Episode 43: Peace to Live By, Part 3- Our Peace Taken

Peace to Live By Episode 43: Peace to Live By, Part 3- Our Peace Taken - Daniel Litton
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       We are now in our third week of our study on peace. Last week I discussed seven things that can take away our peace, and I will be continuing this discussion today. I want to consider eight more things that can cause us to lose our peace, as Christians. By identifying these things, we can seek to eliminate them from our minds. One of our goals, as Christians, is to seek to cultivate a peaceful mindset. This is both beneficial to our daily living as well as pleasing to God. Remember, God wants us to live in state of peace in our minds, and not be shifting back to worry and concern based on our external circumstances in our lives. Let us remind ourselves of what Jesus has told us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27, ESV).

       So, today I want to take about these remaining eight things that can take away peace in our minds, in our lives. They are:

8) Thinking negative thoughts in our minds
9) Having negative conversation with ourselves
10) Having a negative self-image
11) Contemplating on daily hypothetical situations
12) Believing bad things will happen in the future
13) Caring too much about what other people think
14) Refusing to be content with what you have
15) Not making up our minds about what we want

So, let us move one-by-one through these final eight things that take away our peace of mind.

Number eight: Thinking negative thoughts in our minds

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13, ESV).

       We all know that when there is a good amount of negativity in our minds, then it becomes more and more difficult to be hopeful. We shouldn’t forget perhaps the most famous verse in the New Testament for the Christian: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV). This verse can fill us with hope, which will in turn give us more peaceful mindsets. And this verse isn’t dependent upon whether we are a generally positive person in our lives, or if we lean more toward being negative most of the time. The promise is that God will work good in our lives in all things. Indeed, this is a tremendous promise for us. I, myself, have struggled with negativism from time to time in my own life, and I can tell you from experience that you can change how you think. You can change from thinking negative thoughts, about whatever situation it is, to thinking positive thoughts. Yeah, you may not always get everything exactly the way you want it, but this does not mean you have to be negative.

       If you are always focusing on the what is wrong instead of what is right, you’re not going to have much fun in life. Don’t look at something good someone shows you, and only point out what is wrong. You can find wrong in anything and everything if you look hard enough. Some of us need to take off the negative eyeglasses and put on the positive glasses, and thereby see what is positive in a situation or in our surroundings. This cultivates more and more peace in our minds. Now, this doesn’t mean we should abandon common sense. We shouldn’t have magical thinking. But in many situations that come in our lives, we can choose to think positively versus thinking negatively.

Number nine: Having negative conversation with ourselves

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ESV).

       All of us are carrying on conversation within ourselves on a daily basis. We are constantly saying things to ourselves. Now, sometimes these things are good, and sometimes bad. For some even, their conversations tend to be more bad than good, and this can cause unnecessary anxiety in people lives. Our self-talk can either motivate us with positive thoughts, or if our self talk is negative, it can cause us to get into a bad mood and not be so motivated to do much of anything. I believe that much of our life experience is based and dependent upon the types of thoughts we are thinking in our minds. So, if we want to have a more peaceful life, we need to eliminate inappropriate negative and unnecessary thoughts from our minds.

       Many of us are too hard on ourselves. We have set standards for ourselves that we usually don’t meet, and then we get upset inside our minds when we feel we have failed. But we should be careful about imposing upon ourselves rules in our minds, which must be carried out in our lives, that God never made rules. If we give ourselves too heavy of a burden to bear, this will cause more and more negativity to develop in our minds. We become frustrated with ourselves because we ‘feel’ we haven’t to been pleasing to God today, but often much of what we have made rules are not things that God said we have to do. So, we create a false standard by which we are thinking that God expects us to live by. And this takes away peace.

Number ten: Having a negative self-image

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7, ESV).

       People who don’t view themselves correctly usually don’t have peace. If we don’t like ourselves, and we are constantly rolling over negative thoughts, how could we have peace inside us? Remember, Jesus taught us, ““You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, ESV). Now, notice how he said we love our neighbors ‘as’ ourselves. That fact is often overlooked. Yes, we are to show love for our neighbors, but we cannot show love for them if we don’t love ourselves first. Yes, it’s true, God does expect us and want us to love ourselves.

       King David said to God in Psalm 139, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (139:14, ESV). It is true that God spent a lot of time intricately making each one of us, designed us as his image-bearer how he wanted us. We were so important to God that he sent his Son to the earth to die in our place, which reconciled us to him. So, we definitely have value, as Jesus said, and God definitely cares for us. While this fact alone will give us peace of mind, we need to love ourselves inwardly since God loves us as much as he does. When we realize we are one-of-a-kind, and are designed with particular interests and abilities, we can learn to love ourselves more. This can make us less critical of ourselves, and we can stop comparing ourselves to others, another thing that will take our peace from us. We are who we are, and that is how God has made us. There is peace in understanding that.

Number eleven: Contemplating on daily hypothetical situations

“But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge” (Psalms 71:14,15, ESV)

       I think all of us, to some degree, have trouble with besetting thoughts that come to mind about possible hypothetical situations that could occur in our lives. Satan will present us with possible outcomes to situations, and these are outcomes which are negative or even worst-case-scenario. When we believe his lies, like I talked about earlier, it can hinder our progress and make us paralyzed with fear of doing anything. And when we think about a situation for too long, and think about it too much, lies are presented to us and we get confused. The truth becomes intermixed with lies, and we often then can’t see the forest for the trees. But we are not to contemplate these lies that Satan sets before us. We are to destroy these thoughts, and embrace faith in our varying situations in life. We make each thought obedient to God’s truth. Sometimes we need to take a break from thinking about a certain situation, and then come back to it later with a rested and fresh mind.

       What are we thinking about throughout the day? Are we consistently cultivating possible worries and fears based on speculation that’s not founded in truth? Remember, Jesus has told us, ““Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, ESV). This advice can save us a lot of mental headaches and heartaches. Like I stated beforehand, if we are thinking about ‘now’ and not thinking about tomorrow, this gives us peace in our minds. God generally isn’t wanting us to be concerned about tomorrow. That doesn’t mean we don’t make plans, but we shouldn’t be thinking too much about what we are going to be doing tomorrow. We should be thinking about today, enjoying today, getting the most out of today, and that will give us more peace in our minds.

Number twelve: Believing bad things will happen in the future

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV).

       Another thing that can rob us of our peace of mind is by believing that bad things will happen in the future for us. Again, this negative form of thinking will breed discord in our minds. It is the opposite of hope. God wants us to be hopeful. If you’ve had a lot of bad things happen to you in the past, you may have cultivated the mindset that your future must assuredly hold bad things as well. But remember, just because you may have experienced some bad things in your past doesn’t mean you will or that you have to experience bad things in the future. The past doesn’t always have to dictate the future.

       Satan may remind you a lot about bad things from your past, but remember you don’t have to think about them. Again, I touched on this a bit last week. The Apostle Paul taught us that we are to forget bad things that have happened in our past and move forward into the future (see Philippians 3:13). Forgetting these bad things gives us peace in our minds. If our minds are filled to the top with reminiscing over bad events from our past, we aren’t thinking about the right things. It is amazing how much peace will come to our minds when we eliminate negative past events. The writer of Hebrews has told us, “Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, TLB).

       King Solomon has told us, “Enjoy prosperity whenever you can, and when hard times strike, realize that God gives one as well as the other—so that everyone will realize that nothing is certain in this life” (Ecclesiastes 7:14, TLB). Now, this verse makes it clear to us that God gives us both bad times and good times in our lives. Sometimes he gives us harder times to make us grow, and then at times he makes things so that they are exactly the way we want them. We should approach all seasons of life with joy, trust, and peace in God. There is a time and a place for everything (see Ecclesiastes 3). Not every moment of our life can be exactly what we want, but we can keep our peace in our minds regardless of our outward circumstances or how bleak the future may look.

Number thirteen: Caring too much about what other people think

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10, ESV).

       Perhaps one of the greatest stumbling blocks in many people’s lives is that they care too much about what other people think. This is particularly true nowadays and in our setting here in America. Many are just too obsessed with how they are perceived by others, and this tends to even more the case with the younger people are. Being too concerned about what other people are thinking is a great trap. In reality, it really only matters what God’s opinion is of you. Are you seeking to please him the best you can? Or are you making God number two or number three in your life so that you can please others, like your friends of your coworkers? As Paul made the distinction in the verse I just read, really one cannot be a people-pleasure and a God-pleaser at the same time. One master will win out over the other.

       We should be much more focused and concerned on what God thinks of us versus what others think. Indeed, people will think what they are going to think. If we are following God and doing what is pleasing in his sight, then many will see our good behaviors in our daily lives. Sure, some won’t like what they see and will seek to make life more difficult for us, but really that’s not for us to worry about. An attempt to control—especially for you ladies—what others think of you can actually work to harm you. It is often easy to detect when someone is being fakey or putting on a false impression for others to see. Just be yourself, and who cares what others think. This form or area of worry is not what God wants for us. It’s not wrong to want to have a good reputation, but don’t let that pursuit overtake every action and decision in your life. Often times you really don’t even know what other people are thinking about you, if they are thinking at all about you. Others have multi-faceted lives just like us, and things going on just like us. A lot of time people aren’t even thinking about us. So, it doesn’t do any good to worry about these things. It only takes away peace.

Number fourteen: Refusing to be content with what you have

“And he [Jesus] said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15, ESV).

       The promise that getting the next thing in our lives will fulfill us and finally make us happy is a lie. Don’t get me wrong—a lot of things we obtain give us the feeling of happiness—it’s just that we all know that the newness of things wears off. The thing that we so longed for and finally got, that thing that we thought we had to have, a month later is old and isn’t that important to our daily life usually. First, we need to realize that everything we have in a gift from God. When we realize that truth, we can appreciate the things that we have more. And this gives us peace. It isn’t wrong to want to obtain more, but just remember that obtaining more will not give you more peace. If anything, it will take away peace because the more we have, the more we have to be concerned about. There is great peace in simplicity, in having less.

       King Solomon has taught us, “Though a man lives a thousand years twice over but doesn’t find contentment—well, what’s the use?” (Ecclesiastes 6:6, TLB). Being content with what we have—taking a look at it and appreciating it more—will give us more peace. Advice I have for you is when you are about to buy something new, consider how you will use it and whether, in reality, you really believe that you need it. Think about where the item will be a couple weeks after you buy it, and what that will be like. When I do this, I find that at least half of what I was about to buy, what I thought I needed, I really didn’t need. And this saves me money, and gives me more peace because I am spending less of what I make.

Number fifteen: Not making up our minds about what we want

“For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8, ESV).

       Double-mindedness is probably one of the greatest peace thieves that exist. All of us have been double-minded about one thing or another in our lives. A great danger for us, though, is when we cultivate a double-minded attitude in minds, becoming indecisive about most things. It’s so easy to go from thinking one way about something, and then later in the day to thinking another way about the same matter. The way we overcome this type of thinking is by making decisions in our minds, and not shifting from that decision once we’ve made it based on our emotions. Unless we later find out externally we are wrong in our thinking, we have to continue to believe in our decision. This produces peaceful minds.

       God doesn’t like it when we move back and forth on a matter. Especially when he has given us insight into something, he wants us to believe him and not shift back and forth, thinking this way and then thinking that way. This can definitely make God angry over time. He wants us to have faith and believe him in the truth that he has revealed to us. And, like James has told us, if we shift back and forth and doubt, we cannot expect to receive what we need or want from God. This is because we wont stay consist in believing him, and he becomes unable to fulfill our request, or becomes delayed in doing so. God wants to give us things, and we need to trust him and get out of his way so that he can.


       So, in conclusion today, I’ve finished our discussion on thirteen things that can and does rob of us of peace in our minds, in our lives. We discussed today the problems of negative thoughts in our minds, negative conversation with ourselves, a negative self-image, contemplating on daily hypothetical situations, believing bad things will happen, caring too much about what other people think, refusing to be content with what you have, and not making up our minds about what we want. Hopefully, both you and I have identified areas that we can make improvement, and as we go to prayer in God about these things, we will seek to make those improvements. We have to start somewhere. We just need to take our first baby steps of faith and trust in God, and God will help us to become better, to improve. God loves us, he is on our sides, and he wants us gain greater peace in our lives.

       In fact, today, maybe you’ve been listening to what I have been talking about. Maybe you’ve identified some of these problems in your own life, areas where you lack peace, but you don’t know God, you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, and you don’t know where to go from here. Well, right now, I’m going to tell you how you can come into a personal relationship with God, how you can be set free from your sins, the things you’ve done in your life against God and others, and how you can gain eternal life today. It is true that God sent his Son to the earth, 2,000 years ago, and he died on a cross in our place, so all humans could come to know God and be at peace with him. God does indeed want everyone to be in a personal relationship with him. He doesn’t want to be separated from anyone, and he doesn’t want to have to judge anyone for their sins. He takes no pleasure in sending people to Hell, but he must do so for those who refuse to accept his free gift. God is holy and righteous and cannot let sin go unpunished. But anyone can accept Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on the cross for payment for sins, any and all sins done in this life, and gain eternal life and peace with God. That’s the good news today.

       If you would like to receive Jesus today as your personal Lord and Savior, then please follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I have sinned greatly in my life, doing many things against you and against others. I have not followed good ways, but I have have followed the ways of this world, the ways of your enemy. But today, I turn from my sin and want to accept Jesus’ way of doing things. I want him to be my Head, my guide from now on. I believe Jesus did die for me and rose from the dead, and is alive with you today. Father, please change me, and make me become more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton


Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (TLB) are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.