God’s Equation for Peace
Politician’s promise it, beauty pageant constants propagate it, and world leaders promote it. Humanity has searched for this seemingly elusive precious commodity since Adam and Eve were dragged, kicking and screaming, from the Garden of Eden. Even the Anti-Christ will use the promise of it to rally the world’s politicians, religious leaders and military might to his side during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation period. What are we talking about? Peace. The good news is that even though many, and you may be one of them, have been unable to attain peace, peace is offered.
Years ago my wife and I were stationed on the island of Guam. We used to take hikes on boney trails to undeveloped parts of the island. On one such trip we discovered a cave of historical value. It was in this cave that a Japanese soldier lived for many months after the WWII, after peace had been announced, he lived unaware of the gift of peace and so his life suffered. Oh how that seems to fit the lives of so many Christians. Peace has been offered and yet folks fail to claim it and are tricked into dying in the devils cave instead of living in light of our Saviors mansion!
There is peace. And God has an equation for this peace. First:
His Way – Some look for peace from:
• Culture (non-lasting peace from the world): “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”-John 14:27 The world does offer and give peace to those who seek it; however it is a peace that is not lasting. This is a peace that is fleeting and found in things like alcohol, drugs, power, position, popularity, wealth, health, etc. These things change and are only transitory.
I have gone down this road before I met Christ and even when things were all well, even when my “inventory” was in abundance and accounted for, there was always something missing (late at night in MA).
• Creation (non-lasting peace from man-made religions: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”-Prov. 14:12 All religions and cults and ways to heaven, outside of Christ, could be likened unto the Titanic. In 1912 the passengers trusted the certainty of the builders, the pompous and arrogant propaganda from White Star and believed in the competence of the crew. Titanic was hailed as a ship “even God could not sink”, and yet, tragically it did. Religion is calling billions of people to board a luxury liner, decorated, beautiful, and big and sending the message that all is well, yet the Bible tells us this liner will have the same fate, a fate of death for all who board. The sad truth is that even the most dedicated to these false religions worship man made images of things like Buddha who remains silent and ungrateful. **Story of Tazewell visitation-looked over at altar as if wondering if Buddha even cared**
• Carnality (non-lasting peace from playing the game): **Playing church as children-Good=stay, bad=leave!** “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”-Mt. 23:27-28 While you may not go to hell for your hypocritical lifestyle, there may be some around you who will because of your lifestyle. Your testimony is the most powerful, yet fragile tool that you possess to make a difference in this world. **Anton LaVey, the author of the Satanic Bible and former High Priest of the Church of Satan wrote this in the flyleaf of the Satanic Bible “On Saturday night I would see men lusting after half-naked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when I was playing the organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in the pews with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday night they’d be back at the carnival or some other place of indulgence. I knew then that the Christian Church thrives on hypocrisy, and that man’s carnal nature will out!”
The Apostle Paul informed the Roman church “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”-Rom. 8:6 (NO GOD NO PEACE KNOW GOD KNOW PEACE)
• Christ (lasting peace from the Creator): “And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” -Phil. 4:7 This is how Charlie can still have joy through his trials, how Martie and Carol can face tomorrow not knowing where the next paycheck will come. These folks have discovered that peace can’t be found in relationships, health, religion, the world or by simply dotting your weekly religious “I” through a life of hypocrisy. They have found that peace, real, lasting peace that can’t be touched by man or circumstance nor understood or comprehended, that this kind of peace only comes from a risen, living Savior in Jesus Christ.
• Self (it is not about you and it is not about me!): “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre..”-Tit. 1:7 and “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” -Col. 1:16
**Clifton Fadiman, in The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, tells a story about Vladmir Nabokov, the Russian-born successful novelist. One summer in the 1940’s, Nabokov and his family stayed with James Laughlin in Utah, where Nabokov took the opportunity to enlarge his collection of butterflies and moths. Fadiman recalls “Nabokov’s fiction has never been praised for its compassion; he was single-minded if nothing else. One evening at dusk he returned from his day’s excursion saying that during hot pursuit near Bear Gulch he had heard someone groaning most piteously down by the stream. “Did you stop?” Laughlin asked him. “no, I had to get the butterfly.” The next day the corpse of an aged prospector was discovered in what has been renamed, in Nabokov’s honor, Dead Man’s gulch. While people around us are dying to a devil’s hell how often we get caught up chasing our own butterflies. Focused on the selfish, non-eternal “things” of this life: jobs, health, money, relationships, hobbies, and the list goes on…while people all around us are groaning desperately for hope and salvation.
How sad that often times we are more concerned with our dreams, goals, visions, plans and agenda’s then we are with knowing and doing the will of the One who died for us! Instead of giving God a list of plans for your life, present Him with an empty planner with the attitude of “Lord here am I, send me”.
• Sacrifice (love costs-duty vs. desire): “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” -Rom. 12:1 (STORY OF LARRY PRICE FROM BETHEL). I pray this is not true of you here today; however the tragedy in the church today is that the greatest sacrifice many make for Christ is simply coming to church on Sunday.
• Submission (not a fan but a follower): “If any man come to me, and hat not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”- Luke 14:26 You see, there is a tremendous difference between being a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus. Jesus is speaking in this verse of being a follower. And to be a follower takes full commitment.
The Super Bowl will be played today, did you know that? My daughter said the game was between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Athletics! Many people will be shouting, jumping up and down, cheering for their team and hissing at the other. Some folks will spend some more money and travel to watch the game in person. Paying for the gas, food and tickets, some even getting painted and dressed up for the occasion. However none of these “fans” have a vested interest nor sacrificed greatly for either team. And, after the game, the TV’s will be turned off, the stadium will empty out and folks will get ready for the next season, some even changing loyalties during the off season. That is the difference between being a fan and a follower.
To the fans Jesus says “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” - Mt. 7:22-23 The one that is willing to be a follower and not just a fan of Christ will be one that will inherit the Kingdom of God and enjoy rewards and relationships for eternity. These are the ones that will hear our Lord say “Well done good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of they Lord” –Mt. 25:23
• Plugged into church (no retirement, no free ride!): “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good words: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” -Heb. 10:24-25
No church is perfect. (Joke about island marooned man that builds two churches!)Our goal is to find a church that is solid doctrinally, get involved, get busy and never let the lives of others interfere with you fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.
**I read that years ago three gray whales, icebound off Point Barrow, Alaska, floated battered and bloody, gasping for breath at a hole in the ice. Their only hope: somehow to be transported five miles past the ice pack to open sea. Rescuers began cutting a string of holes about twenty yards apart in the six-inch-thick ice. For eight days they coaxed the whales from one hole to the next, mile after mile. Along the way, one of the trio vanished and was presumed dead. But finally, with the help of Russian icebreakers, the whales Putu and Siku swam to freedom. In a way, worship is a string of breathing holes the Lord provides His people. Battered and bruised in a world frozen over with greed, selfishness, and hatred, we rise for air in church, a place to breathe again, to be loved and encouraged, until that day when the Lord forever shatters the ice cap.**
• Passionate about missions (not internally focused but external-so that others may find what we have found in Christ and His Church): “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” -Mt. 28:19-20
Amazing how fast we come up with vision and mission statements for our church, nice little catch phrases like “A new church with an old vision”, yet most Christians have not even memorized THE mission statement, right from the mouth of Jesus! This scripture is not just given to Pastors…but YOU! How do we grow the church? By adopting the church growth paradigms made popular by the likes of the “seeker sensitive movement”, the Saddleback community, or even Willow Creek? By having programs and activities for our Seniors and our children and all in-between? By offering more than the church down the street? Bigger buildings, larger staff, fatter budgets? NO! By submitting to the great commission given by our Lord. Getting out in the world and making a difference!
“Pastor, when are the adults going to go overseas on a mission trip through CommUNITY? When us adults can realize the mission field next door and start getting busy there! Why send people to another country when we don’t even want to walk across the street to another community?! And we, at CommUNITY, are making a difference: David Gardner umbrella story and church invitation cards.
• Priorities straight (God, family, work): “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Mt. 6:33 Most of us desire to be successful. However, we must understand two things: first, to define success by the standards of our Lord and not the world and second, endeavor to be successful in the eyes of God not the world **Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, is a success. He was interviewed on CNN and stated that he was “Not concerned with profits but with people and principles”. I passed a business on 419 on the way to Lewis Gale Tuesday and saw a huge banner promoting the fact that they were open on Sunday. Often what does not make “sense” in our eyes, is blessed by God because we seek to honor Him. And Mary Kay has always listed her priorities as “God first, family second and career third”
The world will tell you that to be successful you must: work hard, set goals, dream big, overcome obstacles, be disciplined, advance your education and never quit. And, while all of those things are good, general principles to live by, we must blanket them all with the question am I putting my Lord first.
**Ben Patterson lays out two exhibits that demonstrates what is left of us on our deathbed is what we were all along. Exhibit A: a distant uncle: All his life he did nothing but find new ways to get rich. And when life whittled him down to his essence, all there was left was raw greed. This is what he had cultivated in a thousand little ways over a lifetime. Exhibit B: his wife’s grandmother: When she died in her mid-eighties, she had already been senile for several years. What did this lady talk about? “The best example I can think of was when we asked her to pray before dinner. She would reach out and hold the hands of those sitting beside her, a broad, beatific smile would spread across her face, her dim eyes would fill with tears as she looked up to heaven, and her chin would quiver as she poured out her love to Jesus. That was Edna in a nutshell. She loved Jesus and she loved people. She couldn’t remember our names, but she couldn’t keep her hands from patting us lovingly whenever we got near her. When life whittled her down to her essence, all there was left was love: love for God and love for people.” (Pg. 530) It really is as simple as “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” –Luke 10:27
There it is, in words that Edna discovered in fleshed out life: Love God and Love each other.
We all desire peace. We all know too well what hurt is: physical, spiritual, emotional, mental. I pray that today you will discover God’s Equation for Peace. As 1 plus 1 will always equal 2, His Way + His Will + His Work will always equate to His Peace.