Summary: How do we take back peace that has disappeared from our lives as a part of our stressful lifestyle. We can prepare the way to receive the peace that Jesus came to bring us. Here’s how.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
November 30, 2003
First Sunday of Advent
INTRODUCTION: Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We light the candle of peace today to remind us that Jesus came into an imperfect world to bring peace to individual hearts. Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years beforehand that He would be called “wonderful counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, and PRINCE OF PEACE” (Isaiah 9:6). Today’s scripture in Malachi talks about the conditions of the times when there was no measure of peace. People were not at peace, but scripture begins by prophesying that God would send His messenger to prepare the way to receive Jesus. John the Baptist came in history to point people to Him.
Paul later speaks of his experience with the peace of Jesus whether in good circumstances or in bad times--whether he was in “chains or whether he was defending and confirming the gospel” (Phil. 1:7).
Sometimes we look at the gospel message and wonder “where is the peace that Jesus is supposed to bring?”
If you don’t believe it, just take a look at magazine covers. What are the articles written about today that interest people? The titles of many articles are on conflict, stress, pressures of the holiday season--how to get everything done by working smarter and not harder--how to get along with the relatives at the “once-a-year_ holiday dinner--how to buy presents that people won’t WANT to exchange... People are still seeking peace but it seems to elude them. Maybe it is because we look in the wrong places.
Christians are not exempt from the many stresses that seem to have a way of robbing us of peace. In spite of our good intentions, it disappears. Something agitates us--it could be traffic on the way to work, crowds and waiting in line at the mall, being put on hold on the phone, or a telemarketer calling at dinner time. It could be family members who don’t see eye to eye. We are disappointed with ourselves when peace does not seem to be a part of the perfect Kodak Moment. Things SHOULD be different we say.
At the announcement of his birthday angels praised God saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). Jesus came to bring peace but where is it in MY life? Was his peace a part of your week? Will it be a part of next week? I imagine it was a mixture of stresses and did not quite come up to our expectations.
1. Prepare the Way for Peace: How do we get peace back? One way to begin is to prepare the way for peace. We need to stop and think about clearing the way for His coming. What things have accumulated in your heart that robs you of peace? It could be things we have overlooked--maybe we have said some unkind, cutting words that have built a barrier between you and others, maybe you have sinned and have never asked Jesus to forgive you, maybe you have let your temper get the best of you and your blood pressure went sky high that day. Think of actions and attitudes that were unchrist like--that were peace robbers.
I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Prepare the way for His coming.
2. He is at Work in our Lives: Today’s scripture reminds us that Jesus is a work in our lives. Sometimes we totally forget this. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Many people live under a cloud of condemnation saying, “I don’t know if I can live it.” “I am struggling all the time,” “What if God doesn’t hear my prayer?” or “What if I can’t make it? I’m upset all the time. I don’t have any peace. I’m churned up about everything. Worrying myself to death.”
That’s the wrong confession to make. Scripture gives us confidence that He HAS BEGUN the work in your life and He will carry it out and complete it. Can you believe this? He is already at work in your life to bring you peace.
II Thess. 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” This shows us that our circumstances don’t have to be perfect in order to experience the peace that He brings. We might not understand how we can have the sense of peace and calmness when things are at their worst. Philippians 4:7 says, “and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.” He is at work in your life today no matter what things look like.