When I was asked to write a speech, I really wasn’t sure what to do it about at first. But then I decided to talk about peace because it’s very important to me.
Peace is arguably one of the most rare and unusual things to find in any person. Though it is the gift of Christ, few take hold of it. It is so rare and so unusual that many, if not most, new converts to Christianity say it was peace that drew them, peace that made a Christian different from other people. And yet, more and more as we look in the churches, many Christians do not have this peace. They do not have it on a consistent basis in their lives.
Why is that important? Because peace is an indicator. It indicates where we are in our walk with God. It indicates the state of our relationship with God. And it also indicates how well we can handle the circumstances of our life and our world.
Any one of us can look at the state of our peace and find out many things. Do we act or do we react? Do we allow the world to change our peace, or is our peace changing our world? Only we can answer these questions, and our peace only talks to us, because only we really know where our peace really is.
But it’s important that we know where it is.
Do we have peace or confusion, order or chaos, serenity or iniquity? There was one day I was dealing with all three: confusion, chaos, and a lack of inner quiet. I was sitting on the living room couch surrounded by lack of peace.
You can probably not imagine a much messier place, and most of it was my fault.
The living room was trashed. The kitchen was trashed. You know those heaps and mounds of dirty dishes you see every once in a while? Well, there were a whole lot of them in there right then. The computer area was trashed, most of it my mess. The bathrooms―my personal chore to clean―were trashed. And my bedroom was such a horrendous wreck, there was a reason I was sitting in the living room.
I had been sick for three days. My hair wasn’t washed. I hadn’t changed clothes. I was in my pajamas feeling horrible. I was ready to scream, tear my hair out, throw my clothes off, throw the house away―just to get away from it all because I was in such a state of chaos.
I knew pretty well right then where my state of relationship with God was at, and it wasn’t very high. In fact, by being in that state, I was directly contrary to the will of God. That may sound harsh, but in 1 Corinthians 14:33, it says that God is not the Author of confusion, but the Author of peace. He expects each and every one of us who are in His church of saints to have peace. So when we are not in a state of peace, we are being contrary to the will of God.
1 Corinthians 7:15 says, “…God hath called us to peace….” Peace is very important.
When Christ called the disciples to come and to follow Him, they took that call seriously. When God called the church to go out into the world and preach the good news of the Gospel, they took that call seriously. They’re preaching it today. There are satellites all over the world today, broadcasting the gospel of Jesus, because they took that call so seriously. So when we got the call to peace, each one of us should have been rushing to find out how to be that peace. It was a call, direct from God, to have peace.
But many of us don’t have peace. I know there are many times I don’t. There are many times many people don’t, even in the church. There are many times when any kind of person does not have peace. According to the American Psychological Association, forty-three percent of American adults will readily admit (that means there’s probably more) that they have health problems, diseases, and illnesses due to stress—also called, lack of peace.
Also, ninety-two percent of American adults readily admit that this is due to their own thoughts, their own feelings, and perceptions. In short, themselves. Our peace problems are our problems. We are the only ones responsible for whether we develop peace or we develop peace problems.
Half of the problem is we’ve forgotten how to develop peace.
Peace is part of a relationship with God. Brother Lawrence, in Practice of the Presence of God, explained how to have a close, loving, consistent relationship with God, and how because he had a close, loving relationship with God, he had peace. We cannot have peace unless we have a relationship with God. It doesn’t happen. Peace comes from God.
And that relationship with God also gives birth to another thing. It’s called spiritual-mindedness. The more we spend our time with God, the more we have a spiritual mindset. (This may not sound related, but bear with me for a moment.)
When we are very close to a person and we’re with them all the time, our mind becomes more like their mind. When people have been close for a long time, they start to think alike. They start to be able to finish each other’s sentences. Well, we want to be that way with God. He says do it, and we can do it because we are beginning to think as He thinks. Now, that’s how we want to be.
And spiritual-mindedness is what I call that. It is necessary for peace. Romans, chapter eight, verse six says, “…to be carnally minded is death” and “…to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” That means that peace comes from being spiritually minded. And if we do not have peace, then we are not being spiritually minded. There are only two options: carnally minded or spiritually minded. And peace only goes with one of them.
Where our peace problems start to come from is when we go back and forth, back and forth between remembering what God told us to do and doing whatever we feel like. Between reading God’s Word and reading worldly books. Between remembering when God said, “Take no thought…what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on” and struggling like anything to control everything in our lives and worlds. That’s not our job. That’s being carnally minded.
And it may sound harsh, but any single time that we are not in a perfect place of peace, it is a warning sign that we are not being spiritually minded.
The more we go back and forth between being carnally minded and being spiritually minded, the easier it is to just stay carnally minded. That sounds strange and it sounds like it doesn’t have a reason, but it does. We’re sitting in the middle of a carnal world.
Carnal does not mean evil. Carnal means fleshly. Anything that belongs to this little self over here that we’re letting control is carnal. So anytime that we get caught up in doing things our way and doing things the way we want them, and even doing what we think God wants us to do―if we leave Him out of it, it’s carnal-mindedness.
And it is very easy to just slide into doing it that way. Forgetting that spending time in devotion is there because we love God, not because we’ve got this requirement sitting on us to spend this much time in the Bible that day. It’s about that love relationship. And that’s where spiritual-mindedness comes from.
And that is why it becomes so easy to fall into carnal-mindedness. Every time we do it, we start cutting ourselves off from God. So many times, I’ll sit there and I’ll be drifting away from my focus on God, and I’ll become antsy and restless and just not know what to do with myself. Every time that happens, it’s a warning sign, going, “Hey! You’re not being spiritually minded.” And every time that happens, I should be running to God to jump in His arms, to dig into the Bible, to reestablish my love for God. And every time I don’t do it, I start heading for a peace crisis. And a peace crisis comes when, all of a sudden, with everything going on, I can’t feel God.
And that day when I was so sick, when I was in that living room in the middle of that mess, I couldn’t feel God. I couldn’t feel Him. It was the most utterly lost feeling any person could have. And you know what? The living room didn’t matter anymore. The kitchen didn’t matter anymore. The bedroom didn’t matter anymore. I went into the bedroom. I closed the door, sat at the desk, and I didn’t care about all the stuff that I had left lying around or all the yah-yahs it caused, because it didn’t matter. Something more important was going on.
I had realized that my peace didn’t come from that mess. It didn’t come from having a clean room. It didn’t come from having a neat time schedule. It didn’t come from having everything figured out. I knew then, without a shadow of a doubt, that peace comes from God and that if I have God, I have peace.
So when I sat down, I didn’t ask God how could I clean my room. I said, “God, where are You?” I said, “I know You’re my peace. Where did You go? Why can’t I feel You?”
And He told me the most profound thing I had ever heard.
He said, “I didn’t go anywhere.”
I mean, it sounds silly. It sounds like something we should know. But when I thought about it, it meant that in the crazy room, in a failed, shambling life, in carnal-mindedness, and everything I had done wrong, God was still there. All that stuff did not cut me off from God because when I cried out to Him, He answered me and I heard Him. He was still there.
Peace comes from within, because Christ put it within us. When He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you….”, He gave us a gift that nobody could take away. We can’t get rid of it. It’s there, inside of us, waiting for us, because peace is in God.
In the Bible, Christ tells us, “…in me ye might have peace….” If our peace is in Christ and we abide in Him and He abides in us, as it tells us in John 15:4, then our peace is right there waiting for us. And that’s just a part of it. God is in every single little cell of our bodies. If He were not there, we wouldn’t exist. And peace is in every little part of God in our bodies. We can’t get rid of our peace any more than we can get rid of ourselves because that’s how near it is to us.
We have peace. God gave it to us. All we have to do is access it. And how do we access it? The answer is very simple, and I love it every time I hear it in my spirit. The answer is faith.
In Romans, chapter five, verse one, it tells us that we are justified by faith, and because of faith, we have peace. We cannot have peace without faith.
If we have faith that the sun’s going to rise every morning, then we have peace about planning our days. But if we don’t have faith that that sun’s going to come up, then―to say the very least―we don’t have peace about planning our days. We don’t have peace about much at all.
And if we have faith that God is going to keep His promises to protect us, to provide for us, then we should be living in a perfect and constant state of peace. Peace is a result of our faith.
When we have faith in God, then we have peace in our lives. When we have faith that what He says is true, then we have peace. If we believed everything He had told us in the Bible, we would not have a worry on this planet. There would be nothing to worry about. Nothing.
Peace is the evidence of our faith. When we have peace, then we are demonstrating our faith in God.
Each one of us has the right and the power to choose to live in faith and in peace. Peace is applied to our lives when we understand that the mind controls our thoughts of faith or of doubt, and that those thoughts control our lives of peace. We have the right to choose to think thoughts of faith. And when we think thoughts of faith, we create a life of peace. And when we think thoughts of doubt, we create a life of lack of peace.
Our mind will create and serve any purpose that we put it to. When we choose our thoughts according to what we want, that purpose will come to pass.
Each one of us has the right and the power to go inside to where God is within us and stay there. He’s right there inside of us.
I was sitting there on that floor a minute ago, and I was feeling so sick that my body was shaking. I didn’t know how I was going to get up here and talk. And that was when God reminded me, “Do you remember what you’re going to talk about?” Then He said, “You have Me. You have peace.” And I’m up here and I’m talking and I’m not shaking anymore.
Each one of us has the right to choose to be untouchable by any outside circumstance of this world. And when we make that decision, the effects will change our entire lives. They change our mind, and our “mind is the master weaver…of character and circumstance…” as James Allen writes in As a Man Thinketh. When we change from carnal-mindedness to spiritual-mindedness, that is a complete overhaul of our thoughts. And our thoughts change everything else.
James Allen defines character as the sum-total of a person’s thoughts. And peace, when we have it, will change the sum-total of our thoughts. It will give us order to be able to access all those things that we have stowed away in supposedly neat, little files. Most of us don’t have many neat, little files, but peace will give us order in our minds, so we can remember what we try to remember. It can bring back all the things that we have learned. Order is very important to our thoughts, and peace gives us that.
Peace grants our thoughts clarity. And clarity gives us the ability to look at a problem and see through to the solution.
Peace gives our thoughts calmness. That gives us the ability to think and not be affected by emotions, by projections, by other people’s opinions. Calmness is power. Calmness is the power to look at the decision, see what is right, and do it.
The dictionary defines character as the moral or ethical structure of a person. And peace affects the moral and ethical structure of a person, because morals and ethics are based on doing what is right or what is wrong.
Peace is a state of being, a state of close relationship with God (as we’ve already established). And, therefore, when we are at peace, we are connected firmly to God. And we can go into any situation, know what we’re supposed to do, and peace takes the struggle out of it. We aren’t affected by the “consequences” of doing what is right. We are not affected by that. We’re affected by the fact that God told us what to do, that God told us what He wants us to do. And we love Him, and we do it. It takes the struggle out of it.
Peace is what gives the martyrs their power. They are not afraid in the face of torture, in the face of anything because they have their God. And that gives them peace.
Peace also affects our circumstances. When I was in my bedroom, in the middle of all that mess, I stood up from that desk in power. I had found God. And I had found my peace was there. When I stood up, I knew that I knew that I knew that nothing could shake that peace. I turned around and I looked at that room and all that chaos, that had been driving me out of it earlier, couldn’t even touch me. It couldn’t touch me because peace comes from within. And when we find our peace, the outside will conform.
Within minutes, that bedroom was clean. Within minutes, those bathrooms were clean. And within minutes, I had cleaned all my mess from all the rest of the house. It was minutes and the changes were there. It was so instantaneous because I had found my peace. And the outside is just a reflection of what’s going on in here, inside of us.
Peace comes from being spiritually minded, from having a relationship with God, and from having true faith. It comes from within, and when we find our peace, the outside will conform.
And I find no better words to close with than Paul’s closing words of 2 Corinthians: “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” Amen.
— Megan Payne