Bible Study: Receiving God's peace
NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
Bible Passage: Philippians 4:7,9
-- Is peace something we work to attain, or a blessing freely given to us?
-- How is God's peace different from the peace we might be able to create for ourselves?
-- What's even greater than the promise of God's peace, and why?
Food for thought:
Ralph Waldo Emerson opined, "Nobody can bring you peace but yourself." While Emerson's observation might contain an aspect of truth (after all, no spouse, parent, child, friend or other person will bring you lasting peace), the fact of the matter stands that any peace we accomplish for ourselves will be fragile and could easily crumble.
Robert Morgan, a pastor who authored the book "Worry Less, Live More: God's Prescription for a Better Life," identified eight practices from Philippians 4 to help reach the goal the book upholds. Though not necessarily self-contained, independent steps, "The Practice of Peace" the book recommends will not likely be successful unless a person first engages in the preceding practices Morgan recommends. The earlier practices include rejoicing, gentleness, nearness [to God], prayer, thanksgiving, thinking [in a godly manner] and discipleship.
Philippians 4 references two related facets of peace, Morgan points out. Verse 7 speaks of the "peace of God" that can engulf believers and serve as a trustworthy sentry over their hearts and minds. When a follower of Jesus Christ engages in the practices suggested by verses 4-6, God has pledged that His peace will accompany and secure that person. Superior to human peace, God's peace is far from fragile, withstanding the most trying of human circumstances and conditions. As Morgan stresses, "Because God is infinite, His measureless peace is never exhausted." In addition, it withstands all ability to scrutinize or analyze it, thriving in times and places we cannot understand.
But like a well-cut gem that sparkles from more than one angle, so there is another facet to peace. As invaluable as the "peace of God" is for the Christian, Philippians 4 offers an even greater peace promise. For when we have tuned our thoughts to those things that align with God and His values and put into practice that which has been revealed to us about how to live, verse 9 promises the "God of peace" will be with us.
What could be better than the peace God offers? How about the very presence of the God who offers that peace? Now that's a prescription for lasting peace.
MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.