Summary: Jesus promised a peace unlike that offered by the world. What was the difference between the two, and how can we lay hold of God’s peace?
OPEN: Several years ago, I visited the historic site of Appomattox and heard an amazing story.
As I remember it, our guide told of Wilmer McLean who owned a home near Bull Run. His house was seriously damaged during the opening battle of the Civil War, and so, falsely believing he would be safer from future conflicts, he rebuilt his home - only to have it destroyed during the 2nd battle of Bull Run.
Disgusted, he moved to a part of the country where he felt he could escape the ravages of war - a small obscure community called Appomattox. When Lee surrendered to Grant, it was McLean’s house that was used by the two Generals to sign the historic terms of surrender. Their aides de camp were so moved by the signing they desired a memento of the occasion - a souvenir to remember what had taken place in this house. So they all walked off with a piece of furniture from McLean’s house.
APPLY: No matter where that man ran he could not escape conflict. He could never seem to find peace.
People have sought peace for generations.
They have rallied for it.
They have bargained for it.
They have compromised for it
They have even fought for it.
They presume that if they can ever create an world where there is no trouble, no difficulties, no conflicts - then they can have perfect peace.
But Jesus tells us (even for us who belong to Him) “in this world you will experience trouble…” John 16:33
Peter wrote: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
You are NEVER going to reach a place in this world where there will be no trouble
(pause…) It’s never going to happen.
The circumstances of conflict and troubles will (sooner or later) invade your life. And you will not be able to move away from them.
But you can choose how you will deal with those circumstances…
ILLUS: Victor Frankl was a Jewish Medical Doctor during 1930’s. Frankl was a pioneer of modern day psychotherapy, and he developed much of his theory for Psychotherapy while a prisoner in a WWII concentration camp, arrested along with other Jews and imprisoned. As a Medical Doctor, he was put to work treating other prisoners.
While serving in that capacity, he had an opportunity to observe people under the most trying of circumstances. He saw people as they lived… and he saw them as they died. He had expected that people who were weak would die and those who were strong would survive. However, that wasn’t always true and it caused Frankl to wander if there wasn’t something else involved. What he observed became the source of his “Logo Therapy.” He noticed that those who lived had one thing in common: they had chosen to live rather than die.
He found that when everything else had been taken, friends, food, dignity, health… the one thing their captors could not take away was – choice. The choice to live.
According to Frankl, the last of man’s inalienable rights was the right of individual to choose how they would respond in any given situation. Victor Frankl said: “You cannot always control your circumstances, but you have the power to control your response to your circumstances.”
In other words, you can have peace, because you CHOOSE peace… you pursue it.
As Psalm 34:14b tells us “…seek peace and pursue it.”
I. What Kind of Peace should we pursue?
Jesus said: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
What kind of peace is this? This peace of Jesus. It’s a peace where my heart isn’t troubled. It’s a peace where I am not afraid.
It’s not like the “world’s peace” Because the world’s peace is based upon what my circumstances are. If my life going badly then I’ll be sad or angry. If things are going well, only then will I be pleased. That’s the peace the world knows.
BUT this peace from Jesus is different. This peace is a promise from God of His peace IN SPITE OF my circumstances.
As Paul writes: this peace “transcends all understanding” – it doesn’t even make any sense to the world.
Isaiah tells us that this kind of peace (perfect peace) is promised by God to His people.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
II. What’s this peace like? How will you know when you have it?
You won’t stumble through life. As we’re told in Psalms 119:165 “Great peace have they who love your law, and NOTHING CAN MAKE THEM STUMBLE.”