"Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." - Psalm 34:14
"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." - Psalm 4:8
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23
Reading thru the passages for today's Advent reading (which you can find here), I found myself thinking a lot, especially as I read Matthew 23 and Haggai 1, about how easy it can be to get wrapped up in our own "stuff" and forget about tending to the things of the Lord.
I don't ever want Jesus to look me in the eye and call me a white-washed tomb - but the truth is, if I'm more concerned about getting all my stuff done and meeting the zillions of (even valid) expectations there are on me than I am about slowing down and spending time with Him, searching my heart and confessing my sin and allowing Him to teach me all that He knows I need to learn, then I'm running the risk of allowing things that don't honor Him to take root and grow: little attitudes, opinions that don't quite mesh with humility. Lackidaisicalness. Maybe not big moral failures, but little ones. And those things matter.
The Bible teaches that God does not dwell in a temple (like the one Haggai called God's people to rebuild). He dwells in the hearts of men. (Acts 17:23-25, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:19-22) We've got to tend to our hearts, daily, if we want to be men and women who dwell in advent peace. God's word talks about peace in 2 ways: as something that grows in you, as a result of the Spirit of God living in you and producing that fruit in your life - and as something you pursue. And you pursue it by cultivating an environment in your heart that allows it room.
If there's unconfessed sin in your life, or sin you've confessed but aren't doing anything to get out of, you're not likely to experience peace. If you're walking the line somewhere, peace isn't going to follow you across it. But if you're being honest before the Lord about the true state of your heart, confessing sin as He reveals it to you, doing the things He asks you to do, trusting in who He is and what He's done for you in Christ, believing that His grace is sufficient for you - peace will take root and flourish - even when everything around you is anything but peaceful.
Take some time today and really ask the Lord to tell you about the state of your heart. And be at peace, for "once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation - if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel..." - Colossians 1:21-23a