Thursday, December 8, 2016

25 Thoughts on Christmas # 8

“Peace” is such a wonderful word.  I’m sure I have never heard anyone say, “You know, what I really need in my life is less peace.”  It’s something we long for and thankfully it is something we can have because of Jesus.

Psalm 37:37 says, “There is a future for the man of peace.”  Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body.”  So, for those that experience peace, for those filled with peace … there is life … there is a future.  But, we also have a spiritual enemy and what I believe is that he knows that if peace is taken away, it will seem like there is no life and no future.  Without peace, it can feel like the life is being stolen from our body.  This is what he does.  He steals.  He kills. He destroys.  Our spiritual enemy is not the reason behind every bit of suffering we experience but he can certainly use every bit of suffering we experience in an effort to rob us of our peace and do what he does best … steal our future, kill our relationships, and destroy our lives. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a lack of peace in your life, but there are times in my life when I can look back and see a lack of peace and this was the result … A lack of peace opened me up to fear … to worry … to distrust … sleepless nights … a horrible sense of feeling out of control … inner turmoil.  So, you can see why the enemy will work so hard to take away our peace because a lack of peace can wreak havoc in our lives.  But, when you’re “in Christ” peace is not the enemy’s to take because of how it has been given.

Before Jesus was even born, it was prophesied that He would be called the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).  When He was born, the angels proclaimed "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:14).  And, at the end of His life, we see Jesus talking to His disciples and explaining to them that He is about to leave them … things are going to get tough … but He will not leave them alone.  He then says, “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.” (John 14:27) Who is giving the peace?  Jesus.  Whose peace is He giving?  His peace.  From beginning to end, Jesus has come to bring us peace.  Now, think of the implications of having the peace of Jesus.  Was there ever a time when Jesus was NOT the most peaceful person in the room?  The disciples are on the boat in this crazy storm and what is Jesus doing … sleeping on the boat.  5000 people need food and the disciples don’t have any food to give them.  They’re freaking out and Jesus is like “I got this.”  Crowds are rushing in on Jesus wanting to kill Him and what does He do … just walks away.  Even at His arrest, swords are being swung, ears are getting chopped off, all sorts of crazy is going on … who was the most peaceful person there?  Jesus.  The peace that Jesus had in every situation is the same peace He gives to us in every situation.  So, when you’re “in Christ,” our enemy can’t steal our peace because it’s not his to take. 

As you read on in the Gospel of John, Jesus continues to remind His disciples that things are going to get harder and harder.  He talks to them about living in contrasting worlds … a world of already but not yet … a very real spiritual kingdom of God and a present reality of a world corrupted by sin.  And, Jesus reminds them that in this reality they will have trouble. 

Jesus is talking about the kind of trouble that will shake you to the core and may even cause you to wonder if God is really there … the type of trouble that nearly wipes you out.  And, Jesus says in John 16:33 … “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.”  Not only did Jesus tell us that He gives us His peace, He goes on to say, “in Me you may have peace.”  You may have peace … you may own it and hold on to it … not because you’re in a small group, not because you’re in church, not because you’re in a good family … those things are great and needed, but you have peace when you have Jesus … or rather when Jesus has you. Jesus says where your life and His life intersect is where peace is found.  In our present reality we may be at war with Satan, but when you’re “in Christ” you are at peace with God.  What this means is God is for you.  We can now proclaim with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." 

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