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By Pastor Glenn Pease
I have a good number of books by Norman Vincent Peale, and almost every one of them has a chapter on peace.
The reason is, Peale appeals to the masses and peace is a topic that has universal interest.
Dante, centuries ago said, "I am seeking for that which every man seeks-Peace."
Peace of mind drugs are the most popular, for that is one way man can generate his own peace.
For many, their only hope to cope is dope.
Much, if not most, of the social turmoil of our culture is due to a hunger for peace, which is sought for in all the wrong places.
According to Ronald Hutchcraft, the Director of Youth for Christ in New York and New Jersey, in the next thirty minutes-
57 kids will run away from home.
29 children will attempt suicide.
22 girls under 19 years of age will receive an abortion.
14 teenage girls will give birth to an illegitimate baby.
685 teens will use some form of narcotic.
These tragic statistics reveal that we are a nation in perpetual war.
The spiritual battle between light and darkness is everywhere and one of Satan's greatest weapons is to get people to think they can find peace in tranquilizers.
The problem is he has a point.
False and fake peace does have an element of reality.
Tranquilizers work because they reduce or eliminate the inner reaction to stressful stimuli.
They do not change the environment in which you have to live.
They change your response to it and this makes a world of difference.
If you do not respond to what is negative and disturbing with panic, fear, or anxiety you can have some measure of peace in spite of these negatives.
This is an imitation of what the Holy Spirit does in our lives when we let him produce the fruit of peace in us.
He does not change the environment and rid it of stress and conflict.
The Christian has to live in the same fallen world with everyone else.
Ronald Hutchraft in his book on peace, Peaceful Living in a Stressful World, tells of the testing of his peace as he wrote that book.
He wrote,
"No sooner had I made a commitment to insist on peace than stress
brought out the heavy artillery.
My wife has had three dangerous illnesses in the last nine months
The staff for whom I am responsible went through a major upheaval.
Our daughter started high school.
Our son started junior high school with a badly broken arm.
We faced a decisive deadline in the legal tangle due to an accident.
Paychecks for our staff were delayed.
The kitchen floor and the back stairs fell apart.
"All these surprises came in right on top of my already relentless
schedule full of speaking, counseling, managing, radio, nonstop
meetings, and daddying.
The peace has stood the test.
To be sure,
my old high-pressure, high-pitched responses still surface, but I
retreat quickly to the new peace I have chased and found.
tranquility is anything but theoretical or passive.
It is the product
of a daily insistence that we choose the peace alternative."
His testimony is typical of many.
The Christian does not escape the external turmoil of life in a fallen world.
But he can escape the internal reaction that robs him of peace.
The world's imitations do work for awhile, and they are a temptation.
That is why we are told, "Be not drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit."
Wine can help you relax and not feel as full of anxiety, but you have to deal with the after effects which can be worse than the problem you sought to escape.
Peace purchased in this way is not worth the cost for in the end peace will be lost.
The peace of God does not come with the risks of negative after effects.
What the Bible makes clear is that we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit is the growing of this fruit.
David says in Psalm 34:14 "seek peace and pursue it."
You do not sit on your couch and hope it will fall into your lap.
Peace is a matter of activity.
You go in search of it.
It is like game.
You have to go hunt to find it and possess it for your own.
When David wrote this he was being pursued by Saul, and was the no.1 most wanted man in the nation.
He was a fugitive running for his life under great stress.
Yet he says seek peace and pursue it.
The Apostle Peter writing to Christians going through tough times remembers these words of David.
He quotes them for Christians under stress in IPet.3:10-11, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good, he must seek peace and pursue it."
Seeking peace and actively pursuing it is one of the major obligations of the Christian life.
It is a sin to let the world be in control of your emotional system.
The Christian is to make the pursuit of inner peace one of the major goals of life.
Without this fruit of peace the Christian cannot be truly Christlike and obey the laws of love.
In IPet.3:8-9 we read, "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing...." This passage comes just before his urging them to seek peace and pursue it.
Without inner peace the Christian cannot do these things so essential to the true Christian life.
The Christian will respond just like the natural man without the fruit of the Spirit.
His peace will keep them in control so they do not react to evil and insult with the same.
Internal peace is the key to external peace.
Where men are filled with war within there will be war without.
Only the fruit of peace can produce peace in a world of war.
Blessed are the peacemakers said Jesus, for they will be called the sons of God.
Because they are obviously of a different blood line than mere men who are ever war-like.
Only God's kids can achieve peace in a war zone like this fallen world.
If you want people to know you are a child of God, one of the most conspicuous ways of doing so is to be a peacemaker.
It is not natural not to want to live in peace with all men.
It is unnatural to want to forgive offenses and not seek revenge.
You seem like some sort of a freak if you don't hate your enemies, but pray for them instead.
A peacemaker is not a conformist to what is natural and normal.
They are as conspicuous as a pro basketball player at a midget festival.
They stand out as unique, for they are like the man found beaten by the Good Samaritan, going to the priest and Levite who left him to die, and contributing to their ministry.
That is the kind of thing the peacemaker can do, because he has the fruit of the Spirit-peace.
Peace is the ability to respond to evil with good.
This is the peace of God which passes understanding.
Let's face reality, there is not a lot of this going around, and the reason is very few Christians are surrendered to the Holy Spirit.
Most all Christians are quenching the Spirit to some degree.
That is why we need to back up the fruit of the Spirit with natural techniques.
It is a matter of damage control.
When we fell to be Spirit filled we need to have a net of safety to fall into.
Christian leaders who fall and bring disgrace to the Christian faith do so because they depend to much on their Spiritual life alone.
They do not develop natural methods for backup.
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