Summary: Peace is something we all desire but sometimes have difficulty finding. This sermon unwraps the gift of peace that Jesus left with us so that we can apply this peace to our lives.

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As most of you have seen I was featured in the Lincoln Times this week. My picture was on the front page carrying two bags of apples. Debbie and I attended the Apple Festival in Lincolnton on Saturday. The news photographer snapped a picture of me with my two 10 lb. bags of apples and asked for permission to print it. I agreed but never expected front page coverage.

When I saw the paper I wondered why this was newsworthy. Was it because someone bought apples at an apple festival? I assumed that was a normal routine. I could have understood if I had purchased 20 pounds of oranges at an apple festival.

However, this photo led me to ponder about spiritual fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 reads “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” I wonder what God views us carrying in our spiritual arms. Are we carrying fruit that is newsworthy in the heavenly rounds because it is what is expected or are we carrying fruit that does not fit in with our spiritual environment?

This week we will begin a series to help us discover how we can acquire the proper type of fruit; the type of fruit that will be featured on the front page of God’s Kingdom. The first fruit we will discuss is peace.

Peace. We all seek it. We often struggle to keep it. Absence of peace often leads to frustrations, stress, and anger. How many times have you said;

I am ready to throw in the towel.

I am at the end of my rope.

I am just a bundle of nerves.

I am at my wits’ end.

I feel like resigning from the human race.

My life is falling apart.

We all battle the desire to find peace in our lives and peaceful solutions for our problems. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 14:30 “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body. ---” In order to have a peaceful heart we must begin with having peace with God.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

We cannot have peace with ourselves or others without first experiencing peace with God. Jesus died on the cross at Calvary and rose again from the dead for us to have peace with God. We must, through faith, accept Jesus as our savior. In doing so we are found righteous before God. This means we are in right standing with him. God finds no fault in us. If you have not taken this first step then you will never find true peace.

Once we have established this spiritual peace with God then we can find the spiritual peace within.

Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Two things I want us to notice. First, the peace spoken of here is the spiritual peace we just discovered. It is the peace that comes from our relationship with God in whom we have right standing. Secondly, this peace is to rule in our hearts.

The Greek word for this type of rule is used only this one time in scripture. It is not like the way a king rules or a shepherd cares for his sheep. This word relates to an official who insures that the rules of the game are followed.

In other words we are to let the spiritual peace of God be the referee in our lives. A referee is charged with being sure the game is played in an orderly, smooth, and peaceful manner. God wants his spiritual peace to act upon us in this same manner. He wants us to be at peace when everything else is chaotic.

We often try to find this inner peace by fleeing our situations. Most of us call it vacation. But have you noticed that you really cannot get far enough away to escape that inner turmoil when you have no peace. It is always with us. That is why we need to allow the true inner peace offered only by Jesus to referee our heart and give us emotional peace.

Now we can establish peace with others.

Romans 12:18 “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”

In the 3100 years of recorded history the world has been at peace for a total of 286 years. Over 8000 peace treaties have been made and broken. In the past 3100 years there have been 14,531 wars accounting for the loss in lives of 3 trillion 640 million.

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