“But The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Peace”      Philippians 4:5b-7       May 28, 2006

 

SI:  This summer studying the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

“Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .”

This morning let’s consider the fruit of peace.

 

INTRO:  During the 1980s you may remember that a number of Americans

   were kidnapped in Beirut, Lebanon by Muslim terrorists.

   Some were executed, some eventually released.

One American kidnapped was a man named Martin Jenco

   believer, working for a Christian relief agency in Beirut.

 

Over the year and a half he was a hostage his kidnappers frequently moved him

   in order to keep from being discovered.  When the moved him—

   stuffed sock in his mouth, wrapped body in packing tape from feet to top of head,

   only left his nostrils open to breath—shoved him in space under the bed of truck.

First time—almost died of panic, suffocation.  Dark, hot, claustrophobic space—

   jolted around nose bumped, blood began to clot.

 

When he had been kidnapped, button had come off jacket—hold that button.

   Prayed and focused on that button in his palm.

   Keep him from utter panic, helped regulate his breathing.

Got quite attached to that button—kept close to him.

   Whenever he would be moved, wrapped in tape—pray and clench button.

 

During his captivity he remembered this passage in Philippians—

   “The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything

   by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God,

   and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your

   hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

He started meditating on this passage—thinking about the peace of God.

   He knew God was telling him this:

“I am with you always, even when you are bound and gagged and stuffed under a truck. 

The next time they move you, I want you to let go of the button.”

 

He was being required to take a profound step of faith.

   To find his peace in Jesus Christ alone—not even in Jesus plus a little button.

Next time he was moved, opened his hand—let go of the button—

   with an open hand and heart he received an incredible peace—

   the profound assurance that the Lord was with him.

 

That’s what peace is for a Christian—

   quiet confidence that the Lord is with you.

That he has control of your life and circumstances.

 

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. 

   The seed is there in born again person—and it can be cultivated.

Martin Jenco cultivated the fruit of the Spirit—

   to the point that he was able to willingly get rid of the last thing he had

   that represented some control over his life—

   because he believed that God would give him greater peace.

 

What about you?  Are you anxious? 

   What are the buttons that you hold on to give yourself some sense of control.

   Peace comes in knowing that the Lord is with you, your life in his hands.

 

Let’s look at the fruit of peace.

Some people think that these two verses in Philippians are the greatest in the Bible

   with regard to the practical experience of peace.

 

For note takers—Two points. 

1.  The source of anxiety

2.  The path to peace

The second point will be longer than the first point.

   Then, at the end I want to tell you two short stories. 

 


MP#1  The source of anxiety

Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything.”  Opposite of peace

   Greek word translated “anxious” has the sense of being scattered, out of sorts

   Where does anxiety come from?  Does it come from circumstances?  Bad things?

 

Vs. 7  When peace of God comes, what does it guard?  Your hearts and minds.

   In the Bible the heart is more than your emotions—the center of your person.

   The mind of course refers to your thinking, reasoning.

In Paul’s psychology there powers within the human person produce anxiety.

   Your heart and mind the source of your anxiety.

 

You can control many things about your life.

   But you cannot control your heart and mind.

   Do what they want apart from you.

 

Recall a time when you were anxious about something.

   Wanted to go to sleep.  Toss and turn.  Wish could sleep

   But couldn’t keep heart and mind from working.

You imagine all the worst scenarios.  What if this happens.

   Create and rewind and edit scenes for hours.

   Consider from every angle.  Analyze.  Review.

 

You replay all the steps that go you into this situation.

   What if I had done this instead? 

   Why didn’t I do that?

   Why couldn’t I see that coming?

These powers within you master you, they tyrannize you and produce anxiety.

 

One reason Apostle Paul concerned about this—

   knows how unproductive this makes you as a Christian.

I know that as a Christian and as a pastor—calling to listen to people when talk.

   Things are going on that are important to them.

   Opportunity to encourage or challenge them.

Many a time when anxious act like listening—all the non-verbal cues on autopilot.

   Mind is reviewing the situation.

 

Crucial to see—anxiety comes from the heart and mind dominating you.

MP#2  The path to peace

When Bible speaks of peace, does so in two senses.

   Peace of God and Peace with God—we’ve studied this before.

 

Philippians 4:7 is about which one?  peace of God.”

   Peace of God is a confident, quiet rest . . . opposite of anxiety.  Peacefulness.

   We’re going to address this in a moment, what passage is about.

   That is what the fruit of the Spirit is. 

 

But first, have to consider this thing Bible calls “Peace with God.”

   Because you can’t understand peace of God unless understand peace with God.

   Can never have peace of God unless you have peace with God.

 

What is peace with God? 

   Romans 5:1 is a great passage: 

   “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,

   we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Peace with God means that you are no longer at war with God—

   and He is no longer at war with you.

 

Bible teaches that human beings are by nature at war with God.

   Sin is rebellion, it’s treason against the Creator.

   What Adam and Eve wanted.  Wanted life on their terms.  Passed to children.

 

Not only are sinful people at war with God, He is at war with them.

   “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness . . .”

   God’s wrath is not petty and vindictive.  It’s a judicial wrath.

   As Judge, God bears judicial wrath toward lawbreakers.

 

But the Gospel is that God looked down with love on His enemies.

He sent His one and only Son to earth to be born first Christmas morning,

   as a human being, “in the likeness of sinful flesh.”

   Jesus was the second Adam.

 

As the boy Jesus grew into a man,

   He loved, obeyed, and kept God’s law perfectly.

   Then He was crucified.

As our representative, full wrath of God poured out on Him

   as punishment for our sins—Father went to war against own Son.

   That removed the cause of God’s hostility—Judicial wrath satisfied.

 

But that’s not the whole story.  That is what happened 2,000 years ago on the cross.

You were born in sin, born with a heart hostile to God.

   Even as a child, you had temper tantrums because of your sinful nature.

   You disobeyed your parents because you wanted to be your own master.

   Your heart was in rebellion against God.

 

So God sent His Holy Spirit to wake you up spiritually

   to show you your hostility and sin and rebellion

   call you to repent of it, and turn to Him in faith.

   And surrender to your former Enemy who is now your Friend.

Because of God’s great love, Christ’s work, Holy Spirit’s presence—

   you can have peace with God.  All hostility has been removed.

 

If a person never becomes a Christian, he will never have peace with God.

   Will always be at war with God whether he knows it or not. 

   Consequently, he will never have the peace of God (peacefulness).

 

This is the reason. 

   A life of rebellious struggle against God is struggle against your true nature.

God made you to worship Him, center your life on Him.

   Life of rebellion always leads to breakdown.

 

Some people are more successful better at moving through life than other people.

   For some, the breakdown is very obvious and ugly. 

   Others, hidden.  One of the things false religions do, hide the breakdown.

Keller—like pulling a wagon without wheels.  Can do forward, things fall apart.

 

Brings us to peace of God.

Which is peacefulness comes from knowing God is with you and in control. 

   Obviously a more subjective, experiential thing than peace with God.

Martin Jenco had peace with God but when kidnapped—

   there was a time when he did not have the peace of God. 

   He was anxious and panicked.

So how do you experience the peace of God when you are anxious?

You’re going to love Paul’s answer—Pray about it.  Pray about your anxiety.

   I’m sure that there were people in Philippian church, as in this church

   Who say, that is a worthless, pat answer to problem of anxiety.

 

I’ve tried to pray and it doesn’t work.

   As if Paul knew that was going to be the response—goes into more detail.

“In everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God.”

 

Let’s look at each element of his teaching.

1.  “By Prayer  Prayer is a general biblical term for communion with God.

   Means coming face to face with the living God and worshipping Him.

 

Very first thing you do, have this problem, anxiety, is you in a sense put it aside.

   Ok—who am I talking to?  I’m talking to the God of all the Universe.

   King of kings, Lord of lords.  Talking to One who is glorious, sovereign.

I’m also coming face to face with my Father in heaven.

   That is the way Jesus taught His disciples to pray—our Father in heaven.

 

Do you see what that does—if pray properly.

   It immediately lifts you above the earth and into the presence of God.

   Puts things in perspective. 

Martin Luther—if could perfectly pray first words, Our Father in heaven,

   could stop there, would never have to pray another word.

 

Prayer doesn’t come easily—not just bowing head and asking God for things.

   Awareness that you are in His presence.  Gazing at Him.

   Martin Luther had a dog, would sit and stare at him whole meal,

   waiting for a scrap.  Luther—if only I could pray like my dog!

   If I could stare at God with such intensity.

Doesn’t come naturally.  One reason God gave us the Bible, stir self up.

   Martin Jenco.  It was remembering this passage.  Meditating on it.  Psalms.

 

2.  “And Petition  Know what a petition is.  Tell God, this is what is happening.

   This is what I need.  We’re usually good at that.

 

3.  Then Paul adds, “With Thanksgiving.” 

   Now this is truly the key to petitioning God.

Means that with every petition you say these words and have this attitude:

   And Lord, whatever your answer is, I will be thankful.

 

If You answer, “Yes.”  Obviously I’ll be thankful.

If You answer, “Wait.” (even for a long time) I’ll be thankful for perfect timing.

If You answer in a way that is completely different from what expected,

   I’ll be thankful for your wisdom.

If you say, “No.”  I’ll be thankful that you know what is best.

   Can only pray that way by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

But if you do—what is the promise if you pray this way?

   Not a promise that circumstances will change, things work out.

   and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,

   will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

Promise that you will be filled with confident, quiet rest in Lord’s presence,

   and his wise control over your life.   

Furthermore, it’s going to be a peace that you can’t imagine.

   It will come upon you and you will enjoy it. 

Furthermore, it will be a peace in Christ Jesus,

   rest on your mystical union with Him.

 

Have you ever known the peace of God? 

When you are anxious, do you say, I’ve prayed and it doesn’t work.

   But what has your prayer been? 

   God change this.  Fix this.  Do something.

Or have you patiently, fervently prayed with thanksgiving as Lord teaches?

 

This is not a psychological tool pull out and say—pray and make self feel better.

   Pray, think about God, won’t be able to think about my problems.

This is a promise that God Himself, will respond to the prayers of His people,

   and in His time, will fill them with His peace that transcends understanding. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two short stories

 

First story is about the man who wrote these words—Apostle Paul.

About four years before he wrote this letter,

   wrote a letter to the church in Rome.

At the end of that letter, gave that church three prayer requests.

Romans 15:30

   “I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Sprit to join me in my

   struggle by praying to God for me.  Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea

   and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I

   may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.”

 

How did the Lord answer these prayer requests of this great saint?

1.  No.  Was not rescued, was arrested.  In jail 2 years.

2.  Didn’t have time to minister to Jerusalem Christians.

3.  Answered in a completely different way.  To Rome, as a prisoner of Caesar.

   Roman Christians came to see him.  A celebrity.  Preaching and teaching.

   But pastors became jealous, said negative things, stopped visiting, neglected.

   After two years in prison in Rome, Paul almost forgotten, just close friends.

   Onesiphorus only found Paul after a long search.

 

Four years in prison—prayers not answered the way he had requested.

Yet what does he write?  Magnificent letter.  Epistle of joy.

   Here was Paul, awaiting trial, forgotten by many Christians, in Rome, in chains,

   but he had made his requests known to God in the right way, filled with peace.

 

Second story told before about man named Dr. Robert Rayburn.

Past president of my seminary. 

   Dr. Rayburn served as an army chaplain during the Korean war.

   There was one event that affected his ministry as chaplain more than any other.

 

What happened was this: 

Company of paratroopers to be dropped behind lines.

   Regular chaplain unable to go, Rayburn volunteered, never jumped.

44 men on the his plane, all veteran paratroopers, all with combat experience.

   When plane airborne, began looking at them, not joking as GI’s always do,

   As looked at expressions, saw man after man in absolute agony.

   Great drops of perspiration even though it was chilly in the plane.

These men know what’s coming. 

   Day before they had told stories about a previous jump—

   terrible things that had happened in combat.

 

Later wrote his thoughts: 

“If the fellows that know what to expect look like that, how should I look?”  I thought.  It was just then that a feeling of sheer panic seized me.  I began to shake and tremble with fear.  I confess I felt utterly dismayed; it seemed that I just couldn’t go ahead with that jump into space. 

 

Began to pray—I volunteered because believed you told me to so could witness.

   Here I am shaking with fear.  I can’t help myself, going to be useless to men.

   Suddenly, as praying, Lord spoke, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”

   Truth struck him.  Jesus is with me.  Jump out with me.  What happened next:

 

As the full realization of the Lord’s promise swept over me, such peace flooded my soul as I have never experienced under any other circumstances.  I doubt if I shall ever have quite such an experience again.  My head was bowed in prayer over my front parachute.  As the sweet peace of God took possession of me I fell sound asleep!  The next thing I knew, Cliff was poking me in the ribs.  “Chaplain Rayburn, you’d better get awake now,” he said “it’s about time for us to be getting out of here.”

 

Survived the jump and the terrible fighting.

For days and days after that, men in the regiment would approach and say—

   “Chaplain, we heard from men on your plane, sound asleep to drop zone.”

   “How in the world could you sleep?”

I had a chance to tell them about a Savior whose presence is so real, and whose promises are so sure that He can give perfect peace in the worst kind of circumstances.

 

Psalm 3, written by the warrior king David about time fled for life from Absalom:

   I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

   I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.

 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said:

   “The great problem in life is, in a sense, how to lay oneself down to rest and sleep. 

   Anyone can lie down, but the question is, can you sleep?”

So the Bible uses the image of sound, quiet sleep as a picture of peace.

   Because peace, biblically speaking, is a confident, quiet rest

   in God’s wise control of your life. 

Do you lay down and sleep?  Do you have the fruit of the Spirit which is peace?

   If you don’t, why don’t you?

Connect these two stories to the first one I told you about Martin Jenco.

   These were believers in circumstances that could have caused

   great anxiety of heart and mind.

 

But the prayed—approached God, petitioned Him with thankfulness.

   And God answered them. 

   But not by immediately changing their circumstances.

Dr. Rayburn still had to jump out of that airplane.

Apostle Paul and Martin Jenco continued to suffer imprisonment for a time.

 

God answered by filling them with the peace that passes understanding.

   He guarded their hearts and minds from anxiety.

 

Want you to see what peace of God is—it’s a fruit.

   Provides spiritual nourishment for people around you.  Not for you, for others.

   Don’t these stories of fruit of peace lift you?  Don’t they encourage you.?

 

As you cultivate this fruit—follow path of peace:  prayer and petition with thanks

   This is what will happen.

   People will look at you in trying circumstances and they will be amazed.

   How can you be so calm?  This person you love is terribly ill, not agitated.

 

Your work, finances, health, future plans, whatever—in turmoil.

   But you aren’t!  Why not?

And you can say—Let me tell you about the Prince of Peace.

   Let me tell you about peace with God and peace of God.