I talk a lot about peace, joy and love and today I want to start to help us grab hold of what that means. I have done some searching of where people are in life and going to use some examples that may reflect where you are to help us with a practical understanding of maintaining or grasping peace in the craziness of life, allow me this morning to share with you some stories.
No matter what the future holds, you can have peace of mind and confidence when you know this.
No matter what happens in the world or in our own individual lives, is there a place to turn for stability? Can we look toward the future with hope, regardless of life’s and the world’s circumstances? These days many people are seeing the value of God as their constant. The world around us is ever-changing, but God does not change. He is steady, reliable. He says,
“Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.
“….for I, the Lord, do not change.”
God is always there. He can be counted on. He is… Hebrews 13:8
“the same yesterday and today, and forever.”
And God can make himself known, giving us a peace of mind through him, setting our hearts securely at rest.
- Is Peace of Mind Possible?
Heather, a recent college grad, put it this way: “To be in a real-life relationship with God is a staggering and beautiful daily reality. There is ‘cosmic companionship’ that I won’t trade the world for. I am deeply known and loved in a way I can only hope to adequately communicate.”
Steve Sawyer, a hemophiliac, looked for stability when he found out that he’d received HIV from a bad blood transfusion. At first Steve was in great despair. He blamed God. Then Steve reached out to God. The result: the last few years of his life, Steve travelled to countless open venues (enduring great pain) just to tell audiences how they could know God and experience the peace he had experienced in knowing him.
God has said….John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Like Steve, others have learned that no matter what happens in this life, it’s not “the end of the world” — because this world isn’t the end.
- The God of the Foxholes
Admittedly, many people wait until times get really rough before they turn to God. A military chaplain from World War II explained that “there are no atheists in the foxholes.” When life is rosy, people don’t feel like they need God. But that often changes when things get messy, when we realize we’re in the trenches.
Caryn explains her path to God like this: “I thought I was a Christian because I went to church on Sunday, but I had no idea who God was. As I grew older, I thought I knew better, I spent most of my time getting drunk, high, or trying to find some way for someone to love me. I was dying inside and had no control over my life. It was when I realized how much I wanted my life to end that I knew I had to do something, I had to find some hope. It was then that I asked God to come into my life. He has shown me love, security, forgiveness, support, comfort, acceptance, and a purpose for living. He is my strength, and I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him.”
Who knows what the future holds? You may feel like you’re in a foxhole. Life can be a battle. Our peace of mind can be greatly shaken. At those moments when the heat is on, we often reach out to God. That’s okay, because God, the constant, is there and actually wants to be involved in our lives. He says… Isaiah 43:11
I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior”
Isaiah 45:22 (NIV)
Turn to me and be saved…for I am God, and there is no other.”
Yes, God can be thought of as a “crutch,” but it’s likely that he is the only truly legitimate one.
- The Invisible Foxholes
Some people, however, turn to God even when things seem to be going well. John explained that: “By my early thirties, I had achieved everything that people were telling me would make me fulfilled — having leadership in my company, partying, promotion after promotion, dating women I was really attracted to. Everything that I wanted to do and achieve came to pass — and yet I was still unfulfilled. Something was still missing and I had nowhere else to go. Of course, no one knew I was feeling this way about life — on the outside I didn’t show it.”
Even when things seem to go right, life can still present a foxhole — an internal one that’s invisible to the naked eye but felt in the heart.
Becky described that phenomenon this way: “How many times have you thought that if you just had that piece of clothing, or that right relationship, or got to visit some place, that then your life would be happy and complete? And how many times have you purchased that shirt, or dated that guy or visited that place and walked away feeling more empty than when you began?”
We don’t need failure or tragedy to feel the foxholes. Most often lack of peace results simply from the absence of God in our lives.
Becky says of coming to know God, “Since then I’ve had many struggles and changes in my life, but everything I do takes on a new perspective knowing that I have a loving, eternal God on my side. I believe that there is nothing that God and I can’t handle together — and as for the completeness that I had searched so hard for, I had finally found it.”
With God involved in our lives, we can rest easy. As we get to know God and listen to what he says in the Bible, he brings about that peace of mind in our lives, because we know him. We see life from his vantage point, aware of his faithfulness and ability to take care of us. So no matter what the future holds, we can place our hope in God as our constant. He’s waiting to prove himself in our lives if we will turn to him and seek him.
- Building Upon the Rock
Are you building upon something in your life? Believe it or not, every person is building upon something. Each of us has a foundation, something we’re putting our hope and faith in. Maybe it’s ourselves — “I know I can make my life a success if I try hard enough.” Or a lifestyle — “If I can make enough money, life will be wonderful.” Or even a time period — “The future is going to change things.”
God has a different viewpoint. He says it is shaky ground to put our hope and faith in ourselves, in other people, or in anything this world offers. Instead, he wants us to trust in him.
He says… Matthew 7:24-27
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
It’s wise to have God involved in our lives for those times when the catastrophes come. But God’s intent is for us to have a more abundant life no matter what the circumstances are. He wants to have a positive influence on every area of our lives. When we rely upon him and his words, we are building upon the Rock.
- The Ultimate Peace of Mind
Some people feel secure being the child of a multi-millionaire, or knowing they can easily pull good grades, they feel their job is secure, or their family seems good but any of these things can change in an instant. So our greater security is in having a relationship with God.
God is powerful. Unlike us, God knows what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year, the next decade.
God says through Isaiah 46:9-10…
Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. 10 Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass for I do whatever I wish.”
He knows what will happen in the future. More importantly, he knows what will occur in your life and will be there for you when it happens, if you’ve chosen to include him in your life. He tells us that he can be… Psalm 46:1
“our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
But we must make a sincere effort to seek him. He says in Jeremiah 29:13
“you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.”
That doesn’t mean that those who know God will not go through difficult times. They will. If our nation encounters terrorist attacks, environmental or economic disasters, those who know God will be included in the suffering. But there is a peace and a strength that God’s presence gives.
Paul put it this way: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NKJV)
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
Reality tells us that we will confront problems. However, if we go through them in relationship with God, we can react to them with a different perspective and with a strength that is not our own. No problem has the capacity to be insurmountable to God. He is bigger than all the problems that can hit us, and we are not left alone to deal with them.
God cares. God’s great power, which can be shown in our lives, is accompanied by his deep love. The future might be a time of world peace as never seen before, or maybe there will be more ethnic or racial hatred and violence, more divorce, etc. In either case, no one will love us as much as God can love us. No one will care for us as highly as God can care for us. His Word tells us…. Nahum 1:7
The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.
“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
The LORD is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. 18 The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them
Jesus Christ told his followers these comforting words: Matthew 10:29-31
What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
If you turn to God, if you make him the priority in your life, he will care for you as no one else does, and in a way that no one else can.
- Peace of Mind through God
We have no idea what the future holds. If it brings hard times, God can be there for us. If it brings easy times, we will still need God to fill that inner void we have and to give our lives meaning.
When all is said and done, what matters most? What really matters is that we are not separated from God. Do we know God? Does he know us? Have we shut him out of our lives? Or have we let him in? Through knowing him, he produces in us a changing perspective and gives us hope. Through being in a relationship with him, we can have peace in the midst of all circumstances.
Why must God be central to our lives? Because there is no real peace or hope apart from knowing him. He is God and we are not. He does not depend on us, but we must depend upon him. He created us to need his presence in our lives. We can try to make life work without him, but it will be futile.
God wants us to seek him. He wants us to know him and to have him involved in our lives. But there is a problem: we’ve all shut him out. The Bible describes it this way: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”14 We’ve all tried to make our lives work without God. That’s what the Bible calls “sin.”
Heather, quoted earlier, says concerning sin: “When I entered began my career, I was not a Christian. The world lay at my feet then, waiting to be revolutionized. I attended political meetings, took classes on racism and social justice, and immersed myself at the community service center. I believed in the power within me to make a significant difference in the world. I tutored underprivileged elementary school kids; I ran the day camp at a homeless shelter; I collected leftover food to feed the hungry. Yet, the more I tried to change the world, the more frustrated I became. I confronted bureaucracy, apathy, and…sin. I began to think that maybe human nature needed a basic overhaul.”
- Peace of Mind = Peace with God
Changing times and improved technology don’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Why? Because our basic problem as human beings is that we’ve distanced ourselves from God. Our greatest problems are not physical, but spiritual. God knows this, so he provided a solution for our separation from him. He made a way for us to find our way back to him…through Jesus Christ.
The Bible says that…John 3:16
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins, in our place. He died, was buried, then rose from the dead. Because of his sacrificial death, we can come into a relationship with God — John 1:12
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”
It’s really rather simple: God wants to be in perfect relationship with us — so he made that relationship possible through Jesus. It’s then up to us to seek God and ask him into our lives. Most people do this through prayer. Prayer is simply talking honestly with God.
In a few moments, I’m going to ask you, if you don’t have total peace right now to allow someone to pray with you. If you don’t have relationship with the one who loves you the most then you can’t have peace
Have you sincerely asked God into your life? Only you and he know for sure. If you have, you have a lot to look forward to. God promises to make your present life one of greater satisfaction because of your relationship with him.17 He promises to make his home in you.18 And he gives you eternal life.19
One woman I talked with had this to say about God: “My mother divorced my father when I was very young, and I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I only knew that my father no longer came home. One day I went to visit my grandmother and I told her that I didn’t understand why my father would hurt me and then disappear. She hugged me and told me that there was someone who would never leave me, and that someone was Jesus. She quoted Hebrews 13:5 and Psalms 68:5 which say ‘I will never leave, nor forsake you’ and ‘He will be a father to the fatherless.’ I was really excited to hear that God wanted to be my Father.”
No matter what happens in the world around you, there is peace of mind knowing that God can be there for you. Regardless of what the future holds, you can have God as your constant.
The world will always be unstable, always lacking peace but you can have peace always and bring peace to others if you know peace. Peace is a person, His name is Jesus and he will either renew your peace if you know him or give you fresh peace if you have never officially started a relationship with him…Please come and allow someone to pray with you, if you need this peace!