Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Matthew 5:9 “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.” (The Message)
The Mark of Peace
When most of us think of peace, one of two types usually comes to mind — the kind that brings personal comfort or the kind that’s joked about on car bumper stickers. The first is highly individualized and often fleeting. The second is so broad and impersonal, it is rarely contemplated outside the confines of Christmas carols and UN conference rooms. While we all long for a sense of peace in our hearts that can soothe our frustrations, calm our frayed nerves, and relieve the tension in our closest relationships, the pursuit of peace the way Jesus described in Matthew 5:9 is uncommon, especially considering its connection to our very identity as sons and daughters of the King. The NIV translation of this verse says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Therefore, if we want to be identified, or marked, as children of God, then the statement Jesus made in His famous sermon on the Mount is very clear — we must go about the work of making peace. It’s not a one-time job. It’s not restricted to dinner tables during the holidays. Most importantly, it’s the right kind of peace… the Bible calls it “shalom.”
Pastor and author Tim Keller defines shalom as, “complete reconciliation, a state of the fullest flourishing in every dimension — physical, emotional, social, and spiritual — because all relationships are right, perfect, and filled with joy.” Most of us can’t even imagine having that kind of peace. It’s a peace that is 100% complete and envelopes us through and through to the point that we are in a state of wholeness, body, mind, heart, and soul. It’s a peace that is so comprehensive and contagious that every relationship we have — with God, family, friends, and even strangers we encounter on the street — is positively impacted and improved by it. That’s a crazy kind of peace, and as followers of Jesus, we are to be so passionate about generating it that we are visibly and audibly marked by it. It’s a tall order indeed, but Jesus wouldn’t ask us to pursue it if it wasn’t possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though we cannot experience shalom in the fullness that God originally intended until we join Him in heaven one day, Matthew 5:9 is our assurance that glimpses of it are possible here on earth.
The divine business of making peace is not a passive endeavor. It’s not about avoiding conflict or helping others to ignore it. It’s not about sweeping the truth under the rug, but rather exposing it to the light of Jesus’ love and helping others to navigate the reality of it with grace, humility, great patience, and understanding. Peacemaking usually isn’t quick, and it certainly isn’t easy. The primary aim of peacemaking is reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20), which is the only way to bring about lasting restoration, cooperation, and understanding in our relationships. As ambassadors for Jesus (Romans 12:18), we have the task of creating peace among everyone we encounter. James 3:17-18 puts it this way: “But the wisdom from above is always pure, filled with peace, considerate and teachable. It is filled with love and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy in any form and it always bears the beautiful harvest of righteousness! Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace.” (TPT) In the coming days, spend time simply listening to what the Holy Spirit has to say to your heart about being a peacemaker. As you let Him move freely through your thoughts, ask Him to make the mark of peace upon you so obvious that others are drawn to you to help them lovingly navigate areas of disagreement and experience a life-changing taste of shalom right here… right now.
Daily Bible Readings
This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask God how He wants you to be a peacemaker in your own heart and in the lives of those around you. As you contemplate these passages and reflect on the questions, make time to pray before and after you read them. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically to you and then write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your heart. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind. God wants to spend time with you.
Monday - Read Proverbs 16:7 and Romans 14:17-19. As you contemplate these verses, ask the Holy Spirit to help you honestly reflect on your own tendencies and preferences. Which role do you naturally prefer or default to in times of stress or fear: peacekeeper (passive conflict-avoider), peace taker (aggressive conflict seeker), or peacemaker (active encourager and loving problem solver)? Does your tendency differ if it’s a family member versus a casual acquaintance? Take some time to jot down any thoughts that come to mind and any actions that you think God is encouraging you to examine.
Tuesday - Read 1 Timothy 2:1-2 and 1 Peter 2:13-17. In light of Election Day and the heightened political rhetoric of this season, it’s a good time to consider how we can fulfill Jesus’ charge to us to be peacemakers in every situation — not just the ones we want to get involved with or the ones with outcomes that we like. How would people say you interact with those on the opposite end of the political spectrum? How do you think Jesus would interact about politics if He were living in your home, going to our church, and walking through your neighborhood? Spend time in prayer today for your role as a peacemaker. Lift up the election results and our governmental leaders to the Father’s care.
Wednesday - Read Colossians 4:6. Unlike any other time in history, we live in a time where every person has a virtual megaphone to the world via social media channels. Like any method of communication, its power and speed of interaction can cause great damage or share goodwill in a manner of seconds. Would people who read your social media posts say you bear the mark of a peacemaker, peace taker, or peacekeeper? As you reflect on this question, ask God to convict your heart of anything that needs to change to be more Christ-like in your approach, activities, or words.
Thursday - Read Ephesians 4:1-3. Life brings some level of conflict every day. From minor differences of opinion with people we barely know to full-blown arguments with a co-worker or spouse, we all have a preferred manner of engaging in conflict and bringing uncomfortable situations to an end. For some of us, our approach is different when it’s a conflict we directly caused versus one that we have the option to merely observe if we choose not to get involved. Take some time to think about how people who know you would say you engage in conflict. What are you known for? Take it all to Jesus in prayer and praise Him that He can use every part of your personality for His glory.
Friday - Read Ephesians 2:14-16, Galatians 3:28 and Revelation 7:9. The peacemaking voices of Jesus-followers are needed more than ever to help bring healing, hope, and love into our conversations and actions surrounding racial, cultural, and socioeconomic divisions in our neighborhoods, churches, schools, communities, and the country at large. The roles that God is calling each of us to play vary widely and a transparent and humble conversation between just you and Him can reveal what He’s specifically asking you to confess, repent, change, or do. As you enter a time of listening prayer, meditate on these verses. Then ask yourself how He wants you to bring a bit of shalom to the world around you.
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