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If youíve been here the last four weeks, you would have learned some very practical and eternal truths for experiencing a life of joy. We talked about how joy is a matter of our spirit, the part of us that relates to God.
We need to know, joy requires effort and discipline, while happiness only requires favorable circumstances. Joy requires obedience to God in the areas of our thinking, our actions and our relationships.
In terms of our thinking, we looked at how when we expect God to give us favor, can do the impossible and to keep His promises, we will experience joy day to day and for the future. In terms of our actions, we looked at the life of John the Baptist and Mary, Mother of Jesus, to learn how to receive and give in ways that produce joy in our lives. This morning, we look at how three kinds of relationships, when they are at peace, can lead to joyful living.
We all desire to experience peace. Peace can be defined as the absence of war and disagreement, or the presence of security and calm. But very few people know how to experience peace. Some use drugs; others live in denial, and still others apply force to bring about peace.
Since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than 8 percent of the time! Of the almost 4000 years of recorded history, less than 300 years saw peace. Furthermore, over 8000 peace treaties were made-and broken.
Cyprian, a Bishop of the church at Carthage in the third century, once wrote to his young friend, Donatus:
"This is a cheerful world as I see it from my garden under the shadows of my vines. But if I were to ascend some high mountain and look out over the wide lands, you know very well what I should see: [Thieves] on the highways, pirates on the sea, armies fighting and cities burning. In the amphitheaters men murdered to please applauding crowds; selfishness and cruelty and misery and despair under all roofs. It is a bad world, Donatus.... It is an incredibly bad world."
Today, we donít need to ascend to some high mountain to see the lack of peace. We have CNN World News, and we have talk shows and The Osbornes to display selfishness, cruelty, misery and despair under all roofs.
Yet, God promised peace to mankind, and during Christmas, we are reminded of this promise. Luke 2:14 tells us, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." Apparently the angels are saying that peace is given to those who receive Godís favor or goodness. Letís look together at what God has given out of His favor toward mankind, and how they offer peace to mankind..
First, God gave us Jesus Christ that we might have peace with Him.
Colossians 1:19-20 tells us, "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus Christ], and through him to reconcile to [God] all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."
In other words, Jesus Christ was Godís own peace offering, to restore mankind to God. You might be thinking, "But I never fought or argued with God. Why do I need to make peace with God?"
Each time we knew what God expected of us, but we ignored His instruction, we argued with God. Each time God speaks through our conscience, and we violate our own conscience, we fought with God.
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