A retired couple was alarmed by the threat of nuclear war so they undertook a serious study of all the inhabited places on the globe. Their goal was to determine where in the world would be the place to be least likely affected by a nuclear war. A place of ultimate security. They studied and traveled, travel and studied. Finally they found the place. And on Christmas, 1981, they sent their pastor a card from their new home - in the Falkland Islands. However, their "paradise" was soon turned into a war zone by Great Britain and Argentina in April, 1982.
Everyone wants peace. Whether you're a national leader sitting across a table from other world leaders, or a businessman facing the pressures and deadlines at the office, a homemaker trying to corral the kids, or a student just trying to make it through the semester, everyone wants peace. And most people will go to whatever limits to find peace. But most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, have to admit that we experience more stress than peace.
Wouldn't you agree that there is nothing that people talk more about and experience less than peace? Our day is like Jeremiah's, in that people cry "Peace, peace, when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14). Americans live in comfortable homes, but domestic violence is at an all-time high. Our cities are the most modern in the world, yet the streets are unsafe. Our communication technology is unsurpassed, but there has never been more misunderstanding. In fact, people come to church so filled with anxiety that is almost impossible for sermons to put them to sleep.
Where can we go for peace? Where on this earth can we discover lasting and fulfilling peace? For many the destination for finding peace may seem preposterous. The place of peace is actually a person of peace. The only lasting source of peace is God himself.
I. Where can we go for peace?
The Bible talks about two kinds of peace related to God. These two avenues are the beginning of lasting peace for your life.
A. Spiritual peace is peace with God
"Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). That's the foundation, the bottom line. We've got to have peace with God before we can have any other kind of peace.
A man visited his doctor for an examination. The physician asked, "Now, what seems to be the trouble?"
The patient answered: "Doc, I've got troubles everywhere I look. I've got troubles in my business; troubles at home; troubles everywhere - and I'm just plain run down!"
When the examination was finished, the physician said to the patient, "You're not run-down. Just the opposite - you're wound up!"
The man responded, "Well, Doc, give me something to slow me down then."
"What do you want?" asked the doctor.
"Give me a tranquilizer or something."
"Very well," responded the doctor as he sat down and began writing a prescription.
The man took the prescription and stuck it in his pocket without looking at it. He rushed off to the neighborhood drugstore to get the prescription filled. The pharmacist looked at the prescription and said to the man, "I'm sorry, but I can't fill the prescription!"
"What do you mean, you can't fill the prescription!" retorted the man. "This is a drugstore, isn't it? You are a pharmacist, aren't you? That's a doctor's prescription, so why can't you fill it?"
The pharmacist answered, "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't stock this in our store. If you want this prescription filled, go home and get your Bible."
The man looked at the prescription for the first time and read: "Take three doses of Romans 5:1 every day." He went home and looked up the verse in his Bible. It read: "Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).
Immediately, the man called the doctor and asked, "What do you mean by this prescription?" The physician answered. "Your trouble is spiritual, not physical. What you need is peace. I can't give it to you; the pharmacist can't give it to you; only God can give you peace."
The fact remains that before you can experience personal peace you must receive the Prince of Peace in your life. How can you do this? Simple. Admit to God that you are a sinner and your sins separate you from God. Believe that Jesus Christ id God's Son and accept God's gift of forgiveness from sin. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
B. Emotional peace is the peace of God
We must have peace with God before we can experience the peace of God - emotional peace. This is what most people think of when they think of the word peace - an internal sense of well-being and order. The Scriptures say, ". . . since God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor. 14:33).
Everyone who knows the Lord Jesus Christ can go through any problem, and face death, and still have the peace of God in his heart. When your spouse dies, or your children get sick, or you lose your job, you can have a peace that you don't understand. This peace is not the absence of conflict, but an ability to cope with the conflicts and frustrations of life. Even in the midst of difficulties God's peace will be present.
A psychiatrist was quoted in the newspaper as saying that he could not improve upon the Apostle Paul's prescription for human worry. Paul wrote, "Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7). How many times do you fret and turn, looking for a little peace? God's peace can be in your heart--right now.
"And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful" (Col. 3:15). The Greek word translated control or rule is used only this one time in the Bible and it means "to umpire." This verse says we should let the peace of God be the umpire in our lives. What does an umpire do? He keeps the peace. He makes sure the game is played in a smooth and orderly fashion. God wants to give you an internal umpire who will keep you at peace even when everything seems chaotic.
Peace with God speaks of God's Saviorhood, the peace of God speaks of his Lordship. If we truly want to live a life of peace and experience the peace of God continually we must allow Christ to rule and control our lives.
II. How do we maintain peace?
The Bible says, "So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another" (Rom. 14:19). So what must we do?
A. If we want peace, we must obey God's Word
As simple as what it may sound, we need to just do what the Bible says. "Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble. . . . I obey Your decrees and love them greatly" (Ps. 119:165, 167). God says peace comes when we live in harmony with him - when we do what he tells us to do.
In your car is an owner's manual. The owner's manual tells you that if you do certain things at certain times, you'll get more mileage out of the car.
God's Word is your owner's manual for life. It contains principles for health, finance, marriage, relationships, business, and much more. If you don't obey the principles as they relate to the various areas of your life you won't experience peace. Just as a car runs more smoothly when you operate it according to its design, your life will run more smoothly if you live it according to God's design as presented in his Word.
B. If we want peace, we must focus on God's presence
We must realize that God is always with us, and we must learn to sense his presence. We are reminded by Isaiah to fix our gaze on God, " You will keep in perfect peace the mind [that is] dependent [on You], for it is trusting in You " (Isa. 26:3). We have a choice of either focusing on our problems of focusing on God, who holds the solution. If you look at the world, you'll be distressed; if you look within, you'll be depressed; but it you look at Christ, you'll be at rest. It's what you concentrate on that determines your level of personal peace.
C. If we want God's peace, we must trust God's purpose
Even when things don't make sense, we must trust God's purpose. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths" (Prov. 3:5-6). Have you noticed that a lot of things in life don't make sense? And do you feel that a lot of things in life are beyond your control? What do you do in such situations? You trust! That's really all you can do. Don't try to figure life out yourself. We do that all the time, don't we? We waste a lot of time and energy trying to figure things out. God urges us to just trust him.
People have told me on more than a few occasions that when they finally stopped trying to figure out why God allowed something to happen and just started trusting him, and then the peace came. We need to face the fact that not all of our questions are going to be answered in this lifetime.
D. If we want God's peace, we need to ask for it
Again, Paul tells us, "Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7). Notice the order - first prayer and then peace. There's a cause and effect relationship here. Prayer is the cause; peace is the effect.
If you're not praying, you're likely to be worrying. And worry is such a useless emotion, such a waste. Worry is the opposite of peace; they cannot coexist.
What do you need to ask of God now? Do you need to ask him to come into your life so that you may experience peace with God? Do you need to ask him to control your life so that you can experience the peace of God?
You will not experience true or lasting peace until Jesus Christ is in charge of your life. Peace, remember, is not a trouble-free life; it's a sense of calm in the midst of life's storms.
What is robbing you of peace today? Is it guilt? Turn to God for forgiveness? Is it worry? A job change? Finances? Major surgery? A difficult person? You can talk to Christ about all of these things and anything else that is bothering you.
The God of all peace wants to give you peace and he is here now ready to make that gift to you. Will you accept it?