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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Peace That Passes All Understanding

This is the manuscript and recording of the sermon I preached at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA on July 31, 2016. My plan was to preach a sermon titled "You're Never Too Old (or too young) to be Used By God", but on Thursday the Holy Spirit made it crystal clear that He wanted me to tell the people that they could have the peace that passes all understanding....His Peace

Last week I talked about love.   Agape, the God kind of love. The title of that sermon was “All We Need Is Love”. And if we all go out and give the God kind of love then we would be able to answer Tina Turner’s question “What’s Love Got to Do With It” with love has everything to do with it.  Agape will destroy the barriers that we have between us and we will live the way that God originally intended, which is to live in peace.  The Bible calls it peace that passes all understanding.  That peace only comes from God.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The title of the sermon that I wanted to give, today,  is “You're Never Too Old (or too young) to be Used by God”.  I did a lot of research and had some great examples from the Bible of, what I call seasoned Saints.  People  who God used and who are great examples for us seasoned Saints that are here today.  But on Thursday, as I was finishing a reading plan that I started last week, the Holy Spirit made it crystal clear that He wants me to follow up on love with a message about peace. The kind of peace that only He can give.

Shalom the Hebrew word translated as peace, expresses the idea of tranquillity, well-being, restoration, reconciliation with God, which happens through the right relationship with Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace  

Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)6  For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Peace is the freedom from disturbance; it’s quiet and tranquility.  The peace of God that passes all understanding is not just a psychological state of mind; this peace is spiritual peace…the peace of the God of all Creation.   This is the peace of people whose sins are forgiven.  The peace that comes from being in a right relationship with Jesus doesn’t depend on everything going well.  

This peace is the opposite of anxiety.   It is the tranquillity that comes when you commit all your cares to God in prayer and don’t worry about them anymore.  You are confident that God can and will do what is best for you.  

This  peace guards you from anxiety, fear, and worry like a sentry guards the entrance to a military installation or the ones who stand guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Washington,  DC.   

This Peace is a gift

John 14:27 (NLT)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.27  “I 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.

Today there is the fear of terrorist attacks and civil disorder.  Fear created by those running for political office that pits races, religions, and those with different sexual orientations against against each other, anxiety over the economy, health scares over new diseases or old ones for which there is no cure, fear of being alone, on and on.

We Christians live in this world too and we often become afraid, but we have something that the world doesn’t have.  We have a gift from God, and that gift is peace.   The kind of peace that you can’t explain.

The scripture that I just read says that God the Father would send the Holy Spirit and that He would remind us of things that will give us peace.  We can find those things in the Bible, God’s Word.  In the midst of all this turmoil the Holy Spirit will remind us of the promises of God, and knowing that He keeps every promise will give you peace.

As Joshua was preparing to lead the Israelites into Canaan God said to him.  

Deuteronomy 31:4-6 (NLT)4  “The LORD will destroy the nations living in the land, just as he destroyed Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites.5  The LORD will hand over to you the people who live there, and you must deal with them as I have commanded you.6  So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

The fact that the Creator of the universe says that He will personally go ahead of you brings tremendous courage and peace.  

In His  Sermon on the Mount Jesus said;

Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT)31  “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.34  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

If God promises to give you everything you need if you seek Him first, that would sure give me  peace.

At those times when I become anxious  because I don’t think I’ll have enough money to pay my bills and eat, or deal with an emergency; I pray and yes, I do tell God that I’m anxious,  but I also remember, in the past, when I had the same anxieties God was faithful to do what He said that he would do and a peace comes over me. The young man who leads a bible study at my church often reminds us that when we pray God may not answer right away or He may not answer in the way we would like but we can be sure of one thing, that He will always give us peace.

Because of what Jesus did for us, when He sacrificed Himself for us,  we have peace with God

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT)1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.2  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and completed work on the cross we, who through faith have been justified or made right with God, now have peace with Him.   We’re no longer enemies, but friends of God.  

James 2:23 (NLT)23  And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.
Romans 5:10 (NLT)10  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

This peace with God is possible, not because we did anything to deserve it.  God Himself initiated it by His grace.  Our part of this was to accept this undeserved friendship in faith.    Because we have peace with God we now have the privilege of being able to boldly come into His presence seeking His mercy and grace.  

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)16  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.   

Like the old hymn says, “What a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer”, because when we do we will receive peace, His peace.

When we share this gift of peace, that we have, we become peacemakers and God calls peacemakers His children  

Matthew 5:7-9 (NKJV)7  Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.8  Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.9  Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

When you work for peace between you and others or help others find the peace that you have in God, He calls you His child.   The peace I’m talking about now is not  peace with God, you already have that.  The peace I’m talking about is peace between you and others and you helping others to reconcile their differences.   God has shown me through a bible study, that I led some time ago, and the sermon, I preached last week,  that the way to be a peacemaker is to imitate God’s love.  The kind of love described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that the Holy Spirit gave us last week.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)4  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

We are to not only make peace with people we like either, but with our advisories and even our enemies.

Matthew 5:25 (NKJV)25  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

Luke 6:27-31 (NKJV)27  "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28  bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.29  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.30  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.31  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

As I said last week we have an opportunity to let our lights shine as peacemakers.  An opportunity show the world what real love is, the kind of love that God has for them, and then we can lead them to Christ which is what we were commissioned to do.  

Matthew 28:16-20 (NKJV)16  Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.17  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

That's what peacemakers do.   

When your search is for peace you won’t have time for other things.

Our attention will be directed toward God and serving Him.

Psalm 34:14 (NLT)14  Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Peacemakers work to maintain the peace by doing good things, good works.  

Matthew 7:17-20 (NLT)17  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.
18  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.19  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.20  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Jesus was talking  how to identify someone who was a false prophet by looking at their lives.  By the same token you can identify a child of God by their work.  Not work for salvation, because salvation is free, but the work of salvation, the work of a peacemaker.    

Titus 2:14 (NLT)14  He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)10  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Psalm 112 gives some examples of those good works.

Psalm 112:1-10 (NLT)1  Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands.2  Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.3  They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.4  Light shines in the darkness for the godly. (Here are those good works) They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.5  Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly.6  Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered.7  They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.8  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.9  They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.10  The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted. (parenthetical comments mine)

Peace comes through being controlled by the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT)5  Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.6  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

To be controlled is to be dominated.  That means that your thoughts, which lead to action, are controlled.   Because of the sin of Adam and Eve all humans were born with a sin nature.  You may not  have been dominated by your sin nature but you are still not able to please God, because until you agree with God that you are a sinner, repent and accept  Jesus as your Savior, you are separated from God.  If you are separated from Him you can't please Him.  Sinful actions can cause physical death of course, but what is meant here is spiritual death which is eternal separation from God.  

On the other hand, to be dominated by the Holy Spirit leads to peace with God and if you have peace with God, He will make it possible for you to have peace with with man.  

To be dominated by the Holy Spirit you must first yield to Him.

Prior to anyone placing his or her faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is involved in setting the conditions that cause someone to respond to the gospel.

John 6:44-45 (NKJV)44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.45  It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

John 16:7-9 (NKJV)7  Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.8  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:9  of sin, because they do not believe in Me;

Once convicted and we accept Jesus as our Savior, then comes our conversion at which time we are said to be baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.   The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the event where Jesus becomes our Lord and we are joined with other believers in the body of Christ.  

1 Corinthians 12:13 (NLT)13  Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

At the same time that you were baptized by the Spirit He also came to live or dwell in you.

John 14:16-17 (NLT)16  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.17  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Once the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us we become a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

That new creature is the one that does the good works of a peacemaker.  

We have nothing to do with our being baptized by the Holy Spirit and Him coming to dwell in us.   That happens automatically, if you will, at our conversion,  but we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  If you are given a command you can choose to obey or not obey.  

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)15  So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.17  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.18  Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19  singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.20  And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be completely controlled, or dominated, by Him.  To be filled with the Holy Spirit we must allow ourselves to be filled, dominated, and controlled.   

At one time I thought that once you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and He came to dwell in you that you were filled.  I guess I was thinking  that the indwelling was like water being poured into a class, but just filling the glass doesn’t do anything to the water.  For the water to do anything other than quench our thirst or make you wet, you have to do something to it, to excite it somehow.  Now if you put electrodes in a glass of water and apply an electric current to them the electricity excites the water and splits the molecules and separates them into water’s elements of hydrogen and oxygen and if you do it right it can create the energy necessary to operate a vehicle.  That’s what being filled with the Spirit is like.  That’s what it means when the scripture said, “But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace”  When your spirit is under the control of the Holy Spirit you can do things you never thought you could do.

To be filled with the Spirit implies freedom for Him to occupy every part of your life, guiding and controlling you. Then His power can be exerted through you so that what you do is fruitful to God.  Being filled the Spirit does not apply to outward acts alone; it also applies to the innermost thoughts and motives of your actions.  

Psalm 19:14 (NLT)14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.  

The actions of a peacemaker.  The ability to not worry about your circumstances and to be at peace no matter what’s going on around you.  That’s peace that passes all understanding.

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit His fruit will become more evident.  What is that fruit?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)22  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!


I want to end with this:

Romans 14:17-19 (NLT)17  For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.18  If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

This scripture sums it all up.  Peace is a gift from God.  We can never earn it.   We can strive for it, pray for it, work for it but in the final analysis it’s a gift.  If we accept it as a gift, we can serve Christ knowing that God is pleased with us., and because we have become peacemakers through the filling of  the Holy Spirit,  people will be pleased with us too.

Philippians 4:7 (NLT)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.

From the very beginning, or at least after man sinned in the garden of Eden, God promised to do something about all the agitation and distress in our world.  He promised to restore the peace, and He did.  He sent the Prince of Peace to come and do what we can’t do for ourselves.  Jesus brings true, lasting peace, the kind of peace that all of us are looking for.

Sin created a barrier between us and  God and we can’t destroy that barrier on our own. Without God’s intervention, we would have never found the way of peace with Him. But He provided the perfect solution to our sin problem. He sent His Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to pay for our sins and remove the separation that existed between us and Him.  When we trusted Jesus as our Savior, we were reconciled to God and are no longer His enemies.  In Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we have peace with God.

If you're here today and you don’t have the kind of peace I have been talking about, peace even in very tough times, peace that you can’t put into words, you can have it. It's really simple.  All you have to do is to accept the work that Jesus has already done on your behalf paying the price for all your sins.  If the Holy Spirit has convicted you of your sin and shown you that you can’t fix yourself and that you need help in becoming right with God, here’s what the Bible says to do;
Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV)8  But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
If you want to become a friend of God and experience a peace that passes all understanding come now.  

As we depart from each other today as our benediction I want to leave with the words of our sermon text today and I want us to repeat it together. Repeat after me.

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Sermon Audio

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