Sunday, March 27, 2011

Experiencing Peace from the One We Follow

Cold outside but sunny as we gathered for worship today. Brad's warm greeting included the introduction of today's theme: peace. "How do you sustain peace when things go wrong?" The Bible speaks of a peace that surpasses understanding.

Worship preceded announcements today. Chuck introduced the first song by commenting on the severe winds this week. There are times it is good to have a refuge, he said as he introduced the reading of a passage from Psalm 71 before the quartet sang "Through It All" and "You Raise Me Up."

Announcements included:
1) Covenant missionary to Mexico Carl Peterson will be here next Sunday, April 4. Please join us as during the Sunday school hour as well as the service to hear more about Covenant missions. 2) The next four weeks there will be meetings presenting findings of the building committee.
3) April 10 is our annual meeting. Please join us after the service. The reading of Romans 5:1-11 and a time of prayer preceded the message.

Experiencing Peace from the One We Follow

Brad began by citing a portion of Isaiah 2:4 which speaks of a coming time of peace to a nation at war. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. In ancient times the Hebrews had a word for peace which comes down to us to this day: Shalom. The word means more than peace, richer in substance. It includes the idea, "I wish there would be no conflict in your life and I wish there would be a spirit of well being and prosperity in your inner person. Shalom."

When people have lived in conflict, peace is good. In Isaiah 6 the coming Messiah is referred to as the Prince of Peace. When the angels announced the birth of Jesus they spoke of the peace He would bring. One of Jesus' most famous sayings was John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you." And in John 16:33 Jesus said, "I have told you these things so that you might have peace."

Paul's letters, too, make many references to God's kind of peace: Ephesians 2:14, Romans 5:1, Colossians 3:15 and II Thessalonians 3:16. It is God's preferred state for the world and for individuals, to have His peace rule and reign. International peace, interracial peace, intergenerational peace, interpersonal peace and internal soul level peace. This last would be the focus of Brad's sermon today.

There are many things that militate against our living with peace in our lives. Brad cited five of these "Peace Busters" this morning. 1) Sudden unexpected bad news. 2) Relational breakdowns. 3) Financial pressure. 4) Restlessness, remorse and shame when we cross moral boundaries. 5) Coming to terms with the knowledge that we are going to die.

God's preferred state for us is Shalom.

What do we do when peacebusters come crashing in? The Bible says we can live with peace. Here are four things we can do.

1) Call a time out In II Corinthians 10:5 Paul writes, “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Our thoughts are what lead us out of God’s peace. We tend to awfulize and catastrophize about things and it makes us nearly hysterical inside. Brad shared that the hardest part of leadership is leading ourselves. When things hit us out of the blue, we have to stop the negative momentum. We call a time out.

2) Focus mind on what we know to be true. I am a cherished child of the most high God. Tell yourself the truth. Do not get sidetracked. If God is for us, who can be against us? There are many, many promises like this one in Scripture.

3) Declare your faith in the power & goodness of God. How are you going to live each day? Brad says, “I am going to make a faith proclamation. God will be involved in this situation. Peace is directly linked to an attitude of faith-based optimism.

4) Action step. It may be a need to make reconciliation with someone you’re at odds with. Or ask forgiveness of someone you’ve hurt. It may be you need help bringing your finances under control and you need to cut up your credit cards. Or, you may simply need to confess your sins and get straight with God.

Brad’s summing up was with these words: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

This is what God wants for each of you.

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