Sermon Notes from our Pastors

 
 

GOD’S PROMISES FOR THE NEW YEAR

from the book of Philippians

 

The Promise of Peace

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

January 16, 2022

We all have bad days – days where it seems that everything that could go wrong does go wrong, and we find ourselves frustrated and angry. No matter what we do, we just can’t seem to turn things around and find peace.

Or maybe the peace you are lacking in your life is not the result of frustration because of things gone wrong, but the result of a jam-packed schedule in which you feel like you have no room to relax and breathe. The culture in which we live teaches us to never slow down until we have achieved our dreams and are successful, whatever that means. It’s this mindset of hustle. Culture says you can go and go and go and achieve and work and perform, and you can have anything and everything you want in life as long as you sacrifice everything to get it. When we are working and running this hard, there is no peace to be found.

Peace is something we all want. We want to be able to rest, to not have to worry, to have life go smoothly, and to feel free to enjoy life. We want to be able to enjoy ourselves and not be burdened and weighed down with the worries and frustrations of life.

But the pressure to hustle is all around us. In school, students have to hustle for good grades and for people’s approval and for popularity. We hustle to have the right-shaped body. In sports, athletes have to hustle for achievement. In school, teenagers have to hustle for scholarships or future financial success. And if we are being honest – when it comes to spirituality – we sometimes feel like we have to hustle to be a good enough person for God to accept us.

It is exhausting to live this way! I think we hustle like this to try and fix our deepest needs. As humans, we all have the same basic needs: to be loved and to belong, for our life to matter and have purpose, and to be at peace.

The problem is that we look for peace in ourselves and our abilities. We try to control everything and everyone in our lives. We think that if we can control the variables of our lives and get everything just right, then we will sense and be at peace.

We may pay lip service to self-care, but the reality is that the “self-care” we are doing is binging shows on Netflix or scrolling through social media in an attempt to shut off our minds from the pressures and frustrations of our days, instead of taking actual downtime to unplug and be quiet.

In the 1600’s, French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

We can’t sit silently at the feet of Jesus, soaking in the peace that only He can provide, if we don’t even know how to slow down and shut off the distractions of life. But here’s the thing: we aren’t the providers of peace – Jesus is!

And here’s what I know about our relationship with Jesus: He doesn’t want us to have a sense of peace, He wants us to have the real thing, to possess real peace. He wants us to have the full picture and the full reality of what peace is. And peace is not a feeling. It’s not a sense of everything being calm. It’s not the absence of something. The image of peace found in the Bible is that of completion.

From a Biblical perspective, peace is defined as “total well-being, contentment, and wholeness.” But the question that begs to be asked is: “How can we achieve this?”

The answer: By living for Jesus and asking for it. The Holy Spirit brings the sense of well-being, contentment, and wholeness to believers, whatever their outward circumstances may be. Peace is therefore an indication of the Holy Spirit’s presence in an individual’s life.

Prior to becoming followers of Jesus, humans lack true peace. This is because our relationship with God was incomplete – there was a divide created. Humanity was created by God to be in relationship with God, and because of our own mistakes, our own failures, our own rebellion, we severed that relationship and we broke what was complete. Because of that, we lost our peace with God.

But this was not acceptable to God because of how much He loves us and how badly He wants to be in close relationship with us, so He provided a way for us to be reconnected with Him – a way for our relationship to be restored – a way for us to find true peace. And that way was through His Son, Jesus.

In Isaiah 9:6, we see the promise of the arrival of Jesus, our Savior, and thus, the arrival of peace.

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

What an exciting promise for us people who lack peace and therefore try to find the correct formula for peace in our lives.

Jesus is the Messiah who stepped into the world. He’s the child who was born unto us. He’s the Son who was given. And with a relationship with Him comes peace. But listen, this is what I love: Jesus didn’t bring peace like it’s something He brought with Him in a bag or in His pockets. No, you see, He didn’t bring peace – Jesus IS peace! There’s a big difference between bringing something that you have and showing up and being who you are. And so when Jesus stepped into the world, what came with Him was peace because He IS peace. He is the Prince of Peace.

And what He brings is the promise of peace. Not the feeling of peace. Not the sense of peace. He brings the reality of peace and steps into our lives.

And here’s probably the number one most important thing that I want you to know today: Because the Prince of Peace stepped into the world, you and I – as long as we place our belief and trust in Him – we can be at peace with God.

And so, when we look at the chaos that sometimes is life – the chaos of this world – we need to look at it through the lens of Jesus’ peace. Philippians 4:6 tells us:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

God want us to have true peace – even in the midst of chaos – by having us not worry about anything, and pray about everything. When we worry, it means that we are not trusting God. That’s sin. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us that we can cast our anxiety – our worries – on Jesus because He cares for us. When we do this, it brings us peace. And then we see that when we pray about everything, we can have true peace. This means that all things in our lives are of concern to God, whether they are big or small. Where you move, who you marry, what job you get, even your hobbies. God cares about it all. And what happens when we stop worrying and decide to pray about everything? Look at verse 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.” – Philippians 4:7

And then in verse 8:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 

In order to make sure that we are saying only the things what we should be saying and that we aren’t being careless with our words, we should strive to think about the things mentioned in this passage. We need to focus our minds on the things of God and then our hearts will change and our tongues will pour out the overflow of our heart. And do you know what will be in our heart that will pour out of us? It’s the peace of Jesus!

This does not mean that all of the circumstances of our lives will be peaceful or easy. But what it means is that in our hearts, we will be confident that we have the peace of Jesus, and that God is at peace with us. And that is so important because here’s what transpires out of that understanding: When we know that we am at peace with God, we can now be at peace with ourselves.

Because we have the peace of Christ inside of us, God is calling us to bring peace into places and situations that lack peace. Things aren’t always going to make sense, but if you have the peace of Jesus, then that’s more than enough for you to step out in faith and trust that God knows what He’s doing. And you know what? There’s never been a time in the history of forever that God did not know what He was doing and did not have the best interests of His children in mind.

Romans 14:17 says this:

“The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy.” – Romans 14:17

And so, if it’s peace, it’s God. If it’s not peace, it’s not God. Philippians 4:9 tells us this:

“…and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:9

How comforting is it to know that the God of peace is with us? Ultimately, this is about God dwelling with and in us. He wants us to be holy, pure, and right. So the questions we must ask ourselves are these:

  • Will we trust Him and not worry?
  • Will we pray about everything in our life?
  • Will we read, study, and meditate on the Word of God?

If we follow Jesus whole heartedly and do these things, we have the promise of peace in our lives.

Do you want that peace?