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September 7, 2016

The Pathway to Peace: Part 1

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

The daily battle with uncontrollable circumstances, unchangeable people and unexplainable problems makes any sense of personal peace seem illusive at best. Can you really experience peace in spite of all these challenges? The Bible answers with a confident YES! Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has a personal peace plan for your life and mine. In fact, look what Jesus promises in John 14:27 (LB)

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t
fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

If you look at that verse again, you’ll realize the peace Jesus offers us is a gift! That’s good news because there’s nothing we can do to muster it up or merit it! And, it’s a peace that isn’t fragile. God’s peace is not illusive like the peace the world offers. The peace the world offers is based on circumstances. When circumstances are great, we have peace; but, the moment trouble comes, our peace leaves! We become anxious and afraid. Jesus wanted His followers to experience a peace that passes understanding. People can’t figure it out because it’s a peace that only the Prince of Peace can give us when we are in a right relationship with God. To receive the peace Jesus offers, I must make three intentional choices. We’ll look at the first step to the pathway to peace today.

Step 1: I must accept the Prince of Peace’s plan for my life.
In Matthew 6:10, Jesus taught us to pray,

“May Your kingdom come; may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matt. 6:10 (GN).

God’s kingdom is wherever He rules and reigns. When we become Christ followers, God establishes His rule and reign in our lives. This doesn’t mean a problem-free life. It means that, in the midst of those problems, we can experience His peace! The key to the model prayer is in the pronoun, “Thy” will be done, not “my” will. Even when circumstances don’t make sense, we can experience His peace. Sometimes, there is no answer for what we’re going through. The truth is, even if you had an answer, it wouldn’t bring you peace because it isn’t the answer we need most. What we need most is the Prince of Peace. He is the answer. You can quit fighting in your soul, struggling to figure everything out, or find an answer when you learn to accept the Prince of Peace’s plan for your life.

Most of us know the first part of The Serenity Prayer but have missed the heart of it in its full expression. If you’re struggling to accept the things you cannot change, here’s a good model to pray:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to
change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.”
–Reinhold Niebuhr