Episode 44: Peace to Live By, Part 4- Our Peace Kept

Peace to Live By Episode 44: Peace to Live By, Part 4- Our Peace Kept - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word]

       We’ve spent the last couple of weeks going over things that take away the peace that is supposed to be in our minds, as Christians. We discussed on the first week of this series that Christians already have the peace of God given to them as a gift, and that God wants us to live with peaceful, content minds. Today, I want to finish up our study on peace by discussing some things that we can do to retain our peace, or keep our peace in our lives as we live each day through.

       King Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes the keys to living a peaceful life. Indeed, he himself during his lifetime had considered many of the ways of this world, and tried and experimented with different things in order to try and find the meaning of life. What he concluded was the following: “Well, one thing, at least, is good: It is for a man to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, accept his position in life, and enjoy his work whatever his job may be, for however long the Lord may let him live” (Ecclesiastes 5:18, TLB). So, from this verse two key things stick out, and that it enjoying life as well as being content with what we have been given.

       So, as we consider these things that will help us keep our peace, remember what Solomon has told us as part of God’s Word. The Apostle Peter, in his first epistle, cites Psalm 34:12 through 16, and tells us: “For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12, ESV). So, as we live out each day of our lives, let us be peace-seekers and pursuers so that we can really enjoy all that life has to offer.

       Now, I have identified five things that will maintain and keep peace in our lives I want us to consider. They are as follows:

1) Staying in conversation with God on a regular basis
2) Having faith and taking leaps of faith when necessary
3) Following what is in our hearts, and not logic in our minds
4) Focusing on what we do have, not on what we don’t have
5) Thinking before we speak and considering carefully what we say

I believe these five things will help us keep the peace that is given to us, so that we can have better thoughts and attitudes in life. Let us remember what King David told us in Psalm 138: ““The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your loving-kindness, Lord, continues forever. Don’t abandon me—for you made me” (138:8, TLB).

Number One: Staying in conversation with God on a regular basis

“When I pray, you answer me and encourage me by giving me the strength I need” (Psalm 138:3, TLB).

       Prayer is so essential to living a good life. Paul told us to “pray without ceasing”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV). The practice of continual conversation with God is so important to have a good day. I have found that on days of which I went about my day without adequate prayer, I find myself suffering in not too long a time. The sole purpose for our existence is to be in a relationship with God. After all, that’s why he created us so that he could be in fellowship with humans who willingly want to be. We, as humans, want to be loved, and God also wants to be loved. When we spend time in prayer with our Heavenly Father, it starts our daily tasks off on the right note. It gets our minds in the right place so that our thoughts will be flowing in the right direction.

       God gives us the strength we need to live out each day of our lives. As David said in the verse I read a little bit ago, the strength God gives us then encourages us as we go about the day. Remember the famous verse which says, “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV). Indeed, of all the things we need on a daily basis, God’s strength is of primary importance. When we live our lives out, not everything always goes the way we want it. And we see sin and suffering all around us; we don’t have to look very far. Therefore, Christ’s strength is critical for us, and we get this through having a continual conversation, ongoing throughout our day, with God. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, 7, ESV).

       God always answers our prayers when we have a need. Generally speaking, there are typically three answers that he provides. Yes, no, and often times “wait.” We love the first answer, but not so much the latter two. If we are going to keep our peace while we are waiting on something, we are going to have to spend time talking with God, and trust him as we wait. Again, this can be very difficult when the thing we desire is impressed greatly on our hearts. But our trust in God will overpower the desire to obtain whatever it is that we want. We exercise ‘faith’ that God will provide what we want and need at the right time. God does give us what we want a lot of times; you know that, right? He is our loving Father, and just as parents often give their children the desires of their hearts, so God will often give us the desires of our hearts. The problem is, many don’t believe that, and therefore, do not obtain because they do not believe. No one can serve two masters. Either we will hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to the one and despise the other (see Matthew 6:24).

Number Two: Having faith and taking leaps of faith when necessary

“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.” (Hebrews 11:1, TLB).

       A lot of people in our world today are pessimists. Most of the time, they just don’t think the best, or good will happen. And then there are those who call themselves the realists. These are the people who say there are neither optimistic or pessimistic, but that they see things in a realistic light. I am confident to say today that God wants us to optimists, to be full of hope. We cannot have faith if we are pessimists or realists, but only if we are optimists. Saying, “Well, its possible this could happen, and it may or may not happen” is not being hopeful. That’s a realist’s attitude. The best thing to say is, “I believe that the best is going to happen and that everything is going to be good.” That’s a hopeful attitude. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 8? He said, “let it be done for you as you have believed” (ESV). Now, that’s optimistic and having faith!

       It is true that problems are definitely going to rise in our lives, no matter who we are. A lot of people think that the richer you are, for instance, the less problems you have. But nothing could be farer from the truth! The rich have more to worry about (see 1 Timothy 6:6-10). So, money isn’t the answer to a peaceful life without problems. As I read in the verse in Proverbs, God wants us to listen to him. When we follow God Word in our lives, we have less problems. But nonetheless, the problems that do come into our lives, of which we have no control of, we can still face with confidence because we have faith and trust in God, knowing that he is in control of all things and that nothing comes to us without his allowing it to come. That includes relationship problems, money problems, health issues, satanic attacks—everything. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, “But the Lord is faithful; he will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind” (2 Thessalonians 3:3, TLB). And he also said in Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, ESV).

       
Times are going to come in our lives when it’s time to make a choice. And if we want to have a peaceful mind, it is important that we are making the right choices when the time comes. God says to us, ““But all who listen to me shall live in peace and safety, unafraid” (Proverbs 1:33, TLB). Sometimes we need to take a step of faith in a certain direction, a direction that we feel God is leading us in. This can be much harder done than said because we are a people that likes to have all the answers. We like to consider every aspect of a situation, every intricate part of it, and then act from there. The problem with this kind of thinking is that, first, we cannot always know all the answers, and second, sometimes God asks us to step out, to make a choice, when there are great unknowns. It is true that we sometimes have to act, and then wait to see what happens to know if we were right in making our decision. But, we can be sure that if God is leading us to do it, we know it will be right in the end.

Number Three: Following what is in our hearts, and not logic in our minds

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9, ESV).

       Now, when I am talking about following your heart in matters, I’m not saying you should follow your heart when the decision clearly violates God’s Word. Indeed, we all have sin in our hearts, and we should never follow something from our hearts that we know is sinful. But in matters where God gives us choice—freedom to choose what we wish—we should do what is in our hearts versus what may seem logical in our minds. God wants us to have a right heart attitude, to be obedient from the heart, like Romans 6:17 and 10:9 state. We should have a sincere heart, and do the will of God from our hearts, as the Apostle Paul told bondservants in Ephesians 6:5 and 6. Paul told Timothy, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5, ESV; see also Hebrews 10:22). We don’t have to have all the facts about something before making a decision.

       When we don’t follow our hearts, we lose our peace, and we live a life that isn’t as fulfilling as it could have been. All of us, at one point or another, have attempted to justify our actions by using logic, by thinking things through in our heads when we know that the thing we are thinking is not what is in our heart. It is important, though, that we don’t do this, because it takes away peace of mind. Following logic is operating like a piece of machinery, or like a robot; there is no love in the equation. Sometimes it is hard to make the ‘right,’ heart-felt decision about something. God may be calling you today to start or be involved in a certain ministry, but perhaps you have justified your way out of it by saying to yourself you don’t have the money or the time that it will take to fulfill it. Or, maybe you have said to yourself that you’re not good enough. You may have talked yourself out of it, but you know, deep down, that that is what is in your heart and what God is calling you to do. Well, you need to follow your heart and forget what you mind is telling you. If you will do what is in there, God will take care of the rest.

Number Four: Focusing on what we do have, not on what we don’t have

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13, ESV).

       We all have many things to be thankful for, no matter who we are. Cultivating and having this type of mindset keeps peace in our minds. Not realizing the things that we already have, and instead focusing on what we don’t have, makes us more and more greedy to get what we probably don't even need. It’s not that buying new things is bad, it’s when obtaining
them overtakes your drive for life that you are too zealous for it, and it will take away your peace of mind. Again, wanting your life to be different is not wrong, but don’t want whatever it is so bad that it, in turn, sacrifices the goodness and joy of today. God wants us to enjoy our lives as they are right now. Let’s say you're waiting to find the right person to marry. There is nothing wrong with that, but don’t desire to be married so much that that’s all you think about and you don’t enjoy your singleness right now. God has told us to cast our anxieties, our cares, on him, and let him bear up under those things. We can live with peace of mind and in true freedom with all the strength that we need while we are waiting.

       For all of us, there are going to be times in life when there is something we don’t have that we want. Ideally, most of life should be spent being satisfied with what we have and not being in want. But God sometimes makes us wait on something, even when we need it, to teach us different things. Often times we think we are waiting on God for something—that he has to make the circumstances right to give us what he wants to give us. But really, many times God is waiting for us to be at the right spot in our life to give us what we desire and want. This may be a great position at work, a different career, a spouse, a child—whatever it is—sometimes God is working things in us to prepare us for that reward.

       It is stated in James 1:2-4: “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete” (TLB). You may be thinking, “Yeah, but I’ve already been waiting a long time.” Well, wait longer. God has his reasons for doing what he is doing, and maybe,
your patience isn't as fully developed as you think it is. You never know later in life when, and for what, you’re going to need that cultivated patience for.

Number Five: Thinking before we speak and considering carefully what we say

“For there is nothing covered up which is not going to be exposed, nor anything private which is not going to be made public. Whatever you may say in the dark will be heard in daylight, and whatever you whisper within four walls will be shouted from the house-tops” (Luke 12:2, TLB).

       It is important for us to think before we speak if we are going to keep peace in our lives. Just saying what comes to your mind when your in a conversation is just not a good idea. Sometimes you may need to pause for a noticeable moment before speaking, and that’s ok. Again, James has told us, “So also the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark” (TLB). If we don’t carefully consider what we say to other people, we can end up saying things that hurts them, and in turn causes our peace to be gone. Words from ourselves to others can either build them up or tear them down. There are times when it is necessary to rebuke, correct, warn, and do things along those lines. But most of the time our speech should be uplifting to those around us. We are to be encouraging each other, building each other up (see 1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV).

       The words we speak out of our mouths are very important to God. Indeed, he is going to judge us each individually for the things we have said. Saying wrong things about God or things that tear down others will cost us reward and make life less enjoyable in the here and now. The Apostle Paul told the Colossians: “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10, ESV). Nothing will hurt our relationships more than lying. Lying is like shooting a cannon at a building. When we lie to a loved one, a friend, we undercut the relationship and make it difficult for the person to trust us. Even small lies can undercut a growing relationship. It is easy to get caught in small lies, and a lot of people typically have the ability to perceive when people are lying. Your mouth may be saying one thing, while your face is telling a different story.

Conclusion

       In conclusion today, let’s consider a verse from King Solomon: “So I conclude that, first, there is nothing better for a man than to be happy and to enjoy himself as long as he can; and second, that he should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of his labors, for these are gifts from God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13, TLB).

       I want us all to remember that God does want us to live in peace of mind, as Christians, and he even wants peace for those who are not Christians. I want those who are not Christian today to realize that even though God loves you, you still need to come into a personal relationship with him to be truly free (see Romans 8:7). God showed his love for everyone by having Jesus die on the cross of all sins of all time (see Hebrews 9:26). But because each of us are born with a sin nature, we have to accept Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the cross for forgiveness of sins, and to be truly set free from sin (see Romans 3:23, 24). You see, Jesus can make you free today (see Romans 8:2). He died on a cross, some 2,000 years ago, and he rose from the dead by God's power so that anyone can be forgiven and set free from sin (see 1 Peter 2:24).

       By believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of the wrongs you did, you can be made to be at peace with God (see Romans 5:1). He will forgive any and every offense for anyone who comes to him in agreement with him (see 1 John 1:9). There's no need to continue living with the weight of your sin on your shoulders. There's no need to live with regret (see Philippians 3:13, 14). God can take that off your shoulders, and you can be made right with him today. Not only will you be in right relationship with him, but he also freely gives eternal life to whoever will believe in him (see John 3:16). There will be no hell in the future for those who accept Jesus (see Ephesians 1:13, 14). There is no more condemnation for them (see Romans 8:1). They are free: free to live and have a new life (see Galatians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

       If you would like to accept Jesus today as your personal Lord and Savior, and start your road toward a peaceful life, a peaceful mind, then just follow my lead in this simple prayer:

God, I have messed up in my life. I have sinned against you, and against others. I have not lived up to your righteous standard. But I understand that through Jesus I can have forgiveness for my sins, that the weight can come off my shoulders. I want to accept Jesus' sacrifice on my behalf, and I believe that he rose from the dead. I turn from willingly doing wrong today, and count Jesus as my Lord. Please, change my life and make me new. In Jesus' name, Amen.

-Daniel Litton

References:

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (TLB) are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.