Summary: The third fruit of the Spirit, peace.
1. Open your Bibles to Galatians 5:22. The Great Chicago Fire occurred in 1871. Over 300 people died & another 100,000 were left homeless. Tragedies like this one, always bring out hero is some people. One of the heroes of the Great Chicago Fire was Horatio Gates Spafford. Spafford was an attorney, who lost a lot of real-estate in the fire. To make matters even worse, his son died about the same time. In spite of his great personal loss Spafford unselfishly helped others who were homeless, and grief-stricken because of the fire. Because of his generosity and service he was well known throughout Chicago as a sincere, devout Christian. About two years later, in November 1873, Spafford and his family decided to take a vacation. Spafford was a good friend of D. L. Moody, and his family decided to meet Moody on one of his evangelistic campaigns in England, and then from there the family would travel on to Europe. However, just before they were to leave Horatio was unexpectedly detained by urgent business concerns in Chicago. The decision was made that his wife Anna and their daughters would go ahead to England and he would catch up with them as soon as possible. Tragedy was to strike on that trip. Just off Newfoundland, the ship collided with an English sailing vessel and sunk within 20 minutes. Anna Spafford was one of the 47 passengers who survived. Tragically all four of their daughters were part of the 226 who died. Anna Spafford’s heartbreaking telegram to her husband simply read: "Saved alone." The grieving father immediately set sail for England to join his grief-stricken wife. As the ship that he was traveling on passed the approximate location where his daughters had drowned, Horatio Spafford penned the words that we sang a few minutes ago.
#1 "When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea-billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know; "It is well, it is well with my soul."
#2 Tho’ Satan Should buffet, tho’ trials should come, Let his blessed assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul."
2. Those of us who haven’t had our faith tested like that can only imagine what it would take to be able to write words like Spafford wrote after losing four daughters. That is peace, to be able to write a song like that after experiencing a tragedy like that.
3. This morning in the third sermon in my series on the fruits of the Spirit, I want us to look at the subject of peace. It’s a topic that desperately needs to be addressed in this war torn world.
4. I want to begin with considering the most basic question of all about peace.
How would you define peace?
1) "That brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading." (quote from a sermon by Denn Guptill)
2) "The absence of conflict."
3) "Peace is knowing that we may get to the point where we can do nothing else, but that our all-powerful God has no such limits." (adapted from John MacArthur)
5. The second definition actually comes closer to getting it right. (Cell 2 #2) We know that Jesus description of peace didn’t mean merely the absence of interpersonal conflict, because conflict is a part of life. In fact, in Matthew 10:34 Jesus said that He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword."
6. The third definition is adapted from the definition that Dr. John MacArthur gave. (Cell 2 #3) "Peace is knowing that we may get to the point where we can do nothing else, but that our all-powerful God has no such limits."
7. I like the perspective of Helen Keller when she said, "I do not want the peace which passes understanding, I want the understanding which brings peace." (from a sermon by Denn Guptill). The reality is that the peace which passes understanding comes from understanding the truth about God.
Peace is a major theme in the Bible. It appears more than 80 times and it occurs at least 1 time in every one of the 39 books in the New Testament.
8. We need the peace which comes from God because at some point in our lives we all struggle to maintain the peace we need.
• For some it will be the death of a loved one– a child, parent, or spouse.
• For others it will be a heart attack, cancer, or another life threatening disease.
• Still others face divorce, financial ruin, or the loss of a significant dream.
• Sometimes the tragedies aren’t even personal– who’ll ever forget the senselessness of 9-11 or the explosion of the space-shuttle, Columbia.