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.

WISDOM TO STAY UNITED

divided-church

Have you ever disagreed with something done by the leadership of your church?

If you have attended Greentree Church for more than a few weeks, we have probably done something that you questioned, didn’t understand, didn’t like or simply left you scratching your head!

Even though we love our church and we try to be serious about being biblically directed, as leaders we remain flawed and insufficient instruments.

Even when we are acting with correct wisdom, that doesn’t guarantee that every church member is processing their reactions with biblical wisdom.

The church is a gathering of “saints”, but we are all flawed in what we do and how we respond.

For these reasons it is important that in Greentree and every other church, we have a biblical perspective for how to handle questions, conflicts and honest concerns.

Fortunately God “remembers that we are dust”. He gives us grace to work through the struggles we have with one another.

A helpful place to find wisdom for ourselves and life with one another is the Old Testament book of Proverbs.

David Murray offers what he calls two “church transforming” proverbs in this article from the Head, Heart, Hand Blog.

Since we will struggle with one another, it is a wise to know the wisdom God has provided precisely for those moments

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.07.15

“The Realities of God Are Greater”

Psalm 4

The Psalms were written as a songbook for God’s people

They present an honest look at the human condition in all our struggles, as we intersect with the realities of God

Psalms are worship that instruct. In this way they are a great example of preaching the gospel to ourselves

 

This Psalm Begins With a Cry to God

It appears from v2 that David is being slandered

It hurt and he was helpless as some lied about him and others received it

Both giving and receiving slander are unloving and sinful (Romans 1 mixes slanderers and gossips with murderers and haters of God)

It takes careful attention to be gossip and murmur free

David turns to God in his hurt and frustration (v1)

He does this because God had proven himself in the past

Why should we be content to entrust our burdens to God?

Because he is almighty

Because he is faithful

The cross proves God’s faithfulness

The gospel tells the fullness of that faithfulness

What is God’s role to you? Is he “the man upstairs” or is he the full extent of your hope?

 

God Gives David Grace For Those Who Hurt Him

David gives counsel to those who misused him

1. God takes care of those who trust in him (v3)

Those who oppose God’s people are wasting their efforts

This is also a warning, letting them know they were raising their arm against God

2. Fear God and examine your hearts before him (v4)

The phrase “Be angry” literally means “tremble” in either anger or dread. The context seems to be tremble in fear of God

Rather than slander others, they should examine their hearts and consider God’s role over them

3. Submit to God and worship him (v5)

He exhorts them to be worshipers who entrust themselves to God

David’s heart was wounded, but it had not been poisoned

The grace God provided was greater than the sin he endured

If our grace is always greater than our burdens, then grace should always rule

This means we are to stay in the agenda of the gospel toward people – including those who misuse us

This is where David’s heart remained, because God remained present and faithful

Since God never stops his agenda for us, we should not stop serving his agenda

This is not a disadvantaged way to live

This is freeing – because the sin of others doesn’t determine how we live

This is powerful – because it places attention on the glorious realities of God

 

David Then Declares His Confidence (vs 6-8)

He introduces his confidence by making a contrast

David begins with a common question,

“Who will show us some good?

In other words, who or what will make us happy?

Most people don’t have a clear or dependable answer, so they look everywhere

And the truth is – without Christ, people don’t even know what is good for them

There is often a touch of cynicism, with people doubting if anything really works

All this leads to pragmatism which has no moral rooting: Do whatever makes you happy

The result is “all about me” behavior which is manifested by a culture that encourages abortion, affairs, cheating and common rudeness

In contrast for the believer, there is no searching or ambiguity:

“Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” (v6)

If we have the presence of God, we have goodness

There are three implications in this declaration

#1. Engagement with the “face” of God (his personal presence) will meet our deepest needs

#2. The presence of God shines “light” on our life. The truths of God make life clear

#3. If you want goodness in your life, submit fully to the ways of God

David shares a couple wonderful results of entrusting our life to God

1. God puts “joy” in our heart (v7)

This joy is greater and deeper than simply having circumstances go well

It consists of a heart overflowing with the abundant riches of Christ in us

A joyful heart can be touched by pain and sadness, but it will not be drowned by them

2. God brings “peace” to us (v8)

God who is sovereign over everything, is committed to our eternal good

We can “lie down and sleep”, meaning we can rest

 

Let us work on the presence of God and our rest in God

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

PERFECT PEACE (part 2)

Today I will add another reason from Isaiah 26 of why we can have peace.

12‘O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for You have indeed done for us all our works.’

Peace often eludes us because we are anxious about what we cannot do, or what others might fail to do. But Isaiah reminds us that God does everything that we truly need to have done. This does not mean that sitting around doing nothing is a spiritual quality. It does mean that we take Jesus at His word in John 15:5

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’

We labor and serve, but God accomplishes. We tend the garden, but God grows the fruit. We trust and obey, and He carries the burden. Too often we keep plowing forward as if success depends upon us with an occasional lift from God. How foolish and unbiblical! God is our hope in everything. Do we live that way? Do we seek Him in prayer as if that is true? Do we worship Him in response to that reality?

Practice trusting God for everything. Go to Him first instead of yourself or someone else. Stop making human action, followed by personal anxiety, the default settings of your life. Make depending upon God the dialogue of your day. This of course will then help “keep your mind stayed on Him”, which we saw yesterday is where peace is found.


PERFECT PEACE

Whoever wants or needs peace, raise your hand. Let me see, keep holding them up, . . . okay it was unanimous. We all want peace. I think we can take it a step further, we all need peace. So it may interest you that God tells us we can have “perfect” peace. That should bring a wow out of all of you. God tells us this in Isaiah 26:3

You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

This passage is worth our consideration, not just our hearing it, but our pondering it and working out how it can be increasing real in our lives. First we should learn that having “peace” is God’s will and desire for us. This truth is repeated in Philippians 4:6-9. I find just knowing God wants me to have peace, encourages me to pursue peace more aggressively.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Secondly, we can have a form of peace that is seemingly impossible for men. It is “perfect”, it “surpasses understanding”, and it is “of God”. This is the peace we want. It is supernatural and greater than anything we can conjure up or men can give to us. This is peace that God works within us.

Third, we should recognize this peace comes by having our thoughts filled up with God. Keeping our thoughts on God leads to peace, because God is always at peace and in control. God is always all wise, all powerful, all good, and all faithful. We can probably accept that if God’s glory appeared before us (or the amount of His glory we could bear), we would lose our fear. Well if we truly believe in the God of Scripture, then we should know He is always glorious and we are always in His presence.

Our problem is not our problems, it is that we take our mind off God – our mind is not “stayed on Him”. The principle is rather basic, keep God in your thoughts and peace will come; lower your thoughts to other things, and anxiety will grow. “But how long can I keep my thoughts on God?” Well, how long do you need to?

However, there is a fourth point that is part of this perfect peace. We must trust God in those thoughts. I imagine that Satan thinks about God more than we do, however, he does so without trust. True trust must be earned, so we should be able to trust God with abandon, because He is entirely trustworthy. God has earned our trust! This is where having a gospel-centered heart will help. Because the gospel is overflowing with reminders of the wondrous faithfulness and trustworthiness of God.


A final thought that will help us apply Isaiah 26 and Philippians 4. It is a quote from the great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones, from his book “Spiritual Depression”.

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”

Peace that is impossible to have on our own, is available for those who trust God and keep their mind “stayed on Him”. You can be one of those people. So start talking to yourself about the trustworthiness of God. Tell yourself about the faithfulness of Christ and His gospel. Tell yourself that anxiety is not from God and that His will for you is always peace.