But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  John 14:26

It was time for my annual self-evaluation. The past year was busier than usual, but busyness does not always translate into more successes. First, I identified the achievements that pushed me closer toward my goals. The accomplishments certainly boosted my confidence.

The second phase involved looking at areas I needed to improve, which often included eating better, getting more exercise, and reducing stress. It also meant confronting the areas I’d failed. Sadly, I discovered a few mistakes that set me back.

But God does not want us so obsessed with health goals and crushed by failure that we overlook his grace and mercy. We need to listen more to the Spirit of God, seeking his guidance, strength, and comfort — especially when tempted to shove through life’s trials without the help of the Holy Spirit.

When we first accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit entered our hearts and made himself accessible. But for the Spirit to help us, we must activate him through faith and trust. If we are not alert or discount the Holy Spirit’s value, we quash his effectiveness to assist us.

Tapping into the power of the Spirit will help us cope with the struggles in our lives. Through the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, we experience the power of God’s love. It’s the glue that binds us to his truth, goodness, and righteousness — which are just the qualities we need to achieve a better outcome on our next self-evaluation.

Father, thank you for sending your Spirit, who guides me in all things and reminds me of your boundless love. I still forget to trust your Spirit at times, so please keep me from barging ahead without first seeking your Holy Spirit. Amen.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7

I don’t remember when I first noticed the questions marks in an old hymn. Once I did, I better understood the words of the song, which helped me begin to understand God’s peace. The hymn is Peace, Perfect Peace” written by Edward Henry Bickersteth in 1875, and these are the questions asked:

      • “Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?”
      • “Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?”
      • “Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?”
      • “Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?”
      • “Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?”

How can we have any peace at all when discouraged by the darkness of this world, overwhelmed by our busy lives, crushed by grief and loneliness, and anxious about the future? The answer given in each verse of the song is the same as Philippians 4:7 — in Christ Jesus. Only in him can we find true peace. Additionally, Philippians 4:6 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

It’s not possible for our limited human minds to fully understand God’s gift of peace to our weary souls. Nonetheless, when we give our burdens to God in prayer through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can experience that gift. After all, God wants his children to have peace of mind! And once we have it, that peace shines like a beacon to those trapped in the turmoil of this “dark world of sin.” Not only will we live a better life, we can draw others to Jesus so they can have it, too.

Father, help me to seek your peace through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving and through my relationship with Jesus. Please let me remember it’s not only for my soul’s benefit but for others desperately needing the peace that only you can give. Amen.