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Week Three: Peace

Introduction to Week Three: Centuries ago the prophet Isaiah looked ahead to the birth of the Messiah and called the One to come, "the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Immediately after Jesus arrived in Bethlehem, an old man named Simeon took the infant in his arms and proclaimed, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace" (Luke 2:29). And the Master Himself told us, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you" (John 14:27). But if that's all true, then why does it so often seem as though peace escapes us . . . especially as Christmas draws near? This week, we turn our attention to the divine peace that Jesus came to give us. Although He reigned as the Prince of Peace, He faced a great deal of conflict in the time He spent among usjust as we do today. So how can we experience His peace, even when circumstances war against it? Whatever the challenges or unexpected events that seem to interrupt our holiday celebrations this holy season, let us focus on Jesus, the Prince of Peace who offers us His peace. And so let us bring peace to others.

Day Fifteen: The Lord of Peace Read Isaiah 9:6; see also 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Ephesians 6:15; Romans 8:31.

Prayer: As I sit in Your presence right now, Jesus, I desire the peace that surpasses all understanding, but I dont know how to get to that level from hereespecially remembering some of the past decisions Ive made. They absolutely haunt me, even though Ive confessed my sins and experienced Your complete forgiveness. Your Spirit lives within meof that Im sure. And Your Word clearly proclaims that peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Why, then, do I feel so unsettled in so many areas of my life? Can You help me with this? Were You always at peace when You were in the world? Were You truly never worried or afraid? If the gift of peace is a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit, can I ever achieve peace as a mere mortal? The consequences of my sins rob me of peace. Since I know this condemnation does not come from You, I need You to heal me of these feelings. Take away the lies, the accusationsanything that hinders Your truth in my heart. I pray for a deep and abiding peace, God, a confident assurance that You are in control of all thingspast, present, and future. Thank You for Your faithfulness to me. Samantha

Devotion: I am the Lord of Peace, the only source of genuine Peace. I give you this gift, not as something separate from Myself, but as part of My core essence. As you open your

heart and mind to Me, My Peace is presentreadily available to you. However, this glorious gift is not something you can grab on the run. You need to take time to focus on Me and enjoy My Presence, putting everything else aside for a while. You live in the midst of intense spiritual battles, and My Peace is an essential part of the armor I provide for you. To stay on your feet during combat, you need to wear sturdy warfare bootsthe Gospel of Peace. This good news assures you that I love you and I am for you: I am on your side. Many of My followers forfeit Peace because they view Me as someone who is constantly scrutinizing their livespeering at them through critical eyes. On the contrary, I gaze at you through eyes of perfect Love. When you feel like a failure, talk to yourself and tell yourself the truth: My death on the cross covers all your sins. I love you regardless of how well or poorly you performsimply because you are Mine. Rejoice in this Gospel-Peace; it is yours to enjoy at all times and in every way.
(From Jesus Lives by Sarah Young)

Contemplate: When the angels appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem to announce the Savior's birth, they said in a loud voice, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!" (Luke 2:14). How are you bringing peace to your Christmas celebrations this year? What are you doing to be an ambassador of Christ's peace?

Day Sixteen: Peace in the Garden of Your Heart Read Micah 5:4-5; See also Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am exhausted. For such a long time, circumstances have blasted me until I can barely remember what its like to be carefree or pain-free. No matter where I go, I cannot find rest. Relaxation eludes me at every turn. I need peace the kind of peace that You promisedbut it keeps getting crowded out by heartache. Im scared that my problems will overwhelm me. My friends and family have offered to help as they can, but something tells me that they cant solve these issues for me; that if I do not work them out myself, they will not be solved correctly. Havent You promised not to test us beyond what we can bear? Why, then, have You allowed such hardship to envelop me at this time? I am suffocating beneath it. What is it You would have me do? How can I find peace in the midst of these overpowering circumstances? Owen

Devotion: I have promised to meet all your needs according to My glorious riches. Your deepest, most constant need is for My Peace. I have planted Peace in the garden of your heart, where I live; but there are weeds growing there too: pride, worry, selfishness, unbelief. I am the Gardener, and I am working to rid your heart of those weeds. I do My work in various ways. When you sit quietly with Me, I shine the Light of My Presence

directly into your heart. In this heavenly Light, Peace grows abundantly and weeds shrivel up. I also send trials into your life. When you trust Me in the midst of trouble, Peace flourishes and weeds die away. Thank Me for troublesome situations; the Peace they can produce far outweighs the trials you endure.
(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Contemplate: Take a few moments to find and gaze upon a small garden. Very likely, unless it's in a greenhouse, at this time of year that garden looks a lot like a barren patch of dirt. But in a few months, the life that now seems so absent will break through to the surface and reveal that God has been at work in it, despite any appearances to the contrary. Now take a look at your own life. How may God be tending to the garden of your soul, even if things look bleak and lifeless?

Day Seventeen: Your Sunrise from On High Read Luke 1:67-79; see also Psalm 90:14; Hebrews 4:16; Philippians 4:19.

Prayer: Hard situations have been piling up in my life like snowdrifts. Seriously, I could make a list of whats broken about my life, including the dreams that have been buried. I feel just that overwhelmed today. Im crying out to You in the midst of the blizzard, God, even as Im being pelted by fear and deluged by doubt. I wake up in the middle of many a night wondering how to handle the day ahead. My crumbling marriage, my mothers failing healthso many frustrations and disappointments. The biggest frustration is that Ive really tried in my marriage. Now we seem further apart. And Mothers health issues require so much of my time. Many people offer helpful advice. After trying everything theyve suggested, I have nowhere else to go except to You. Once again. Dearest Father, Im not even sure what to ask You to do. Save my marriage? Restore my mothers health? Grant me strength? Take Your pick. Im out of suggestions. Is that what You want me to do: stop making suggestions as to how You can answer my prayers? If so, I will wait in silent expectation for Your reply. Addison Devotion: I am your Sunrise from on high! While you were still sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, My Light shone upon yougiving you a reason to live, a reason to hope. Now you are Mine, and you can approach Me confidently because of My tender

mercy. My heart is full of unfailing Love for you; it overflows from My heart into yours. As you receive good things from Me with thanksgiving, you experience rich soulsatisfaction. I want you to sing for Joy and be glad in response to all that I give you. You can relax and enjoy My Presence since you know I am taking care of you. In your time of need, I will provide mercy and grace to help you. I want you to enjoy not only My Presence but also My Peace. I came into your world to guide your feet into the way of Peace. When you are anxious or fearful, it is as if you are doubting My promises to supply all you need. My followers tend to think of worry as natural, even inevitable. At worst, they consider it their personal problem or quirkharming no one but themselves. But the truth is, your tendency to be anxious grieves Me. Awareness of My pain can help motivate you to break free from this hurtful habit. Seek to bring Me Joy by walking trustingly with Me along the path of Peace.
(From Jesus Lives by Sarah Young)

Contemplate: As you read these words, what worries you the most? How can you take that Big Worry and exchange it for God's Peace? What would it take for you to trust God with this thing that's making you feel so anxious? How can you begin to scrub this Christmas of worry?

Day Eighteen: Read Luke 1:46-55; see also 1 Samuel 15:24; 16:7; Psalm 81:10.

Prayer: Lord, depression washes over me in waves, and I dont understand it. Theres really no reason for me to be down when I have You, but I am. Im ashamed of my feelings and hesitant to voice them out loud to You, even though I realize that You know them already. Ive kept them a secret for so long. Oh, I can put on a pretty convincing everything-is-okay smile. People at work, at church, and even my family have no idea about the loneliness I feel. There are probably a few people I could confide in, but Im afraid they wouldnt understand. Im tired of the struggle. Why do I always have to try so hard to be happy? It seems that the harder I try, the emptier I feel. I am weak, Lord. Im depressed. Im sad. Life shouldnt be this difficult, should it? I want to rejoice always, because thats what the Bible says I should do. I long to obey Your Word. Please encourage me today. Tanya

Devotion: Let Me bless you with My grace and Peace. Open your heart and mind to receive all that I have for you. Do not be ashamed of your emptiness. Instead, view it as the optimal condition for being filled with My Peace. It is easy to touch up your outward appearance, to look as if you have it all together. Your attempts to look good can fool

most people. But I see straight through you, into the depths of your being. There is no place for pretense in your relationship with Me. Rejoice in the relief of being fully understood. Talk with Me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy. Little by little, I will transform your weaknesses into strengths. Remember that your relationship with Me is saturated in grace. Therefore, nothing that you do or dont do can separate you from My Presence.
(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Contemplate: Mary had to be one of the most misunderstood individuals in the whole Bible. If her fianc didn't believe her story about her supernatural pregnancy, who else would? We don't know much about Mary, but we do know at least two things: she had a broad knowledge of the Old Testament, and she deeply pondered things that puzzled her (see Luke 2:19, 33, 51). How can Mary's example help you to find a richer experience of peace this Christmas season?

Day Nineteen: Looking for a Place to Land Read Luke 12:22-32; see also 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Psalm 40:12-13; 143:4-8.

Prayer: My thoughts are flitting around like a moth on a light bulb. I just want them to settle in one place so I can sleep! But sleep wont change the facts: so many people depend on me, and I simply cant let them down. The responsibility weighs on me. I cant stop thinking about what I need to do or how I can make things better. If I stop, who will take care of all these things, all these people? The many balls I juggle would fall to the ground. Yet I need to stop thinking so I can rest. I know I should trust You more, Lord. But it is really hard for me to stop worrying. Plus, I feel like a failure when I do less. There are so many dangers in this world and so many expectations. I cant ease up, or I will fail. I cant ease up, or I will disappoint someone. Peace is a luxury I cannot afford. But I long for rest from this craziness. Lord, how do I change these patterns Ive had for so long? What if I let go and my life falls apart? Will You be there to pick up the pieces? Will You take care of the things that I cannot? Robin

Devotion: The Peace that I give you transcends your intellect. When most of your mental energy goes into efforts to figure things out, you are unable to receive this glorious gift. I look into your mind and see thoughts spinning round and round: going nowhere,


accomplishing nothing. All the while, My Peace hovers over you, searching for a place to land. Be still in My Presence, inviting Me to control your thoughts. Let My Light soak into your mind and heart, until you are aglow with My very Being. This is the most effective way to receive My Peace.
(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Contemplate: Make a list of all the things God had to do to bring about the birth of Jesus. Start as far back in history as you need to, and consider every aspect of the nativity: Jesus' lineage, His birthplace, His training, etc. Once you have your list, meditate over it and then pray, asking God to remind you that your troubles cannot compare with the challenges God had to overcome to bring about that first Christmas.


Day Twenty: A Continual Gift Read John 6:49-51; see also Exodus 16:1420; Philippians 4:6, 7, 19; Hebrews 4:16.

Prayer: I feel like I am always in such great need. Im unsettled and anxious, wondering what each today will hold and if my needs will be met. There are so many demands on each day that I dont know how I can take care of them all. When I am in that place of insecurity, I feel like Im holding my breath. I want to know Your peace, Lord, so that I can breathe again. But I have trouble trusting You to give me that peace. I struggle to come to You with my needs and anxieties. I long to take one step at a time, knowing that You already have prepared me for what I will encounter. I long to rest in that promise. I long to find soothing relief in the daily ration of tranquility that You desire to give me. When I begin to make improvements in my life and come to a place where I feel comfortable, I find myself in a state of complacency. I become confident in my own abilities and entirely self-reliant. That is how I find temporary certainty and calmness, but that is not how You want me to obtain Your peace. Amanda

Devotion: Peace is My continual gift to you. It flows abundantly from My throne of grace. Just as the Israelites could not store up manna for the future but had to gather it daily, so it is with My Peace. The day-by-day collecting of manna kept My people aware of their dependence on Me. Similarly, I give you sufficient Peace for the present, when you come


to me by prayer and petition with thanksgiving. If I gave you permanent Peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency. May that never be! I have designed you to need Me moment by moment. As your awareness of your neediness increases, so does your realization of My abundant sufficiency. I can meet every one of your needs without draining My resources at all. Approach My throne of grace with bold confidence, receiving My Peace with a thankful heart.
(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Contemplate: For many of us, Christmas cookies provide a holiday treat that invariably put a smile on our faces. This season, why not bring a little "extra" to your enjoyment of yuletide goodies by letting them remind you of God's bread from heaven, manna, that miraculously fed the ancient Israelites in the wilderness. And then take it one step further: remember that Jesus called Himself the "bread of life" who came down from heaven to give eternal life to all who would freely eat of His gift.


Day Twenty-One: Walking Down Paths of Peace Read Genesis 2:2-3; see also Psalm 23:13; 2 Peter 1:2.

Prayer: Ahhh, rest. I love the sound of that word! And Im so grateful that You not only call us to rest, but that You modeled it for us from the beginning! You are Almighty God, the One who never sleeps or grows weary. Still, You decided to rest from Your work. That says a lot. If You saw fit to stop working to enjoy a time of rest, how much more important is it for me? Yet I have to confess, Im not very quick to respond. Day after day, You invite me to break away and spend time with You. To go on a walk and breathe in the quiet of nature. To turn off the computer and the TV for a while and enjoy my family. Even in Your Word, You continually bid me to be still and recognize whats essential. But other things clamor for my attentionand I struggle to say no. What if my boss doesnt want to wait? What if that new client has e-mailed me back? What will the neighbors think if I dont mow the lawn today? Thankfully, You dont give up on me. Please show me the way to Your peace and rest in the middle of my busy life. Stephen

Devotion: Lie down in green pastures of Peace. Learn to unwind whenever possible, resting in the Presence of your Shepherd. This electronic age keeps My children wired much of the time, too tense to find Me in the midst of their moments. I built into your very


being the need for rest. How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need! How much time and energy they waste by being always on the go, rather than taking time to seek My direction for their lives! I have called you to walk with Me down paths of Peace. I want you to blaze a trail for others who desire to live in My peaceful Presence. I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for Me. Depend on Me more and more, and I will shower Peace on all your paths.
(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Contemplate: Go for a long, quiet walk today. Carve out the time. Find a place. As you walk, ask the Lord to direct your heart into peace. But don't leave it thereask Him also to reveal to you someone in your sphere of influence who desperately needs His peace. And then petition the Lord to make you into someone who could help bring His peace to the restless heart of that person. Finally, give thanks that the God of Peace sent the Prince of Peace to allow peace to reign in your heart . . . even in the midst of the holiday rush.


E j Pa i ny e e o cn

s en P sc Hi re e

s i t T i hs a h C r ms

F u- e k e u C ln Bbe o r e J s s al g il w i C r t sis i de i e oi a hi ma - pr ma d v t n l s n e l o .

T eJ s s ai D v t n l iep t ra esntu hwt h e u C l g e oi a Bb us e d r i o c i l n o l h G da dHs n w r frh il su t n . si ay aa o n ia s es o te i i ai s Mi o r S rh rf t o e sn Y u gh db e j ran h r ry r fr e r w e s eb g n o n a e n o n lg e pa es o y as h n h e a u i " tn g fr h t e u w s a i t h r i i tew rs f l e i "o w a J s s a s y g o e wt n h od o i n s n h S r tr.ntiBb , 6 se ai p s l s u g s ow i ci ue I h ie 2 0 c n r s o e i t g l t h h p s l o f r e e c S rhY u gg e a s es rm h r a i - od ta J s s aa o n i s n w r f v o e S v rw rs h t e u oh so i lldo h r e r- od ta h v c mfr da di a l n ya n e h atw rs h t a e o ot n n vg i e s i dS rha dma y tes ru dtew r . p e aa n r n oh r ao n h ol d

T o s es n ilsc m h ma N l Bbe .o o