The Lord bless you, and keep you [protect you, sustain you, and guard you]; The Lord make His face shine upon you [with favor], And be gracious to you [surrounding you with lovingkindness]; The Lord lift up His countenance (face) upon you [with divine approval], And give you peace [a tranquil heart and life].’
Key scripture and intro.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Many times Jesus would teach that his way was not always the way things were done in the world at large, things in his kingdom were different
Peace as far as Jesus concerned would not mean just the absence of conflict, but the kind of peace where nothing missing nothing broken. There was a coming trouble as Jesus was planned to prepare his disciples for what is coming, he says he is going away but not that this disturbs you, no fear as far as the peace of God is concerned,
Fear is a kind of way we can see the future, are we prepared for what is coming, as ultimately we know Jesus we know the way, the truth and the life, we know he has prepared a place for in his kingdom. Both now and not yet.
What is our perspective on peace?
What does a tranquil heart and life mean, often our view point or our values shows in how we react, two people can see the same painting and see something completely different
What about how Christ sees things, does our perspectives change our outcomes?
Or what effect does a negative perception change our circumstances, what constitutes peace from our point of view?
So Jesus sees things as different in his kingdom, the church is not meant to blend in but stand out like a shining beacon on a hill, a sustaining preserve and light that lights even the darkest of spaces.
After the sermon on the mount, which looks at changing our attitudes towards what constitutes kingdom thinking, Christ begins to set out ways in which we can access this kingdom
By the way we should consider reading this sermon often and allow the words of Christ to manifest in us. One example is from Matt 5.8
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
What matters is our heart, and what’s happening on the inside
It’s true that once our hearts are at peace internally, we can be free to love and be loved.
Just as love changes our perception, because when you are in love nothing, is too hard, nothing they do irritates you, yes it’s like the world is rose tinted.
Maybe it’s hard to live that way constantly, but it’s a choice to see things as God sees them, through the eyes of faith not naively but seeing with faith hope and love.
Our prayer is “open the eyes of my heart Lord, and let me see things through your eyes, with your compassion, with your patients and with your kindness.
My first point is
1. Seek first the kingdom
When Jesus teaches on prayer he urges is to put things in order.
Christ’s teaching is that we are to be thoughtful in our priorities, putting Christ, his kingdom and right living always in first place
So once our lives are ordered properly then, it’s not about how much we can gain but how much we want to share with others the good news of what it truly means to be part of the kingdom of God and perhaps then we can see clearly to help others. Certainly we can be influencers for good and for right living.
This right perspective means that we are living towards a higher purpose, life becomes more than just eat, work, sleep.
Living with purpose mitigates against the suffering as when we have purpose, direction and focus, especially towards the highest ideal brings peace to our hearts.
Knowing that we are in the right place and the right time, not out in the unknown, like we have been dropped in a foreign jungle at midnight where we would be increasing anxious at every strange noise, but not just completely comfortable in the predictable and safe, we need some adventure and purpose stretching one foot into the ‘what has God for me today’
So how does having a focus on the kingdom and his righteousness mean we have peace.
Matthew 6 Jesus continues...
“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.”
Often if we are blaming others for our lack of peace perhaps we say, if only I had a better car, house, more money, more ice cream, then I would be satisfied.
Perhaps seeking first the kingdom allows our focus to shift off what we think will make us happy, maybe it’s not even happiness we seek, maybe we are seeking something what would make us less anxious.
What is it that we lack?
How do we feel if we are constantly in a state of lack, always wanting never satisfied?
This song comes to mind...
Light in my darkness
Peace for my soul
You are my rescue
You never let go
All my hope is in You
All my strength is in You
With every breath
My soul will rest in You
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. Regardless of our season in life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8),
God teaches us to find internal peace in Jesus (John 14:27, John 16:29-33, Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:14-15, and Colossians 3:15).
The issues of lack was common theme in the life of a rich young ruler, (Luke 18) always striving, and trying to be the best he could, coming to Jesus as in all his own efforts, yet he still didn’t know if what he was doing was enough.
The law is like those people are so hard to please you can bend over backwards for them and still come up short, anyway he comes to Jesus looking for the answer, looking to be justified, but he went away sad.
Being rich in things and always striving doesn’t make us happy, it just seems to increase our lack of satisfaction, this is like a form of lust or envy comparing ourselves with others, someone always has something better than us and it keeps us wanting more.
Paul wrote I have learned to live with a little and with a lot, yet I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, perhaps we will only know true satisfaction when all is stripped away and we are still fulfilled.
Contrasting little Zach from Jericho he was also rich, but not satisfied read Luke 19
You know the story begins with an invitation and how it ends with “Salvation has come to this house”
Recognising he needed to be with Jesus more than he needed things brought true salvation to his house.
My next point is this
2. God is the initiator of peace
Proclaim this message the angels told the shepherds ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all humankind’. In other words ‘The war is over, heaven invades earth what was once lost has now been found. Christ purpose is expressed in his talk with little Zach,
I came to seek and save that which was lost.
As we have mentioned before it is when we position ourselves for the blessing, we love God’s keeping, his boundaries and we begin to shine in his presence, we begin to align our lives, order our steps and walk forthrightly,
It is then we begin to see that God has taken the initiative to make peace with us, it is then upon us to get ourselves into a place of peace, to work out our salvation, the. we begin to have hope where we didn’t see it before. we see what God can act on our behalf when we walk with him.
It’s true that sometimes our circumstances are beyond our control, and yes things have a habit of going from bad to worse by themselves for no reason but it’s true that often things go wrong, as we are not focused, we are lost, without hope and without Christ.
A woman at a party approaches a well renowned psychologist for some free advice, looking to find the source of her problems. She said “I hope I can find something wrong with me” this surprised the psychologist but she continued, if there is someone that I can fix it I’ll be thrilled, but if the problem is the world at large, then I have no hope at all.”
Often people think it’s easy to blame the world, the culture the society and it removes them from responsibility and focus on the problem that is always out there.
If the peace of our hearts is dependent on things beyond our control then we can give up, we can demonstrate and protest and post on social media, or we can sort out our own lives.
Jesus would advise us to deal with the log in our own eye rather than always being the speck inspector, while pretending we have it all together and focusing on others as the cause of our failures.
It begins with us fixing what we can fix, stop lying to ourselves and others, putting right what we can, seek first, be humble, submit to God by walking before him and seeking justice for the oppressed.
So God initiates peace for us, God is longing to share his rest with us,
Psalm 62.1 “truly my soul finds rest in God alone, He is the rock of my salvation”
We long for the God kind of peace, as the world often has a misguided way of thinking peace comes through weapons of mass destruction.
But the God kind of peace that goes beyond our natural understanding, in other words, keeping your peace even when circumstances are telling us the opposite
Peace of mind, a tranquil life. A heart at rest,
How does God Initiate peace of heart, it’s when he wants to be in your life,
Christ says ‘Behold I stand a door and knock.’
God initiated first contact. The love he has for us bids us to come to him, the longing he has for us is for us to gather with Him.
My final point and to close is about having peace of heart means that we are prepared for whatever life throws at us.
3. Being Fully equipped
Knowing what it means to be equipped and ready certainly brings us to a place of peace.
Paul says to the church in Ephesus ‘Put on the full armour of God’
Part of this is the metaphorical shoes, these are the ones that are called ‘gospel of peace’ meaning we have good news that equips us and we are ready for the day.
Being secure in our thinking that we have salvation
Righteousness protecting our hearts
Prayed up ready with the word of a God.
Holding steady, knowing we have faith for the day and being wrapped in truth
Don’t underestimate the power of the truth, as knowing the truth is freedom, people don’t tell the truth thinking they are avoiding pain, however where people can get wrapped up in lies it only brings hurt.
The gospel is the gospel of peace, and it will take you places you never dreamed it would, stepping out with confidence with direction, your steps ordered by the lord.
Put on the full armour of God and When we have done all to stand stand
Being fully prepared Knowing you have righteousness salvation, peace grace, truth faith and the word of God makes you stand tall.
(Example of the gladiator movie) ‘stand together and we are ready for whatever comes through those gates’
“Now may the God of peace [the source of serenity and spiritual well-being] who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood that sealed and ratified the eternal covenant, equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you [making you complete and perfect as you ought to be], accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21 AMP