Get Real part 4:
Real Peace
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 15, 2006

 

Main Passage: Philippians 4:4-9 (NLT)

 

I don’t think any of you would be surprised if I said we live in a world of turmoil, would you? All you gotta do is turn on the news, and it becomes pretty clear. There are wars being fought, there are terrorists being pursued, there are school shooting happening on a fairly regular basis, there are abductions and murders that you hear about every day. There are the daily threats that our troops are facing in Afghanistan and all the politics associated with that. There’s the situation in Iraq. Just this week in New Brunswick, Mount Allison University had to shut down because of illness.

There’s the war between different cultures and religions. There’s the constant struggle between different socio-political positions. There are the typical dysfunctions you might find within a family. There’s the internal unrest as you might struggle with doubts and fears, and as you seek meaning and purpose in life.

There are all kinds of issues in this world that try to destroy peace. So in the face of all of this, how can you know peace? I mean, you’re not going to solve all of these problems. And ignoring them isn’t really an option, either. So how can you discover Real Peace?


Well, you’ll find different answers to that. As one guy said, “My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of chips and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.” SOURCE: http://www.cybersalt.org/cleanlaugh

So maybe that’ll work. Someone else has said that there’s a secret gadget to insure peace and quiet at home. It is called a phone less cord!

Here’s my favourite way of dealing with all the stresses and problems of life… [Bang Head Here]

So maybe you need to resort to that. But is there a better way? Is it possible to live a life that is characterized by peace, even in the face of our troubles and struggles?

I think it is, and I believe the promise of Jesus in John 16:33…

John 16:33 (NLT)
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Underline the words “peace in me”. Peace is possible, and it’s available to you in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one who makes the difference. Far too often we look for other solutions while ignoring Him. We look to our possessions, we seek treatment, we try to look within to find peace… we try all of these things. But real peace is only possible because of Jesus. I’m not saying that treatment can’t help, and I’m not saying that self-reflection isn’t important, but they’re not the full answer. Jesus is. He told His followers then and He still tells His followers today…

John 14:27 (NLT)
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

He wants us to have peace. So let’s take a look at how we can gain that peace, okay? Seven Strategies for Discovering Real Peace. First, in order to experience real peace even in the midst of unsettling times, you need to…

 

Seven Strategies for Discovering Real Peace:

1. Live in relationship with Jesus.

This is where it all begins. All the other things we’re going to talk about this morning, they’re in no particular order. But this… this is first and foremost. If you want to experience Real Peace, then it all begins right here. In your notes…

You can’t have the peace of God until you have peace with God.

You can’t have the peace of God until you have peace with God. In fact, God offers you lots of good things… things you want to have… peace, joy, fulfillment, purpose, meaning, forgiveness, hope, eternal life… and they are all made available to you within the context of a relationship with God.

If you reject Jesus (who is God), or if you seek these things outside of a relationship with Him, then you’re going to be disappointed. And you will never experience the peace He offers… that peace that goes beyond your understanding.

Now to be clear, living in a relationship with Jesus does not necessarily change the circumstances of your life. But what it does do is, it changes you. It changes who you are, it changes your outlook on life, it changes how you respond to what life throws at you, it changes how you cope with struggles, and it changes your focus from things that are temporal and really unimportant to things that are eternal. Let me show you what the Bible says about this…

2 Corinthians 5:17-19, 21 (NLT)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ… For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them… For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

So the question I want to ask you this morning is, have you been made right with God? If your answer’s yes, then that’s great. And you can move forward in living the life you were created to live. But if your answer’s no, then why not? What’s holding you back? Why not be made right with God this morning? Because He’s not the one who’s putting it off. He has already done everything necessary and has extended the offer for you to live in relationship with Him. The ball’s in your court. Will you accept what He has done for you, receive His forgiveness, and choose to live the life you were meant to live in relationship with Him?

In fact, let’s just take a few moments right now for you to think about this and respond appropriately. I’m going to pray a prayer, and if you simply repeat it silently where you are. In fact, I’m just going to ask for everyone to close their eyes for a minute. If you’re here and you want to experience this newness of life and begin this relationship with God this morning, then you can pray something like this…

Jesus, I want to know you. I choose this day to follow You, to love You, and to live for Your purposes. I want to accept your gift of forgiveness, and I ask you to change me from the inside out. Make me a new person with a new outlook on life and a new hope for a future with You. Help me to place my faith and my trust in You, and lead me from this moment on, I pray. Thank you.

If you prayed that prayer, then you need to let someone know about it. You can tell me, or the person you came with today. But tell someone about the decision you’ve made.

Perhaps someone here thought about praying along, but you decided not to. Maybe you feel like you need to think about it a bit more. And that’s fine. Think about it. But don’t neglect it, and don’t put it off indefinitely. It’s far too great a decision to do that. And if you have questions or want some further help, then talk to me or another follower of Jesus. We’d love to help you any way we can. Okay?

If you want to discover Real Peace, it all begins by living in relationship with Jesus. And once that’s taken care of, you can move on to these other suggestions…

 

2. Understand that God is in control.

God is in control, from beginning to end. And ultimately, His plans will succeed. Now, not everything that happens in life is what He desires. We live in a broken, fallen world, and things go wrong. But God is in control. And even the things that happen that aren’t His desire, He’s able to take them and work them out for the good. And one day, His plan will be fully realized.

A few minutes ago, we looked at a verse where Jesus said…

John 16:33 (NLT)
“But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus said that He has overcome the world. How did He do that? Well, He did that through His death, in which He conquered sin and its power, and through His resurrection in which He conquered death and its power. Jesus has conquered both sin and death, and so with Him on our side, there’s no reason to fear.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

He’s in control, He loves us, He’s merciful, He’s faithful, and we can trust Him. And all of that leads me to conclude, we can have peace.

 

3. Live with a Biblical value-system.

Let’s do a little comparison, shall we? What are the values of the world?

Greed, pride, looking out for number one, what’s in it for me, how can I get ahead, what will bring me pleasure, I deserve to be happy even if it makes you unhappy, he who dies with the most toys wins.

So what’s the Biblical value-system?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, give generously, seek holiness before happiness, your greatness is measured by how you serve others, Love God and His Word, and express His love to others.

Do you see the difference? In the world’s value system is me-centered. I want what brings me the most pleasure, brings me the most power, brings me the most prestige. It’s all about me. No wonder peace, as well as joy and happiness and purpose, is so hard to find.

But the Bible’s value system is outward focused. In fact, it was summed up pretty well in the first sentence of the book “The Purpose Driven Life.” It was a year ago this weekend that we began our 40 Days of Purpose campaign based on that book. And do you remember the first words?

“It’s not about you.”
~ Rick Warren, in The Purpose Driven Life

One of the greatest characters in all of history is General William Booth. Back in the year 1865, General Booth began what was called the Christian Revival Association, which sought to reach out to the poorest and neediest of the city of London, including alcoholics, criminals, and prostitutes. General Booth had a vision for sharing the love of Jesus with them and bringing them into relationship with Him. And he had a particular passion for meeting the practical needs of these people. And so he began to get involved in social work, such as opening up soup kitchens, as another way of bringing people to Jesus.

That was how the Christian Revival Association began. Before long, the name was changed to the East London Christian Mission, and when they began operating beyond East London, they changed the name again to The Christian Mission. And then in 1878, there was one more name change… to The Salvation Army. By 1882, The Salvation Army has a presence in fourteen different countries, including Canada. And it has continued to expand to well over a hundred countries today, as it continues to reach out with the love of Jesus to the poorest and neediest of our society.

Well, General Booth served as the first General of the Salvation Army for 34 years, until his death in 1912. And as he aged, he became an invalid. His eyesight failed him, and one year he was in such bad health that he was unable to attend the Salvation Army Convention in London. So somebody suggested that General Booth send a telegram or a message to be read at the opening of the convention. And he agreed to do so.

So when the convention began, and the thousands of delegates were seated, the emcee announced that General Booth would not be able to be present because of failing health and eyesight. Obviously, there would have been a lot of people there hoping to meet him, so there was great disappointment at the news. But things brightened up a little bit when the emcee announced that General Booth had sent a message to be read at the opening of the first session. So the emcee opened the message and began to read:

Dear Delegates of the Salvation Army Convention:
OTHERS!
Signed, General Booth.

General Booth knew the secret of Real Peace. He knew that to experience Real Peace, he needed to have a biblical value system which included a heart for others.

Lord, let me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray,
My prayer shall be for others.
Others, Lord, yes, others;
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.

Luke 6:31 (NLT)
Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

 

4. Pray about everything.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.

Do you see the connection between prayer and peace? I want you to underline the words, “pray about everything”. I’ve heard people say that God wouldn’t be interested in the details of their lives. They say He’s got more important things to do than answer their prayers. But God welcomes you to talk to Him about everything. Absolutely everything. Remember what the old hymn says?

"O, what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear;
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."

God listens to the prayers of His people, and He responds. He doesn’t always answer the way you’d like or expect, but He hears your prayers, He’s aware of your concerns, He knows the best way to respond, and you can trust Him.


You know, one of our problems… one of the reasons peace can be so elusive… is because our thoughts can be so negative. Dr. Elinore Kinarthy says that…

“The average person has more than two hundred negative thoughts a day—worries, jealousies, insecurities, cravings for forbidden things, etc. Depressed people have as many as six hundred. You can’t eliminate all the troublesome things that go through your mind, but you can certainly reduce the number of negative thoughts.”
~ Dr. Elinore Kinarthy in Homemade, Sept., 1988
http://www.bible.org/illus.php?topic_id=966

And I have a suggestion on how you can do that. I can tell you how to reduce the number of negative thoughts: Pray about them. Turn your worries into prayer.

Let me give you an example. Instead of saying something like, “Lord knows my finances are a mess.” You could pray something like this: “Lord, you know my finances are a mess. Please help me see where I can go or what I can do to straighten them out.”

Or, “Lord, you know I’m battling depression. Please help me get out of this, either by taking it away or helping me find someone who can help me find a way out.”

Get the idea? Pray about it. Turn your worries into prayer. But don’t just pray about your worries. Pray also about the things you’re thankful for… and praise God for the ways He answers your prayers. Because you can find peace in the fact that God has been active and moving in your life. That’s a good thing.

So pray about everything, good and bad. It’ll help you find peace in unsettling times.

 

5. Plan ahead, while trusting God’s guidance.

So many of the problems people have could be so easily taken care of if they’d simply plan ahead. That wouldn’t take care of everything, but it would take care of a lot. You’d certainly have a lot less stress about the unknown. You wouldn’t be nearly as anxious about finances, if you had a plan. You wouldn’t have so many scheduling conflicts within your family, if you’d plan ahead. You wouldn’t be stressed out by deadlines, if you’d plan ahead. It really is that simple. And that’s Biblical…

1 Corinthians 4:2 (NLT)
Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.

You are a manager of the time and treasure that has been entrusted to you. So be a good manager… plan ahead. Paul also wrote…

Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT)
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

It’s Biblical to be wise and plan ahead when deciding what to do with our time and how to spend our money and how to raise and build our families. But there is a balance to that. The balance is that, no matter what we plan, God is the one who’s ultimately in control. We established that earlier. It says in the book of Proverbs…

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

We plan as best as we can. But if those plans fall through, then we don’t despair. Because we know the Lord determines our steps. The issue here is not to stop planning for the future, but to plan with the Lord’s purposes in mind. And when our plan fails, His plan prevails.

 

6. Live in obedience.

This is a no-brainer. I mean, think how it worked in your family. When you disobeyed your parents, was there peace in the family? Hardly. Because disobedience brings strife and tension, and can damage the relationship.

Or how about an officer of the peace? He’s there to maintain law and order. And as long as people obey the rules, there’s peace.

Living in obedience to your heavenly Father has the same results. Sin hampers your relationship with God, but obedience brings peace, and you can enjoy the favour of God that He promises to those who obey Him.

So if you want peace, live in obedience. Peter wrote…

1 Peter 1:2 (CEV)
God the Father decided to choose you as his people, and his Spirit has made you holy. You have obeyed Jesus Christ and are sprinkled with his blood. I pray that God will be kind to you and will keep on giving you peace!

 

7. Keep Heaven in sight.

Life can be messy. There’s no denying that. We have our struggles. We all experience all kinds of difficulties. We’ve all got junk that we’ve got to cope with. But that’s okay, because it’s temporary. So even when our world is in uproar, we can live in peace because we know this isn’t all there is. Peter wrote…

1 Peter 1:6 (NLT)
So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.

This “wonderful joy ahead” that Peter is talking about is Heaven. There are no problems in Heaven, no valleys, no dark days. And all of us who have entered into a relationship with Jesus have that to look forward to.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT)
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Saviour. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

How’s that for good news? I mean, I’m in no rush to get there, but it’s going to be great when I do.

 

So how about you? Are you living in the peace of God? If not, why not? Is there something in the way? Perhaps something we talked about here this morning? How are you doing on these seven things? Does one or more of these hit a button with you? If so, can you start to put it into practice today? Because if you do, I believe you’ll be able to say right along with the Psalmist…

Psalm 4:8 (NLT)
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Let’s pray.

 

[Main source - Finding the Peace of God in Unsettling Times by Brian La Croix]

 

 

 

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