Is your life ever marked by stress or anxiety? If so, what do you do in order to find relief? As we continue our series, “This is the Life,” John Elmore teaches us about external peace, eternal peace, and internal peace.
Leadership: Part 2
Righteousness: Part 2
Righteousness: Part 1
Is your life ever marked by stress or anxiety? If so, what do you do in order to find relief? As we continue our series, “This is the Life,” John Elmore teaches us about external peace, eternal peace, and internal peace.
Peace: An untroubled heart that comes from trusting God.
Shalom: completeness, wholeness, soundness of body, soul and mind.
Peace is mentioned 429 times in the Bible; it’s been a felt-longing ever since Genesis 3.
Peace is not dependent on external circumstances, but on an eternal God who gives internal peace.
We are prone to buy the lie that we can get peace from external circumstances (money, home, relationships, job, health, etc.). These very things—the things we think will give us peace—are the highest causes of stress in our lives.
Like a fly is drawn to that which decays, when we seek peace from external circumstances we worship the false idols of: Pleasures, Treasures, and Measures.
Eternal life gives you eternal perspective. Eternal perspective gives peace despite external circumstances.
Jesus: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Where is your kingdom?
Eternal peace and perspective doesn’t necessarily mean having internal peace…you can be saved and still be a completely stressed out wreck.
Internal Peace: Unshakable peace from Prayer, Perspective, Practice, People, and Presence—despite all external circumstances.
Don’t believe everything you think. Think everything you believe.
Remember, peace is a fruit of the Spirit, not from you or your circumstances.
Hey, y'all. Welcome again to Watermark. My name is John Elmore. I serve here at the Dallas campus within re:generation. So just recently it was my brother's birthday, so he took me out to eat. Who does that on their own birthday? Treat somebody else? My brother is very generous. He takes me to this nice Dallas restaurant.
I've never been there before. I pull into the parking lot. He was like, "You could miss it. Pull in. It'll be there on your right." I pull into the parking lot, and I parked my car. I was like, "Dude, when I come back, my car will not be here. They're going to tow it just for bringing down the average." It was a nice place.
I walk inside. Nice building, nice-looking people. They're dressed in nice clothes. They're serving nice food. Everything was nice. It was a quintessential Dallas place. We have our birthday dinner. Then afterwards we're sitting on the back patio having a cold TopoChico. This guy walks up to our table and sits down and says, "Mind if I join you guys?"
I was like, "Uh, you already have, so that's a rhetorical question. You're sitting here. Did I mention it was his birthday? Because we're not here to talk…" He's like, "Mind if I turn on the TV?" I was like, "What are you doing right now?" He has his highball glass that he is stirring. This is totally Dallas, too.
He says, "So what do you guys do for money?" Which is such a… I'm like, how about, "What's your name? How are you today? Is it your birthday?" Anything but, "What do you do for money?" as if that sums up my whole existence. So I'm just like throwing it back at him. I was like, "I work with addicts."
He was like, "Attics?" I think he thinks I mean like roof. Like, "Oh, storm chaser. Like you fix hailstorm? Oh, business is good." I was like, "No, addicts. Like addicts and alcoholics. I'm a recovering alcoholic so now I get to help other people who are struggling with various things. Everybody is struggling with something." Awkward pause. Stirring his high ball glass. It's like, "And?"
He goes, "You know what? You need to talk to a friend of mine." I was like, "I'd love to talk to a friend of yours. About what?" He was like, "Man, that guy, he just can't put it down. He has a real problem. He can't put the stuff down. It's ruining his life. You need to talk to him." I was like, "I'd love to. I'll give you my number. I'd be happy to connect. That would be my joy." He goes, "Let me ask you one thing. If you could give one simple piece of advice to somebody about drinking too much, what would it be?"
At that point in time I'm like, "Okay, I see the little sleight of hand there. We're not talking about your friend. We're talking about you." I was like, "Well, why do you drink?" He was like, "Let me tell you something. I hate how this stuff makes me feel. I hate what it does to my life. I hate what it does to my marriage. It's just wrecking everything, yet I can't stop." I was like, "I know. So why do you do it?"
He was like, "By 10 a.m., I can't take the pressure and the stress, and it's just surmounting. I look around me, and it's the only thing that will give me a little bit of relief." I was like, "So it's peace. You're drinking because you want peace, right?" He's like, "Yeah, I guess that sums it up. So what do I do? How do I get rid of that?"
I was like, "Well, if you just stop drinking, all I've done is taken away your peace. Like if there's a crying baby and I take away the pacifier, I didn't fix anything. I just made the problem worse." He was like, "Yeah, so what do you do?" I was like, "You have to replace the peace. You have to replace it…with one thing."
He goes, "Well, what's that one thing? Exercise?" I go, "No, no, it's not exercise. That's not going to hurt anything, but it's not exercise. It's Jesus." Awkward pause. He was like, "Do you know what? I had a friend. He was a big drinker, and he said the exact same thing. He is now the happiest guy in the world after that. He doesn't cram Jesus down your throat, but yeah, he says that Jesus changed everything and now gave him joy."
I was like, "It's true. It's true. He did for me. He will for you. It is true, but he is the one who can give you peace. I can't just take away your peace. I have to replace your peace. You see, your alcohol is a poisonous pleasure. It's giving you peace, but it's a false imitation of peace. It's fleeing. It's life-taking instead of life-giving. It's immediate, but it's not lasting. Jesus will be lasting and life-giving and give you peace without pain."
He was like, "Oh, that sounds good. So what do I do?" We continued the conversation. My brother was sharing with him too, saying, "Okay, this life is a blink, it's a blur. You need to listen. This is true." We got to have an incredible evening sharing with that. The reason why I shared that with you is because I think every single one of us, self included foremost, is searching for peace. We're grasping for peace in this broken, fallen, stressful, troublesome world. We're all looking and longing for peace.
God says really clearly in his Word where it is found. As we continue the This Is the Life series, what I thought as I walk into that restaurant I'm like, "This is the life. The looks like the life." God has been kind to remind me, "No, no, no, no. It's not found out there. It's found here and in me."
So starting for the This Is the Life series as we talk about where that life is found, life that is truly life, Proverbs, chapter 3, verses 1 through 2. It says this. "My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." In verse 17 of chapter 3, it says that all wisdom's paths are pleasantness and peace, "…and all her paths [lead to] peace." The personification of wisdom.
We know that Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. In the Scriptures, God gives himself the title the God of Peace. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. God gives peace, yet we look for it in vain in this world. There's an indictment against America. Let's talk about causing you stress. There's an organization, a government entity, called The American Institute of Stress. Are you kidding me? That causes me stress that my tax money is going to The American Institute of Stress.
The reason why it actually exists is because seven out of 10 Americans are chronically struggling with stress. Not in an isolated scenario. Not like, "Oh, I had a rough day at work. I kind of have a stressful time in my marriage," but like chronic stress. So much so that not only do they have stress, but seven out of 10 have a chronic physical or psychological symptom that they are living with because of their stress.
Our world is wracked by stress. Here's what the common things that they say stress creates: chronic fatigue, headaches, stomach trouble, and muscle tension, which sounds like the flu. If you have stress, you're just living with the flu 24/7/365, plus anxiety and trouble and anger. That's what we get with stress. We all know it. Stress is not foreign to any single one of us. We are looking for peace.
God tells us where it's found. In the This Is the Life series, we know that the example and the source is Jesus. That from his Word, as the Proverbs say, that all the teachings of Scripture lead to peace. "…and all [wisdom's] paths are peace." We can know for certain that Jesus was the perfect example of peace, that Prince of Peace, and he is the source of peace that we are looking for, not found in external but rather in internal peace despite our circumstances.
To cite Jesus as the example of peace, I want to read to you 1 Peter 2:23. It says, "…and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering [when he was on the cross] , He uttered no threats…" He instead said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." Even as they crucified him, he spoke peace over his persecutors.
The reason why is it says, "…but kept entrusting Himself to Him [God the Father] who judges righteously…" The Prince of Peace was looking to the God of Peace, the heavenly Father who judges justly; therefore, he had peace even as he suffered persecution. He is not only an example of perfect peace, of the This Is the Life, but rather he is also the source.
He is the wellspring of that peace that we can have despite all the stress and anxieties that we face. He is our source of peace. It says in John 16:33, Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace." Now he doesn't say you will have peace. He says you may have peace. Meaning, "It is available to you through me, Jesus."
You may have it. Right before that in John 15:5, he says, "Abide in Me, and I in you. ...he bears much fruit..." One of those being the fruit of the Holy Spirit, peace. "…in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
Peace is mentioned 429 times in the Scriptures…429 times. It is a thematic example of the wise life, the This Is the Life, the life of the believer. Peace mentioned 429 times. Yet, in the Proverbs from where we are springboarding this entire series, it's only mentioned four times. Now if it could be such an incredible theme of the Christian life, peace, 429 times in the Scriptures, yet only mentioned four times in the Proverbs, that's a curious thing.
Why so few times in the Proverbs? Having looked at it, I believe that this is the reason. It's because where peace is found is very few. Where peace is lost is many. There are many, many ways that we lose peace, through stress and anxiety and worry and fretfulness and lust and sloth and gluttony and drunkenness and greed and pride.
All the different ways that we lose peace are many, but where it is found is few. So just four mentions of peace in the Proverbs. As a little setup for today, I want to share this. Peace is not dependent on external circumstances. No matter what is swirling around you, peace is not dependent on your external circumstances, but rather on an eternal God who gives internal peace.
Here's where we're going today as one that the world tells us to find external peace through our situations. That we can find external peace through our situations. God says, "You will find eternal peace through him alone, Christ alone, in salvation." Because of that, we can have internal peace of our consolation through Christ. The world says, "External peace." There is a God of eternal peace who gives us internal peace. That's where we're going today.
So as we begin with external peace. External peace. The world would say there is peace to be found. Outside of God, it would offer peace to you through various things: women, money, pleasure, men, relationships, status, education, your savings account, retirement account, and whatever it might be. It will say there are ways to get peace through your external circumstances.
Yet I would say, because the Bible would say, that is a unicorn, that's a mirage, it's fraudulent, and you will never, ever find it no matter how much you have. Welcome to Watermark, and I will be your motivational speaker today. You will try in vain. Let me give you a few examples from outside of the Bible.
Rolling Stone interviewed Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt, who has wealth beyond measure, fame beyond measure, women… Sexiest man alive. All the different things. I have like one abdominal muscle. He has like 12. I don't know how it happens, but he has everything, right? Yet he says to Rolling Stone… They said, "So what is it, you know? A guy like you has it all figured out."
He said something like, "I don't. I don't have it all figured out. Let me tell you something. I have everything, yet I have this congenital sadness, a haunting sadness," Because he was like, "I have all the external circumstances that would scream that I would have peace, yet I have sadness." In case you dismiss that, you're like, "Uh, he's kind of a melodramatic weird actor. 12 Monkeys. Kind of a weird dude."
I don't know about Brad Pitt, anyway. He is not the beacon of peace, so let me just toss out a few others who kind of could put their fingertips on everything. Kate Spade, Prince, Michael Jackson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger… We can keep going down the line of the wealthiest, most famous people who could have their fingertips on anything they want, yet they all lacked peace.
Let's go back to the Bible because Solomon was the wisest man alive, the wealthiest man alive, yet he himself said, "I had entertainment, I had buildings, I had women, I had servants, my servants had servants, I had alcohol and pleasure and music, I had everything, and at the end of the day I was left with despair of life without God."
It screams that our peace is not found in external circumstances, yet we think that it would be. I myself am like, "Well if I had more money, I wouldn't have trouble. If I didn't have the stress of daily life, then I wouldn't have… I would have peace. If I was always healthy and my kids were always healthy and my wife was always healthy, and if everybody in my family was always healthy, then I would have peace."
Let me sum that up for you in a memorable phrase. Health, wealth, and happiness. Health, wealth, and happiness. Does that sound familiar? Because those are the promised fruits of the prosperity gospel. So when I think that I can get peace from my external circumstances do you know what I'm actually saying? That what I want is the prosperity gospel.
I want Jesus plus, not just Jesus. He is not enough. It is not well with my soul. I want health, wealth, and happiness, which is a sick confession to myself because I renounce the prosperity gospel in my orthodoxy. In my beliefs, I renounce the prosperity gospel, yet in my life, I lust for the prosperity gospel.
Truth be told, in my daily life, that's what I'm longing for. If I get a migraine, it wrecks my day. If I get a big bill, it wrecks my day. Which just says that my life, what I actually want, what my flesh wants is the prosperity gospel, which is such an indictment of me that if I had more money, health, or wealth…
That's what it is to look for peace in external circumstances. They're not found there. Here's what the New Testament promises. The New Testament does not promise health and wealth and happiness. Instead, what the New Testament promises…get this…is suffering, trials, persecution, tribulation, affliction, and death. That's like super-positive and motivating, right?
Those are the promises of the New Testament, which is totally antithetical to the prosperity gospel. Yet God says in that also the other thing that he promises is peace. If that's the case…trial, tribulation, suffering, affliction, persecution, and loss, and he promises peace…then those promises are not mutually exclusive, which screams that peace is not found in external circumstances.
Which is a really helpful reminder to me, and I think all of us, because that's where my flesh wants to go. In 1 Timothy 6:6-8 it says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."
"But godliness with contentment is great gain…" It says in James 1, "Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds…" It says in 1 Peter 1 that these trials that you have faced for a little while have been given that the proving of your faith might result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus is revealed. So I think about this like a blacksmith. If a blacksmith takes that piece of iron and just leaves it in the cool of the water the whole time, nothing changes. It just stays the same.
If instead, he takes it and puts it in the furnace of affliction and then hammers out those rough spots to shape it…not to destroy it, but to shape it… What doesn't feel like peace is actually God bringing about character and steadfastness and perseverance. He is at work in that. What feels like a lack of peace is actually God flipping it on end and creating something in you. But in this world he does give us peace throughout. He gives it to us as gifts.
It's not that we're sadists and we're always just going to suffer and be in trials and sorrows and tribulation. He gives us these graces in the moment. He does take us from the anvil and the furnace of affliction. He will put us in the cool of water and give us these little graces. It's when we try to make the graces our gods that we get into trouble.
C.S. Lewis says this. "Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns…" Meaning a stay for the night. We're journeying homeward. We're going toward heaven, the city that never ends where we will reside forever with God. It's a stay for the night, not forever, for the night. It's a pleasant inn. He gives us a pleasant inn. "…but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."
Nobody lives forever at a hotel. You visit a hotel as you're going on your way. We mistake those graces that he gives us for temporal peace. We're like, "Man, I just want to stay here. I want to stay in that place of peace with my external circumstances, because right now all is right in my world." God's like, "No, you're not meant to stay there. You're journeying homeward."
So I think about it like this. I'm going to show you a picture of one of my favorite things up on the screen. It's not sangria, in case you're like, "Dude, I thought you gave up drinking!" It's a fruit fly trap. I'm going to help you. There's a little pro tip if fruit flies are driving you crazy. You take some vinegar. You put the fruit in it. You cover it with saran wrap. You poke holes in it with toothpicks.
The fruit flies are drawn to that which decays. They're going to get the fruit, and they go in through the little holes and then once they've had their fill on that fruit, they can't get back out. They die in their object of affection, because they're drawn to that which decays, which is really entertaining with small children to watch the fruit flies bounce off the ceiling until they die.
We do the same. We do the exact same thing because these gifts that God gives us as little graces and inns along the way, we try to make them ultimate. We try to live there. We try to go in. Once we go in to feast upon them, we can't get out because idols enslave us and keep us. Then we also die in the object of our affection because they were never meant to be ultimate. They were just meant to be a little gift as we journey home. You will never find your peace in your external circumstances.
You can't find it, so you have to find eternal peace. If you can't find peace from external circumstances, let's find it eternally, eternal peace. The way that you will find that is through Christ alone. Period. I told my friend as we were sitting on that table in the patio… I quoted Augustine to him. I said, "…our heart is restless until it finds its rest in [him]."
I said, "Look, you're finding this false imitation, peace, in alcohol. You're going to be restless. You're going to be searching for it in the bottle and in the money and in the status and in everything else that this world will offer you until you find your rest in him. You were made for him. "…for in Him we live and move and [have our being] …" That's Acts, chapter 17. You're going to try in vain until you find your eternal peace in him.
It says in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death…" What you get because of sin is death. Death in this life and death forever and the next in a very real place called hell. Every single person who lives will spend eternity in one of two places. When they come to the fork in the road of death, they will spend eternity in hell or heaven. It all hinges upon sin and what you do with it. If you do nothing with it, eternity forever in hell separated from God and everything good. Don't think you'll be there with your friends. You will be there tormented forever.
God doesn't leave us there in that problem, because he loves you. He is not mad at you. He longs for you to be reconciled to him so that he can rescue you from hell in this life and forever in the next. The verse continues, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God…" It is a free gift. You can't earn it. You can't work your way for it. You can't good-deed your way up to it. It is a free gift, and all you must do is receive it."
When my brother took me to that nice dinner, I wasn't like, "Okay, well, I'll mow your yard tomorrow." He would've said, "Dude, you're crazy. It's a gift. I just want to buy you a dinner. It's a gift." All I needed to do was receive it. It's the same with Jesus. He is offering you salvation. He died for your sins and rose from the dead, showing that he was not just a man or a prophet or a preacher/teacher, but rather he was the Son of God, God in the flesh, sent to die for the sins of the world and then raised again to show that he was God in the flesh.
"…the free gift of God is eternal life…" In this life and forever in the next. The verse continues, "…in Christ Jesus our Lord." Meaning, there are not many paths up the mountain. Salvation is found in one person: Jesus Christ. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12.
It is Jesus. It's not Allah. Allah is not just, because he would have to deal with your sin. In Islam it says, "Well, if your good deeds outweigh your bad, then you'll make it into heaven." That's not the case. Your bad deeds have to be dealt with or you can't be in the presence of God. Therefore, that is a false teaching.
In Hinduism, it's not Vishnu. You don't live a good life and then you'll progress into a better life in the next until finally you reach this epitome of godhood with reincarnation until you get better and better by your good-deeding. It doesn't happen in Buddhism. It doesn't happen in Jehovah's Witness or Mormonism, which is Jesus plus good works. It's only through the forgiveness of sins of Jesus. He is the One. He is the Prince of Peace who will give you eternal peace to where you can find, as Jesus says, rest for your soul. He will give you eternal peace and he alone.
I told my buddy on that back patio, I said, "Hey, look. What I've told you is true." He said, "Yeah, I've heard it before." I said, "Then when you're alone, when you're alone, considering what I've said, you just pray this, 'Jesus, I am a sinner. Save me.'" That's it. It's not complicated. It's the forgiveness of sins through Jesus. "Jesus, I'm a sinner. Save me."
I would imagine there is someone in here who needs to pray that prayer today because they don't know where their eternity is headed. Maybe you think you'll get there because of good works. "Jesus, I'm a sinner. Save me." You will find eternal peace. That eternal peace gives you eternal perspective which will help you navigate through all the external circumstances of life which are just pounding against you with stress and trouble and strife.
Which is why Jesus said to Pilate, even as they were offering him over to be executed, "My kingdom is not of this world." Pilate was trying to say, "Hey, I can let you off the hook if you'll kneel, kiss the ring, and agree to play right with the Pharisees. I can let you off." He was saying, "No, no, no. I have eternal perspective. I came to lay my life down to save the world from sin. My kingdom is not of this world. Do you think that this is why I've come? I've come to lay my life down."
He had an eternal perspective and, therefore, could walk right through the midst of the most horrific of circumstances: crown of thorns, tear out his beard, crucified between criminals. It's why Paul could have eternal perspective. Paul was stoned and beaten and whipped and shipwrecked and went naked and cold and without.
Paul had a really wreck of a life. He lacked circumstantial peace. He was blind for three days when he saw Jesus. Paul went through some messed up stuff. Yet as he speaks about all that he suffered, he calls it light and momentary. Now I read Paul's biography, and I'm like, "Dude, that is anything but light and momentary. It sounds hellacious."
He said the reason he could call it that is because he had eternal perspective because God caught him up. He says, "…whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know… [I saw] Paradise…which a man is not permitted to speak." Because he glimpsed heaven, as a result he could call these things light and momentary. He says in 2 Corinthians 4, "So we do not lose heart." Meaning, "I don't lose my peace."
"Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen…" External circumstances, those trials and strife and loss. "…but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient…" They're fading. They're passing away. They won't last forever. They're light and momentary in view of eternity. "…but the things that are unseen are eternal."
Which is why the author of Hebrews can say, "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." Now I am not heavenly-minded. My flesh pulls to the things of this world on a daily basis. It says in Galatians 5, "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please."
I can testify to that. I had a buddy… Because I don't live with eternal perspective, I had a buddy of mine make a sign to put in our house. It's this sign. It says, "This home ain't home." Not because I'm so awesome that I'm always eternally-minded with an eternal perspective, but because I need to be reminded daily because I'm awful that I need to have that eternal perspective right in front of me every day, "This home ain't home." I'm not living for this world, for money, or health, or happiness. I'm living for my King. I'm going homeward.
I need that reminder daily that, "This home ain't home." I think I'm not the only one. The reason why I tell you that is just because you have eternal peace with God, if you've surrendered your life to Jesus, if you said, "Jesus, save me. I'm a sinner," and you have a new life, not a better life, a new life, you've been given eternal peace with an eternal perspective, but guess what? This world is hard and draws us offsides all the time. Just because you have eternal peace, salvation forever in the next, does not necessarily mean that you have internal peace in the here and now.
I can testify to that because I told Laura just this past week… I was like, "I feel like such a fraud that I'm going to teach Peace this week. I feel like a fraud because, frankly, for the last month, my life has been marked by anything but peace. How can I stand up there and tell them about peace?" Let me just paint a picture for you of the last month for us.
We were buying a house, which is super-stressful, and selling a house, which is super-stressful. By the way, when you sell a house, you have to get it ready to show to people. We have a 5-, 3-, and 1-year-old who like to paint our walls with peanut butter and make it smell like diapers. So good luck trying to prepare your house. Talk about a lack of peace. You get a one-hour notification, "Someone is coming to see your house." You're like, "Panic!" and clean everything. Don't open the closet.
Our family got the flu. We went to the doctor, and they're like, "Well, the flu hasn't hit Dallas yet, but you tested positive for both A and B strains." We were patient zero to bring the flu to Dallas. You're welcome. The air conditioner went out in my car. For three weeks straight, I didn't have time to get it fixed. Before the cold front hit, I'm driving down 75 in 100-degree heat, like shouting into my phone. Total lack of peace.
Then with the home inspection, they were like, "It turns out you have a leak in your house." I'm like, "We do not have a leak in our house." Then our plumber came out. He was like, "You have a leak in your house." I was like, "Really? How bad is it?" He told me, "It's bad." We're going to have to get that fixed. Talk about lack of peace. He gave me the estimate. I was like, "Oh, Laura, so here's the thing. We're going to pay the plumber's mortgage…God has seen fit…for the next half of a year." Anything but peace.
Then with this message. Todd gave us the opportunity to pick one of the subjects from the Proverbs, like peace, faith, obedience, or whatever. I was like, "Oh, I'll take peace." It was scheduled for November. Then he sent an email last week, "Scheduling change. Hey, who can do this weekend?" I was like, "Dude, I can't. I'm not teaching Peace right now in the midst of all this chaos. No!"
Then one guy was like, "I'm visiting my daughter at college." One guy was like, "I'm out of town." I'm like, "Oh no. Oh no. Oh no." I'm just watching the email thread. I'm like, "No, no, no, no, no!" I was like, "Laura, can I teach Peace this weekend?" She was like, "Well, you can, but I'm out of town for the weekend, so you'll have all the kids." I was like, "I can't teach Peace with you out of town!" The irony.
But it's because God was like, "No, I will sovereignly and providentially have you teach Peace right now, because you yourself, of all people, need to be reminded that peace is not found in your external circumstances no matter if it's health or wealth or if your money is literally going down the drain." God was kind to remind me, "Your peace is found in me. You will have internal peace through me and me alone."
We get internal peace by prayer. My whole week shifted about Wednesday because finally the truths, as I was preparing this message, started to make their way down from my mind into my heart. Laura was like, "How are you doing with the stress?" Because on Wednesday night, I'm literally sitting on my couch, head in my hands, and my prayer (This is a terrible prayer, but maybe that's better sometimes, right?). All I could pray was, "God, I have nothing. You have to help me. I have nothing."
I think that's exactly what he wanted. It was like, "You're right. You're right. I have everything so just ask. Quit trying to do it on your own. I'll give you internal peace." And he did. It all shifted when I started applying what I was supposed to preach. Go figure. Internal peace.
There's a picture on the screen of this guy carrying this crazy amount of weight of cans. That's how I felt for the last month. That guy doesn't just cruise around with cans. He is taking them somewhere. He is taking them to be melted down to receive something precious in exchange. Right? By collecting cans, he is going to get money in exchange.
That is exactly how God says internal peace comes. He tells us in Philippians, chapter 4, verse 6. He is like, "You give me your pressures. Quit carrying around all that weight. Give them to me by prayer, and I will give you peace. You're not meant to carry all that stuff. Lay it down, by prayer, and I'll give you peace."
"Do not be anxious about anything, but…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." All that weight just…boom! "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding…" The world will be like, "How do you have peace right now with all your circumstances? Your swirling hurricane of circumstances? How do you have peace?" "…which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." What an incredible exchange. Pressures for peace by prayer. Internal peace by prayer.
There's also internal peace frompractice. As it said from the Proverbs that we studied earlier that wisdom's ways are peace and that when the heart keeps the commandments of God, it brings peace so there is internal peace from practice. This past weekend, we were at my in-law's land. They bought this toy for the kids.
My father-in-law was like, "Hey, you and me. We're going out to the garage. We're going to put this thing together." I walk into the garage and there are all these parts strewn across the floor. This was the instruction manual. I was like, "Dude, you've got to be kidding me. That's anything but peace. Like what are you doing to me right now?"
I'm trying to put this thing together, and no joke… I like to think I'm slightly mechanically inclined, like I can fix some things. When I put this thing together on the table, I lift it up, I put it on the ground, and no joke, the back wheels are not even touching the ground. The kids are like, "Can we ride it?" They're fussing. I'm cussing (in my mind).
I was like, "No, you can't ride it! I don't know why the wheels aren't touching the ground." I had to put it back on. I'm frustrated. I go back to the instructions, which were in French, by the way. I'm looking at the instructions, and I'm looking at the parts. Then I look at the instructions. I have to literally study them. When I did and I applied, I practiced, what I saw, it all made sense. Then I got this picture (three kids riding on a John Deere tractor toy). Peace. Kids are happy. Yeah, aww.
It was the most frustrating thing in the world. How dare you? They're happy. What about me? When we practice, it brings internal peace. When we do what God says, by his power not your own. Don't just be some Pharisee do-gooder. They did it, but they did it without God so God called them sons of hell. When you practice this, by the Spirit, with his power, it brings peace. Not my idea. Philippians 4:9: "The things you have learned and received…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." If you do this, God will be with you.
Then there's an internal peace from people. Also this past week amidst all that stress, I sent a text to my Community Group, to Mike and Shane. I'm like, "Guys, I have to tell you. I'm just really discouraged. The finances and pressure with kids and the schedule. I feel like I'm just getting hammered. I'm discouraged."
Just so ironic in preparing to teach peace, but so appropriate, because Mike responds back with really good counsel. He was like, "Hey, let me help you. Here's how we can navigate through this with biblical principles." Shane responds back, and he was like, "Hey, God has this. He is reminding me that it is not yours to carry."
So there's internal peace from people. There is internal peace from the people of God. Community. Again, not my idea. Philippians 4:9. Paul says, "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me…" What he spoke and his living example. "…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Internal peace from prayer, from practice, and from the people of God.
Do you remember the guy who I'm telling about, "You'll be restless until you find your rest in him?" I'm like, "You're trying to find peace in alcohol." Man, I was trying to find peace in my external circumstances too. "If I just had more money. If my kids weren't sick. If my schedule wasn't so crazy."
I don't think I'm the only one, because looking out at all of your faces, I know. Some of you right now, you just heard the word inoperable. You just heard, "Stage four." You just buried somebody. You have a child who is prodigal. You just got served papers. You have school loan and debt. You just got the estimate for the repairs also. Your car, you're like, "I wish I had a car that was broken. I don't even have a car."
You have the stressors and pressures and have all those external circumstances, but do you know what you have like me? You have eternal peace through Jesus, the eternal Word of God, and you can have internal peace from the Prince of Peace no matter what. No matter what, because his promises never fail. So let's be reminded of that. Let me pray.
Father, I pray that you would lead us into peace because you're the God of Peace. In this world, we will have trouble. That's a promise. We know it. We walk in it. We feel it. There is so much trouble, Lord. Yet you say you're the Prince of Peace, the God of Peace, the fruit of the Spirit is peace.
We're just declaring right now that we need you and what you alone can provide: rest for our souls. That you would give us the peace that surpasses understanding in the midst of the trouble and the strife. Whether we are in the highlands or the valley of the heartache, you are our peace. We don't sing this song in vain. We don't sing it as wishful thinking. We renounce the prosperity gospel, and we proclaim the true gospel that in you alone there is peace.