Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advent 5, 2016: PEACE, Third Sunday

December 11, 2016.  PEACE at ADVENT

Four themes:  Hope, Joy, Peace, Love—Christ, the pure white candle. 

Simple words but not simple concepts.

Question:  Peace—what does it mean to you?

I want to play two videos today.  (Child one)

The angels’ message was “peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14). 
The word peace is in the Bible 397 times, twice as many as joy.  100 times in New Testament, especially in Paul’s writing.

“Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9)
“The God of peace” (common greeting from Paul)
Fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace,  (Galatians 5:22)
The peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7)
“For He Himself is our peace who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation” (Eph. 2:14)
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (I Corinthians 14:33)
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. (Romans 14:19)
“for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—(Acts 10:36)

The gospel is often referred to as the “gospel of peace”

Question:  What are enemies to peace?

Question:  Peace is a solution to conflict, and war.  Who is at war?

I think peace is far more important to our lives and theology as Christians than we left it be. 

The Hebrew word is shalom, which we recognize as a greeting.  Shalom is a holistic peace—body, mind, spirit, and soul and relationships. 

The Greek word is EIRENE, defined in the literature this week according to Strong’s Lexicon as “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”

I think peace exists at four levels:
Peace with God.  The New Testament is clear that in our natural state there is enmity between us humans and God.  It’s not because God hates us, because He loves us, but because of our rebellion.  Christ’s life, death, and resurrection reconciled us and brought peace and an end to the war, if we “accept the terms of the treaty.”  Most people don’t.  Clearly, we don’t have to worry about God’s enmity any more in our lives. 

Peace between nations.  We have all lived long enough to be cynical about that.  Jimmy Carter earned the Nobel Prize for getting peace between Palestine and Israel—how long did that last?  President Obama wanted to take the troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and what happened?  From a human perspective, military power has its place in keeping the peace.  (Peacekeeper missiles.)   

Jesus is the Prince of Peace because He will bring eternal, perfect, real peace in the end times.  He brings real, eternal, perfect peace to those now who bow the knee and heart to Him, but most don’t, and try to use man-made methods to bring peace. 

Peace as an emotional and spiritual state.  Women live in turmoil of worry, jealousy, insecurity, comparison, desire, control, uncertainty.  The Bible, especially Psalms and the New Testament, is our comfort here to remind us:
1.     Our standard is Christ, not someone else, so comparison is foolish.
2.     Control is not our job.
3.      Our worry stems from not believing He is in control and loves us.  If He is just in control but doesn’t love us, that’s not enough.  If He loves us but is not in control, that’s not enough.  We have to be grounded in both core truths.

Peace as a state of relationship between Christians. 
1.     James 4:1:  Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
2.     Matthew 5:9:  Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.”
3.     A study of the New Testament makes it clear that there is no place for conflict and war and strife between believers in the church or elsewhere, although I think that is one of our biggest sins right now.  We can agree to disagree but we don’t get to call names, judge, disparage, or insult those who disagree with others.  That is not speaking the truth in love. That is not peacemaking.

Conclusion:  This study made me realize how unpeaceful my life is.  For me, it is letting the call of work or professional reputation or keeping up with the Joneses or controlling others or whatever else steal my peace which is assured by God through Jesus’ victory.  When I compare my silly and foolish and miniscule worries and “first world problems” to (a) real problems of most of the world and (b) the work of Christ to ensure my peace, it’s pretty silly to be so at war with myself and others. 

I want to end with a video you have probably heard before but I think it is the perfect bookend to a lesson on peace because it accentuates what God did to ensure our peace when we were and are in rebellion.

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