Episode 42: Peace to Live By, Part 2- Our Peace Taken

Peace to Live By Episode 42: Peace to Live By, Part 2- Our Peace Taken - Daniel Litton
(Tap or right-click link to download broadcast)

[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word]

       As we live each day of our lives, there are so many things that can work against us in order to try and take our peace. Having peace of mind is probably the most important thing we can have, as Christians. Peace of mind allows us to live our lives to the fullest extent, and not be hindered by the shaky circumstances of life. We cannot always control what happens in our lives, but we can control how we respond to those varying situations. We can decide what to think about in our minds, and we can choose to have peace in our minds that is not dependent upon our circumstances.

       The Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, ”...until finally we all believe alike about our salvation and about our Savior, God’s Son, and all become full-grown in the Lord—yes, to the point of being filled full with Christ. Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church” (Ephesians 4:13-15, TLB). Indeed, this is what we all want to be doing, as Christians, in our lives.

       Today, I want to talk about seven different things that can take away our peace in our minds, as Christians. We should seek to identify these things in our lives, and then work to try to respond correctly where necessary. Today, I will discuss the following:

1) Continually speculating about what might have been
2) Thinking the past was better than the present
3) Recalling past sins and negative events
4) Not accepting our God-given position in life
5) Wanting to know about everything possible
6) Refusing to forgive others their wrongs
7) Being afraid by not having faith

By avoiding these wrong attitudes, we can create and have more peace in our minds. [Next week, I will finish up our evaluation by examining 8 more things that can take away peace in our lives.] So, let’s identify these seven things that can take away our peace. Now, with each of these points, I will start by providing a corresponding Bible verse.

Number one: Continually speculating about what might have been

“The man who speculates is soon back to where he began—with nothing. This, as I said, is a very serious problem, for all his hard work has been for nothing; he has been working for the wind. It is all swept away. All the rest of his life he is under a cloud—gloomy, discouraged, frustrated, and angry” (Ecclesiastes 5:15-17, TLB).

       It is true that we can go ‘round and ‘round in circles trying to figure out why things have happened they way they have in our lives, or why something didn’t happen. This kind of reasoning—constantly speculating about the past in our minds—will definitely take away our peace of mind. The reality is, sometimes we just don’t know why some things happen the way they happen. And when this is the case, we need to trust in God that he knows best, and that he’s going to work good out of the situation, whatever it is. Indeed, God has promised us that he works all things together for our good, and this fact alone will give us peace (see Romans 8:28).

       We should remember too that, “What is wrong cannot be righted; it is water over the dam; and there is no use thinking of what might have been” (Ecclesiastes 1:14, 15, TLB). It’s not possible to go back in time and redo the past—though all of us have things we would like to have a ‘redo’ on. We all make mistakes in life, as none of us are perfect in all our actions. My point is that it doesn’t do us any good to sit around and wonder what would have happened if we’d of done this or that, or made that choice or this choice. That kind of contemplation of the past won’t change it. Those kind of thoughts just take away our peace and leave us upset and full of regret. Thankfully, when we’ve sinned against God or others in the past, we have the blood of Jesus to cleanse us of those wrongs. And we need to move on and not think about those things any more.

Number two: Thinking the past was better than the present

“Don’t long for “the good old days,” for you don’t know whether they were any better than these!” (Ecclesiastes 7:10, TLB).

       King Solomon’s advice here is key, that from glancing in the rear-view-mirror, things do look better in the past. When we do think about good periods of time or things we did from our past, they always look better than they actually were. But just take a vacation as an example. Think of the last time you took a trip. If you think about that vacation (considering it was a good one), you’re probably only going to mostly remember that good things about it. That’s what pictures do, right? The pictures we take are the highlights of the good places we went and the cool things that we saw. The pictures don’t show us the bad times, like the times we couldn’t find a hotel to spend the night at, or was longing for the next rest area to come. Or the poor service we got at that restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

       We should enjoy the present time—our current ‘now’ time. There are always troubles in any given day, but we need to enjoy life the best we can. We should enjoy our jobs, our work, and enjoy eating our meals; this makes us happy. Every day that God has given us is a gift, and if we see each day—each time slot we have—as a gift, we can then enjoy it. A lot of people, for instance, like to wish away their work week. They are always looking forward to the weekend at the expense of the present. There’s nothing wrong with looking forward for the weekend to come, but we shouldn’t view each of our workdays as undesirable and not enjoy them. Try to enjoy the present. Squeeze all you can out of the present time, making the most of it. Sure it may not be as good and fun as the weekend, but it’s still a time that can be enjoyed.

Number three: Recalling past sins and negative events

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14, ESV).

       I’ve talked about in the past how some people have created cemeteries in their minds of bad things that have happened in the past. They recall their past sins and memorialize them in their minds, like tombstones in a cemetery. But this, of course, only works to torment ourselves, and definitely takes away peace in our minds. Again, thinking about a past sin committed doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t make the sin go away—quite the opposite—it keeps it alive. God tells us in Hebrews: “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12, ESV). If God doesn’t even remember our sins, then why should we? If our minds are always stuck in the past, then we cannot enjoy our ‘now’ time and even enjoy the future. Thinking about past sins will cause negativity to develop in our minds, and that surely work to make us miserable.

       A lot of us think too much about negative past events as well. It may not be something you did wrong, but something may have happened that was negative and upsetting. It may have even been something that someone else or others did that hurt us. Nevertheless, we cannot be cultivating more peace in our minds if we are reminiscing about these things from time to time. But someone might say, “Doesn’t everybody do that?” Perhaps to some degree, but we don’t have to. Indeed, we should not be thinking about things that just cause us to relive through the hurt and give us negative emotions. Instead, we should focus on positive things from our past, and think about the good things that have happened.

       Just because we may have had experiences in our past that were negative does not mean that the future will then be negative. Not all of the past in our lives has been negative. I can guarantee you, if you’ll think about it, that there are many good things from the past you can recall to give you faith for the future. You shouldn't cultivate a negative view of the past when not everything has been negative. Think about the positive things that you have experienced, and be sure that God has more positive things for you in the future. For many of us, we have got to work to get rid of more negativism from our minds. Just because things may look grim, to you, for the future, or the mere fact that you don’t know what God has in store for you, this does not mean you have to think negatively.

Number four: Not accepting our God-given position in life

“All things are decided by fate; it was known long ago what each man would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny” (Ecclesiastes 6:10, TLB).

       God has given us our position in life, and we should accept it and not be comparing ourselves with others. Most of us are normal, average individuals that God has called to do a variety of tasks. We all have been gifted in different ways, with varying talents and abilities. When we accept our position in life, that gives us peace and freedom to go about doing what we should to be doing, our work, with joy. But when we don’t accept our position, we find that we don’t enjoy our work and we become discontent on a daily basis. We find ourselves wanting to be someone whom we are not. It’s not possible for us to be discontent and yet living happy, peaceful lives in Christ.

       A lot of people are content in being normal, average individuals in life. And it is also true that God has called certain individuals to a higher calling, to a more work-driven and less leisure type of life. Some people he has given a higher drive than the norm. Remember the Parable of the Talents in Matthew chapter 25? In the parable, Jesus gave one person five talents, another two, and still another just one talent. Therefore, the parable shows us that God has different expectations based on what he has equipped us to do. The person who only has one talent should not be discontent with that fact. Likewise, the one who has five talents should not think the people given with less to be lazy or undedicated. So, accepting our position in Christ, what he expects from us and has gifted us to do, will give us peace of mind and make us happy.

Number five: Wanting to know about everything possible

“I said to myself, “Look, I am better educated than any of the kings before me in Jerusalem. I have greater wisdom and knowledge.” So I worked hard to be wise instead of foolish—but now I realize that even this was like chasing the wind. For the more my wisdom, the more my grief; to increase knowledge only increases distress” (Ecclesiastes 1:17, 18, TLB).

       In our day of the Internet, there is knowledge everywhere we turn when we’re on our computers and mobile devices. It isn’t always good to know everything that you possibly can, whether it be about the world or about our own circles of friends, family, or coworkers. Sometimes a lack of knowledge about things is in fact good. This is because the more we know, the more we can become grieved or worried in our minds. And being sorrowful and worrying about things takes away our peace. On my days off of work, my weekend, for instance, I almost always don’t watch or read any news. That’s because I’ve heard plenty during my work week, and want to give my mind a break and a rest. If we do things like this in our lives, we can increase our peace of mind and lower any unnecessary distress.

       Many of us today try to gain more and more knowledge, whether intellectual knowledge or just knowledge about our surroundings. And it is true that, at least for some of us, it is actually fun to learn more and more. But for those of us who continually study things, we know that typically the more we learn about—the more knowledge we increase—the more the possibilities of things to worry about or be afraid of. Yeah, it is nice to learn and have a greater knowledge database in our minds, but it doesn’t come free, but rather with a price. Some people want to know everything they can, but becoming a ‘know-it-all’ can actually remove peace from our lives.

       This can be especially true when we seek to learn things about other people, or problems other people may be facing, all the while not really needing to know that information. Sometimes other people's problems, the one’s we have no capacity to help others with, can actually reduce the peace in our minds. What good is it for us to learn about things in life that will cause us to worry, of which we have no control over? Learning about more things to be concerned about doesn’t help us cultivate our peaceful mindset. It is good to turn away from hearing more information about something if we really don’t need to know the information (see John 21:20-22 & 1 Thessalonians 4:11).

Number six: Refusing to forgive others their wrongs

“If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26, 27, TLB).

       It is good and important that, when we can, we need to let offenses go as quickly as they came. It is a good thing when we are not be offended by something that someone does against us. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but later on it is definitely worth it. If we are too critical of other’s behavior, it will make growing closer to people more difficult. We should not be quick to judge and find fault with others. Now sometimes people will offend us in larger and bigger ways, and we may have to deal with that offense by talking one-on-one with the person. But most offenses don’t even need to be mentioned, if we are having a right attitude toward others behavior in this area.

       When we won’t let an offense go—whether big or small—and continually go over it our minds when we think of the person, that allows Satan to gain a foothold in our minds. This, in turn, takes away our peace. Odds are, if we were unwilling to forgive an offense, we will be harder on that particular person and probably harder on others as we continually focus on the wrong that was done against us. We can gain an inflated view of ourselves, too, when we think like this. We can cultivate a critical mindset toward others, thinking we are mostly right all the time and that others are mostly wrong. Really, we should be quick to forgive, wanting to forgive others their offenses because Jesus has forgiven all of us our offenses, even if the person doesn’t acknowledge or even know he or she has sinned against us. Often times when people sin against us, they don’t even realize it, just like many times we don’t realize we are sinning against them.

Number seven: Being afraid by not having faith

“But when he [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30, 31, ESV).

       When we become overly fearful in our lives, it causes us to lose our peace of mind. Fear can be good at times, as it preserves us from getting into trouble in certain situations. But fear, when unwarranted, is bad because it can hinder us from doing something in life that we should do. Fear is having a lack of faith; it is not trusting in God when we feel God is leading us to do something. We can become fearful of what others will think of our actions, and that often is a great hinderance. Sometimes God places something on our hearts that he wants us to do for someone else, and fear can often rob us of accomplishing the task. But when we take a step of faith, and trust in God, when can see positive results.

       Often times Satan will get us to think of the worst possible outcome to a situation we face, and we will believe his lie and will not move forward in faith. Satan is full of lies, and frequently will make us think of possible outcomes that, mostly likely, aren’t going to happen. And this prevents us from doing what we should do. But we need to stop believing his lies, and believe that God will be on our side when we take a step of faith. This is how we see good things get done. Remember, Paul told us in Romans chapter 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:31, ESV). We cannot let the fear of being wrong prevent us from doing right. Trying to be controlling of our situation is not exercising faith in the situation. We need to exercise hope, which defeats any discouraging thoughts.

       For each of us, we need to ask ourselves what kind of thoughts are ruling in our minds. If they’re faith-filled thoughts, then we surely have peace in our minds. However, if they’re fear-filled thoughts, we know we have a lack of peace. It is good for us to cultivate a mindset that if full of faith, a mind that thinks mostly positive thoughts and not negative thoughts. That may sound elementary, but we should be honest with ourselves about what kind of thoughts we think most of the time. If we are typically thinking negative thoughts, that’s going to show forth in our speech and actions. And people may not find if too fun being around us if we are negative all the time. By changing to think positively, though, we can increase our peace both inwards and outwards.


       In closing today, I know some of you have been listening to what I’ve been discussing about these different things that take our peace, and you’ve felt convicted about some of what I have said. Well, don’t worry. We all have areas where improvement is needed. If you have felt convicted today, set some time aside and go over with God what you need to, and then try to keep your mind in his Word on a daily basis. It becomes more and more difficult for us to not be cultivating peace in our minds if we are continually immersing ourselves in the right things. It would be good for you to create a list of Bible verses that speak to you and your area of need, and go over those verses daily to help you cultivate a more peaceful mindset. You can eliminate wrong thoughts, wrong attitudes; we all can.

       Now perhaps today you’ve been listening to what I’ve been discussing but you’re not a Christian, and see one or more of these incorrect lines of thought as dominant in your own mind. Well, today, I want you to know that God loves you and wants to be in a personal relationship with you. He wants to help you become a better person and have a peaceful mind. He wants to help all of us become more like Jesus, and that includes you today. In fact, God sent Jesus to the earth 2,000 years ago, and he died on a cross to pay our sin debts, all the wrongs we’ve done in our lives. He died to make us right with God. Jesus rose from the dead and is today with God in Heaven. God gives both truly fulfilling life now to those who will believe in him, and eternal life for the future. Jesus wants to help you personally today, and wants to see others also helped.

       If you would like to come into a personal relationship with God today through Jesus Christ, then I want you to follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I have realized today that I’m not following you in my life. I’m not following your ways in doing things, but I’m doing things the wrong ways. Today, though, I want to turn from doing wrong and accept Jesus into my life as my Guide. I want to do things the right way and have your peace. I believe Jesus died for my offenses and can make me right with you. I believe he rose from the dead, is alive today, and will help me in my life. Please Father, help me to start making right choices, choices that work peace in my life, and help me to be close to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton


Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.