By Thomas Lindberg
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Still another 31,482 Americans last year decided they had all they could handle. They were convinced no one and nothing could help them, so they took their own life. Yes, there's a lack of peace in our lives.
Yet people continue to search for peace. Last week I got on the internet and typed in the words "personal peace." I was curious how many sites give information on that topic. Do you know how many there were? More than 300,000! Yes, people are on a mad search for peace.
Is it possible to enjoy real, lasting peace? If so, where can it be found? I believe
Those words are some of the most profound in all of literature. They are so simple, yet so true. They are so old (about 2,700 years old), yet millions of people have experienced the reality of those words. Let's think together about three things.
First, let's think about the Keeper. The first three words of that verse are "You will keep." That refers to no one else but God Almighty. He is the Keeper. Go a little further with me and explore two things about the Lord, who is our Keeper.
One thing I know is He is a personal Keeper. The Bible verse says, "Thou, You." We call those personal pronouns. That tells us that God is a personal God and a personal Keeper.
All of us have known people who have had a personal nurse, a personal accountant, a personal secretary, a personal trainer, or a personal bodyguard. When you believe in Jesus as Savior, you have a personal peace keeper.
I was waiting in an office, and while waiting I was reading a national magazine. The article was about how to release stress and gain peace. Do you know what the author's advice was? Talk to your pet! The writer had the right concept — talk to someone — but better than your cat or dog, talk to your Lord. He's your personal peacekeeper.
Another thing I know about God is He is a powerful Keeper. The word "keep" in the original language of the Bible means "to guard." It's a military word and is used to describe a group of soldiers guarding a city. That's what God Almighty does. He guards your peace.
We hear on the news of the United Nations sending in a peacekeeping force. That's what God does for His people. He personally and powerfully comes to you and enables you to experience peace without a pill.
One of the greatest thieves of peace today is guilt. The devil uses guilt against us to rob us of peace. As a pastor, I've had hundreds of people tell me they are haunted by their past. I've had men and women tell me about illegal business deals, serious errors in judgment, dishonest acts, adultery, abortions, and tempers out of control that ruined relationships, to name a few. Now these dear people suffer from guilt and enjoy little to no peace. Here are the words I've heard often, "I just can't get free of it."
There is some good news. We can all come to a personal and powerful God who has both a key that will unlock the chains of past guilt, and a key that will open the door to future peace.
Let me take a page out of my ministry and tell you a true story. Some years ago a man came to me. Let's call him John. He had made a very poor decision. As a matter of fact, John's choice was clearly a sin, and he admitted that it was. You see, John had done something that God clearly said not to do. Now he had no peace. He told me that he felt rotten inside.
One day we met and were talking about God's cleansing, freeing power. In that moment, the Lord dropped a verse from
I explained that verse to John. Then I laid my hands on him and prayed that he would experience the power of that verse. If you could talk with John today, he would tell you that from that moment to this moment, a personal and powerful God has given him real peace. And my friends, what He's done for others, He can do for you.
Second, let's think about the keeping. Notice how the verse goes on: "You will keep... in perfect peace. " What a promise! Let's dig a little deeper and see two things. One thing the Bible promises is that you can experience constant peace. You see, every word in the Bible is from God. This verse says that God will keep you "in" perfect peace. That tells me that His peace is constant.
It's like this, if you are "in" something, you're surrounded by it, it's constant. When we say, "Come in out of the cold (or heat)," we're saying, "Come into the house where the temperature is constantly 72º." That's the peace God gives. It works all the time, whether situations are good or bad.
I recall Monday, October 19, 1987 very well. The stock market took a nosedive over 500 points. Investors called it Black Monday, for the market fell 22%.
There were suicides that day. A jump alert was issued for the Golden Gate Bridge. A man in Florida walked into his stockbroker's office and killed his financial advisor. There are some people who only have peace when all's well.
I contrast all that with a missions banquet I attended that night. This banquet, which had been scheduled months before, was for the purpose of raising money for missions. After I spoke at the meeting, a man approached me with a large check for missions. He said to me, "I lost a bundle of money today on the stock market, but this I know, I'll never lose what I give. I have peace through God in every situation." How true. That's the constant peace of which I write.
Another thing the Bible promises is that you can experience complete peace.
Worry is a terrible peace-robber. On one of his broadcasts Paul Harvey told of a man who was worried that he was looking old. To fool people, he had braces put on his dentures so people would think he was young. How silly! My friend, the peace God gives can work at all times and in every situation.
I'm thinking of a man right now whose car was hit broadside at 85 mph by a drunken driver. He was rushed to the hospital, hovering between life and death. This man is a fine Christian. He later said, "As I lay in the emergency room not knowing if I would live or die, I had absolute peace from God." Hallelujah!
No one can explain that. I believe that's why the Bible says it is "the peace of God that passes understanding." It's beyond our ability to figure out, but don't doubt for a minute that it's real. The verse is not finished, however.
Last, let's think about the kept. The first two parts — the keeper and the keeping — are totally God's part. To be quite honest, you have nothing to do with those parts. But now we come to your part in the process — the kept. You see, God will give peace to the person "whose mind is stayed on You (God)."
God's Word is a life-changing book. How does that verse challenge us? It certainly urges you to be learning. Isaiah used the word "mind." What's a mind for? To learn. As you learn more about God's character, love, power, faithfulness, etc., then you'll trust Him more and experience greater peace.
Back in 1852, our nation elected a new President, Franklin Pierce. He was the only president in our history who refused to lay his hand on the Bible as he took the oath of office. Here's why. Just a few weeks before the election, Mr. Pierce, his wife and son were on a train. There was a wreck and his son was tragically killed. Pierce blamed God for that incident and therefore refused to put his hand on the Bible.
Some years later, Mr. Pierce admitted, "I was foolish. I've now learned that God does love us. I now trust Him." You see, he learned about God and it was his path to peace.
I've lost count of the number of people through the years who have told me words like this: "Something bad was happening in my life. At first, I spent all my time trying to figure it all out. That made me more frustrated. Finally, I stopped trying to figure everything out and just started trusting God and praising Him. Soon I began to experience peace." My friend, that's leaning on the Lord.
William Randolph Hearst was a famous and wealthy newspaper publisher in the 1920s. He also loved art and had a huge collection. One day he read of a painting and decided he must own it. Hearst sent two men to Europe to find the painting and to buy it.
The two men scoured European art galleries for seven weeks. They finally located the painting and wired Mr. Hearst with the information. "Where is it?" Hearst demanded. They replied, "It's in your art warehouse in California. Mr. Hearst, you already own it."
There are many Christians who are just like William Randolph Hearst. They ask, "Where can I find peace?" The answer is that you already own it if you know Jesus. You see, you can experience peace without a pill. Will you ask Christ to give you His peace today? Will you surrender all of your life to Jesus? When you do, you'll discover new optimism, refreshing confidence, and lasting peace that can carry you through any situation in life. That's God promise to you.
Thomas Lindberg is Pastor of First Assembly in Memphis, TN.