Summary: I believe God does intend His teachings to be taken seriously. So He not only speaks the words, "Peace on earth, good will toward men," but He gives us the key to unlocking the door to peace so we really can attain it. (Powerpoint available - #328)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this sermon are available free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #328.)
A. It’s Christmastime & our hearts are full of the hymns that we have just sung proclaiming again the wonderful message that Jesus Christ was born!
And we believe what the prophet Isaiah wrote long ago about Him when he declared, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, & the government will be upon his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
It is wonderful, isn’t it? But that last little phrase, “Prince of Peace,” makes us pause a bit for, whether we like it or not, our country is at war. And most of us are convinced that it must be won, for worldwide hatred & terror cannot be allowed to reign supreme.
Almost all of us knew someone, or knows someone who knew someone, who was personally affected by the tragedies of 9/11, or by the ongoing efforts of terrorism since that day. And the result is that for most of us life has become more precious than we ever acknowledged before.
B. There is one Christmas song that is rather special to me. I seldom can sing it all the way through without a catch in my voice or tears in my eyes. For some reason the words have an emotional affect on me more than almost any other Christmas song I sing. The first verse says:
"I heard the bells on Christmas day their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men."
"Peace on earth, good will to men." What familiar words especially at Christmastime. That was the message of the angels as they sang to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus, "Glory to God in the highest, & peace on earth, good will to men."
That sounds nice, but we live in a world filled with enemies. Peace seems so elusive, & good will is not all that universal. The song goes on to say:
"And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,' I said,
‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.'
Then pealed the bells more loud & deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.'"
"Good will to men?" It is a beautiful message, but does God really expect us to take it seriously?
C. I believe God does intend His teachings to be taken seriously. So He not only speaks the words, “…peace on earth, good will toward men," but He gives us the key to unlocking the door to peace so that we really can attain it.
What is that key? Listen to these words, “If your enemy is hungry give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, & the Lord will reward you."
If I asked you where to find those words in the Bible, some of you would say, "Jesus said them in the 5th chapter of Matthew." And I would give you partial credit for that because Jesus does say something similar when He tells us to love our enemies & to be good & kind to those who curse us.
Some of you might say, "Paul said them." And I would give you partial credit for that as well, because in the 12th chapter of Romans Paul quotes from this passage.
But the words I have just read are the words of Solomon recorded in Proverbs 25:21 22. “If your enemy is hungry give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, & the Lord will reward you."
Whether it is in the O.T. or in the New, God's Word says that if there is going to be peace on earth then we, as God's people, must learn to treat our enemies with love.
PROP. What about this idea, "love your enemies feed them care for them?" Can we really love our enemies? God seems to think that we can but only when we realize the source & the example & the power of this love in our lives.
I. THE SOURCE OF THIS LOVE
A. Where does this kind of love come from? The principle expressed goes all the way back to Exodus 23:4 5. Moses is telling the people God's law & he says, “If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, do not leave it there, be sure you help him with it."