Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Peace of God, Which Passeth All Understanding / Guest

My friend Bill Sydnor gave me permission to share his talk on "Peace" from Sacrament Meeting this Morning:

Sometimes when I wake up quite early, I go for a walk around the neighborhood. It's still dark. The streets and homes are quiet; everything is calm and still. In the east there is a hint of sunrise and the tree branches sway gently in the light breeze. I enjoy these early walks for the fresh air and for a sense of tranquility. It's a peaceful way to start a new day, and I usually find this invigorating and refreshing.

There are several kinds of peace: political, spiritual, and inner peace.

Political or Worldly Peace
The quest for enduring political peace is as old as civilization; mankind has a poor record of keeping treaties that promise an end to conflict. Over the past four or five thousand years, there have been wars in countries all over the globe, millions of lives lost in warfare, and untold suffering. Despite man's sincere effort to achieve lasting political peace, I believe this will be impossible to achieve until the Prince of Peace returns. Until we put off the natural man and become as a little child, until we learn to follow the will of the Father and not our own, we cannot enjoy world-wide peace. We cannot issue a mandate declaring peace and expect it to be followed. We begin to understand that lasting peace comes from within, not from without.

However, we can find peace in our personal lives, and promote peace within our home, amongst our family members, within our community, and wherever we are. We can be emissaries of peace. How is this to be accomplished? We must seek the Peace of God because it is a gift of the Spirit.

The Peace of God
If we are constantly concerned about such things as money, employment, and physical health, we are without the peace of God because we have become self-centered instead of God-centered. We are not placing our full trust in Him. We are saying, "Thank you God, but I can handle this myself." The Savior knew that there would be no peace on earth. In the book of John, he told his disciples, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 12:27) In Isaiah, the scriptures read, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3)

From this sense of inner spiritual peace will come a sense of well-being and increased self-confidence. These are spiritual skills that need to be developed and come to us when we learn to put ourselves in his hands.

If we cannot legislate world peace, if we cannot make it come by decree, what can we do to bring peace into our lives? To feel the peace of God we must draw closer unto our Heavenly Father. We do this through prayer and meditation, seeking the gift of the Holy Ghost. We must stop what we are doing for awhile and turn our thoughts to our Father in Heaven. As we do so, the concerns of the world fall away for the time being.

Inner Peace
Prayer is essential to developing inner peace. When we offer prayer, we humble ourselves, acknowledge our weakness, and learn what we need to do to put ourselves in harmony with his will. If we do this regularly, life becomes more tranquil, more peaceful because we have the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. We have an inner knowing that our Heavenly Father cares about us, and that our lives are meaningful to him, and that he cares about each one of us individually. We are his spirit children. He knows our needs, our sorrows, and our joys.

Through prayer and meditation we learn to let the spirit flow into us, to comfort us. Each morning let our thoughts drift out over the coming day. Visualize each expected event and situation and the spirit prompting us each step of the way. We especially feel the Comforter by attending Church and by entering the Temple, truly away from the world for a time, to provide great service.

As an inner harmony and tranquility develops within us, others notice our increased ability to handle things, and peace spreads to them. A sense of compassion for others may arise, and we find ourselves in service to them.  We become more accepting of those about us and less judgmental.

In Paul's epistle to the Philippians, he closes with these words, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) [Emphasis added]

This deep sense of endless peace is ours as a heritage. All we need to do is reach out for it, and it will become ours.

After the meeting Bill said that he chose the hymns for the service and especially appreciated the second verse from Hymn 114: Come Unto Him with emphasis on the second stanza. (Text by Theodore E. Curtis and Music by  Hugh W. Dougall.)

When I am filled with strong desire
And ask a boon of him, I see
No miracle of living fire,
But what I ask flows into me.
And when the tempest rages high
I feel no arm around me thrust,
But ev'ry storm goes rolling by
When I repose in him my trust.

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