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“MY PEACE I GIVE YOU”

The word “peace” has different meanings and memories.
•    World War II veterans may recall their feelings when the world celebrated peace at the surrender of Germany on V-E Day and Japan on V-J Day.
•    Parents may think of times when children finally went to sleep and sighed, “Peace at last.”

Several Scripture verses on peace have become part of our culture.
•    Pete Seeger used exact words from Ecclesiastes 3:8 in a ‘60s folk song “Turn, Turn, Turn,”
            a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
•    And I’m sure you have heard these words without knowing they were from Isaiah 48:22.
           "There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked."

I’ve heard that you can find any information you need on the Internet. You haven’t known me long enough to know my true feelings about the Internet. It’s enough to say it’s at or near the bottom of my list of inventions, and I don’t think it has improved society.  BUT, I went to the Internet for quotes about peace. These are some from the first page.
•    “It isn't enough to talk about peace, one must believe in it.
            And it isn't enough to believe in it, one must work for it.”
            - Eleanor Roosevelt, American politician, diplomat, activist, First Lady
•    “Being relaxed, at peace with yourself, confident, emotionally neutrally loose, and free-floating--these are the keys to  successful performance in almost everything.”
            - Wayne Dyer, American self-help author and motivational speaker
•    “Freedom from desire leads to inner peace.”
            - Lao Tse, founder of religion of Taoism  
•    “A  smile is the beginning of peace.”
           - Mother Teresa, Roman Catholic missionary, founder of Missionaries of Charity, who give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”
•    “Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
            - Martin Luther King, Jr., American Baptist minister, activist, leader African-American Civil Rights Movement using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.
•    “Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.”
            - Brian Tracy, motivational and self-help expert who based techniques on The Theory of Pschocybernetics.
•    “If half a century of living has taught me anything at all, it has taught me that nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”
            - Dale Carnegie, American writer, lecturer, developer of courses on self-improvement and interpersonal skills. He was born in Maryville, Missouri.

Five of these quotes are about personal, internal peace. The two activists were talking about peace with others, external peace. What is obviously missing from this list of sources? Quotations from the greatest known source of peace, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

One Bible study reference shows 250 occurrences of the word “peace.”
•    Old Testament figures including Eli, Joseph, Elisha,  Jonathan, and David said farewell with ”Go in peace.”
•    Greeters often asked, “Do you come in peace?”
•    In the Old Testament, people lived in peace, slept in peace, and died in peace.
•    Significantly, at various times Israel was at peace for several years.

A prophecy of Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 and 7 is the starting point for peace in the New Testament.
•    In Luke 2:14, angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds.
•    As He prepared to leave them, Jesus promised His peace to His disciples in John 14:27.
•    After His resurrection, He appeared to them, and, on at least three occasions, He greeted them saying Peace be with you! (John 20:19, 21, 26)
•    Paul reaffirmed the message of peace. He either opened or closed letters to all the churches and to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon adding his favorite theme to the message of peace:
            Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
•    Paul also reminds us in Galatians 5:22 that  
            the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

Where is the greatest warfare today? Individual inner turmoil and uneasiness are greater than turmoil and tension between nations. Wars are based on  economic and political reasons, yet even those causes can be traced to lack of inner peace within the souls of individuals and to the injustices perpetuated by them.

In Mark 7:21-23, the Prince of Peace declares the human heart to be the source of human warfare. The Prince of Peace aims at the heart when He swings the sword of the Spirit--the Word of God. All of our Lord’s words about peace are directed at the individual and the heart that needs His peace.
•    If you want to be part of the solution to the world’s madness, then you must first understand what kind of peace this is.
•    Second, you must by faith receive this peace into your heart. Unless you have His peace within your heart, you are part of the world’s problem, not part of God’s solution.

What sort of peace existed in Jesus when He spoke about peace to His disciples? What sort of peace enabled Him to sleep during a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee in Luke 8:23-25? Sleeping came easy to our Master!

One of the most important truths about our Lord Jesus Christ is His sinlessness (1 Peter 2:22). Within the perfectly obedient heart of our Lord Jesus Christ existed a perfect peace--a peace that we call heavenly peace--a peace that came from His knowledge about His own righteousness and perfection.
•    No guilt-laden dreams were ever His.
•    No anxious moments because of unconfessed sin were ever His.
•    No bitterness of spirit poisoned His inner life and disturbed His sleep.
Jesus Christ was true man, virgin-born and born without sin. Jesus Christ was true God. He had an inner peace that Paul describes in Philippians 4:7.

The former captain of a slave ship, who carried loads of slaves below in the filthy belly of the ship, had a load of guilt in his filthy heart. John Newton knew the “how” of gaining this inner peace of Jesus Christ and wrote these words:
            “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”
•    Although Captain Newton helped to ruin the lives of countless numbers of human beings and destroyed families with his slave market business, he found that through the amazing grace--the unmerited love, the undeserved love of Jesus Christ--he could have the undeserved unmerited inner peace of the righteous.
•    Because of Jesus Christ and the death of Christ on the cross, Captain Newton repented and slept well at night.
•    He slept well and deeply in the heavenly peace of the righteous he received from Jesus Christ, the forgiveness and cleansing he needed.
•    He received from Jesus Christ that which Jesus our Lord calls “my peace.” This is God’s amazing grace.

Some object, saying, “Why should this wicked man be given inner peace that belongs only to the truly righteous?” God’s answer to that question is the cross!
•    For it was on that cross that Jesus suffered and died for a world of lost sinners.
•    The raging storm of God’s wrath against you and me was stilled when the Prince of Peace took to the cross the load of guilt and shame that was really ours.
•    He offers to us this wonderful exchange: His peace for our turmoil!
•    All you need to do to receive this peace is to believe in Him.

The thief on the cross knew this peace as he died next to our Savior. Think also of the one named Saul who became the apostle Paul. Saul helped hunt down and execute many followers of Jesus Christ. The persecutor of Christians became the greatest peace warrior for Christ that the world has ever known! Paul’s guilty heart was given Christ’s peace. The cross of Jesus becomes for Paul the message of world peace as he explained in Romans 5:1.

Have you heard about the greatest peace treaty? It’s the peace we have with God through Jesus Christ and the covenant or treaty He made for us in His own blood shed for our sins. It is this peace we have with God that brings inner peace, and it is the blood of Jesus Christ that bought this peace for us. The anger of Almighty God against us was poured out upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Our communion with God is through this blood as we read about the Last Supper in Matthew 26:28.

When He offers us His peace, we receive it, knowing that it is bought and paid for by His blood, His sacrifice of Himself. He who knew no sin and no guilt because of sin, He who had the perfect inner peace of a sinless person, endured for us all the guilty punishment of the wrath of God and of Hell on our behalf. Scripture gives plenty of testimony about this wonderful peace treaty in the blood of Jesus Christ, especially Colossians 1:19-20.

Many think that this notion of peace with God through the bloody sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is old, stale, and too religious to have anything to say about world peace.
•    The old rugged cross and nuclear warheads?
•    Is there a missile gap between the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross and the blood that could be vaporized if nuclear weapons are used?
The truth is that if our hearts and minds are filled with the peace of Jesus Christ, then the warheads of destruction will become the plowshares of production. The inner lack of a healthy peace-–a wholesome, holy, God-given peace--is the source of all warfare between nations.

How much destruction and killing has not taken place thanks to the peace Jesus put into our hearts? I believe millions have been spared because He has put His peace into people’s hearts. Truly, God only knows!

The secular quotes I read earlier reflected separate concepts of internal peace and external peace. However, the Bible shows they are related, not separate.
•    Without the internal peace of Christ in people’s hearts, external peace will not happen, whether in families, the Church, or the world.
•    The great inner peace in the hearts of millions has prevented untold warfare between nations, between families, and between individuals.
•    Family and world peace and peace in the Church depend ultimately upon faith in the Prince of Peace and receiving His peace won for us on the cross.
•    The world will never be at peace until the time stated in Philippians 2:10.

How can you have His peace in your heart? How can He who was sinless instill into the hearts of guilty sinners that same inner, guilt-free peace which belongs by right only to Him?
•    When the Church and individual Christians make it their primary mission to preach the cross of Jesus Christ and peace with God, then the world will see more peace within souls and more peace between people than it has ever before. This peace is a lasting eternal peace.
•    When Jesus Christ our Lord says He gives peace, yet not like the world gives, He means that the covenant in His blood is not a temporary cease-fire. It is an eternal treaty with God. Denying that His blood was shed for your sins is the way of everlasting punishment. Believing that His blood was shed for your sins is the way of everlasting peace.

Ask yourself these questions:
•    Have I received that which Jesus calls “His peace?”
•    Do I have faith that He died for my sins and I have peace with my Maker?
•    Am I trying to win His favor by my good works?
•    Am I trying to win His favor by working for peace although I don’t have His peace within my heart?

If so, stop working for world peace or for your own peace for a moment.
•    Ask Jesus to come into your heart.
•    Ask Him to establish His peace within you.
•    Tell Him you really believe He died for your sins and has made peace with God through the blood of His cross.
•    Surrender to Him.

The peace that He will make through you will begin right in your own family and at your place of work as others will receive your forgiveness and the kindness that gushes forth from a soul forgiven and at peace with God. If you have God’s peace by salvation through Jesus Christ, then obey our Lord’s command by sharing the gospel with others so they can have this peace. I challenge you to witness to others and invite them to church, no matter what their background or spiritual condition. This is a caring church that practices grace, and I thank God for this. Let’s continue to learn about our faith and Christian witness as we go about our lives in the peace of Jesus Christ. Let us continue to treat others with grace as our Lord does with us.

Jesus said, “My peace I give you.”

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
           Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
           I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
           Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                In Your name I pray, Amen.


    Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   August 9, 2015