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The God of Peace

Scripture: Mark 4:35-41
Date: 08/18/2001 
This sermon is on the God of peace and looks at Jesus' miracle of calming a storm on the sea. The Bible describes the Lord as "the God of peace." This peace is not political or financial, it is peace in the heart that passes understanding.
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Good Morning! If we were in Israel, we would say, “Shabat Shalom”. You know what that means? Rest, Peace. Which is an appropriate blessing for our subject today. Please turn with me in your Bibles to the Gospel of Mark. Mark Chapter 4, verse 35. A familiar story, and we’ll use it as a springboard for our study today, talking about the God of Peace. The God of Peace, Mark Chapter 4, verse 35, and we’ll read through the end of the chapter. “And on the same day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took him along in the boat as we was, and other little boats were also with them. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already full?? But he was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And the woke Him and they said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And he arose and he rebuked the wind and the sea, and he said, “Peace. Be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’

This is a really fascinating story, if for no other reason than it’s a time in the Bible where here they’re going across the sea , they encounter a storm, they forget Jesus is with them, and they wake Jesus up, and they say, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?” That’s really a strange thing to ask Jesus. “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?” Of course he said, “God so loved the world that they might not perish.” Christ did not look distressed when he saw the raging elements. I sort of picture that He yawned, and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, and stood up and surveyed the storm, and He did not need to shout. The word of Christ is so potent, that I believe he simply spoke, and He said, “Peace. Be still.” That would translate as, “Shhh. Be quiet. Be at peace.” And I think instantly the wind stopped. It didn’t just die down; it stopped abruptly. I think the waters instantly flattened out, and soon turned to glass. Now, the disciples woke Jesus up because they were afraid of the storm. He now saves them from the storm and the story ends by saying that now they’re exceedingly afraid. The storm is gone. What are they afraid of now? They’re wondering, “What manner of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey Him?” So, the absence of their peace was not due to something environmental. Something else took away their peace – it was something on the inside.

Now I’ve got a confession to make. I always say that to wake people up. They want to hear the pastor confess. I have been frustrated with my own anxiety. Oh, don’t misunderstand. I mean, I’m not wringing my hands. You won’t see me trembling. But, I get irritated. I sometimes wake up at night and my mind churns over some of the different challenges and problems that you have to face as a pastor and a parent. And the thing that bothers me the most about the way I’m reacting is, when I am anxious, I’m a bad witness. The best advertising that you can have for Christ is that you can be peaceful no matter what the external circumstances are. God does not walk around biting his nails. God does not pace the floor. God is not nervous. God is not edgy. God is not restless. God is not only love, God is the essence of peace. And so I did a study for my own benefit on the subject of peace, and you know, I got a lot out of it, and I thought, “ I ought to share this with the flock, because I expect I’m not the only one that gets anxious, that starts to worry, that loses faith, that begins to look at the environment and the storm and starts to wonder if God cares if I’m going to perish or not. So, I’d like to talk to you about the God of peace. I went through the Bible, and I found there’s about seven times in the Bible that God is identified as the God of Peace.

The God of Peace. Typically, we don’t think of that as one of His titles, but that is one of His titles. Sometimes He’s called the Lord of Peace, and there’s one time He’s called the King of Peace. Incidentally, the word “Shalom” means “peace,” and the word “Jerusalem” means “the city of Peace”. And here’s the definition that you’ll find for the word “Shalom” in Hebrew: This is the Hebrew word most commonly used for Peace. It’s the Hebrew equivalent of “Aloha”. You can say “Shalom” when you say “hello”; you can say “Shalom” when you say “goodbye”; you can say “Shalom” any time along the way. And Shalom means, in essence, Peace, Safe, Well, Happy, Friendly, Healthy, Prosperity, Favor, and it’s a greeting and a salutation as well. Shalom. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It’s a lot better than the word “Yogurt.” How’d you like to say that everytime you said “Hello” to someone? “Yogurt!” I have a friend who wouldn’t eat yogurt just because of the way the word sounded. Has he ever tasted it? No, but I’m not eating anything called “Yo-gurt!” But “Shalom” – it rolls off the tongue. It’s a sweet word. Now, the word in Greek – I don’t even know if I’m going to say it correctly – it’s “Irane” (sp?) And I think this is where you get the name “Irene”. Anyone named “Irene” out here? I know we’ve got a few “Irenes” in our congregation. I believe it means “Peace”. And this is the New Testament definition for that word: Peace, Prosperity, One, Quietness, Rest, To Set At One Again, or to Restore. The word Peace is found about 430 times in the Bible.

God has a lot to say about peace. Matter of fact, the whole plan of salvation revolves around peace. We are alienated, we are, if you will, at war. There’s been a war in heaven, there’s a conflict, and Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace, He has come to restore peace to us. He has come for us to make peace with God because our sins have separated us from God. Now there are several points I want to address on the subject of peace. Typically, when people in the world talk about peace and they say, “Let’s pray for peace”, what kind of peace are they thinking about? Generally, they’re thinking about political or civil peace, isn’t that right? When people think about peace in that respect. Is that why Jesus came? Well, people are afraid that were going to have a nuclear war, and so just to make sure there’s no nuclear war, don’t forget in your evening prayers to pray for peace so the countries don’t all annihilate each other. I understand that in spite of all the disarmament that’s been going on, both Russia and the United States have what they call “boomer submarines”. Now the boomer submarines are the most modern nuclear submarines.

Not only are they nuclear powered, they carry as many as 16 warheads, and those warheads are sufficient by themselves, guided by satellite, to completely annihilate major cities. Can you imagine what the world would be like if one Russian and one American boomer sub launched on each other to the major cities? That would be enough to pretty much render life on this planet extinct. That would make you shudder if you didn’t know that God was on the throne. But they’re still cruising the oceans. Some computer glitch, kind of makes you a little edgy thinking of that, but that’s not my goal today. People think about political peace. Is that why Christ came? Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth.” That’s not the kind of peace he came to bring. “I did not come to send peace, but a sword.” And the message of Christ, there have been more battles and crusades fought over the teaching of Jesus than any other philosophy, than any other creed. And so that’s not the kind of peace that Jesus is offering. Someone calculated that since the armistice was signed in 1918, this peace treaty, World War I, for every year of war, there have been two minutes of political peace. We haven’t had political or civil peace in the world. Herbert Guber (sp?) said, “Peace is not made at the council tables, or by treaties, but in the hearts of men.”

You know what? I think it’s sort of ironic. When I was a hippie – and I’m still recovering – but back a little earlier in my life, I was one of these hippies. I protested Nixon’s inauguration, and I was out protesting the Vietnam War, and I wore a peace sign. How many of you remember the peace sign? Yeah, and some of you may even be unnerved that I would put that up in the church, because I remember after wearing one for a while, some of my Christian friends said, “Don’t wear that!” and I said, “Why not?” And they said, “Don’t you know what that is? That’s a diabolical symbol. That is the cross of Jesus turned upside down and broken in the circle.” Well, I suppose if you think of it that way, you can see that. I remember my friends that were in the military, because we were always protesting the war, they said, “No, that’s not what it is.” They said, “That’s the footprint of the American chicken!”

They said,”All you hippies, all you hippies wearing that peace sign, that’s just you hiding behind... you’re chickens!” And what really cracked me up was, what was designed to be an emblem for peace became controversial in itself. And , you know, you’ve heard of the Nobel Peace Prize? You know where they got the money for the peace prize? From developing explosives. That’s right. Nobel is the one who developed nitroglycerin and dynamite, and all that money’s used for the peace prize. So government peace isn’t where where it’s coming from. Somebody wrote that it was interesting...... .. to disarm, both American and the Soviet Union, and several missiles that were scrapped, tons and tons of iron were then shipped to England, and they made it into ball point pens. Somebody said that adds new meaning to the verse there in Isaiah where it says, “they’ll beat their spears into plow shears”. The Russians are beating their missiles into ball point pents. It’d be interesting to trace what those pens are used for. Some people, when they think about peace, they think of “domestic peace.”

A lot of the restlessness that people experience happens within the confines of their home. They’re not happy at home. Their homes are a battle zone, it’s a war zone. The Bible says that “it’s miserable for a woman to be married to a slothful man.” And for a man to be married to a contentious woman, it’s “better to dwell in an attic with a leaky roof.” The Bible understands that if you don’t have peace at home, there’s a lot lacking. Martin Luther said, “To have peace and love in marriage is a gift that is next to the knowledge of the Gospel.” One of the greatest things you can have is to have peace in your domestic life, peace in your home. Some people think, “Oh, I wish I could get married at any cost.” And then they marry the wrong person, and they’re willing to pay anything not to be married, because they think that that’s the answer to all the solutions. You’re better off being single at peace than marrying the wrong person. And a lot of folks forget that very simple thing. Peace at the home, domestic peace, having a home where you’re not afraid to walk in the door. Having a home where you’re not afraid to walk in the door.

Having a home where you can communicate quietly with the children, you can communicate in love and sympathy with your spouse. A peaceful abode. That is not even the reason that Jesus came, because He said, “I did not come to send peace, but a sword. I came to set a mother against her daughter, and a daughter against her mother-in-law, and a son against his father, because the Gospel of Christ can even bring division into our homes. Jesus can bring peace into a united home, don’t misunderstand, but that’s not the principal reason that Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. I heard about this one man in India who just could barely live at home. He not only had a wife and several children, his parents-in-law all lived in this very small home. And when the father couldn’t take it any more, he went to see this very wise, highly-respected guru. And he said, “My home is unbearable.” He said, “It’s constant confusion and turmoil. There’s just no peace at home.” He says, “I have advice for you. Take a rooster and bring the rooster into your home.” “Well,” he said, “He’s a sage man. I respect him.” So they brought a rooster into the home.

A week later he came back. He said, “I don’t know what that was supposed to do. It’s worse than ever,” he said. “The rooster’s keeping everybody awake, and he’s making a mess out of everything.” He says, “I’m not done yet. Bring a goat into your home and come back and see me next week.” So he obediently introduced a billy goat into the home. Now things were really chaotic. And as the weeks went by, the guru told him to add two dogs, some birds, some geese, a snake, and finally the last straw was to put a cow in the house. And when he couldn’t take it any more, he evicted all of the animals, and the family lived happily ever after, because they had the perspective of what it was like to really have turmoil in the home, and then by comparison they thought that was peaceful. Some people think peace comes from financial security. Fiscal peace. Every day they’re anxious to check the stocks, and if the market goes up, they’re serene. But if the market goes down, they’re restless, and their peace and anxiety seems to go up in waves up and down with their financial security. Some people are constantly having the phone ring with bill collectors.

Who can have peace like that? It’s hard to have peace when you’re in debt, isn’t it? Some people think, “If I could just win the lottery, then I’d have peace.” Have you heard some of the stories? They’ve followed people who suddenly come into great fortunes. Have you discovered those people don’t find peace? No, the Bible tells us that happiness and peace do not come from the abundance of things a man possesses. Ecclesiastes, I’m sorry, Proverbs 11:28: “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.” Proverbs 23 verse 5: “For riches certainly make themselves wings. They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” Like the man who filled his barn to overflowing, and the Lord called him a fool, and he died that night. Peace does not come from financial security, in spite of the fact that many of these institutions are called “Security Such and Such”. “Security This, Security That,” and I don’t want to name any because I could get sued. But you all know what I’m talking about. Some people think that peace comes from social relationships.

A lot of people are lonely, and they equate being at peace with having lots of friends. And when they’re alone, they’ve got anxiety. Some people just really are disturbed to be by themselves. It’s true. I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I expect some of you here, you get restless when you’re by yourself. I know people that they turn on the TV, they’re not watching, but they need noise in their house because they get very anxious when they feel like they’re alone, and at least the sound from the radio or the TV gives them the illusion that they’re not alone. The Bible addresses this. Ecclesiastes chapter 4 verse 10: “Woe to someone who’s alone. But a person who has friends is blessed. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” Peace does not come from a multitude of friends, biblically. I’ll tie this all together as we move on.

Others think peace is equated with having good health. And I’m not trying to underscore, I’m not trying to detract from the importance of having finances or family, domestic bliss or political bliss, but is not the primary focus of the Bible. Physical peace – you know that story in Mark, Chapter 5, about this woman who was sick, and she had an issue of blood twelve years, verse 25, and suffered many things from many physicians. She spent all that she had an wasn’t better, but grew worse. How many of you would feel at peace if you had some kind of physical malady like that? Those of you who are-- and statistically there’s probably 60% of you here that have some type of physical ailment, some are chronic, some are sporadic-- but they’re sick. It’s hard to feel at peace when you’re physically uncomfortable, amen? It’s hard to have peace in your soul when you have pain in your body. But still, the Bible says that is not the kind of peace that God promises.

While we’re on the subject, we’d better address what is the false peace. You know the devil wants us to pursue false peace, and I’ve talked about some of these areas and people think that peace comes from the finances or civil, political peace, domestic peace, social peace, but a lot of people are distracted and deceived by a false form of peace. Ecclesiastes 13, verse 10, I’m sorry Ezekiel 13 verse 10: “Because indeed, they have seduced my people saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace.” How many people have tried to finagle their way into a political office by promising peace? False peace. Before Jerusalem was destroyed, the religious leaders told the people, “God is going to defend us.” Peace, peace! And they were destroyed. Isaiah 57:21, there’s a warning: “There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” Even though they might be promised peace by the false prophets. First Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 3: “For when they say ‘Peace and safety’, then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape.”

We need to especially be concerned when there are prognosticators out there saying, “Peace and safety’s on the horizon. That’s the forecast.” And you know that’s of course a very popular platitude, but we need to be cautious because that’s not the kind of peace that God promises. So, how do we find the real peace? I’ve talked about some of the counterfeits, some of the popular misconceptions of what real peace is. Where do you find that abiding peace that really gives you rest no matter what your circumstances might be? “All men desire peace,” someone said, “but few people desire those things that make for peace.” There are about six things that are really the enemies of peace. Fear, obviously; Greed; Ambition; Envy; Anger; and Pride. When a person has one of these characteristics, they don’t really have peace, and you need to let go of these things if you’re going to embrace the peace of God. You cannot cling to your pride, and your greed and your jealousy, and then say, “God, give me peace.” Those things must be released. They’re enemies of peace. Peace is like one of those things, like happiness, which, you miss it because you’re aiming directly for it.

You find peace when you find God. You’ve heard your parents say before, if you spend your life trying to be happy, you’ll miss happiness. You find happiness by serving and loving others. When you aim at happiness as a thing in itself, you lose it, and yet that’s the kind of thinking that you hear echoed so much today. “I don’t want to do this; I don’t want to do that, because it doesn’t make me happy.” And those people never are happy. And if peace is something that you’re looking for in and of itself, you cannot have peace without God. I saw a bumper sticker – some of them are good—and this one said, “No Peace, No God, Know Peace, Know God”, but you have to see it to understand it, and I should have put it on the screen. It says “No Peace”

– N-O – “No Peace” N-O God. No Peace, No God. Then it says, “K-N-O-W- God, K-N-O-W Peace. No God, No Peace. Know God, Know Peace.” I thought, “Oh, that’s clever!” Because that’s where peace comes from. It comes from knowing God. And anybody that tells you that they find peace through some cultish religion or ritual they go through, they’re simply drugged, they’re hypnotized. And you know why so many people in our society today are turning to drugs? What do you think? They’re looking for peace. You know one of the number one selling over the counter prescriptions, or over the counter drugs is? Antacids. All these different varieties of Tums and Rolaids and antacids are going by the oil tanker over the counter to people in North America.

I used to wonder why my father in his office had a tub, I’m not exaggerating, he had a bucket of Rolaids. And, if you worked for my father, you’d need them, too. But now, in Amazing Facts, you know we’ve been growing, we have 60 employees --- I’m afraid to tell you---I’ve got a roll of Rolaids in my drawer now. That’s why I’m preaching this sermon! I don’t like what I see happening to myself. This really bothers me. A Christian ought to have a peace that is not subject to changing weather, like Jesus sleeping through the storm. Or Peter, on death row, could sleep like a baby. Acts chapter 12. That used to be just amazing to me. He’s on death row, going to be executed tomorrow, sleeping like a baby. He had that peace that passes understanding. How many of you would like to find that kind of peace, where you don’t need to be anxious? You don’t need to be worried. How do we find that peace. Martin Luther also said, “True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force. It is rather the presence of some positive force.” Now, see, I’ve been going through all the common things where we think, “I could have peace if I could just get the chickens and the goat out of my house, then I’d have peace.” Or, “I could have peace if we could just rid of all the boomer submarines, then I’d have peace.”

That’s not where peace comes from. “I could have peace if I had more money. I could have peace if I could get rid of this ailment. Then I’d have peace.” It would be temporary, at best. Real peace comes from knowing God. No God, No peace. Know God, Know Peace. That’s the answer. Job 22, verse 21: “Now acquaint yourself with Him and be at peace.” Acquaint yourself with Him. How do we acquaint ourselves with God? Through communion. Through his Word, He speaks to us. And as you read His word, you find peace. Just before the sermon today, I’ve got a good wife, she gave me a card. I didn’t know who it was from. I’ve had a lot of cards lately, and so I decided to open this one up and – aha! – it was from my sweet wife. And she quoted our scripture reading, of all things! And I looked at her and she saw me look at it real quick, and she said, “You didn’t read it!” And I thought, “Well, Dear, it’s my scripture reading that I chose for today!” “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God, and the God of Peace...” He’ll give you this peace that passes understanding.

Well, it comes from knowing Him. The Bible is full of promises like the one there in Philippians where – and when you acquaint yourselves with these promises, there’s power in the Word of God to make physiological and psychological changes in your body that a pill and an antacid cannot do. It’s real! It’s true, Friends. You know, I’ve done other things, you know. When I start getting excited, I start going [inhales and exhales deeply]. Haven’t you heard this before? “Take some deep breaths.” Thomas Jefferson said, “You know, when you start becoming anxious and you’re going to say something angry, count to ten. If that doesn’t work, count to ten again.” Just keep counting. And we’ve got all these little rituals that we go through to try to find rest, to settle down.

The promises of God is where the power is. Whenever the devil tempted Jesus to do something wrong, Christ met every temptation with the Word of God. Acquaint yourself with Him and be at peace, is what Job tells us. Philippians 4:6 and 7, I’ll read it again: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer...” – so how do we find peace? By prayer --- “...in supplication...” – another form of prayer – “...with thanksgiving. Focus on what you’ve got to be grateful for. A lot of times we’re restless and agitated because we forget about our blessings. And because our house isn’t full of chickens and goats and lizards and things, we’re unhappy with our family, and we don’t know how much worse it could be. Thank God for your family. Thank Him. “....With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God...” In othere words, make your requests to God, pray and watch what happens. You pray, you supplicate, you request, you thank, and the God of peace will give you that peace that passes all understanding, and He’ll guard your hearts and minds through Jesus.” Guard them against what? Guard them against the attacks of the devil to take away your peace.

You know, I’m convinced that right along with the devil tempting Christians to sin, to destroy their witness, I’m talking about these gross moral failures, he loves to grandstand and highlight and accentuate when a Christian falls in a major way, like David and Bathsheba. But right along with that, right up there at the top, one of the most effective things the devil can do to destroy a Christian’s witness, is to make us restless. When we don’t have peace, and the strongest witness is when a Christian can have peace through trial. When you’re going through a storm and you’re at rest, that’s what converted Westley. You’ve heard me talk about that several times in the last few weeks. To be able to have peace in a storm – that’s where a Christian really shines, amen? When everybody around you is anxious, and everybody is fretting, and David said, “I will lay me down and rest.” Even if Saul had the whole nation hunting for him to kill him, David could sleep like a baby because he knew that God was with him. How do we find peace? Well, we read God’s word, we pray. We need to have a peace conference with the Prince of Peace, is one of the ways to have peace.

For most men, the world is centered in self, which is misery. To have one’s world centered in God is peace. I don’t know who said that, but I liked it, it was good. Peace comes from meditation. That’s not one of the things on my list. I’m not talking about transcendental meditation. The Bible tells us as Christians to meditate on God. You know, this week we took a little break, and the family went up to Covalo where we’ve got our cabin. That’s my mountaintop, so to speak. And our home is up on a hill and we can look down – a few of you have been there with us – and you can look down and see the valley of Covalo, Round Valley down below, and one of our neighbors, we gave him some wood, and as a gift, he made me an oak swing, which is kind of fun. I came home one day and there’s this oak swing, that two people can sit in, hanging in front of our house. And I asked all my friends, I said, “Where’d that swing come from?” And they go, “Well, I don’t know!”

We finally found out Grandpa made it for us. Beautiful oak swing, craftsman. So I went out there on the second story, and I sat down in the oak swing. I noticed Karen was spending a lot of time in the oak swing this last trip up there, because she was doing her meditating, and embroidering. Is that what it was, Dear? Not macrame, I forget what it is. Not knitting. Embroidery, yeah. And she was just sitting up there, and I was watching her just meditate, and I was getting restless because I thought about the dishes in the sink, and she’s up there... So finally I thought, ‘I need to try that!’ And so I went up there, and I just kind of rocked back and forth, put my feet up on the rail, and surveyed the trees, and the meadows and the birds, and you know what? A little bit of time out in God’s creation, listening to that still, small voice... You know the Bible tells us to be still, just be still, and know that He is God. Sometimes peace comes from just taking the breath, being still... The closest you’re going to get to looking at God is looking at what He made... look at His creation and there’s a real rest and a peace that comes at a time like that. Meditating.

The Bible talks about this. Isaiah 26 -- Here’s a promise for you – Isaiah 26 verse 3: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” Keep your mind fixed on God, trust in God, and you’ll have peace! So many times we get into trouble because we stop trusting God, or we forget to trust God, and we lose our perfect peace. When a Christian stays his mind on God, he develops a wonderful “calm-plex.” Did you get that? How many would like a calm-plex? I don’t mean a complex – I mean a calm-plex! And when you stay your mind on God, you can have that calm-plex. That’s where it comes from. There’s a sign in front a church and it said, “If life is a puzzle, look here for the missing peace.” And the word was spelled “p-e-a-c-e”. Is that how you spell “piece” like “piece of a puzzle?” Oh yeah, no no, that’s right, that’s how it’s supposed to be. I messed up my own illustration. And it won’t be the last time! It was a sign out in front of a church that said, “If like seems like a puzzle, look for the missing piece,” and it was spelled like peace, “p-e-a-c-e.” Meaning that, you can look in here, so not only is it reading the word, not only is it through meditation, through prayer, through coming I’m hoping that you’re learning about peace right now, in this environment, and those who are watching. This is a church setting.

We can learn about the peace of God by fellowship with other people that know the Prince of Peace. And so, very simple things that you’ve heard before, but this is where we find that peace. Now some of you were hoping I wasn’t going to get to this point, but it’s very biblical, and it’s one of the key issues. Peace comes from obedience. Real peace comes from knowing that you’re in God’s will, from obeying, from surrendering. Philippians 4 verse 9: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do.” Paul says, “Do the things I’ve been teaching you, and the God of peace will be with you.” That’s our message, the God of peace. He says, “Do the things I’ve talked about, and the God of peace will be with you.” Here’s a very important one. Psalm 37:37: “Mark the blameless man and observe the upright..” -- a blameless, upright man – “... for the future of that man is...” – guess what? --- “....peace.” The blameless, upright man has peace. And here’s a scripture that we’re going to put on the screen. Psalms 119 verse 165: “Great peace...” – what kind of peace? Say it with me, ‘Great peace.” People don’t associate peace with obedience, but this is what it says --- “Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing will offend them.” When we know that we are in the middle of God’s will, and we’re doing what He’s revealed, we’ve got peace.

You know, I’ve often found it’s true. I’ll be counseling with someone who’s especially fretful, nervous, agitated, and I can ask them, “Is there something in your life that you’re doing that you believe is out of harmony with God’s will?” “Well, yeah, I’ve been stealing from my employer. You think there’s a connection between my restlessness and my anxiety and my looking over my shoulder and knowing that I’m a thief?” Yeah, you can’t have peace when you’re disobeying God. Wouldn’t you want it that way? How many of you want your children to be at peace when they’re disobeying you? To feel good about defying you? God loves you too much to let you have peace when you are knowingly disobeying your conscience and His will. Say amen! He loves you too much! And so, a great deal of our peace is lost when we deliberately turn off the path that God has outlined for us.What’s a perfect example of that? Jonah was doing fine until he ran west when God said go East.

He found himself in the storm. He lost his peace when he went against the will of God.And the Bible, of course, is full of stories like that. Peter was walking on water in a storm when he kept his eyes on Jesus. But then he wanted to see if his friends were watching when pride took over, then fear took over, and he sank. We lose our peace when we cease to trust the Lord and obey Him. I’m not done. Isaiah 32 verse 17, talking about obedience and peace: “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” Do you want peace? Do you really want peace? Do you want the things that make for peace? A heart that’s submitted to God’s will is what ultimately brings that perfect peace that passes understanding. Isaiah 4:18: “Oh that you had heeded my commandments ...” – listen to what He says – “Oh, that you had heeded my commandments, then your peace would have been like a river...” --you’ve heard that song --- “...and your righteousness like the waves of the sea!” You notice Isaiah doesn’t say, “Oh, if you had heeded my commandments, your peace would have been like a brook. Like a creek.”

You know why? A creek dries up. A brook dried up. But a river doesn’t dry up. If you look on a map, when there’sa river, it’s because it runs year round. It might go down, it might come up, but it’s constant. How many of you would like to have peace like a river? Constant peace. It is not subject to a drought, it is not subject to a famine, it’s not subject to a flood, it just keeps on moving. It’s always there. It’s available. And He says, “If you had heeded my commandments, your peace would have been like a river.” “Emotional peace and calm,” Erwin Lutzer (sp?) said, “Emotional peace and calm come after doing God’s will, and not before.” I remember one time I stole from my employer. I used to work at Baskin Robbins, some of you have heard me tell this story. I never forgot. Years later, I became a Christian. This is back when I was 15 years old. Miami Beach, Lincoln Mall. I helped them open this brand new Baskin Robbins. It wasn’t very much. I stole 15 – maybe 10, 15 dollars—when I ran away from home. I knew where he kept the money locked in the freezer, and I had a key, and I broke in and I stole. Ran away, never came home again. Years later, I became a Christian, and the Holy Spirit said, “Doug, you need to go see Mr. Scott and pay him back.” Once the Holy Spirit brought that up to me, I didn’t want to do it, and I lost my peace.

I was in Florida, visiting the family, and thought, “Oh, that’s been 20 years ago. What does he care? I mean, it’s just a little amount. I mean, I’ve accepted Christ. I know God’s forgiven me, I haven’t thought about this for years. Why is it bothering me now? Now, this is a very important point. Progressive peace like this, to keep your peace, means continually walking in God’s will as He reveals things. I’ve met people who are Christians at other churches, they learn some new truth, and they say, “I don’t want to walk in that because that’s not like what I’e believed.” They lose their peace! Because God reveals a new light, and they refuse to walk in it. Well, I didn’t want to go to Baskin Robbins. All the other times I wanted to go to Baskin Robbins, but I didn’t want to go that time, because it was confessing that I had stolen. Finally, God gave me the grace. I was on Lincoln Mall, I walked up the street, I saw the stores, my hands were sweating, I went in, and I talked to the man who was behind the counter. I said, “I’d like to speak to Mr. Scott.” He said, “Scott?” I said, “The one who owns this store.” He said, “Oh, he sold this store to our family years ago.” And you know what? I said, “Do you know how to reach him?” “No, we don’t know where he is now. We’ve lost contact.” My peace came back. God didn’t want my $15 or $10. He wanted my willingness to make things right. And once I was willing to do what God did for me, once I was willing to do what God had asked me to do, I had my peace back again. Peace comes from a willingness to do God’s will.

As I said, there’s no peace for the wicked, the Bible says. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. You want to find peace? You find Christ, you find peace.When the Gospel begins, the angel’ saying, “Peace and Goodwill to Men.” When Christ enters the world, he enters with the proclamation of peace. When Jesus left, are you aware that it says in the Gospel of John, three times, Jesus said “Shalom, Shalom, Shalom.” You remember he appears to the disciples in the upper room. What does He say? “Peace be unto you.” Then again Jesus says, and this is John 20 verse 19 to 21, then He says again, “Peace unto you.” Then you go to verse 26, “Peace to you.” Three times Jesus says, after He rises from the dead, “Peace. Shalom. Shalom. Shalom.” He came to give us peace, that’s why He’s called the Prince of Peace. Ephesians chapter 2 verse 14 to 17, now I’m going to read for a minute, so I want you to stay with me here. Ephesians 2 verse 14: “For He himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” Remember, we’re at war with God.

Jesus unites us. “Having abolished in His flesh the enmity that was in the law of commandments contained in ordinances so as to create in himself a new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both to God in one, in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who are afar off, an to those who are near it.” Did you catch that? It says it again, three times. Peace, peace, peace. God wants us to have that peace. John 14:27, oh there’s 430 references, how can I cover it all? God wants you to have peace! “Peace I leave with you,” Jesus says. “My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, do I give unto you.” It’s not poiltical peace, it’s not social peace, it’s not physical peace, it’s not domestic peace, it’s not financial peace. It’s a peace that “I give not like the world gives.” A peace like a river, a peace that passes understanding. Great peace. Would you like that peace? John 16:33: “These things I’ve spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace.” In the world, you’re going to have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Christ said that no matter what’s happening in the world, you can have peace that passes understanding. There may be storms, but Jesus is Exhibit A of somebody who was not subject to outward circumstances. In a storm, He still had that peace. Have you noticed when you study Christ, He is the example of what that peace is? He’s the essence of that peace is. Was Jesus’ peace, the inner peace that He had with His Father, was it contingent on physical relief? Or did he still have that peace w hen He was tortured. Did Jesus only have that peace when he had money, or was He still at peace when He was in poverty and privation? He could sleep in a storm. It wasn’t dependent on social acceptance. Christ still had that peace when He was forsaken by His people. It wasn’t conditional on domestic bliss. His own brothers and family often misunderstood Him. The peace that Jesus had withstood the test of everything the world had to throw at Him.

The whole, all the legions of Hell, assailed Him to take away His peace, and they couldn’t touch it, because it was hidden in God. You know, when Karen and I went to Australia a couple of years ago, we went on a diving trip at the end of our preaching schedule there, and we went out to dive the Great Barrier Reef. And the little boat we were on, I guess there were about 20 people on the boat, we got caught in a storm. Of all things, we left our kids home. Nathan was still nursing, and she was trying to wean him, and we thought he was getting even with us because this cyclone came called “Nathan.” The cyclone was called “Nathan.” And it just messed up our dive trip. And at one point they said, “We’re going to have to cancel,” even though we had paid well to go on these three days of diving. And they said, “You know, your lives are at risk. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve paid. We’ve got to go for shelter.

There’s a cyclone out there!” And we went through this terrible storm trying to make back for land. Finally that night, the captain got behind an island that was really a big rock. And as long as he was anchored behind the rock, the storm was raging around us, but we were sleeping calmly, sheltered from the wind and the storm by this island rock. Well, during the night, as the boat gently rocked, the anchor began to slip. We woke up at one point during the night, and the boat began to rock so violently that, to keep myself from flopping out of bed, I had my heels wedged in this little lip on the bottom of the bed, because the boat was going like this, and I was standing up in bed. I said, “Karen, this is really something, isn’t it!” Ha! Then you heard the motor start up again.

The captain had to pull in behind the island, and then it was calm again. You know, Jesus is our Rock. And the world is full of storms. And it’s only as we find shelter under His wing, so to speak, that we can have peace. Eternal peace! How many want that? Now we’re talking about how to have peace in this life, but I don’t want to leave this subject without remind you God promises peace beyond. Psalm 37, verse 11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Someday, there will be nothing but perfect peace everywhere. Isaiah 11, verse 6: “The wolf also will dwell with the lamb. The leopard will lie down with the young goat. And the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child will lead them.”

Peace in creation, peace in our relationships, peace in the whole world. I want part of that eternal peace, don’t you, Friends? And then, finally, I don’t want to close without this: God has not only called you to be at peace, He’s not only the God of Peace, you can be a peacemaker. He wants you to share that peace with others. As we go from this place, if you’ve found peace in His promises today, don’t keep it to yourself, because peace, like happiness, is something you retain by giving it away, as you become a peacemaker. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Sons of God.” How are we to be peacemakers? Are we to become politicians and sit at the UN? Or, as Christian peacemakers, do we invite people to make peace with their God? That’s the primary thing. Not only that. Luke Chapter 10 verse 5, when Jesus sent out the apostles, preaching, the first thing they were to say when they entered a home, the first thing you say is, “Peace to this house.”

They’d enter the home and they’d say, “Shalom.” Christ came to bring us peace. He sends you to bring other people peace. The priest, wen he would bless the people, he would say, as he lifted up his hands, there in Numbers chapter 6 verse 24: “The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord lift His face to shine upn you and be gracious until you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you – Shalom. Peace.” That was the blessing. You are a nation of priests. We are to give this benediction to a world that’s in turmoil. We invite the prince of peace into our hearts, and then we communicate Him to the world that is anxious and fretful in feeling. I feel better just sharing this all with you.

I don’t know if you got anything out of this, but this is a Bible study that did my heart good. I want to have that kind of peace that the devil cannot touch or take away. The kind of peace that Jesus had in a world of tribulation. Would you like that peace, dear Friends? You can have it by relationship with God, communion in His word, fellowship with His people, having Christ abiding in His heart, through supplication and prayer, you can find that peace that passes undertanding, that will be consistent as a rule, and if that’s your desire, then let’s sing about that peace together. Reach for your hymnals, and we’ll sing “Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace”, 467. Let’s stand together as we sing......

(Song...)

There are people here who may not have that peace. You want that peace like a river? You want that great peace? You want that exceeding peace, that peace that passes understanding, and you’ve heard about it today? If you know God, you’ll know that peace. Some of you maybe have not made a complete surrender of your hearts to God. There may be things in your life that are robbing you from that peace that God wants you to have, and it comes from inviting the Prince of Peace into your heart. You need to have some time where you sit down at the council table and make a treaty with the Prince of Peace. Would you like to do that now? Come as we sing verse two. We’d like to have prayer for you that you can leave this place today having that abiding peace.

(Song, verse two...)

Now we’re going to pray in a moment for those who come forward. I want to tie everything together here at the end. You might have real financial problems in your life, but you can still have peace. You might have physical pain, but you can still have peace. You might have domestic hardships, there could be strife in your home. You can still have peace. You can leave this place today, no matter what your circumstances might be. It might be political problems and you can still have peace. You might have a dangerous neighborhood, civil problems, but you can still have peace. Would you like that peace, friends? Give your heart to the Lord. Let go of anything that may be holding you back, and you can have that assurance. As we sing the last verse, verse four.

(Song, verse four...)

I don’t know if it does for you what it does for me. This is one of the greatest hymns of the Christian church. Fantastic lyrics: “Sweep over my spirit in fathomless billows of love.” I want to read to you verse three, I feel like I left something out. It really belongs at the end, anyway. “I believe when I rise to that city of peace, where the Author of peace I shall see, that one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing in that heavenly kingdom will be, ‘Peace, peace, that eternal peace....’”. Don’t you want that, Friends? I just love this message in this song. I just love this theme in the Bible. God came, his name is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Prince of Peace. He came to give you peace. And if you don’t have that peace now, it’s not because it’s His plan. It’s His will that you have that peace. You’ve learned today what to do that you can have that peace, and I hope that that is your prayer, your determination.

Father in heaven, thank you for the message from your Word, through your Spirit, that you want us to have peace. Not only in the world, and eternity, but now, even through tribulation we can have peace. A peace that cannot be dictated by finances or physical problems. A peace that is not subject to political or civil volatility. A peace that can still be like a river, even though there might be domestic problems, or strife even in the church family. And Lord, we are so thankful that we know that You are willing to come into our hearts, that that peace can permeate every corner of our lives, and that we can walk on the water, through the storm, because we keep our eyes on Jesus. Please bless us, Lord, that our ship can be sheltered in that haven of rest though the storm rages around us. Give us that peace as we go from this place that we can be peacemakers for Thee. That we can be witnesses for you by having this abiding rest in our souls. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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