THE PEACE OF GOD 12-3-17

The Peace of God

December 3rd, 2017

         

               In our Call to Worship and our first hymn we asked for peace on earth.  And in light of what the angels that announced the birth of Christ said to the shepherds, “Peace on earth, good will toward men”, that would seem like a reasonable request.  Only it doesn’t mean what most people interpret it to mean.  It does not mean we won’t have war on earth.  It doesn’t mean people won’t still kill each other over territory, over politics, and even over religion.  War didn’t end after Jesus was born; and in fact, Jesus himself even said it would escalate until the time of his return.  Matthew 10:34 quotes Jesus as saying, “Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”  And then fourteen chapters in the Bible later, Jesus tells his disciples “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7).

          So if Jesus didn’t come to bring peace TO THE earth, but angels proclaimed peace ON earth, what did they mean?   

          First, let’s look at the word ‘peace’ itself.  In order to get a deeper meaning of the word itself, I turned to my good friend “Wikipedia”.  There I discovered the origin of the English word ‘peace’ is most recently from the Anglo-French word spelled p-e-s, which in addition to meaning peace, silence, and agreement, also means reconciliation.  And indeed, we cannot have peace with God until there is reconciliation between God and us.  Why do we need to be reconciled with God?  Because we have all sinned.  The NLT translation of Romans 3:23 states, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.”  Well, you might think, I have never done any really bad sins.  Can’t God just overlook the little ones?  No he cannot.  Not because he isn’t loving and forgiving, for he certainly is.  But because unless every bit of sin is removed from your spirit, including the sin nature from which it stems, you cannot live in a perfect heaven with a perfect God.  And we cannot do that on our own.  No matter how much we want to, we are incapable of leading a perfect, sinless life.  The only one who ever could was Jesus, and that is because he is the Son of God.  He lived the perfect life for us, and shed His blood on the cross to take away our sins.  When we put our faith in Him, our spirits are cleansed of all trace of sin.  Our bodies are still corrupt and subject to eventual decay, but they, too, will be redeemed one day.

          Our second Scripture reading for today (Luke 1:76-79) was about John the Baptist, who paved the way for the coming of Jesus.  Zechariah said that John would give people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, and guide their feet into the path of peace.  Knowledge of salvation and the forgiveness of sins is vital to having peace with God.  And this is why the apostle Paul told the Romans, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 5:1).  And this peace WITH God must come before we can have the peace OF God. 

          Then what is the peace OF God?  There is a phrase that I have seen many times, and I’m sure you have, too.  It says, “No, N-O, Jesus, No peace.  Know, K-N-O-W Jesus, Know peace.”  Accepting Jesus as your Savior is the first part.  That gives you peace with God.  Following Jesus and His Word, and letting the Holy Spirit take the reins of your life, that brings you the peace OF God. 

          Let’s go through what the apostle Paul told the Philippians in chapter 4…  Verse 4, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again - rejoice!”  Always?  Yes, always.  Verse 5, “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”  In all that I do?  Yes, all.  Verse 6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Anything?  Everything?  All?  Again, if you want the true, the wonderful, the perfect peace of God, you can’t pick and choose. For here is the promise in verse 7, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  In the NIV version this is the “peace of God”.

          So while wars on earth will continue until Christ’s return, we can have perfect peace.  We do not need to be anxious, despite the increasing tension in the world today.  We do not need to be fearful, for the perfect love of Christ casts out the fear in our hearts (see 1 John 4:18).

          Jesus was born into the world as the Prince of Peace.  But just as he said that his kingdom was not of this world, neither is his peace.  It is within the heart of true believers, those who have His Spirit inside of them. 

          If you know Jesus, and know peace, let those around you see the peace of God in you.  Let them see your faith in circumstances that would have most cursing God and giving up.  Let them see your love for those whom most could never love.  They will want to know how they, too, can have what you have.   So don’t let the stress of the season destroy your peace, but rather may the celebration of the birth of the Messiah turn your focus to the beauty and joy of having peace with God, and may you have the peace of God within your heart.  Amen.  

     CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

         Jesus wants us to live in peace.

         Not to fight with sister or brother.

         He said instead we should forgive,

         And always love one another.

         So remember today to be kind,

         Offer to help with a smile.

         Don’t insist on getting your way,

         Instead go the extra mile.