Summary: A sermon about finding peace through complete trust in God.
A young white man, barely out of his teens, becomes obsessed with anti-black, white supremacy websites on the internet.
And although, some of the people he hangs out with and even considers friends are African American, he walks into a Bible study and shoots 9 people for no reason other than the color of their skin and that he wants to start a "race war."
We watch the news and scenes of bloody conflicts fill the screen.
Locally, shootings are often the top stories of the day.
On news shows, people with differing views on political and religious issues scream at and talk over one another.
On a personal level, another loved one has been diagnosed with cancer.
A high school classmate has passed away.
A family member is living with a life-threatening condition.
On t-v sitcoms, what passes as comedy are crude jokes and put-downs.
The popular music, aimed primarily at an audience of children ages 9-19 contains graphic lyrics having to do with unrealistic sexual references, drugs and violence.
Children's minds are being filled with garbage!!!
Reality T-V Shows portray fake people living fake lives.
We inadvertently cut someone off in traffic and the person in the other car passes us with angry looks and gestures.
We see people walking down our streets talking to themselves and living out of dumpsters.
We know children whose mothers and fathers are hooked on drugs and don't seem to care much about the future.
Pregnant mothers smoke cigarettes, while their babies go hungry.
Fathers are absent.
Church attendance is in decline.
And the churches which seem to get the attention of the world have a seemingly unbiblical, un-Christlike worldview.
The pastors get rich at the congregation's expense.
The love and grace of the Gospel is replaced by legalism, judgmentalism, self-righteousness and fear.
Social justice is ignored while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
This is all completely insane!!!!!!!
Are we doomed?
Is it possible to be sane in such an insane world????!!!!
When Paul wrote the Letter to the Philippians he was living in a Roman prison.
He was to appear in court soon to face the charges against him, and the verdict could lead to his execution.
The church he was writing to was undergoing a lot of persecution and having all kinds of difficulties.
So, Paul, from prison, writes a letter of encouragement to them.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Paul writes.
"Let your gentleness be evident to all...Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Peace--true peace--that can rejoice even in a Roman jail cell as one awaits the possibility of execution...
...what would people pay for this?
A "peace" that "transcends all understanding" and keeps our "hearts and minds safe" even amidst the greatest torment--the worst this world can throw at us...
...how much is that worth?
...millions, billions, trillions?
But it can't be bought.
It is, in the truest sense, priceless!!!
Could this be the reason Jesus Himself compared it, in Matthew Chapter 13 to: "a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up.
Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field."?
Or, again, Jesus said it's like: "a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it."
It's worth everything we have, is it not?
One day a rich young man came to Jesus, in search of this peace.
He asked Jesus what he must do to receive it.
Jesus' answer: "Sell everything you own and distribute the money to the poor.
Then you will have treasure in heaven.
And come, follow me."
But, when the rich young man heard these words: "he became very sad because he was extremely rich."
And so he left...
How many us, in a rich country like the United States, find ourselves in a situation like the rich young man?
What has its grip upon you?
Is it Jesus only or is there something else holding you down--keeping you from the peace which transcends all understanding?
It's really important to remember that Philippians wasn't written to or by persons living on "Easy Street."
It was written by a man who had been stripped of everything in this world that we human beings naturally want...
...and it was written to a handful of people defending a new faith against a hostile ruling class.
But the promise of this Scripture is the same in all times: when we are finally stripped of self there comes to us from God a life that is a joy to live--it carries with it a satisfaction and a peace that are "out of this world."