Reclaiming Your Peace

  • Reclaiming Your Peace
  • John 14:27
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • May 6, 2018
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5-6-18 sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

This morning we are wrapping up our Reclaimed series. We’ve been looking at how God works in our lives to restore and renew us. We’ve examined such topics as reclaiming faith, relationships, faith, and joy. Today we conclude by looking at what it would mean for us to reclaim peace of mind.

 

 

Everyone wants peace of mind.

  • Whether you’re a businessperson facing pressures of deadlines at the office
  • A stay at home mom trying to raise children.
  • A retiree trying to figure out what retirement is really all about
  • A student trying to make it through the semester.

 

Everyone wants peace of mind.

 

But what is true peace? I would like to suggest to you this morning that peace of mind, even in the midst of what can be a stressful world, is something that God would very much like to see restored to our lives.

 

Look at what Jesus promised us in John 14:25-27. These are the words He spoke just before going to the cross. A person usually chooses his or her last words very carefully. I’m sure that is exactly what Jesus did.

 

25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

27I 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.”

 

Notice that Jesus says His peace is a gift. We can’t work for it, and we can’t earn it.  We can’t psych ourselves up for it.  We can’t try really hard to get it.  It is a gift we simply accept.

 

He also says that His peace is different from what the world gives. The world’s peace is fragile peace, but God’s is not. The peace that God gives us is not related to our circumstances. God’s peace allows us to be calm in the midst of trouble.

 

In the Bible, the word for peace is “shalom” and shalom never means simply the absence of trouble. It means everything which makes for our highest good.

 

The world offers us the peace of escape, the peace which comes from the avoidance of trouble and from refusing to face things.

 

The peace which Jesus offers us is the peace of conquest. No experience of life can ever take it from us and no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can ever make it less. The gift of peace which God gives to us is independent of our outward circumstances.

 

 

How can we have peace?

  1. By obeying God’s principles for living

In the glove compartment of my car there is an owner’s manual. I have a hunch that there is one in your car as well. My owner’s manual tells me that if I do certain things at a certain time, I’ll get more mileage out of my vehicle.

 

Likewise, God’s Word, the Bible, is the owner’s manual for our lives. It contains principles for health, finance, marriage, relationships, business and much more.

 

We can ignore these principles, but if we do, we don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves. Because the fact is, if we don’t obey God’s principles, we don’t experience peace.

 

Just as a car runs more smoothly when you operate it according to its design, your life will run more smoothly if you live according to God’s design as we find it in His Word.

 

It is really that simple.  If we want to be at peace, we have to obey God’s principles for living. How are you doing at actually using your owner’s manual?

 

 

  1. By accepting God’s grace & forgiveness

But beyond that, if we really want to know peace, we have to accept God’s grace and forgiveness in our lives. Guilt is the number one destroyer of peace for most people.

 

When we feel guilty, we feel we’re being haunted and chased by our past. What if someone finds out?  What if someone sees the skeleton in my closet?

 

That’s why you will hear on the news that someone, thirty years after the fact, makes restitution for a wrong they committed. They’ll say something like, “I was living in hell for thirty years and had to get it off my chest.”

 

The way to have peace of mind is to have a clear conscience, and only God can give that. Micah 7:18 says, “18 Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.”

 

Did you catch that?  God is eager – willing and waiting – to wipe your slate clean. It’s God’s nature.  He likes to forgive.  He wants to forgive you. The problem is that sometimes we aren’t willing to forgive ourselves.

 

In that case, I have these words for you.  Who are you to think that you have higher standards than God?  If God can forgive you for anything you have done, then you need to learn to forgive yourself.

 

It is when we accept God’s forgiveness for our lives, for our sin, for our failures, that we are able to focus on God’s presence. It is then that we are able to realize that God is always with us.

 

 

  1. By trusting in God

Isaiah 26:3 says, “3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

 

Let’s consider trust for just a moment. Have you noticed that a lot of things in life don’t make sense? You feel that a lot of things in life are beyond your control?

 

What do you do in such situations? You trust. That is really all that you can do. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

 

Don’t try to figure life out by yourself. We try to do that all of the time, don’t we? We waste a lot of time and energy always trying to figure things out, when God urges us to just trust Him.

 

What does it mean to trust God like this? How is it possible to be so confident in Him that no matter what happens, you aren’t thrown into a panic?

 

First of all, to trust anyone you have to know them. You have to see proof that they can, in fact, be trusted. That may not seem so simple when it comes to God. He may appear really unreachable.

 

But the truth is, He wants you to know Him and longs for you to trust Him. That’s why He came up with a whole plan for the process. God sent His Son, Jesus, to Earth so that the barrier between us and God might be broken. The barrier was our sin, which made us God’s enemies.

 

But Jesus’ death on the cross settled the score because He took the punishment we deserved for our sin. Belief in Jesus, and what he did for us, is the key that opens the door to peace and a relationship with God.

 

Then our understanding of Him grows as we read His Word and talk with Him in prayer. That’s how we begin to see that He really wants what’s best for us. The more we become convinced of that, the harder it will be to shake us—and our peace.

 

You see, we have a choice of either focusing on our problems or focusing on God, who holds the solution to our problems. It has been said, if we look at the world, we’ll be distressed. If we look within we’ll be depressed; but if we look to God, we’ll be at peace.

 

It is what you focus on that determines your level of personal peace. Focus on God’s presence; He is with you, and He has promised that He will never leave you.

 

God wants so much more for us than to have troubled hearts and lives. Hear these words of Jesus from John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.”

 

Jesus spoke these words to the disciples knowing that the cross was ahead for Him and that in a very short while, life for the disciples was going to fall. Their world was going to collapse in chaos around them.

 

In moments like these, there is only one thing to do – to stubbornly hold on to trust in God. There comes a time when we have to believe what we cannot prove and accept what we cannot understand.

 

When life’s darkest hour comes to us if we believe that somehow God brings purpose to life and that purpose is love, even the unbearable becomes bearable, and even in the darkness there is a glimmer of light.

 

Jesus says, “Believe in God. Believe also in me.” Jesus is the proof that God is willing to give us everything He has to give.

 

 

If we believe that in Jesus, we see the picture of God, then in face of that amazing love, it becomes, not easy, but at least possible, to accept even what we cannot understand; and in the storms of life retain a faith that is rooted in peace.

 

You will not experience true lasting peace until your focus is upon God and Jesus Christ is in charge of your life. Peace, remember is not a trouble free life; peace is a sense of calm in the midst of life’s storms.

 

 

  1. By asking for God’s peace

If we want God’s peace, we need to ask for it. In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul tells us, “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.”

 

Notice the order, first comes prayer, then comes peace. There’s a cause and effect relationship here. Prayer is the cause; peace is the effect.

 

Think of prayer as your safety valve, if you have to do so. When pressure builds up in your life, don’t panic… pray. Prayer is a tremendous stress reliever. It can be your safety valve. When the pressure of your life builds up within you and you feel like you’re about to explode, open the safety valve of prayer. Turn your worries, your concerns, your cares into prayers.

 

Stress management gurus will tell you that everyone needs an unconditional listener to unload on. They will tell you to do things like “talk to your pet.”

 

I suppose that would be a valid principle. We do need an unconditional listener in our lives, someone who will not become stressed out by our dumping on Him – one who will not think any less of us because of what we say. I can’t think of anyone better than God for us to come to with the pressures and stresses of our lives.

 

1 Peter 5:7 puts it this way, “7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

 

God already knows everything about you and loves you anyway. Whatever you say to Him isn’t going to make Him stressed. He can handle whatever it is that you need to say to Him.

 

Prayer after all is talking with God. Tell Him what is on your mind, what’s troubling you, and acknowledge His control of the universe, including your life. Ask Him to be the one to meet all of your needs.

 

Reality is, you will not experience true lasting peace until Jesus Christ is in charge of your life. Peace, remember is not a trouble free life; it’s a sense of calm in the midst of life’s storms.

 

What is robbing you of peace today?

 

Is it guilt?  Turn to God for forgiveness.

Is it worry?  A job change? Finances? Major surgery?

A difficult person?

 

You can talk to Christ about all of these things and anything else that’s bothering you. You’ll feel so much better when you’ve done so, because Christ is the one person who can do something about them.

 

What is your deepest fear? Loneliness?  Fear of failure? Death? Illness? Change? Responsibility?

 

There is a popular prayer that has been widely familiarized.  You probably know it as the Serenity Prayer . This morning I would like for us to use it as we close.  You’ll find it on the screen at the front.

 

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.

 

May God give to each one of us His precious gift of peace for our lives.