Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Unleashing Peace and Joy: The Ultimate Life Hack

In life, we often become discouraged in our faith when the reality and uncertainty of life hit home. With uncertainty and loss and grief and disappointment and bad circumstances come an expectation that God should do something about our circumstances. Or even, more pointedly, “God should not have let this happen to me.” Yet, the thing is, God never promised to take away any of the difficulties of life. God’s promise is much different. God tells us that we find peace and joy not in the removal of “Bad,” but in the presence of Christ and the love of Christ in the middle of “Bad.” The ultimate life hack is not the removal of “Bad.” The hack is journeying through the bad with Christ.

We have been on a journey with Sarah in our fictional place of Graceville. We have seen her find transformation and a new life in her connection to Christ. She has indeed been born again.  Today, we close our story with Sarah.

When we last encountered Sarah, she was working with Mr. Cornelius, a wealthy businessman whom she wanted to donate to her outreach ministry. He had proposed an unethical way of donating. Sarah rejected it and remained true to her convictions. Mr. Cornelius’ life was transformed through their exchange. Her quiet resolve helped him understand true generosity. Through her faith, he eventually received grace through Christ.

As transformed as Mr. Cornelius’ life became, Sarah took another enormous step in her journey with Christ. She had received the grace of Christ, forgiveness, purpose and a heart of love and generosity.  Yet, peace and joy continued to elude her. She kept reflecting on one of her favorite passages:

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your

gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 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.

She lived with gentleness, but calmness was swallowed up by anxiety. She was thankful for her new life, but she still found it hard to present her requests to God. She still relied on her strength. Mostly, her heart and mind remained troubled, and the peace and joy of God that transcended all understanding seemed far off.

She prayed to God asking, “how can I shift from anxiety and discomfort to peace and joy in Christ?”

As she wrestled with Mr. Cornelius through their financial conversations, she grappled with strong emotions. If he wouldn’t donate on ethical terms, she faced the potential loss of her outreach program. Her anxiety overwhelmed her. She experienced a natural human response to the looming uncertainty of the future.

She thought about the passage in Romans 8:35-36:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Her period of trial echoed the Romans passage—hardship for the people she served and the sword of financial ruin. Yet, Sarah remained steadfast in the belief that no external circumstance could sever her from the love of Christ. Sarah found solace and strength in Philippians 4:4-7 and Romans 8:35-36. These passages reminded her that in Christ, there is an inherent joy and peace that transcends the turbulence of life’s uncertainties.

As she navigated the dilemma posed by Mr. Cornelius’s proposition, Sarah leaned into the uncertainty. She embraced it not as a source of fear, but as an opportunity for deeper reliance on her faith. She fought her anxiety and presented her requests to God with thanksgiving. Sarah approached her situation with a prayerful and grateful heart. She found peace that surpassed all understanding. Through prayer, she guarded her heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Sarah’s faith assured her that her trials could not diminish the love and peace she found in Christ. Her belief transformed uncertainty from a source of anxiety to an awareness of peace.

Sarah’s transformation was evident in her negotiations with Mr. Cornelius. Where there was once anxiety, there now stood a woman embodying the call to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” In their interactions, Sarah demonstrated a tranquility and peace that was undoubtedly rooted in her unwavering faith in Christ.

Her prayers and petitions were offered with thanksgiving. They were not just requests for the survival of her programs but also for the strength to embrace the outcome. This shift in perspective allowed Sarah to move through the turmoil with a grace that baffled those around her, including Mr. Cornelius. Her peace became a shield, guarding her heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Mr. Cornelius’ conversion, too, was a journey from certainty in worldly power to finding peace in the embrace of faith and community. His transformation was a vivid illustration of the power of Christ’s love to soften even the most hardened hearts.

The story of Graceville, of Sarah and Mr. Cornelius, is a narrative of triumph not over external challenges alone but over the internal emotions of anxiety and fear. It’s a story about finding joy in uncertainty. Sarah found peace that comes from her relationship with Jesus Christ. Their story reminds us that in Christ, there is always a reason to rejoice, a peace that prevails, and a love that never fails.

Contrary to the teachings of some, the love and presence of Christ are not measured by earthly prosperity or material success. Today’s scripture asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Scripture shares a fundamental truth: the love of Christ transcends earthly circumstances. That includes the absence of material wealth or physical well-being.

Some say faithfulness will lead to financial blessing and physical health. Our passage assures us that our grace, peace, and joy lie not in worldly gains but in the bond of love between Christ and us. This bond is steadfast regardless of life’s trials and circumstances. The richness of a Christian’s life is not found in temporary material blessings. The richness we experience is in the eternal and unchanging love of Christ.

Facing hardship, persecution, or poverty does not mean we lack faith or favor with God. It does not diminish Christ’s presence or love. Instead, Christ assures us of his love and presence even in the most challenging circumstances. Our pursuit is not earthly prosperity. Our pursuit is seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. In Christ, we find the ultimate life hack. We find peace and joy in Christ’s unwavering love, which is the true prosperity of the Christian faith.

In Christ we can,

Embrace Uncertainty as a Path of Growth: We can make uncertainty our friend rather than fearing it. We can move through difficult choices with clarity and purpose. We can grow in Christ. In GriefShare, I see this frequently. The grief never fully leaves. The loved one’s memory and the loss linger but hope returns. People develop a deeper empathy and compassion, a stronger path with Christ and a return of peace and even joy. This is the Spirit of Christ at work.

Take Ownership of Our Response: We are responsible for our reactions and emotions. We can choose fear and anxiety, or we can turn to Christ Jesus in prayer. We can trust our faith and seek peace and joy.

Find Inner Strength in Adversity: Sometimes to endure life we need a strength of will. This requires faith and hope. Mostly it requires the endless love and grace of Christ. God gives us all that we need, and what we need most, Romans 8:35 tells us; we can never be separated from the love of Christ.

Let us close in Prayer:

Lord, give us strength and courage like Sarah in our story. May we face life’s uncertainties and challenges with a steadfast faith in You. Help us remember that Your love is our greatest treasure, surpassing all earthly riches and comforts. We pray for the grace to embrace life’s trials as opportunities to grow closer to You. Help us to trust that Your plans for us are rooted in love and purpose. May we always seek solace in Your presence, finding the peace and joy that transcends understanding. May we let Your Holy Spirit guide our thoughts, words, and actions. May we reflect Your love, as beacons of Your light in a world in darkness. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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