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God With Us Brings PEACE!

Peace graphics

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 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.” (Luke 2:8-14 NIV)

This fallen, broken world is filled with strife, violence, war and anxiety. The effects of sin have been devastating, and the world as it exists is a far cry from what God intended when He created it and pronounced, "It is good." Into this conflict-ridden world, the Prince of Peace is born, and angels proclaim to shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” And on earth, peace...

Jesus came into our world to make peace between our holy, loving God and His fallen, rebellious image-bearers. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. (Romans 5:1-2 NIV)

Faith in Jesus Christ changes our relationship with God from hostility to peace. And that peace was won by the baby born in Bethlehem who went to Golgotha and laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross in our place for our sin. Our status with God changes from enemy combatant, rebelling against His authority in our lives, to beloved children, safe in our Father's arms. The change is startling and fills our hearts with peace.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

Jesus doesn't just give us peace, He is our peace. When Jesus takes up residency in our hearts and we allow Him to transform our inner character to embody His holy love, we find peace with God and peace within ourselves that can be found nowhere else. Again, Paul says it this way:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace... (Ephesians 213-14a NIV)

Many of us have found during times of crisis and brokenness that the name of Jesus, spoken aloud as a prayer when we don't know what else to pray, floods our minds and hearts with peace the world cannot give and cannot take away.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

Jesus and His disciples were in a fishing boat, crossing the Sea of Galilee when a furious squall appeared out of nowhere and threatened to sink their boat.

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40 ESV)

Jesus spoke peace to them and to the storm that threatened to destroy them. And He can still speak peace to the storms that threaten us. His death on the cross already defeated the destroyer, our enemy, Satan. Battles still rage, but the enemy has been conquered. And when the Prince of Peace is present, the raging storm must obey Him.

His piercing question haunts us. It was spoken not to unbelieving pagans but to His closest disciples - to those who already belonged to Him: "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" On this fourth Sunday of Advent, which also happens to be Christmas Eve this year, I have to ask myself, "Why does fear still haunt my mind when Jesus is with me?"

And immediately I know the answer. Too often I trust in myself and my own ability to figure out and overcome the problem at hand, instead of trusting Jesus with all things. A raging storm threatens to destroy the things I hold dear. It could be anything: the financial pressure of an inflationary economy, diagnosis of a devastating illness, betrayal by someone I have loved and trusted, giving in to a temptation I thought was conquered long ago, a son or daughter who goes off the rails into a lifestyle that is destructive, the death of a loved one or a myriad of other things. As long as my response to the storm is to row like crazy for the shore and wonder why Jesus is asleep in the boat, my heart will live in turmoil. The moment I turn to Him and trust Him, there is peace. Even if the storm continues to rage, there is peace. Because the Prince of Peace is the One in charge.

Dear friends, if storms are raging in your life today, I encourage you to turn to the One who speaks "Peace, be still" to them. If there is an empty seat at the Christmas dinner table this year, I encourage you to rest in Jesus, who is our peace. If you have been living far from Him, I pray you turn to Him and find the peace you seek. If you are walking in faith and blessed beyond measure, I hope you find gratitude and peace in your Christmas celebrations.

Billy Graham said this: Don’t leave Jesus in the manger. Don’t remember Him only at Christmas. Instead, learn to walk with him every day. To walk with Jesus is to walk in peace, regardless of the circumstances of the walk.

I wish you a blessed and joyful Christmas.



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