Peace

Bible Book: Isaiah  9 : 6-7
Subject: Peace
Introduction

Seven-hundred years before Christ was born Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be called the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6-7). When Jesus was born, angels sang, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” Jesus did come to bring peace, but not the kind of peace that some people think He meant to bring. Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Others in history have used the idea of a sword to mean that they could wage holy war in the name of Jesus. Actually Jesus was speaking of the fact that embracing Christ would, by its very nature, cause the world to turn on us. Yet, Christ promised us a peace that can overcome the world.

Let me tell you story. A butcher was working in his shop one day when a dog walked in with a note and money in his mouth. The butcher took the money and the note, looked at and read, “Can I have 12 sausages and a leg of lamb, please?" So the butcher placed the items in a bag, put the bag in the dog’s mouth, and out the dog went. The butcher was so fascinated that he closed up his shop and followed the dog.

The dog came to street crossing, put down the bag, jumped up and pressed the button. Then he waited patiently, bag in mouth, for the lights to turn. Finally, he walked across the street and came to a bus stop. He waited there till a bus came, looked at it carefully and just sat there waiting for the next bus. Another bus came, the dog checked the bus closely and hopped on board. The butcher was now really amazed, so he got on the bus as well.

The bus traveled through the town and out into the suburbs while the dog looked out the window and watched the scenery passed by. After a while, the dog got to the front of the bus, pushed the button which told the driver to stop and then the dog got off the bus. The butcher couldn't stop now, so he followed.

The dog and butcher walked along the street and the dog, with the bag in his mouth, turned to walk up the sidewalk to a house. The dog dropped the bag and ran at the door. He banged into it, but nothing happened. So, the dog did it again. When that didn't work, the dog jumped up on a narrow ledge, and banged his head on a window. The dog jumped down, and waited at the door till a heavy-set man opened the door. Suddenly, the man began to yell at the dog and kicked him.

At this point, the butcher couldn't stand it any longer. He raced up to the door and said, “Sir, what are you doing? This is the smartest dog I have ever seen. Why would you treat the dog that way?”

The man said to the butcher, “You call this dog smart? That is the third time this week that this dumb dog has forgotten his key!”

Some people are so uptight that they just can’t seem to live in appreciation for what they have. Such people just can't seem to enjoy God's peace. Everything, no matter how good it may be, is not good enough for those who don't know how to appropriate God's peace. This can really be our attitude at Christmastime. We are in a hurry and our nerves are on edge, so we tend to be unkind. We fail to show the peace of God in our lives, our actions and our words.

Let’s consider the importance and nature of God’s peace today. If we are saved, we should have it and we should display it in our lives.

I. Peace Means the End of Conflict

Peace, at its root form, means the 'ceasing of conflict.' This can refer to conflict between nations, for example, but the peace spoken of at the coming of Christ is not world peace, it is rather a personal peace in our lives. Granted, our Lord would be pleased if citizens of this planet would live in social and political peace; however, He did not come primarily to bring about world peace. One day, through Him, the world will be at peace, but for now the peace spoken of in the New Testament means the end of conflict between the sinner and his Creator, and it means a peace in the heart of a believer that makes him or her at peace in this life.

To see this clearly, look at Romans 5:1 and Ephesians 2:14. How is this peace produced? It is not our doing, but His work. Look at Colossians 1:20. His blood paid for our peace with God.

When we are at peace with God, it will cause us to carry about within us a kindness that comes only from God. It will create a humility that the world can hardly understand.

Sometime ago a sportscaster interviewed Tim Tebow, the former outspoken Christian quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Tebow had been criticized by many in the football world as lacking what it takes to be a NFL quarterback. I felt that Tebow was criticized for his very open love for Jesus. He made and makes no apology for praising the Lord for everything good that happens to him. Well, after the Broncos went 1 and 4 to open the season (that means that they won one game and lost 4 games) without Tebow playing, the coach decided to take out their regular quarterback and put in Tebow. Many of those who do television sports said it was a mistake to place Tebow in the game as quarterback; however, Tebow went on to win 5 of the next 6 games and moved the Broncos to the top of their division. So, this reporter asked Tebow how he felt about the criticism he had received, some of it coming from his own team leadership. Tebow calmly said, “I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to play for the Broncos. I have learned a lot and will learn more. My job is not to speak to what others say, but to do my very best every time I take the field. That is what I plan to do!” He said this with great peace and kindness in his face and voice. Tebow went on to praise his teammates, his coach and everyone associated with the team.

I want you to know that Tebow was responding in peace. He had no conflict with those who criticized him because he was at perfect peace in his heart. Jesus has given him that peace.

Some years ago, when pastoring a church in North Carolina, I had a woman come to my office and complain bitterly about the way a deacon had treated her during a church event. She was angry and she poured out part of that anger on me. She thought that I should have made sure the deacons handled things better than they did. After she had vented her feelings, I looked her in the eye and said, “Dear lady, what you are complaining about is not your real problem. That issue is too small for the attitude you are showing. There is something else wrong in your life! What is it?”

She sat there for a moment and then she started to cry. She went on to tell me of her family problems. It seems some issues with her children and grandchildren were breaking her heart. She admitted that the church issue was not that important and that it was the other issue that was causing her to act inappropriately.

I have learned through the years that people who are very upset about issues are often upset because they are not at peace with God about something in their lives. If we take our eyes off Jesus, forget how to pray properly, and focus on the negatives, we will lose our peace! God does not want you to live in conflict. In essence, you are not in a fight with anyone.

Even in the Old Testament we see peace in the midst of hardship from those who kept their eyes on the Lord. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He went through many sorrows including being falsely charged with a crime, and then being thrown in jail in Egypt. But he never bitterly complained. He continued to pray and wait on God. He was eventually raised up to the position of Prime Minister of Egypt. Soon his brothers were forced to come to him for aid because they were living in the land where a famine was taking place. What did Joseph do? He did not accost them. He did not throw them in jail. He did not send them home hungry. He told them, “You meant it for harm, but God meant it for good!” He went on to include the entire family in his success. Can you do that with people that have hurt you? You cannot unless the peace of God rules in your heart!

Oh, if only we could live in God’s peace. If we could trust God with the issues of our lives! His peace ends conflict in our souls because we are at peace with Him through the blood of His Son.

II. Peace Means the End of Confusion

The Greek word "peace" also means to have a mind that is at rest. Romans 5:1 is a good text for this point. We rejoice in the peace which He has given us in His Son. We are not confused in our hearts and minds, for Christ has given us an internal and eternal form of peace. Look at Romans 8:6, Hebrews 12:11 and John 14:27.

Life can be confusing, especially for a Christian. We can wonder how God can allow some things to happen to us the way they do. We see someone not living right and they seem to be blessed, and then we become confused. Listen, if you belong to God, you can trust Him to work all things together for good – even if you cannot understand it. Don’t let this world and its way of accomplishing things cause you to fall into concerning God's love for you and presence in you. Remain true to God, for you can be sure that He is being true to you.

When Jesus was born, He was born to a poor family. Does that seem fair? Then Herod tried to kill him. That sure doesn’t seem like the way the Son of God should have been treated. Then he was attacked by religious leaders, betrayed by one of his own, falsely arrested, falsely accused and suffered terrible scourging before being placed on the cross to die. Does that seem like the way you would have worked out the plan? I didn’t think so! But, you are not God. God had a plan and it was to save you and redeem you. Jesus accepted the plan. Don’t be confused by circumstances. You can't figure it all out in your little mind. Trust God. Peace will come to us as you and I do that! If we fail to think and act appropriately in matters we cannot understand, we lose the peace Christ suffered to give us. Don't confuse the issues - simply trust the Lord.

III. Peace Means the End of Confiscation

Life is filled with loss. At age twelve we begin to lose our hearing. Our eyes weaken by age twenty-five. We watch as our life ebbs slowly away with time. I am now in my seventies. First, I didn’t think I would live this long and second I have watched the steady decline in my physical abilities. At age sixty I was running between 30 to 40 miles a week. By age sixty-two I learned that I had a 90% blockage in one of my arteries. I don’t run the way I used to! Times steals our energy. But, let me tell you something wonderful, I accepted Jesus when I was 9 years of age. His life in me has never diminished; in fact, the life of Jesus in me grows sweeter every day. As my outward man is depleted, my inward man increases! The devil and the world cannot confiscate what God gave me. Jesus came to give us something that time and the world cannot take from us. Look at Romans 8:35-39.

In Luke 11:21 we find a fascinating passage about peace. Jesus said that a person has no reason to fear loss of possessions so long as a strong man is guarding them. The word "safe" in the NIV is actually the same Greek word for "peace" - the word "eirene." He was speaking here on the issue of driving out demons. The point is that He had to be stronger than the demons or devil in order to drive them out. By contrast, however, He implies that He is strong enough to guard that which is His. All we possess in Him is safe, not because we are strong but because He is strong. Our salvation is as secure as Jesus is secure. My life will go on as long as Jesus lives - and that is forever! When the devil comes knocking on our heart’s door, we just let Jesus answer it!

Conclusion

Some years ago, my wife and I were robbed. Someone came into our home and took from us some very precious things. My wife had a ring that her grandmother had given her. It was an antique and especially precious to her. I had a gold medallion that had been given to me by the President of Gardner-Webb College for being the Greek Student of the Year when I was in college. Those items were taken, along with a number of other items. We had no alarm system at that time, and actually felt quite safe in our community. But thieves were plotting to steal from us. Satan and this world are out to steal from you. But, in Jesus you have something that cannot be taken from you. Jesus gave it to you and Jesus guards it. He gives you peace that comes from His strength, His power and His promises.

Do you have that peace that Jesus promised? You can only have that when you accepted Him, because He is our peace.

And, for those of us who are Christians, it is a shame for us to live without the peace that God died and rose for us to have. Let us rejoice in the peace which God has given us. See John 16:33. Come today, and renew that peace that God has given you.

A man died some years ago and the family discovered several expensive, antique violins in his attic. He had them, but he never played them. He had them, but never enjoyed them. We have been given God's peace; we must not lay it aside in the closet of our hearts!