A Place for Peace
Sunday, November 27, 2016
What do you think of when you hear the word Peace? Maybe you think of a world where there is no more war. Perhaps a quiet evening on the porch with a warm gentle breeze cooling you off after a day of working in the field or in the kitchen canning the produce of a bountiful harvest? A quiet walk in the woods?
Perhaps you think of a peaceful house after the kids are in bed asleep and you can finally sit down and enjoy a few moments of quiet. I do remember those days. I actually miss them at times.
A long time ago in a peaceful village in Palestine, there was a night of peace. Read with me from Luke 2:1-7
2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. NIV
A stable, most likely filled with the animals of those who have traveled some distance to fulfill Caesar's decree to be counted in their place of birth. Rome ruled the known world at the time with what they called Pax Romana. Just how peaceful was their reign? But in the stable there would be jostling and lowing and braying and neighing as the tired animals were fed and began to settle in for a night of rest.
In the midst of the noise, you could find a moment of peace in such a pastoral scene.
Did Mary have a peaceful time of it? She has just given birth to her son; the son that had been promised by God. This would be a special child, dedicated to the purpose of God. But, I suspect, those things were pushed aside for the moment, as the young mother settled in with the new born nestled close. She was recovering from the labor of delivering a child and the trip from Nazareth, a long hard trek for one expecting a child. Here, in a stable she finds a place of peace.
What did the prophets say of this child? Who would he be? Isaiah said he would be, among other things, the Prince of Peace.
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
(Slide 9)Bethlehem, made room for the Prince of Peace. Those living there and those there for the census would have had no idea of who this child was. Unknowingly, they squeezed out a place for him in a stable. Had they known, how would they have reacted to the coming of the Prince of Peace? If you knew the King of kings, and Lord of lords had come to stay at your Inn, how would you greet him? What arrangements would you make for this one who had come down from His throne in glory in heaven to walk among humans?
But that night, there was no room for Him in Bethlehem's rooming houses. The Prince of Peace was born in a stable because there was no place for Him in the Inn. They made a place for Him in a stable.
He came to bring us peace. He came to restore peace to a world that was hurtling toward wars and rumors of wars as He would later tell His followers. He came to bring peace into the homes where children would grow and learn either the ways of God that lead to peace, or the ways of the world that lead us to more and more conflict.
What is this peace that Jesus, the Messiah, came to bring to the world? Where does this peace come from? How do we find it and make it part of our lives?
Paul said, (Romans 5:1) “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, NIV
Heaven's peace begins as we are justified through faith. Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ comes as we submit to the truth that we cannot justify ourselves. We must accept justification as an act of God. We must accept it by faith. He justified us. We receive this peace with God as a free gift as we put our faith in God. We cannot earn it. We will never deserve it.
This step of faith is hard for many. We think that God demands that we clean up our own act before He will accept us. This is what the enemy wants us to believe. He would have us believe that we can become good by doing more, by trying harder. Jesus, the child born in a stable in Bethlehem, came to make it clear that we cannot do enough to justify ourselves.
Other religions teach, and our flesh leads us to believe, that working harder is how we gain acceptance by God. But the Prince of Peace came to tell us, to prove to us, that peace with God comes as we believe God justifies us. He offers forgiveness as a free gift. Grace, received by trusting God, justifies us, brings us into a relationship with God that was lost because we were refusing to trust Him.
Once we receive the free gift of peace with God, we are now free to love God and serve Him as He leads through His Presence, the Holy Spirit. There is a place for peace. It is in the heart of those who accept God for who He is. The name of Jesus tells us about this nature of God that we need to understand. The name Jesus means, “God Saves”. We accept by faith that HE loves us and that HE has provided what was necessary to restore us to the relationship with Him that He created us to enjoy.
Now we are free to live at peace with God, following Him and living with Him as Lord of our lives.
In Colossians 1:19-20, Paul put it this way...
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. NIV
A cross has become the primary symbol for the followers of our Lord, Jesus Christ. An instrument of persecution and death has become the symbol for peace with God and for the life He brings to those who have put their faith in Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
God has won peace for the world through that sacrifice. Have you accepted the truth of His message to the world? Reconciliation is another term for peacemaking. All things are reconciled to God. When Paul said that God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Jesus, he was claiming that this plan was of God's design. He was fully behind what was happening in Jesus. Even what would seem like defeat to most people, God turned to victory. He is glorified and peace has come to us.
There is a place for peace in the world. At times we are discouraged and feel like we are losing the battle. However, God has not abdicated His throne. If we cling to our faith in Him we will always come out on the winning side.
Peace will be won for the world. We have the Word of God that teaches us that Peace will win. The kingdom of God will one day be the only kingdom left. His rule will last for all of eternity. There is a place for peace.
There is a place for peace in our world. There is a place for peace in our hearts. We can join with God to see His will for us and for the world come to pass. We can become part of God's army to see that peace is established in the hearts of those around us.
There is a place for peace in our world. It can start with each of us.
Peace is what we need. Peace is what God offers to us.
Have you made a place for peace in your heart?