(12/24) The Eve of Christmas. This may be my favorite church service of the whole year. We are here to worship and remember that God kept His promise and sent a Savior to rescue us as we spoke of on Sunday. The baby Jesus meek and mild, grew to be rugged and offer His body and spirit as a sacrifice for us. God came to us as one of us; as a helpless
child who needed to be nursed and diapers to change; who needed to learn to walk and talk, be potty trained and feed Himself and learn to tie His shoes. With purpose God came to us as one of us, for only one of us could pay for sins and reconcile us to God. It makes no difference if His birthday is tomorrow or May 25th, what matters is His came and we want to worship Him for
that. Amen? Amen!
When the angels appeared to the Shepherds announcing that He had been born, they concluded by saying, "And on earth peace, good will toward men." That is not a blanket blessing for the earth but a truth and a promise that more literally says it this way," And on earth, Peace towards men upon whom His favor rests." Christmas is a time in which we look
for peace. Armies at war have literally agreed to not attack or fight each other on Christmas. People try to be more agreeable over Christmas. Peace is a word that appears on many of our Christmas cards and greetings.
Our text for this evening comes from Isaiah 9:6-7. "His name shall be called....The Prince of Peace. and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end." The context of our text is about the time when the Messiah will return and sit upon David's throne in Jerusalem and will rule the world just as the song, Joy to the World, says. He
will rule with truth and righteousness and will put an end to sin. He will cast Satan into a bottomless pit and and will not allow anyone anywhere to disturb the peace. It will be a time that Isa. 11:6-8 speaks of, Listen: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a
little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobraís hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viperís den." Micah 4:3 adds; He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords
into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore." There won't be a Walgreen's because the world will be as close to perfect as it has been since God created the Garden of Eden.
It will be the kind of peace that the Old Coke a Cola commercial from the 70's sang about. "I'd like to see the world all sing in perfect harmony, I'd like to buy the world a coke and keep it company." Remember that? That's the kind of peace that we dream about isn't it? No more threats of terrorists. No more threats of war in the middle east, or
Korea. No more war in Afghanistan. No more school, mall, or movie theater shootings; instead people caring as much for each other as they do themselves.
But the song, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day is correct, "There is no peace on earth, I said, For hate is strong and mocks the song of Peace on earth, Good will towards men." Until the King returns, (we will speak of this on January 6th) nation will fight against nation, street gangs will fight over territory, family members will fall out over dumb
stuff, police will chase criminals, and neighbors will argue over property lines, dogs and children.
So is Peace possible before the King returns? Yes it is. This one whose birth we celebrate came to give us peace in at least 2 dimensions. He came to give and govern that peace in your lives.
That word, 'Peace,' is 'Shalom,' and it means more than the absence of conflict, it means wholeness, health, harmony, well being, completeness, to be sound and safe. It means to have an unimpaired relationship with others or to have fulfillment in what one undertakes. All of that is is meant when our Jewish friends greet each other with, "Shalom."
Tonight, I wish this blessing on you. "Shalom."
On the Eve of Good Friday, before Jesus was to die, He said this to us: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) and again, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will [a] have
tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). No matter what goes on around you, you can have shalom. Paul says, you can have, unexplainable peace, Isaiah says, "He will keep you in perfect peace."
in two directions.
1.) He gives us peace with God. Paul says that, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. (2 Cor. 5:18). Before you came to faith in Jesus and I hope all of you have, you were not in a harmonious relationship with God, in fact, the Bible says it like this:
- You were illegitimate children (Heb. 12:8)
- You were a slave to your sin nature (John 8:32)
- You were alienated from God (Col. 1:21)
- You were an enemy of God (Col. 1:21)
- You were dead to God (Eph. 2:1)
All because of our sins and that our God is Holy and our sinfulness put us all at odds with God. But Jesus came to reconcile us, by paying the penalty of death for our sins, satisfying the just demands of holiness, so that there would be nothing to keep us from a relationship with God. Because of Jesus, we can or have been restores to a healthy
relationship with our Father in Heaven. Paul reminds us that when we place our faith in the person and the finished work of Jesus we are considered just as if we had never sinned. Listen; "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have [a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1). Have you placed your faith in Jesus? Do you have peace with God? If so,
give Him praise, honor and blessing.
Jesus came to give us peace with God and more He came to give us:
2.) The Peace of God. - The peace of God is the inner tranquility of the soul that is there no matter what is happening on the outside. It is to be whole healthy, safe, and sound in your heart. Many of you have it. We worship our Lord tonight because it is a gift from Him. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I
give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Think for a moment what this means:
a.) It means I have peace about my past. Someone has said that anxiety is trouble borrowed from either our past or our future. Our past haunts us because of our sins and dumb decisions. While we may still feel the results of the consequences of those decisions, the guilt is gone because it has be forgiven by Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17 reminds us that we are
new creatures when we trust in Jesus. Because of what Jesus has done for me, I am not the same person I used to be. I am forgiven, reconciled, and adopted by God.
b.) It means I have peace in my present. Sometimes the problems of life, the stresses and anxieties we face gets us unsettled. Money is tight, jobs are scarce, flu season is here, and terrorists are threatening, and there is still a war going on. How will we get through it? But with Jesus in our lives we know that when we place it all on Him, He who
resides in us by His Holy Spirit, whose fruit is peace, takes our anxieties and replaces it with His peace. He reminds us that He is in control and will be with us amd never leave us. He reminds us of His promises and our hope. (Phil. 4:6-7)
c.) It means I have peace about my future. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that I will not be alone, for Jesus promised me He would be with me and will never leave me. I know that whatever happens, He has a good plan, even if I don't understand. I know that even if I make dumb decisions, He will never stop loving me, and nothing
can separate me from Him. I know that He has promised to provide for me as I seek Him, His kingdom, and His righteousness. I know that when my time comes to leave this life, I will be with Him forever. I know that no matter what happens in my country or my world, that He is preparing the world for the time when He will return and make everything right again.
Horatio Spafford was an Englishman that had come to America and established a good business in Chicago. But the great Chicago fire of the 1890's destroyed his business and much property and he lost his livelyhood. Needing to rest, he and his family decided to return to England. When the time came to begin their journey, Mr. Spafford was told that He
needed to stay to attend to some matters concerning his losses. So he sent his wife and 3 daughters ahead and told them he would join them in England as soon as possible. The ship that his wife and daughters boarded, faced a terrible storm are sea. In fact the ship couldn't stand the storm and went down. Mr. Spafford would later receive a telegram from his wife that read,
"saved alone." His daughters had died in the disaster. He had lost his livelihood, and now his children. As soon as he could he boarded a ship for England. He asked the captain to let him know about where the other ship went down. There he took out a pencil and paper and wrote this.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ítis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Is such peace really possible? It is, because the Babe in the manger is the Prince of Peace. Who came to give us His peace.
He made peace with God for you. You can't make peace with God, only Jesus could and He did when He Died for you on that cross. And He invites you to receive that peace as His gift to you.
When we rest in Him and trust Him, He gives us His peace that can't be explained.
- Receive His Peace. It is a gift, but like any gift you have to receive it for yourself. You do so by receiving Jesus as your Savior and Lord. "Jesus, I believe you came to reconcile me to God, so I repent of my sins and invite you into my life. I want to have peace with God.
- Rest in His Peace. Cast all your care on Him, Worship Him no matter what and He will give you an unexplainable peace.
- Pass His Peace to others. Tell them about the peace of God in Jesus and Pursue peace with those who disagree with you. Jesus reconciled us to God. Is there someone you need to reconcile with? Take the first step. Jesus did.
Close your eyes for a moment. See Jesus as a baby in the manger. Wrapped tight to keep Him warm in those strips of cloth. Now fast forward and see Him hanging on a cross, wounded, bleeding, dying. Now see Him with His arms open wide to you, reaching out to you, inviting you to come to Him and saying, "It's okay, be at peace, rest in me and I will be
your peace both now and forever."
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman