Last Thursday, in Jesus’ Peace, Part 3, we saw that if God is peace, then the closer we draw to Him, the more we can enjoy His peace. Thus the way to access Jesus’ peace is to draw near to Him, to keep our hearts and minds focussed on Him, to make Him our refuge at all times.
But doesn’t this still seem so abstract? Does the Bible have any stories that will help to put all of this into perspective?
Acts 27:27-28:5 records the story of Paul in a shipwreck. After fourteen days in a major storm at sea, Paul says to the 276 people aboard that ship, “You have been so worried that you haven’t touched food for two weeks…Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.” ( Acts 27:33-34 NLT) The Bible then records that after he says this, Paul, “took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.” (Acts 27:35 NLT). Paul, quite obviously, is at total peace!
Just a few days later, after the ship breaks up and every passenger safely makes it to shore, Paul is bitten by a poisonous snake: “As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, ‘A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.'” (Acts 8:3-4)
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I would be so peaceful if a poisonous snake latched itself to my hand! But the Bible records Paul’s response: “But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed.” (Acts 28:5 NLT)
There are many more stories of Paul bravely standing up in the face of mortal danger with peace. Why? Let’s remember that Paul had seen Jesus (See Acts 9:3-6). He had personally been healed of his blindness (See Acts 9:9). He had been delivered from prison (See Acts 16:16-40). He has, himself done hundreds of miracles in the name of Jesus. Paul has experienced God’s power through him so many times that the wind and the waves, even the snake, have no impact on him whatsoever! Paul knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God will take care of him, and as a result, he is kept in perfect peace.
And what about Peter?
Peter was thrown in prison, and the Bible records that he was changed between two guards. What is very interesting is that Peter was…asleep! “The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers.” (Acts 12:6 NLT). The fact that he was actually asleep would speak to his level of peace! Of course, we know that he was miraculously liberated (see Acts 12:7-10), but at the time, Peter didn’t know that! Peter had, however, experienced many miracles. He had seen the lame walk. He had seen the blind see. He had witnessed Jesus risen from the dead. He trusted the One whose message he preached, and just like Jesus slept in the boat on the storm at sea, Peter slept between his two prison guards!
But these are both New Testament stories of people who lived at the same time as Jesus. What about the Old Testament?
The Bible records many, many stories of people in the Old Testament as well who stood up in the face of danger with perfect peace: Daniel in the Lions’ Den (see Dan. 6); Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego in the midst of the burning furnace (See Dan. 3:16-28); David at Goliath (See 1 Sam. 17); Noah and the ark (see Gen. 5:32-10:1); Esther and the King of Persia (See Esther 1-10); Elijah on Mt. Carmel (See 1 Kings 18:16-45); and the list could go on and on.
But maybe you haven’t been the recipient of fantastic miracles. Maybe God has never done a miracle through you. Does this mean you can’t access the same peace that Peter and Paul accessed? Does that mean that the peace of Daniel, Shadrach, Mishack, Abednego, David, Noah, Esther and Elijah is not available to you?
Not at all.
You see, not all of these people had personal encounters with God prior to their moments of peace in the face of trouble. They did, however, have one thing in common: They had the witness of God’s protective power throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.
Not a Bible scholar?
No problem! You and I have access to the same scriptures as Daniel and David and Esther and Elijah and Paul and Peter! We know the same stories they knew; and in many cases, so many more, for we have access to the New Testament stories as well. What we need to do to choose God’s peace is to meditate on His past and present miracles. Let’s remember that God doesn’t change: “I am the LORD, and I do not change.” (Mal. 3:6 NLT). The God that saved Daniel from the Lions is the same God who delivered Paul from the snake and Peter from prison. He is the same one who saved Esther and the Jewish people. He is the same one who instructed Noah to build the ark and then carried him through the flood. And that same God will carry you through as well!
Thus, the best way to access that peace of God, the peace that Jesus came to give us, is by meditating upon Scripture, getting to know the power, strength and love of our God. When we meditate on these stories of God’s power, when we keep our minds fixed — not on our problems, but on the Problem-Solver — our trust will grow and His peace will fill our hearts.
Jesus’ Peace is His gift to us for Christmas. Let’s access it, accept it, and make use of it throughout the upcoming Christmas season, and especially, all year long!
This is the last part of the Jesus’ Peace: Experiencing the Peace of Jesus…ALL YEAR LONG mini-series. If you have missed some of these lessons, you can access them by clicking here, or you can email me and I will send them to you. God bless you as you access the peace of the Christ Child this Christmas, and all year long!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.