Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are Three-in-one.
As we move on in our collection of Godly gifts we come to the one that I have come to cherish lately. All of us, at times, have the need to take a step back, reflect on the amazing grace and promises of God, take a deep breath and find that peace which passes all understanding.
This question was once asked to a group of everyday people, “If you could choose what you want most in life, what would you ask for?” The most common answer was “Peace.” People want peace in their marriages, families, workplaces, in their country and in their world. Our country has some of the best medical and psychological treatment centers, some of the greatest educational institutions and the most sophisticated worldwide communication ability. Yet with all of these great things, most people are yet to find true inner peace. The results are devastating… broken marriages, split families, hatred, rebellion, financial anxiety, a country unsettled.
The world will offer you peace through many forms of escapism… drugs, alcohol, immoral relationships, and a constant need to be entertained. It is sought through all forms of pleasure, self-satisfaction and positive thinking, many thinking that peace is defined as the absence of trouble.
More and more, those seeking worldly peace refuse to face the problems in their lives believing that by doing so they might find that peace. In fact, it never happens that way. The more we try to find peace apart from God, the more we learn that peace is elusive without Him.
Though the world promises peace if you bow to its desires, it will never fulfill its promises. There might be glimpses of peace, but they are rarely long lasting.
To find pure inner peace there is only one source and this peace can be yours. True peace comes not from man but from God. This peace is the fruit of the Holy Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22.
This peace means to be in harmony with God, to be bound, joined and woven together with God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It also means to be assured of, confident of and secure in the love and care of God. There is a consciousness and a sure trust that God will provide, guide, strengthen, sustain, encourage, deliver and save completely those who seek Him with all their hearts. This supernatural peace must come first and foremost from receiving Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord. Second, it comes from a knowledge of and a love for God’s Word.
The Apostle Paul knew this peace. He suffered greatly because of his love for the Lord, his love for God’s truth and because of his commitment to the commission given to him by Jesus Christ. Yet in all this, his heart was kept in perfect peace.
He had been imprisoned, stoned, left for dead and scourged by the Romans, and yet he said in Romans 8: 28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Note, the conditions of knowing God’s peace: 1.) You must love God, and 2.) You must be called according to His purpose, which means fitting into His plan and into His perfect will for you, so that you can be “… conformed to the likeness of His Son.” (Romans 8: 29)
Most reject God’s peace because they surrender to their own selfishness and their lust for the pleasures of this world. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you.” A legacy of inner peace is offered to all who know Jesus Christ, regardless of their circumstances.
In our Gospel lesson we find peace in the assurance that Jesus has overcome the world. Despite all we see, God is still working His blessings. Though the world has turned from Him, He is still offering that same peace that goes beyond human understanding to all who place their hope and trust in Him. And it is His peace to give.
It’s a peace that is real and reachable. Honestly, it’s the peace that everyone is searching for though so many are looking in all the wrong places. Because of our hardheartedness, we continue to try and find peace on our own terms and by our own efforts. All-the-while, God waits for our call. Even in the chaos, He longs to instill in us His peace that will calm the storms, the same peace we will have for all eternity.
Because we are in Christ, we no longer have to conform to the world’s idea of peace. Because of Christ we have been transformed by the renewal of our spirits into a new creation. Now our minds are set on things above and not on the things of this world.
With that assurance we are to put away those things which steal our peace, among them sexual immorality, impurity, selfish passions, evil desires and covetousness. These only drive us into guilt and regret where no peace might be found.
In our New Testament lesson Paul also advises us to put away anger, wrath, malice, slander and all negative talk. These too only rob us from the peace we seek because none of them can happen at the same time as peace. To waste our time in all these earthly ways is to forsake not only God, but ourselves. These things are not from God, they are only from the evil one who wants to rob us of peace because He knows that when we find true peace, we find God.
The prophet Isaiah said of the Lord, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). The secret to lasting peace is to trust in the one who has overcome the world. The way to that peace is to keep your focus on the God of peace. God is our everlasting rock and our solid foundation. With Him there is security in knowing that He is unchanging and ever-present. His promises are always fulfilled and His ways are pure and right.
If you feel your stress level raising, let me remind you where your peace lies. Colossians 3:15 reminds us to, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” When tensions rise it often causes us to grasp at anything to make it stop. Some people go to drugs and alcohol. Others try to fight it through anger, but God asks you to find peace in His Son understanding that true peace can only be found in Him. He died so that you might have this peace. Our God is bigger than any problem and this too shall pass through His guidance.
Only the love that God is offering can perfectly solve the problem because, with the love of God in our hearts we approach things in a more mannered way. Instead of trying to shout each other down, we sit in love, trying to work out our differences. Instead of relying only on ourselves to solve the worlds problems, we lean on God to direct us.
According to Galatians 5:22-23, the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Now if you were to look out at our current social condition, what would you say is missing? My vote goes to things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The further we drift from these attributes of God, the more likely we are to end up in chaos. What we need now is more God not less. We need to be spreading the message that Christ is our peace, no matter the persecution that may follow. Hebrews 12:14 reminds us to, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” The world needs the church more than ever and you are the church.
Cast all your anxiety on (Christ) because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else (1 Thessalonians 5:15). Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18). “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). I thought I’d let God have the last word. Trust in Him to lead you from the chaos. Amen