John Gray - Functional Faith
And if you will do me a favor and go to John 14, I will be reading from the new King James version, John 14. You know, you can't turn on a television or read a newspaper without reading some bad news. War, conflict, strife, drama, apparently there is a culture that monetizes fear, anxiety, worry. It has become a part of the fabric of our culture and to be honest with you, I'm tired of it. Tired of waking up to more bad news, tired of waking up to people who are cynical, who don't have any joy, tired of waking up worrying about what's coming next. So much is inundating our hearts, and our spirits, and our souls.
We need to take authority over those things that try to attack us in our heart, and in our mind, and in our spirit. So much bad news but I came today to tell you some good news. We have in this room a microcosm of the entire globe, so many nations that are gathered here, and it is a phenomenal display of God's creative ingenuity that all of us who come from different places are in here worshiping the same Jesus. What a phenomenal masterwork of our Creator that all of us are in here together. And to me, this is the picture that God wants in the earth.
See, I don't just see you as folk that go to the same church, I see you as family because the same blood that saved you saved me. That makes us blood relatives. Oh yeah, we're family. Go ahead and confuse your family. Put me on your Christmas card. Yeah, bob there's a negro on your card, what's going on? I found out I had a brother I didn't even know. I found him in Lakewood, it's amazing. It's time for us to get our joy back, to get our strength back, to get our peace back. In John 14, these are the words that are recorded. These are the words of Jesus as he is nearing the end of his life, about to go to the cross for the sins of the whole world. So, if I were you I would lean in and hear the heart of Jesus in this moment.
"These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard me say to you, I am going away and coming back to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said I am going to the Father, for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father and as the Father gave me commandment, so I do".
Arise, let us go from here. It's time to rise, and leave the place of fear and anxiety. It's time to rise, and leave the place of shame and guilt and doubt. It is time to rise and to become every single thing that God intended for us to be. It is time for us to stop talking about the church, and being about the business of the church. It's time to stop attending services, and become the hands and feet of those who need our services. It is time to become Jesus to a lost and dying generation. It's time for us to declare in the midst of chaos unapologetically that we believe the Word of God, we stand on the Word of God, and we are the living visible representation of this truth. Not in the way we attend church, but in the way we attend to one another.
In our busyness of life and in our rushing to get things done, and to achieve and to accomplish, something's missing. And I want to talk to you from the subject heading, the missing peace. And I'm spelling peace, P-E-A-C-E, the missing peace. Do you know how much money drug companies make from people who can't sleep at night? You know how much money pharmaceutical companies make for people who are struggling with anxiety, depression? How many hours of sleep have you lost dreaming about things you couldn't change? Worrying about bills. You don't have the money in the account, you might as well get some good sleep. You say, I'm broke... Worry, anxiety, fear. We're not as sweet to each other as we used to be. People aren't as nice as they used to be.
Back in the day you could speak to your neighbor and not worry about anything. Now because of the culture of fear that has been seeded into our subconscious, we can't trust anybody. Hi, I'm calling to see if you'd like a subscription to a magazine. How'd you get my number? Somebody knock on the door. I'm selling cookies. What you got in those cookies? Who sent you up here? Are you a real girl scout? Okay, give me some thin mints. I'm watching you. We're nervous about everything. We close our blinds at three o'clock in the afternoon, just peeking, who's in my yard. Get out of my yard.
I think we've been overrun with information, and all of it isn't good. All these channels, all this stuff that we can watch at any given moment, consuming things but we don't have a spiritual ability to process it and hold onto the good and let go of the bad. Back in the day, all we had was three channels. You couldn't get too much 'cause TV used to go off. You had to go to sleep, unless you want to look at them bars across the TV. Just turn, some of y'all don't know what this is. For the little kids, we actually used to have to turn the channel. We didn't have remote control.
Had the VHF and the UHF, remember that? With the antennas with the foil on there, just stand, don't move! Stay right there. Right there, right there, there it is, there it is. You all laughin'. My mother still doesn't have cable. I know you watching momma and my auntie in Cincinnati. I don't even, I'm surprised you got internet. I love you, but she wasn't thinking about a VCR, wasn't thinking about cable. I'm not bringing no cable in my house. I ain't bringing no cable in my house. I'm like, mom, I'm staying in the hotel. I need to watch ESPN. You play too much.
We're not nice anymore. Cynical, we don't trust anybody. Somebody's on the side of the road with a sign, any gift will help. You roll your window down. I would give you a gift but I'mma give you some advice. Go apply for a job. Why you do that? Leave that man alone. It's the truth. I did that, but what I'm saying is... The truth is most of us have just gotten caught up with busy. Everybody's busy. Busy is now a badge of honor. You busy? Oh yeah, I'm busy, I got meetings. See, I've got meetings all day. Matter of fact, I can't even talk to you 'cause I got to go to my meetings. I got to go. I got, I can't stay here, I got to go to my meeting.
Well, I'm busy too. I'm so busy, I only have five hours of sleep. Good for you. I got three hours of sleep. You're busy but you're not progressing. You're busy but you're not happy. You got all kinds of stuff going on but there's no joy. There's no peace. We're always trying to attain, to acquire, and to ascend, but at the cost of our family, and our friends, and our foundation. Let me ask you a question. How are you really doing? I don't want to answer all the questions today, but I would like to ask a few questions for you to ponder over the next few days. Number one is how's your soul? How's your soul? How are you doing?
Your soul is the seat of your will, your mind and your emotions. How's your soul doing? I know a lot of people come to church. We all gather for different reasons and we go through the motions, but I don't want you to go through the motions today because you can go through the motions and still not move. People come to church, but have you really decided that if God is speaking to me today, I want to apply what he says, so I can change. A lot of people come to church just to check it off their to-do lists. This is not a to-do list. This is a to-be list. God wants you to be the thing you reap.
Now I'm trying to teach, but I feel the preach coming on me, so, I don't want to scare the nice visitors and start shouting too early. They like, "I'm frightened". Don't be frightened. It's easy to go through the motions in life, cycles. Let me get up, brush my teeth, put my clothes on, get the kids ready, get breakfast going, got to get them to school, drop them off, got to go to work. Oh, it's almost lunchtime. No ma'am, it's 11 o'clock. Why are you looking at menus an hour before lunch? So now you're online looking at menus, you stop working 'cause you're hungry. You go to lunch, you come back, you're almost ready to go. It's only 2:08, you don't get off till five. Got your keys in your hand logged out of your computer at 4:51, waiting for the clock to hit five so you can leave, go get your kids so you can feed them some Chick-fil-A and then take one of them to soccer practice, or if you live in the suburbs, lacrosse. "They go to lacrosse".
Then you got to help her with homework, then you got a spouse or husband or wife, somebody you got to tend to their needs as well and you've walked through the whole day and you forgot to talk to the Lord. You're going through the motions and God says, hey, I got some wisdom I want to share with you to help you navigate these areas of your life. Not now God, I got it. I got it under control. No, you actually don't. It's about to fall apart if you don't help me. No, I got it. I know how to take care of my relationship, I know how to take care of my kids. How can you take care of them? I gave them to you. I know their destiny. You need to come spend some time with me. No, I got it, God. We go through the motions, but are we really progressing?
It's funny because there are a lot of people that are moving and going in all of these different directions, and you're trying to put the pieces of your life together, but you really don't have any peace on the inside. I know that it's not a popular thing to talk about, but oh, if you understood the power of peace. See, Jesus in this scripture, John 14 was speaking to his disciples to calm their anxiety, to ease their fear about the future because he let them know, listen, I'm about to die. I'm about to leave, but I don't want you to be moved by what I'm saying because it's actually good that I go, because as I go up, the Holy Spirit's coming down, and the Holy Spirit is who empowered Jesus to do what he did in the earth.
And so what Jesus said is the power that was in me is now going to be in all of you all, and I don't want you to get anxious or get afraid, but I want you to have some peace. Peace, this idea of peace. What does peace actually mean? I went and I looked up this biblical definition of peace and I was so blessed. Peace, a state of national tranquility of Christians, the tranquil state of a soul, assured of the salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with it's earthly lot. When you have peace, you're content in any situation. When you have peace, you are not jealous of anybody else's blessings or watching their ascension, you're excited because you have peace to know that you're exactly where you need to be, and if you stay planted and do the things you're called to do, then God will get to you what has your name on it.
The missing peace. It's hard 'cause you're always moving. Some of you all, you despise traffic. I believe traffic is God's way of slowing you down. Some of you all, he wants to talk to you all. It's the only time he can get you to not move, but even that you side step. I got easy pass, I'm going to be in this HOV lane, Jesus. I don't feel like talking this morning. How many people get in the spiritual and emotional HOV lane, speeding past opportunities to spend time with God so you can get wisdom for your life.
How many of us speed past the opportunities to sit still and wait on the Lord to give us the wisdom, and the ability to see the clear picture without it being muddied by the circumstances of our life. God is looking for somebody who will sit back and allow his peace to overtake you. Jesus said, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives. See, the world offers an illusion of peace through the acquisition of things.
See, if I got more money, then I'll be all right. If I got nice car, then I'll be all right. How many people have money and cars and positions and still take their lives? If things could give you peace, then there would be no depression among wealthy people, but money can't give you peace. Your job can't give you peace. Your status can't give you peace. Your family line can't give you peace. Only Jesus can give you peace. Somebody needs to give God a five-second praise break, right there.
The missing peace! We're always searching for the next puzzle piece. My wife talked about this one time, and I love this idea of the puzzle pieces because you know, we're always trying to put these little things together. Okay, I need to get my, I got my career over here, then I'm going to have me, I need, if I got a career then I need to have a relationship 'cause I need to have a boo. See what I'm saying? So I got my boo thing, I got my career, then what car am I going to drive?
So even though I'm in traffic and I'm not really moving, I need to be looking good while I'm not moving. So I got my career, I got my boo, I got my car, then I'mma need some money. So I need to have some money in that savings account see, and then connect to that checking account with the overdraft protection. See, so I got my career, I got my boo, I got my car, I got my money, I got my clothes, and then you get home, and it's just you, and you look around, and you say, something's missing. All the things you thought would fill you, but still, somethings...
See I feel a Bishop Jakes thing on me, right now. Every time you have something you thought would fill you, but yet and still ah, something's missing. Oh, yes, ha, ha. You have a smile on your face but still something's... Missing. Because we know how to put the porcelain smile on, hoping that people don't ask us a real question so we don't break in front of them because we know how to put on the church face even though our marriages are in shambles and our children are stuck on drugs and we're medicating our pain with liquor and every other vice and it's no judgment because we all do it but the reality is, when are we going to stop putting on the mask and go after God's peace?
I wish I had some help in here. I'm not coming in here to try to impress you and go home depressed. I'm not going home depressed trying to impress. God, I need some peace, I need some clarity, I need some vision, I need to understand what's going on, I need some help! Sorry, for yelling. Life can get out of control. You got to fight for your peace. Jesus said, "Listen, stop worrying. I don't give you peace like the world gives. I give you peace that, no matter what's going on", and the word peace literally means you are settled in time of war. You have an anchor in the midst of the storm. Jesus says I'm going to give you that kind of peace. Many of us don't sit still long enough to get anchored.
Pastor Joel always says something at the beginning of his messages. He says, "You know, if you can, unless you have to work or catch a plane, why don't you stay here till the end of the service so we can keep the house of the Lord in order"? And everybody claps and right when he says, "I believe and declare". "Get your purse, get your purse. Hurry".
You know why you do that? You want to beat traffic because you don't like sitting still. I wonder what else you run out on even though God's not finished. Are you really that hungry that you have to leave? You all mad now, you like, "Dang, I got to stay here the whole time, put your purse down, just". And I mean sit down, stay right there. You rush out because you don't understand that God's actually trying to whisper something to you about trusting him in the midst of chaos. We want to get out in front of somebody else. We want to get out ahead of the crowd.
And God is saying, if you just relax and let me build you and grow you organically, everything that's connected to you will come to you. You aren't going to have to go after it in this season. This is not the season of the knocking door. This is the season of the open door. I feel the Holy Ghost in here. Baby, I just felt a breakthrough, right here. If you got to knock, that's not your door. Oh! I didn't mean to knock, that ain't my door. This is my door because it's open and it's got the peace of God on it. I'm going after the peace of God. I'm going after the rest of God. I wish I could have a seven second praise break in the balcony. I know life is throwing you curve balls. I know there are storms. I understand that.
Talk to me, Jesus, Mark 4:39. The wind and the wave are beating against the boat. They wake him up. He goes to the edge of the boat like a g. And just dabs on the storm, just aah. Peace, be still. Hey, somebody caught it. Do you know the same power that Jesus had, you have? And I don't care what the storm is, you can speak to it. Peace, be still. Devil, bow down. Sickness, bow down. Negative report, bow down. Peace, be still. Now if you really want to shout, watch this. I studied this word peace when Jesus spoke it. The definition literally means, help me, help me, Jesus. Help me, baby Jesus. This idea of peace, it's right here. Involuntary stillness. What it means is the storm didn't want to stop. It had to stop because it was in the presence of someone who had more power than it.
The devil wants to touch you, but he can't because Jesus has already spoken, "Peace. Peace. Peace, be still", and know that I am... Hey, I'm going to give you eight seconds to give God a praise like you feel it. Peace, be still. It doesn't matter what the devil is trying to do. Jesus has spoken, "Peace", to your situation. Peace to your broken heart. Peace to your financial issues. Peace to your fractured soul. Peace to that strained relationship. Peace to your children that are strung out right now but they're about a few weeks away from being clean and sober with their hands lifted up giving their heart to Jesus. Is there anybody that knows that God is able to do it? He'll speak a word.
You don't need more money, you need peace. You don't need another drink, you need peace. You don't need anybody else to get out of that bed, you need peace. Ah, help me, Jesus. You don't need another sandwich. You might need half a sandwich. Hey, you need peace. I feel the Holy Ghost in here. I said I feel the presence of God in here. Jesus, Jesus said, the peace I give you is not the kind that the world gives. I'm not an Indian giver. When you have this peace, you can trust the process. The Bible says those that are planted in the house of the Lord, pastor Lisa, shall flourish in the courts of our God.
Can I encourage you to stay planted 'cause when you stay planted, that's where your peace is? Let me give you an illustration. Have any of you ever seen a tree sticking his tongue out trying to catch water? Talking to the leaves about, "Stretch out. You better catch that water. We ain't going to live if you don't catch the water". No the tree knows that if he stays planted, if the roots stay in the soil, eventually the water's going to come to him. Oh, catch this. You're striving and trying and God's saying, "Sit still".
Oh, some of you all sit right now, can barely sit still trying to get to your car. But if you sat there, maybe the answer to one of your prayers is in the row next to you. Oh, be still. Because even if you did get up and chase the water, mr. Or mrs. Tree, even if you caught the water, it doesn't do you any good because your roots aren't in the soil. Here's the things about roots. Roots don't ask where they can grow. "Excuse me, mr. Soil, can I grow"? They grow organically. What I am saying to you is this, you're not going to have to force anything in this next season. The peace of God is going to guide you.
Does anybody feel it? Just sit back and just, "You didn't get the job, are you sad"? "No, I got peace". "How you got peace, all this stuff going on? You got bills". "Yeah but my father said in his word that if I just seek him and his righteousness, all the things will be added unto me. I got peace". The peace is not in your lap, the peace is understanding that God is in control of everything connected to your life. Let me tell you something, when you have peace, you'll do things that make no sense to other folk, but it makes perfect sense to you. My mother and my aunt sherry are watching right now in Cincinnati, they're my witnesses. My grandmother had no money, eight kids, two husbands, neither one of 'em too good. Love both of y'all's daddies, but you know I'm telling the truth. And so raising eight kids, no money. And one day there was no food in the house.
My grandmother, Mame Davis, bless her soul, told them kids, "Sit at this table. Set the table. We're getting ready to thank God for this food". "I'm sorry, what food, food do you see"? What makes a single mother with eight kids thank God for some food that's not there? And put plates and forks for food that's not there? Nothing on the stove, nothing in the refrigerator, no money to buy it. She had peace to know that the God who was in control of the whole thing was not going to leave her or forsake her.
When you have peace, you do crazy stuff like bless God for food that's not there. Bless God for a house you don't have credit for. Bless God for a job you're not qualified for. Bless God for an opportunity that somebody else should get. When you have peace, you can thank God for crazy stuff. Mame Davis said, "Bow your heads. We're going to thank the Lord". She said, "Lord, I want to thank you for this food we're about to receive". I don't know if she said make it nourishing to our bodies, I don't know the rest, but she thanked God for the food and as she said amen, there was a knock on the door. Wouldn't you know it? After she said amen, it is so, let it be, I trust you, the knock came. It was aunt Louise with bags of groceries. Said, "Mamie, the Lord told me to bring this to you right now". She said, "Ah, glory"!
I don't know who this is for, but I dare you to praise God even though it's not here and walk around like you got peace knowing that he can do it. Because if he did it before, he can do again. I need somebody to give God a 10 second praise break. Daddy, he can do it. Mama, won't he do it? Won't he turn it around? Won't he fix it? I've seen him too much. I've seen too much not to praise him. I've seen too much not to give him a shout. I've seen too much not to give him a hallelujah. Excuse me while I praise because when you got your peace, you'll find your praise.
Jesus' arrival in the earth marked the age of peace. What did the angels say? "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill towards men". When you have your peace, you'll be kinder to people. When you have peace in your heart, you'll have grace for other folk. Whew, you won't be judging other people. When you have your peace, you're not judging people, you're loving people. Help me in here. Three things, I want you to grab 'em. I want you to grab these three things. This is what happens when you have your peace. You ready?
First thing that peace does is peace protects your mind and the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind. Peace protects your mind. How many people need a little more peace in their mind?
Second thing, peace preserves your sanity. Oh, somebody felt it right there. You know how many people have literally lost their minds because they couldn't sleep at night, couldn't figure out which way to go? That's not the life of a believer. Jesus didn't just die for your soul. He died for your peace. Don't lose your mind when the Bible says we have the mind of Christ. He didn't lose his mind when the storms come. You have peace to know that past them clouds there's a sun, oh, that's going to shine. Somebody say peace.
The third thing is peace provides perspective. You don't look at storms the same way when you have peace. You don't look at negative news the same way. You don't look at obstacles the same way when you have your peace. My mother used to come grab me off of our little stoop. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment on Dana Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio. When the storms would roll in in the summertime, I'd hear the thunder in the distance and I'd run to the window and I'd lift the window up, we had screens there. My mama had white, sheer curtains and the wind would blow and I just felt the presence of God. I was a young boy. Then I'd go out to the front and I'd sit on the steps while it rained because the way the porch was, the rain would get on my feet but it wouldn't get on my face.
Feet is foundation. And as long as you can get your feet wet, in your faith, the rest of you can be nourished. Help me, Holy Ghost. My mother would come out. She'd say, "Come off that porch, boy. You'll get struck by lightning. Come off of that porch". I said, "Mommy, I trust God. My dad is in charge of this storm. So anything that happens to me in this storm, it has to get his permission".
You're not going through a storm without your father still being in charge. Lightning can't touch you unless God allows it. The enemy can't touch you unless God allows it. And if by chance, something does happen, it's only to make you better because all things are working together for those, the good of those that love the Lord and are the called according to his purpose. And so now we come to the end of this message. I would normally say bow your heads and close your eyes, but we're going to pray with our eyes open today. I mean, you're not going nowhere, just sit there, just.