Isn't there is a universal longing for that elusive condition?
Yes, there are those who relish constant turmoil, but I like to think that they are the minority. As a whole, don't we all want peace, whether it be between nations, between individuals, or in our own hearts?
This talk will focus on the last one…although the three levels are intertwined. It would be difficult to believe if all 7 billion of us humans had inner peace there would be university students rioting when their football coach was fired (for doing too little when informed child rape), or that a nation would be rushing to develop a nuclear weapon while at the same time hoping to wipe the only Jewish nation off the map.
And perhaps it is stories like that which are the best indicators of just how how tumultuous the seas or our hearts are…how unpeaceful our souls are. As I was typing this portion I went to The Drudge Report and here is a selection of some of the links I found there:
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
- MF GLOBAL fires 1,000 workers…
- Millions lose health insurance…
- UPDATE: PENTAGON WARNED TROOP REMAINS BEING DUMPED IN LANDFILL…
- WAR DRUMS: GOOGLE releases satellite images of Iranian 'nuke' facilities…
- 10-year-old girl gives birth…
- KIDNAPPED BASEBALL PLAYER FOUND SAFE…
- Explosion in Iran rocks Revolutionary Guards military base…
- Arab League Votes to Suspend Syria over Crackdown…
- CHICAGOLAND: Thug punches out older man on train platform…
- Crowd Laughs, Taunts: 'He knocked his *** out!' [ Swear word edited out ]
- ABRAMOFF: Congress Members Took Part in Insider Trading…
- DEATH, DISEASE PLAGUE 'OCCUPY' PROTESTS…1
Obviously Drudge hasn't become successful by focusing his headlines on stories about cute kittens, rainbows, and unicorns…but he's not making the stories up. Perhaps a somewhat skewed one…but The Drudge Report is a reflection of modern existence…
MF Global did fire 1,000 works after committing massive fraud. They may not have 100% confirmed that the 10 year old girl had a child in Mexico, but it isn't hard to believe given…
In August last year, an 11-year-old known only as Amalia had a child two weeks prematurely after being raped repeatedly by her stepfather when she was 10 years old.2
I guess the age of consent at 12 didn't help either on of those girls out…
And a Washington Nationals baseball player was kidnapped in Venezuela, Syria is killing peaceful demonstrators, the elderly are being attacked while heartless people look on, and our politicians use their influence to line their pockets while they ransom on our children's future.
The "unpeaceful" list could go on ad infinitum.
Not only are all those stories indicative of the lack of inner peace among the inhabitants of this blue world, just hearing about them can complicate having our own inner peace, can't it? I mentioned in a recent sermon a line from Poison's "Something to Believe In" where Bret Michaels sings what I occasionally feel:
Sometimes I wish to God I didn't know now
The things I didn't know then
With knowledge, as is also true with sin, once Pandora's Box is open there is no way to put all the awareness, or evil, back in it.
Having said that, are we doomed to perpetual inner toil?
The headlines (and the realities behind them) aren't going to go away. Even worse, we (or the ones we love) can easily become the subject of one of the unpeaceful stories.
And I'm not talking about peace in heaven, where "[God] will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no ore, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
How about right here? Right now?
Can we have peace?
Peace Is Free
Before we see our Lord's answer in the Bible…let me explain quickly why I have peace on the brain. I've been enjoying a band called Black Stone Cherry, and in one of their songs they have the line that is the title of this sermon: "Don't you bring your sadness down on me, peace is free." I can't say I entirely understand everything the tune is trying to say…or that I entirely agree with the parts I do…for instance when the lead singer says, "Raise up your glasses and forget about our hate"…I'll give you the latter…but the former depends on what is in the glass or, perhaps, how many glasses it is (again, based on what is in them) 🙂
However, three words from that song…which happen to be its title…really, really stuck with me.
"Peace is free."
So, in addition to my question about whether we can have peace right here, right now…is is it free?
Or did Black Stone Cherry raise their glasses one too many times before writing their song?
The Importance of Peace
The Bible makes it pretty clear that peace is important…but, instead of trying to prove that hear and now, when you go home search for the words "grace" and "peace" in your Bible. You'll see Paul wishing his recipients grace and peace at least a dozen times.
And, if you just search for peace, you'll see John quote Jesus saying, "Peace be with you" to His disciples three times after his resurrection (John 20:19, 21, 26), Peter four times wishing his readers peace (twice in both his letters), and even Jude getting into the mix with his, "May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you" (Jude 2).
And obviously it's not just limited to that in the pages of Scripture.
Something the Holy Spirit has inspired the writers to wish for us that many times must be important.
Wanting inner peace isn't some selfish pursuit…it's what God desires for us too.
Yes, You Can Have Peace Here and Now
First, what I consider the easy question to answer. Can you have peace here and now?
We'll answer that with two scriptures. First John 14:27:
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 hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Before we discuss Jesus' words, let's also look at the second one, Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.
So, let's think about it. First, we have Paul, Peter, and Jude wishing us peace. We have Jesus promising to give a peace that is better than what the world can provide, and Paul saying that the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds."
You don't have to be an accomplished logician to figure out the answer to that question, do you?
Of course we can have peace here and now!
But how do we get that peace?
Well, those two references answer that question too…
First, you have to seek peace from the right place…or rather…the right person.
Jesus' disciples knew what kind of peace the world gives…how fickle and transient it is…so Jesus made a point of noting that His peace is dissimilar from the world's.
And considering He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) it shouldn't surprise us that Jesus' peace is different. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says that "God is not a God of confusion but of peace" and Romans 16:20 (in rather ironic wording) says, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."
Now, going back into my broken record mode…
By the way, do the youngins here understand what "like a broken record" means and why?
It hit me as I was assembling my sermon many of you might have never dealt with a "broken record."
Often when a vinyl album would get a scratch, it would cause it to play the same part over-and-over-and-over again.
So…going back to the question of where you get peace…and me being like a broken record.
You only have two places you can go for peace.
You either will go to the Prince of Peace or the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)…and considering that the prince of the power of the air is also the father of lies (John 8:44)…I hope it won't be too hard to figure out which one you should be looking for peace from.
So, yes you can have peace here and now…but you must first make sure you are going to the right source.
What about Paul's words…how do they answer the question of how to have peace here and now? Let's reread them:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).
Paul's answer to how you can have peace here and now can be summed up with two words:
No magic words. No special actions. No long processes. Just…
Now, I know some here…perhaps everyone here…can say they've done that and still been left with restless nights, tortured thoughts, and sometimes overwhelming anxieties.
Unlike the father of lies, we know (and it is reiterated in Titus 1:2) that God never lies…so if he promises a peace "which surpasses all understanding," He will.
It would be impossible, with the constraints of time, to veer off into why Christians so often are without peace…what the causes are…but we know the issue isn't with God. For now, just don't give up…and try to have the confidence that David did when he said to our Lord, "And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant" (2 Samuel 7:28).
And try to be like Abraham, who was "fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised" (Romans 4:21).
God can give you peace.
God promised to give you peace.
God will give you peace.
Is it Free?
Which leaves us with final question…
Is Cold Stone Cherry accurate when they say peace is free?
Well, I'd say they are 100% right in that you can't buy peace…otherwise rich people wouldn't be spending so much money trying to find happiness…and so much money on psychiatrists and lawyers.
And, we know from Jesus and Paul's words that it is a gift.
Jesus said "my peace I give you" and Paul wrote that all we have to do is pray. Since our government has not yet figured out how to tax prayers, we are still left with peace costing us…
For us, peace is free.
But as my dear wife pointed out to me when we were chatting yesterday about peace between nations, peace is never really free. For those of us in this country it has been paid for by the blood of our heroes since the day our forefathers founded our republic. The peace we have here on this continent, as imperfect as it is, has been very costly.
Someone always pays for peace.
Of course, it didn't have to be that way. If Satan had recognized how blessed he was and remained a loyal angel…and if our first parents had trusted their creator more than the snake, peace wouldn't cost anything.
It would just be.
And just like peace between nations has cost rivers of blood, the peace Jesus offers has cost blood that is more valuable than every drop that has been spilt on a battlefield.
Let's wrap up by looking at Colossians 1:19-23:
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Now, the peace Paul is speaking of there is not the inner peace that we've been discussing today…but if we were not reconciled by Christ's blood I can assure you we would have no chance at inner peace. We need the "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" that Romans 5:1 speaks of if we want peace within.
That's because Jesus' promises…God's promises…of peace are only for the saved…and because nobody in their right mind can have peace if they know their eternity is going to be with the prince of the power of the air.
Yes, you can have peace here and now.
All you have to do is go to the right source and ask God.
And yes, peace is free…for you…for me.
But it was very, very costly to the Godhead.
1DRUDGE REPORT 2012®. (n.d.). Drudge Report. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://drudgereport.com/
2Girl, 10, gives birth to baby in Mexico. (2011, November 11). Mail Online. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2060241/Girl-10-gives-birth-baby-Mexico.html