How To Be Led By God’s Peace
Last time we talked about knowing God’s will, and I explained that God wants you to know His will and there are various ways we begin learning it. Just to recap a little bit, one of the major ways we know God’s will is through His written Word. The Bible explains virtually all of God’s general will for our lives and His general directions for correct living. The Bible teaches us how to treat people, how to work, how to treat our bodies, and how to have a vibrant relationship with God, for examples.
The Bible also teaches us how to learn God’s specific will, where we should live, where we should work, who we should marry, and things like that. The major way we learn God’s specific will is by hearing from God through His Biblical communication methods. As you begin praying, reading your Bible, and worshipping, you are tuning into God’s frequency and you will begin hearing from God. God will speak to you and guide you into His specific will for your life.
I also explained last week how we can develop some decision making paradigms, in line with what we know about God, to begin discerning His will in various situations. Again, if a particular course of action would be obviously sinful, then we must avoid it. If the particular course of action doesn’t involve sin or at least it’s questionable, then we can continue working the model. Does this thing fit in with what I believe God wants for my life? Does this seem to work with everything I believe God is doing in me and in my life? How will this affect the other people involved? Am I considering something that is obviously Biblical and Godly, like inviting someone to church or talking to someone about Jesus? As you start thinking this way, your decisions become easier.
These mental roadmaps can really help us know and live in God’s will to a much greater degree than we have before, if we will start applying them. They don’t even take long to develop. I once heard a man preach a message he called “Building Mental Road Maps on the Way to Divine Destiny.” I really liked that title and I see these years later how good it really is.
If you have been listening to me or reading my work at all you have heard me talk about the importance of changing the way we think. If we can renovate our minds from natural to spiritual thinking, then we are going to begin living in God’s will and truly experiencing Godly change in every area of our lives. That said, I don’t care if you are the greatest spiritual thinker of all time, that doesn’t help you if you won’t apply what you know to the situations that arise in your life.
Just speaking personally, and I’m going to be honest with you, I consider myself to have a relatively elevated spiritual understanding. I am not trying to be prideful or brag I’m just setting up this point. I know God and I have a solid understanding of what the Bible says. I certainly don’t understand everything and I don’t devote much time to scripture memorization, but I do believe my mind has been renovated from natural to spiritual thinking to a significant degree.
However, if I don’t apply this spiritual mindset to my daily life, it does me no good, and I don’t experience God’s perfect will, as described in Romans 12:2. Remember that Romans 12:2 says if you renovate your mind you can experience God’s perfect will. But that is still not automatic. You have to renovate your mind and then allow your spiritually renovated mind to dominate your daily life.
Let me tell you a brief story of how I missed it just the other day. My clients were selling an apartment complex in Georgia and I assisted them in the sale. In that role, at least when it gets near the closing, I’m kind of the lead communicator for my clients to get the deal across the finish line. This particular buyer started doing some things that I found annoying. The buyer was deviating from the contract in some relatively minor ways, and the buyer was also kind of slow in doing some things they needed to do. While I did restrain myself initially, towards the end I snapped at the other side a couple of times and honestly even sent a rather rude email to the buyer, and on these deals there are often a large number of people copied on the final emails.
So I’m not perfect and I’m still growing. As soon as I sent the email I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit, and truly the conviction was for my failure to follow the spiritual mindset I have developed and to even follow the work mentality I have developed with God over the past decade of practicing law. My job is not to get into petty squabbles, my job is to close deals. I must keep that at the forefront of my mind, even when dealing with difficult lawyers on the other side. I must keep that in my mind from start to finish, from the first draft of the contract to the closing table. Fundamentally my clients are real estate traders, and it’s my job to execute the trades they make. And whereas a stock trade takes place over a matter of seconds, these real estate trades average between two and three months, so there are usually several opportunities for annoyance in each of them.
But a lot of what I just said is kind of a natural, mental roadmap I have developed for my work. What about thinking spiritually? I need to walk in love at all times, even with the jerkiest lawyers, and I know a few. I need to speak respectfully and I need to honor everyone I come into contact with, even when I’m annoyed about their behavior. Anyone that has dealt with me much at all, in my law practice, knows that I’m a devout Christian. I need to keep that in mind. Some of these people don’t encounter many Christians. How am I representing Christ? Do people want to be around me or deal with me? Am I practicing law like Christ would? Man, this discussion is making me feel convicted. Let’s move on.
You get the idea. You can get a baseline working knowledge of God’s will very quickly through the Bible and your teachings at church (If you go to a good, Bible believing church. If you don’t, leave and find a new one.) We can also develop mental frameworks for our lives that will greatly help us live in God’s perfect will. We renovate our thinking to spiritual thinking in line with God’s Word, and then we allow that thinking to govern 100% of our actions. You are going to start seeing God’s will quick!
Now let’s move on and talk about being led by God’s peace. Please forgive me in advance if we need to search for the right language to describe some of this today, because we are again diving into relatively spiritual waters. Let me be clear with no exaggeration, this subject is extremely important. The leading of God’s peace is one of the major ways we can quickly and accurately discern God’s will for any given decision. We must understand this subject and learn to apply it in our lives. Let’s start by looking at a verse in Colossians. We are going to look at this first in the NIV translation and then in the Amplified.
(Colossians 3:15 NIV) “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
(Colossians 3:15 AMP) “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].”
I encourage you to read that verse from the Amplified again. Read it slowly and take a moment to focus on its different components. This verse should become a very important part of your life. Maybe it won’t be a magnet on your fridge, but it should be carved into the foundation of your mind. Learning to discern, and make decisions by, God’s peace, is a master key to understanding God’s will.
As you go through life, many, many questions are going to arise in your minds. Hopefully, you have endeavored to become spiritually minded so that your mind has matured and thinks in line with God’s Word. But again, no matter how spiritually minded you may be, you are still going to have questions regarding God’s will in particular situations. As we have these questions, the peace of God helps us answer them, it helps us discern God’s will.
The Amplified describes this peace as “soul harmony”. How do you feel about something inside yourself? Go past your mind. I like the idea of “soul harmony” but I think the word soul is a bad translation. Just think of it as “inner harmony” (as we have discussed). Do you truly feel an inner harmony between your spirit and soul and this course of action? Do you feel good and stable inside yourself? As one man said, do you just feel a velvety feeling on the inside? Or do you feel like you are going to throw up a little? Do you feel somewhat uncomfortable? Is there something that is not quite right? Maybe you can’t pinpoint it, but you don’t have that velvety warm feeling inside of you, even though your mind might be saying to move forward. Many people describe this feeling as having a “check in their spirit.” There is something about a potential course of action that isn’t feeling right. You aren’t feeling an “all systems go” type feeling in your heart.
I sat down with my pastor some months back to catch up. He told me about an opportunity the church had and how, in the natural, everything had lined up perfectly. But something wasn’t right in his spirit. He felt the “check” even though the church was about to take this opportunity. So he stopped it. Maybe people would think he was crazy or get annoyed. But that doesn’t matter. As the pastor he is primarily responsible for hearing from God for the church’s future. Sure enough, not long after that they realized it was the wrong move, or at least the wrong timing. Pastor heard from God and avoided a potentially huge problem for the church. Praise God!
So that is an example where everything seems right to your mind, but you don’t have the peace. On the other hand, sometimes you do feel the peace, even when nothing seems right to your mind.
Before I give you another example let’s just talk briefly about ideas and decisions. As we go through life we encounter all kinds of things. We see food menus with lots of choices. We go to churches with different classes. We can pick different careers. Sometimes choices and options simply arise in our minds. My point is that there are numerous sources of ideas and choices that come to us in life. Let’s just recognize that. It doesn’t really matter how a decision making opportunity arises, we can discern God’s peace for all of them.
Several years back, I got the idea to put on a class to help people find God’s plan for their lives. This idea sort of just came to me, and I realize now it was a God idea. I wasn’t actively in any ministry. I wasn’t doing much of anything for God. But I really felt like God was telling me to do this. It’s not so much that my mind disagreed, but when was the last time you heard of someone not in the ministry doing that? I’m sure it happens, but it’s not common. I really just felt like I was supposed to do it. So I rented a room and maybe 20 people showed up. I’m sure it went fine, but that’s not the end of the story.
It turned out that one of the people who came was (at that time) the men’s pastor from my church. I don’t know why he came, but it was very nice that he did. From that class he asked me to teach the “Foundations” class for our church's men's ministry. That was also, I believe, and important step for me being invited to teach the Wednesday Night Bible Study at my church, which I did alongside other teachers for around two years. These were extremely important events in my life, ministry opportunities that I am very thankful for. And they all started with the Holy Spirit putting a somewhat crazy idea inside of me, and then me feeling the peace of God to move forward regardless of what my mind said.
If you are a born again Christian, then the Holy Spirit dwells inside of your physical body. As I have stated numerous times, He is there, at least in part, to reveal God’s will to you. He is also the presence of God within you to help you discern God’s peace, or the absence of God’s peace, in a particular situation.
And now we come to the part of this discussion that I consider the most difficult. How can I describe to you the mechanics of this so that you can begin operating it? I previously mentioned to you about feeling the velvety sensation, or sensation of inner harmony where it just feels perfect in your heart, as you consider a decision. This isn’t in your heard, it’s in your heart. In short, you must begin thinking about the separation between your spirit and your mind.
You have probably heard the verse where it says the Word of God divides soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). That is a great point, and as you are looking to discern the presence of God’s peace about something, reading the Word is a great thing to do. Even if the verses you are reading aren’t directly on point, God’s Word helps you tune into God’s Spirit, and after you read for a bit come back to the decision and see how you feel. The Word will help you divide what your mind thinks from what God’s Spirit is saying to your spirit.
You need to begin attempting to perceive God’s will apart from what your mind says. I pray words like this sometimes, “God, I acknowledge you are within me. I acknowledge we are one in spirit. I acknowledge that you know everything. I present this situation before you, knowing that you know every aspect of it. Father, thank you for guiding me with your peace. Thank you for the Holy Spirit within me. Even as I pray to you now, I am feeling (good or bad, as examples) about this matter. I am going to pray in the spirit and worship for a little bit. I ask you to make the presence or absence of your peace in this situation so clear to my heart that my mind can understand it. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.”
Your prayer doesn’t have to sound like that, I just think it’s a good start. We are spirits, but we are bound up with our souls and we are bound to our flesh. However, we must begin working to elevate our spiritual reality over our natural reality. How does your heart feel about a situation, regardless of the external factors and mental judgments?
I had an investment opportunity arise the other day. In the short term, the investment amount is not huge, but it’s always a decision when parting with a few bucks you have saved or are expecting to receive. However, when I put the decision before the Holy Spirit, I only felt peace moving forward with the investment. When I even considered not going forward, it wasn’t that peace left me, it’s that I couldn’t even feel my way to putting that option to the Holy Spirit. He was not having it. It’s like I felt spiritually blocked from even discussing that option. For one reason or another, God wanted me to make that investment and that was all there is to it. I pray it works out big time, obviously. But in the integrity of my heart I know that I felt God’s peace and moved in that direction, even when my mind told me there are better potential uses of the cash right now.
Sometimes when you face a particular decision, you just won’t feel harmony or peace inside yourself. That is often the Holy Spirit telling you to wait or stay away. Sometimes, on the other hand, you will feel so pure and positive about it that you know it’s the right thing to do. As you spiritually mature, these feelings of God’s peace will become more discernable and reliable. This is a great way to quickly and clearly know God’s will.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” I have always loved that passage and looked for how to acknowledge God in all my ways. Short prayers, quick acknowledgements of the Holy Spirit, a request to God for guidance by His peace, we can quickly and easily do this for most, if not all, decisions that we make in life. A quick check for God’s spiritual peace is a great way to both acknowledge Him and receive His directions. Remember, God wants you to know His will more than you do. God will help you. God will guide you.
I would suggest that you make acknowledging the Holy Spirit a part of your decision making process for every decision. As you go through life, check with the Holy Spirit for His peace about everything. It only takes a second. Most of the time you will feel good and just move forward. But sometimes you will feel the check, the hesitation, the internal discord where God is telling you something’s not right. Learn to obey this. Learn to trust this. This will exponentially increase your knowledge of God’s will on a constant basis, and you will see more and more of God’s manifested will in your life.