Peace

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INTRODUCTION:

Thank you again for being here today. If you came in a little late or are joining us online, my name is Phil and I am the lead pastor here at GracePoint. If you are joining us online, please let us know by commenting in the chat box or submitting a way we can pray for you.

A couple weeks ago we began a new series entitled Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life. God desires for all of humanity to respond to his love and grace and be in relationship with him. As we engage in that relationship our heart, soul, and mind are transformed and shaped into being more like Christ. This should change how we live as we saw articulated in Galatians and our lives will be marked with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This morning, I want to talk about the third fruit of the Spirit, peace.

Our teaching this morning will come from Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT). If you have your bibles, or a bible app you can turn there now.

22 Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) Read Out Loud
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

Last week we talked about Joy – how were you joyous this week? What brought you joy? How did you express it?

What is peaceful for you? Where do you go or what do you do to experience peace?

After my dad left the ministry, we moved to Cedar Rapids (the city where my dad grew up) and we lived in a mobile home park. It was a great location in the park – all the way at the back of the development so it was open field and woods behind us. Right next to us was a creek and a waterfall. I remember when we first moved walking back and watching the water flow from the woods, over the rocks of the little waterfall and into a small holding area before it went on down the creek. I used to spend hours and days walking along the creek and playing in it. Probably one of the more peaceful things that we gravitate towards is water – a creek, river, ocean, waterfall. There is just something about taking a few moments that brings peace and tranquility. Even the imagery of peace and comfort is often accompanied by water.

But just as water is peaceful in one moment, in the next moment it can rage and cause unparalleled destruction. This little creek beside our mobile home dramatically changed in the summer of 1993. That year there was massive rain fall and the little creek swelled up and overflowed its banks, even reaching ours and other neighbors mobile homes and cars. It was quite amazing for someone at my age to see such a peaceful environment suddenly turn into a violent and destructive force.

As I have grown up and gone through life, I find myself longing for moments of peace amongst the chaos. Everywhere we turn we cannot escape without the realization that our world is increasingly unsettled. People are unsettled, countries are anxious, cultures are disturbed. Our world longs for peace, it longs for the quiet creek coming from the field with the unassuming water fall but instead we get a raging river at flood stage, devouring homes, vehicles, and even lives in its wake.

Movement 1:

Our teaching today comes from:

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

The church at Philipi was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey. This city was a military outpost of the Roman Empire and the people were citizens of Rome. Paul and Silas were imprisoned after the conversion of a slave girl because it brought a loss of profit for her masters. As they were in prison, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God and they were set free by an earthquake.

The early persecution of Paul seems likely to have been inherited as part of the DNA of the church in Philipi and therefore his letter to them takes on significant meaning. Writing about peace in the face of persecution is what they needed to hear and a testimony of Paul’s own experience.

Currently, as Christianity continues to move to the outskirts of social acceptance and practice, scrutiny, doubt, and attacks are increasing. However, in this country, we do not face the same type of persecution for Christian faith but there are many who are persecuted because of the color of their skin, their social status, and their religious practices.

What does it mean for us to be at peace with God and at peace with our fellow people?

Movement 2:

I believe that this passage reveals some important principles about peace.

First, peace is rooted in the power and presence of Christ.

… you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Second, a primary way we become and maintain our roots in Christ is through prayer.

…pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace…

Third, when we are rooted in Christ through prayer, we find our hope in Him and therefore we do not have to worry.

I come from a family of worriers. Sorry to any of you watching! But I think they are aware that they tend to worry about things big and small. I fight being a worrier and thinking of the worst possible scenarios. Ask Angelia what happens if she doesn’t answer her phone or text me back in a certain amount of time. But worry displays a lack of confidence in God’s protection and provision. Worry can paralyze us and is contrary to the freedom God wants us to experience. It shows a lack of trust and serves to distract us from our faith.

Finally, when we fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable and we think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise, we are reminded of the goodness of God, His provision for us, and allow us to experience His peace.

Our world is fighting to control the narrative our lives. It is sucking us down into the abyss of the 24 hour news cycle of fear, cynicism, and division. When we get caught up in this our mind and our heart can become fixated on the plethora of things that are false, wrong, unholy, and immoral and be incapable of being at peace. So instead we must fixate on what is true, honorable, right, and pure. Then we can experience the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.

How do we experience this peace of Christ?

Movement 3:

Three Experiences of Peace for the Believer:

1. Peace with God – A spiritual experience.

Therefore, since we have been justified, through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Romans 5:1
Our hearts are restless, O God, until they find their rest

in Thee. Theologian)

St. Augustine (4th Century

2. Peace of God – An emotional experience.

This is the gift that God has for everyone who knows him . . . it can only be blocked by disobedience.

I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

-Isaiah 48.17-18

This is a peace that is good for life and death . . .
A sign on a hospital bulletin board read: “Research shows that the first five minutes of life can be most risky.” Penciled underneath was this anonymous postscript: “The last five minutes ain’t so hot either.”

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

-Philippians 4.6-7

A peace that transcends all understanding is a peace that only God has the power to give, it’s a peace that the world cannot take away; it will change your life.

3. Peace from God – A relational experience.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men (Luke 2:14).

For the Christian, this is the most difficult peace to have. It is so easy to, one small step at a time, let this peace slip away. When it does – no one wins.

It is tough to turn the other cheek and walk the extra mile. How do we keep a door ding from turning into a demolition derby? Well they sure didn’t…

Of all the fruit of the spirit peace is the most broadly spoken of in the Bible. All but 6 of the 66 books in the Bible; all but 1 of the 27 New Testament Books, speak of peace.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there

remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

-Matthew 5:23-24 Empathize with the feelings of the other (Philippians 2.4-5).

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 2:4-5

We are so quick to close down on others once they have hurt us. One of the greatest truths wrapped up in four short words has helped me to remain open to others and to look for their hurts and fears and empathize with them.

The phrase is this: Hurting people, hurt people.

If someone is hurting you, it is likely because they are hurting.

Attack the problem not the person (Ephesians 4.29-32).

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

-Ephesians 4.31-32

George Bernard Shaw, the famous playwright, sent Winston Churchill two tickets to the opening of his play, Saint Joan, with a note: “One for yourself and one for a friend – if you have one.” Churchill replied that he regretted being unable to attend the opening, but asked if it would be possible to have tickets for the second night – “If there is one.”

When attacked – it is so natural to attack that person back. As long as we are still in personal conflict – as long as there is still the presence of anger and bitterness in our hearts – PEACE will not be possible. But conflict is the door to intimacy. It is in conflict that we begin to dig and settle issues and have a heart to heart discussion. The end result is understanding each other.

How do we get out of the cycle of anger and personal attacks; how do we get our focus on a solution to the problem?

Cooperate as much as possible (Romans 12.18).

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

-Romans 12:18

Most relationships do not end because of a disagreement, substance abuse, money, incompatibility, or dishonesty. Most relationship end because of inflexibility. One becomes unbending and will not move in the other direction any longer. They become inflexible.

God 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.

-Reinhold Niebuhr (American Theologian)

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know…it’s me!

You can only be responsible for yourself and God’s work in you. Look for the places you can cooperate and stay flexible.

-John Miller (QBQ, p 79)

He who remains flexible does not get all bent out of shape Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution (1 Corinthians 5.18-20).

You may not resolve every conflict perfectly – because you are not perfect.

To reconcile means to re-establish relationship. To find resolution means to resolve every issue.

If you’ll believe this, it will save you a lot of struggle in this world. You will likely not have complete resolution in many conflicts and differences you have with others. The key is not to resolve every issue and get that other person to see it all your way or just to settle that you have to see it all their way. But by the grace of God you can find reconciliation even without complete resolution.

You can agree to disagree!!

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. . . . he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.

-1 Corinthians 5.18-20

We will not always be able to resolve all the issues . . . but we can exercise the ministry of reconciliation, we can always be Christ’s ambassadors by working toward reconciliation, toward loving one another. Peace from God is a relational experience both with Him and with other people.

Conclusion:

The peace of God is experience through spiritual, emotional, and relational pathways. True peace with God and with each other is only possible when we put our full trust in Christ through the power of prayer and fixing our eyes on Him. There are so many things around us that are fighting to distract us and to put us into living a life of fear that we forget that we are a child of God. But God sent His Son into the world that we can have freedom and experience His abiding peace.

Response:

This morning we are going to sing together and proclaim as a testimony our freedom as children of God. If there are

things that are consuming you, that make you worry and fret, broken relationship, people you need to go to and seek reconciliation, now would be a good time to do that. Please follow the Lord’s leading today.

Communion:

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that suffering and death are involved in our redemption and in the redemption of the world. This remembrance meal focuses our attention on the amazing love of God to pay such a price for our lives and reminds us of the freedom that we can have in Christ.

Words of Institution:

We are reminded that in the night that our Lord gave himself up for us, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to His disciples, and said, “Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.”

And so, in remembrance of these mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice in union with Christ’s offering for us.

Let’s pray together.

Prayer of Consecration (Epiclesis):

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathering here, and on these gifts of the bread and cup. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ that we may be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by the blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world. All honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and forever. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Body of Christ

The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you, preserve you blameless, unto ever- lasting life. Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for you.

Blood of Christ

The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve you blameless unto ever- lasting life. Drink this, in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

Benediction:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen. th

-St Francis of Assisi (13th-Century Monk)

Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life
Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life
Fruitology: Elements of a Transformed Life

Goodness