How do you like these boots I'm wearing? For those of you that can't see them, no, I didn't get a new pair of boots. In fact, these are old and worn but they have steel toes. Any idea why I would wear steel toed boots; ugly, old, worn out steel toed boots? Because I'm going to be stepping on them a lot this morning.
My first mistake was not being prepared this week for what happened. I've stood up here several times and warned you to be prepared for the cycle. You know, that cycle when 1) We are obedient then 2) God blesses then 3) Satan attacks. You can expect it to happen just as sure as the sun coming up in the east and going down in the west. I knew it but I wasn't prepared.
I have thoroughly enjoyed studying for this message. Well, I was enjoying it earlier in the week as I sat at the computer reading and researching. I had some music playing softly. I was thinking about how peaceful it was as I studied about peace. All was right with the world...until I got the email. And quicker than you can say "no peace" that email Pearl Harbored my peace. It wasn't from a church member but I completely lost whatever peace I had and Satan got a big ol' belly laugh out of it.
I banged out a quick response telling this person everything I wanted to say in no uncertain terms and letting them have it with both barrels. Nothing I said was untrue and I had wanted to say it for a long time. I also had every right to say it. And in saying it, I completely lost not only my peace and my joy but also I may have damaged my witness. And I realized all of this the instant I hit the "send" button. Have you ever thought that the "send" button should be renamed the "regret" button?
So, after a long talk with the Lord, I sent another email and took a big bite of crow and somehow managed to patch things up. It wasn't easy and it wasn't fun but when I did I felt that peace that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22 come easing back. And like so many other things you don't miss it until it's gone. So, while some of this message may come from my own experience I really wanted to know what the Bible says about peace; what it is, how to get it and how to keep it.
Turn to Galatians 5:22. Read
We will look at those 3 things: what it is, how to get it and how to keep it but first I want to point out something. You may notice some similarities among the first 3 fruit of the Spirit. You may notice that you get them and use them and lose them very similarly. They also build on one another. There's no joy without love and there's no peace without joy. All of that's on purpose. The first 3 are all characteristics that describe our inward state. The next three, patience, kindness, goodness, are characteristics that describe our outward state toward other people and the last 3 are characteristics that describe our expression toward God.
Instead of trying to define the word peace, let's see what it looks like. To get a good picture of what peace looks like, you have to go all the way to the front of the Bible to Genesis. Gee, Todd, why do we have to go back that far? Well, what was it about the time in Genesis 2 that was most different from today? Let's think about it. The Garden of Eden was a perfect place, beautiful in every way. Adam and Eve were created perfect. They had perfect work. They even got to stroll through the garden in the cool of the evening and have perfect fellowhip with perfect God enjoying perfect peace as they had that perfect relationship with God. For a while.
Then what happened? Sin. Sin. It ought to be a four-letter word because it is so nasty. It messes up everything! Having trouble with a relationship? Blame it on sin. Having trouble at work? Look close enough and the problem will be sin. Got weeds in your garden? You can ultimately blame it on sin! So, when you lack peace. Look for the sin. When you have a close, perfect relationship with the Father through His Son you will have peace and when you have peace, it's because of that relationship. They go hand in hand better than chips and hot sauce.
Everybody wants peace. Everybody talks about peace. You can win peace prizes. You can read thousands of peace books. You can take medicine to get it or you can go on vacation to find it. And if you want to win a beauty contest you have to want it for the world more than anything. But all of that is peace that the world gives and that kind of peace is fleeting. How do we get and keep real peace?
A preacher once preached a sermon that was just not making sense to the people. He was trying to use big words to impress them and speaking in the original Greek and Hebrew to make them think he was smart. Talking on and on about stuff they just didn't understand. Afterward, a woman came up to him and told him the message reminded her of the peace of God. "Really? That's great! Why is that?" She said, "Because it passes all understanding."
I want to read that passage that talks about the peace that passes understanding. It's found in Philippians and I want to read chapter 4, verses 4-7. 4 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 every situation, 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.
I mentioned earlier that these fruit build on one another. Look at how Paul starts off by saying, "Rejoice in the Lord!" and then slides right in to peace. But in between he brings up something else. Don't be anxious (that's peace) but pray about everything. Why would he say that we are to pray? Because it works. If karma was effective, I would pray to karma. If luck could be counted on, I would pray to the god of luck. If positive thinking worked, I'd be a millionaire dating a supermodel but none of that works. None of that has proven itself. But I have peace because it is given to me by my friend Jesus with whom I can converse any time I want and should converse with when I don't want to and who has proven Himself faithful and trustworthy over and over and over again!
Now I hear what you're saying. Oh, sure Todd, that worked for you when you got a nasty email. I'm sure the next time I get a hangnail or somebody cuts me off in traffic that I will do just that. I'll offer up a little prayer and that will take care of it. But you're not in my position. My marriage is on the rocks. My boss just fired me. I just found out my spouse has cancer and my kid is on drugs. I'm about to lose my mind!
Well, you're right. I'm not in your position. My kids are not on drugs. I don't have cancer and I haven't lost my wife or job in months now. But my friend knows how you feel. In John 14:27 He says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid." My peace I give to you, He says. Do you remember when Jesus said this? Remember what was going on? He was in the upper room just hours before He was to go to the cross and be brutally executed for crimes He didn't commit.
He goes on to say in chapter 16, "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." Then He went and prayed in the garden and it says later in the Book of Hebrews that for the joy set before Him He endured the cross...
If Jesus prayed and had joy and peace do you think it will work for you? Has He proven Himself to you? I want to know when. Tell me how God has proven Himself faithful to you. Anybody.
He has for me. He reminded me just this past week of His provision and His providence to lead me out of certain situations which led me here. I'll admit something else about that email problem I had. I actually prayed as I was typing out my response. I was praying, God help me to know what to say. But God knew my heart and knew that what I was really saying was, God help me to know how I can win this argument and put this person in their place. What I should have been saying was God, I need more of you. I want to be more like you. I want to worship you right now and later maybe I will respond to that email. If I had done that I wouldn't have to be wearing these ugly boots and I would have continued to have peace that passes all understanding.