Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
29 August 2021
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Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
May the Lord bless each one of us, as we study the topic of “Peace” together. May He especially bless Harry and Mandy as they take time away together, and grant them much refreshment, along with others of our fellowship who are on holiday at this time.
I have chosen this song because I really sense peace from the Lord in this song.
Please read John 16:25-33. We will look at this shortly. Our key text is in Galatians:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
I have used some recent occasions when speaking at Bethel to consider the Fruit of the Spirit. Today we have reached “Peace”.
|The Fruit of the Spirit is generally about our relationships with others. Most fruit is meaningless to the solitary Christian. We should think of peace in terms of our relationship with the Lord and with other people. Whilst peace may include “peace of mind” and “inner peace”, the Fruit of the Spirit is not primarily something to be practiced and enjoyed on your own.|
The word Paul used for peace when writing about “the Fruit of the Spirit” was the Greek word “eirene”. This word includes the meaning “peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
Think of peace-keeping troops – what does it mean? If you google it, you are likely to find opinions like “UN Peacekeeping missions are ineffective and do more harm than good”. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, we are not very good at it. The recent news has been full of the impact or consequences of the withdrawal of US and other troops from Afghanistan, and there is a lot of controversy over what has been accomplished.
Think of peace in the scriptures – is it the absence of trouble, or the ability to survive or overcome trouble? We live in a fallen world – the peace of the Lord enables us to persevere.
Truth in a paradox
25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”John 16:25-33 (NIV)
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “You believe at last!” Jesus answered. 32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Does anybody feel a paradox in Jesus’ words of comfort to His disciples on the eve of their most traumatic experience they had ever faced? We can have peace in a world of trouble – peace is more about having the strength to cope and persevere than it is about everything being fine and smooth and comfortable.
Peace despite the trouble
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.John 20:19-23 (NIV)
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus did not take away the threat of the Jews, instead He gave His disciples peace and the Holy Spirit in order that they might take the Gospel into a world of trouble.
Peace in the storm
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
In the NIV Jesus tells the waves “Quiet! Be still!”. In the King James version, He commands the waves, “Peace! Be still!”. Now Jesus was at peace and asleep in the stern whilst the sea was raging. When the disciples awoke Him, He commanded the sea to be at peace. Jesus shows that it is possible to be at peace whilst the sea is raging.
Peace in our relationships
We can have peace in the storm. Nevertheless, most of the time, the Bible speaks of peace with God and with other people.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.Romans 12:17-19 (NIV)
The word “peace” in the scripture often speaks of relationships: our relationship with God, our relationship with other people. It is not about tranquillity in solitude. Relationships require work and effort.
12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.1 Corinthians 7:12-16 (NIV)
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Peace is about accepting our current relationships and making them work; it is not about terminating an unhappy relationship in the hope of finding more congenial circumstances away from challenges.
Peace requires effort
22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.2 Timothy 2:22 (NIV)
Peace requires work, effort on our part, we must pursue it.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
The importance of prayer
Any two parties can make peace with one another, but true peace comes from God. We must look to Him for our peace. But we must have a positive attitude (Rejoice in the Lord always). We must treat one another gently – peaceably. We must not be anxious (which is lack of peace): we can achieve this by praying continually and bringing all things to God, perhaps particularly things which might make us anxious.
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
If we want peace in this world, it is logical that we pray for leaders and authorities, who have significant influence over whether we have peace. We can and should pray like this. Our Father wants to hear our requests. He may not always answer affirmatively: we see plenty of suffering in the early church, often at the hands of the authorities, and we may expect the same, but it is not wrong to ask.
Peace despite the trouble
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.John 14:27 (NIV)
These are words that Jesus spoke to His disciples during the last supper, on the approach of what might be described as the most traumatic time of their lives.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
There is no mention of trouble being taken away in these verses: the peace of God protects us in the midst of trouble. Peace is knowing that God is in control.
Trust in God, rest in His promises
421teens.org is a web site “dedicated to encouraging teens and sharing pearls of Biblical truth”. The site includes this encouragement:
To grow in peace, you must have complete trust in God. Scripture is full of God’s promises. God promises to never neglect us or forsake us (Psalm 27:10), to care for us (Matthew 6), to have a plan that will bring about good for us (Romans 8:28). He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16). True peace begins to grow in us when we can rest in these promises, to know their truth in a way that transcends our ability to put into words.
But I’m still not feeling peace …
First15 is an online resource to support believers in daily devotions, including this encouragement:
John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Peace is the fruit of abiding in the Holy Spirit. It’s the fruit of surrendering our perspectives, relationships, words, actions, thoughts, and emotions to him.
If we are living without peace, it is because we have yet to allow the Holy Spirit to fill an area of our life with his presence. If our thoughts aren’t marked by the peace of God’s truth, it’s because we have yet to allow the Spirit to renew our minds with the Scripture he authored. If we’re without peace in our relationships, it’s because we haven’t allowed him to reveal to us his heart for ourselves or others. If the opinion of man continually robs us of peace, it’s because we haven’t centred our lives around his opinion of us. The list continues but the point remains the same. To live with peace is to allow the Spirit to permeate every area of life with his powerful, loving, and transformative presence.
Peace may require sacrifice
Finally, let’s consider the account that we find in Genesis 13:1-11, which I have summarised here:
Abram and Lot were travelling together. They both had extensive livestock, and teams of herdsmen. Disputes arose between the herdsmen. In order to bring about peace, it was time to separate. Abram made Lot an offer: Lot should have first choice of the land. So fostering peace often means sacrifice – I am unlikely to bring about peace if I consider it my right to claim the best for myself.
A “Peace” self-examination questionnaire
How are we doing in growing in the fruit of peace? To find out, ask yourself questions such as:
- When conflict comes, do I strive to make peace or add fuel to the fire? Why?
- What areas of my life or actions demonstrate that I am truly a peacemaker?
- Do I know the difference between godly peace and the world’s peace? How do I know?
- Considering specific interactions with others, ask: Did my email/phone call/text/Facebook post/conversation/behaviour promote peace or strife?
How do we demonstrate more peace?
We must practice the way of peace starting in the only area we can really affect: our sphere of influence. Remember, Paul urged us “if it is possible” and “as much as depends on you” to live peaceably with “all men.” This will be challenging. Here are a few ideas:
- Drop conversations that are getting out of hand. This might involve saying something like: “Let’s agree to disagree.” Then be satisfied that you can’t change someone else’s mind about certain things. Peace is knowing that God’s intervention might be necessary to change someone’s thinking (including our own).
- Make yourself stand out as the calm and collected one in whatever encounters you experience. Others may fight or say insulting, jealous or prideful things, but we should edify, build up and walk away from an encounter if necessary.
- Respect other human beings as potential future members of the family of God. Remind yourself that God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), no matter how angry you are at the person at the moment.
A reminder of what true peace is
Grand Canyon University is a private Christian university. Concerning peace, their web site says:
Peace is knowing that the Lord of the universe is by your side and resting in that.
It’s not just knowing, but it is also living it out. Peace is sitting in comfort and knowing that God is next to your side no matter what. Peace is something that you can’t attain physically because the world is almost always going to be a rocky place.
So when the verse from Galatians says that the fruit of the spirit is peace, it is knowing that when we have the spirit in us and among us, we are able to sit in peace. We are able to rest in peace and know that the Holy Spirit is with us and the peace of God is in us.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst out into song before you, and all the tress of the fields will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)
What a beautiful picture that this verse from Isaiah frames for us. As we go out in joy, we are led in peace; by holding onto joy, peace can guide us in our ways.
Think about the times you may be anxious, frustrated or living chaos. The world may seem to be spinning around at 100 miles per hour, and you just need a moment to sit and be still. The overwhelming peace that can comfort you during this time comes from the Holy Spirit within us.
Peace is knowing that our God is in control.
Let us each resolve to be people that foster and bring about peace, be it real tranquil harmony, or simply the ability to cope in the face of problems.
Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
Questions for discussion at cell group
- Matt 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (or daughters). What do you consider makes somebody a peacemaker, here blessed by Jesus?
- John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Do you recognise that you have peace with Jesus when in this world you are experiencing trouble? Share an encouragement, or share your struggles.
- Do we actually need a degree of trouble in our lives, in order to “keep us on our toes”?
- Do we recognise the need to make sacrifices in order to achieve peace – as Abraham let Lot choose the best of the land in order that there might be peace between the two of them and their servants?
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your grace and mercy in bringing us into a state of peace with You, when we were at enmity with You.
Lord, You said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers”. It is easier to quote the words than it is to bring it about in practice in a world of trouble. With You, all things are possible. So we ask that You help us to be peacemakers – people who exhibit a godly and gracious influence in the face of trouble. Lord, grant us real, practical wisdom in how to deal with the difficult situations that may arise in the days ahead. Amen.