Peace, Week 1
Abraham Makes Peace
Prove you care more about others by letting go of "what's fair."
When God called Abram to leave his home and family in Haran, Abram took his nephew Lot along. Over time, God blessed them both with large numbers of sheep and cattle and donkeys. Abram and Lot and their households moved often in search of grass and water for their animals. But it didn’t stop their herdsmen from clashing.
“Hey! Git off the grass,” grumbled one of Abram’s shepherds. I’m usin’ it fer Abram’s sheep tomorrow.”
Lot’s herdsman stood his ground and looked down his very long nose. “Ah, but I have already conveyed Lot’s sheep to these premises—and possession is nine point seven tenths of the law,” he claimed.
“Oh, shut yer trap,” growled Abram’s shepherd.
“Speak with a civil tongue, old man!” ordered Lot’s herdsman. “You gonna make me?”
Abram may have spent sleepless nights wondering what to do about the rising conflict. “Lot is family!” he exclaimed. “We can’t keep arguing like this.”
Abram’s wife, Sarai, sighed and gave up on sleep, too, for the moment. She glanced out the door of the tent at the blaze of stars across the night sky.
“God gave the land of Canaan to you and your descendants,” she pointed out. “Not to Lot.”
“Exactly,” Abram agreed. “God did it. So He’ll give us a way out of this.”
Sarai raised her eyebrows. “Lot is your nephew. Surely he’ll listen to you.”
“This isn’t just about us, you know,” said Abram. “The Canaanites and Perizzites who live around here, they watch us. What will they think of our God if I can’t even get along with my own family?”
“What about we stay on one side of the Jordan River and Lot takes the other?” Sarai offered.
“I don’t know…”
Sighing, Sarai slid back under the quilt and pulled the pillow over her head.
Abram continued to stare up at the endless night sky. “‘Go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation,’” he quoted. “Land . . . a great nation . . . Isn’t that what You said, God?”
The next morning, Abram called for Lot. Together they hiked to the top of a high hill. “I don’t want to argue any more,” he told Lot.
“Agreed!” Lot exclaimed.
“And I don’t want our herdsman arguing either,” added Abram. “Here’s the whole land in front of us. Just look at it. Let’s part ways. If you go one way, I’ll go to the other.”
Lot turned to take in the view. To the right, the Jordan River valley spread out beneath them, green and grassy, dotted with towns and cities. To the left, the land was, well, not as nice.
“Oh no. No no no!” protested Lot. “I see where you’re going with this. Just because this whole Canaan thing is like between you and God or something, you’re gonna stick me with those empty hills, while you take all the good grass down in the valley!”
“Wait!” Abram held up his hand. “I said ‘if.’ If you choose to go right instead, down into the valley, I’ll go to the left. I’ll take my herds and flocks out of the river valley.”
Lot stared at his uncle in surprise. “What’s the catch?”
“There isn’t one,” said Abram. “Just pick where you want to go.”
Lot glanced back down at the lush green river valley and smiled. He didn’t see how there was any question. “I’ll go right,” he decided. “Down to the Jordan River.”
“Well, then,” Abram said, “I’ll go to the west.”
The two men separated. Lot took his family and herds and headed east, descending into the valley. Abram moved his tents and flocks west out of the river valley and made camp.
Sarai sighed as her sandals scuffed along the dusty trail. “What would have been so terrible about fifty-fifty? At least one side of the river?”
“God will take care of us,” Abram asserted. “Somehow.”
That evening, as he sat alone by the fire, watching the dying embers, God spoke. “Look north and south, east and west. I will give you all the land you see. I will give it forever to you and your family who comes after you. I will make them like the dust of the earth. Can dust be counted?”
Abram glanced at the bare earth around their campsite and smiled faintly. “No. No it can’t.”
“Go!” God told him. “Walk through the land. See how long and wide it is. I am giving it to you.”
Soon after, Abram traveled to Hebron. There, he set up his tents beneath some trees—and built an altar to honor God.
When something doesn’t go your way, it’s super tempting to complain, “That’s not fair!”
Take a few moments and share with each other something that happened recently that you don’t think was fair.
Here’s the thing—there’s no way to make everything fair. You may have a lot less than some people, but you have a lot more than others. You may have a sibling who always seems to get their way when you never seem to get your way—but they may feel the same way about you! Whatever the case, it’s easy to put being “fair” ahead of your relationship with a friend or family member. And while there are times to stand your ground, in many cases, it’s wisest to let go of what’s fair. In the long run, who got to choose the movie Friday night matters a lot less than getting along with your little brother. And it’s not worth making enemies on your soccer team by griping every time the coach chooses to play one of your teammates for a longer time than you.
Think about the situation you shared: Did you push to get what was “fair”? What did/would happen to your relationships when/if you did? Pray for each other and ask God to give you the grace and wisdom to know when to let go of what’s fair in order to make peace.
Peace, Week 2
Genesis 26:1-6, 12-22, 26-31
Prove you care more about others by walking away from a fight.
Like his father, Abraham, Isaac owned many sheep and cattle. When the crops didn’t grow well, he had to pack up his family and servants and tents and animals and move to a new place. One season, his search for food took Isaac to the land of the Philistines.
There, God spoke to Isaac. “Stay [here] for a while,” God said. “I will be with you and give you my blessing. I will give all these lands to you and your children after you.”
So Isaac and his family set up their new home in the land of Gerar, and God blessed them with an amazing harvest. Soon, Isaac became wealthy as his crops flourished and his flocks and herds grew in size.
But not everyone was happy about Isaac’s success. One day, the Philistine king arrived at his tent.
“King Abimelek!” Isaac exclaimed. “Come sit a spell and have a bite to eat.”
The king stared down from high atop his black horse. “I’m not here to chat,” he snapped. “Move away from us.”
Isaac stared in surprise. “Move?” he asked. “But we’re all settled in!”
“You have become too powerful for us,” warned the king. “Go away!” Then he galloped off as swiftly as he’d arrived.
Though Isaac had enough men to stand his ground and stay, he chose not to pick a fight with the Philistines. He and his entire household packed up and moved to the Valley of Gerar, where they set up camp.
Isaac called for two of his servants. “Need you boys to dig us a first-rate water well,” he requested.
“Yessir, right away,” promised the red-headed servant. “I’m on it like butter on barley bread!”
Isaac’s other servant, a gloomy man with a long face, sighed.
“Well, well . . . well. I suppose so.”
The servants set to work and quickly found fresh water.
“It’s even purtier than a new lamb skippin’ about in the clover!”
exclaimed the red-headed servant. “Speakin’ a which . . . drink up,
Unfortunately, Isaac’s flocks and herds weren’t the only ones in the valley. As Isaac’s servants watered their sheep, area herdsmen taking care of their own animals quickly swooped in.
“Step aside!” they ordered. “That there water is ours!”
“Heyheyhey, not so fast!” warned the red-headed servant, holding up his fists. “You wanna drink this water, you’re gonna have to eat this knuckle sammich first!”
The gloomy servant drooped and stepped back. “Might as well give up now. We’re all gonna die of thirst,” he moaned.
Isaac heard the commotion and stepped in quickly before a fight could break out. “Fellas. Fellas!” he said, and then motioned to the herdsmen. “You gentlemen can water your herds at this well. We’ll just dig another.”
Isaac’s own servants tried to protest, but he just handed them a shovel. “Let it go,” he said. “Plenty of water to go around.”
Isaac’s servants quickly dug another well. “Sweeter’n honeycomb and not as chewy!” enthused the red-headed servant.
But once again, the other herdsmen showed up. “Well lookee here,” they smirked. “You boys just dug us another well! Now git out of our way.”
“Stay back!” shouted the red-headed servant, nearly jumping up and down in rage. “Move another inch and we’ll dunk you right in.”
The gloomy servant tugged on his arm to pull him back. “Careful or they’ll throw us in. This is just great. We’re gonna drown.”
Again, Isaac intervened and prevented his servants from fighting.
“God has promised to bless us,” he explained, “He doesn’t need us mixin’ it up with these men. Let’s move on out.”
Isaac moved camp again, further down the valley, and instructed his servants to dig yet another well. The red-headed servant grinned as they struck water. “Taste that! Colder’n the nose of a three-legged goat.”
The gloomy servant didn’t even bother to try the fresh water. “Won’t get to stay here,” he pointed out. “They’re just gonna take this well, too.”
But despite the man’s dire predictions, no one came to take the well that day. Or the next day. Or the next!
Isaac took a long drink of the cold, clear water. “Now the Lord has given us room,” he said. We will be successful in the land!”
Isaac and his servants returned to their tents to share the good news. Some time later, after a move to Beersheba, the household received unexpected company. King Abimelek galloped into camp once more, followed by his advisor and the commander of the Philistine army.
“Now why have you fellas come to me?” asked Isaac. “You were angry with me and sent me away.”
Abimelek slid down off his horse and took a deep breath. “We [see] clearly that the Lord was with you,” he admitted. “We want to make a peace treaty with you.”
Isaac smiled. “Well . . . well . . . well.”
“Give us your word that you won’t harm us,” the king suggested. “That, I kin do,” Isaac agreed.
That evening, Isaac prepared a feast to celebrate the peace agreement. And the following morning, Isaac and the Philistines confirmed their treaty. Then Abimelek and his men left in peace.
Share with each other the last time you got into a fight or an argument.
What caused the conflict? Now, imagine that instead of fighting, you had said something kind (or nothing at all) and then walked away. How do you think the situation would have ended differently? Truth is, it can take a lot more strength and courage to walk away from a fight than to get into one. When someone tries to pick a fight, it’s like lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite. If nothing changes, it’s going to explode! But when you choose to walk away, it’s like pouring water on the flame. You defuse the fight. This week, encourage each other to defuse potential fights, whether they’re between family members or with others. Pray for each other. Ask God to give you the courage to walk away when it’s the wise way to make peace.
Peace, Week 3
Prove you care more about others by being part of the solution.
Before David became king of Israel, he and his men often lived in the wilderness to hide from King Saul. One season they camped out near the sheep herds of a wealthy man named Nabal.
It was dangerous, lonely country, and Nabal’s shepherds were often attacked by ruffians and thieves. But David and his men stood guard to protect the sheep and shepherds.
“Gettin’ ready to shear these here sheep,” mentioned one of Nabal’s servants. “Nabal’s throwing a big feast afterward.”
David looked out over the camp. He had hundreds of men with him, and food was hard to come by in this desert area. “My men could sure use some good food!” he decided.
So David called ten of his men and sent them to Nabal with careful instructions: “Greet him and say, David says: ‘May things go well with you! We’ve protected your sheep and servants. So please be kind and share your feast with us.’”
David’s men hurried to Nabal’s home and discovered him lounging in a comfy chair, eating grapes as preparations for the feast swirled around him. He studied them with narrowed eyes as they delivered their message.
“David?” he scoffed. “Who is this David? Probably some lazy runaway servant. Why should I give food to him and his scalawags?”
“Um . . . because we’ve helped you?” suggested one of David’s servants.
“Ha! I don’t think so,” laughed Nabal.
David’s men returned to camp and told David exactly what Nabal had said.
“He refused?” gasped David. “Grab your swords, men. We’re going to teach this Nabal a lesson!”
So David and four hundred of his men set off immediately, marching toward Nabal’s estate.
Meanwhile, at Nabal’s home, festive shearing activities were underway. But one of the servants who had been watching the sheep and heard Nabal’s words to David was troubled. He knew better than to try reasoning with Nabal, so he went in search of Nabal’s wife, Abigail.
“What is it?” asked Abigail when she saw the servant’s worried face. “What’s Nabal done now?”
“David sent messengers here to greet Nabal and ask to share in the feast,” explained the servant. “David’s men treated us kindly. They kept us safe. But Nabal just shouted at them and told them to go away. Really bad things are going to happen unless you can do something.”
Abigail pressed her hand to her forehead, trying to think. “We’ll fix this. We have to.” She took a deep breath and instructed the servant, “Bring out all the donkeys and meet me in the storeroom.”
Together with her servants, Abigail chose supplies and loaded up the donkeys with two hundred loaves of bread, a bushel of grain, five sheep, one hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred cakes of pressed figs. Then she saddled up her own donkey and told the servants, “Go ahead with all the food. I’ll follow.”
As Abigail rode her donkey down into the valley, she could hear the tramping footsteps of many men approaching.
David, meanwhile, was becoming more and more angry as they neared Nabal’s home. “All this time we spent keeping Nabal’s property safe, and he refuses to share anything with us?” David exploded. “We’re gonna make him pay!”
Just then, Abigail’s donkeys came into sight.
“What’s all this?” exclaimed David. He had just enough time to see the donkeys were loaded down with good food, when Abigail came around a curve in the road. She scrambled off her donkey and threw herself down at David’s feet. He quickly called his men to halt.
“Please, sir, let me speak!” she begged. “Don’t pay any attention to Nabal. He’s a fool! I’m sorry I didn’t see the messengers you sent, but I’ve brought a gift now. Sir, I think God is keeping you from getting even with Nabal yourself. You fight God’s battles, so He’ll keep you safe and make you ruler over Israel. And when that happens, you won’t have to feel guilty for harming Nabal.”
Abigail finally dared to look up. Before her, David’s men all waited. She could see her own servants and the restless donkeys waiting, too.
“The Lord your God will give you success,” she told David. “When that happens, please remember me.”
At last, David smiled. “Praise God, He sent you to find me. May God bless you for this!”
Abigail released a long breath and finally stood up, dusting off her robe. “Thank you,” she said.
“You’ve shown a lot of good sense and kept me from getting even myself,” David added. “Go home in peace. I’ve heard your words. I’ll do what you have asked.”
Abigail and her servants returned home as David and his men headed back to camp. Because Abigail had acted quickly to make peace, she and the entire household were saved—and David was kept from acting in anger.
Did you know that peace takes imagination?
Yup! The least creative way to deal with a conflict is by fighting. It takes courage and creativity to be part of the solution. Together, think of one conflict that happens often in your family. Maybe it’s between siblings sharing a room, or whose turn it is to pick the movie for movie night, or family members not listening to each other because of overusing screens. Now, list at least three creative ways you might be able to solve this conflict together. Pick one to use next time this conflict comes up. Then pray for each other. Ask God to help you follow through.
Peace, Week 4
God Made Peace with Us
We can make peace with others because God made peace with us.
Corin sat at the kitchen table, fiddling with the large, spiky palm leaves his little sister Lila had dumped on a chair. He could still hear the music from that morning playing in his head.
“Hosanna! Hosanna!” everyone had sung. “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
It felt strange thinking about Easter as more than bunnies and eggs, but he was starting to enjoy church. His small group leader, Jon, always welcomed him by name, and the other kids smiled and waved when he joined the circle.
A sharp voice pulled Corin back to the present. “Jillian!” exclaimed Grandma Pierce to his mother. “The water filter on this pitcher is four months past date.”
Corin could see his mother tense up. “The water is fine, Mom,” she said. “You’re gonna make the kids sick,” Grandma Pierce insisted.
Corin sighed. Since they’d moved back to Jonesville, where his mom grew up, Grandma Pierce had come for Sunday dinner every week. She was great fun with him and Lila, but he wished she’d leave his mom alone about stuff that didn’t matter.
“Hey, Grandma. Did you bring mashed potatoes?” Corin asked, hoping to change the topic.
“Indeed I did!” said Grandma Pierce. “Couldn’t let you eat those boxed potatoes your mother served last week.”
Corin saw his mom wince again as she set the ham casserole on the table. “The boxed ones are okay, too,” he defended.
During lunch, Lila insisted on putting the palm branches in a tall vase in the center of the table.
“Hey, Lila. We can’t see with those in the way,” Corin pointed out, trying to move them to the side.
Lila slid them back. “I like Song Sunday!” she announced.
“Palm Sunday,” Corin corrected. He glanced at his grandmother. They’d invited her to come along to church a few times, but she always said it “wasn’t her cup of tea.”
“I’ve said if you want to go to church, that’s all well and good,” she said, ducking the palm leaves. “But a church that meets in a storefront? Surely you can find better than that.”
“It’s a lot of fun, Grandma,” Corin said.
“Everyone’s friendly,” his mom added. “We just need a place to connect, I guess.”
Grandma lifted her eyebrows and sniffed as she raised the next bite to her mouth. “Are you sure this is non-GMO ham?” she asked.
After lunch, his mom took Lila upstairs for her nap. Corin was torn between finishing his math homework and sneaking in a game of MineBuilder. But Grandma cornered him first. “Help me put these in the dishwasher,” she said, handing him a stack of dirty plates.
Corin sighed. “Sure, Grandma.”
Grandma Pierce ducked the palm leaves again as she cleared off glasses. “You check these palm leaves for bugs before bringing them in the house?” she sniffed. “I don’t think that’s responsible, giving out branches at church.”
“It was fun,” Corin protested. “We had a parade and everything, like when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem and everybody was shouting and happy and thought He was amazing and stuff. So they waved palm branches.”
Grandma Pierce took out a scrub brush to tackle the casserole dish. “Correct me if I’m wrong,” she began, “but didn’t Jesus go and get Himself killed then? Must have done something to make them all mad.”
“Jon says it was the religious leaders who didn’t like Jesus, ’cause He did stuff different,” Corin explained.
“Jon? Who’s Jon?” demanded Grandma Pierce. “My small group leader at church.”
“What’s a . . . oh, never mind,” Grandma Pierce said, brushing details aside. “If Jesus was so good and so powerful, why didn’t He just take over? He could have fixed everything.”
“Well, He could have,” Corin said. “But Jon says Jesus just had a different way. He is God’s Son, and God sent Him to die to pay for all the wrong stuff we’ve done. So we could have peace.”
Grandma Pierce lifted her eyebrows. “Now that’s harsh.”
Corin struggled to find words. “But Jesus chose to do it,” he said. “I mean, Jon says there’s no way that any of us could be right with God except through what Jesus did. Now we can be friends with God.”
“This Jon says a lot of things,” noted Grandma Pierce. “I care more about what you say.”
“About . . . what?”
“All of it. “
Corin turned some forks right side up in the dishwasher to buy time. “Well, I mean, I guess . . . I want peace. I want to be friends with God.”
“Friends with God . . .” echoed Grandma Pierce, frowning. She rinsed the casserole dish and set it on the drainer. Then she picked up a plate of cookies and handed it to Corin. “Here. Have one.”
Together, they sat at the table in silence, munching Grandma’s homemade oatmeal cookies. All at once she snapped, “Crumbs!”
“Oh, sorry,” Corin fumbled, trying to catch the crumbs from his cookie before they hit the freshly wiped tabletop. He grabbed a piece of paper from the end of the table, letting his cookie crumbs fall on it instead.
“What’s that?” asked Grandma Pierce, peering at the page.
Corin glanced down. “Oh. It’s from church.” The page was something Jon had handed out. Printed at the top was the verse from that morning.
“Let’s hear it,” Grandma Pierce instructed crisply.
Corin swallowed a mouthful of cookie and read, “Colossians 3:15, ‘Let the peace that Christ gives rule in your hearts. As parts of one body, you were appointed to live in peace. And be thankful.’”
“Corin, you’re old enough to know peace is not that easy,” Grandma Pierce pointed out. “Click on any news site and you’ll see stories about terror attacks and wars and I don’t know what all.”
“But . . . I think . . . doesn’t peace have to start small?” wondered Corin. “With us? I mean, just how we live every day. The little things we say and do and stuff.”
“Is that something ‘Jon says’?” Grandma Pierce inquired.
Corin stuffed the rest of the cookie in his mouth. “Yeah,” said Corin. “But I think he’s right!”
“Okay, okay. I need some tea.” Grandma Pierce stood and put the teakettle on the stove, just as Corin’s mom returned to the kitchen. “Jillian, where do you keep the tea bags?” she asked.
“Cupboard over the stove,” his mom answered. She grabbed a cookie as Grandma Pierce rifled through the cupboard, searching.
Grandma Pierce wrinkled her brow. “Don’t you have any herbal tea?”
Corin could see his mom tense up once again as his grandmother got going.
“And good gracious!” Grandma Pierce exclaimed. “Just look at all the soda in here, do you actually let the kids—”
But instead of finishing her criticism, Grandma Pierce actually paused, and then said, “I’m sorry, Jillian.”
Corin and his mom both looked up in surprise as Grandma Pierce continued, “This is your home. What you stock in your pantry isn’t my business.”
Mom relaxed, just a little. “Pretty sure there’s some mint tea bags in the back,” she offered.
Corin grabbed one of the palm leaves and waved it at Grandma. “Or you could just, you know, put one of these in your hot water. It’s probably herbal.”
“Watch it, young man!” Grandma warned, but she smiled, and Corin grinned back. Maybe it was just for the moment, but it was awfully nice to have peace in the kitchen.
What do you think it means to have peace with God?
What do you think it means to have peace with God? Take a minute or two and share with each other. It can be hard to wrap our minds around what it looks like to have peace with God. But at the core, it’s simple. God thought us up out of nothing. He loved us so much that He created us with the ability to make our own choices. Any time we do something wrong, we’re breaking our relationship with God and turning away from Him. But instead of leaving us to work it out on our own, God showed just how much He loves us by sending His very own Son, Jesus, to live here with us and to die to pay the price for the wrong things we’ve done so we could be His friends.
Because of Jesus, we can be right with God who made the whole universe; we have peace with Him, which allows us to have peace with others, too. If you believe in Jesus and have made a commitment to follow Him, you already have peace with God. If you haven’t made that choice yet, you can do it any time. Pray together and thank God for the peace He offers. Ask Him to show you what that peace can look like in your everyday lives.