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Believe - Peace

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As we continue our Believe series, we come to the topic of Peace. Peace - it’s something we all want. We want peace of mind - peace in our lives, homes, nation, world. Every Miss America contestant wants world peace. We want peace, yet, we rarely experience it - there is always something that interferes with a peaceful life. And a lack of peace is a massive issue - out there and in here - in the Church. Anxiety, stress, worry - at epidemic proportions. People will do all kinds of things to find inner peace (cover up the pain …). Religions of the world - are mostly an attempt to deal with chaos and find peace.
Through it all, we’re kind of left with wondering where is this peace that the Bible talks about. Which is the
Key Question: Where do I find strength to battle anxiety and fear?
I think it is a battle, because if we want true peace, we will have to fight for it. If we want peace, we can have it, and God promises it. But how do we fight - what tools or weapons do we use in the battle for peace?
Well, the Bible has much to say about attaining peace. And that brings us to our
Key idea: I am free from anxiety because I have found peace with God, peace with others and peace with myself.
That idea takes all the way back to Genesis. We were created to be at peace with God, others and self – however, rebellion destroyed peace. The consequences of rebellion created fear and anxiety in the relationship with God, others and self. Adam and Eve felt shame, covered themselves up and hid from God, and soon after Cain killed Abel – all downhill from there. Rebellion against God destroys peace.
We long for the garden – a world of peace - and someday God will restore peace with the establishment of a new Heaven and new Earth. But until then, we must navigate this world of chaos and tribulation. Again, the question is how do we attain peace? Before we answer that, let’s look at a few Scriptural truths to give us a foundation. You’ll find the idea of peace throughout the entire Bible; however, I’ll be focusing primarily on the NT this morning. And interestingly, nearly every NT letter begins and/or ends with “Grace and peace to you.”
So here are some Scriptural truths to keep in mind -
1 Corinthians 14:33 ESV
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,
1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Romans 14:17–19 ESV
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Hebrews 12:14 ESV
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
We must fight the cultural attitude that says, “This is the way I am you better deal with it!”
1 Timothy 2:1–8 ESV
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
We could go on - but these are just 6 passages that illustrate that
God is a God of peace and He desires for His people to live in peace with Him and others.
That’s the foundation for the rest of this sermon.
But what exactly is peace?
Remember, we’re in the “Who we become” section of the Believe series. This section is based upon the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:20. The whole idea here is that we learn, we develop, we mature, we become - this is a life-long process. Remember, fruit is something we bear - we carry (don’t produce). If you really want to get the gist of this, listen to the sermon from last week, because peace is similar to joy, it is an internal issue - not dependent on circumstances.
Godly peace does not come from the absence of turmoil, conflict or difficulty.
We can’t turn off the outside world. We can’t control … can’t tell the world to stop so we can have peace. Peace must come from something else.
Peace is an inner steadfast assurance and confidence in God and His promises regardless of my surroundings.
Ultimately, Godly peace is freedom from excessive and untrusting worry.
A successful and well-to-do lawyer lost much of his wealth in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In that same fire, he and his wife lost a two-year-old son. As the economy in Chicago plummeted, so did his practice. He and his wife decided to move to Europe. In 1873, his wife and 4 daughters went ahead of him while he finished a few things in Chicago. While crossing the Atlantic, their ship collided with another ship and sank almost instantly - taking the lives of their four daughters. His wife, Anna survived. Later, as the husband, Horatio Spafford passed the place where his four daughters went down with the ship, he wrote these famous words:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
The Spaffords had other children after that. They lost another son, 4-years-old to scarlet fever. Their Presbyterian church told them they were being punished by God. The Spaffords moved to Jerusalem, started a ministry to Christians, Jews and Muslims - and were very instrumental in providing food, clothing and shelter during the first World War.
Tragedy upon tragedy. Struggle upon struggle - yet, they remained faithful to God. Where does that come from? Look at what Jesus said in John 14.
John 14:27 ESV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Two things we need to know about Godly peace:
1) Christ gives peace.
2) We receive and manage peace.
God has done His part – He has given us His Son, Jesus Christ to be the propitiation of our sins and reconcile us to God. He has given us His Holy Spirit, the parakletos, the One who helps and walks alongside. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him …. God has done His part, and will continue to do His part, but we have to do our part as well - we have to receive and manage.
How do we manage?
Philippians 4:4 ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Written to the church in Philippi - in chapters 1-3 we see that they were facing opponents various, dealing with a wicked and crooked culture, and evildoers and troublemakers. So, their surrounding world was anything but peaceful, yet, Paul says rejoice!
Let’s keep this simple - God is so good to us, there is always something we can find to rejoice over. And if nothing else, we have the fact that God has loved us, paid our debt in full, saved us and we have eternal life in Him. (Manage our minds - fight for)
Philippians 4:5–6 ESV
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Again - let’s keep it simple. If peace is an internal issue of confidence in God - that He’s in control - He’s God and I’m not - I’m not to be anxious about all these external things but first seek His Kingdom (Matt. 5) - how much peace do I experience in life?
You’ve got to answer that. Now - compare your level of peace with your relationship with God via prayer, supplication and thanksgiving.
The amount of peace that we experience in this chaotic world is directly related to the health of our relationship with God - and mostly in proportion to our attitude of gratefulness.
Remember our Key Question for the week? Where do I find strength to battle anxiety and fear? And I said it is a battle, because we must fight for peace, but we have to consider what tools or weapons we’re using. A lot of us use the wrong tools in our fight for peace because we don’t believe it’s as simple as prayer and thanksgiving. Paul wrote this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Talk with God (not at God), hang out with God, make all your requests known to God, give thanks to God- and God promises:
Philippians 4:7 ESV
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
He will guard, protect your inner person. The promise is an internal issue - not external.
Is it really as simple as prayer? Yes and no. Two sides to every coin. The other is this:
Isaiah 26:3–4 ESV
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Psalm 119:161–165 ESV
Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
Again, let’s just keep this simple. Here we see both the psalmist and the prophet attribute peace to two things -
1) Knowing God and His Word
2) Trusting God and His Word
Do I know God and His Word? Do I trust God and His Word?
His Word is connected to His promises.
Last thing - in 2 Cor. 5, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation - of peace-making. We are the peacemakers of the world - the peace-carriers. Godly peace,
Christian peace is not about escaping from the chaos, but engaging it .
(Gen. 1; Luke 2).
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