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The Promise of Peace

Introduction:

      God has given us some amazing promises. The most amazing of which is, no doubt, the promise of eternity in heaven because of forgiveness and redemption (cf. I Peter 1:3-5). What an amazing destiny we have. However, sometimes, we have so many struggles along the way we lose sight of that great promise. That is why we need to understand not all of Godís promises are about eternity. Some are about this life. We could list a host of them, however, I believe one of, if not, the greatest is peace.

      We live in a world of turmoil. All too often, our own lives are filled with turmoil. We sometimes have money struggles, health struggles, family struggles, work struggles. We have fears, doubts, resentments. We worry about our future, our children, our parents, our friends, our brethren. We are filled with guilt and shame from our own sins, shortcomings, failures. Our pride, obsessions, impatience, procrastination fills us with turmoil. It doesnít have to be that way. God has promised us something greater. It is not an overnight promise. It is not something we ask for today and have in our possession tomorrow. But it is Godís promise. As we grow in Christ, we will have peace. To stay on Godís path, we need to see Godís promise. We need to understand what He is not promising so we wonít chase false hope. We need to understand what He is promising so we can reach for it. We need to understand how we can receive the promise. God has promised us peace, let us take comfort in that.

Discussion:

I.         The promise of peace

A.      In John 14:27, Jesus promised the apostles peace. Therefore, we can let go of the troubles in our hearts; we can abandon our fears. Jesus will give us peace.

B.     In Philippians 4:5-9, we see the greatest statement of Godís peace. It is a peace that surpasses understanding. God says if we cast our worries and anxieties on Him, His peace will guard our hearts and minds. Further, if we set our minds on the proper things, then the God of peace will be with us.

C.     In John 16:33, Jesus explains that He taught so we could have peace. In the world is tribulation. If we are in the world and of the world, we will always have mental, emotional, spiritual turmoil. However, in Christ, we can receive peace.

D.     We need to recognize Godís promise for us. Right now you may have all kinds of anguish, turmoil, tribulation, struggle, anxiety. However, if you leave the world and enter Christ, in time you will grow in peace. You will have peace. You will have a peace that the world doesnít know. You will have a peace that even we do not understand. You will have a peace that will carry you through whatever Satan and the world throws at you.

II.       What Godís peace is not

A.      Sadly, people often misunderstand peace. They pursue other things in the name of peace as if it is peace. We need to understand what God is really promising. To understand that, letís first clear aside some of the misunderstandings.

B.     God is not promising us everything we want. Some people mistake the concept of getting their heartís desire with the idea of peace. They think that unless they have everything they want, they canít have peace, so peace must be getting it all. That is not what God is promising. Consider Paulís teaching in Philippians 4:12 right after he wrote about the promise of peace. Paul says he learned how to suffer want. But the point we need to notice is that having peace did not mean never having want. In fact, as Paul described his life in Christ in II Corinthians 11:27, he explained he often lacked sleep, food, and drink. He often lacked comfort and protection from the elements. Yet, he is the one telling us the greatness of Godís peace. Godís peace is not a promise to have everything. Certainly, one of Godís promises is to provide the needs of those who trust Him, as seen in Matthew 6:33. But He hasnít promised us our every want and desire. No, Godís peace is greater than that.

C.     God is not promising weíll get along with everyone. In Matthew 10:34, Jesus said He did not come to bring peace to the world, but rather a sword. As Christians, sometimes even our own family will be against us. Yes, as much as it depends on us we should live peaceably with all people (Romans 12:18), yet even that statement demonstrates it doesnít completely depend on us and even with all the personal peace we have, others may still not be at peace with us. In Matthew 5:9-10, even the peacemakers were persecuted. Godís peace is not getting along with everyone or having an enemy free life. No, Godís peace is greater than that.

D.     God is not promising us an easy life. In Acts 14:22, Paul makes it very clear that the way into the kingdom is a way of tribulation. As Christians, we will not get what we want. People may still not like us. Those very people may even make it hard for us. Aside from that, we are still living in the world that is tainted by sin. We will suffer just because that is the nature of life. Christians who have Godís peace, still get sick, still get laid off, still get betrayed, still get hurt. Having Godís peace does not mean having an easy life. No, Godís peace is greater than that.

III.      What Godís peace is

A.      Godís peace is connection. Romans 8:31-39 demonstrates that all kinds of bad things may happen to us even though we are Christians. They may, in fact, happen because we are Christians. But through it all we have a connection with God. The reason so few people have peace is because they are looking for the connection that will make them whole. Sadly, they pursue all kinds of negative things like sexual immorality, codependent relationships, on again-off again relationships. So many of our insecurities, obsessions, fears are tied to our need to be connected. Yet, so often we retreat into isolation. The peace that God gives is a connection with Him that no matter what we face, we know we are in His hand. We can take refuge in Him. He will take care of us when we surrender to Him.

B.     Godís peace is contentment. Philippians 4:11-13 shows that peace is not getting what we want. Peace rather is contentment with whatever we have. This peace overthrows the fear of loss, because we know weíll make it even if we lose all our stuff. This peace overthrows the frantic and frenetic life of trying to gain more because we are satisfied with what God has for us. This peace is contentment with Godís plan for us and Godís goals for us. We are satisfied to be right where God has us. This peace gets rid of the warring with others because we have nothing to prove to them. We are content with our lot and happy for theirs. It removes the need to impress others because we are content in our relationship with God, not needing the approval of others to feel good with ourselves.

C.     Godís peace is conviction. Romans 8:28 says all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. Godís peace is the conviction that God can and will use everything we face to help us in the long run. Godís peace is not necessarily understanding how God will do that. It is trusting that God will. It is being at peace because we know God is in control and we donít have to be. It is recognizing that as long as we just do what God wants, Heíll take care of the rest. I Peter 3:14-17 demonstrates that we may face suffering. However, if we do, we know God will work it out for our blessing, therefore we need not fear or be troubled in spirit. Godís peace is knowing that God is in charge no matter what. But not only that it is knowing that God wins no matter what and being on His side is where we want to be.

IV.    Godís peace is something we are given, not something we can take

A.      Here is the really tricky part. We all want this peace. Therefore we strive to pursue it. We think it is something we can manage if we work hard enough at it. However, if you have spent any time trying to work at having peace on your own, you know full well the even greater frustration. Just when you think youíve got it down, something happens that throws it all out the window. Peace is not something we work on. Peace is a gift from God when we surrender to Him.

B.     Consider the very nature of recognizing that peace is a promise from God. The passages we started with in John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:5-9 demonstrate that this is something God gives us. It is something He has promised those who surrender to Him. It is not something we can try to grab for ourselves.

C.     Galatians 5:22-23 says peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Regrettably, for a long time, I misunderstood the fruit of the Spirit. I acted and even taught that these were characteristics we should work on. But that is not what Galatians 5:22-23 is saying. It is not saying if we work on these characteristics we will have the Spirit. It is saying if we sow to the Spirit, this is the fruit we will bear. We do not work on peace. We work on submitting to the Spirit and the Spirit bears peace in our lives. Romans 8:6 drives this home, saying, ďFor to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.Ē

D.     Notice Paulís prayer in II Thessalonians 3:16. It is a prayer we should all pray for others and for ourselves. ďNow may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.Ē Peace is something we need to ask God to give us. It is not something we can accomplish on our own. Perhaps we should adopt what is often called the Serenity prayer. Serenity is another word for peace. ďGod, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.Ē Notice in that prayer, serenity and peace are a gift not something we take for ourselves.

E.     Iíve often heard people talk about pursuing your career. They have said if you simply choose your career based on the pursuit of money, you probably wonít ever have much money. But if you just pursue what you love and become an expert at that, the money will come pouring in. Peace is a lot like that. If you are trying to pursue peace, you wonít get it. It will elude you constantly. However, if you quit the pursuit of peace and instead simply pursue the will of the Spirit, He will give you peace.

Conclusion:

      As I said at the beginning, Godís promise is not an overnight promise. He is not saying if you get baptized today, youíll have complete peace tomorrow. As we grow in the Spirit, weíll increase in the peace God gives us. That promise will increasingly come true, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. But it will happen. That is the nature of Godís promises. He never reneges.  However, I want to remind you of John 16:33. There are two options. There is the world and there is Christ. In the world, there is tribulation. In Christ, there is peace. Which path are you walking? Are you on your way to peace in this life and life in the next? If not, why not enter Christ today and start walking the path to peace and eternal life?

 


Glory to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Franklin Church of Christ