Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When life's race gets tough, inner peace is what you need. Whether you have health issues, broken relationships, or face an uncertain financial future, the peace Jesus offers is promised to all who believe in Him.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, has there ever been a time when having the peace of God was especially meaningful for you? Dave, I've had many experiences where the peace of God was able to stabilize my soul. I remember going through a special trial. Someone was opposing me.
I didn't know what the future held. And I still remember waking up in the middle of the night and God brought verses of Scripture to my mind, which brought great peace. The passages of Scripture had to do with the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and honor and glory. And it's been my experience that when we focus on Him, we indeed are given peace. And even as I speak now, I pray for all those who are struggling that they might be brought to peace. And in order for us to understand what Jesus was talking about in the Upper Room Discourse, I've written a book entitled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future. Final words of warning and comfort from Jesus to His followers. My desire is that you be brought to peace. And for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Go to RTWOffer.com.
That's RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And I pray that this message will help you to be brought to peace. He gave me such a sense of unrest. It was like two rivers trying to both go through my spirit at the same time. It was such agony. There were times I couldn't have gotten out of bed in the morning. I tried to focus on Jehovah. I remember singing that song, state upon Jehovah, there is perfect rest. I kept saying it over and over and over again. And the deep, unrelenting agony was so great, I wondered whether or not I was able to make it through the next day. It was the most awful, horrendous experience I've ever experienced in life.
Even worse than I'm really telling you about, frankly. What about this verse? Ha ha ha. You know what God was saying in heaven? Oh, you know what he was saying, don't you? Erwin, between you and me, you think this match was made in heaven. But guess what?
It wasn't. And you had better get the message. And I will not give you peace until this relationship ends. And I'm so slow to catch on, it took a couple of months before that message came through with unutterable, apodictic clarity. Been waiting years to use that word, apodictic.
Not sure exactly what it means, but it seems so appropriate. I believe that there are times when God directs us by a lack of peace. And there are people who are not listening to that voice, they are slow, just like I was, except that God perhaps is not as gracious and hitting them with this tremendous restlessness and this lack of peace. But that was God and how I thank him over and over and over and over again for that. Because I tell you, if I had married this match made in heaven, I won't go into details, but I probably would not be here today. You had better listen to God.
No, you can't have peace in every circumstance, but if you finally surrender it to God and say, God, this is your dilemma, then the peace of God which passes all understanding fills your heart and it filled mine once I made the right decision. Stayed upon Jehovah hearts are fully blessed, just as he promised, giving peace and rest. How did Jesus endure it? You focus on God. That's the positive.
Let's look at the negative. You'll notice Jesus says in verse 29, I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen, you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer for the prince of this world is coming and he has no hold on me. But the world must learn that I love the father and that I do exactly what my father has commanded me. What Jesus is saying is that Satan wants to disrupt my peace. But the prince of this world has no hold on me. There is nothing within me that responds to his overtures.
He cannot get within me to enhance the struggle. And so what we need to do is to recognize folks very clearly that we must say no to the devil who wants to work us into a lather, who wants to destroy our peace so that we focus on circumstances rather than God. And we must recognize that it comes from outside of us at times and that the devil must be sent back to his place.
All the water in the world, however hard it tried, could never sink a ship unless it got inside. All the evil in the world, the wickedness and sin can never sink the soul's craft unless we let it in. Positively, we focus on God. Negatively, we say the prince of this world has nothing in me. I refuse to allow him to gain entry. I refuse to allow him to so disrupt my peace that I can't write a letter.
I refuse to allow him to so disrupt me that I'm worked into this frenzy where I cannot sleep and where sleep passes from me because the events are so overwhelming. You must say, be gone for it is written that if we pray prayers and petition that the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. There's a third point how we receive it. Positively, focusing on God.
Negatively, saying no to the devil. And third, we must realize that receiving peace is both an act but it's also a process. You have to receive peace over and over again.
It's not just a one shot deal. You don't just get on your knees and give your problem to God and receive his peace and then say, well, that's it for that. No, it may be daily for some of you who are under a tremendous amount of pressure and who have lived with anxiety for an awful long time. It may be an hourly battle, but you keep affirming the peace of Christ. You know what our problem is? Sometimes we don't want peace. Oh, you say, of course we do.
No. Many years ago, there was a man whom I knew with whom I had done some work who I felt wronged me. Looking back, it was so incredibly minor that I just marvel at the fact that this so disrupted my peace. I felt he took advantage of some of the help that I had given him and had said some things that were not exactly critical but maybe not so favorable either. And I thought, you know, I deserve better than this. But I was out on a speaking engagement and, you know, it's hard to preach these sermons if you yourself have not applied them. Did you know that?
I've tried it. Some of you folks have put up with it, but it's so much better that if you're preaching on peace that you're at peace. So what do I do? I lay on the bed knowing what I had to do, and that is to just let go of it. But I couldn't because I didn't want to. The last thing I wanted was God's peace because I knew right well if God gave me peace, there would be no way that I could get even with him. I didn't want peace. I wanted justice. Be gone with your peace. But God, as he often does in my life, would not let me go.
He would not take that for an answer. It was at least 15 or 20 minutes of struggle. It was almost as if there was some evil within me that had to be extracted because I wrestled so much, and finally it was over. Now, I need to tell you something. Not only do I love this guy, but we've had fellowships since, and I look back and I say, you know, that was so incredibly trivial.
How could I have been so worked up about this? I think the devil was involved personally. You say, now wait a moment. Are you saying that if we yield fully to God, we can be at peace?
Yes, listen. Those of you who are filled with anxiety, and I won't ask you to raise your hands. Those of you who are filled with anxiety, now I'm talking about you.
Did you know that that anxiety is like a warning light on a car? It highlights that which has not yet come under God's complete authority. You have not yet fully cast that care upon God. I'm not talking about the fact that there can be no tears in the midst of peace.
Of course there can be. Look at Jesus. I'm talking about those of you who do not have that sense of well-being and stability that comes because you know that your life and your circumstances are in God's hand and not your own.
Anxiety reminds us that there's some corner of our lives that has not yet surrendered. I preached a message similar to this. Actually, it was on the sixth chapter of Matthew where Jesus talked about, you know, he says that our hearts should not be troubled, and he goes on to say that consider the flowers of the field, be anxious for nothing, and so forth.
And I preached it in a church here in Chicago. And it's one of those few times that I received a very stinging letter. It was very strong. It was just zing, zinging. That's the word I want.
Zinging in my direction. What this woman said is, I can't believe that you'd stand up there and tell us all these things. She said, I'm going through a divorce because my husband has been unfaithful, and you expect us to be free of anxiety and to have peace. She said, how unrealistic can you possibly be?
And she just, she just really sent it to me. And I read it, and there was a part of me that said, okay, maybe I overstated the promises. Maybe I am too theoretical. Maybe I wasn't empathizing with the people who have problems like that in their lives. But then I look at the text again, and I look at the scripture again and say, well, Lord, I'm sorry, but I thought I was preaching what you revealed. You say, even in a situation like that, can there be a sense of well-being? Yes, because what you must do is to so give that situation over to God and so put it into his hands that quite literally it is no longer yours. And people have done that in the midst of awful situations because he does care for you, casting all your care upon him.
He really does care for you. And some of you bless you. You do just like I've done.
We hang on and we hang on and we hang on and we hang on and we bear a burden that we are not qualified to bear, that God never intended us to bear instead of simply saying, God, I give up. At any cost your peace, this is no longer my, my situation. I back off. This is yours. Now can that be done just in a second?
No, no, no, no. If I wrestled for 15 minutes or 20 on that bed over this small issue, you may have to wrestle for an hour to finally give it up or two hours. But finally, the peace of God, which passes all understanding. I don't know how else to read that text. I mean, I don't know why I forget what I wrote back to that woman, but I almost felt like saying, Lord, forgive me for having believed your word.
I mean, the peace of God, which passes understanding will keep your heart and mind. If you were to go to Waterloo where the great Battle of Napoleon was fought, I understand that there you would see a huge bronze lion that was taken and actually made from the guns that the British captured in that great battle. This huge lion snarls with his mouth open and his teeth very evident as he looks over the battlefield. A tourist noticed one day that a bird built a nest in the lion's mouth, twigs all wrapped around his teeth. And little birds, I don't know what you call little birds, but anyway, little birds were chirping there right in the midst of those teeth and that angry snarl. Some of you are in a lion's cage and one of the problems, or I should say the lion is in the cage, you're looking at the lion.
You'd be better off to look at the bars, by the way, when you go to the zoo. And you say, I am right there. I'm right there, the jaws of a lion. Well, I'm here today to tell you that there is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God. There is a place where sin cannot molest near to the heart of God. Oh, Jesus blessed Redeemer sent from the heart of God, hold those who wait before thee near to the heart of God.
I'm not making it up. It's the words of Jesus, my peace I give you. Supernatural peace. The gift of peace, personal peace.
And it can be yours if you really, really get serious with God. Let's pray. Father, I think of all of the anxieties that we all bring to this experience. I think, Father, of those who face things tomorrow that are fearful, things that seem to be out of their hands.
And I pray, oh Father God, that through this auditorium and for all who should ever listen to this message that there might be deliverance and freedom and that you might be winning all kinds of victories. Before I close this prayer, why don't you talk to God? Those of you who don't know Christ as Savior, you've never trusted him even with your soul. How can you trust him with your future? Would you reach out and trust him at this moment? Those of you who are Christians but you've lived with anxiety and you say, how can I get this off my back?
Would you talk to God if he's talked to you? Father, if we've been spoken to, help us to realize that this is not the end of your work. It is the beginning of your work. We pray for the many who should spend an afternoon in your presence finally, finally laying it all down. We ask today, Father, that victories that we shall never even hear about shall be won because of the promise and the power of the words of Jesus, in whose name we pray, amen. Well, my friend, I don't know about you, but I needed to hear the words of that song today, a song that emphasizes the fact that there is indeed a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God. And in the midst of our very busy life, there is the possibility of peace within our hearts. You know, I've written a book entitled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future. It's actually based on the words of Jesus in the upper room, as this series of messages is indicating, and it's intended to help you. I think it will be a great benefit to your devotional life. As you read the words of Jesus to the disciples, the last words of Jesus to the disciples, and then you go to this book for an exposition, for illustrations, for help, in order that you too, in the midst of a world that is so torn and so angry, that you might find peace. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, give you time to get a pencil so that you can write this down. But at the same time, I want to assure you that the ministry of running to win continues because of people just like you. We're so thankful that this ministry continues to expand. As people respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ as they are energized, and as you frequently hear us say, we want to help everyone to make it successfully to the finish line. And you know, for many of us, we recognize of course that that finish line may be closer than we realize.
In fact, none of us understands how close it is, but we want to do well all the way to the end. So ask for the book Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future, subtitled The Final Words of Warning and Comfort from Jesus to His Disciples. And for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
As a matter of fact, you can pick up the telephone and you can call right now, 1-888-218-9337. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Parents want the best for their daughters when it comes to marriage. Steven from Iowa asks, Our young adult daughter is dating a professed Christian man who goes to church. He's involved with the youth ministry at their church.
We've only talked to him briefly over the phone. He told our daughter that he visited strip clubs repeatedly as a younger man and had a problem with pornography in high school years. He confessed to our daughter that he recently went to one of these clubs with co-workers not realizing that that is where they were going, so he left early. We're obviously concerned for our daughter. We feel there is a credibility issue with this young man in the details of his story and the rationalization of his actions, and also perhaps a moral issue that has not been fully resolved.
We feel that if he voluntarily goes to his pastor, that will provide some clues as to his character and makeup. How do we proceed in counseling our daughter in this matter? First of all, thank you so much for writing, and you know my heart goes out to you because Rebecca and I have three daughters, and we're so glad that they have married Christians, but I know the concern of a father's heart for his daughter, and it's very clear that you have that concern and that's good. Furthermore, there's something else that I'm optimistic about, and that is that you seem to have a good relationship with your daughter.
According to your letter, it appears as if she is willing to take your advice because you're talking about counseling her and giving her guidance. There's something else that I'm optimistic about, and that is that her boyfriend did voluntarily confess to her about his past, and evidently also about what happened more recently, so that's a good sign. It shows that he wasn't willing to hide this, but he was willing to get it out in the open. But having said all that, I think it is very important that he go for counsel and have accountability. You know, the kind of struggle that you are talking about is a lifelong struggle, and what you will find is that pornography and the things that go with it, even the club that you mentioned he attended and so forth, these things are so deeply ingrained, these habits, these addictions, that we really do need help, and I think that your future son-in-law, if your daughter were to marry him, really needs that kind of help. He needs to go to a pastor. He needs to realize that there have been very good books that have been written about sexual addiction and pornography. But above all, let your daughter proceed very cautiously.
I don't like what I'm hearing, but at the same time, I'm not in a position, since I don't know them, I'm not in a position to say that this relationship shouldn't continue. I am in a position to say that when it continues, that young man needs accountability, he needs to prove his honesty, and if he doesn't deal with this in a satisfactory way, if your daughter were to marry him, there would be future repercussions. It's amazing how that our sins of our youth sometimes pop up later in life. So my prayers and heart go out to you.
Seek God, seek counsel, and help your daughter to see that that young man has a long way to go before he becomes husband material. Some thoughtful counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Jesus wants us to know where the real power has to come from as we run the race of life. His disciples were people of the land. They understood what he meant when he used a word picture of fruit. Next time on Running to Win, let's all learn a lesson on fruit bearing from a vine and its branches. Plan to join us in John chapter 15. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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