without peace

We live in a frightening and frenzied world. We used to hear of someone being a nervous wreck or suffering a nervous breakdown. Emotions haven’t changed as much as terminology. Tension, anxiety, depression and panic attacks are the common designations today.

One result is the overuse and abuse of alcohol and legal drugs as well as the use of illegal drugs—as people turn to temporary escapism instead of seeking long-term solutions.

Finding peace in a contentious world can seem hopeless, but Scripture tells us to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11 1 Peter 3:11Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
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). Seek it by taking time to read the Bible, by far the greatest book on peace ever written (Colossians 3:15-16 Colossians 3:15-16 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
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). Pursue it through prayer to the very “God of peace” (Hebrews 13:20 Hebrews 13:20Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
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).

Christ’s followers are protected from many trials and dangers, but not all. In fact, some trials, like persecution, happen because of trying to “live godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:12 2 Timothy 3:12Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
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).

The key is to rely on Christ, the source of sublime peace (John 14:27 John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
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; John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
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) and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
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). He can “guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79 Luke 1:79To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
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).

Practical principles and spiritual dangers

To experience peace, you must take responsibility for your thoughts (Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
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). With God’s help you can quit reacting with anger or self-pity. It’s not your circumstances or other people that determine your mood; it is your attitude about them. “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28 Proverbs 25:28He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
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, emphasis added throughout).

Today, many good books and Websites have practical advice on reducing physical and mental stress. Some keys are to learn good interpersonal skills, be positive and flexible, exercise, get good nutrition and sleep, learn to relax, and rest one day each week.

However, don’t trust everything that is written. New Age teachings, based on pagan ideas with new scientific-sounding terminology, have mushroomed in popularity. As people have pushed the Bible out of their lives, they have been filling the spiritual vacuum with a dangerous counterfeit spirituality.

Learning and living by the Bible brings more mental and emotional benefits than any New Age teaching. Furthermore, instead of being drawn into the paganism of false gods, one is drawing close to the true Creator God who inspired the Bible.

Fear and worry versus faith, courage and peace

For most people, the most common type of meditation—thinking intently on a particular subject—is fear or worry!

But guess what single command in the Bible occurs more often than any other? Fear not.

But how is that possible? We must replace fear with faith —a childlike trust in your heavenly Father. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 Isaiah 26:3You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.
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).

The Hebrew expression translated “perfect peace” here is literally “peace, peace.” It refers to the superior kind of peace that God makes possible for human beings. And those who have this peace are hoping for ultimate divine peace in the resurrection!

Trust in God to be your shelter and shade, your refuge and fortress (Psalms 61:4 Psalms 61:4I will abide in your tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of your wings. Selah.
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; Psalms 121:5 Psalms 121:5The LORD is your keeper: the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
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; Psalms 91:2 Psalms 91:2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
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). David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalms 23:4 Psalms 23:4Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
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).

Worry is a type of fear, and Jesus repeatedly said, “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25-34 Matthew 6:25-34 25 Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature? 28 And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Why, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. 33 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
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). Worry is a waste of time and energy. The Creator provides for all His creatures, and “you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31 Matthew 10:31Fear you not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.
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).

We cannot experience true faith and peace without obedience to God. His perfect commandments define the way of peace. God said, “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18 Isaiah 48:18O that you had listened to my commandments! then had your peace been as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea:
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).

The issue of fear is not primarily about emotion. “Fear not” means to have the courage to do the right thing even when it seems frightening. Knowing “the L ord your God is with you wherever you go” will give you the needed “good courage” to go forward anyway (Joshua 1:9 Joshua 1:9Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be you dismayed: for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
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).

The greatest key to peace: God’s Spirit

True peace of mind depends on attaining “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 Romans 5:1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
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).

Begin by humbly turning control over to God. Trying to manage our lives on our own generally brings only frustration and confusion, yet “God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33 1 Corinthians 14:33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
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).

Do as Peter instructed: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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).

These two great gifts of God—forgiveness and the Holy Spirit—result in “righteousness and peace and joy” (Romans 14:17 Romans 14:17For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
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). Even better, they lead to the greatest gift of all—eternal life (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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). The “hope of eternal life” takes away the “fear of death” (Titus 1:2 Titus 1:2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
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; Hebrews 2:15 Hebrews 2:15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
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). No other comfort compares!

In Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
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, the apostle Paul is apparently likening the Holy Spirit to a tree of life. He said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Consider carefully the relationship of peace to all the other virtues that come through the Spirit. Each helps produce and maintain all the others.

Consider also the contrast between the fruit of the Spirit and the “works of the flesh”—human nature—in Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
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, including “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.” God’s Spirit will replace these vices!

“Grace and peace”

Why do Paul’s epistles begin with variations of the salutation, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ”? (See, for example, Galatians 1:3 Galatians 1:3Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
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.)

Paul may have coined a new phrase or perhaps adopted a previously little-used phrase. “Grace” (Greek charis ) or “Grace to you” was a Greek greeting. On the other hand, “Peace” (Hebrew shalom ) was a Jewish greeting.

Paul ministered to Jewish and Greek Christians, so the greeting “Grace to you and peace” was inclusive and unifying. “You are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
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).

More importantly, the New Testament adds great theological meaning to “grace” and “peace.”

Grace includes God’s wonderful gift of forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7 Ephesians 1:7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
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). Grace heals the guilt! It is the great prerequisite to peace. First pardon, then peace.

God’s grace also makes us “sons of God” (Galatians 3:26 Galatians 3:26For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
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). What peace to know we are the beloved of our gracious Father!

Therefore the distinctly Christian greeting gave honor to the One who gives us grace and, as a result, real peace.

Enjoy peace and be peacemakers

Peace and harmony come to those who extend it to others. Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18 Romans 12:18If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.
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). We are called to be peacemakers, following the example of the supreme Peacemaker (Matthew 5:9 Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
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).

Pray that God will make it possible for His people to “lead a quiet and peaceable life” (1 Timothy 2:2 1 Timothy 2:2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
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). Pray for peace of mind. Pray for peaceful relationships. And pray for God’s peaceful Kingdom to come soon!

Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:6-7 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
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(Revised Standard Version) beautifully summarizes this wonderful subject: “Have no anxiety 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 passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

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