Monday, December 30, 2013

Finding True Inner Joy & Peace

At the end of a Christmas season where there is a great deal of talk about joy and peace, I can't help but ask the following question:

How can my children find true inner joy and peace in a world saturated with depression and strife?

At times I feel that everywhere I look there are people trapped in a pit of inner despair where their souls have neither peace nor joy.  They are, in a sense, tortured by their inner self.  And nothing the world offers gives them any lasting peace or joy.  They are in a constant state of inner turmoil.  They feel worthless, useless, even hopeless.  Their mind is gripped by fear, tormenting them day and night.  They shutdown and shut others out.  They are lonely, isolated, and hurting.

Over the past year, my heart has broken for the people in my life who the above paragraph decribes.  They are in a dangerous and horrible place.

A place I hope my children never find themselves in.  So, I've sought God's Word and asked Him to show me how to specifically pray that my children find true inner joy and peace so that they never find themselves in this inner pit of depression and strife.

He led me to the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount where he discusses what is famously known as The Beatitudes.  In these first twelve verses of Matthew 5, Jesus teaches the ethical guidelines for life in His kingdom.

Allen Ross a Christian professor said this of these guidelines: 

"The guidelines point to the quality of righteousness that characterizes life in the kingdom, now in part, but fully in the future...

The term, beatitude, is an exclamation of the inner joy and peace that comes with being right with God.  

Happiness may indeed be a part of it; but it is a happiness that transcends what happens in the world around us, a happiness that comes to the soul from being favored by God.  

In some ways the Lord’s declaration of “blessed” is a pledge of divine reward for the inner spiritual character of the righteous; in other ways it is His description of the spiritual attitude and state of people who are right with God." (Allen Ross)

Thus, true inner joy and peace comes when we are right with God.  And a life right with God is one submitted to Jesus and one that follows the guidelines He taught in the Beatitudes.

So let's read those guidelines and let them penetrate our own hearts and direct our prayers for the children in our lives!  I hope you don't mind but I've included The Message version as its contemporary language helps to deepen our understanding, practically speaking.

Matthew 5:1-12

You’re Blessed

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions

This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

I love the use of the phrase climbing companions, giving us a vivid picture of how we must do whatever it takes to get to Jesus so that we can know Him better.  Oh how I long for my children to be Jesus' climbing companions!

Join me and let's pray our children follow the guidelines Jesus taught so they absolutely ensure for themselves true inner joy and peace in a right relationship with Him.


I pray my kids would be Your climbing companions, willing to trudge uphill to sit at Your feet and learn from You.  I pray their lives would be characterized by a spiritual attitude and state of mind that is right with You. May they live a life of righteousness that grants them true inner joy and peace which transcends any trial or tribulation they may face in this world.   Ultimately, may they have a happiness that fills their soul from being favored and blessed by You.

And as Your Beatitudes taught, may they...
  • Be humble and show a great need for You.
  • Lose themsleves and be embraced by You.
  • Mold a tender, contented heart in love with You.
  • Maintain a serious and passionate hunger and thirst for You. 
  • Be a giver of mercy; and then shown mercy.
  • Nurture a pure, unobstructed heart with a 20/20 vison of You.
  • Be Your child of peace.
  • Rejoice as a persecuted citizen of Your kingdom  

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