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The Jewel of Peace
A Sermon By Dr Charles S. Price
WHAT TREASURES there are hidden in the Word of the Lord! It takes a little time, a little patience, a little prayer, a little hope, and out of the inexhaustible riches of truth divine we pull a jewel that flashes and sparkles in the sunshine of the Saviour's smile. I want to talk to you about the secret of peace, beautiful peace, wonderful peace, the peace that passes all understanding! Humans cannot grasp it, because it is so divine.
In the 4th chapter of Paul's epistle to the Philippians we read, beginning at the 5th verse, "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." In those wonderful words there is hidden the secret of the peace which I know every one of you desires to have and which, by the grace of the Lord, you can possess.
The inference here is that life is not always going to be a beautiful calm. The peace that is spoken of here is not the peace of the calm but it is the peace of the storm. If it were the peace of the calm it would not pass understanding. That would be perfectly natural. Even the world experiences a peace like that. It is, if you will think a little, the peace that we enjoy in the midst of the storm. It is the quiet that we possess in turmoil. It is the silence of the heart in the noise of a busy world. That is what makes it so inexplicable. That is what makes it so wonderful. When worldly philosophers witness the manifestation of such a peace as that, they shake their heads in bewilderment and cannot comprehend what has happened to people who are rich enough to possess it.
Be Still and Know
The secret lies in the heart and mind attitude of confidence and praise. How noisy we get! How we storm and bluster around! How vociferate we are in our demands! In the Scripture the apostle begins by beseeching us to let our moderation be known unto all men.
The word "moderation" is perhaps a little misleading. In the original it is "gentleness." It is " quiet." It is that silence which is born of confidence. We are told that we should not become panicky. We should not give ourselves over to emotional hysterics. It tells us that the Lord it at hand and the implication is that Jesus is not far away; that our Father has not forgotten us. The Saviour has not deserted us!
If in the time of difficulty and grief, we manifest the same spirit as do the people of the world, what weight will our testimony carry? We should always remember that God has promised never to leave us and never to forsake us, and that underneath are the everlasting arms.
If we are going to possess and to exhibit this jewel of beautiful peace we must keep it in the case of confidence and trust, and open it in the light of the sun and in the darkness of the night. It will be pretty in the sunlight, but oh how it sparkles and shines and dazzles as it reflects the glory of Jesus in the midst of the darkness of our nights!
In the second place, we are told to be careful for nothing. In other words, don't worry! Did not Jesus give us that beautiful lesson when He. told us to consider the lilies? He pointed to the sparrows on the. wing and said that not one of them fell to the ground without our Father's knowledge. He told the disciples to take no thought for the morrow for the needs of the day were all taken into consideration in the benevolence of God.
We were not to be left alone to grow up our own way, but over us He would ever place the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day to be certain that our feet would always walk the homeward trail. Here is the thought that God has been blessing to my own heart. What right have I to worry about tomorrow as long as the pillar of cloud is leading me? What right have I to be fretful and cautious about the future if the pillar of fire is my guide? Why should I trouble myself about the things I cannot see, if it is the Lord; Himself who is leading me into them?
At the time of writing I am in the city of Chicago. It is a city I do not know very well except for the downtown business section. Yesterday a friend of mine drove me into the suburbs. I had never been that way before. We went through tremendously heavy traffic and some of the roads were bumpy while others were clean and smooth.
What would my friend have thought of me if I had kept on bombarding him with questions? Supposing I had said, "Are you sure that this is the right way? That street does not look good to me. This road is too bumpy. I am sure there must be some other way. I believe we are going in the wrong direction now. Are you certain we should have turned that corner?" Etc., etc.
He would have looked at me and in his heart he would have said, "Brother Price certainly has no confidence in my leadership. I know this road. I have been over it many times. What in the world is he worrying about? Why does he not put his trust in me?"
A lot of people act that way with Jesus. He is guiding them and has promised to keep them. He knows every foot of the homeward way. Yet every few minutes we are running to Him complaining about the road. In our hearts we feel certain that He must have made a mistake. When He turned to the left and led us away from the green pastures we were sure that He ought to have turned to the right. So we grumble and groan. We find fault and complain. Is it any wonder then that our hearts and minds are in a state of turmoil when they ought to be filled with a beautiful peace?
He Still Leads His Own
Why cannot we adopt the attitude that He who guided the children of Israel by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire will lead His redeemed through every varying fortune of life to the pearly gates of home sweet home! This is Paul's clear teaching. When he says to "be careful for nothing" he means do not worry. Put your trust in Jesus. He will bring you through. The darker the night the more you can trust. The more winding the way, the greater the confidence you need to have in Him.
Would you ever say to him, "Now, Lord, I don't like this road you have chosen. Let me pick out on of my own." You smile at me and say, "No, I would never do that." Well, then, I would like to ask you a little question. Why do you grumble and frown when you find yourselves sometimes in the road that is not of your choosing?
So, my friends, be careful for nothing. Don't worry. The Lord is at hand! In other words, He is not far away. As a matter of fact, He is closer than breathing. Be careful for nothing!
Receive As Well As Ask
Some years ago a minister friend of mine who is a very deep theologian, attended a meeting that I was conducting. From the very first the people began seeking the face of the Lord. Night after night they were at the altar interceding and praying, beseeching and forever seeking.
One night this well-known preacher leaned over to me and said, "These people are always seeking. Do they never find? They are always asking. Do they never receive?" He was not speaking critically, but he was disturbed by a situation that I too realized demanded our attention and prayer.
[Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3 - ETH]
In order to enjoy the peace that passes understanding we not only have to learn how to ask but also must be instructed in the art of appropriation. Based upon faith and confidence in God, we must come to the place where once having made our petitions known, we leave them with the Lord. The promises have already been given. We do not have to question them.
When my children were young, many times on hot days they would come to me asking for a coin with which to buy a cold drink or an ice cream cone. I loved them with all my heart and was happy in the love they had for me.
I remember well the days in which I used to anticipate those requests. I would make them a promise, "After dinner, when the work has been finished, I am going to give you money so you can run down to the store and buy what you want." If my memory serves me right they needed to ask me only once for the thing I had promised.
Continuous begging and beseeching would have meant to me a lack of faith in my word. They trusted me. They believed me. The little "prayer" they made to me, if I can use that expression, finished with thanksgiving. Their intercession was based upon a promise; and being founded upon a promise, faith asserted itself and intercession turned to praise.
We older folk have to learn that lesson. I am not speaking now about the spirit of intercession that comes upon the saints of God and is there by the Holy Ghost Himself. I am speaking about those everyday experiences of life in which we fret and worry and become emotionally nervous because we do not receive all we desire. Perhaps it is because we have not learned how to "take." We cannot know how to lake unless we have learned how to believe God.
A Story of Mueller
I think I can best illustrate my thought by telling you the story of an episode in the life of that apostle of faith, George Mueller. It is said that one day when his orphan's home was small the larder became empty. The supplies had become diminished and the little mouths needed feeding, for little boys and girls who play have a habit of getting hungry. Down he went into the room that he used for prayer, taking the child of God from whose pen the story was given to the world.
George Mueller knelt before his Lord and told him what he needed. He even mentioned the number of sacks of flour. He told the Lord of every one of the things that were necessary in order that the home might be kept open and the little orphan boys and girls fed and clothed. Then, in the most beautiful way imaginable, he turned his prayer into thanksgiving. He told Jesus that the orphanage was His; that it had been opened by the leading of the Lord Himself, and that he knew his Master would take care of it. When he arose from his knees, he smiled into the face of the man who had been in prayer with him.
Yes, it came. Of course it came. He made his wants known with prayer and supplications together with thanksgiving. He took his case before the throne of grace. The Lord knew his need, and Jesus did what George Mueller could not do. He worked a miracle. He spoke with the voice of the Spirit to somebody who had the means to supply the necessities; and ere the sun went down the van was unloading the sacks of flour at the back door of the orphanage.
I do not claim that this is the modus operandi in every case; but I am absolutely convinced that some of us spend so much time in the basement asking, asking, asking, that we fail to hear the wagon back up to the door with the answer.
A Grand Conclusion
Then Paul comes to his glorious conclusion. When we have learned this lesson; yes, and when we have put it into practice something happens. He declares that the peace of God, which is so wonderful that it passes all understanding shall fill our hearts and our hinds. He does not say that the peace will come at the same time as the answer. It will come before. It is not dependent upon the answer. It is dependent upon our faith in the One who can give the answer. That is the secret.
There is a great deal of difference between stagnation and peace. We come to the place where we do not worry, when we realize that our lives are in our Father's hand. He knows our need, and we recognize that He alone can supply the demand and in His Word He has promised so to do. That should be enough for any of us. It should be sufficient for all of us!
This peace will keep both heart and mind. You will recognize that there is a difference between heart and mind. The heart deals with the emotions, the mind deals with the reason. Heart processes are spiritual. The working of the mind is logical. Sometimes there is a conflict between heart and mind, when deep down within the confines of our ego the heart wants to believe, but the mind keeps reasoning and disturbing the peace of the heart.
More than once this conflict has raged in our lives. At the time we might not have recognized it, but it was there just the same. We had come from a place of communion with God. We had been at the trusting place with Jesus. The blessing of the Lord had been there, and we felt the moving of the Spirit. We were persuaded in our hearts that victory would be given, but on the way home we began to think about it, and our minds commenced to kick your hearts around. Reason began to fight with faith and we got to the place where we could not believe the thing we wanted to believe. Sometimes we arrive at the paradox of believing what we do not believe in this conflict of mind and heart, in the age-old battle between faith and reason.
But, oh, there is a sweet and blessed place in Jesus! There is a hidden life that is so beautiful and holy, where heart and mind are in accord. The warfare is over, the battle has been won when our yesterdays have taught us the lesson of complete and lasting trust in Him. Although we have been like children crying in the dark, knowing not the way home, our tears have been wiped away by the unseen hand and our hearts rejoice in the leading of the Saviour. No more need we worry. No longer need we fret. The Lord is at hand! Our Lord is so near we can feel His touch upon our heads, and we thrill to the sound of His voice. He walks with us in the garden paths of the soul and talks with us beneath the lattice of prayer It is then that tribulations do not affect us, for trials just drive us closer to His side.
Storms without do not mean storms within. The tempest in the world does not disturb the peace that is in the heart, when both heart and mind are kept by the power of God and our lives are covered with the beautiful garments of praise. By His grace we arrive at the spiritual experience where we too can say, " I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39.) This then is our heritage. This can be your possession. This should be your experience. May God in His love impart to you the peace of God that passes all understanding. May He be yours today and tomorrow, and may you ever walk in His Light until the pearly gates unfold!
"In Me there is rest and refreshing. In the world thou shall have tribulation, but thou shallot learn to find thy rest in Me, for it is I Who gives the peace that passes all understanding. It is I Who shall keep your heart and mind in the knowledge of Me.
In the world thou wilt have tribulation. In the world thou wilt have confusion and unrest. In the world thou wilt suffer indignities but fear not, I have overcome the world and thou shallot find in Me your overcoming portion."
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Thursday March 03, 2011 05:05 PM -0500