Active Discipleship- Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

COMMENTARY

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee
I spoke yesterday about how we will never be able to live in peace until we live with a clean conscience. And we will never live with a clean conscience so long as we are not actively pursuing a deeper relationship with God.
The fact is that most of us get lost in complacency, when what we really need to find is contentment. Satan is very skilled at using his counterfeits to distract us from what truly matters. He gives us lust when what we’re really looking for love, he gives us idle distractions when what we’re really looking for a Godly calling. Complacency in place of contentment is just another of his deceits.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you
Contentment is the peace that Christ offers to us, which peace cannot be found anywhere in the world. Contentment is what we feel when we genuinely try our best and are proud with the person we are becoming. Contentment is always worthy of pursuit.
Complacency, on the other hand, is the so-called peace that the world offers. It is a cheap knock-off, one that tries to convince us that we are satisfied. Satisfied without self-improvement and satisfied without a connection to God. It appeals to our fleshy desire for idle laziness, and is most pernicious in how subtly it lulls us into inaction.
There is quiet contentment and there is muted complacency. One is the peaceful rest of the soul, the other is the disquieted tossing of a stupor.

Active Discipleship- Romans 2:15, John 8:9, 1 Timothy 4:2

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

COMMENTARY

Their conscience also bearing witness, their thoughts accusing or else excusing one another
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron

Yesterday I mentioned that all of us need to feel a motivation to follow God. We need something to convince us that life is better with Him as our companion than remaining on our own.
Well, it turns out that God has a way to accomplish this, and it is ingenious. He simply puts a little voice in us that urges us to do what is right, and “sears” us when we do wrong. We might try and say “I don’t need God, I can just live how I want.” We might try…but our conscience will not let us rest with that decision for long. We might settle into worldly comfort, but we will feel “convicted” in our soul.
The argument for complacency is that it is peaceful, but there can never be true peace when the conscience is distressed. If there is peace in the heart, though, then all is peace, no matter what tumult rages without. Thus no matter how we try to reason away our complacency, our conscience will always trouble us back to active discipleship.

Peace in the Storm- Summary

I have had my own storms in life, and doing this study helped me process those experiences. It has been about a year since the most intense storm was finally dispelled, and I am grateful to be in the calm now. I will certainly enjoy this reprieve, but I am not so naive as to think that I will never have a trial again.

I do not know which challenges still lay ahead, I only know that they are out there and that they will be truly difficult. In fact I know that they will exceed me, and that the only way through them will be to rely on my Savior.

For me this study was about both looking back towards past storms and forward to next ones, using my bubble of peace to see things clearly while I can. In this study there were three main themes that I hope to remember the next time I’m surrounded by wind and rain.

All are subject to storms

We are not spared the trials of life by being faithful. Nor are we spared the trials of life by giving in to the world. I have heard both of these fictions preached, and each is meant to dissuade one’s faith.
The quietly content saint still has to face the realities of loss and death, and the prospering hedonist still has to face the anguish of a dissatisfied conscience. Everyone loses things, no matter what other comforts they have. Everyone dies, no matter what well-being they have enjoyed. Even the Son of God was not free from suffering.
Some storms can be avoided, and we’re certainly justified in sailing around the ones that we can. But some storms simply have to be gone through, and it doesn’t do one any good to deny it.
Matthew 27:46- And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

God Supports us…and lets us stand alone

Perhaps the most common mistake we make when we ride into a storm is to try and fix it ourselves. We have this stupid pride that makes us feel that this is our problem, so we have to solve it alone. Or perhaps we feel embarrassed because we willfully steered ourselves into this problem, so we don’t feel worthy of receiving aid. Either way, we deny the aid of God, and also of the friends that he sends along our way.
Frankly God doesn’t care about either your pride or your guilt. Those simply do not matter to Him when there is a child that needs saving. So why not ask if this storm can be removed? And if it cannot be removed, why not ask if it can be lightened?
But how should you feel if you do ask for help and it isn’t given? Because sometimes God doesn’t intervene, or at least not in ways that we can recognize. Sometimes He leaves you to stand on our own. In this moment remember that He is leaving you to stand on your own, not to be broken on your own. He only withdraws when He knows you have the strength to ride this one out solo. His absence is His vote of confidence in you.
Matthew 23:37- How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,
2 Corinthians 4:8-9- We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Our goal is to quiet the storm within

We have to make peace with the fact that many things in this world are beyond our control. Bad things will happen to us and those we love, and we will not be able to prevent it. Even with God’s help, some things will remain out of our control.
At least so it is for storms external. For the storms within, though, these can be controlled. We can live in perfect tranquility, never mind the raging all around. How is this possible? Well, by ourselves it isn’t. To achieve this state of peace we have to have help from a being that both has the power of a God, but also the humanity of a man.
For this reason Jesus Christ was sent to endure, and defeat, all worldly pain. His great sacrifice does not take the evil out of the world (not yet, anyway). But what it does do is take the evil out of our hearts. Truly we say that he overcame the world, but we do not see that victory universally. For now the manifestation of it is only localized within individuals.
Alma 7:12- And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
John 16:33- In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Peace in the Storm- Ephesians 4:31-32, Matthew 5:39, 1 Peter 3:9

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

COMMENTARY

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and evil speaking, be put away from you
There are many who criticize and condemn those that are religious. They call us naive and brainwashed. They accuse of us being hypocrites, teeming with repressed sins even as we condemn others. Some even call for violence against us.
This creates a very real storm of prejudice and mockery around us. There is no shame in saying that one feels affected by these attacks. One feels hurt by actions that are hurtful, that is obvious and natural.
Also natural is the desire to respond in kind. Many that are religious therefore rush to bash their attackers right back, to rage a storm of their own that will drown out all the others.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another
Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing

If we respond to the buffeting of the world in kind, what then is different between us and the world? If we become just as impolite and heartless as the faithless, then what good did our faith do us? There is a strong irony if one preaches love, but is quick to hate anyone that calls them a hypocrite.
Religion only has a leg to stand on if it advocates a different way. Christ’s injunction to turn the other cheek is not only nice, it is essential.
Truly we prove the reality of Jesus by allowing the storm to rage outside, but remaining tranquil and loving within.

That They Might Have Joy- Moses 1:39, John 17:3, 2 Nephi 2:25

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

COMMENTARY

This is my glory—to bring to pass the eternal life of man
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God

We understand God to be a being that has no restraints upon Him. He is not held back by a lack of power, or time, or by any external compulsion. He is, therefore, the freest being imaginable, and His pleasure is to perform whatever work He chooses.
And with that total freedom what has He chosen to do? To make us, His children, and raise us to life eternal. That “life eternal” is defined by Jesus as knowing God. This means to learn of God while here on Earth, but also to know Him perfectly when we dwell forever in His presence.
But for what purpose? Why does God consider it a personal glory to have us live in His presence and receive of His kingdom? And why should we want that ourselves?

Men are, that they might have joy
The answers to those questions are obvious. God wants us to dwell with Him because He loves us. And we want to dwell with Him because doing so will make us happy.
Even a small child understands that heaven means happiness, which is quite significant because there really is so very little that we know about heaven. And yet amidst all the many, many things that we do not know of it, we do know that it is a place of peace and joy. We know it fervently, so much so that we often use heaven as a synonym for happiness.
Not only that, but this idea of heaven=happiness holds firm across a plethora of different cultures and beliefs. It seems that if people believe in a creator, of any sort, then they also believe that dwelling with that entity is the most joyful existence possible. A joy that puts all worldly pleasures to shame.
God with all His power and all His freedom wanted to make us, His children. And then He wanted to make His children happy. It is as simple as that.
Joy, therefore, is the very reason for our existence.

The Family of God- Colossians 3:13-15, Ephesians 4:3

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

COMMENTARY

Put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

From these verses we learn that charity is one of the bonds of unity, and twice we are told that the peace of God also calls us to one body. I wondered why, and after reading what others have written about these verses and mulling it over, I think I have at least a partial answer.
Being at peace does not necessarily mean that people are united, but being in conflict does necessarily mean that they are not. Therefore, peace is a prerequisite to unity because it establishes the climate where unity can be cultivated.
All this being said, I do believe that there is such a thing as “friendly disagreement,” and I don’t think we have to surrender our beliefs as a way to avoid contradicting others’ philosophies. But perhaps we can recognize that for all our differences, we still have more things in common. To be able to do that, to focus on the good in others and not the bad, is to have charity. Thus charity is essential for us to have peace, even with our differences.

And be ye thankful
Charity and peace are pleasant things, and we are meant to feel pleasure when we are in their presence. We can be very thankful in the moments that we enjoy them. But also we should remember that these blessings are given to us for for a reason. Yes, they make us feel soft and nice, but they are also tools, meant to be used to make the world a better place.