Peace

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.25.16

             “Peace is found in Jesus”                     

John 14:25-31

People look for peace in the absence of conflict, intrusion, people and problems. They miss the fact that peace is found in the presence of Christ

 

Jesus gives more instruction about the Holy Spirit (vs 25-26)

The word for ‘Helper’ means “one who comes along side”

One of the ways he ‘comes alongside’ us is by “teaching” us  

He will teach them what Jesus has already ‘spoken’ to them

Jesus’ disciples had heard Jesus for years, yet their understanding remained shallow

We need to understand more than words and concepts, the realities of Christ must capture our hearts

We need to see them as true for us and compelling to us

The Holy Spirit brings truths to our “remembrance”

This is how biblical truths touch the practices of our life

Jesus is giving assurance to his followers concerning how we will make our way in life

 

Jesus’ leaving is hard, but it is also victorious (vs 28-29)

Jesus was sovereign over all the circumstances of his leaving

He has been telling his disciples for months about the details of his death

His crucifixion was not a surprise, everything was according to God’s plan

Jesus would leave in complete victory

Jesus entered death to conquer death, by breaking the power of sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

When Jesus paid the price for our sin, death lost its hold on us  

The result would be Jesus returning to the Father having fully completed his plan to save a people for himself

It seems like a loss to have Jesus leave, but he leaves to reign

Jesus would leave death exalted over the powers of this world

The ‘ruler of this world was coming’ (v30), Satan was involved in the events leading to Jesus’ death

But Satan’s efforts would not override God’s plan, his efforts were contained in it

Jesus would enter death, the territory of Satan, but it would have “no hold” on him

As followers of Jesus, v28 we should rejoice because his victory is our victory

Jesus tells them in v29 not to misinterpret events of his death; the same is true about interpreting the circumstances in our life

 

Jesus leaving this world doesn’t rob us of peace (v27)

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with his victory

We think we cannot have peace when life goes wrong or is out of our control

Even though wrong can be done to us, in Christ our future cannot go wrong

As citizens in Christ’s kingdom it is impossible for the events of our life to be out of control

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with the Holy Spirit

God is not watching how we are making it as Christians, he is involved in all of it

And we can be assured that the Holy Spirit’s work in us will be completely done 

We have peace because Jesus leaves us with himself

Jesus did not leave his humanity, he remains fully man, with understanding and empathy for us

Jesus did not leave this world; his Divine nature continues to operate the universe

Jesus was sovereign over the events his arrest, over the moment of his death . . and over your troubles

Jesus will not leave our lives! He will never ignore or fail those he died to save, and reigns to keep

We have surpassing peace in Jesus, so let’s live in it

The Hebrew use of the word peace meant blessing through a right relationship with God

Jesus’ first words to his disciples after his resurrection would be “Peace be with you”

Jesus who is the “Prince of Peace” came to establish a “covenant of peace” (Ezekiel 37:26-27)

Peace is here . . it’s ours . . we cannot lose it . . we can only lose sight of it

How or where are you looking for peace?

When I have financial security

When my problems finally are solved

When I find the right relationship or fix the people in my life  

These are all about our control and they ignore the reality that we live in a broken world

True peace is only in Christ: what he calls in v27 “my” peace

Only Christ fully removes all disturbances of peace

Only Christ reigns to guarantee that his peace will last

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.25.16

 

Extraordinary Joy and Peace

Philippians 4:4-9

by Pat Tedeschi

When we go through these verses slowly, we see a number of imperatives or commands, that when considered carefully can almost seem impossible.

Who can really live like that?

If you are in Christ, you can.

Now clearly this doesn’t mean we will never struggle with these things. We can assume that we will struggle- that’s why the verses are there.

But the truth of God’s Word is we can live out these seemingly impossible commands and experience a life of extraordinary Gospel joy and peace.

Here’s why; we have a Savior who not only models this sort of life, but is all powerful to enable us to live it out.  

So let’s look at each of these commands and look to the Savior who inspires and enables us to obey them.

1.  Rejoice in the Lord always (v 4)

We clearly see a theme of rejoicing throughout the book.

Biblical joy is not grounded in our circumstances, but in the Lord.

The Philippians have everything to rejoice about in Him!

If we ground our joy in our circumstances there may be very little to rejoice in.

But if our rejoicing is in Jesus and what He has done then we have reason to always rejoice.

2.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone (v 5)

Reasonableness means not holding onto your personal rights but dealing gently with others when you feel the right or need to retaliate.

How sweetly reasonable are you when others accuse or offend you?

Paul pushes us beyond our so called “rights” to look to Christ when he says “the Lord is at hand”.  

He is near and He is powerful to help. You have His resources to be sweetly reasonable and be at peace with others, as He has been reasonable with you.

3.  Do not be anxious about anything, instead pray about everything (vs 6-7)

Anxiety is a distressed, burdensome concern, where we trust in our own abilities to solve or avoid problems rather than trusting God.

Paul wants us to take the energy we give to worrying and use it instead to pray.

Prayer builds relationship with our Father and Savior – which is ultimately what we need most for a life of joy and peace.

Prayer that expresses our hearts to God with the mind of Christ has a magnificent promise to it.

Paul says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

This peace is not about the absence of trouble. God doesn’t promise to remove all of our difficulties.

Instead it is like calm in the middle of a storm. Like Paul and Silas singing songs of joy at midnight in the Philippian jail.

4.  Think Godly thoughts, Follow Godly examples (vs 8-9)

Paul gives us two other elements to stand firm in living out the Gospel- godly thoughts and godly practices.

He lists a number of distinctly Christian virtues to fill our minds with in this pursuit of Gospel joy and peace.

That is what we think on – but our thinking must move us to action.

So God gives us living examples we can follow right in our churches- men and women who seek to advance the Gospel according to the mind of Christ.

But we can’t stop there. Their lives and practices should lead us to be godly examples for others to follow as well.

There’s much to do and to think about from this passage. It can seem impossible.

However, the focus is not on our own ability to do these things. Instead Paul consistently points us to the One who models and empowers us to live them out.

With Jesus as our example and enabler, we can live out these seemingly impossible commands and experience a life of extraordinary joy and peace for the advance of His glory in the Gospel.

HUMILITY IS RELAXING

 

Pride is a big fat liar!

 Although pride lies to us in many ways, it chiefly tries to convince us that life will be better right now if we will focus on ourselves or assert ourselves.

Bethany Jenkins leads us in the opposite direction in this article, “There’s Nothing More Relaxing Than Humility”.

Pause to think about the way pride takes up enormous amounts of space in our minds, action and emotions. It continually pushes us to grab and fight for self. Think about how exhausting all this can be. Everything from how we react on the highway to how we interpret people’s comments, all become draining exercises when pride is leading us.

Pride disturbs the rest we crave.

Pride does this by sending us running in the opposite direction from where God is moving. That means when pride rules over our lives, we are depending on our own strength and wisdom rather than resting in Christ! Taking what pride wants us to cling to and casting it upon Christ is rest, because we know he will handle it all far better than we can.

It may take a while to get used to this mindset, but try thinking about how this potentially frustrating moment will be much more relaxing, if we simply turning it over to Christ and let his agenda rule our life instead of that no-good-liar named pride.

 

FAITHFUL TO THE END

letter
George Petrillo entered eternity on August 23rd of this year.

He leaves a legacy of love for his family and a wonderful example of abiding trust in Jesus Christ to all who know him.

Over the years George attended Greentree Church, I would often receive a card or letter from him. These were always encouraging. It might be a simple note of thanks for our church, or a comment on how a recent sermon affected his soul.

More recently his notes would contain updates on the serious health issues faced by him and his wife Joan. George had fibrosis of the lungs which meant they were hardening. Doctors informed him that nothing could be done to stop this condition from gradually worsening and resulting before long in his death.

On top of this, George’s beloved Joan, suffers from Alzheimer’s. For George, care for Joan far outweighed concern for himself.

Despite carrying what we would all agree are heavy burdens, George remained an encourager to his family and those who knew him.

George’s notes continued right up to his final days on this earth. My last card from him arrived the day after he passed away. Knowing his time was short; George filled out one last card and insisted that his daughter deliver it to the post office that day.

In one of his recent notes, George once more graciously shared his love for our church. He emphasized the impact of both the preaching of God’s Word and the consistent care they received from their church family.

In typical fashion, George closed with these words:

“I am always aware of God’s may, many blessings to (us), and I am also aware – so vividly of the hurts and heartaches of so many people.

The hope we have in Christ Jesus is so wonderful and so liberating! For in this HOPE we are saved.”

I hope George’s legacy can extend further to influence each of us to see God’s faithfulness in all circumstances. And along the way, may we follow his example of frequently sharing expressions of love, faith and thankfulness to one another!

A STORY OF LIFE WITH CANCER

the-hardest-peace-Kara-Tippetts-oatmeal-smiles

Kara Tippetts

. . . was the wife of Jason and the mom of four beautiful children

. . . cancer was not imagined as part of her story

. . . neither was it invited in

. . . yet it invaded Kara’s body and the lives of all her family

The Hardest Peace is Kara’s story about God’s grace which came along with the invasion.

Kara opened her heart and life so we could see the hard and gritty, as well as the lovely and gracious. Woven through every part is her clarity about Christ and her abiding trust in Him. It is an excellent book.

This is how Kara describes writing “The Hardest Peace”:

The writing of this book helped me through the diagnosis of cancer finding more and more corners in my body: my brain, my bones, my liver, my lymph system. The writing of this book caused me to look at my story and seek the grace to walk this hard path with cancer.

On March 22, 2015 Kara left the dust of earth to breathe the air of Heaven. Shortly before her death, Kara wrote:

My little body has grown tired of battle, and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well. By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my people close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives. I get to pray into eternity my hopes and fears for the moments of my loves. I get to laugh and cry and wonder over Heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus—and He will provide. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, that wondering over His love, will cover us all. And it will carry us—carry us in ways we cannot comprehend.

You can read more from Kara about this journey with life and cancer via her blog ‘Mundane Faithfulness’. 

I MISS YOU

This weekend I am with those who are grieving the death of a dear friend, Tom Beers.

This is one of those deeply felt losses which leave a ragged and gaping whole in your life.

This has been a season of losing people. Funerals have been far too frequent.

A year ago I wrote a poem from the perspective of believers losing a loved one in the Lord. If grief is touching your life, I hope these words are a balm of comfort.

I miss you

You were there, always

In warmth and knowing

How can I own this absence

Where do I put this sorrow

 

I know

you are not gone

But you are away

It seems so far

Yet memories are near

And your love is even closer

 

Life

had been full, for you were in it

Now a gaping space is here

It feels as if there is no way around it

I cannot find my way around it

Maybe for now there isn’t one

 

Thoughts

of you fall like rain, gentle and steady

Memories are like stands of autumn trees

       proud in their display

 Or summer fields fragrant in bloom

       gathered and shared

 

One day

you will no longer be far

This hurting is what will be distant

All will be healed

Not patched, but whole and new

New memories will flow, endlessly

 

Today

you know what angels sound like

You have seen the scars that made you  

       forever free

You have heard His voice

Heard Him say your name

 

I just took a breath

which means there is one less between

When you, me, He, we

Forever are in the center of all life is   

       meant to be

 

I miss you

because I love you

Because He loves me,

I only have to miss you for awhile

Kyle Huber 2013

GET REAL PEACE

Real Peace by Andy Farmer

For this month’s book recommendation blog, I am going to make it easy for me and hopefully both interesting and helpful for you.

Andy Farmer has written a book on How to Find Real Peace.

That should be of interest to all of us!

The full title is “Real Peace: What We Long For and Where to Find It”

For those of you from Greentree, you will remember Andy as one of the speakers for our Family Equipping Conference last year. Andy is Pastor of Community & Care at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA

Brian DeWire already wrote a strong recommendation for Real Peace which you can read here (this is the easy part for me)

 

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO

Ray Ortlund shared that a Christian oncologist in his church has a plaque mounted in his office with this message, which may speak to your life at this time.

What Cancer Cannot Do:

Cancer is so limited –

It cannot cripple love,

It cannot shatter hope,

It cannot corrode faith,

It cannot destroy peace,

It cannot kill friendship,

It cannot suppress memories,

It cannot silence courage,

It cannot invade the soul,

It cannot steal eternal life,

It cannot conquer the Spirit.

From “Supernatural Living for Natural People: The Life-Giving Message of Romans “ by Ray Ortlund

REAL PEACE

9781433535291

In April, one of the speakers at our Family Equipping Conference was Andy Farmer who is pastor of Community & Care at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA.

Andy has just written a book titled “Real Peace”. The peace Andy is referring to is the hardest peace of all to obtain – peace within our soul. Everyone is interested in peace of mind and peace of heart. Andy writes,

“The thing that pushed me to (write) this was my experience in pastoral counseling and care. As I studied peace, I became much more attuned to how people I was meeting with related to it. I began to realize that nearly everyone I talked to, regardless of their situation, was thirsting for something like peace in their lives. . . Even among Christians who are not in difficult struggles, the lack of peace is real. I had a friend ask . . what I was writing on, and when I told her it was peace, she simply sighed, ‘Ahh…I’d love that.’

You can get your copy of Andy’s book at Amazon or through the publisher, Crossway Books