Friday, October 30, 2009

What Peace!

Philippians 4:4 – 7

What Peace!

 

We have examined the mystery called “love.”  We have explored the enigma named “joy.” Today, I want to try to tackle the conundrum known as “peace.”

 

Considering the world has essentially been at war against terrorists for the last eight years, political struggles have left many wondering what will happen, and some people predicting the possibility of another American civil war.  It seems there is little that would indicate the possibility of peace on earth this Christmas season.

 

In a world that is getting dumber by the minute and evil escalating beyond reason, rather than fretting, stewing, being depressed, or angry:  I would like to suggest, that as people who believe that God hears us and wants the best for us, we do something about this situation.  I propose we pray.  I think in these times it is essential we seek “the God of peace” [Hebrews 13:20] and the “Prince of Peace” [Isaiah 9:6] for “peace on earth.” [Luke 2:14]

 

Instead of a sermon as such, I want to propose a prayer guide.  It can be used as an “hour of prayer” or a “prayer of hours.”  It works this way, if you are willing to do an “hour of prayer” set aside one hour to do this exercise with each segment taking five minutes.  If you want to do a “prayer of hours” set aside one 12-hour block of time where on you stop what you are doing at a set time in that hour (such as at the top of the hour) and take five minutes to pray over the verses of Scripture related to the topic for that hour.

 

1.         Peace results from a trusting mind fixed on God (Is. 26:3 – 4, Ro 15:13)

 

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. [4]  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” [Isaiah 26:3 – 4 ESV]

 

a.         Peace is promised to those whose minds are focused on God.

 

b.         We can only focus when we trust God.  (Ill. Of Peter getting out of the boat.)

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 15:13]

 

a.         Hope and joy are also promised when we trust God.

 

b.         There is the real power of the Holy Spirit at work when we trust God producing joy, peace, and hope.

 

2.         Jesus death brought us peace (Is 53:5, Col. 1:15 – 20)

 

“But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

  the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.” [Isaiah 53:5]

 

a.         The “suffering servant” (Jesus) was to be pierced, crushed and wounded to bring us peace and healing from our transgressions (go beyond the limits set [Oxford], rebellion) and iniquities (injustice, immoral behavior [Oxford], perversity, guilt)

 

b.         There is a close connection between the peace Jesus achieved and the healing we are given for the damage done by sin.

 

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. [19] For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. [Colossians 1:15 – 20]

 

a.         Jesus is fully human and fully God [v 16] “all things were created by him and for him,” [v 17] “before all things and in him all things hold together.” [v 19] “all his fullness dwell in him.”)

 

b.         Only because of Jesus divinity can peace be made through His blood, shed on the cross.  Without that blood claimed and applied to our situation, there is no possibility for peace (personal or otherwise).

 

3.         Peace (security that comes from peace) is a lie used by false teachers and the world (Jer:6:14, 1 Th. 5:1 – 3)

 

“They dress the wound of my people

    as though it were not serious.

  `Peace, peace,' they say,

    when there is no peace.” [Jeremiah 6:14] [also see Jer 8:11]

 

a.         Speaking about false priests (people appointed to serve God to people and people to God) and prophets, Jeremiah notes that they are deceiving the people by creating a false sense of peace.

 

b.         To do this, serious things have to be “dressed” (literally “healed”) so people will miss the seriousness of the wound (literally “fracture”).  (e.g. the use of language: TV evening news calling a pocket knife a “camping utensil.”  Change the word and you change the meaning completely.  That’s why we are warned to not add to or subtract from God’s Word.)

 

"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, [2] for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. [3] While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” [1 Thessalonians 5:1 – 3]

 

a.         At the very brink of destruction, there will be those who mislead by saying “peace and safety.”  (Ill. The idea of pacificism, claiming if one side doesn’t fight then there is peace... Adolf Hitler and World War II)

 

b.         There is a false security built concerning God being “safe.”  God is not domesticated.  God is not safe.  God is not harmless.

 

c.         God’s people have to be soundly anaesthetized to the point were we are insensitive to God, deaf to God’s voice, and resistant to the control of the Holy Spirit.

 

4.         Peace is a function of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:25, Ro 8:5 – 6)

 

“All this I have spoken while still with you. [26] But the Counselor, 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. [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.” [John 14:25 – 27]

 

a.         Jesus promised the Holy Spirit and peace in His absence.

 

b.         In other words, the two are closely connected: The Holy Spirit gives us power to have peace.  The nature of this peace is different that the “worlds” because it is not dependent on circumstances.

 

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. [6] The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. [Romans 8:5 – 6]

 

a.         The central loyalty of your life will be either to “the sinful nature” or to the (Holy) “Spirit.”

 

b.         The “mind set” dictates behavior and betrays the central loyalty.  Without the Holy Spirit’s active presence and work, there is neither eternal life or genuine peace.

 

5.         Peace is possible even in trouble (Jn 16:33)

 

“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.” [John 16:33]


a.         Fact (according to Jesus): “In this world you will have trouble.” 

 

b.         Peace is not the absence of trouble.  Peace some from the trust we have in God, the information Jesus gave us, and ultimate victory by Jesus (King of Kings and Lord of Lords).

 

6.         Peace moderates fear and “overjoyed” (Jn 20:19 – 23)

 

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" [20] After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. [21] Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." [22] And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. [23] If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” [John 20:19 – 23]

 

a.         After the resurrection the disciples had to deal with “fear.”  They were afraid of the authorities and they were afraid their imaginations ran wild when Jesus showed up.  “Peace” was how Jesus started these conversations.

 

b.         Something we don’t like to think about: Peace moderates joy – “overjoyed” (literally “glad”).  Why did Jesus need to speak peace to them a second time?  Because He was about to breath power into them.

 

c.          Fact: We can miss what God is doing if we don’t focus and pay attention.  (Have peace.)             

 

7.         Peace results from justification through faith (Ro 5:1)

 

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Romans 5:1]

 

a.         Justification means to balance or declare free of punishment.

 

b.         On the spreadsheet of our lives, God declared our debt of sin paid by Jesus.

 

c.         In the court of heaven, God declared us guilty with time (punishment) served by Jesus.

 

d.         It is only through faith (complete trust or confidence [Oxford]) we acquire this justification.  It is because of this justification we have peace with God (and each other).

 

 8.         Peace is external power within the Kingdom of God. (Ro 14:17, 1 Cor. 4:20)

 

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. [Ro 14:17] 

 

a.         Notice the kingdom of God is not about externals.  The argument over eating and drinking characterized external practice and restraint, such as eating meat or being vegetarian, and celebration or not of certain days.

 

b.         As a principle we understand the that the internal is what God is looking for because it is from the inside that we are transformed.

 

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” [1 Cor. 4:20]

 

a.         These internal principles are more about power (to live and be transformed) than about what we say.

 

b.         Peace has a definite transforming power in our lives.

 

9.         Peace guards hearts and minds (Ph 4:4 – 7)

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! [5] Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. [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. [Philippians 4:4 – 7]

 

a.         Peace (caused by trust and producing confidence) has a guarding effect.

 

b.        When we are tempted to feel raw, uncontrolled, and negative emotions or when we are tempted by irrational, angry, and selfish thoughts... peace can stabilize us.

 

10.       Peace is beyond understanding (Ph 4:4 – 7)

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! [5] Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. [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.” [Philippians 4:4 – 7]

 

a.         Peace ultimately transcends human understanding because it has nothing to do with circumstances.

 


b.         (Ill.) A contest to paint “peace.”  One finalists was a painting of a man fishing in a boat on a perfectly clear day with water as smooth as glass.  The other was of a bird on a nest in the cleft of a rock with a raging storm all around.  Which one won?  The painting of the bird, safe on the nest, protected by the rock in a terrible storm.

 

11.       Peace and righteousness is the harvest of discipline and hardship (Heb. 12:7 – 11)

 

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? [8] If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. [9] Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! [10] Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. [11] No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” [Hebrews 12:7 – 11]

 

a.         John Wesley observed “One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those who love Him is to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them.”

 

b.         Discipline is not just correction, it is training and direction.

 

12.       Peace is a choice (2 Peter 3:14)

 

“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. [2 Peter 3:14]

 

a.         To make and effort one must first make a choice to invest the time and energy into what will have benefits.

 

b.         Notice how peace is connected to holiness (spotless, blameless).

 

Ill.  “Uncle Walter” in Nazi Germany in World War II.  It was not legal to build a house because the resources were needed for the war.  “Uncle Walter” decided he would build a house anyway.  So he bought land and offered it to the town for a place to pile junk.  Over the years the pile grew, but what nobody knew was that brick by brick, Uncle Walter was building a house under the pile of junk.  When the war was over, Uncle Walter joyfully cleared the junk and revealed a building that only needed a roof.

 

Life is going to pile a lot of junk on you.  What you do with it is your choice.  While all that junk is being piled on, you can be building a life of love, joy, and peace.  It’s your choice.

 

 

 

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