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How to receive personal peace? a sermon

by Carl Walker

I. God’s peace promised

Matthew 11: 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  29            Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

  

Would you like to find rest for your soul?  God offers it but few find it.

 

Isaiah 55:1,2   1  “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.”

2  “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.”

 

The real God offers real peace and only the real God can deliver.

 

A.        We live in a world where there is a lack of peace.

The peace I’m talking about it defined by the dictionary this way: peace is inner contentment, serenity, peace of mind. 

 

            1.  You don’t have to look very far to see a lack of personal peace in the world.  Drug addiction, alcoholism, all types of addictions: shopping, gambling, aren’t these all attempts at achieving personal peace.

            Consider the huge amount of advertising that plays on a lack of peace;  “if you get this toothpaste, if you get this soap, you’ll be acceptable”.

            There are messages we get from the world that we believe; how many people believe they must be in a relationship to have peace, or that they must be in a career, or that something else, some other circumstance is necessary to give them peace.

           

            What is wrong with seeking peace in all these things.    They don’t deliver,

 

            3.               What about Christians, do Christians ever have a lack of peace.  A person may have peace with God, they may be saved and still have a lack of peace.  How many negative emotions are expressions of a lack of personal peace.   Anger, when you are angry you don’t have peace; worry, when you worry you don’t have peace; guilt, shame, hate, anxiety, insecurity,  any inner turmoil

 

How much of our lives is taken up with a lack of peace?  What would you be willing to do to have more peace?

 

B.        The real God promises real peace

 

If God promises peace and we want peace what is the problem?  Isaiah 55:2 2  “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?

In my own life the reason I didn’t have peace is because of the way I was seeking peace, what I thought would give me peace.  Listen to me, a lot of Christians do not have peace and it is not because God does not want them to have peace.

 

           

 

II. God’s peace delivered

A.  Purpose statement

I want you to grade me on this: if you don’t have as much peace and serenity as you want I believe what I have to say today will equip you to receive a greater level of peace from God. 

                        1             Not passive 

I want to deal with some misconceptions first.  

                        a.            I don’t believe it is some magical thing that we just expect to have peace.   That somehow it just happens and never admit it if you don’t

                        b.            I believe becoming a Christian, that is being changed by God, is necessary for receiving God’s peace but I don’t believe becoming a Christian automatically gives us the level of peace God has for us.  If you are a Christian, and you don’t have peace, I don’t think you need to blame yourself and God wants you to grow in having His peace. 

                        c.            And I don’t believe that it is up to us to just grit our teeth and pretend to have peace, or that some how we just do it. 

                        e.            I don’t believe it is an issue of waiting around until God decides one day to give us peace.  Although I have seen God just zap people with peace but I don’t believe the passive approach bears the best fruit. 

 

                        2.            God encourages us to be active seekers

Matthew 7:7-11, 7  "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8  "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  This indicates that God enjoys having His people enter into an active, persistent relationship with Him in order to receive His promises

 

B. Understand why people don’t have peace

To understand how to seek God’s peace we first need to understand why people don’t have peace.  When a person doesn’t have peace I think it is because of several issues.  It is like an onion with layers and usually  we have to deal with the layers one at a time.  Let me try to explain what I’m talking about. 

 

C. two examples

                        1.            Example and remedy

            One of my layers was looking to money to give me peace.  The truth is much of my life I've looked to money to have peace.  If I didn’t have money, or I couldn’t see how my money was going to be supplied I didn’t have peace.  I was uptight about it a lot.

             How much money would it take to give a person peace about money; an awful lot. 

            Because I was seeking peace in money what would have happened to me if I had ever had enough?  It would block me from knowing God.  I’m not saying it is wrong or bad to be concerned with money or to have money.  I’m not saying that it is not important to take care of money.  But I am saying that as long as I was looking to money to give me peace it will be difficult, if not impossible to have peace.

 

Let me ask this question how do I know when I’m trusting in money and not God.  When if I loose money, or my money is threatened, I loose peace.  When money or the control of money is more important than people, didn’t the Lord say, “as you treat the least of these; that’s how you treat me”?  When the control of money is more important than people’s feelings; that is that when you are willing to be unkind to people who interfere with what you want to do –that’s an indication of a peace stealing idol.

 

A huge source of a lack of peace has to do with trying to find peace in something other than Christ.

 

So this is what happens.  I’m sitting around one day with a huge lack of peace and I ask myself what would it take for me to have peace.  Oh, money.   Can money deliver God’s peace? No

 

So when I realize I’ve believed a lie I can confess that to God and I can ask God to change my heart.  I believe that is what I John 1:9 is about If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The pathway to peace starts with a commitment to do things God’s way.  And what do you do if you don’t have a commitment to do things God’s way, you ask God  for it.

 

Part of turning from an idol of believing money could give me peace is asking God to enable me to believe His promise to provide for me Matthew 6:33 “Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

 

Now, because I was seeking peace in money I developed some behavior patterns that were negative.  I used credit card money when I wasn’t satisfied with what God supplied.  I borrowed money to go into risky businesses.  I treated my wife like my plans were more important than she was.

 

Now for me that calls for a lot of prayer.  I’m going to have to ask God to give me a faith that will enable me to have peace in Him doing what feels like it will cause problems.

 

So every time I feel myself being tempted to follow the old pattern I had when I thought money could give me peace  I pray like this.

 

I confess believing money could give me peace is sin.

“Father, please forgive me for ever believing money could give me peace.  The truth is if I ever had enough money to give me peace it would block me from You. 

 

I identify behavior that comes from that belief; unrighteous use of credit and pray for strength not to do that any more.   Father, you have promised to provide for me if I seek first your kingdom and your righteousness  Matthew 6:33.  unrighteous use of credit cards in not seeking first your kingdom.

 

I ask God for a faith that can have peace with whatever circumstances He gives me and a faith that can expect Him to keep His promises   Please form in me a faith that can have peace not having money, or having my goods plundered, or loosing money.  looking to you because I can trust you to keep your promises and take care of me.    

 

 

I submit to you when we don’t have peace it is probably because we are looking for peace or life or meaning in something other than Christ.

What God wants to do is to use our lack of peace to show us what it is that we are trying to get life from and thus being robbed of peace.

 

So when we are trying to get peace in something other than Christ it temps us to have bad behavior that tends to have bad consequences.   So when I have a peace about money then I'm able to make better choices about money.  I have a freedom to care more about God's issues and a freedom to care about other people more than money.

 

Does that make sense, are there any questions.  Now we are also going to have questions at the end, and I’m going to hang around.  so if you’ve got questions write them down

 

                        2. another example

 

So the money issue was not the only thing working on me to rob me of peace.  I have more layers, here's another layer that God is dealing with me on is the issue of validation.  I have wanted to be validated by other people.  Now I didn’t sit down and plan this, I didn’t even know it was there.  I wanted people to relate to me in a way that made me feel OK.  If someone didn’t like me, or criticized me, or even just wasn’t polite to me; that bothered me and it hurt my feelings. Because I was looking to other people to make me feel OK.  Does this make sense?

            Does a person like this understand that they are doing this?  No!

            You may remember meeting someone like this in the past.  Do they have peace?  Why not?  Because what they are looking to will never be able to give them a sense of peace.  Let me ask this question; what if a person like this, looking for validation from other people; what if a person like this became a movie star where people fawn over if they like them or not.  Or had a lot of money....   What would that do to a person like this, wouldn’t it block them from knowing God and block them from connecting with other people.

 

When something like this is at work in me I don't have a freedom to choose the best response.  I'm just a puppet forced to dance to a tune I don't understand.

 

            Usually before I try to change anything I have to get to a place where I am in pain.  Trying to find peace in the circumstance of other people’s approval cause pain.  So when I’m in pain I cry out to God, “God please deliver me from this pain I’ll do anything, I’m ready to make a change, what do I need to do?”  This is an attitude God can work with. something I’m working on and praying about is that I won’t wait until I’m in huge pain before I’m ready to change.

 

So I experience a lack of peace because people are not validating me.  And I ask myself, ..this may sound dumb but think about it, ... I ask myself why am I in pain.  What am I lacking or what would make me not feel this way?  Oh, I want other people’s approval  ...some body criticized me or didn’t like me.  So I pray this way. 

 

I identify the problem, what I’m trying to find peace in and the bad effect of that

 

“Father, I see that I don’t have peace when people dislike me or criticize me,   please forgive me for ever thinking other people’s approval could give me peace, that is like an idol in my life. 

 

I claim what is mine in Christ that can truly give me peace

And the truth is Father if people ever approved of me to the degree that I want it would block me from you.  Father I choose to live by a different standard, Your standard.  If I could be the person that everyone liked, I wouldn’t need a savior.  The truth is not everyone will like me and some times I do things that even I don’t like; thank you for forgiving and covering me.

 

I ask for faith in Christ that can have peace even if people are unkind to me or criticize me.

Father please form in me a faith that can have perfect peace if people like me or not.  Does that make sense?

 

What would it do for a person if it didn’t bother them when people didn’t like them?

 

If a person didn’t have a desire to please God, and it didn’t matter to them if people didn’t like them, that’s the definition of a psychopath.   When they hurt people, they don’t care.  It doesn’t bother them to rob people, or rip people off or whatever.  Because they only care about themselves.  A person like that has an insensitivity to others pain, but they don’t have peace and they cannot connect with other people.

 

That is not what I’m talking about.  Peace starts when we commit to doing what God wants. 

 

I submit to you when we don’t have peace it is because we are looking for life or peace in something other than Christ.  But what God wants to do is to use our lack of peace to show us what it is we are trying to get life from and thus being robbed of peace.

 

 

Let me review and then I’ll see if there are any questions

 

!.The real God offers real peace.

2.that real peace is found in Jesus Christ by dealing with issues like layers on an onion, usually  a layer at a time.

3. When we don’t have peace it is probably because we are looking for peace in something other than Christ.

4. What God wants to do is use our lack of peace to show us what it is that we are trying to get life from and thus being blocked from peace.

5.once we receive a greater level of peace from God we have a new freedom to respond in a way that bears good fruit.

 

 

 

III. How can we help other people have peace?

            A.                There are a lot of ways to minister to someone and I’m not saying this is the only way to do it.

 

But I will say that a big part of meaning in life comes from serving people and seeing the what we do blesses other people.  Now when we serve people they won’t always respond the way we want, it will not always bless them.  We need a faith that can have peace when we serve people and it doesn’t bless them or even if they dislike us for it.

 

But God is in this with us and as we seek to serve God for no other reason than to please Him I’m sure He will give us fruit. 

 

I John 1:4 3  what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

4  These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.  When John saw the benefit of his service to others it brought him joy?  Do you know that joy?  God wants to well up in you a fountain of joy seeing Him use you to serve others.  It is wonderful, it is a wonderful joy.

 

            B. listening

                        1.            .  How can we help another person come closer to receiving God’s peace.  Here is something important.  I don’t believe it is a matter of God zapping people, although sometimes He does.  Most of the time, I believe, people have more than one issue to deal with that robs them of peace but they need to be addressed one at a time as God gives the opportunity. 

 

                        2.            How will we know which issue to deal with first or even what any of them are?   I believe if we listen to someone long enough they will tend to tell us the issue of their heart.  This is something that has been tough for me to learn, how to listen.  I am praying that God will enable me to listen.

 

            C. an example

One time my friend Jodi Howard ministered to me when I had a client that called me incompetent.  Jodi discerned I had a lack of peace be cause I was upset.

                        1.             so Jodi was listening to me  means that there were some things she was not doing

                                    a. she did not tell me I shouldn’t feel that way.  Have you ever had someone tell you not to feel a certain way.  Oh, don’t feel bad.  OK, that clears it up for me.  Jodi wasn’t telling me not to feel a certain way.

                                    b. she was not telling me what to do.  You should go over there and demand an apology.  You should go tell him off.   You should just not go back.  Telling someone what to do does not address the issue of why they don’t have peace.

                                    c. she was not affirming me in ungodly judgments.  “Yeah, that guy is a big jerk, treating you like that.  lets go over there tonight and throw rocks through his windows.

 

                                    d.  she was not telling me “Well, everything will work out all right, just let go and let God”  Makes me want to slap somebody.

 

The truth is there are a lot of jerks in the world and sometimes I’ll have to deal with them.  But let me ask this question, “What would it do for me if I could deal with a difficult person from an emotional state of peace?  What would it do for me if I could deal with a difficult situation from an emotional state of peace?  Peace enables me to think about and choose the best way to honor God in the situation.

 

and that is what Jodi was trying to get at while she was listening to me.

 

                        2.             So Jodi was listening to me while I vented.  I don’t know why this guy wants to act that way.  I need the money.  He called me incompetent. etc. etc   So the whole time I’m talking, Jodi is listening and praying.

So after a while Jodi asked me, “why does that bother you that he called you incompetent?”   “I don’t like for people to call me incompetent, its not polite”  Yeah, but why does that bother you?  What would be wrong with being incompetent? 

 

Well, the truth is I believe I won’t be a good person if I’m not competent.  People won’t be able to like me.

 

So Jodi tells me, “ the truth is you will never be competent enough for everyone to like you.  And if you were you wouldn’t need a savior.  And the truth is, if Christ is the standard, you don’t measure up, right.

 

So Jodi lead me in a prayer like this  “Father, forgive me for believing another person’s standard would make me less valuable.  The truth is I’m infinitely valuable to you, even though I am sometimes incompetent.  Form in me a faith that can have perfect peace being judged incompetent and judging myself incompetent.

 

            D.

So there are a number of jerks in the world and sometimes I’m one of them.  What would it do for me if I could deal with a difficult person or a difficult situation out of an emotional state of peace?  It would enable me to choose how to respond in a way that could bear good fruit and how to best honor God.  And it sure feels good.

 

IV.  Review and Close

 

Let me review and then I’ll see if there are any questions

 

!.The real God offers real peace.

2.that real peace is found in Jesus Christ by dealing with issues like layers on an onion, usually  a layer at a time.

3. When we don’t have peace it is probably because we are looking for peace in something other than Christ.

4. What God wants to do is use our lack of peace to show us what it is that we are trying to get life from and thus being blocked from peace.

5.once we receive a greater level of peace from God we have a new freedom to respond in a way that bears good fruit.

            6. if we can be a part of ministering peace to people it will bring us joy.  A sacrifice of listening to another person and not telling them something they can’t hear is an acceptable sacrifice to God.

 

 

In a moment I’d like to see if there are any questions.

 

close:

Something I’ve observed in the last 28 years of attending church is that often people come to church having struggles and don’t know how to get God involved in those struggles.  And they leave church not knowing how to get God involved in those struggles.   By God’s grace, my wife, Patricia and I have sometimes been used of God to help people know something of how to get God involved in their struggles.  Other times we don’t have much help for people, except we can pray for you.  Many times I’ve seen wonderful breakthroughs when a number of people began to pray.

 

My home number, my toll free number, and my e-mail address is in the bulletin.  What I’m trying to say is that my wife and I are here for you and it would be a privilege to serve you any way we could.  If you call me at two in the morning I’d rather listen to you right then than sleep.

 

Are there any questions?

 

06/25/2003

Author's Note: I think this is true but I don't always follow it. I wish I did and I covet your prayers for me to follow it; I have some very difficult issues I'm dealing with. I'd like to know what you think of this, is it understandable, how can I make it more understandable? How may I pray for you?

Posted on 06/25/2003
Copyright © 2021 Carl Walker

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 06/26/03 at 01:12 PM

While this is NOT poetry, it is a GREAT Sermon! Bravo! Hope it attracts lots of attention! Amen!

Posted by Susan Q Tomas on 06/28/03 at 08:03 PM

I'll have to come back to it when I have more time (I'm a mommy of 2 young kids and a wife who is always in demand) But what I read at the begining really spoke to me.

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