(1/3) When the angels appeared to the Shepherds announcing that He had been born, they concluded by saying, "And on earth peace, good will toward men." That is not a blanket blessing for the earth but a truth and a promise that more literally reads like this," And on earth, Peace towards men upon whom His favor rests," (Luke 2:14). Christmas is a time
in which we look for peace. Armies at war have literally agreed to not attack or fight each other on Christmas. People try to be more agreeable over Christmas. Peace is one of the words that appears on many of our Christmas cards and greetings.
Our text for this morning comes from Isaiah 9:6-7. "His name shall be called....The Prince of Peace. and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end." The context of our text is about the time when the Messiah will come and sit upon David's throne in Jerusalem and will rule the world just as the song, Joy to the World, says. He
will rule with truth and righteousness and will put an end to sin. He will cast Satan into a bottomless pit and and will not allow anyone anywhere to disturb the peace. It will be a time that Isa. 11:6-8 speaks of, Listen: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a
little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobraís hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viperís den." Micah 4:3 and Isa. 2:4 adds; He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat
their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore." There won't be a Walgreen's because the world will be as close to perfect as it has been since God created the Garden of Eden.
It will be the kind of peace that the Old Coca-Cola commercial from the 70's sang about. "I'd like to see the world all sing in perfect harmony, I'd like to buy the world a coke and keep it company." Remember that? That's the kind of peace that we dream about isn't it? There will be no more threats of terrorists; no more threats of war in the middle
east, or Korea; no more war in Afghanistan; no more school, mall, or movie theater shootings; no more marriage troubles; no more road rage; no more crime; no more angry neighbors; instead, there will be people caring as much for each other as they do themselves.
But for now, Longfellow's poem set to music seems to sum up what we feel, (I heard the Bells on Christmas Day), "There is no peace on earth, I said, For hate is strong and mocks the song of Peace on earth, Good will towards men." Until the King comes to reign, nation will continue to fight against nation, street gangs will fight over territory, family
members will fall out over dumb stuff, police will continue to chase criminals, and neighbors will continue to argue over property lines, dogs and children, and marriages will continue to fail. There are two basic reasons why.
1.) Our sinful nature; that is, everyone has a nature that is bent towards selfishness and self-centeredness. We think of what we want and we strive to get what we want. But since what we all have this nature, often what we want is contrary to what others want. This leads us to become resentful, angry, and we think of ways to appease ourselves and get
what we want. James 4:1-3, says it like this: "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your
2.) Unmet expectations, We expect others to act or react in a way that we deem right and when they don't we get angry, hurt, etc. and conflict results. Take politics for example. Our nation is divided over two basic political ideologies. Two primary parties each expecting or wanting the other to think like they think. The recent fiscal cliff thing is a
good example. Years ago, I heard James Dobson say that unmet expectations was a major cause of problems in marriage. A stay at home mom with several small children is anxious for her husband to get home and relieve her with the children so she can get a bath and a little, "Me Time." The husband has a hard day and is anxious to get home, have a hot meal and sit in his chair
and read the paper. Guess what? Both are about to have unmet expectations, and chances are there will be conflict. The same is true among nations and even with God. We get disappointed and even angry when we expected something and it didn't happen. Chances are, there is an area of life in which you long for peace. Think for a moment, where do you long for peace in 2013? (back
to our text)
A child was born to a virgin, a Son was given to us, just as was prophesied. This Son brought light into a dark world. His counsel and teaching is amazing; His death and resurrection has rescued us for eternity. We know He is the Father or author of eternity. Everything began with Him and He sustains it all; and He is the finisher, the Alpha and Omega,
the beginning and the end. And though He is the Ruler of Peace, we still don't have peace on earth. He left and returned to the Father in heaven and promised to return to fulfill the rest of the prophesies.
So is Peace possible before the King returns? Yes it is. This one whose birth we just celebrated came to give us peace in at least 3 areas. He came to give and govern that peace in your lives.
That word, 'Peace,' is 'Shalom,' and it means more than the absence of conflict, it means wholeness, health, harmony, well being, completeness, to be sound and safe. It means to have an unimpaired relationship with others or to have fulfillment in what one undertakes. All of that is is meant when our Jewish friends greet each other with, "Shalom." I
wish this blessing on you this morning, "Shalom."
On the Eve of Good Friday, before Jesus died, He said this to us: "Peace I leave with you, My peace (My Shalom) I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) and again, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace (Shalom). In the world you will have
tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). No matter what goes on around you, you can have Shalom. Paul says, you can have, unexplainable peace, Isaiah says, "He will keep you in perfect peace," (shalom shalom; Isa. 26:3).
1.) He gives us peace with God. Paul says that, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. (2 Cor. 5:18). Before you came to faith in Jesus and I hope all of you have, you were not in a harmonious relationship with God, in fact, the Bible says it like this:
- You were illegitimate children (Heb. 12:8)
- You were a slave to your sin nature (John 8:32)
- You were alienated from God (Col. 1:21)
- You were an enemy of God (Col. 1:21)
- You were dead to God (Eph. 2:1)
All because of our sinful nature and the resulting sins against our God who is Holy; that is, He is separate and distinct from sin and unholiness, and our sinfulness put us all at odds with God; they have separated us from God (Isa. 59:1) But Jesus came to reconcile us to God, by paying the penalty of death for our sins, satisfying the just demands of
holiness, so that there would be nothing to keep us from a relationship with God. He removed the sins that separated us from God. Because of Jesus, we can or have been restored to a healthy relationship with our Father in Heaven by personal faith in the person and finished work of Jesus. Paul reminds us that when we place our faith in the person and the finished work of Jesus
we are considered just as if we had never sinned. Listen; "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1). Have you placed your faith in Jesus? Do you have Peace with God? If so, give Him praise, honor and blessing.
Jesus came to give us peace with God and more He came to give us:
2.) The Peace of God. - The peace of God is the inner tranquility of the soul that is there no matter what is happening on the outside. It is to be whole healthy, safe, and sound in your heart and mind. Many of you have it. We worship our Lord today because this Peace is a gift from Him. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world
gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Think for a moment what this means:
a.) It means I have peace about my past. Someone has said that anxiety is trouble borrowed from either our past or our future. Our past haunts us because of our sins and dumb decisions. While we may still feel the results of the consequences of those decisions, the guilt is gone because it has been paid for and forgiven by Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17 reminds
us that we are new creatures when we trust in Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit and a New nature and God sees us as clean and new. Because of what Jesus has done for me, I am not the same person I used to be. I am forgiven, reconciled, and am now an adopted Child of God.
b.) It means I have peace in my present. Sometimes the problems of life, the stresses and anxieties we face gets us unsettled. Money is tight, jobs are scarce, flu season is here, terrorists are threatening, and there is still a war going on. How will we get through it? But with Jesus in our lives we know that when we place it all on Him, He who
resides in us by His Holy Spirit, whose fruit is peace, takes our anxieties and replaces them with His peace. He reminds us that He is in control and will be with us and will never ever leave us. He reminds us of His promises and our hope. (Phil. 4:6-7)
c.) It means I have peace about my future. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that I will not be alone, for Jesus promised me He would be with me and will never leave me. I know that whatever happens, He has a good plan, even if I don't understand. I know that even if I make dumb decisions, He will never stop loving me, and nothing
can separate me from Him. I know that He has promised to provide for me as I seek Him, His kingdom, and His righteousness. I know that when my time comes to leave this life, I will be with Him forever. I know that no matter what happens in my country or in my world, that He is preparing the world for the time when He will return and make everything right again.
Horatio Spafford was an Englishman that had come to America and established a good business in Chicago. But the great Chicago fire of the 1890's destroyed his business and much property and he lost his livihood. Needing to rest, he and his family decided to return to England. When the time came to begin their journey, Mr. Spafford was told that He
needed to stay to attend to some matters concerning his losses. So he sent his wife and 3 daughters ahead and told them he would join them in England as soon as possible. The ship that his wife and daughters boarded, faced a terrible storm at sea. In fact the ship couldn't stand the storm and went down. Mr. Spafford would later receive a telegram from his wife that read,
"saved alone." His daughters had died in the disaster. He had lost his livelihood, and now his children. As soon as he could he boarded a ship for England. He asked the captain to let him know about where the other ship went down. There he took out a pencil and paper and wrote this.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ítis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Is it well with your soul right now, Do you have the peace of God? If you do then it is possible to have:
3.) Peace With Others. Knowing that Jesus loves us despite our sins and that His life and death was about reconciling us to God and that He has forgiven us and sought a relationship with us, enables us to desire and attempt reconciliation with people who have offended us or whom we have offended as we talked about when we did our series on forgiveness
several months ago. Sometimes that means we say, "I am sorry, Please forgive me," and sometimes it means we say, "I forgive you." Jesus reminds us that His favor rests on those who are peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). James says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without
hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." This may not mean that restore trust, for that has to be earned. It means that you can resolve the past, and agree to disagree, or to move on peacefully, without anger or bitterness, and maybe to enjoy a future together as family or friends. Just as Ebenezer Scrooge did with those who were
collecting for charity, his nephew Fred, and his employee, Bob Crachet, because his heart and life had been changed and making peace with others was the natural result.
Is such peace really possible? It is, because the Babe in the manger is the Prince of Peace. Who came to give us His peace.
He made peace with God for you. You can't make peace with God, only Jesus could and He did when He Died for you on that cross. And He invites you to receive that peace as His gift to you.
When we rest in Him and trust Him, He gives us His peace that can't be explained.
1. Receive His Peace. It is a gift, but like any gift you have to receive it for yourself. You do so by receiving Jesus as your Savior and Lord. "Jesus, I believe you came to reconcile me to God, so I repent of my sins and invite you into my life. I want to have peace with God.
2. Rest in His Peace. Cast all your care on Him, Worship Him no matter what and He will give you an in explainable peace.
3. Pass His Peace to others. Tell them about the peace of God in Jesus and Pursue peace with those who disagree with you. Jesus reconciled us to God. Is there someone you need to reconcile with? Take the first step. Jesus did.
Close your eyes for a moment. See Jesus as a baby in the manger. Wrapped tight to keep Him warm in those strips of cloth. Now fast forward and see Him hanging on a cross, wounded, bleeding, dying. Now see Him with His arms open wide to you, reaching out to you, inviting you to come to Him and saying, "It's okay, be at peace, rest in me and I will be
your peace both now and forever."
Father, The world around us is in chaos, but we are at peace. There is harmony, soundness, and wholeness in our hearts and souls, because of the gift of your Son, our Lord Jesus. We praise you because you kept your promise and sent the Prince of Peace and now we can say and sing, "It is well with my soul."
Heads bowed, would you like to receive His peace, It's the easiest heard thing you will ever do. Just open your heart and invite Him in, He comes bringing the gift of peace.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman