Text: Philippians 4:4-13 March 29, 2009.
1) Search for external peace: Today, March 2, Hillary
2) Search for internal peace: At the heights of their popularity and wealth, the Beatles produced a controversial project call “The White Album.” It signaled the breakup of the band and revealed disenchantment with all that their fame had produced. In his song “I’m So Tired,” John Lennon expressed the emptiness of his “successful” and wealthy life with these profound words: “I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind.” All that he had accomplished and all that he had become couldn’t bring this simple, yet deep, internal need.
SUBSTITUTES OF PEACE: The world we live in cannot offer real peace. It offers only poor substitutes. Here are some of the substitutes most people have pursued:
1) In search of possession: “And I will say to my soul: You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (Luke 12:19) Many people in history chose possession to be the first substitute for peace. They believe that if they get rich they will have peace of mind. The reality is that the rich have more to worry than the not so rich because they have the riches to worry about. We all know how volatile riches can be. You may have them today but they may get rusted, becomes useless or grow wings and fly away tomorrow. (Matthew 6:19; Proverbs 23:5) No one in history had claimed that riches give him peace of mind.
2) In search of power: “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) Searching and gaining power like God has been the pursuit of men throughout history. People use all available means to gain power to build security, control others and to elevate their benefits. This is true in personal and political level. Men believe that it they gain more power on the outside they may gain more peace on the inside. The truth is powerful people have less peace: who and when will their power be taken away.
3) In search of position: “Jesus said: Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.” (Mark 12:38-39) Many search for peace in places of high position and fame. Position, honor or fame had been goals for many people. But we all know that is not true. If fame can substitute peace, the Beatles should have all the peace fame may buy.
4) In search of pleasure: “I thought in my heart: Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good. But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter is foolish,’ I said, ‘and what does pleasure accomplish?” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2)There are those who will substitute peace with pleasure. They think that by having pleasure, fun, excitement they will be peace. If that is true, many of the famous movie stars, popular rock singers and the playboys won’t have to commit suicide. Pleasure may numb your brain, but it cannot numb your heart that is still empty.
REASONS PEACE IS HARD TO FIND:
1) No God, no peace: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) We all are familiar with this verse in the Bible related to the birth of Jesus Christ. We all agree and have no problem to see and understand that glory to God in the highest. But many of us neglect the last part: peace on earth on whom his favor rests. The peace God rests only on those who have the favor of God, those who believe in and act on the glory of God in the coming of Jesus Christ. When men try to achieve peace without God, it always ends in failure.
2) No Prince, no peace: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And the government will be on his shoulders. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Ever-lasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) God has designated a multi-facet name for his Son, Jesus Christ and the last one is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the real source of peace. He came to this world to make peace between men and God. He brings peace between nations, races, genders, classes, all segregation men have created. Only through Jesus, there is true peace.
3) No new heart, no peace: “The heart (of man) is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Peace comes first from the hear before it comes in actions. When the heart of man is so rotten beyond cure, selfish beyond cure, greedy beyond cure and deceitful beyond cure, how can he make peace with anyone and hope it will last. If one truly wants to have peace on his inside and with others on the outside, he must first make peace with God. He must allow God to “give him a new heart, remove his heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
4) No Jesus, no real peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you (the kind of peace) as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Be it in the family or between friends or nations, no peace is the real peace except that from Jesus the Lord. If you are serious about having real and lasting peace, you have to ask for it from Jesus. He has made peace between you and God and He will give you the strength and patience to make peace with anyone else. He is specialized in giving inner peace so you won’t have trouble in your heart.
FORMULA TO LASTING PEACE:
1) Peace in the Lord: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4) Build a close relationship with the Lord, stay in Him in all situations and you have nothing to worry or fear. He is your shelter in the time of storm.
2) Peace in prayers: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your needs to the Lord.” (4:6) Anxious for things means lack of faith. Prayer and petition are bridges carry us to the other side with the Lord. He knows our needs and is able to provide all.
3) Peace of mind: “And the peace of God which transcends all our understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (4:7) Transcendence means above and beyond what we can understand. God’s peace may not change our circumstance, but it will guard our heart and mind beyond our understanding.
4) Peace in do right: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent and praise- worthy, think about these things.” (4:8)If we think the right thing, do the right things according to God’s command, we have little or nothing to worry and lots of reason to have peace.
5) Peace from good example: “Whatever you have learned, received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (4:9) If you don’t know what to do and how to do it, learn from someone who knows, like Paul. Pick the right model and learn from him how to have peace.
6) Peace in gratitude: “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that you have renewed your concern for me, indeed you have concerned but didn’t have opportunity to show it. (4:10) Paul was grateful to the Philippians for the past concern, love and support. He knew he had friends who cared about him that brings peace to his heart. A grateful heart is a peaceful heart.
7) Peace in contentment: “I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. (4:11) Contentment is the key to peace of mind and faith in the heart. When we feel lacking nothing, there is little to worry and peace is a natural condition of the heart.
8) Peace in His power: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (4:13) Few may change the circumstance we are in to achieve peace. But we all can ask and receive from the Lord his strength to overcome worries, doubts and despair. His strength is far stronger than anything we may face. In Him all things are possible and worry free.
1) First thing first: Seek peace before seek wealth. Peace of mind promotes health and good health is far better than wealth, fame, power and pleasure. Nothing hurts you worse than a troubled heart and a worried mind.
2) Seek and find: Seek Jesus and you will find peace and His peace will last to eternity. Don’t look to the world or things in the world to give you peace. Look to Jesus, walk closely with him and you will have lasting peace.
3) Protect peace: Feed you mind with decent and beautiful things. Do right things in everyday life and eliminate fear from your mind. Seek guidance from the Lord and walk in His path. He will protect you from harms way.