12-4-16 INNER PEACE

INNER PEACE

December 4, 2016

         

                If the angels who proclaimed Christ's birth to the shepherds said "Peace on Earth, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14), why do we have terrorism?  Isaiah prophesied of Jesus, saying, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace." (Isaiah 9:6,7) And yet it seems we have had a global increase of war, not of peace.  And we are a county of rioting and of rebellion, not a country at peace with its government. Some might use this as an excuse to say the Bible is full of contradictions.  So how do we explain this?

          Jesus Himself told his disciples, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:24) and followed that by quoting Micah 7:6, when He said "For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Matthew 10:25)  Does that sound like peace?  In my Gospel reading (John 15:18-25), Jesus warned His disciples that the world would hate them, because they hate Jesus.  But then Jesus also said, "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)  So Jesus said He was not bringing peace to the earth, He said we would be hated - but then said He gives us peace...  So how do we reconcile all of this? 

          Every day we hear of more riots, bombings, and attacks on the innocent.  Mere mention of ISIS raises fear among even the most stronghearted among us.  I'm sure many of you saw in the news how just over a week ago, they took over Quaragosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq,  and beheaded hundreds of men, women and children. Yes, Satan has filled the hearts of millions with the goal of annihilating anyone who stands up for Christ and will not bow to Allah.  Revelation 12:12 warns us, "But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."  This is the true spirit behind ISIS.  I have a book titled "Numbers in Scripture written by E.W. Bullinger, and in it is something very interesting.  This book, written in 1967 (almost 50 years ago), says on page 49 under the Greek alphabet and its Gematria (Gematria in Hebrew and Greek states that each letter is associated with a specific number), "the three letters S S S were the symbol of Isis (The Greek name for an Egyptian goddess), which is thus connected with 666."  How fitting for the modern ISIS!  For the numbers 666 are also the mark of the beast in Revelation 13:18.

          Indeed, Jesus Himself warned us "Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and will mislead many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs."  (Mark 13:6-8)  Yes, only the beginning...  And yet, He promised us peace as well.  Unless you have the Spirit of God living within you, this would indeed appear to be a blaring contradiction. 

          But you see, there are two types of peace.  There is outer peace or peace in the physical world - whether it is between countries; between races, religions, and political affiliations; or between individuals such as husband and wife, or parents and children.  And there is inner peace, or peace in the spirit.  Those with anxiety disorders - such as general, social, panic attacks, or post traumatic stress disorder -  cannot have inner peace even if they are surrounded by outer peace.   I can personally attest to this, as during the period of my life when I was on the wrong spiritual path, I suffered from social anxiety, and needed medication to even be around people.  Stand up in front of a congregation and preach the Gospel?  Anyone that knew me back then, would have thought the chances of that ever happening were less than zero.  But praise God, when He called me into His service, by His grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I threw away my medication and was cured of my anxiety, practically overnight.  But as for the general population, I've read several research articles that all pointed to the same conclusion - anxiety disorders have been on the rise, especially in younger generations.  Here is a quote from one of them: "Anxiety has without question become a fixture of modern life. Reported levels of anxiety have been on the rise since the end of World War II, and there is evidence that anxiety disorders now constitute the most prevalent mental health problems worldwide."   ("Are we in the midst of an anxiety epidemic?  By George Dvorsky)

          Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit, however, can have inner peace no matter what is going on around them.  This is the peace that Christ promised us in the here and now.  Peace in the spirit. Remember, Jesus said "I do not give to you as the world gives".  Instead, the peace Jesus imparted through His first coming is a 'peace that passes all understanding' (Philippians 4:7).  Peace amid the turmoil.  Peace that erases fear and anxiety.  Peace knowing that God is in control, and 'that all things work for good to those that love God' (Romans 8:28).  Peace in knowing that the day will come that Christ will return, and satan will be bound, and there will truly be peace on earth for all people. 

          If you have never asked Jesus to come into your heart, you do not have this peace.  You have no inner barrier against the strife in this world, no promise of escaping the tribulation to come, no assurance of an eternity in heaven.  Why would you not want that?  Without Jesus all you have is constant struggle in life, even if you have all the material goods you could ever want. Because all of these are fleeting, and evil lurks around every corner - more so every day.  Even King Solomon, who might have been the richest man who ever lived, said, "But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless - like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere"  (Ecclesiastes 2:11)  But we who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord are promised not only spiritual peace; but there are many verses in the Bible, both Old and New Testament, that promise us a new heaven and a new earth to come.  As the apostle Peter said, "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells."  (2 Peter 3:13)  And Isaiah prophesied the Lord as saying, even long before Christ's first coming, "See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind."  (Isaiah 65:17)  And my favorite, found in the Book of Revelation (21:1a,4) , "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  Amen.  Come quickly Lord Jesus!

(portions of this sermon were from my sermon written for Dec. 6, 2015) 

CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

What do you worry about?  Things at school?  Things at home?  Other things?  

THE BIBLE SAYS:

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you."  1 Peter 5:7

"Always pray and never give up."  Luke 18:1