Deep and Abiding Peace
Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] (John 14:27)
The sooner you come to Christ, the sooner you will escape the wretchedness and misery that there is away from Christ. First of all, there is the misery of an accusing conscience. No one out of Christ has peace of mind.
One night I was preaching to an audience of men and women to whom twenty dollars would have been a great help. As I was preaching, I took out the money and held it up and said, “Now is there a anyone in this audience who does not know Christ who has peace in his heart, deep, abiding satisfaction and rest? If he will come up here and say so, I will give him this twenty dollar bill.”
Nobody came up. When the meeting was over, I went down and stood at the door with the twenty dollar bill, for I thought some might be timid about coming up front for it. I said, “If anybody can claim this twenty doLars by saying, ‘I have peace of conscience heart. My heart is satisfied without Christ,’ he can have this twenty dollar bill.” They filed out, and nobody claimed the money. Finally a man came along, and I said, “Don’t you want this money?” He answered, “I cannot claim it on these conditions.” And neither can you. “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”(Isaiah 48:22)
There is slavery to sin. “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.”(John 8;34). Away from Christ is the apprehension of what may happen, fear of disaster, fear of what man may do, fear of what may be found beyond the grave . When you come to Christ, you get rid of the fear of man. You have no fear of misfortune, for you are able to say, “All things work together for good to those who love God.”(Romans 8:28) You have no fear of death, for what men call death is simply to depart and be with Christ. The moment you accept Christmas you get rid of the accusations of the conscience, the slavery of sin, all fear of disaster, and the dread of death.
Why not get rid of it all right now? Suppose you were on the seashore and saw in the distance a wreck of a ship and a man clinging to a piece of board. If you went to rescue him, do you think he would say, “I think I can hold on until morning. Come out again then, and I will get into the boat and come ashore.” You would say, “Man, are you mad? Will you stay out here tonight when you can come ashore now?”
Men and women, out on the wreck of life, the cold waves break over you with all the wretchedness of an accusing conscience, the bondage of sin, the fear of death, and all the multiplied wretchedness of the soul away from God. Why cling to the wreck another night? You can come ashore to safety and joy now, if you will climb right into the lifeboat.
We speak often about the lack of peace in our world, our work place, our families and even in the church community. It seems that over the last years we have been seeing an escalation of fear, and discontent and unhappiness which has led to increased conflict and hatred and violence. Much conversation has been taking place on how to address these things and at the end of the day little if any resolution has resulted. We acknowledge that we are divided as a world, a nation, the church and unfortunately the home. As we read the Bible, we discover that these things have always existed in the world. Consider the world that Jesus lived in. It was torn by strife between Rome and its subjects. The religious community of the Jews was divided between the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Samaritans. Yet in this atmosphere Jesus makes a bold statement:
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” (John 16:33)
He doesn’t tell us that the world will become a pleasant place without any trouble. As a matter of fact in these verses He says just the opposite. “In the world you have trouble and distress and suffering…” While we ought to work toward being at peace with one another, we must at the same time realize that as long as sin abounds, conflict, hatred and evil will be present. What Christ is telling us is that peace doesn’t begin externally because things are peaceful. He says that our peace begins internally as we receive Him as Savior, for when Christ comes into our hearts, He brings His peace- not the peace of the world, but the peace of heaven. He offers us an explanation for why we may have this peace when He says, “I have overcome the world.” This is our confidence. This is what provides peace even in the midst of the trials of life. We belong to the One who has all power and all authority and who loves us with a love beyond understanding. Hebrews 13 says:
Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “ I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “ The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me ?”
Here is the promise given to everyone who receives Christ. “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” Our peace comes from the promise of the One whom the winds and the sea obeys. It comes from the One whom death could not hold. It comes from the One who created all things and sustains all things. It comes from the One who knew us even before we were formed. It comes from the One who went to the cross and bore our sin penalty. He has said, “I will never leave you!” Family may leave you, friends may abandon you, acquaintances may forsake you and you may feel that there is nobody who you can turn to for help, but if you will receive Christ as your Savior, you will never be left alone to face anything again. The assurance of His presence has always been sufficient to give peace. Consider the disciples in the storm, rowing for their lives and when Jesus comes to them His words are, “Fear not, it is I, be not afraid.” O child of God, do you not know that the One who walked across the raging sea in the midst of a horrific storm is also the same One who will come to your rescue.
That knowledge, that faith in such a One gives peace that is beyond understanding so the writer of Hebrews says, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
When you learn to walk in this peace of God, all your striving and stressing will cease. I think sometimes the reason we have so much conflict is from fear. We are afraid we won’t receive fair treatment. We are afraid someone else will be in control. We are afraid of loss, materially or socially. We are afraid that we will be left out or minimized so we strive to have our way, to push for what’s best for us and many feel in order for that to happen that someone that is in the way must be moved. We become self-centered and self-seeking and in the process, we lose our peace. Our peace becomes replaced with anxiety and frustration and anger and jealousy. Somehow we forget that the One who feeds the sparrows, and they all are fed sufficiently, is the One who is also taking care of us. To find the full peace of God is to rest in His care. 1 Peter tells us to:
“casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” (1 Peter 5:7)
One time while working in textiles, I found myself in a hostile environment. My immediate supervisor took an almost instant dislike to me. I found out later that it was due to the fact that he was afraid since I had my training from other companies and he saw my knowledge as a threat. I had no such intentions. I didn’t want his position but in his eyes he believed that I did. To make matters worse, my second day on the job, be told me he was a deacon in his church and while we were working on a machine he dropped some screws inside it requiring it to be torn down. He was embarrassed that he had done so and his language was pretty colorful. I remember him looking at me after the tirade and saying, “ I guess Christians shouldn’t act like this.” And before I thought I replied, “No they shouldn’t.” As time went on, it came time for the annual raises. All the other guys in the shop received a 50 cent per hour raise and I received 10 cents. Since there are no secrets, it wasn’t long before the other guys found out. When they came to me and asked if I was upset, I replied, “No the company wasn’t obligated to give me a raise and besides that God is my source and if He decided that my needs were to be supplied with a 10 cent raise, I would trust Him to do so.” In this case God had other plans. As the VP reviewed the raises, he noticed the discrepancy and launched an investigation. I was unaware of this at the time. I was called into the plant manager’s office and received an apology from him for the conduct of my supervisor and given a dollar per hour raise. It was totally unexpected and I felt undeserved. I had been content and at peace with the 10 cents. It is no secret what God can do. This is one story among many that I can tell about how God takes care of us. That is the source of our peace. Knowing that we belong to Him. Knowing that He has prepared a place for us in eternity. Knowing that He will take care of us and that everything that He allows in our lives will in the end turn out for our good. Resting in the fact that all we are and all we have comes from Him removes the fear of loss. Knowing what David tells us in Psalm 23: “Yay though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me” calms our fears and gives us peace even when we come to the end of our journey. Death has no fear for the believer who knows that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Why wouldn’t we accept such a gift? Why would we cling to the feeble, unreliable things of this world? Why would we trust our strength, our knowledge our abilities when we are given the opportunity to trust the One who created and controls all things? You may be a Christian but still haven’t learned to rest in Christ. You may have never experienced the fullness of the peace of God that comes from full surrender to Him. You may be reading this devotion and for some reason you have not confessed your sins and received Christ. I urge you today to give it all up to Christ and take His peace into your heart. You’ll sleep better!
Dr. John Thompson