Sermon Text: Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11:2-11
A Contemplative Pathway to Greater Peace
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. --Romans 14:19
For each session, set aside at least 30 minutes to read and contemplate the scripture, then respond to the prompts. Some sessions will take longer to process than others, but do not rush. Give yourself time to hear what the Spirit is saying.
Session 1: Read Luke 2:13, 14
Consider the fact that the message of the angels indicates that God desires to grant peace to His people. Are you able to identify the areas of your life that are out of joint, where there is no peace? List them below:
Session 2: Read Colossians 3:12-17
A lack of peace often comes from friction in relationships. Can you identify which relationships rob you of peace? Are you able to figure out, with the Spirit's help, what it is about each relationship that troubles you? List them and identify them, as you are able.
Session 3: Read 2 Corinthians 13:11
The promise of peace is for those who seek restoration, encourage others, and pursue a life of rejoicing (that means, in part, gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings received). Are there things you can do to bring healing to the relationships in your life? What are they?
Session 4: Read Isaiah 53:4-6
Peace with others is only possible if we are at peace with God ourselves. Christ sacrificed so that we would know peace. The only way this is possible is if we are willing to walk the pathway to peace with him. It is useless to understand our brokenness and our divisions and our feelings of insecurity and our bitterness, if we will not take any steps to leave them behind. The first step to peace is to accept that Jesus provides it by calling us to be his disciples and to live as He did. Without this basic commitment, there is no lasting peace possible for us. Have you made the commitment to live the way Jesus did? Does the way you live with others demonstrate your desire to live in harmony and peace? Look at your actions from the past week. Ask the Spirit if there were times when you deliberately were argumentative, abrasive, less than honest, unloving, self-absorbed, demanding, unappreciative. List some of them below:
Reconsider the invitation of God to embrace peace.
Session 5: Read Philippians 4:4-7
Gentleness, the expression of gratitude, and confidence are basic to the enjoyment of peace. Paul urges Christians to pray for peace, and to present their requests to God. Have you prayed for peace - for peaceful relationships, for peaceful situations, for peaceful like patterns, for peaceful resolutions to problems? If not, develop a prayer list for peace, and begin praying for peace immediately.
Session 6: Read Ephesians 4:1-6
Peace in life requires "bearing with one another." It requires a willingness to forgive others. If we hold grudges, we will never experience peace. You may have to draw some boundaries for certain people who do not know how to live in peace, and whose actions tend to destroy your peace. Still you must find a way by God's grace to exercise compassion and forgiveness in those very relationships. Forgiveness of others is one of the foundational prices we must pay for peace. Who needs your forgiveness? From whom do you need to seek forgiveness? Make a list and make plans. Add these to your prayer list.
Session 7: Read Proverbs 3:1-6; Psalm 85:4-13
Build a foundation of trust. Begin to ask God to restore your confidence in Him and in His Word. Read the promises of God and begin to claim them as He inspires them. Allow Him to apply His promises to your life. Record the promises He gives to you.
Psalm 37:10-11, 37, 38
Isaiah 9:6, 7
Add your own:
Session 8: Read John 14:26-27
Consider the fact that God really has promised peace to you. Peace is the direct and distinct promise of God for all of His disciples, you included. While it is true that there is a pathway that must be walked in order to protect the peace that God provides, never doubt that it is his desire to see you live in peace and in confidence. Having said that, don't beat yourself up on days when your peace disappears or is threatened. On those days, call on your Advocate, your teacher. Invite him to restore your peace. Are you able to create a prayer that you can repeat when you feel your peace threatened? Take time to compose one:
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you. -- 2 Thessalonians 3:16