Peace: A Light In The Darkness
Sunday, December 5, 2016
Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:8-10; John 14:27
Have I told you how much I appreciate my house? I love it. It is comfortable, and it fits me very well. Thank you, Green Valley Church of God, for a great home for me to live in.
One of the things I like about my house is the peace it gives me. I love the quiet, peacefulness of this home.
Of course, there are times when it is too quiet. I turn on the TV, put in a DVD and watch Sci-fi, or a western. I think sometimes I am trying to drown out the peace. Can you have too much peace?
Do you ever do that? Do you ever stay busy, or turn on the radio or television because you do not like the quiet, the peace around you? Is it possible, sometimes, we are shutting out the peace and the presence of God? Is it possible we are not wanting to hear what He is trying to tell us?
Can you imagine the peace of the Garden of Eden? Just two humans in the world, and God comes and walks with them occasionally. Do you suppose one of the reasons Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation was that they were bored with the peace?
God offers us peace. He wants us to be at peace with Him. He wants us to be at peace with ourselves. He wants us to live at peace with one another.
Sometimes in the dark, quiet, peacefulness of my bedroom God comes and brings light into my darkness. He illuminates my heart and shows me what I do not want to see? He shows me something that I am trying to hide from myself, and to hide from Him. He wants me to face it, to admit it, to confess it so that I will be restored to peace with Him, but too often I resist.
The darkness is where we hide from God, from the truth. God wants to bring light to those dark corners. Jesus is that light that came into our hearts to remind us that God loves us and wants us to turn to Him.
The light brings peace with God. Facing the truth, restores us to the relationship that God intends for us to enjoy. HE must be Lord of our lives. Obedience is not optional. We must surrender to His will for our lives. He loves us and He is our Lord. This is a good thing.
Peace and light. Read with me from Isaiah's prophecy about the first Advent, the first coming of Jesus:
9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 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. 7 Of the increase 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. NIV
There are many ways of thinking about this scripture and I want to look at two today. I think both are true and helpful for us to understand. The first is how we sometimes view this Scripture that foretells the first Advent, the first coming of Jesus, the Messiah or Christ.
He is the light of the world. He brings peace to the world. His coming is the center-piece of the creation of our world. God loves people and sent His Son into the world to make peace with those who have rejected Him. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, and God wants us to return to Him, to return to the relationship with Him that He created us for. Israel saw this prophecy as being for them. They wrote off the Gentiles, all the other nations of the world, as being unworthy of the love of God. God had a greater plan. Jesus came, lived, and died to make peace with God possible for all of mankind.
Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. NIV
Jesus came to bring the truth of God to all the people. We must learn to reach out in love, as God has shown us, to all people. There are none who do not need God's love and grace. Even those who run meth labs need to be confronted with the truth about God's plan of salvation for all people. God's peace is for all the people, even the ones we refuse to have anything to do with. God loves them. He offers His peace to them all.
We must boldly go, with God as our sword and shield, to proclaim the love of God, and the truth about His Lordship, to all who will listen.
The religious of that day, 2000 years ago, would not have gone out of their way to offer God's message to shepherds. Angels, God's messengers, went to the shepherds to announce the birth of God's Son. We need to see that God, through Jesus Christ, offers peace to all people.
The second way I would encourage you to view this prophecy is for you personally.
Jesus came to bring the light of God, the truth about yourself, to you. God wants you to know the peace of God. He wants you to be part of the kingdom of God. He wants you to see that He is the rightful Lord of your life, and you can accept His love and forgiveness and begin walking in a relationship with Him, following Him as Lord of your life. The peace of God is for you personally.
Perhaps you have had a relationship with Him at some point, but you have drifted away. God is trying to get your attention. He is trying to shed His light into those dark corners of your heart. Christmas comes every year to remind us that God will not give up on building His kingdom in the world, but also in our hearts.
Isaiah said, “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” NIV I looked up zeal on the Meriam-Webster web site. I found zeal defined for kids. It said zeal means “eager desire in going for a goal.” Zeal means eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something. It implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause. God's zeal will accomplish what Isaiah prophesied. God eagerly desires for us to see His light, His truth. One writer spoke about the hound of heaven. God pursues people. He will pursue you as long as there is hope for you to accept the peace He offers. But don't wait. You are missing out on the best possible life you could possibly have.
God's kingdom will be built, with or without your participation. God loves you and wants you to be part of His kingdom. He wants you to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He eagerly desires for you to accept the gift of salvation. You do that by putting your trust in God and turning from the darkness to the light; turning from hiding from God, to seeking Him; turning from loving only yourself to loving God and then loving others.
We were living in the land of the shadow of death. We have been called to turn to the light. God has called us to turn from the shadows, to choose to stop hiding from God, to turn toward the light. The light is God. This God came to earth as a baby boy. His coming was foretold by God's servants. His coming was announced by angels.
Witnesses have gone out from the stable, from the cross, and from the empty grave to tell the world that The light of God is calling them to turn from their rebellious unbelief, to surrender to the truth of God and receive reconciliation and peace with God.
If we are to have peace with God, it will be on His terms, not ours. We must surrender our will to His, and begin walking with the Lord of the Universe as His servants, as His children.
Jesus said, John 14:27 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. NIV
When you understand that God loves you and offers to settle the differences between you, you can have peace with God. The light of God, the illumination of the truth that God loves you and that He is indeed Lord of your life, brings you peace with God and peace within yourself. There is now nothing to fear. There is no need to be troubled. God is in control and He loves you. You can trust Him.
We are called to obey God because we love Him. Obedience that grows from fear misses the point of what salvation, what Christianity is all about. We are to honor and glorify God in our attitudes, thoughts, and our actions, not because if we do not He will punish us, but because we have chosen to love Him because He first loved us.
Jesus offers us peace. It is not like the peace the world offers. This peace is peace that comes from the Creator of the Universe. Such peace cannot be offered by the world. The world has no authority here. Only God can offer us peace with God. This peace restores us to the beauty of what our Loving Heavenly Father created us to be. We are His children. We are the beloved of God. He does not love us any more nor any less than He loves anyone else, He loves us, offers us peace, and demands we accept Him, love Him, trust Him and walk in obedience to Him.
Peace and light go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.
John said “perfect love casts out fear”. When you accept that God loves you perfectly, completely, it is then easy to love Him in return. Loving Him means accepting Him as He is. He is Savior and Lord. Loving Him means accepting the light He shines to illuminate the darkness in you. There is no peace without facing the light. We must allow God access to those places in our lives we have been holding back from Him. Loving Him means accepting His offer of peace and forgiveness. There is no need to fear when you know God's love.
The light of God brings peace to our hearts. Do you believe God loves you? Have you accepted the truth that He is Lord of your life?
Come and find peace as only God can offer it.