God Pleads for Our Peace
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 30, 2012
*Sometimes I think back to the church I attended in my teen years. That church had a terrible split when I was about 16. How bad was it? -- So bad that they went to court. And they fought that case all the way to the Supreme Court.
*Many of those church people, including my parents, were badly hurt by that nonsense. And that was all it took for me to decide that the church was a bunch of phony baloney. I was as lost as could be at the time. And it was 8 years before I started going back to church in a regular way.
*What happened to that church? -- Christians started treating other Christians in an unchristlike way, and the church nearly died. The church went down for the next 40 years, until the last handful came to their senses, got the help they needed, and God turned the situation around.
*God wants Christians to live in harmony. He wants all of us to have His peace. And here God’s Word makes 3 pleas for peace.
1. First, God pleads for us to stand firm in our faith.
*This plea has to do with our most important peace, and that is our peace with God. So in vs. 1, the Apostle Paul said this to the church: “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”
*Paul was speaking here to people he dearly loved. And he expressed this love four different ways. Paul told them:
-“You are my beloved.”
-“I long to be with you.”
-“You are my joy.”
-“You are my crown.”
*And as Paul thought about the disagreement that was going on in their church, what was the first thing he said to these Christians he loved so much? -- “Stand fast (or stand firm) in the Lord.”
*Christians, God wants us to stand firm in our faith. What does this have to do with peace in the church? -- Everything, because all real peace comes from God. And the most urgent peace is peace with God.
*The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ can give us peace with God.
-As Paul tells Christians in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
*Jesus Christ is the ultimate peacemaker.
*It’s hard to believe, But Christmas is just around the corner, and one of the things we celebrate at Christmas is the Lord’s peace. So 700 years before the Lord was born, God gave this prophecy through Isaiah:
-“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of PEACE. (Isaiah 9:6)
*And when the Lord was born, an angel brought the good news to the shepherds, and Luke 2 tells us:
13. . . Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE, good will toward men.
*Jesus Christ is the ultimate peacemaker. And He made this peace for us through His death on the cross. There Jesus took all of the pain and punishment that belonged to us. He took all of the wrath that we deserved for our sins. And now the Risen Savior offers everlasting peace to everyone who will trust in Him.
*Through the cross of Jesus Christ, we can have peace with God.
-And we can have God’s peace in our hearts.
*Ralph Turnbull told about a friend who went to visit an elderly Christian lady. She was badly crippled by arthritis. It almost hurt to look at her twisted hands. And he asked her: “Do you suffer much?”
*She pointed to her hand and said, “Yes, but there is no nail here. He had the nails. I have the peace.” Then, she pointed to her head and said, “There are no thorns here. He had the thorns. I have the peace.” (1)
*God wants us to have peace in our hearts, peace with one another, and most of all, peace with Him. So through the Apostle Paul in vs. 1, God pleads with us to stand firm in our faith.
2. God’s second plea is this: Attempt to agree in the Lord.
*Make every effort to agree in the Lord. This was Paul’s passionate message to us in vs. 2, where he said: “I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.”
*The KJV says “I beseech” or “beg.” The NIV says “I plead.” God’s Word says, “I implore, beseech, beg, plead with you to agree with each other in the Lord.”
*Euodia and Syntyche were having a disagreement, just like we have sometimes with our family members, our friends, at school, at work, and even at church.
*The truth is that we are not always going to agree with each other. And this may seem like stating the obvious, but sometimes church members, especially new Christians, get the false impression that we are going to be in lock-step agreement about everything. And that’s just not so. So, what should we do when we have a disagreement in the church?
 First: Don’t get a superiority complex about your opinions.
*Nobody is right all the time. And if you think you are, you will be tempted to think that the people who don’t agree with you are “the bad guys.”
*Of course, sometimes they are the bad guys. But sometimes we’ve got it wrong. And sometimes it doesn’t matter either way.
*Who was “the bad guy” in vs. 2? -- God’s Word doesn’t say. Was it Euodia? -- The fuss could have been Euodia’s fault, but her name meant “Prosperous Journey,” and I am sure she was a wonderful woman. Syntyche’s name meant “Pleasant Acquaintance,” and I am sure she was a wonderful person, too.
*Both of these women were saved. Both of them had worked together with Paul to spread the Good News about Jesus. So both of these women were dear, sweet, Godly women. But if we fall into the trap of thinking we are right about everything, we tend to think that the people who don’t agree are “the bad guys.”
*Ron Lee Davis told about a time years ago when he was counseling with a couple who were having problems in their marriage. One day, the wife was talking with Ron about some differences of opinion she had with her husband. These disagreements were causing severe tensions in their relationship.
*Ron asked the lady to sum up the conflict as she saw it. And with all seriousness she said, “Whenever we have an argument, my husband goes his way, and I go God’s way.” (2)
*She was absolutely convinced that her way was God’s way all the time, even in things that had nothing to do with the Word of God. And if we think we are right about everything, well, the other people must be wrong. They become “the bad guys.”
*Another danger of thinking we are right all the time is that we can blow problems way out of proportion. We will tend to make mountains out of molehills, and fuss and fight over the least little things. That’s why churches have actually split over things like what color of carpet to buy, and which side of the church to put the piano on.
*When Jim Wilson was pastoring in New Mexico he commented on how silly it was that a church would split over something as small as the color of the carpet or what side of the auditorium the piano was on. And Jim later wrote this report:
-“After the message someone told me that our church had in fact split a few years after the pastor moved the piano to the other side of the stage.” A little surprised, Jim said, “Well, I just moved it a couple months ago and no one said a thing.” The person replied, “That’s because you moved it back to the right side.” (3)
*We are not going to agree all the time, because all of us have different opinions, backgrounds, personalities and ideas.
-Some of us like chocolate ice cream.
-Some of us like vanilla.
-And we are not always going to agree.
*One good place the Bible points this out to us is in 1 Cor 16:12. There Paul said this to the church: “Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.”
*Paul wanted Apollos to go to Corinth, but he said, “No.”
-They disagreed. -- And so will we.
*What should we do when we have a disagreement in the church?
-Don’t get a superiority complex about your opinions.
 And don’t be stubborn about getting your way
*Don’t have a “my way or the highway” attitude, because we are not always going to get our way. We see this truth in vs. 2, where Paul begged Euodia and Syntyche “to be of the same mind in the Lord.”
*That means somebody had to move.
-Somebody had to change their position.
-Somebody had to change their mind.
-Somebody had to give.
*Maybe both of them had to give a little, but certainly one of them had to give so they could be “of the same mind in the Lord.” And through the Apostle Paul, in vs. 2 God pleads with us to make every effort to agree in the Lord.
*Attempt to agree in the Lord.
3. God’s third plea is this: Help hold other people together.
*This was Paul’s message to us in vs. 3, where he said: “I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
*Paul said, “Help these women!” -- That word “help” is a strong word. The word picture means to “seize, grab, capture, catch.”
*“Take hold of them,” Paul said, not physically, of course. But make every effort to bring those women back into harmony. Paul told that church leader to help those women, and God wants us to be helpers too.
*God wants all of us to be peacemakers. As the Lord said in Matt 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
*One of the other best things we can do for God’s church is to be a peacemaker.
-That’s what Paul was trying to do in these verses. And Paul tried to make peace wherever he found divisions among the believers.
*We see a good example in 1 Cor 1:10-15, where Paul said this to the church:
10. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you.
12. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul,'' or "I am of Apollos,'' or "I am of Cephas,'' or "I am of Christ.''
13. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14. I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15. lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.
*God wants us to be like Paul. He wants us to do everything we can to be peacemakers. He wants us to do everything we can to help other people get along.
-We can be like Paul! -- We can help hold other people together.
-We can be peacemakers, helping people find peace in their hearts, peace with one another, and most of all, peace with Him.
*Great evidence of this truth comes out of World War II. It was part of the story Stephen Ambrose told about an American paratrooper unit. Some of you probably read his book: “Band of Brothers.” It includes the story of a man from my parents’ generation, a man who desperately needed God’s peace.
*His name was Sgt. Skinny Sisk, and he was one of the few men in his unit to survive from beginning to end. After the war, Sisk had a hard time shaking his memories. In July of 1991, he wrote a letter to explain to his old Captain, Dick Winters.
*Skinny said: “My career after the war was trying to drink away the truckload of Krauts that I stopped in Holland, and the die-hard Nazi that I went up into the Bavarian Alps and killed. Old Moe Alley made a statement that all the killings that I did was going to jump into the bed with me one of these days and they surely did. I had a lot of flash backs after the war and I started drinking. Ha! Ha!
“Then my sister’s little daughter, four years old, came into my bedroom. (I was too unbearable to the rest of the family, either hung over or drunk.) And she told me that Jesus loved me, and she loved me, and if I would repent, God would forgive me for all the men I kept trying to kill all over again.
*That little girl got to me. I put her out of my room, told her to go to her Mommy. There and then I bowed my head on my Mother’s old feather bed and repented. And God forgave me for the war and all the other bad things I had done down through the years.
*I was ordained in the latter part of 1949 into the ministry, and believe me, Dick, I haven’t whipped but one man since, and he needed it.
*I have four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The Lord willing and Jesus tarries, I hope to see you all at the next reunion. If not, I’ll see you at the Last Jump.” (4)
*I love that story because it shows us how the Lord can save any soul. And it shows how God can use even a 4-year-old child to help someone find peace:
-Peace in his heart.
-Peace with his family.
-And peace with God.
*If God can use a 4-year-old child, the He can surely use us, too! And He wants to use us to spread His peace.
*As we go to God in prayer, let’s ask the Lord to help us do it.
1. Ralph Turnbull, “If I Only Had One Sermon to Preach” - James S. Hewett, “Illustrations Unlimited” - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988, p. 35 - (Source: Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Peace - Subtopic: Bestowed through Christ - Index: 3014 Date: 71996.91 - Title: “I Have the Peace”)
2. Ron Lee Davis, “Becoming a Whole Person in a Broken World” - Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1990 - p. 204 (Source: “Dynamic Illustrations”)
3. Jim Wilson -- http://www.freshministry.org/start/pentecost.html
4. KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 20439 - SOURCE: Book: Band Of Brothers, Touchstone: 2001 - TITLE: Forgive Me For All The Men I Kept Trying To Kill - AUTHOR: Stephen E. Ambrose - DATE: 2001