Finding Peace – some practical pastoral advice

Here are some further practical thoughts and applications following on from the article /talk about What is Peace?

1.       If peace starts with our relationship with God, then take time to cultivate that relationship. This is a two-way relationship and must start with hearing God speak.  We hear God speak through Scripture as we read it, hear it read, take part in bible studies and listen to sermons. If God is speaking, be ready to hear Him disagree with you. This may even be an uncomfortable, even painful experience sometimes.  Do you need help getting into the rhythm of hearing God through Scripture?  The best place to start is with others. Make attending a church service and a small group Bible study your top priorities for the week. There are also individual reading plans and Bible notes to help you read the Bible daily throughout the year.

2.       The other side of the conversation is prayer. Are you talking to God regularly? Again, the best place to start is with others as this encourages us to pray.  Being part of a small group where you pray for each other and encourage each other is a great starting place. Some people also find it helpful to use things like Prayer-App or to be part of What’s App groups where members encourage each other with Bible texts and share prayer requests.

3.       One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever heard was to keep short accounts with God. In other words, be quick to confess sin to Him.  Acknowledge your failings. Share your fears with Him too.  Now, if you are part of a liturgical church then often the Communion Liturgy provides a confession prayer. The Minister will then read words of absolution. You don’t need a priest to absolve you of sin but those words when drawn from Scripture can be a helpful reminder of the forgiveness we have because of Christ’s death on the Cross. Why not try using Psalm 51 as a prayer of confession each day and then take time to be specific about your own sin.  Then read 1 John 1:9 to remind you of the forgiveness and cleansing you have.

4.       Keep short accounts with each other too. The Bible says that we should not let the sun go down on our anger. This means that we should not hold onto resentment and bitterness. That will only eat you up inside.  Jesus also said that if we have done something to hurt or offend someone else then we should make getting right with them our priority. He said, “Leave your sacrifice at the altar.” This means that you may need to put going and seeking forgiveness ahead of pursuing another priority or dream -even a ministry goal. Go, say sorry.  Get things put right. 

5.       Keep reminding yourself and each other of the Gospel and the hope you have.  Seek to encourage others and you’ll find that you get encouraged too.  How do we find peace in a present storm?  Well, just as the disciples should have found peace in the storm by knowing that Jesus was with them, by looking back and remembering the things he’d already done and looking forward knowing he was on a mission, well we will find that knowing past, present and future grace will help in our storms. Look back to the Cross, Christ died and rose for you. Your life is safely hid in him. Remember that God is with you, you have the Holy Spirit.  Look forward, you have the promise that Christ is coming back.  By the way, I think this is one reason why we have books like Daniel and Revelation with their amazing, overwhelming visions. We can be overwhelmed by our circumstances but these books encourage us instead to be overwhelmed by God. They paint the Big Picture. God is sovereign over history and over your life.

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