Charles Stanley - The Key to Continued Peace
Is it really possible to have true, genuine peace when the circumstances in your life are all fouled up and messed up? In other words, you'd like to change this and change that and change the other. Is it possible to have real, true peace when things are so uncertain? When you feel sometimes such pain in your body or in your emotions? When things seem to just not be able to, you just can't straighten them out? How can you have peace in those kind of times?
Well, Jesus was in the upper room with His disciples and Peter had just argued with Jesus about washing His feet. Judas had gone out to betray Him. He was talking to them about the fact that He was going to leave them and the fact that He was going to be crucified. None of that made a lot of sense to them. And then to top all that off, here's what He said, "Let not your heart be troubled". I'm sure He didn't say it quite that way. But I think that would have been the most ridiculous thing Jesus could have said. In the midst of all of that, and You tell me don't have a troubled heart? This is one of those verses and you might want to turn to John fourteen for a moment. This is one of those verses if you don't understand what was going on, it doesn't make any sense at all.
And so, even in the midst of this very, very difficult time, Jesus makes this statement, "Let not your heart be troubled". He said, "You believe in God, believe also in Me". Now, what was He saying? Here's what He was saying: don't let your heart be troubled any longer because they were already troubled. I mean, when He said one of you shall betray Me, that was troubling. Peter arguing with Him about washing His feet, that was troubling. When He said, "I'm going away," that everything He said to them was very troubling. And yet, He said, "Let not your heart be troubled". What He meant was: let not your heart be troubled any longer. "You believe in God, believe also in Me".
So, He had something He was going to say to them. And the truth is: the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and the seventeenth chapters of John are all very encouraging. Remember, He said to them, He said, "I'm going away, but I'm not going to leave you as orphans. I'm going to send the Holy Spirit who will be in you, with you, and upon you forever". So it was a matter of encouraging them. But when He said, "Let not your heart be troubled". That is, don't let it be troubled any longer because I'm going to show you how you can live through all of this. All of us have faced those difficulties and times in our life and situations and circumstances that we thought, "God where are You? If you were there, why don't You hear my prayer? Why don't why don't You provide what I need? Why don't You heal my body? Why don't You change my relationship? Why don't You bring him or her back into my life"? We've all been there for some time or the other.
And so, when we talk about peace, what I want to talk about in this message is, listen, talk about the key to continuing peace, not ups and downs, peace today, not so much peaceful tomorrow. But what's the kind of peace that is continuing? And that's what I want to talk about in this message. So, I want you to turn to John chapter fourteen, and there are three verses of Scripture I want us to read here. And in this first one, we read in the fourteenth chapter, verse one. Jesus said, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me". Then He begins to encourage them. And so, if you'll move on over all the way to the twenty-seventh verse of this fourteenth chapter. Listen to what He says. He says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled," any longer, He would say, "nor let it be fearful".
That is, "My peace. That's the same kind," He says, "that I have". Then if you go to the sixteenth chapter and look at the last verse of the sixteenth chapter. Again, He says to them, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world". So, I want us to understand something very, very important here. There is a difference in the Bible. There is a difference between peace with God and the peace of God. So I want to explain that. Because the truth is: the first step to having the peace of God in my life on a continuing, daily basis is making peace with God. So you say, "Well, what's that about"? Well, here's what the Scripture says and you may want to follow some of these verses.
If you go back to the fifty-ninth chapter of Isaiah for a moment. And if you'll think аbout: what kind of spiritual condition were we in before we trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior? And here's what he says. He says in the fifty-ninth chapter, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities," that is, your sins, "have made a separation between you and your God". So what he's saying is simply this: that sin separates us. We're talking about our condition before we trusted Christ as our Savior. And if you look in the fifth chapter of Romans, here's what you'll find. The Bible says that in the ninth verse, "Much more then now, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him". Before you trusted Christ as your personal Savior, the wrath of God was abiding upon you. And then he says, "While we were enemies we were reconciled to God".
So, think about this: before a person is saved, God says their sins have separated them from God. Secondly, they're under the wrath of God, that is, the judgment of God. They live under that. And He says they were enemies of God. That's the condition of people without Christ. That's the condition that all of us have been in at some point in our life before we trusted Jesus as our Savior. Now, with that in mind, here's what happens: when you and I trust Him as Savior, for all practical purpose, we give up the war, we surrender to Him, and what happens? We change our position. We're no longer enemies under His wrath and separated from Him and without peace.
So, if I'm going to have continuing peace in my life, the kind that overrides those difficulties and hardships and unchangeable, unmanageable circumstances in my life, something's got to happen. And what must happen is I must lay down my warfare and say, "Lord, I surrender my life to You". Trust Him as your personal Savior. And then all that first disappears and you have a new position. What's the new position? Now you're a forgiven child of God, walking in His love, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, sealed by the Holy Spirit, he says, until the day of redemption, eternally secure in Him, available for God to work in our life and to receive the blessings of life. We have a whole new position.
Now, once we have a whole new position, then what happens? Then we can begin to understand and begin to experience what He's mentioning here. What He said to His disciples, for example, when He said, "My peace I give to you; not as the world gives give I unto to you. Let not your heart be troubled". Now, so think about it in this light: peace, watch this now, peace with God is a one-time decision. You receive Christ as your Savior, the war's over; you become a child of God. One-time decision. The peace of God is a continuing decision that you and I make throughout our daily life. We can have it or we can reject it. We can experience it, enjoy it, or we can neglect it in some fashion. But remember, peace with God: the war's over; we became a child of God.
Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, as Paul said in that fourth chapter of Philippians here. What is this peace? Well, you might want to turn to Philippians four for a moment because I'm going to come back to it in a minute. And notice what he says, he says, challenging his listeners, he said, "Stop being anxious about all these things. Stop being anxious about all these things". "But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God". And the peace, listen now, the peace of God will garrison you about, protect you in those times. Paul says in Romans chapter five, verse one; he says, "Therefore, being," watch this, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God". That is, when you trusted Him as your Savior, now the war is over, you become a child of God, peace with God. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God".
Then, if you want the peace of God, that is a daily issue in all of our lives. And if I should ask you: how many of you can control your circumstances? Not a one of us. How many of you can manipulate them? Not much. How many of you'd like to change your circumstances? Probably most people. The truth is, all circumstances are like that. They can't be controlled. And here's Jesus saying, He says, "Look, trust Me". He says, "The peace that I give you is going to be totally different from all the peace that you've had before". So, what is this peace that Jesus offers? Well, first of all, it has to do with Him. He said, "My peace". Remember what Jesus said about His relationship to the Father? He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. I and the Father are one". And so, if He and the Father are one, the peace that He's offering us is godly peace. It is a heavenly peace. It is a practical peace. It is a peace, listen, that doesn't come and go with circumstances. It is a peace that be can be continuing. Jesus said, "My peace I give to you". Don't allow your heart to be troubled any longer. It comes from Him.
So, you are looking and trying to find some peace in your life and you've tried this and you've tried that and you've tried the other. There's only one place to find it and that's Jesus. You say, "Well, I don't even believe in Him," then you'll never have peace. You say, "Well, I've tried that". No, no, listen, the key to peace is a relationship with Jesus. Now, watch this, watch this carefully: where do people look for peace? In circumstances. If I could just change this circumstance and change that. If I could have this or have that. That's where they look for peace. He said, "No, it's not in circumstances, it's in a relationship". And until a person has a personal relationship by faith, having surrendered themself to Christ and then beginning to live obediently before Him, there's not going to be any peace. "My peace I give to you". He says, "This peace that I'm offering is in Me. It's in a relationship". And that relationship must be a relationship of faith and of obedience and of love toward Him. You can search the world over. You can have all of the world's wealth. You can travel here and afar. You can do anything and everything you want to do. There is one single source of peace.
You say, "I don't even believe in that Jesus". Then I'm telling you you're not going to have any peace, because how are you going to have it? The only thing you can do is try to control your circumstances, and you can't control them. So where are you going to find peace? You have to resort to what Jesus said: the world. So, if I had this and had that and had this and had that and him, her, and all these things; but you can't control that and you can't do that. And even if you do, it's only temporary. Then when you come to die then what are you going to do? There's one source of peace. And, listen carefully, you cannot, you cannot, you cannot, you cannot live in disobedience to the will of God and have peace, period. It doesn't make any difference how much alcohol you drink, how much drugs you have, how much sex you have, how many marriages you have, how much wealth you have; none of it is going to give you peace. He's made it very simple. And He says, "Besides, the peace I'm going to give you is going to be so awesome, you can't even understand it. You won't even be able to understand why you can be so tranquil and serene in your heart when everything around you is falling apart".
That's what Paul said: it's beyond our understanding, but it is not beyond our experience. I may not be able to understand it, but I can experience it. So, think about this: He said, "I and the Father are one. You've seen Me, you've seen the Father". He and the Father had perfect oneness with each other. So, let me ask you this question: what is it in your life that's keeping you from being one with the Lord Jesus? What I want you to see is this: there is peace with God, which happens when you trust Him as your Savior. The war is over. There is the peace of God that only comes when you live surrendered to Him.
Listen, He says, "I and the Father are one". You know what Jesus wants of of us? What God wants of us? He wants us to be at oneness with Him. What does that mean? It means I want to walk in agreement with Him. Would you not agree that certainly it's wise to walk in agreement with Jesus, to walk in agreement with the will of God? Do I know something God doesn't know? Do I have power that He doesn't have? Does He do I know ways that He does not know? Do I have strength that's sufficient within myself? No, I don't. He says, "I and the Father are one". He said, "You can find peace in Me," that is, in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can have peace. That is the only place you're going to find it. Now, I know somebody says, "Well, but you know, I think I can have it without Him".
Well, let me ask you a question. If I gave you a piece of paper and said, "Describe your present life to me," I guarantee you you'd bring up some things that you'd like to change. You're not happy about them. Now, does this mean that you will reach some stage in your life where there'll be in no more troubles and no more heartaches and everything's going to go smooth? No, it doesn't. Jesus didn't have that. But here's what it means. It doesn't mean the absence in our circumstances of all things that would trouble us, but it simply means this: because of that intimate relationship, because I know who He is and who He is in me and who I am in Him, and because of these awesome promises He's made, because He lives out every promise He's ever made, because of who He is within me, because within me there is the living God in the presence of the Spirit of God.
No matter what comes our way, no matter how awful the circumstances, no matter how awesome they may be, no matter how often they change, there can be a tranquility, a serenity, a calmness, and a quietness that anchors my soul so that I'm not blown by the winds of adversity and heartache, not like the waves of the sea, but absolutely stabilized because Jesus is our peace. There is no other way. I'd be happy for somebody to tell me is there any other way to have peace? When Paul said, "He is our peace". And He knew that being within us, He's the source of our peace every single day if I understand that. Now, listen, do I have any responsibility? Yes, I do. One of those things I must remember is this: that I must, watch this, I must claim what is mine. What is mine? What is yours? You have the Spirit of God within you. You have the awesome supernatural power of God within you. You have the potential for everything God has for your life within you through the Holy Spirit. I have to claim it.
So, I come into a situation that could cause me a lot of turmoil. I have to claim who I am. I'm a child of God. What I have? The Spirit of God within me who is the source of peace within my life. And the second thing I must do is to get my focus right. Whatever you focus on, when troubles and trials and heartache come, He says, "I'm to set my focus upon Him". Why? Because He is your peace. He's not just the source of it. He is your peace. And you say, "Well, you mean to tell me that if I'm going through pain, I'm to focus on Him"? Yes. Why? Well, focusing on pain does what? Just makes it worse. When I'm, watch this, I'm going to show you how it works in a moment. When I focus upon Him, He is going to remind me of some things. "You're my son and I love you". And remember, I'm only going to allow those things in your life, when you respond correctly that's going to turn out for your good.
So I know you're hurting today, it's going to turn out for your good. I know you miss her, but it's going to turn out for your good. I know you've lost him, but it's going to turn, I'm going to show you..." In other words, listen, when God is reassuring you in the midst of heartache and trial and tribulation in your life, when He is there to reassure you that He understands, He's going to bring you through this, you don't have to give in, you don't have to give up. You don't have to throw up your hands. You trust Him. Get your focus on Him. In other words, He's the source.
Let me ask you a question: how did you get saved? "Well, I did the following things". No, no, no, no, no. You only did one thing. God made this so simple. You only did one thing. You trusted Him to do what He said He would do. He said if you would confess your sins, place your trust in Him as your personal Savior, He'd save you. That's what you did. You didn't have to raise a hand. You didn't have to take a step. You didn't go anywhere. You didn't give anything. In other words, you trusted Him. And what did He do? He changed your eternal destiny in that moment. He wrote your name in the Lamb's Book of Life. You're a child of the living God. And what did you do? You accepted. You received what He had to offer. If He can do that in a one-time event, can He not do that every day of your life? Yes! It's a matter of trusting Him, claiming it and getting your focus on the source of peace rather than on the source of your frustration.
You must not forget this message because I can tell you, you already know this. In fact, you're sitting there, maybe somewhere in your home or wherever it may be and you're there and you're so frustrated. Your circumstances are totally out of control. All I want you to do is to at least consider this: if Jesus said something, don't you think it's the truth? Secondly, listen to this, many people don't believe in Jesus. Has anybody ever named one sin He committed? Never. There are people who don't even believe in Him will say, "Well, I know He's a good man". Well, how good was He? So good He never made a mistake. So good He never sinned. Wait a minute, there must be something different about Him. You know why? Because He's the Son of God. And that Son of God has chosen to live within your life and my life through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
So, if somebody were to ask me: what is the Christian life? Here's what I would say: the Christian life is this: it is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as my personal Savior through faith and His work at the cross of shedding His blood and bringing about atonement for my sin. And then indwelling me with the Holy Spirit whose responsibility it is to live out the life of Jesus through me because that's what He does. It isn't what we do, it's what He does. So, what is my responsibility? To yield to Him. You see, as long as there's oneness, I can have peace. And when I decide that I don't agree with Him about anything, my peace is gone. Does it get any simpler than that? I didn't say it was easy, but it's simple.
You want peace? You got to have Jesus. Give up the war fighting against Him. No longer an enemy. No longer under wrath. No longer separated from Him. No longer without peace. It is yours for the asking. He will not disappoint you. What do they call Jesus? The Prince of Peace. The Source of Peace. He's the Giver of Peace. It's all about a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. That is the source of continuing peace that works every day in a person's life.
Father, how grateful we are that Your Word's so full of awesome truth. You've made it so simple in points. I pray the Holy Spirit will speak to every single person who hears this message to realize I've just told them what You've said. I've just told them what You claimed about Yourself: that You and the Father are one. You're the Source of Peace. "In Me," You said, "is peace. My peace I give to you". That each person, whatever their circumstance would recognize that upon acceptance of Christ as Savior, their potential for peace becomes a living reality within their hearts. And their willingness to surrender to Him makes it possible to face everything, every day with an awesome sense of indescribable peace. I pray the Holy Spirit will ring this in their ears, God. Stir it in their heart and send them enough of whatever's necessary that they would put it to work, put it to practice, claim it for themselves. In Jesus name, amen.