God’s Peace Overcomes

God’s Peace Overcomes      Proverbs 14:30

Audio:

Introduction

He was born on July 1, 1899 in Villa Rica, Georgia. His father was a minister and his mother a piano teacher.  Thomas Andrew Dorsey was known as “the father of black gospel music”. His compositions combined Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and the blues. His first wife, Nettie died in childbirth in 1932. Two days later the child, a son, also died. In his grief, he wrote his most famous song, one of the most famous of all gospel songs, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”  Dorsey’s works are found in the hymnals of virtually all American churches and of English-speaking churches worldwide. Another song he wrote became a gospel standard. Dorsey wrote “Peace in the Valley” for Mahalia Jackson in 1937. A plaintive reflection of the final peace promised by God in a life to come.. Precious Lord, Take My Hand and Peace in the Valley were songs written from the depths of pain and reliance upon God in the hardest of times.

Proverbs 14:30  A calm and peaceful and tranquil heart is life and health to the body… [AMP]

We can all think of something in our life or our world that causes us to long for peace. But if we all desire peace, why does it escape us?

1. Peace Eludes the World in Which We Live

We do not live in a tranquil world. Wars and rumors of war persist. Tyrants use their power to destroy others. Where are the statesmen? The world of Politics has become a ruthless name-calling slugfest. News today: panels of experts yelling at each other. There is only “Breaking News” today. Disease, Crime, and Hatred rob us of peace of mind. Our Cyberworld is not peaceful – FB, Twitter, Insta, Snap – all are infected with the loss of civility which creates intensified dialogue, bullying, unfiltered anonymous cruel gossip, accusation and critique.

2. Peace Eludes the World in Which We Function

We do not cultivate habits that lead to peace. BBC News: Across the industrialised world [people are] overburdened with work, at the expense of time with family and friends. … There are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas to follow up … We feel a social pressure to “do it all”, at work and at home, but that’s not just really difficult; it’s a mathematical impossibility. Peace seems to be elusive to us …

Proverbs 14:30 “A calm and peaceful and tranquil heart is life and health to the body but passion and envy are like rottenness to the bones.”

3. Peace Eludes the World Within

It is the inner world in which we do our greatest battles and in which we find the greatest thief of peace: envy.

 Mark 7:20-23 “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Envy is hatred and rejection of others based upon their money or reputation or happiness or strengths. Envy desires what another has, but also seeks to deprive someone else of what it desires.

We often fail to recognize envy in ourselves. Someone else is richer, healthier, luckier, better looking, smarter, more accomplished…. Envy keeps us from being concerned for the well being of others.

1 Corinthians 13:4 that “Love does not envy.”

How can we have a “A calm and peaceful and tranquil heart is life and health to the body?”

4. God’s Peace Overcomes All These Enemies of Peace

Establish Peace with God.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

We cannot have peace with ourselves or others without first experiencing peace with God.

Pray for Peace

1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

This places prayer on a national / international stage. Pray for those for whom you feel the slightest envy.

Cultivate an Ambition for Peace

1 Thessalonians 4:11  Make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully…

In a survey Americans were asked if they could have their wildest dreams come true, 38% would choose to win lottery; 1% would choose world peace.

Find Peace in God’s Presence

Habakkuk 2:20 But the Lord is in His holy temple.Let all the earth hush and be silent before Him.”

When we encounter God in worship we can find peace when we place all our concerns into His hands.

Conclusion

God’s peace overcomes the troubles in our hearts.

In 1956 the then Soviet Union invaded Hungary, sending 250,000 refugees fleeing for their lives. On January 6, 1957, a few months later, a singer on the Ed Sullivan show dedicated a song to them and America to send in emergency aid to the International Red Cross. Then Elvis Presley dedicated Tommy Dorsey’s song to the war torn and homeless across the ocean. Peace in the Valley.  There’ll be peace in the valley for me some day. The desire for peace is not just a song from the 50s, but should be our desire for the human race today. Until then, recognize the enemies of peace whether they come from the world, our work, our within.

Do you have peace with God today? Pray for peace, Be ambitious to find peace, Draw near to the God of peace in worship. 

Prayer for Peace by St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

 

 

 

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Resources

Why You Feel Busy All the Time When You’re Actually Not – Burkeman

Battling the Unbelief of Envy

Jeremiah, D.(2001). Facing the giants in your life: Study guide (pp. 118–124). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Vine, W. E. (1996). Collected writings of W.E. Vine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Sermon by Dr. Larry Osborne in Morgan, R. J. (2007). Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook (2008 Edition, pp. 222–223). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Sermon by Larry Turner

Sermon by Jeremy Houck

Through the Eyes of Jesus

Jesus multiplies the loaves and fish, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48287

Audio:

Through the Eyes of Jesus     Matthew 14:13-21

It is our ultimate goal as disciples of Jesus Christ to see things as He sees them. We are influenced by our culture, our friends, the media, and even by our own inward impulses to see things in a certain way.

“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

When we decide to give our lives to Christ we are determined to see things the way He does. But that’s not always natural nor easy. Today’s text is familiar. It is an account offered in all four gospels. The story contains an amazing miracle, but what does it teach us about seeing life through the eyes of Jesus?

Disciples of Jesus should always count to 8! (more on that laterWe should ask God to open our eyes!

1. Open Our Eyes of Compassion (Matthew 14:13-15)

Matthew 14:14-15 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

The compassion of Jesus is noted throughout the gospel. He was “moved with compassion” when he saw the multitudes, they were like sheep without a shepherd. When he saw the hungry multitude, two blind men and lepers and the sorrow of the widow at Nain. Compassion is the quality of caring for others.

Compassion is usually inconvenient and costly. In earlier chapters, the Pharisees, claim he was a law-breaker, glutton, drunkard, a “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (MT 11:19, 12:1ff). In Nazareth he was just the the carpenter’s son.  In Jerusalem another drama was playing out. Herod Antipas had put John the baptizer to death. John’s disciples came and buried his body and then went and told Jesus.  When Jesus heard what had happened

Matthew 14:13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. 

The Compassion of Jesus was not eclipsed by his own sorrows and troubles and interruptions. 

The disciples saw the people as a problem to send away. David Lose: “the disciples’ suggestion that these hordes of people go buy food isn’t just unrealistic –they are, after all, out in a deserted place – it’s ridiculous…and even a little insulting, as the folks making up these desperate crowds probably didn’t have money to buy food in the first place.”

“The truth is that there are such things as Christian tears, and too few of us ever weep them.” – John Stott

“The compassion of Christ is to be the compassion of the church.” (O’Donnell)

Open our eyes of Compassion!

2. Open Our Eyes Faith (Matthew 14:16-18)

Matthew 14:16-18 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said.

Jesus knew something they did not know. This miracle is to point to Jesus the Divine Son of God …the one who can heal … who can produce thousands of meals from a few scraps of food. It also demonstrates the truth of Jesus’ identity. And it teaches the disciples a lesson about faith.

God often begins with what we have. Moses wanted a sign to take with him, God asked him what was already in his hand and then transformed it. A shepherd’s rod eventually parted the Red Sea!. What is it that we have in our hands that God could use if we would only have faith to put it to use? 

God is not intimidated by magnitude of our problem. The disciples saw the size of the need and the littleness of the human resources available. Jesus saw greatness of God’s resources available.

Sellers: We are not meant to be passive recipients of God’s grace, but to be active channels of his love. We do not come to Christ merely to be fed, but to feed others. That is a condition of our discipleship.

3. Open Our Eyes in Gratitude (Matthew 14:19)

Matthew 14:19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 

The Jewish grace before meals was very simple: “Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” That was the grace which every Jewish family used. (Barclay)

Jesus Gave Thanks. Jesus is giving thanks for God’s provision. Giving thanks for the faith that will increase? 

Barclay:  “The grace of gratitude is rare enough towards men; it is rarer still towards God.”

Are we grateful for opportunities to serve?

Conclusion

Disciples of Jesus want to view the world with His Eyes!  Compassion, Faith, Gratitude!

The result? Abundance (Matthew 14:20-21). The leftovers stress the lavish abundance of God’s miraculous power in Christ.

Matthew 14:20-21  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Sellers: Where we see scraps, he creates abundance. Where we see emptiness and depression, he creates fulfillment and boundless joy.

After healings and feedings Jesus once again goes up on the mountain by himself to pray.. Perhaps he thought about John’s death and grieve over the loss of his cousin. Perhaps he wept as he did at the grave of Lazarus.

Disciples of Jesus should always count to eight.  In this passage there are seemingly only seven things available to provide for the people – five loaves and two fish – but we should always count to eight. we should always count on Jesus, the one factor we can count on to provide our daily bread.  (O’Donnell)

In what ways do we need God to open our eyes today … to experience compassion, faith, and gratitude? To see His abundance demonstrated in the lives of those without?

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Resources

Barclay, William. Daily Bible Study Series, The Gospel of Matthew, part 2. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975.

Keener, Craig S. Matthew. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997.

Lose, David. The Real Miracles of the Story.

O’Donnell, Douglas Sean. Matthew. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013.

Sellers, David. The Bottomless Basket.

Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 1. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989.

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Leftovers that didn’t make it into the sermon, but are too good to discard!

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” ― Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison

“Jesus never found any man a nuisance, even when his whole being was crying out for rest and quiet – and neither must his followers.” Barclay

Like the original disciples when they fed a crowd that had over-stayed their leave, Jesus expects us to be loving, to be nurturing, especially to those who are inconvenient… the poor, the aged, the infirmed, the addicted.  … He is the bread of life. And in Christ, that life is abundant. The hungry crowd did not need to come back for seconds. They were filled to satisfaction and there was enough left over for doggy bags… twelve baskets worth. What a perfect analogy for God’s love. Out of scarcity comes the endless buffet, the bottomless basket. – David Sellers

Unquestionable Victory

Unquestionable Victory   Romans 8:26-39

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

 

Audio:

It was in a position of weakness and dependence that we started our journey of grace through Romans 5-8. No matter  how much we talk about how “grace increased all the more” (5:20) and being “dead to sin and alive to Christ” (6:11) we still face each day at Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am.  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death.” When we look in the mirror we find it hard to avoid the truth of who we really are when we examine our thoughts and our neglects. If your New Testament ended in Romans 7 then we would probably just need to admit that it’s hopeless. We’re still powerless.

That’s what makes Romans 8:1 so hard to embrace “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” This is our third Sunday in that great chapter and we should really visit it frequently. How does Paul get from a powerless and wretched man to someone who claims no condemnation and an unquestionable victory?

He was a good man and an active agent of the Kingdom, but that did not give him his victory. The news we all need to hear is that we are not going to experience victory because of our amazing goodness, but because God has put all of His efforts into saving us and He will be successful.

We have an unquestionable victory because …

1. The Spirit is Praying For Us (26-28)

There are amazing truths in this passage … insights we find nowhere else in Scripture.

 In the same way… The previous verses tell us we join with the creation that groans and awaits redemption … we await with hope for that which we do not have and cannot gain on our own. In the same way the Spirit helps…

The Spirit and Prayer

Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

1. The Spirit helps us in our weakness (26)

2. The Spirit intercedes when we do not know what we ought to pray for.

3. The Spirit prays with wordless groans (NRSV sighs too deep for words.)

4. The Spirit’s mind is known by the Father.

5. The Spirit intercedes in accordance with God’s will.

C. Five Principles of Intercessory Prayer

1. Pray for others in their weakness.

2. Pray for spiritual wisdom to be evident.

3. Pray without concern for the right words.

4. Pray with an appeal for God to act on what He knows

5. Pray using Scriptures and seeking God’s will.

The Spirit does these things perfectly – we do them as we are able.

And we know … this is all such a matter of faith – that when we pray as we ought that God responds.  

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Never let the connection of prayer disappear from this verse! 

…In all things (are these the things that trouble us so much that we do not know what to pray?)

… God works for the good of those who love him (God loves the world, but he notices those who love him)

…Called according to his purpose – responded to His call of grace.

We have an unquestionable victory because the Spirit is praying for us and sets so much into motion!

2. Because the Father Knows His Plan (29-30)

Romans 8:29-30 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Simply … God sees us struggle with sin, temptation, troubles. When we have trusted his grace, he is in action – justifying … even glorifying. Instead of ’what a wretched man I am’ God sees a called justified glorified soul conformed to the image of Jesus! It’s not just positive thinking, it’s positively assured of the work God is doing in our hearts.

3. Because Jesus has Died and Been Raised (31-36)

If God is for us, who can be against us? 

Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Have you ever known how much God is for you? Have you thought that he was indifferent … just dropped a book down for us to read and understand and if we get it good and if not too bad? God is FOR you. He paid an enormous price to justify and glorify you.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Because of Jesus the accuser cannot bring a charge against us. 

Romans 8:34-35 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 

If you ever felt alone in your prayers remember the Spirit and the Son are praying for you! Christ loves you with such strength that nothing can separate you from his love.  

Romans 8:35-36 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;  we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Conclusion: We are MORE than Conquerers. 

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

The message here isn’t that there is no war, no struggles, no pain, no heartache. – but that none of those things can separate us from the love of God! Today I encourage you to

Join with the Spirit in Prayer

Believe what the Father knows about you

Rely on the saving power of Jesus Every Day

Stand and pray a prayer from verses 38-39

Holy Spirit we appeal for your help,

For we often do not know how to pray.

Jesus we are comforted that you pray for us today.

Thank you for this word of assurance.

Neither death nor life

Will be able to separate us from your love

Neither angels nor demons

Will be able to separate us from your love

Neither the present nor the future nor any powers,

Will be able to separate us from your love

Neither height nor depth,

Will be able to separate us from your love

Nor anything else in all creation,

Will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May we take heart in the promises of Paul that we are never separated from you and your love for us, not even for an instant.

We pray this in the name of your Son. Amen.

 

No Condemnation

No Condemnation

Audio:

Introduction

Over the past few weeks we have been studying in Romans 5-8 with a focus on grace. Because of Grace… 

*We can have full assurance of our salvation. 

*We can be alive to God and dead to sin.

*We no longer live under the dominion of sin.

*We have been rescued from the war with sin in our lives.

Romans 8 is a high point not only of the book of Romans but of the Bible.  

John Stott wrote,  “Romans 8 is without a doubt one of the best-known, best-loved chapters of the Bible.” Clifton J. Allen wrote “Romans 8 is one of the most majestic and inspiring of all the peaks of divine revelation.” 

As a result of the work of Grace in our lives, we no longer live under condemnation. We have experienced the Grace Escape, and that is the best news for sinners like us. Romans 8 begins with an unbelievable promise! Because of grace we no longer live under condemnation. Within the good news of the first part of this chapter we have…

1. God’s Unbelievable Promise (Romans 8:1-4)

Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…

How believable is it that we live with no condemnation? Our conscience condemns us. The judgment of other believers condemns us. The judgment of the world condemns us. 

The promise of God here is freedom from bondage of sin. Free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. ).

Free from the sin of the flesh because of Jesus (Romans 8:3For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,  God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 

Free to live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.).

“In spite of the fact that the Christian is in a continuing struggle with the law of sin and in his members, there is no verdict of condemnation against him. There is no charge, no indictment, no judgment, no penalty – because he is ‘in Christ Jesus.'”  (Allen)

 “It is difficult to believe this good news, but it is not impossible to believe it. To believe it is to reorient one’s life toward a power greater than oneself.” (Greenhaw)

The Grace Escape from condemnation is not in our own power or goodness or strength, but in reliance on the power of Jesus Christ. The Grace of God changes the bad news of damnation into ‘no condemnation’ for those who follow Christ.

AMP: No guilty verdict, no punishment.

This is why the Gospel is “Good News”.

2. God’s Unbeatable Force: The Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-9)

When we follow the path of the Spirit we have an unquestionable victory. The operative word in this section is “Spirit”. It appears eleven times. 

“It is what Jesus’ followers receive when they are baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrected through the waters of baptism. The Spirit dwells in those baptized in Jesus’ name and keeps their minds on the things of God and life, rather than the ways of death.”  (Pogue)

“When people come to faith in Christ, they are immediately indwell by the Holy spirit. …This is the basis of the believer’s assurance.” (Osborne)

The Spirit-Led Life:

Set Your Mind on Spiritual Things. 

Roman 8:5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 

 “…Concentrate their attention on, and specialize in, whatever is dear to the Spirit.” (Hendriksen via Osborne)

Stott: It is a question of what preoccupies us, the ambitions which drive us, the concerns which engross us, how we spend our time and energies, what we concentrate on and give ourselves up to.

Find Life and Peace when Governed by the Spirit 

Romans 8:6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 

Peace with God, neighbors, within.

AMP: the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever.

CEB: the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace.

Enabled to Submit to God 

Romans 8:7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Are you hostile or submissive to God? Hostility: “…a fierce, active enmity toward all that God is and stands for. The entire mindset is directed against the things of God…” (Osborne)

Do we reject God’s will or embrace it?

Enabled to please God 

Romans 8:8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Outside of Christ we cannot please God. After all that God has done for us through His grace, are we centered on pleasing him? 

You are able because Spirit enables you

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 

“…Victory is only assured when the Spirit of Christ is in us and we yield to his presence.” (Osborne)

Conclusion

God has given an unbelievable promise: No Condemnation.

God Empowered us w/ an unbeatable force: The Holy Spirit

This addresses our ultimate question: our eternity. We recognize our bodies are wearing down. Because of Christ we have the promise of life after this life ends.

Romans 8:10-11 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

 “Because of his Spirit who lives in you.” 

There is “no condemnation” – not because we are perfect, or that we never struggle with sin –but because we live the Spirit-Led life: controlled by God’s spirit.


Resources:

Clifton J. Allen in Moser, The Gist of Romans

Blair Alison Pogue, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol. 3, p 235.

David Greenhaw, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol. 3, p 232.

Grant Osborne, Romans: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, p. 192-202.

John Stott, Romans: God’s Good News for the World, p. 227.

Other Quotes

Ask any alcoholic about the power of death, and if he or she can speak truth, the words will be about the living death they know. Ask any parent of a child who is dying from a devastating disease, and you will hear of the power of death to break a heart even before the child’s body gives up. However, events per is not enough when compared to the power of ‘the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead’. – David Greenhaw, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol. 3, p 232.

We are powerless over sin, which will inevitably lead us to death; but in the Spirit we have the possibility of life. Sin is still a daily possibility; God has not eliminated it from this world once and for all – not yet. However, a life of righteousness is also a possibility now, because of the Spirit’s power. As long as our minds are “on the flesh,” sin will drive us; but if our minds are set on the Spirit – our will and our lives are in God – then life is not only  possibility, but a promise. – Karen Chakoian, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol. 3, p 235.

“…Resurrection includes transformation, the raising and changing of our body into a new and glorious vehicle of our personality, and its liberation from all frailty, disease, pain, decay and death.” – Grant Osborne