Real Peace [12-15-19]

Updated: Dec 28, 2019


Today, we're going to look back at John 14:27. If you're new to Covenant Church, we've been studying the Gospel of John for over a year now. We took a break for a short fall series on lesser-known people of the Bible. After the Christmas season, we'll be back into John's Gospel. But today, our jumping-off passage brings us back to John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.


That's what Jesus said. He said it to his disciples right before he was betrayed. That same night Jesus took bread and broke it and said to his disciples, "This is my body broken for you." And then, as he gave them the wine, he said, "This is my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins." They understood what Jesus was saying. Jesus was the sacrificial lamb, unblemished, to be killed so they could be forgiven. It was a powerful moment. In the midst of it all, Jesus told them not to worry…not to be afraid. He told them he was going to die but don't worry. Don't let uncertain things frighten you.


Here are a few things we learn in this passage about the peace Jesus gives us.

First, we learn that Jesus gives us AUTHENTIC peace with God.

Think for a moment about when things haven't been so peaceful in your life. Illness…death…drama…financial struggles. We've all been there. In a fallen and broken world, there are plenty of times when we've been far from feeling at peace.

Is there ever a storm in your heart? It can happen to any of us, at any given time.


Most of the time, most of us look good on the outside. We give off the appearance of peacefulness. But what about on the inside? We want people to see us in a certain way. It's like fashion and grooming, right? We dress in a certain way and style ourselves in a certain way to project conformity and calm. Someone that well put together on the outside must certainly be overflowing with peacefulness. Sometimes we think projecting an air of respectability will tame the hounds of sin which can rage within. But we all know human nature, especially our human nature, so we know there's something not right about us.


Let's see how many of these questions you can answer "yes" to {Remember, it's Christmas, you're in church, and Santa sees you when you're sleeping and he knows when you're awake, so he knows your every move, so be honest for goodness' sake}:


Do you ever live with fear?

Do you ever fear losing your job?

Do you ever fear losing your financial stability?

Do you ever fear losing your health?

Do you ever fear losing your independence?

Do you ever fear losing a relationship?Do you ever fear that you are trusting in the wrong things?


Derwin Gray pastors a church in South Carolina. Before that, he played in the NFL. One day, in the locker room of all places, a teammate approached him with a Bible. Gray knew he was going to ask him something religious. And he did. He asked him, "Do you know Jesus?" To which Gray immediately said, "I'm a good person."


"I'm a good person." Not an answer to the question, and wrong at so many levels. As Derwin Gray recalls, "That's one of the most arrogant statements another human being can say. Because in order for me to define myself as good I would have to look at other people and judge myself better than them. With Christianity, at the foot of the cross it is level and all of us are in need of forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love."

Romans 5:1 says:


Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.


It is because Jesus was born and because he died and because he was resurrected that we can have authentic peace with God. We come just as we are. We don't have to fix ourselves before we can come to Christ. We don't have to do better before we can come to Christ. It's because of what God has already done in Jesus Christ that we can come to Him. How's that for authenticity? Come as you are. Jesus has already made peace between us and God. Amen?

Second, we learn that Jesus gives us authentic peace in the midst of our circumstances.

First, as we've already seen, with have upward peace with God. On the count of three, let's all say inward. Are you ready? One…two… three:


INWARD


Our upward peace with God leads to inward peace with God and ourselves.


We are no longer slaves to our circumstances for joy.


Have you ever been on the receiving end of horrible news? You get off the phone, shaken. You get home, open the mail, and you're numb. Somebody delivers bad news face-to-face, and you're at a loss for how to respond.


I wish there was a class for Hearing Bad News and How to Respond.


Here's the way to start building inward peace:

Our circumstances do not determine our peace…our God does.

Here's how Paul puts it in Philippians 4:4-7:


Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.


This is The Message translation. In the last sentence, the word translated as displaces is translated as guard in other versions. The original Greek word, phrouresei, literally means "to be a watcher in advance." So when you're a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, he is moving in your life to push worry out of your life. Jesus is watching for it, to make sure it doesn't take root in your life. Jesus is displacing it…when you look at the source of your worry, see Jesus instead, pushing it out of the way. The worry is gone.

How good is that?


Paul goes on to say, in Philippians 4:11-13:


Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.


Here's what we need to know. When you're a follower of Jesus Christ, God's promise is that, whatever you're going through, through Jesus Christ, you can get through it. I don't know all you've been through. You don't know all I've been through. But what we do know is God's Son, our Messiah, has conquered sin and death, so we will get through it.


Divorce is not the end of you. Disease is not the end of you. A disappointment is not the end of you. You can make in through anything in the One who makes you who you are.

Jesus Christ gives us upward peace with God when we enter into his family. Jesus Christ gives us inward peace when we begin to understand that circumstances do not dictate joy.

Third, Jesus Christ gives us outward peace with others.

That's what our December emphasis on "Random Acts of Kindness" has been all about. Let's all say it together:


OUTWARD


I am dysfunctional and broken. You are dysfunctional and broken. In our brokenness, we hurt each other. In our brokenness, people collide with one another. We hurt others. That's why we need a Savior to put us back together again.


One day Donkey and Shrek are walking along:



Make no mistake. Jesus came to find us, and he forgave us so we would become forgivers. Here's something you might want to write down:

Jesus gave you peace to extend peace.

So, who do you extend peace to? How do you extend peace? Let Romans 12:18 be your guide:


If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.


In one sense, peace is a one-way street. I'm not in control of nor dependent on how somebody else responds to me. I can only control how I act or think. That's a sign of maturity and grace. When Jesus was going to the cross, he didn't say, "I'm not going to do it if you don't believe in me." No, Jesus said, "I'm going to risk it all. And whether you love me back, or not, I'm going to love you."

Finally, Jesus Christ gives us peace in the face of death.

Here's how Hebrews 2:14-15 captures it:


Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

I love how that describes what happened in Bethlehem. Our Savior put on human flesh. That's what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about a God who says He knows what it feels like to be hurt. He knows what it's like to be tempted. He knows what it's like to lose a Son. On the cross, in Jesus Christ, God experienced all of our brokenness. It was a lonely and hard Friday. You remember Jesus' cry from the cross - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? But God knew Sunday was coming. And because of Easter, we know sin and death have been defeated. That's why we celebrate Christmas. Without Good Friday and Easter morning, there would be no Christmas.


Will you unwrap the gift of peace? As we have seen:

Jesus gives us AUTHENTIC peace with God.
Jesus gives us authentic peace in the midst of our circumstances.
Jesus gives us outward peace with others.
Jesus gives us peace in the face of death.

When you unwrap the gift of peace, you will find the Ruling King of the Universe, Jesus. He wants to give you authentic peace. And he wants you to believe in him.

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