No comments yet

Masterpiece Week 8: The Art of Peace – Sermon Notes


Today we are wrapping up our summer sermon series called Masterpiece. Throughout the summer we have returned over and over again to advice given by the Apostle Paul about living the Christian life. "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

We are God’s Masterpiece, His very own created work of art, perfectly crafted, perfectly equipped to live and work in this world. Our series thesis has been this:

We are good works of ART created to do the art of good WORKS.

Throughout the summer we have looked at ways in which God creates this masterpiece. We have looked at specific good works that God will use in our lives. And Paul gives us an actual list a little later in his letter to the Ephesians where he says this:

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

If we are his masterpiece then these are the paint by number ways that we are to walk in. And so, we have looked at:

  • The Art of Humility
  • The Art of Gentleness
  • The Art of Patience
  • The Art of Love
  • The Art of Unity
  • And finally, this week, The Art of Peace.

We All Desire Peace

Let’s start today with a tension that I think is true for all of us. Our desire for peace is a universal desire and yet we live everyday with conflict. We long to experience peace but our experience is discontent. Wars between nations, cultural clashes, racial divisions, US against THEM. conflicts in our own homes, and workplaces and churches. Peace is such a peculiar idea isn’t it. How can something everyone desires be so elusive?

To truly understand what we mean by the Art of Peace we will turn to God’s Word because God is the master artist that is going to paint the picture of peace for us. And I think we will discover together that the picture he paints is a little unfamiliar and that our understanding, our definition of peace is woefully inadequate. To really get at this, we need to first discover together what is at the root of our discontent. How is it, and why is it, that we find ourselves with lives marked by a lack of peace. And that discontent comes at us in three ways

  • First: Lack of Peace within us.

Anxiety, depression, regret and shame and guilt. So many of us look in the mirror and see hopelessness and emptiness rather than joy and peace staring back at us.

  • Then: Lack of Peace between us and others.

From personal conflict with family, friends, and coworkers to war between nations, the evidence of the absence of peace is evident in our relationships.

  • And Finally: Lack of Peace between us and nature.

Disease, natural disasters, accidents. Much of it out of our control. So we have conflict within, Conflict with others, and conflict with Nature. AND we feel it don’t we? Everything is so terribly broken, isn’t it? Will it ever go away? Where did all this conflict come from? Pick your discontent. Choose your injustice.

  • The epidemic of drug addiction
  • Ethnic or racial hostility
  • Declining health
  • Political corruption
  • Financial disaster

What is the Root of These Anxieties?

Ask yourself, what is at the root of these very real cultural anxieties. What is the root of our discontent? What is at the root of these human impulses and destructive behaviors? What is it that stands in the way of our peace? If you are a note taker, write this down:

The heart of all conflict is a heart in conflict with God.

In the very first book of our Bible, in Genesis chapter 3 we read about the very origin of this discontent, this conflict with God that has stolen our peace. Step by step by step we see how WE created the conflict, how we started the ball of discontent rolling. How it is that traded away our peace?

Example from American History

In American history the name Benedict Arnold is forever synonymous with treason and betrayal. No other person and no other action better sums up what it means to turn your back on your countrymen and nation. Benedict Arnold was a successful General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary war. At a point in his career he grew dissatisfied with a lack of recognition and switched allegiance from Colonial America to England. His most notable betrayal was an offer to surrender West Point to the British for the equivalent of 4 million dollars. The deal was discovered and he was forever labeled a traitor to the nation.

But here’s the deal…Benedict Arnolds treason pales in comparison to the cosmic treason of Adam and Eve which has turned into our treason as well.

We betrayed God, We walked away, we took a bite of the apple, we stepped into shame, we hid from God. We alone are responsible for the separation and loss of peace.

In the very first book of the Bible, Adam and Eve traded complete peace with God and the world for conflict with God and the world. They traded complete satisfaction in God for their own wisdom and getting their own way. And it destroyed everything but the first thing it destroyed was peace.

Turn with me to the very first book of the Bible, Genesis Chapter 3 beginning in verse 7 and we will watch together as the perfect peace we possessed in the very presence of God in his perfect garden fell like dominoes

  • Peace within US. FELL
  • Peace between US and others. FELL
  • Peace between US and nature. FELL

Lets read together as we witness Peace within us being replaced with turmoil and conflict.

Adam and Eve Lost Peace With God

Adam and Eve have taken a fatal step away from God and everything changes. The first domino falls. This is what we read:

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Genesis 3:7-11

A feeble attempt to cover their shame. A hopeless hiding from God. And every one of us down through the ages have tried to do the very same thing. Fix what is unfixable. Cover what we are ashamed of. All because of conflict with God. And the price we pay is a loss of peace within us.

And now the second domino is about to fall. Peace between us and others is fatally damaged. Conflict between man and woman happened in a blink of the eye. God has asked a question and of course he knows the answer before it comes out of Adams mouth. God asks

“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

And we answer.

“The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12

Conflict, discontentment. Man turned on Woman, Families turned on families, Nations turned on nations. Races turned on Races. All because of conflict with God. And now the final domino is about to fall, Peace between us and nature.

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:14-19

Our Universal Conflict

And so everything is in conflict. Conflict inside of us, conflict between us, conflict in nature. All because we are in conflict with God.

When Adam and Eve lost their peace with God, they betrayed his goodness and rejected his rule. It was indeed the ultimate treason. They chose conflict and separation and they passed on that conflict and separation to all who would come after them including all of us.  And just in case we are tempted to think well that was then and this is now. Why should I be paying the price for something that happened a very long time ago. The Apostle Paul places the shared blame squarely on us all. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he reminds us

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— Romans 5:12

So who is at fault here?…we all share the blame…it’s our inheritance.

Pathway to Peace

So what is our pathway to peace? What is the cure for conflict?

It has to start with a right relationship with God. The relationship with God must be reconciled in order for all other relationships to reconciled. What Adam and Eve lost in the garden is a loss we inherit and must be mended and restored.Warren Wiersbe was a pastor and a prolific Bible commentator and he puts it this way:

In the world, peace is something you hope for or work for, but to the Christian, peace is God’s wonderful gift, received by faith. Unsaved people enjoy peace when there is an absence of trouble; Christians enjoy peace in spite of trials because of the presence of power, the Holy Spirit.

Many of you have already placed your allegiance in Jesus Christ. For others you just aren’t quite sure what to do with Jesus…can I invite you to lean into the truth as it reveals the way to lasting peace with God. The follower of Jesus named Paul through the power of the Holy Spirit reveals this truth:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:10

WHILE WE WERE ENEMIES OF GOD…he is pointing out that this is the starting point for all of us…ENEMIES OF GOD. While we were enemies of God,

  • we were reconciled and made right,
  • Restored to right relationship with God in one way and only in one way only…
  • Through the death of his son Jesus on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
  • God himself has provided the way to peace through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In another letter written by Paul we see this spelled out with complete clarity and truth.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. Remember The heart of all conflict is a heart in conflict with God. But here comes the good news:

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

God Created Peace For Us

That’s Peace, God has moved on our behalf. God has removed the obstacle that we created by our rebellion and treason. This is the only true source of peace. There can be no lasting, real peace until we have peace with God. The peace that you and I yearn for begins at the cross of Christ. This kind of peace has nothing at all to do with our own efforts to rid our lives of problems…nothing at all to do with our own efforts to change our circumstances.

Will you follow the truth wherever it leads you?

There were hundreds of eyewitnesses to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are countless numbers of people down through history, including people sitting here today, who can give personal testimony to the power of the resurrection in their own life. Who can give personal testimony to the peace that is possible through faith in Jesus.

If you are on the fence with this today, can I encourage you to hear the words of Jesus himself? I would ask you to grab a Bible in the seat-back in front of you and turn to the Gospel of John chapter 14. You will find this biography of the life of Jesus in the second half of the Bible that we call the New Testament. It starts with Mathew then Mark Luke and our book John chapter 14 verse 27.

Peace in the Gospel Accounts

Before we read this passage together, I want to give the context in which it is written. In studying the Bible context is everything, because these are very real historical events happening in a specific place and time and all of that colors the picture that Jesus is going to paint for us.

In this biography, John weaves an account of the life of Jesus, that spans all of eternity. The story opens with the words,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."

John was keen to anchor his story of the life of Jesus by assuring us that Jesus existed with the Trinity before history itself began. And then for 13 chapters he gives his eyewitness account of the life of Jesus. The miracles, the parables, the teaching and equipping, The description of what the Kingdom of God is to look like here and now and in the future when he would come again.

When we arrive at chapter 14, the cross is in sight. In just a few short hours, Jesus will be betrayed by one of his own, he will be arrested and endure a sham trial at the hands of the religious and civic leaders. He will be ridiculed, beaten and spit upon and then he will suffer and die a horrible death on the cross. But before any of that happens Jesus does something amazing and beautiful. He takes time to bring words of comfort and encouragement to his friends and followers. And so in John chapter 14 verse 27 we read this:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

In the face of his own suffering Jesus turns his focus to his disciples, he turns his focus to us. To give us words of encouragement for what lies ahead. Jesus knew the struggles that his followers would soon face. Over the next hours, they would scatter away from him in fear. Betrayal would happen, His closest followers would crumble under pressure. One of his closest friends, Peter, would deny he even knew him and Jesus would be left alone to face his accusers.

In the face of His own death, Jesus wants to leave them with peace. That’s amazing love!  When they should have been comforting Him, Jesus was giving them comfort and peace that the world could not give.

Jesus Gave Us Peace While He Was In Turmoil

What is it that we would do if we were in his shoes? I think that we might be occupied with denial or fear. I think our focus would likely be on ourselves. Unlikely, I think, that we would naturally turn towards comforting our family and friends at a time like that.

Peace, this was his heart for his followers the night before his suffering. This was what Jesus is aiming at on the eve of his death on the Cross. He wants them to experience peace. And not peace like the world has but the kind of peace that only Jesus can provide. This is the outcome Jesus is encouraging. The kind of peace only He can provide.

And for all of us listening today, this is Jesus’ aim for you. If you will let him, Jesus will transform your life into a masterpiece that allows you to live a life marked by peace In those final hours of his life Jesus was focused on a very practical kind of peace. We know this because he says:

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


He was responding to the fear and anxiety that was written on the faces of his followers. He is concerned about the heart. He wanted his disciples and he wants us to experience a life free from anxiety.

Jesus stresses that this is a peace that is distinct and different than the peace that the world offers. He says

"I do not give to you as the world gives."

Because the world does offer a form of peace. Let’s call it the peace of a well-ordered life.

  • The world, and popular culture has convinced us that if we live a well-ordered life then we will have peace.
  • The world, and popular culture has convinced us that if we land a good paying job then we will have peace.
  • The world does its best to convince us that if we spend borrowed money on vacations, and toys we will have peace.
  • The world does its best to convince us that if we raise our kids with an impossible mix of intelligence, success, athletic prowess and perfect behavior we will have peace.
  • A life free from health and relationship problems and we will have peace.

The underlying idea of this version of peace is that our circumstances dictate the outcome. This is a false understanding that gives power to our circumstances to grant us peace or rob us of our peace.

But Jesus is clear here. He makes a point of saying I do not give to you as the world gives which means His peace is unconnected to our good circumstances, unconnected to a well-ordered life. Instead His peace will be a reality in spite of bad circumstances whether in our control or out of our control.

If you have placed your allegiance in Jesus perhaps you have experienced this kind of peace that is unconnected to a well-ordered life. A peace that is a reality in spite of bad circumstances. And when you experience it or even when you witness it, it’s a beautiful thing.

Example of God's Peace in The Hardest of Times

Earlier this year we had the privilege of spending time with a lifelong friend as she lost a battle with Cancer. In the weeks before her death we had a chance to visit, study God’s word and pray together. And to be clear, her prayers to the end were bold and for healing. She so wanted another 25 years to pour love into her family and friends. But there was a peace that was beyond understanding when she ended her prayers with “God has a plan and I just want what He wants”

At her funeral I summed up her last days as a Beautiful Sadness. Sadness for all kinds of loss and Beauty as we witnessed what it looks like to have complete peace that is unconnected to our present circumstances.

For Jesus, the peace that He has to offer his followers has nothing to do with circumstances. In fact, it’s just the opposite and he spell it out to them just a few pages later. He is even closer to the cross at this point. Even closer to his followers scattering in fear and Jesus wants to share this very important truth with his followers. So he tell them this:

"A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

A time of trouble is coming. A time when all of you will scatter. A time when I will be left alone, but I am never alone because by Father is with me. And then Jesus shares a universal truth: “In this world you will have trouble.”  No question about it, in this world you will have trouble.

Pastor Paul McDonald's Own Experience With Peace

Just in this past month and the month to come, I have abundant examples of trouble in my circle of friends.

  • A friend at the end of his rope with rebellious children
  • A friend with a difficult diagnosis
  • A friend facing the end of their marriage
  • A Friend that may lose her job
  • In this world you will have trouble

In my own family I have examples

  • Our son Matt facing a major surgery in a little over a week
  • Our other son Chris still in the hospital after 6 months and struggling to recover
  • In this world you will have trouble

If all of us in this room took time to write down what is facing us today we could fill a book.  In this world you will have trouble.

A Partnership with the Peace of Jesus

The peace of Jesus is not an escape from life's troubles but a partnership where we give up our attempts to make it through our days on our own unreliable strength and join with Jesus who never fails and will never leave us. The Greek work for “troubled” is the word, (tarasso) and it means, “to agitate, to stir up, to cause inward commotion, to take away calmness of mind.” Jesus assures us that we will experience this and I am encouraged that Jesus himself faced trouble. Jesus was troubled. Jesus had the Cross in mind when He said this:

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour." - John 12:27

Or when Jesus was with his disciples in the Upper Room for the last supper:

"After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” John 13:21

Troubles come and anxiety comes with them. Even though we are powerless to stop the troubles of life from coming, we are not powerless to stop anxiety from overwhelming and paralyzing us. If our working definition of “peace” is the absence of conflict we are missing the point. “In this world you will have trouble” is the foundational truth that Jesus is starting with. On the other hand, if we grasp what Jesus means by “peace” and we apply that peace to our lives, then this peace will lead us and hold us and comfort us through conflict and stress and anxiety.

Some of you may be at a point in our lives where you have experienced this kind of peace. For others this may seem like a distant and unrealistic promise at best. I want to give all of us a clear prescription to experiencing His peace.

The Apostle Paul's Prescription for Peace

And we find that prescription in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything. Easy right? We just need to muster up enough strength. But we know better. This is not mind over matter. This is not pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. This is not buck up buttercup. God’s prescription when we lose our peace? It’s Not a strength move at all, it’s a surrender move. The Apostle Paul said,

“Don’t be anxious about anything…but present your requests to God.” 

Something causing you to worry…surrender it. In the middle of a conflict…surrender it. Up against something completely out of your control…surrender it. And if we follow God’s prescription this is his promise to us.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

The Peace of God. There is our word again. And Paul makes it clear that this is not your garden variety peace, instead it’s a peace that transcends all understanding.

  • You can’t measure it with a ruler
  • You can’t weigh it in a laboratory
  • You can’t Google it on your phone
  • And you certainly can’t understand it by getting a theology degree

It’s a peace that transcends all understanding.

But it can be experienced. And the more we experience it the quicker we are to recognize it

Example From Life

Peggy and I have taken groups to the Holy land 10 different times but the very first time Peggy went she went with her brother and left me at home. When she got back, she could not stop talking about the significance of the trip for her. She described in great detail with great excitement all the sights and the things she had learned. She showed me all the pictures. She wanted to go back but if I am to be honest, I was sort of underwhelmed, even a little bored. A couple of years later we went back to the Holy Land together and suddenly what was blasé was now beautiful beyond words. Profoundly meaningful. And that’s the way it is with God’s peace. There’s is no way that I can adequately describe to you what I experienced…you have to experience it for yourself.

But just because we can’t adequately describe it doesn’t mean that it’s some sort of spiritual mumbo jumbo. This peace with transcends all understanding has some very practical and very obvious effects as it works itself out in the lives of believers who accept and apply God’s gift of peace.

God's Peace Guards Us

Paul tells us that God’s peace,

“will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Lets take a moment to see how the word “Guard” would have been understood. The Greek word translated “guard” means “to guard and protect by a military presence, to prevent hostile invasion. So this is a military term that would have us picturing soldiers who are at their posts guarding access to the city. And Paul is using this specific term to show us that when attacks come our way, God’s peace will stand guard and protect us. And the attacks do come our way. Attacks out of nowhere and sometimes attacks that we invite.

I’ve experienced this and I know you have too. This past year has been difficult for our family as our two sons are both facing significant health challenges. And I can all to easily fall prey to the attacks of depression, fear and anxiety when faced with huge unknowns. But we have learned to allow God’s peace to stand guard on our hearts and minds. We have learned to allow God’s peace to fight our battles. When we drop the guard of God’s peace it’s easy to fall into the “what ifs” and the “what ifs” can quickly spiral into very dark places.

When we recognize the signs of God’s peace leaking out of our circumstances it’s a prompt for us to go to God in prayer.

"by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Prayer: God I am afraid today for my kids. Father, restore your peace in my heart. Guard my heart Lord. I trust you wherever this takes us. When we recognize the signs of God’s peace leaking out of our circumstances it’s ALSO a prompt for us to go to God’s Word. Read it and remind ourselves of his great love. Read it and remind ourselves that he is always faithful and he always provides. Not always in way we understand, but he guards our lives and our hearts.

And how about you? Where do you go when life is falling apart around you? What do you DO when fear and sadness, when anxiety overwhelms you?

Call To Action

Some of you who are here today are in the middle of that storm right now. Some of you are truly suffering and experience a lack of peace today. While I wouldn’t presume to assign meaning to your suffering, I can tell you that God’s will in the midst of your suffering is to drive you into his arms. God is yearning for you to trust in his grace and mercy in the middle of the mess so you can know what it is to rest in his peace that only he can give you.

If you are here today and you are still putting the pieces together and trying to decide if you will give your allegiance to Jesus, remember this: The heart of all conflict is a heart in conflict with God. If that’s you, please understand that real peace, authentic peace, lasting peace is only possible on the other side of the cross of Jesus Christ. You don’t need to be stronger you need to raise the white flag of surrender. Today, right here and now you can confess your need for him, your need for forgiveness. your need for peace. Only his saving grace can fix the conflict and reconcile you to God. I can think of no better way to bring us to a conclusion than to pray for that peace that passes all understanding and if today is the day where you are ready for that peace that only Jesus can give you can pray along with me.


Father, we are beyond grateful for the peace that comes to us through you son Jesus... Father for those who are here today and yearn to know your peace that is beyond understanding we confess and understand that we are separated from you by sin and we are truly sorry. Father forgive us and restore us to you. We desire to place our allegiance in your son Jesus and allow him to rule in our lives. Amen

Invitation to Communion

This is a table of Peace, When Jesus invites us to gather at this table together, He is inviting us to share in his peace.

This invitation isn’t for everyone…if you are still putting the pieces together it would be best for you to wait. But if today is the day you have said yes to Jesus, said yes to the peace he offers you, I can think of no better way of celebrating then joining him at his table. This table is meant to be a reminder, a remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus that brings us peace.

And so it was… that Jesus…On the night that he was betrayed… took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

At this table…all who know Jesus as their Lord are invited to come. If unconfessed sin is an obstacle for you tonight…The Bible reminds us that Jesus….. was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed".

In a moment…after I pray… I will invite you to come forward starting in the front. Move to your left and come to any of these tables. If you would prefer to be served where you are sitting simply raise your hand and one of our servers will come to you.

Let us pray… Gracious Father, we thank you that you invite us to Table of Peace where you pour out your grace upon us and equip us to live out your peace with those around us.

Come….Jesus invites you.