Luke 2:13-14 (NIV)
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Peace on earth. Goodwill to men. It is the song of the season but I am afraid that we may have somehow misinterpreted its meaning. Christmas is a celebration of Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace. He is not the Ruler of this planet. The earth is dominated by darkness. The world infiltrated with sin. Jesus came to give His People the opportunity to escape the world and one day enter eternity. Somehow the toxic message that the Lord will change the world for our good, blessing us financially, changing our circumstances, impacting the consequences of our life in some Santa-like fashion. It is all wrong. Jesus did not come to bestow peace on earth. I know you think this may be crazy. It may even not be something you want to hear as it puts a damper on your holiday cheer. But if we don’t get it right, we have nothing to celebrate.
Christmas produces mixed emotions in people. For many years, the holidays depressed me even after I came to follow Jesus. I hated the way it made me feel. It was a task to decorate the tree. The only part I like was giving to the ones I loved. I did not feel the peace and joy promised in Christmas songs and turned them off. Bah humbug! Some people struggle with loneliness and isolation without family to celebrate and friends who do not notice they are alone. The stirring of one’s heart at Christmas makes for a mixture of emotion. It can cause so many conflicted feelings that there is no peace. Stress and anxiety are usually the overriding factor. Can we stop for a minute? Put down the cookie sheet or roll of tape. Stop thinking about the to-do list. Will there ever be peace of earth? No.
When the angels announced the arrival of Jesus, here is what they said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” There it is. In our haste to finish the Christmas program or finish reading the story to leave cookies for Santa, we have missed it. Peace is reserved for those on whom His Favor rests.” Peace is not a condition given to the world. Peace is produced by faith in the human heart of those who are Children of the Living God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 10:34-38 (NIV)
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did 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.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
The innocent and precious baby pictured laying in a manager was a rebel rouser. He did not come to bring “peace on the earth”. No, He came with sword in hand to divide the Kingdom of God from those who choose to remain in the darkness. Those who choose to love Jesus more than anything or anyone else enduring to the end will be saved. Salvation is the free gift of grace that flowed down the Cross in the bright red Blood of Jesus. However, it burns through hearts like hot lava flow from an active volcano. You either love Jesus or you love the world. You choose to follow the Lord or remain lost in darkness. There is no gray but meaningful separation. It is important to our faith that we know the purpose of Jesus and what He came to do in order to properly choose between life and death.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
God is the God of Peace. (Romans 16:20) God is not a god of disorder but His Kingdom established in peace. (I Corinthians 14:33) Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The kingdom that will last forever is heaven, not the world that is headed for destruction. Jesus provided to us the gift of salvation and overflow of grace that establishes our peace with God. (Ephesians 2:13-16) Now at peace with God, we gain access to the Kingdom of God with an open invitation into the Presence of God. (Romans 5:1-2) This is possible by faith. Peace with God is only possible through the Blood of Jesus. (Colossians 1:19-20) The Good News or Gospel that we share is that of Peace with God through the Blood of Jesus. (Ephesians 6:15) Stay with me.
John 16:33 (NIV)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
It is impossible for this world to line up with the Word of God and be at peace with God because of rampant sin and love grown cold. It is wrapped up in darkness and evil. The Word is this planet’s death sentence. However, for you and I it contains all of God’s Precious Promises of blessing and favor to those who believe, live by faith at peace with God.
John 14:26-27 (NIV)
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid
In a nutshell, peace becomes possible through the Blood of Jesus. Those who are saved by His Grace are promised peace. It is an act of faith. Our faith in the Lord affords us peace with God and the peace of God in our hearts and minds. The world cannot give peace for it has no peace. There will not be peace on earth as long as sin and darkness prevail. The peace that God offers us in His Son is personal. It is intimate. It is His Spirit in us that produces peace in us. (Galatians 5:22) The Holy Spirit enters us by faith. Faith comes by what? Hearing the Word of God which the Spirit confirms, writing it on our heart, imprinting it in our mind until peace like a river flows there us that we are more than conquerors in Christ. This shifts our expectation from man and money to God the Father through Jesus the Son.
There was a woman with an issue of blood who pressed through the crowd because she knew that if she could just touch the hem of his robe that she would be saved. Her community had shunned her. Doctors poked and prodded. She was neglected and abused though her issue was not of her doing. When her faith pushed her into the Presence of Jesus, what happened? “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:25-34) Jesus saved, healed and delivered her. What did He say, “God in peace and be freed from suffering.” Okay, maybe the lack of peace in your life is of your own bad choices. Well, the Peace of God is for you, too. There was a woman who was called sinful. Apparently a known prostitute that entered the house of a Pharisee (wonder how they knew her) and anointed the feet of Jesus with the most precious thing she had. While so many others had taken from her, rather than withholding herself, she knelt at Jesus feet weeping, washing His Feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. What happened? Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” and then, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Peace is not a worldly status but a personal and intimate gift from the God of Peace through His Son, Jesus to you. The Lord desires intimacy with you. He fills you with His Spirit so that even though this world is chaotic and hostile – you can still live by faith in confident hope that you are well taken care of and loved by Him. It doesn’t matter if you are saved, lost or wandering – God wants to give you His Peace. You will never find it in this world. It is a deposit made into you when you ask Jesus to be your Savior and make Him Lord of your life. It is the peace in us that permeates around us as God makes good of every detail of our life even the hard ones, tragic and confusing issues that we cannot make sense of on our own. Evil will prevail in the earth but it does not have to have its way with you or me.
Romans 14:17-18 (NIV)
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Lord, forgive me for all the times I have asked and prayed for you to make peace around me rather than allowing you to cultivate it in me. The Kingdom of God is established in peace. Venturing into His Presence, we experience the Peace of God. It begins to fill us. We must allow the Lord to work in us and through us as peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9) But too many times, we expect peaceful outcomes all around us without anything changing in us. This life means nothing if we gain the world but lose our soul. When we love and serve Christ, His Peace begins to overtake us so no matter what is happening around us – we continue on the journey. It is faith wrapped in confident hope that keeps us going. It is what God says not the world that influences us. It is our dedication to Christ that drives us no matter how loud the storm, high the mountain or deep the valley. God wants you to have His Peace this Christmas.
Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
I know that you are busy. You have a million things to do. If your heart is overwhelmed, Jesus has just what you need to make the push through this season. He wants to give you His Peace all over again. Stop doing and decide to bask in His Presence. I promise it will be the best ten minutes, half hour or even hour of your entire day. You will get more accomplished afterward because life will be in perspective even if not a single thing changes. The Peace of God is personal. It is intimate. It is a gift one can only experience in the Presence of our God who entrusts us to carry to others in this world. Thank you Jesus for peace. I would not have made it this far without it. I ask you for more today in the Name Above All Names.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV)
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.