Charles Stanley - Experiencing Inner Peace
If somebody ask you: what is peace? How would you define that? Well, peace is more than a word. It's more than an idea. It's more than a feeling. Peace is an awesome gift of God that He gives to everyone who's willing to surrender their life to Him and to walk in His ways. So, I would ask you this: do you have peace in your heart? Can you honestly say you have peace in your heart, or are you struggling with conflict? Conflict about what? Conflict about many things.
So, I want you to listen carefully. I'm going to give you eight statements. You will want these statement to be true in your life because God provides the adequacy for them to be true. And so, I trust that you'll write them down. Every one of them is important. If you want true, genuine peace in your life, no matter what you're going through, write these down. Apply them to your life. You say, "Well, what do you mean by that"? I mean practice them. What does it say? And when we practice the truth, we get what practice provides. And that is an awesome sense of peace. You either have peace or you have to deal with conflict. If you don't have peace, you have conflict. So, it's very important you write these down beginning with this one. Going to give you these statements. We experience His indwelling Presence and all-sufficient peace when we place our trust in Him as our personal Savior. This settles once and for all where we're going to spend eternity.
That is a question everybody has to face: where am I going to spend eternity? We're all going to die and we're all going to face the judgment. Do you have peace in your heart about your relationship to God? And you don't have to think about when you die what's going to happen. Many people live years of their life wondering, knowing that they're not right with God and wonder what's going to happen one of these days when they die. The way to settle that is to ask the Lord to forgive you for your sins, surrender your life to Him, yield yourself to Him and say, "Lord, I want You to give me a sense of purpose in my life, beginning with the forgiveness of my sins, and surrendering my life to You as my Savior and my Lord. I need a purpose, God. I need a divine purpose and I need a sense of security in my life. I want to walk with You to see where You will take me".
So the first statement: when we settle our trust in Him as our personal Savior, this settles once and for all where we're going to spend eternity. Do you know where you'll spend eternity if God calls you home today? The second statement is this: when we believe He is in sovereign control of all things, which includes us personally, when we believe that, this removes any fear and anxiety for our personal safety. That is, when we believe the truth, that He is in control. For the Scripture says that He is in control of all things, Psalm 103 verse 19. "His sovereignty rules over all". When you believe that that's true, you can have peace. But if you don't think He's in control, you know that no other person's in control, we're not in control.
And so, you have to answer yourself the question: am I worried about where I'm going to spend eternity? You can settle that. So have peace about that. Are you sure that you know who's in control? And if you can, and you've settled that issue, then you don't have to worry about that. You say, "Well, I can't control what the world does". No, but do you believe that God is in control of your life? He says He's in control of all things. Well, you say, "Well, why does He allow certain things to happen"? I don't know why He allows certain things to happen, but I know this: that when He says, "His sovereignty rules over all," it rules over all. And oftentimes, things that we question very clearly and very personally, eventually, we see what God was up to, not all the ways, but oftentimes we do.
And so, what you have to ask is this: if He's not in control of your life, who is? Are you in control? Not really! Not in the world in which we live. But He says His sovereignty rules over all. Either He causes things to happen, He allows things to happen, or He prevent things from happening. But in your life, do you believe that you have surrendered your life to Him, and therefore He's in control of your life. If you believe He's in control of your life, you have a right to be peaceful about it and have peace that whatever He allows is for our good. He says, "All things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose," which means He is in control of all things. If a person chooses to live disobediently before God, He will allow it. Will He just sit back and allow it? No, He'll send enough warnings, enough heartache, enough burden, enough troubles, enough trials to get the person's attention. If they ignore His attempts to get their attention in order to give them peace, they suffer the consequences.
Many people are living troubled lives, very, very unhappy, no peace, constant trouble and trials in their life because they don't believe He's in control, they're not in control, they're trying to be in control, and that doesn't work. The third statement: when we are trusting the Lord to meet all of our needs, this eliminates our daily concerns about not having enough. Get that down. When we're trusting Him to meet all of our needs, this eliminates our daily concerns about not having enough. And Paul says, "My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus," which is a promise of God. If you read the Psalms and the Proverbs, for example, over and over and over again, God makes promises for His children, for those who are obedient to Him.
So, if you're trusting Him with all of these things, you have a right to believe in your heart and have a right to feel in your heart this awesome peace that God provides. And if you don't have it, there's a gnawing that goes on inside, suppose this, suppose that. Suppose this happen. What am I going to do? And people are concerned about money, suppose that don't have enough of this, that, and the other. Listen, when you are obedient to Almighty God; God in all His omniscience, knowing all; all His omnipotence, having all power; He's going to take care of whatever our needs are if we're living obediently before Him. You see, you can't have any real peace if you're worried about money. You can't have any peace if you're worried about anything. You say, "Well, everybody's worried about something," not necessarily. Does everybody have a reason to be worried? Not really.
We can think of some things that we don't like, but to worry about them is to take them upon ourselves, bear the weight and the load, carry them with ourselves and hope for the best. If you're living a life of hoping for the best in this society, you are in trouble! Because this society does not promise you any peace, nor does it promise to provide you any thing, really. So, we're talking about real peace, "Peace that passes all understanding," as the Bible says, peace that prevails when you're going through all kinds of difficulty, hardship, and trouble. God intends for his people to be at peace with Him and with one another. Can He make it so? Yes, He does. Because peace is God's gift to us.
And when we think about the Christmas season, we sing about peace. It's amazing what we sing about, we don't believe. Or what we sing about, we don't experience. And oftentimes, it's because we're living in disobedience to God or we don't trust Him. If I really trust Him, and I think about this, "My God will supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus". Either it is true or untrue. Either God tells the truth or God is a liar, one of the two. And He's a God who promises peace. That peace is based upon our faith and our obedience to Him. And sometimes people say, "Well, I don't have all that in my life". Well, what kind of life are you living? You can't live an ungodly, disobedient life and expect the best of God's blessings to flow your way. It doesn't happen that way. Peace is available for those of us who are willing to believe in our heart that He'll provide all of our needs.
Then statement number four: when we are maintaining a clear conscience, this shields and protects our peace with ourselves. Very, very important. Paul spoke of having a good conscience, a clear conscience. When I have a clear conscience, it's going to protect me and protect our peace. So, ask yourself the question: do you have a clear conscience? You see, either I do or I don't. And there is a war that rages in people's lives when they're living disobedient to God. Why do they drink the way they drink? And if they drink, watch this carefully, here's the trap, if they drink a little bit and feel better, what do you do? You drink a little more to feel better better. And then you've drink a little bit more and you feel better better better. And before long, you have absolutely trapped yourself.
So, ask yourself the question: do you have a clear conscience? If you don't have a clear conscience, you have one that's gnawing away at you. And God wants us to have peace within our hearts. That's what He's provided, Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid". So, ask yourself the question: when you don't have peace, when you're nervous and upset about something, when you're having a very difficult time with your conscious, for example, and you don't know what's happening, what do you do? Watch this: there're only two things you do. You go either to the real thing, Jesus. Or you go to the world's substitute. And the world cannot substitute the peace of Almighty God in your life.
What about children growing up the way they're growing up, and look at the children that are on drugs, major problems with teenagers on drugs. Where do you think they got that from? Somebody convinced them to feel better, not if they went to the Lord, not if they trusted Jesus, not if they read the Bible, not if they prayed, not if they went to church, not if they listen to the gospel, but if they take a shot of this or a drink of that. So, do you have peace? What about your conscience? Is there anything that keeps cropping up in your life that you ought to deal with, that you keep saying, "Well, forget it". Here's what happens. At first, you think I'm just going to forget it. You try to forget it. Well, then you have to party a little bit. Maybe that'll do it. And you just go from one thing to the other, till finally you are trapped by your own actions when you could have absolute peace in your heart if you'd trust Him.
Let's look at the next statement. Number five: when we can accept ourselves the way God made us, this guards us against trying to change something over which we have no control. And you would say, "Well, I don't do that". And you remember in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, Paul talked about the spiritual gifts and so forth. How different we are. And God has gifted us all differently. And when we trust Him as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes into our life and enables us to use the gifts that God has given us in a profitable way. And so, when you think about that and you think about things that people change. For example, people are very unhappy. Oftentimes, extremely unhappy. Because they can't accept the way God has made them. He didn't give us all the same gifts.
There are people who are, for example, who wouldn't like to play the piano, who wouldn't like to paint like some people are so gifted at doing? Many people are gifted in many ways, but the question is this: are you trying to, watch this, are you trying to change something in your life over which you have no control? So, what does that do? It drives people to drink. It drives people to be hard to live with. It drives people to do things that they shouldn't do. It drives people to have relationships they shouldn't have because they're absolutely unhappy with the way God has made them. And if they think, "If I'll change this, then it'll change. If I change this about me, somebody's gonna love me. If I change this about me, they going to think I'm doing well". They change, change, change. There are some things God doesn't intend to change.
Now, I believe in looking your best, do your best, be your best. We can't always do that, but at least we ought to try. We represent Jesus, look our best, do our best, be our best. We can't look like others, be like others, dress like others, whatever it might be. But God intends for us to be satisfied with Him, with what He's done in our life and what He is doing in our life. God has made you the way you are for the reason He's made you. And He intends for you and I to be happy and peaceful. That doesn't mean that we're not going to have trouble and trials and heartaches because growing us up is a part of the process. Growing us up, teaching us to be obedient. We all make mistakes, we've all sinned against God. And He's patiently does what? He forgives us and points us to the right way, but if I don't listen to the correction and I'm going to do it my way, then I'm not going to have any peace whatsoever.
And so, He gives us different spiritual gifts. For example, some people would like to be a great artist, as we say, or they might like to be great entrepreneurs and people have all kinds of ideas. Well, what's the question? The question is: God, what did you intend for me? And I wonder if some people aren't afraid to answer that question. God, what did you mean for me? What did intend to do for me? If you're going to have peace, you and God, we and God have to agree that whatever He chooses for us is the best idea.
Now, number six: when we have a sense of purpose in life, this protects us from the plague of emptiness. And many people are very empty. And I like, I love what Paul said, "We are His workmanship," that is, God created us. "We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them". That is, God is very, very involved in your life. Listen, "We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus". That is, God has a purpose for our life.
And so, somebody says, "Well, what's the purpose for my life"? God has purpose. "I don't know that". God has a purpose. I know part of that purpose is that you'd live a godly life so God can manifest Himself in you, show Himself in you by your conduct and your lifestyle. God intends for us to follow Him, obey Him, walk in His ways. And He intends to bless us and to prosper us in the way that He knows we can handle, whatever the prosperity may be. Most people think prosperity is just having lots and lots of money. Our security should be built upon nothing but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who is our God and who has promised to meet every need, grant us the desires of our heart when we walk in His way and obedient to Him. Having a lot of stuff does not bring you peace. It comes through a relationship with Christ. He came into this world to save us and to give us the peace the world does not understand.
So, when you think about that and think about the whole idea of being empty, there are a lot of people who are empty. They can't tell you why, they just know they're unhappy. They feel empty. This is why they go to the world to try to fill up this emptiness. A drink of this, a drink of that, here, there, she, him, whatever it might be, trying to fill up their emptiness. Only one thing fills the heart of anybody, and that is Jesus's presence, and the expression of His life in us and to us and through us. That's what brings absolute assurance in our life, and that's what brings us to a sense of being full. The Bible talks about the fullness of the Spirit, not the emptiness. So, would you say that you feel empty about something? Would you feel empty about your days, about the work that you have, about your children? Is there something missing in your thinking? Or do you have a relationship with Christ and you look to Him to fill your emptiness?
You say, "Well, how does He fill my emptiness"? I'll tell you how. The closer you and I get to Him in our relationship, talking to Him, listening to Him, obeying Him, doing what He wants us to do the way He wants us to do it, using the talents and gifts that He's given us, the closer we walk with Him, the more peace we're going to have. So, ask yourself the question: am I a peaceful person? Do I have peace in my life? All of these things are absolutely essential and true. Then of course, when we have a sense of competency, that is, we feel capable and adequate in life. This protects us from failure due to our overwhelming sense of inadequacy. People oftentimes fail because they feel inadequate. And to feel competent means that you feel capable, able, qualified, fitted, ready to do whatever you're supposed to do, whatever God's called you to do. And the feeling of inadequacy creates doubt about ourselves.
God wants us to sense His sufficiency in our life. Watch this, He would never call you to do something that He would not equip you to do. And in first Corinthians twelve, Paul's all those qualities that He talks about, and the spiritual gifts, think about this, you have a spiritual gift. When you trusted Christ as your Savior, the, watch this, the Holy Spirit came into your life and began that moment, that moment to begin to work in your life utilizing that spiritual gift, whatever it might be. God desires to equip us in order to accomplish His purpose and will for our life. God wants us to have peace. He wants us to be equipped. He wants us to be able to live a life that what? That personifies Him, that shows the existence of Christ in our life. That's our witness and our testimony.
When you and I are obedient to God, walking in His will and His gifts, then we have a testimony to others that Christ will enable us, that He will show us what to do, that He will equip us to do it, He'll provide what we need, and we can live in peace. But if you have a sense of emptiness in your life, it's because somewhere along the way, you have avoided the peace maker and the one who's the gift giver and the one who's the prayer answerer, and the one who has a will and purpose and plan for your life. He has the best for our life, and the only way we're going to be happy and have peace is when we're walking in that peace.
And then of course, let's go to the last one, number eight: when we have a sense of belonging, this shields us from the painful feeling of rejection and feeling unwanted. Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, I'll give you rest". And yet, many people will not come to Him. And so, they don't have any peace. Every one of us has felt rejection by somebody at some time in our life. And would you not agree that feeling rejected by somebody, especially somebody you love, somebody you respect, somebody you honor, you feel rejected by them. They've turned away from you. They've said things that were words of rejection. Words of rejection are painful. Rejection is a painful attitude, a painful feeling.
Sometimes we may feel rejection when we know we haven't been rejected. But still, if the feeling is there, the pain is there, and we're going to respond as a result. We'll feel hurtful, angry, empty, you name it. But if you're going to have peace in your heart, you have to overcome this feeling of rejection. So, think about this: if everybody in the world rejected you, would you be a reject? The next time you get to feeling you're not very valuable, you don't have to look at but one thing, what is that? The Cross. Look at the Cross. You think, how valuable are you? Valuable enough for God to nail His Son to an old tree in order that He may give to world the love that not we deserve, but that He'd want us to have.
Any time you feel rejected, unwanted, and unloved and uncared for, remember who loves you. The one who loves you can satisfy every need in your life and every desire of your heart if you choose to walk in obedience to Him. And it begins with humbling yourselves before the Lord and saying, "Father, I want to confess my sins. I want to acknowledge my disobedience, my rebellion, my unbelief, and all the rest". I'm asking you to forgive me, not on the basis of I deserve it, but on the basis of what you did at the cross. Ask you to forgive me, and beginning today, I surrender my life to you and I want you to live your life through me. I want that peace that you talk about that passes all understanding. I want what you have to offer, and I yield my life to you so you can fill me with your peace.
You say, "Will that work for my life"? Every life. And my prayer for you is you don't have peace in your heart? I know you don't if you're living in sin. What are you going to in your life to gain peace? It's not going to work. It's just costing you money, heartache, troubles, trials, can cost you your job, cost you your health. If you're willing to surrender your life to Christ and tell Him that you want the peace that He talked about, "My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". If you want that peace, it's yours for the asking and the surrendering of your life to Him. He's more than willing to give it.
Father, how grateful we are for your patience, willingness to forgive over and over again, desiring the best for us. Providing the best for us. Giving us guidance for every single decision we make. I pray the Holy Spirit will sink these truths deep in our heart and help us to recognize either these truths are true or there will be pain, disappointment, hurt, heartache, suffering, shame and on the story goes. We say we love you, we praise you, we bless you today in Jesus's name, amen.