When I met La Moyne, my wife of 52 yrs. I fell in love with everything about her, including her beautiful singing voice! One song that people loved to hear her sing was "The Love of God" (and in fact, she received a college scholarship to Wayland Baptist College when the Music Prof. heard her sing that song) The last verse of that song:
"Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made.
Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade.
To write the Love of God above would drain that ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.
.....Oh Love of God, how rich, how pure, how measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels' songs."
Today, I'd like to talk to you about 'Sweet Peace, the gift of God's Love'.
1) SOME SCRIPTURES ON PEACE:
Luke 1:79: "To give light to them who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of Peace." This was said of Jesus, Who was to come and since He HAS come as the Prince of Peace, He can give us true Peace. In fact, at His birth, the angels proclaimed, "Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, Peace, Good Will to all."
John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give unto you, not as the world gives." Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure. His Peace can prepare us for life.
John 16:33: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me, you might have Peace. In the world, you have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
Philippians 4:7: "The Peace of God passes all understanding and this shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Romans 5:1: "We are justified by faith and we have Peace through Jesus Christ our Lord."
So Jesus is our Peace and through us, we are to be Peacemakers, for in Matthew 5:9, Jesus said,
"Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."
What a glorious name to be called, but what an awesome responsibility!
2) WE CAN HAVE THE PEACE OF CHRIST IN ALL SITUATIONS!
Our church organist (and one of our dearest friends) died this month. She was only 58 yrs. of age, but due to cancer, the last ten years were very difficult for her. However, if you didn't know it, you would NOT know by her actions! She was truly a person at Peace with God and continued to serve her Loving Lord to the end.
(Why do we call it 'the end' when it isn't?)
I shared a poem that day that has brought Peace to many people during my years of ministry and I thought that I would share it with you.
'When God sends forth a spotless soul to learn the ways of earth,
A mother's love is waiting here....this miracle is called 'birth'.
When God calls home a tired soul and stills a fitful breathe...
Love Divine is waiting there, this too is 'birth'....not death!
Her pastor and I shared thoughts at the Memorial Service for Linda Madden
(and her brother sang, "His Eye is on the Sparrow")
Allow me to share part of what Linda's only child, Donielle Johnson, wrote about her Mother and asked me to share that day.
"Mom was church organist at Bethel for 24 years. She was faithful at this position until her death, even though she was battling cancer. Many times she did not feel like playing, but God always gave her strength to fulfill her duties.
There were even times near the end of her life when she had no feeling in her right hand, but continued to play. What an inspiration she was to me....and such a great example! In addition to playing the organ at church, she also continued her week day job and I want you to know that she never openly complained to others about her pain. There was always a smile on her face, even when it was difficult to do so. In fact, just before she left this life, she turned toward me and had the biggest smile on her face, from ear to ear....and then she was gone."
Surely Linda was a picture of the Peace that passes all understanding! (Philippians 4:7)
What a witness for her Lord!
3) PAUL'S PRESCRIPTIONS FOR PEACE:
a) Right possessions....
a heart made right WITH God,
a living faith IN God
and a will totally surrendered TO God.
Two questions for you (and me): 'Who has my heart and Will?"
and "Are they totally surrendered to God?"
Paul in writing to church at Rome, gave what we call the 'Plan of Salvation':
Romans 3:23....Romans 6:23...Romans 5:8 and Romans 10:8-11.
So possess your possessions by allowing God to possess YOU and all of your life!
b) Right relationships:
Vertical relationships with God established by faith in Jesus Christ.
Horizontal relationships with people, maintained by love for Christ, working in you and from you....to others.
We also need right relationships with 'things', for we MUST love people and use things...not love things and use people!
Things make good servants, but terrible 'masters'.
Paul also had a great relationship with the churches. He knew the importance of the local church, for as he journeyed, he would win people to the Lord and help start a local church.
I hope that the church is a great part of your life.
c) Right outlook:
You only have to study Philippians 4 to see Paul's outlook as he wrote from prison to the church at Philipi.
Verse 1: "Stand fast in the Lord."
Paul is saying, 'stay glued to the task that God has given to you'.
The greatest discovery is the 'will of God' and the greatest achievement is to 'do it'.
Verse 4: "Rejoice always". Paul repeats it twice which means that it is very important.
As I said last week, Paul did not allow anyone, anywhere, or anytime.....to take his joy away. Even in the storm at sea as he was being taken prisoner to Rome, he said, "Sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God that it's going to turn out just like He said it would."
Verse 5: "The Lord is near."
Someone has well said, 'God is as near as your knees are to the floor'.
I love Hebrews 13:5.... "Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you".
Omnipotence (all power) is great
and so is Omniscience (all knowing),
but I love Omnipresence (ever present)!
Verse 6: "Worry about NO thing: pray about EVERY thing and be thankful for ANY thing! Remember Romans 8:28?
Verse 7: "The Peace of God will keep your heart and mind."
The word 'keep' is like 'being guarded by a mighty army' and God has many ways of keeping us at Peace.
Verse 8: "Think on good and virtuous things, for out of the heart are the issues of life. (Prov. 4:23)
Verse 11: "I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances'....
and Verse 12 tells us 'how' to be content.
Verse 12: "I know what it is to be 'in need' and I know that it is to 'have plenty'.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty...or in want."
Verse 13: "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."
Verse 19 says, "My God shall supply all my needs, according to His riches in Glory, by Christ Jesus."
Paul was confident even though a 'victim'.
He was joyful in spite of other people!
He was hopeful regardless of uncertainties, for he knew in Whom he believed!
He was contented because Christ was in control.
He knew how to turn a prison into a place of Praise. (Acts 16)
He knew what he believed and was fully convicted...and convinced. (II Tim. 1:12)
He knew that the One Who turned 'trouble into triumph' at the Cross, could help him do the same.
God laid the thought of 'Peace' on my heart early in the week. Then as the week (and hurricane Rita) progressed, this message became even more meaningful to me, as our youngest son and his family live in Friendswood, Texas ...between Galveston and Houston.
Kyle said that as they were preparing to leave their home, they (like all of us) could not believe the terrible traffic jams, hearing some people say that it took them 12 hrs. to go 40 miles!! So, they decided to stay in their home. They've done everything they know to do to 'secure' their house and are going to go to the 2nd floor of their home until it's over.
As we prepare to send this article out, we are having to 'practice what we preach', knowing that the hurricane is due to 'make landfall' sometime between midnight tonight and 3 a.m. tomorrow morning near where our son and his family live. We're praying for the Peace that only He can give, not only for us and our family, but ALL of the thousands of people who are being affected by these storms! May God bless YOU and YOUR's!
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