Summary: According to a Gallup Poll, many people believe "peace of mind" is critical for success in life. So why doesn’t everybody experience this peace?
Begin by reciting Galatians 5:22-23a
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
OPEN: Some time back the Gallup organization polled Americans about their most important criteria for judging personal success. They apparently gave them a list of 20 or 30 different option, and these were the results:
Ø Good health came in 1st - 58%
Ø Second, an enjoyable job - 49%
Ø A happy family was third - 45%
Ø A good education, fourth - 39%.
Ø Peace of mind, fifth - 34%
Ø Good friends, sixth - 25%
Ø Materialistic factors as unlimited money, a luxury car, and an expensive home brought up the rear.
APPLY: I found it interesting that one of the top 5 qualities of a “successful life” was peace of mind.
I. And peace of mind was something God has promised to us.
When Jesus was born the angels declared “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14
Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you….” John 14:27
In fact, Isaiah prophesied that when Jesus came, He would be called “The Prince of Peace, and of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end...” Isaiah 9:6-7
And then, in Galatians 5 we’re told that part of the fruit of the spirit is… peace.
So, not only do most men and women highly prize peace… so does God.
I spent a great deal of time thinking about this morning sermon. And as I was considering the many scriptures and illustrations about peace, it occurred to me… if everybody wants so much wants peace in their lives - why doesn’t everyone have it?
ILLUS: As I considered this question my mind went back to a conversation I once had with a liberal/ feminist friend of mine. I commented to her about how much I used to like the old comedy singing group “The Smothers Brothers”. Back in the 60’s, they had a extremely popular comedy/ variety show called “The Smothers Brothers Hour” and they enjoyed a great deal of success, until they started turning their show into a platform for political commentary and satire. The network promply cancelled their program.
Thirty years later, the Smothers Brothers were back on TV with a special, and (as I explained to my liberal friend) what disappointed me about them was how angry they seemed to be. Do you know why they were so angry? They were still bitter at the network that had cancelled them 30 years earlier. I shared with my friend about how disappointing it was that these great comedians and singers couldn’t let go of their anger.
That led us into a discussion of the need to be able to forgive others… and my feminist friend became agitated. Why? Because the idea of forgiving anyone who had deeply offended her wasn’t something she was comfortable with either.
As I thought back to that conversation it suddenly occurred to me that everybody wants peace.
The Smothers Brothers wanted peace
My feminist friend wanted peace
Everybody I could think of who’d ever been angry or embittered… they all wanted peace
The problem was - they wanted peace on THEIR terms.
Many people believe they will experience peace of mind when they get revenge
Many will experience peace only when their political party is in power
Many will experience peace only when things go the way THEY want them to go.
Everybody wants peace – they just want that peace to be on THEIR terms.
And that is why there is so much conflict in this world
James wrote: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:1-2a
But God’s peace is different than the kind of peace the world pursues.
Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” John 14:27
God wants to give us a peace that we can have no matter what happens to us in our lives. That’s because God’s kind of peace is dependent upon His Spirit being IN us… not upon the momentary difficulties that we encounter in this world.
As one man once put it “Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is the presence of God”
II. Now, that brings us to our passage in Philippians 4
This is one of the most powerful passages in Scripture because it tells us HOW we can have God’s peace.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:9 - if we follow his advice “…the God of peace will be with you”