Two weeks ago, Feb 26th, was my father’s last Sunday alive. In usual fashion, he found himself at church around 9:30am preparing to teach Sunday School. I did not attend his Sunday School class that morning. I missed his last lesson. In retrospect, I wish I had not worked so much on the weekends, long Saturdays, and had had more strength to wake up and drag my troop to church for Sunday School regularly. I’d have liked to sat in on a few more of his lessons, asked a few more questions, and sat more readily at the feet of the singularly most important man in my life.
Today, is Sunday, March 12, 2017. My father would have turned 66 in August, he just celebrated 38 years with my mother. He was just at my daughters 2 year old Birthday party two weeks ago and tomorrow is my 36th birthday. The first one I will spend without my father writing me a card, telling me he loves, wishing me a happy birthday. I am not much worried about memorializing my birth this year. In tribute to what my father did each Sunday, and would be doing today if he were here, I share with all of you a rare thing: One of his sermons. He preached a handful of times and this is one of them. It is on a topic he held dear to him: inner peace.
Below is a typed copy of the 4 page handwritten manuscript of my father’s sermon on peace.
Peace was a central gospel theme for him: peace through trust in God, peace through salvation by faith, peace by knowing it is well with your soul, peace and harmony in relationship to one another as indicative of our love for God. A Gospel absent the peace of God in Christ is no Gospel. My father longed for, and lived, with peace and harmony with everyone. I cannot recall a single person he ever spoke ill of or held in contempt. Even if he was wronged, he may acknowledge the shadiness of the person but he would never gossip or speak ill publicly of them. He wanted peace. He had peace. And he had it because he believed in God.
My prayer this morning, is the prayer of Thomas: Lord, help me be like my father, help my disbelief. In so doing, give me, and those around me, nothing more, or less, than peace.
“Peace” by Mitch Napier
Read John 16:33 : “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Is there a secret to inner peace? When you think about peace, what do you think the average person thinks about? I believe they think of peace among nations on a global scale, generally speaking. I believe people may also think about peace at home, at work.
One thing that seems definite is that after trouble more trouble follows. (this is why inner peace is the key. If we can attain inner peace all others would fall in HIM. When peace does not abound, trouble is present). Let’s reflect on the past for examples: WW 1, Depression, WW 2, Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, escalating fuel prices, unemployment on the rise, crime on the increase, the bible taken out of schools, Gulf War, Bosnian conflict, Abortion, and most recently 9/11 and the war on terrorism – and it goes on. Look in your local paper daily, read about the troubles, again it only seems the thing we can count on is trouble after trouble.
Yet the thing that keeps us going is the personal Quest for inner peace. Someone writes a book about inner peace and people flock to it. A man stands up and says he found the secret to peace, people flock to him. People have a hunger for peace. There is no natural peace that comes automatically after the storm has been weathered.
Have you ever found something that in your heart when it was over you knew everything would be alright? I have. I was unemployed [with a family to take care of] for 10 months. If only I could have found a job everything would be alright. I got the job to late and lost the house. If I only got that promotion…yet then would follow more debt. If I get through this illness, then we have medical bills.
An example of another family’s situation was Jane Welsh Carlisle, who was working on the 1st volume of the French Revolution. During his writing, the tension and stress was great in his home (you ever experienced this?) Finally, the manuscript was finished. At last he had peace. He turned it over to John Stewart Mill to read. A few days passed and John Mill showed up at the Carlisle home with a nightmarish expression on his face. Jane thought the worst and asked what was wrong. Mr. Mill stated his maid accidentally burned the manuscript. Trouble.
But Jesus said in the world you’ll have tribulation.
You see, trouble comes to mankind in all forms due to our freedom and sinfulness. Most people look to the world and world leaders for peace. It’s always someone else who can make it better! But the truth is, we must start at home, with ourselves.
There is a story about a family in California that put their house up for sale. They wanted a better neighborhood, better neighbors, more room, a house with no trouble. So they listed it with an agent. Several weeks later they were going through a real estate guide looking for a home. They finally came to a consensus on a home that sounded perfect! They immediately called before someone else purchased it. To their amazement, the home they thought sounded perfect was their own home.
Some will say peace is in nature, look at your surroundings and the animals. Some peace may be in achievement. Peace can be found through psychology: lack of love, trust, selfishness, etc., as obstacles. But sooner or later we find that peace does not come by any rational process! Paul said the peace of God passeth all understanding. Peace sought for through the world is always temporary! That promotion, the accomplishments we make, a new car, anew house, a new dress suit—BUT all these are temporary for sooner or later trouble is back and we are searching again!
Peace comes to us by meeting certain conditions!
1. We must have faith in God. Without seeing we must believe on Jesus that he was sent by the Father and died for our sins on the cross and arose the Third Day victorious over sin!! He overcame the world! & defeated sin!
2. We must worship God. Through daily living we let the trouble and trials of the world affect and irritate us! That’s why worship is so important. When we truly worship God our focus is on God and his Kingdom, on being a servant not being served. Then, and only then, can God meet our inner needs! Worship is vital to a peaceful existence! We stop controlling things and allow God to control us! Worship is the whole that includes the all!!
3. We must be in Gods will. Only by being in his will is their peace. This is the most difficult – discerning his will for our life. But I believe God reveals his will to each of us by his indwelling Spirit- for if we have accepted salvation (and the free gift of God) he dwells within us and directs us. Does this mean we no longer make a wrong decision? No- Jesus knows our weaknesses and will direct his spirit to lead and make correction to our deficiencies. We must be willing to listen and obey and grow.
If we do all this we truly are servants and Jesus promised in him we would have peace for he has overcome the world!! What Jesus has promised he will deliver – we must believe and exercise our faith to have the peace that only Jesus gives!
Inner peace comes as a result of obeying Christs greatest commandment that we love one another. When we obey that commandment we are following his will and in his will is power!!
Do you want that peace? Are your troubles weighing you down? My troubles were Food Lion. I wanted peace back. I called upon Jesus to carry my burden and I claimed his promises that in him I’d have peace because he overcame the world!! Hallelujah!!
Jesus is calling on you. If you have a need, if you need the peace that surpasseth all understanding, please come and let Jesus meet that need!!
*Sing Just as I Am! But without one plea but that they blood was shed for me.