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Peace Like A River

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PEACE LIKE A RIVER

Isaiah 26

 

            In Isaiah, we have precious promises about what we receive through Jesus Christ.  In Isaiah 26, we learn how to experience peace like a river.

            There was a pastor who preached and a young man said, “Pastor, your sermon was like the peace of God and the love of God.”  He was really encouraged by the words of this young man so he asked him to tell him more.  “He said, “It was like the peace of God which passes all understanding, and the love of God which goes on forever.”

            We have many spiritual blessings in Christ: salvation, heaven, forgiveness of sins, guidance, strength, - we have peace like a river.

Isaiah 26:3-4
3 - You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
4 - Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.
NIV

 

Isaiah 66:12
12 - For this is what the Lord says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.
NIV

Complete this sentence for me.  “I just want some peace and _______.  (Quiet)

We think that these two words are linked – that peace comes when everything is quiet.  But the problem is that life is rarely quiet.  There are storms, trials, needs, unexpected tragedies – the list goes on.  But the Bible says that we can have peace like a river. 

Near my home is Rowlett creek, a favorite fishing spot in our area. 

I used to drive by that creek everyday. (Now the bridge is out.) 

I have driven over the bridge when it is calm, and when there is a storm.

When the wind is still and when the wind is strong.

When it is day and when it is night.

When there is a small amount of water, and when it is full.

There is one fact that is always true; the river flows all the time.

How can we experience the peace of God like a river that flows all the time?

·         FOCUS -  SET YOUR MIND ON JESUS.

 

Isaiah 26:3-4
3 - You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
4 - Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.
NIV

 

 

You will keep -  guard like an army guards.  God will protect us.

Whose mind is steadfast -  Focused on the Lord - 

When we have a difficult time – what do we focus on?  Sometimes, it is a our problems.  Peace comes when we focus our mind on the Lord.

 

Isaiah 26:8-9
8 - Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
9 - My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.
NIV

This is the focus of our mind and our hearts. 

If our peace comes from Jesus, what did He say about peace?  Jesus had a lot to say about peace.

 

Jesus said, John 14:27
27 - Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
NIV

John 16:33
33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
NIV

The word “Peace” means “completeness – when everything comes together.”  It is not the absence of problems – it is not peace and quiet.  It is the presence of the Lord. 

The peace that Jesus gives has nothing to do with the things going on at the time in our life.  Even in tragic and terrible times – His peace flows like a river.

Ill: There was an art contest for the painting that best depicted peace.  There were two finalists. One drew a serene scene of a lake and trees and everything as perfect as could be.  It was beautiful but unlike real life.  The winner was a painting of a raging storm with wind, rain, and lightning – and in the midst of the storm is a bird sitting on a nest nestled in a crevice of a cliff.

Peace is not the absence of problems or conflict – peace is the calm in the midst of the storm.

Paul is one who understood the storms of life.

In 2 Corinthians 11, he talked the storms of his life:

2 Corinthians 11:23-30

Are they servants of Christ? I can go them one better. (I can’t believe I’m saying these things. It’s crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I’m going to finish.)

     23–27     I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.

     28–29     And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.

     30–33     If I have to “brag” about myself, I’ll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus.

But no one in the New Testament talked more about God’s peace than Paul.

 

 

Ephesians 2:14
14 - For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
NIV

 

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul would set his mind on Jesus by praying about everything.

·         FOLLOW  -   SET YOUR WALK ON FOLLOWING JESUS.

 

Isaiah 26:7-8
7 - The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.
8 - Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
NIV

Isaiah 32:17
17 - The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
NIV

 

Isaiah 48:18
18 - If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
NIV

I have a brother and sister.  Like typical brothers and sisters growing up, we got along most of the time, but there were moments that we did not.  One time, my dad confronted me in about my behavior.  My answer was that my brother and sister had not done what was right, so I only responded in like fashion.  But my dad explained to me and impressed upon me that he expected me to do what was right even when my brother and sister did what was wrong.

Fast forward to a time early in my ministry when I consulted with my dad about a difficult situation within the fellowship of the church where I was serving as Assistant Pastor while in seminary.  It was a teachable moment for me when my dad reminded me of the lessons in childhood and that our heavenly Father expected us to do what was right even when it is difficult and when other brothers and sisters in the church family are not doing what is right.

 

My testimony is that when I follow the Lord’s commands and do what is right, there is a peace that flows like a river.

When I have not followed His commands, then there is a lack of peace.

 

Let me give you a Biblical example

From a human perspective, Joseph had his share of things going wrong.  An average person would be full of anxiety if they had happen to them what happened to Joseph.

He was sold into slavery by his own brothers.

He was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into jail.

He was forgotten by the chief cupbearer when Joseph’s interpretation of his dream came true.

He continued to walk in the path the Lord had for him.

He followed the Lord’s commands even when it was difficult.

He was obedient to the Lord even when others were disobedient.

He sought guidance from the Lord – in how He ran Potiphar’s household, and how he was given responsibility in the jail, and later how he led the government for Pharoah.

Genesis 50:20

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

There was in Joseph a peace that flows like a river throughout his life.  How could one go through the tragedies that he experienced and still have the perspective late in life that he expressed in these words?

He set his walk on following the Lord – and in the most difficult of circumstances, God gave to him a peace that truly passes understanding.

·         FAITH - HAVING DONE WHAT YOU CAN DO, TRUST GOD TO WHAT YOU CANNOT DO.

 

Isaiah 26:11
11 - O Lord, your hand is lifted high, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame; let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.
NIV

 

Isaiah 26:20-21
20 - Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.
21 - See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.
NIV

 

2 Kings 6:16-18

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

NIV

God will make a way

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way He will make a way

Let me close with a personal example from our family of how God works in ways that we did not know at the time.

·         Early in my ministry at Northlake, Thelma Anderson moved behind us.  She was a godly lady who joined our church.  She taught a ladies class for years.

·         One Sunday in October of 1981, she got word that her grown daughter died suddenly of a brain aneurism.

·         In her grief, she turned to Psalm 34.  The Lord is close to the broken hearted, We can find our refuge in Him, and praise Him at all times. 

·         The next day, our daughter, Stephanie, was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, which means that her internal organs were in lung cavity, not allowing her left lung to develop normally or for Stephanie to breathe on her own.  Emergency surgery was performed and she was not expected to live – but the call to pray went out through out church – and Thelma turned again to that chapter that had comforted her the day before – Psalm 34 to pray that chapter for Stephanie.  She wrote her name in her Bible. 

·         Although Stephanie is very healthy today, there were several times that she had serious surgeries or stays in the hospital.  Each time, without our knowledge, Thelma would again go to Psalm 34 and pray that chapter for Stephanie.  She wrote her name several times in her Bible at Psalm 34.

·         God was working in the prayer life of Thelma to pray Psalm 34 for Stephanie.

·         Independent of that, God was at work in Stephanie’s life in regards to Psalm 34. 

·         As a youth at a camp, in a morning devotion, the leader asked the students to just pick a Psalm at random for their devotion.  Stephanie happened upon Psalm 34.  She was so blessed by what she read that she decided that it would always be a special chapter to her – she turned to it often as a teenager and college student.  In fact, she took Psalm 34:5 as her life verse

Psalm 34:5

5 Those who look to him are radiant;

their faces are never covered with shame. NIV

·         One Sunday, she came home from college and saw Thelma at church. Thelma asked her, “What has the Lord been teaching you?”

·         Stephanie told her of Psalm 34 – how it was her life chapter, and verse 5 was her life verse.

·         Thelma said, “Stephanie, I am not surprised, because I have prayed that chapter for you all your life.”

·         Stephanie said, “What do you mean?”

·         Thelma opened her Bible and showed her all the times she had written Stephanie’s name in Psalm 34.

·         When Stephanie came home from church that day and told us that story,  I was filled such an awareness of how our awesome God is at work in ways that we do not know and cannot see at the time.

·         He was putting in the heart of one of his children to pray specifically for our daughter.

·         He was affirming a certain chapter in the life of our daughter and would confirm the importance of that chapter in her life.

·         He would bless us by cracking open the door so we could see a glimpse of how He was working in a way that we did not know.

·         Last year, before I left Northlake to come to DBA, Thelma died. Her son-in-law called and asked me to handle her service.

·         A grandson had that Bible.  I borrowed it to preach a funeral message about the power of prayer, power of a godly life, and the power of our God who works in ways we cannot see. 

·         When you learn that about God, and you trust in that fact,  there is a peace that flows like river.

God will make a way

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way He will make a way

Maybe you need God to make a way for you today.  He has provided a way.

A way of salvation -  You can trust in Him

A way concerning His will -  Maybe you need to join this church

A way to experience His peace like a river….  When you

 

•          FOCUS -   Set your mind on Jesus. (vs. 3-4)

•          FOLLOW -   Set your walk on following Jesus. (vs. 7-8)

•          FAITH - Trust God to be at work in ways you cannot see. (vs. 11, 20-21

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