Summary: The relationship between peace, faith, love and hope.
Peace, Faith, Love and Hope
Scripture: Phil. 4:7; Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17; Matt. 24. 10, 12-13; 1 Cor. 13
This is the last day of 2006 and we will never see this year again. This year will be history as of midnight tonight. Although we may face repercussions in 2007 for actions we took in 2006, those action are still actions that were completed in 2006 and therefore will be a part of our past as of tomorrow. As we mentally prepare for the start of a new year, we all have dreams of things we want to accomplish this next year. Maybe your dream is to get out of debt or to achieve a certain position on your job. Maybe your dream for 2007 is to get married or excel in your grades at school. For everything we plan to accomplish next year, at this point in our lives we have hope. We are hoping for a better year next year than we had this year. We are hoping for fewer problems, more happiness, less stress, more peace, less bills, more money and the list goes on and on. Whatever your dreams are for 2007, it starts with hope.
This morning I want to tell you the story of four candles; Peace, Faith, Love and Hope. These four candles have a message for us, if we are able to hear it. To illustrate this message, I want to use these four candles on this table so that you will be able to picture this message in your minds. Each one of these candles represents the present state of individuals in the world today, maybe even someone in this room or one reading this message. Imagine if you will that these four candles are partners working together in this world. (For those of you reading this message, there are four candles which have been lit and are burning on a table before the congregation.)
I. Candle of Peace
The first candle I want you to focus on is the candle of peace. You see, we are currently at war. We have soldiers on the battlefield dying weekly. In 2007 the USA could have use some peace. Not only are we in a war as a nation, each one of us is in a war spiritually. Every day we are battling against a force that is focused on tearing us down. We are faced with trials and tribulations that are constantly trying to changed our state of mind, to get us to focus on something other than the peace of God. Paul says in Colossians 3:15 "….let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful." Christ’s peace should rule within us yet sadly many are allowing their peace to be stolen from them. We worry more now than we ever have yet we walk in blessings our great-grand-parents longed to see. Paul stated in Philippians 4:7 that "…the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
In 2006 many Christians lost their peace, some for a short period of time while others probably permanently. Some experienced difficult days that caused them to give up. Listen now to the candle of peace for it has something to say. "I am peace, but the world is full of anger and fighting and this has become the norm. The world is self seeking so the fighting continues with no one really seeking peace. No one is able to keep me lit and I can no longer provide any more help; my existence is useless to this world." With that said, the candle went out. Like so many in this world, the candle saw no need to keep its flames burning, to keep trying to give peace to a troubled world, and gave up. (For those of you reading this, the first candle when out.) When the candle went out, the world lost more peace but few noticed.
II. Candle of Faith
The second candle I want you to focus on is the candle of faith. When the candle of peace went out, his partner faith took notice. Faith wanted to do something to help peace, but faith was dealing with it own problems. You see, faith understood that according to Hebrews 11:6 that "…without faith it is impossible to please Him (God), for those who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." Faith knew that there were followers who would not change, but it was here to increase the faith of the world. One of the key elements to the successfulness of its efforts was getting people to hear God’s Word. Romans 10:17 says "So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ." When faith took a poll of what was currently happening in the world it found that although the word of Christ is available to the masses, many do not accept it. When the church doors are open, many choose to stay home, not even thinking about whether they need to hear any of Christ’s words. It found that many focused on the vessels that were delivering the word versus the Word itself and therefore believed that it was no longer worth listening to. Faith found that even those who knew the word and believed it, did little to help others understand. Hear the words of the candle of faith: "I am faith. I am no longer indispensable. Many do no even believe that I am needed in the world. It makes no sense for me to stay lit another moment." With that, its flame died out. In 2006 as in any other year, there have been many who walked away from their faith. People lost faith in God, their spouses, their jobs and in people in general. They no longer believe in anything other than the fact that life will be what it will be so if you do not look for anything good you will never be disappointed. They are living one day at a time believing in and expecting little.