December 6, 2010 – The Gift of Peace

Posted on December 7, 2010

(This is the first installment of what will be a semi-regular series. There is no “curriculum”; this is meant simply to encourage you and to share with you the things I’m studying, learning, and pondering.)

We are in the second week of Advent. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, where we observe and consider the expectation and anticipation of the coming promised Messiah. The theme of the first week of Advent is “hope”. As I’ve mentioned before in my sermons, Biblical hope is not mere wishful thinking, as the world defines hope, but the confident assurance and eager anticipation that God’s promises will be fulfilled.

The theme for this, the second week of Advent, is “Peace”. As we look forward to celebrating Christmas, the fulfillment of God’s promises regarding the Messiah, it is important that we remember that Jesus is both the object and the source of our hope and our peace.

It is sadly ironic that for most of us life it at its most hectic and frenetic state during this season that is meant to celebrate our peace with God. We rush around, frantically trying to find time to prepare for all of our holiday events and get all our shopping done. We fight traffic on the streets and in the stores. Our blood pressure rises, tempers flare, stress gives us headaches and stomach aches, all in the name of celebrating Christmas. But if we would just take a step back from ourselves and observe our behavior, it would become apparent immediately that what we are doing has nothing to do with the hope and peace that are the true essence of this wonderful season. We cannot control the decisions of warring nations, or of unreasonable neighbors, or of coworkers who simply have no desire to be pleasant or get along with anyone, or of aggressive drivers or rude shoppers. But then, it is not our responsibility to control any of that. Romans 12:18 very clearly spells out our responsibility: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” A song that my high school choir sang put it nicely: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

I encourage you to protect at least a little time each day this week —maybe a half hour— to sit down, take a few deep breaths, and reflect on the profound gift of PEACE bestowed on us through the precious gift of Jesus. Turn off the TV, turn off the computer, turn off the phone, put down your book, and just REST in that peace as you reflect on it…

For a child has been born to us, a Son has been given to us.
He bears the symbol of dominion on His shoulder, and is called:
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased! (Luke 2:14)

Peace I leave with you. I am giving you My own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears. (John 14:27)

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with Godthrough our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. (Romans 5:1-2)

And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7)

PRAYER
Gracious God, we place our trust in You. Thank You for giving us peace with You through Jesus. Grant that we may rest in that peace as we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s birth. May any divisions among us and among our families be peacefully resolved. May Your peace reign in our cities and in the countries of our world. Help us to see the paths of peace in our lives, and then give to us courage to follow them. Lord, let us remember that you only are the giver of lasting peace and that you are always with us and will never leave us nor forsake us. In the Name of Jesus, who is our peace, Amen.

May God bless you and keep you and give you peace!

Scott

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