The Need for Peace

PEACE that Overcomes and Overwhelms

JESUS CAME TO BRING PEACE – AS FORETOLD AND PROCLAIMED IN THE SCRIPTURES…

  1. By Isaiah, the messianic prophet. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
  2. By the heavenly host, at the birth of Jesus. “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” – Luke 2:13-14

— The Prince of Peace came to bring peace to men of good will.

What is that peace? Here is where the outline in your bulletin begins…

THE PEACE THAT JESUS OFFERS

According to Luke 2:14, this PEACE is…

Personal – “Peace among men with whom he is pleased” Personal peace can come in two ways…

PEACE WITH GOD…

  1. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” so this reminds us that since we have been made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God.
  2. James 4:4 tells us that “do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” When you are an enemy of God, there can be no peace. He requires total surrender, coming to him on HIS terms, not our own.
  3. Paul says in Colossians 1:20 – “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

— The bottom line? Without peace with God, no real peace is possible

PEACE WITH MYSELF…

  1. Jesus offers peace inside, unfazed by the world around us. Consider Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  2. In a world of trouble and distress, Jesus encourages his followers in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
  3. Also in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
  4. Jesus also gives us peace even in the task (or the mission) that he has for us to do, in John 20:21, “So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

— Jesus provides peace that surpasses all understanding

Finally, according to Luke 2:14, this PEACE is also…

Practical – “On earth peace among men…” we are not alone on this planet, rather we love in community.

PEACE WITH OTHERS…

  1. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28 that Jesus breaks down the barriers between other people. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
  2. Paul tells us the same thing in Ephesians 2:14 he tells to “remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,”
  3. Peter tells us to “be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 “He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it.” – 1 Peter 3:8-11

— Jesus makes peace between mankind possible.

CONCLUSION:

So, when the Old Testament Scriptures ascribed to Jesus the title, “Prince of Peace,” He was proclaimed as One who forever has a rule of peace (offering a right relationship with God, with one another, and with ourselves).

The standard of peace becomes a great way to spiritually measure our lives: am I at peace with God, with others, and with myself.

Can you imagine being so affected by the Prince of Peace that you daily walk in peace with God, with others, and with yourself? This is the message of Christmas: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men…”

If you need peace, I’ve attempted to reinforce that there is only one place to get true peace, in the person Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Prince of War?

Jesus makes an incredible statement, “I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword or division” (Luke 12:49-59, Matthew 10:32-39). So, is Jesus the Prince of War?

Introduction and Opening Questions:

  1. What is the title for Jesus that has special meaning for you?
  2. What situation in your life highlighted that title for you?
  3. What emotions does this verse bring into your heart?
  4. How does the cost of following Jesus (Matthew 10:34-39, Luke 12:49-53) reflect what you have experienced in life?
  5. How do you reconcile the two views of Jesus (peace-giver, conflict-starter)?
  6. What has Christ cost you in terms of relationships? Including family, friends, co-workers.

Conflicted Mission? (John 3:16-17)

  1. What was Jesus’ mission all about? His mission was not of condemnation but of salvation. Without salvation, mankind is at war with God, whether we are aware of it or not.
  2. There is a difference between his mission and the effects of his mission: making peace with God can still bring a kind of war in our lives.
  3. Violence is often the by-product of someone who attempts to bring peace.
    1. MLK – peace and equality, but an act of violence ended his life.
    2. Gandhi – non-violence and peace, yet met an assassin’s bullet at age 79.
    3. John Lennon – wrote “give peace a chance” yet killed with a gunshot.

What about YOU?

  1. When you came to faith in Christ, was there a prying loose with any family or friends?
  2. When you connect with Jesus, you must connect with his mission. What stirs us? Are you filled with a sense of purpose?
  3. When you walk with Jesus, you have to be prepared to let some things go: attitude, potty mouth, vengeance, hating enemies, old habits, maybe your girlfriend.

Matthew 10:34–36 describes Jesus telling the disciples that He came not to bring peace to the world, but a sword. Jesus’ sword was never a literal one. In fact, when Peter took up a sword to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked him and told him to put away his sword, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Why then, did Jesus say, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” What kind of sword did Jesus come to bring?

Among the names of Jesus Christ is that of Prince of Peace. Verses like Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:14 and John 14:27 make it clear that Jesus came to bring peace, but that peace is between the man and God. Those who reject God and the only way of salvation through Jesus (John 4:6) will find themselves perpetually at war with God. But those who come to Him in repentance will find themselves at peace with God. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Still, it is inevitable that there will be conflict between good and evil, the Christ and the antichrist, the light and the darkness, the children of God (believers) and the children of the devil (those who refuse Christ).

  1. Conflict must arise between the two groups, and this can and does happen within a family in which some are believers and others are not.
  2. We should seek to be at peace with all men but should never forget that Jesus warned we will be hated for His sake. Because those who reject Him hate Him, they will hate His followers as well (John 15:18).

In Matthew 10:34–36, Jesus said He had come at this time not to bring peace to the earth, but a sword, a weapon which divides and severs. As a result of His visit to the earth, some children would be set against parents and a man’s enemies might be those within his own household (from Micah 7:6, which addresses the rebelliousness and strife characteristic of Israel during the time of Ahaz. Just as Israel’s history foreshadows Jesus’ history, its turmoil and strife foreshadow the strife that results from the coming of the Messiah, even to the division of families. Although coming to Christ brings peace to the heart (Matthew 11:29), embracing the gospel also makes life more difficult in some respects, because Jesus demands allegiance that takes priority over the natural ties of life (Matthew 10:37–39).

  1. This is because many who choose to follow Christ are hated by their family members. This may be part of the cost of discipleship, for love of family should not be greater than love for the Lord.
  2. A true disciple must take up his cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). He must be willing to face not only family hatred, but also death, like a criminal carrying his cross to his own execution.
  3. True followers of Christ must be willing to give up, even to the point of “hating” all that is in our lives, even our own families, if we are to be worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37–39). In so doing, we find our lives in return for having given them up to Jesus Christ.
  4. Jesus is not denying the personal peace which comes to those who have received Christ (Romans 8:6). The history of Christianity has verified the claim of Jesus that men would be divided harshly, even within family units, over the gospel of Christ. No division is any more clearly drawn than that between holiness and sinfulness

John MacArthur says, “Though the ultimate end of the gospel is peace with God (John 14:27; Romans 8:6), the immediate result of the gospel is frequently conflict. Conversion to Christ can result in strained family relationships (Matthew 10:35, 36), persecution, and even martyrdom. Following Christ presupposes a willingness to endure such hardships (Matthew 10:32, 33, 37–39). Though He is called “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), Christ will have no one deluded into thinking that He calls believers to a life devoid of all conflict.”

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When Confession is a Good Thing

I have always heard the phrase, “Confession is good for the soul.” In my case, I suppose it was in the context of my parents knowing what I did anyway so I might as well fess up. The “good for the soul” part might have come from the Catholic church where one of the seven sacraments is confession, but my confession was good for my back end.

What I want to address today is confession and how it relates to our marriage. The Bible talks about confession quite a lot, for instance James write:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16)

Consider for a moment the last time you hurt your wife. An unkind word, impatient gesture, or a harsh tone from you that did some damage. Something in the last day or so will do just fine. Let’s assume for a moment that you have not resolved that offense. What would be easier to do?

  1. Go to your wife and say, “You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? Well, I’m sorry.”
  2. Go to your wife and say, “You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? I was wrong, will you forgive me?”

Granted, we may have to admit that we would find either statement hard to say, but if we want to promote a healthy relationship, does it make a difference how we “confess our sins to each other?”

Most people find it much easier to say, “I’m sorry,” than to say, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” Why is that? Are they interchangeable expressions, or do they approach an offended person with very different messages? Consider for a moment that the first is actually a non-confessional statement quite capable of causing further offense, while the second is an example of genuine confession.

“I’m sorry” states a feeling but gives the other person no opportunity to respond. It’s not much more that a vague report of being uncomfortable. It doesn’t really take responsibility or accept the vulnerability of confession. It’s not even clear: Am I sorry you got hurt or sorry that I hurt you? The phrase, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t risk having the other person say, “I don’t forgive you.” That’s why we say, “I’m sorry”–because we’re really not.

“I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” is scary, because:

  1. It lets down our defenses.
  2. It gives your wife a clear opportunity to retaliate.
  3. It forces us to reverse positions, and we might get hurt.
  4. It allows the depth of the offense to become clear, perhaps your wife isn’t ready to forgive.

“I’m sorry” doesn’t ask for forgiveness, but “Will you forgive me” recognizes that forgiveness isn’t something we can take for granted.

Application: So, do you want to be healed? Do you want your marriage healed? Are you willing to take the risk of becoming vulnerable in order to visualize God design for your marriage? What do you need to do TODAY as far as confession? Is there repentance that needs to take place? How many bridges have you burned? Too many? Did you violate a trust or do you leave your underwear on the floor all the time? Confession and repentance is the key with our relationship with God, think about how that works with your wife, too.

The statement above says, “When confession is a good thing.” I dare say it is always the best policy; from the heart and done quickly. Don’t allow anger and bitterness to build up.

Hey, take a look at this testimony of Joel and Susan. Well worth your time to see this.

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Forgiveness and Grace

I’ve come to understand that Justice is getting what one deserves, mercy is not getting what one deserves and that grace is getting something that we definitely do not deserve. It is unmerited favor, something that only God can do. The closest we can come is probably being a parent; we do things for this little person that they do not deserve, but we do them for no other reason than because we love them. If we desire to become more like Christ (Romans 8:29), we must learn to grow in forgiveness and grace.

Quotes:

Forgiveness is the final form of love. — Reinhold Niebuhr

The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace. — George McDonald

I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else. — Philip Yancey

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way. — Sara Paddison

Top 10 Ways to Grow in Grace:

  1. Be quick to acknowledge sin and guilt.
  2. Live in the confidence of your divine ownership.
  3. Easily receive God’s forgiveness that invites you into intimacy.
  4. Stop trying to earn God’s favor when you already have it.
  5. Reject false guilt; the enemy’s favorite lie.
  6. Take every opportunity to overlook the failures of others.
  7. Call attention to people’s potential, not their faults.
  8. Speak the truth in gentleness and love.
  9. Don’t pretend to have your life all neatly together.
  10. Be quick to forgive and slow to offend.

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Following God’s Leadership

All of us at one time or another have probably asked the question of God, “What do you want from me?” It’s interesting that a few times in the Bible He gives a point blank answer:

  1. The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
  2. For this is the will of God, your sanctification… (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
  3. Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Acts 16 brings us to a passage where the Spirit of Jesus prevented our missionaries from going a certain direction. The immediate question would be, “Does God still operate this way?” Can we know for sure the direction we ought to go? No matter how close we are to God, life can bring on twists and turns; which are from the Lord and which are obstacles set up by the enemy?

The Christian life is not just about meeting the Lord and seeing Him one day; it ids about walking with Him every day on a winding road. One day Paul and his group intended to preach the gospel throughout the region of Galatia and beyond, but the Spirit kept them from going into Asia (Acts 16:6). Also in this chapter, we have an addition to the missionary team (Acts 16:10). Notice the writing moves from third person to first person (“they” to “we”). Since Luke is the writer of the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, it is likely here that he joins Paul, Timothy and Silas.

Paul describes Luke as a dear friend and a doctor (Colossians 4:14). There are verses in the Bible that indicate that Paul may have had a physical illness of some sort; perhaps poor eyesight (Galatians 6:11) or maybe a physical or spiritual “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7, 8, 9).

Sometimes the most noble plans of anointed servants differ from the plans of God. They wanted to spread the gospel in another area but the Spirit of Jesus prevented them from going in that direction (Acts 16:7). One reason may have been timing because God eventually opened a door of great opportunity in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:9). Another reason may have been that God wanted Peter to go to Bithynia, who had some level of access to that area (1 Peter 1:1).

How could they have misread the direction God had for them? As with Paul, it takes a lot of courage to admit that we have made a mistake in discerning God’s direction in our lives. Once the direction is more clear, we must make sure to pursue it just as passionately as before. How did Paul know? Perhaps it was an inner tugging of the Spirit, rather than just personal feelings or instincts (Jude 1:10). Since the Spirit resides in each believer (Romans 8:9) what can we do practically to better understand God’s will or direction?

  1. Study God’s Word: He will never lead us contrary to His revealed Word.
  2. Yield to the Spirit’s control: This will keep us flexible, pliable and available when there is a change of plans.
  3. Pray for clear leadership: David’s approach is a good example (Psalm 27:11). He asked God to teach him His ways and to lead him in a straight path.
  4. Pray for wisdom and discernment: God desires to give these to us (Ephesians 1:17).
  5. Make plans, but hold them loosely: They were not supposed to just wander around the countryside, but they made plans. Paul was a smart guy, he probably had an itinerary all charted out but God had a different idea.
  6. Learn to recognize God’s peace: This is a tricky one. We like to believe that peace is a good indicator of following God’s direction and being in His will, but not always. It is not always safe to be in God’s will (I interviewed and approved many missionaries going into places around the world that we not safe). Consider this: Jonah was totally at peace in the bottom of the boat, running from God, totally out of God’s will (Jonah 1:4, 5, 6); while Jesus was totally in God’s will yet in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:41, 42, 43-44).

Application: Let’s be willing to change our plans if we sense the Spirit leading in another direction. The key to missionary work overseas was always flexibility. Paul and the team did not have to wait long for redirection, but sometimes we feel like we are in a deep, dark hole waiting for God to show us His way. Paul received a vision, a dream, about where to go next, Macedonia (Acts 16:9, 10) and the first person he finds is Lydia whom the Lord had prepared to hear the message (Acts 16:14). She was the first convert in Europe.

So, how familiar are you with the Bible? How is your prayer life? In what ways do you seek guidance from God? How do you evaluate your walk with Christ? Do you have a set time each day to seek His direction, read His Word, or ask Him for opportunities where you can be a servant of Christ each day? How does your knowledge of Christ affect your marriage and relationships? One great thing about the church, the “church” is all of us; we are in this together. That is a strength that we can use in our favor.

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