Our God of Peace
INTRO: Violent. Racist. Afraid. Hateful. Divided. Tense. Hurt. Sick. Dangerous. Deceitful. Malicious.
These are probably some of the most accurate words that describe our world today. These are the words that describe what we are feeling and experiencing in America today. In this setting we are losing or have already lost one of our most important aspects of life, and that is peace. Of course, I am not talking about the kind of peace that comes from the fact that everything around us is going all well and good, that kind of peace isn’t readily available right now. The world isn’t offering much of it right now. The peace that comes from this world has quarantined itself away for now. I’m talking about the kind of peace that we as Christians have bragged about having access to for two-thousand years. The peace that comes from knowing God and having a personal relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior. If we have invited Jesus to come into our life and be our Savior, then we do have access this peace. It seems that we have forgotten that and that is what I want to remind us of today. There is a God of Peace. And if we have a relationship with Jesus then He is Our God of Peace. Today, I would like to remind us about a few things on how Jesus is our God of Peace.
I. Even The Storms Obey – Mark 4:35-41
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side." Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"
(Mark 4:35-41 NKJ)
Background Info: Just before this event took place Jesus had finished teaching a great multitude of people by the Sea of Galilee; we know these teachings as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus then cleanses a leper, heals the centurion’s servant and heals Peter’s mother-in-law and then this event takes place.
A. I know that many of us feel like we are in the middle of a raging sea right now.
1. We are fearful of what’s going to become of us. How many times have we heard the phrase, “Uncertain Times” over the past 5 months on radio and TV adds? We are afraid of where all of this is heading and where it is going to drop us off. We feel like we’re in the middle of the storm on the Sea of Galilee.
2. There are some of us that have been directly affected by the Pandemic or by Racism.
a. Some of us have been laid off and are looking for jobs.
b. Some of us have gotten sick or we know someone who has.
c. Some of us have suffered discrimination and we are afraid because of the racial tension.
B. But, what I want to focus on today is not the storms in our lives, but rather the One who can calm those storms.
1. In our text the Disciples were in the middle of a serious storm on the Sea of Galilee and they were fearful, they were anxious, they were afraid for their lives.
a. We need to remember that many of these disciples were fishermen, they had experience, there were trained on what to do. They had been through storms before.
b. Jesus was a carpenter, not a sailor; yet, He went to sleep and was perfectly comfortable with letting those who knew how to sail take care of the business of sailing.
c. God has ordained the idea of using the gifts and talents of those whom He has saved for the work of the ministry. God’s plan is to use all of us for His work. So, Jesus was content enough to let the sailors take care of getting Him to the other side, even during a storm.
2. When the disciples came to the point of even being fearful for their lives, they ask Jesus for help.
a. As the scene plays out, Jesus rebukes His disciples for their lack of faith, He stands and speaks to the raging storm and commands peace and much to the shock of His Disciples, the storm obeys.
3. What Jesus does here is pretty interesting. He rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith.
a. When I first was reading that I thought, ‘Well that doesn’t seem fair now does it?’ The disciples came to Him asking for help why did Jesus rebuke them for that?
b. There are basically two camps of thought here among Bible scholars on why Jesus rebukes His Disciples for a ‘lack of faith.’
1) The first one is pretty funny. Some scholars think that when the disciples came to Jesus asking to save them because they were perishing, they didn’t come with faith in hearts but with buckets in their hands! Save us Lord! Help us bail out some of this water!
*And that’s the problem with us many times. We ask God to do something for us but when we don’t see Him moving like we think He should; we try to take over and fix the issue ourselves. We try to solve the problems using our ways and methods. Jesus looks at us and says, “Trust Me, My ways are better.”
2) The second school of thought deals more with idea that Jesus was basically saying, “Why are you waking me to pray. I’ve taught you how to pray. You’ve seen many miracles that have come from prayer. You should’ve prayed.
* I think that all of us have been guilty of this a few hundred times as well. We get overwhelmed by the disaster at hand and we don’t pray.
c. I wonder how many times when we are going though a situation in our lives and we are struggling and God is in heaven wondering, “Why don’t they pray?”
4. But, Jesus gets up, commands the storm to be at peace, and it obeys.
a. And this brings us to very important point for us today and that is the storms obey the commands of our Lord.
b. All God has to do speak the Word and the storms obey. All God had to do was speak the Word and light sprang into existence. All God had to do was speak the Word and land formed. All God had to do was speak a Word and plants and animals appeared. All God had to do was speak a Word to the sick and the illness had to leave. All God had to do was speak a Word to those that were trapped in bondage and the chains fell off. All God had to do was speak a Word to those who had no hope and desperation and despair had to leave. All God had to do was speak a Word to the demons and they had to release their hold and flee. Do you get the picture of a God who is in control? Are you getting in your mind an image of a God who holds absolute power? Do we realize we serve a God who can just say, ‘Peace be still,’ and the storm is gone?
c. I know and understand that God has His reasons why sometimes He tells us that we have to walk through the storm and during that walk we suffer loss and endure pain but He does at other times just take the storm away. We need to remember that He is more than capable to make the storm just go away.
SEGUE: “Can anyone relate to the disciples today? No, not in the sense that they are dead, but in the sense that your going through a storm. That you are worried about some issues in your life. That you are anxious about some problems and situations that you are in.”
II. Turn Your Worries Over To God - Philippians 4:6-7
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ)
A. In these verses we have a promise from God.
1. When we pray, we will get something.
2. Phil. 4:6, teaches us to, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”
3. We’re not supposed to worry; we’re not supposed to be anxious. Whatever it is that we are worrying about we are supposed to take to the Lord in prayer.
4. Phil. 4:7 tells us, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
5. The Greek in this verse paints a very inspiring picture here, the phrase ‘will guard your hearts’ is a military term that means to set up a garrison, to place a guard, to keep watch. The city of Philippi was a Roman colony so the readers of Paul’s letter would understand the sense of safety that was provided by a Roman garrison of troops. They saw them every day.
B. These verses are giving us a choice when it comes to being anxious about things or worrying about things.
1. We can either choose to worry about something or we can choose to give it to God through thankful prayer and then receive peace in the place of worry. The key with this is that we have to decide to turn the situation over to God.
2. And that’s the hard part. We want to stay in control. When we hold onto our problems or our fears, by holding on to them it gives us a sense of control when we are in a situation where we feel like we have no control at all. It also gives us an excuse to be bitter and angry and we wear that around like a badge and ask for pity. “You owe me sympathy, look what I am going through!” “You owe me pity, look at my circumstances!”
3. How stupid is that, that the thing that is causing our hurt and pain, we rehearse over and over, so that it causes us more pain and we hold it close instead of releasing it. Then we demand other people to help us and yet we won’t let it go.
4. But if we come to Jesus, through prayer He will give us peace in exchange for our anxiety. He will trade us Peace for Anxiety. Hope for Despair. Joy for Mourning. Holiness for Sin and Life for Death.
C. Yes, we need to remember that our God is a God who can calm the storm and we must learn how to turn our worries over to Him. It’s not easy for us, we want to hold on because it gives us the illusion of control.
D. Let us look at what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV),
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
1. Jesus is there waiting on us to exchange our heavy burdens for His rest.
2. There are two interesting things that Jesus says here; 1) Learn from me and 2) My yoke is easy.
a. First of all Jesus yoke was not easy. His burden was the cross. His yoke was the sin of the world, so how can Jesus say that it was easy?!
b. The answer to that comes from that part where He says, Learn from me.
c. In John 8:28,29 Jesus explains to his disciples that all that he did and said was from the Father. He was following the Father’s direction in what He did here on the earth.
d. When Jesus knew that His time was short and He was about to go to the cross He prayed in the Garden to The Father to let the cup (or burden) pass from Him, but nevertheless not My will but Yours be done He said. Jesus turned His burden over to Father and relied on Him for the strength it took to endure the cross.
e. Because of Jesus’ reliance upon the Father, He could say that His burden is light.
3. This is exactly Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 when he talks about when he is at his weakest and going through all kinds of problems, then he is made strong. Paul had experienced the sufficient grace of God. And we can too. God’s grace is available to us in Christ, all we have to do is ask.
E. We need to understand that Jesus wants us to cast our problems at His feet.
1. We need to get a picture in our minds of Jesus asking us to turn things over to him.
2. We’ve seen this in Matthew 11 where He says to us,
“Come unto me. . .”
3. We see it in the instruction of Peter in 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT),
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.”
4. We see it in the writings of David, in Psalm 55:22 (NLT),
“Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”
SEGUE: “We have seen that the storms obey the Lord, and we have seen that God wants us to turn our worries over to Him, now I want us to take a look at another aspect of the Peace of Our God.”
III. The God Who Gives Us Peace - John 14:27
"I am leaving you with a gift -- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid.”
(John 14:27 NLT)
A. As Jesus was teaching His disciples about His upcoming departure and the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives, He could sense that they were confused and becoming fearful so He tells them that He is giving them a gift, the gift of His peace.
1. He tells them that the peace that He is giving to them is different from the peace that the World gives.
2. Of course this statement then begs the question of, “How does the world give peace?’
3. I think that mostly the peace that comes from the world is based on the situations that we are facing at the time.
a. If the kids are healthy and making good grades and are cooperative then we have peace
b. If there’s money in the bank, and our job security is high and our stocks are up, then we have peace.
c. If we aren’t having battles with our spouses and we can give and receive affection, then we have peace.
d. But what happens when some of these things aren’t going the way we want them to, can we still have peace?
4. Of course the answer is yes if our peace does not come from the situations of the world but from the depth of God’s grace.
B. In John 16:33 (NLT) Jesus says this,
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
1. That statement from God isn’t exactly one of our treasured verses is it? “Here on earth you will have trials and sorrows.”
2. The other part of the verse is something to take hold of though, “you may have peace in Me”
3. In Jesus we can have peace.
4. I’ve heard another minister describe how we can have peace in Jesus even in the middle of a storm in this way and I liked it so I want to steal it and share it with you:
“In the north Atlantic, icebergs are often seen in the wintertime. Ships sailing the Atlantic are often caught in violent storms. Mighty vessels are tossed about like a child’s toy by the huge waves. How different it is with the icebergs! Like majestic, white castles, they glide peacefully through the storms. They are defiant of the mighty waves that are hurling against them and I wondered why? You see, only ten percent of an ice berg is above the waters. The lower part is deep in the ocean where there is calm. When our lives are hidden with Christ, the storms of life are powerless to take us from the peace we have in God.”
C. As I think about this description of how we can have peace when our lives are deeply rooted in Christ it reminded me of the many different names in the Bible that the writers used to described our Lord and God. These names that they called God by were born out of personal experience. These people gave a name to God based on how God had helped them. These names represented what God did for them. These names are reminders of the character and actions of our God and I hope that by hearing them, they will cause your faith you rise up:
1. For Moses He is the Angel of the Lord and the Peacemaker.
2. For Samuel He is the Rock of My Salvation
3. For Joshua the Lord is Captain of the Host of God
4. For David the Lord is His Shield, His Fortress, His Strong Rock, His Strong Tower, His High Tower, The Lifter of His Head, His Shepherd, The Lord Mighty In Battle, and The King of Glory.
5. For Solomon The Lord is a Friend that Sticks Closer than a Brother, He is The Rose of Sharon and the Lilly of the Valley.
6. For Isaiah He is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. Isaiah also called Him a Refuge from the Storm and a Hiding Place from the Wind. He is the Lord God, The Everlasting God and My Redeemer.
7. Jeremiah calls Him a Resting-place.
8. Daniel calls Him the Prince of Princes.
9. Zechariah says that He is the King Over All the Earth.
10. Matthew calls Him the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, Jesus, Emmanuel, a Friend of Sinners, The Son of the Living God, The Christ.
11. Mark calls Him the Holy One of God, Our Brother, Son of the Most High God and the King of the Jews.
12. Luke states that He is God My Savior, The Horn of Salvation, The Physician, The Master of the House, and Lord of All.
13. John proclaims that He is The Word, The True Light, The Lamb of God, The Gift of God, The Messiah, The Bread of Life, The Light of the World, The Door of the Sheep, The Good Shepherd, The Resurrection, Master, The Way, The Truth, The Life, The Vine and My Lord and My God! And the I AM!
In John, Jesus calls Himself; the I AM. When He said this to the Pharisee’s He was rebuking them for not believing in Him and following after Him. For us today Jesus’ claim as the Great I AM is a proclamation of comfort. It let’s us know that Jesus has the ability to bring to pass what He has promised. All of the Power of God, all of the Grace of God, all of the Hope of God, all of the Mercy of God and All of the Peace of God is available through Our Lord Jesus the Christ! And He is inviting you today to come to Him with your heavy burdens. He is inviting you to cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you. He wants to speak peace to your storms today and all you have to do is trust in Him. I invite you to stand right now if you have a burden that you would like to turn over to Him and we are going to pray. If you have something going on that is stressing you out, I invite you to stand. We are going to pray in just a minute. I also invite everyone who is watching today on YouTube to join with us as well. God is not hindered by the distance between us.
Reunion the point to my message this morning is simply this, I know that for many of us we are experiencing stress like we never have before. We are moving through tough times and even tougher emotions. The world is bombarding us with negativity every minute. But I just wanted to remind us this morning that we serve a God who is still on His throne and He is here today ready to take our stress, our hurt and our pain and exchange it for His Peace. He is more than able but we have to be willing to turn it over to Him. I encourage you to cast your cares onto the Lord this morning. Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we love You this morning. I want to thank You that we still have ways that we can hear Your Word, the Truth. It is Your Truth that makes us free. You know that our world today is full of darkness and despair and even as Your followers it has affected us. Help us remember who You are. Our God of Peace. The Rock of Our Salvation. Our Good Shepherd. The King of Glory. Our Refuge From The Storm. Jesus, you are Emmanuel, The Christ, Son of The Most High God. You are Lord of All, Our Messiah, The Light of The World. Jesus, you are Our Lord, Our Savior, Our Way, Our Truth and Our Life. Please help us to remember these facets of who you are. Let these truths spark our faith so it burns again. Jesus, we stand before you today asking that You would give us Your Peace. We are carrying heavy burdens and we ask that you would take them from us. Help us to give them over to You. We trust You with these situations and we ask that You move in all of these circumstances. Whatever the need may be, healing, a calming of the storm, grace for relationships, direction for decisions or the breaking of bonds that hold us captive. We know that You are the answer. We ask for Your mercy and Grace in these situations that we are facing. Guard our hearts with Your peace. Give us Your strength. Build up our faith and trust in You. Help us to remember You each day and rely upon You as Our God of Peace. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
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