John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Palm Sunday is the day when a whole city threw a parade for Jesus. As Jesus rode into the city, the people threw Palm branches in Jesus’ path, thus we get our word Palm Sunday. This day marked a time of celebration where Jesus was worshipped and praised.
This day was bittersweet for as Jesus heard the praises He knew that Friday was coming – the cross was coming. Many in that crowd would within a few short days exchange words of praise for words of death. Shouting Hosanna, Hosanna and then later shouting Crucify Him, Crucify Him.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the parade of his followers is highly symbolic. It carries a powerful message, even though few of the people that day understood it.
Confronted with knowing His future, Jesus still chose to enter Jerusalem and journey toward the cross. The outcome—a restored relationship between God and humankind, and the establishment of a path for peace.
Three things that steal the peace of mind that God intends for us to have.
- When circumstances are uncontrollable.
- When people are unchangeable.
- When problems are unexplainable.
God has promised peace of mind because it’s a fundamental need of your life. One of the Hebrew names of God is Jehovah Shalom. Shalom means peace. Jehovah Shalom means, “I am the God of peace.”
If God says “I’m offering you a gift of peace,” He means it. It’s not something you work for. It is simply a gift. Then why don’t I have it? Today we’re going to talk about that. We’re going to look at The Path to Personal Peace.
Peace has nothing to do with problem-free living.
Peace of mind is the result of three important decisions you need to make.
- ACCEPT WHAT CANNOT BE CHANGED
Worrying about or becoming resentful or bitter about what cannot be changed will certainly not give you peace. Feeling guilty about things that cannot be changed will not give you peace – so you can stop beating yourself over the head. Having self-pity over things that cannot be changed in your life will not give you peace.
Philippians 4:11-13, I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Acceptance is a learned experience and you learn it from going through tough times – learning to accept in the experience. It is a choice and it is only possible by supernatural power. You’re never going to learn to really accept the things of life without God’s power in your life.
One thing that keeps you from peaceful circumstances is your demand for an explanation. When something goes wrong, when something doesn’t happen the way you think it ought to, you go, “Why is this happening? Why did You allow this? ” By going over and over it in your mind trying to figure out why something happened, you are kept in turmoil.
Three things about your demand for an explanation:
- God doesn’t owe you an explanation for anything. You are the creation, He is the creator. God is a good God, He’s a just God, He’s a fair God, He’s a loving God, and He understands things that you don’t.
2. Even if He did explain why things happen the way they do, you probably wouldn’t understand it. God’s mind is so much greater than your mind, you can’t comprehend all the ways of God. There are forces at work in your life, in your family, in our world and throughout history that, if God sat down and took the time to explain to you how generations affect generations and so on, you probably wouldn’t understand it anyway.
3. Explanations never bring peace. You think, “If I just knew why this happened, then it would make sense” No, it won’t. Some of you have figured out why certain things happened but it didn’t bring peace. You still felt resentful or bitter or angry or upset or whatever. Explanations never satisfy.
What comforts us is the presence of God in our life; God’s care and concern and comfort, and not God’s explanations. Stop looking for something that you really don’t need.
Have you ever been in a crisis when God was silent? That is one of the most difficult things to handle in life. When you’re crying, “Why is this happening?” and its like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and nothing is coming through.
When God is silent you need acceptance. Remember when you were in school the teacher was always silent when a test is being given. You can count on that in life. God’s not going to give you the answer during the test. You might get it later. You might not ever get it until you graduate, get to heaven, but you’re certainly not going to get it in the test.
If you’ve got a health problem, a handicap, a difficulty, you go to the best doctor you can find and work on it. But once you’ve hit the wall and nothing else can be done, you accept what cannot be changed.
If you’ve got a problem with a child, you try to work with that child and you do the best you can. You get the best experience and advice you can. But once you’ve hit the wall and there’s nothing more to be done, you accept what cannot be changed.
If you are in a marriage that just isn’t working out, you do the best you can in bringing some resolution, but you accept that person whether they ever change or not.
A woman reported the disappearance of her husband to the police. The officer in charge asked if she wished to give her husband any message if they found him. “Yes,” she replied. “Tell him Mother didn’t come after all.”
God says this is the starting point to peace –accepting what can’t be changed.
- TRUST IN GOD’S LOVING CARE
Isaiah 26:3, You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
God gives peace to those who trust in Him because they depend on Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6,Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Why is my life just one problem after another?
- Adam and Eve gave into temptation, allowed sin to come into the world and we’re all paying for it.
2. We have an enemy and his name is Satan.
Satan wants to mess you up. He wants to mess with your mind. He wants to mess with your family. He wants to mess with your health. He wants to mess with your finances. Particularly if you are a follower of Christ, if you’re trying to do the right thing, you’re the enemy of the devil. He’s going to try to mess you up.
3. We make your own mistakes. Most of the problems and pain in my life come from my own poor decisions, from my own lousy choices.
- Sometimes the pain in your life is no one’s fault. Sometimes you can’t blame anybody.
Regardless of why you have the problem and regardless of the source whether it came from the world, the devil, yourself, or you don’t know where, you still need the same response every time –- trust in the loving care of God.
Philippians 4:6-7, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
That’s the path to peace.
- SURRENDER TO GOD’S LOVING CONTROL
The real reason you are in turmoil, you have so much anxiety and you have so much tension is because you’re fighting a war with God in your mind. You think you know better. Every day you wake up you have a decision to make: who’s going to be in charge of my life?Am I going to be in control or is God going to be in control?
You think you know better and there are verses in the Bible you just want to ignore. You want to make up your own rules. You think you’re God. The more you take control yourself, the more miserable you become and the more out of control your life becomes. It doesn’t work. You are at war with the real God when you try to play God.
The Bible is very clear about the results of these decisions.
Romans 8:6, So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Those are your alternatives – death or life and peace. Who’s going to be in charge?
Sometimes God places a limitation in our life in order to force us to our knees, to force us to depend on Him, to prove that He is trustworthy. Sometimes God just knocks you down to show who’s in control. If you fight with God, you’re going to lose. And He loves you too much to let you win.
How do you know if you’ve surrendered control of your life totally to God? The evidence is this. A surrendered life is always obedient.
When God says, “Do it!” I do it. I don’t care if I don’t understand it, I don’t care if anybody else is doing it, I don’t care if it’s possible, I don’t care if it’s hard or easy – I do it. If God says to do it in His word, whether it makes sense to me from a human point or not, I do it. I am surrendered to His control.
When I listen to His word and follow His direction, what is the result of that? It is always the same. Peace.
Today, you may be in an uncontrollable circumstance. You may be married to an unchangeable person. You may be experiencing an unexplainable problem. The good news is you can have peace. You can have the peace of God in your life.
You can’t have the peace of God until you first make peace with God. How do you do that? By surrendering your entire life in faith to Jesus Christ.
Aren’t you tired of being at war with God? Don’t you realize that is the single greatest source of stress in your life? What is the result of being in control of your own life? Worry, guilt, bitterness, resentment, anxiety, fear, fatigue, depression, despair. And many of you are familiar with those emotions.
What is the result of having Jesus Christ being number one in your life and being fully surrendered to whatever He wants? Peace, power, strength, wisdom, purpose, meaning, eternal life, significance, joy. We don’t surrender to God in every area of our life because we won’t stop holding on to resentment toward God. You say, “Me? Am I resentful of God?” Yes, you are.
What is it you’re still angry with God about?
That marriage that didn’t work out or never happened? That handicap of yours or that of a loved one? That birth defect? That big disappointment when what you hoped would happen didn’t? Those plans that didn’t go the way you planned? That loved one who died too soon? Health? Money?
Do you realize that when you hold on to your anger you are cutting off the very source of hope, healing and help you need in your own life. You need to realize that you’re at war with God over that issue and that has kept you from having the peace of God in your heart.
Let me say this as clearly as I know how: There is not a single bad thing that has ever happened in your life that God could not have prevented. You say, “Then why didn’t He?”
I don’t know. I do know this. We live in a fallen world where you’re free to make bad choices and so are others and as a result people get hurt. I do know that God has a greater purpose for your life than the problems you’re going through. I do know that He’s more interested in your character than in your comfort.
He wants to build you up. I do know that if everything went great in your life, if you got everything you wanted, you’d be a spoiled brat. And I do know that God knows just how much you can handle. And I do know that this is not heaven. This is earth. Heaven is where we get the ultimate comfort.
I do know that if you think you’re due a problem free life on this earth you’re kidding yourself and it isn’t going to happen. And I do know that God has a plan for your life and that plan involves pain because He wants you to grow.
And I do know that He has already determined the rewards that you will receive in heaven based on how you respond on this earth. And I do know that He loves you deeply. And I do know that He wants you to trust Him.
And I do know that there is only one path to peace. Through acceptance, trust and surrender.