Pursuing His Peace

This is the second talk in the ‘Hot Pursuit’ series, delivered at Lee Abbey in August.

Pursuing His Presence
Pursuing His Peace

Pursuing His Purpose
Pursuing His Power

You can listen here:

Pursuing His Peace – Lee Abbey 2023

Some notes/quotes/illustrations from the talk:

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

What is Shalom? Completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. At ease, favour, health, peaceful, prosperity, safety, secure, security, rest, trust in relationships, wellness, well-being. 

  1. Acknowledge your fear
  2. Become aware of his presence 
  3. Claim his promises

“The beginning of fear is the end of faith; the beginning of true faith is the end fear. Fear or anxiety never strengthens you for tomorrow – it only weakens you for today.”

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face … we must do that which we think we cannot.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Henri Nouwen: “Look at the many ‘if’ questions we raise: What am I going to do if I do not find a spouse, a house, a job, a friend, a benefactor? What am I going to do if they fire me, if I get sick, if an accident happens, if I lose my friends, if my marriage does not work out, if a war breaks out? What if tomorrow the weather is bad, the buses are on strike, or an earthquake happens? What if someone steals my money, breaks into my house, rapes my daughter, or kills me?” But if we let such questions guide our lives, we end up taking out a second mortgage in the house of fear.

Fear of other people’s opinions: “We would worry less about what people think about us is we realized how seldom they do.” Whose opinions matter? The Audience of One. Brennan Manning: “Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect. The tyranny of public opinion can manipulate our lives. What will the neighbours think? What will my friends think? What will people think? The expectations of others can exert a subtle but controlling pressure on our behaviour.” “When I was eight, the impostor, or false self, was born as a defense against pain. The impostor within whispered, ‘Brennan, don’t ever be your real self anymore because nobody likes you as you are. Invent a new self that everybody will admire and nobody will know.’” 

“The cost of non-discipleship is far greater…than the price to walk with Jesus. Non-discipleship costs abiding peace… love.. faith.. hope… power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil… it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said He came to bring.” (Dallas Willard)

Thomas Green suggests this prayer: “Lord let me be just as disturbed about this situation (or this person’s behaviour) as you are – no more and no less. If you are angry let me be angry too, but if you are not disturbed let me share your peace.” He continues: “It is amazing and quite humbling how often my disturbance simply dissolves once I say that prayer and really mean it.”

Oswald Chambers: “When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt Him. When He says ‘Let not your hearts be troubled,’ if you see Him I defy you to trouble your mind, it is a moral impossibility to doubt when He is there. Every time you get into personal contact with Jesus, His words are real. “My peace I give you,” it is a peace all over from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet, an irrepressible confidence. ‘Your life is hid with Christ in God,’ and the imperturbable peace of Jesus Christ is imparted to you.” 

“You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they find their rest in you.” Augustine

Two painters each painted a picture to illustrate his conception of rest. The first chose for his scene a still, lone lake among the far-off mountains. The second threw on his canvas a thundering waterfall, with a fragile birch tree bending over the foam; and at the fork of the branch, almost wet with the cataract’s spray, sat a robin on its nest. The first was only stagnation; the last was rest.

Erwin McManus: “Peace does not come when you finally have control of your life; it comes when you no longer need control of your life.”

Going through a hard time or a crisis? In the Chinese picture-letter alphabet, the symbol for crisis is a combination of two characters – one meaning ‘danger’ and the other ‘opportunity’. We can look at it either way.

Fearful of the future: “Future plans are uncertain, but we all know that there is first God’s plan to be lived, and we can safely leave everything to Him, ‘carefully careless’ of it all.”

There was a Christian man called H.G.Spafford in Chicago. Successful lawyer, married man with four precious daughters, become very wealthy.  One summer, Mrs Spafford and daughters were to go to Europe and do a grand tour of the cities, art galleries etc.  Alas, in mid-Atlantic ship collided with another one and sank quickly.  Mrs Spafford was picked up, reached Fr, sent a cable home: ‘All lost! I alone remain. What shall I do?’  But that was not all – there had been a sudden bank crash in Chicago, and Mr Spafford had lost all his wealth.  Gone from being a very wealthy man to a very poor one instantaneously.  So, what did he do? Did he say, ‘I must not give up. I must call on my reserves of courage and be a man’? No, that is stoicism, and this man was a Christian, not a stoic. He sat down and wrote these words:

‘When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul!

That is what the gospel does.

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