Porch Pirates! Thieves that capitalize on packages left unattended on the front porch. This category of thief has led to a booming business in video doorbells which enable us to record this activity. In fact, a startup video doorbell company was recently purchased by Amazon for $1 Billon. Did you see the latest video on the news this past week? It was of a little girl, approximately 9 years old, being sent by her parents to snatch packages off of porches. The news anchor asked this question, “What kind of grinch sends their children to steal off of porches?” The parents may be acting like the grinch but they learned their conduct from the original grinch who was on full display during the first Christmas.
For all of its emphasis on receiving, the truth is there is also much that was stolen in the Christmas account. We have talked about stolen presence and stolen opportunity. Let’s look at one other thing that is swiped. This you find in several passages.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
We sing Silent Night, We 3 Kings, and Away in a Manger and without even thinking about it we project our own idealized concepts of what it must have been like for the Savior of the world to be born. What we fail to acknowledge is that as a result of his birth . . . peace was often a missing. Think about this a moment . . .
A virgin finds out she is pregnant. A fiancé finds out his promised is pregnant and also finds out that his now family of 3 are on a mad man’s hit list. This expanding family has to leave home and make a major move. Shepards are awakened in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere by UFOs. An entire region is subjected to the slaughter of their sons. This doesn’t really match up to the serene scene we sing about does it? As incredible, mind blowing, glory filled as it was it was equally chaotic, painful, and messy.
However, I want to remind you of the prophecy that preceded Jesus’ birth.
Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
The prophet declares this child will be a lot of things but the last description is that He will be a Prince of Peace!
Notice the contrast of the chaos that seemed to surround His arrival against the prophetic statement about His role as a Prince of Peace. It honestly almost seems like a contradiction. Tasked with bringing peace and yet around His birth there is swirling confusion, fear, and panic. It would seem like a contradiction except for one simple fact. What I have just described is the experience most of us have as followers of Christ. We know the Prince of Peace and yet it seems to me so many of us also experience the theft of peace. Perhaps knowing that one of the primary missions of Jesus was to bring peace the enemy of our soul often focuses his efforts on stealing our peace knowing that in doing so we are unable to faithfully follow and obey.
A couple of things I want to mention:
A. Our mouth often leads to our madness.
Peace is often a result of keeping our mouth shut. Mary hid these things in her heart. Wise men kept their mouth shut. Some things you have to hide in your heart to keep peace.
Another birth that took place around Jesus’ birth reveals this truth too. Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist was born just prior to Jesus’ birth. Remember the account. John’s dad, Zechariah, is confronted by an angel telling him that John would be born. Scripture says Zechariah was afraid (lack of peace) and his heart was filled with doubt. So the angel causes Zechariah to go mute until John was born. Could it be that he was silenced so he wouldn’t talk his way into trouble? Could it be that he was silenced so he would find peace?
I think too many of us talk our way into turmoil. If we are not careful our mouth leads us into confusion, chaos, panic, fear and ultimately destruction. Hide some things! Just because they are in your heart doesn’t mean you have to have them in your mouth! Let me help you this Christmas season to find peace. Guard your mouth and at the same time you will guard your heart. You don’t have to respond. You don’t have to react. You don’t have defend. The moment you do the enemy will steal your peace. Your silence could lead to serenity!
I also want to admonish you . . .
B. Don’t just embrace the gospel of salvation but also the gospel of sanity.
According to the angels (Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men) peace marked His birth but does it mark our life?
We sing about it at Christmas. O Holy Night - Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace.
So according to Isaiah . . . His birth was supposed to bring peace. But the prophet continues and makes the same assertion about Jesus’ death. ‘But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.’
So, the conclusion can be made that Jesus’ entire life, from start to finish, was about helping us embrace the gospel of peace. But maybe His peace ended with His death? The prophet ends that assumption.
I take you back to Isaiah 9:7 because the prophet not only says Jesus will be Prince of Peace but he also declares this - and of His peace there shall be no end!
Jesus, Himself, makes it clear this won’t be the case.
The Prince of Peace declares that peace is one of His parting gifts. Prior to departure He says . . .
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
So, then we must come to this conclusion . . . If there is no end to His peace and if peace was deposited in us, then if we have no peace it isn’t because He has lost peace but rather because we have embraced the gospel of salvation but aren’t practicing the gospel of peace/sanity.
Sanity is the byproduct of peace! Insanity is the byproduct of fear. There can be no peace if you are also filled with fear! So, if you are experiencing the absence of peace may I remind you of the promise of the Lord this morning!
Psalm 29:11 - The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
There it is. God blesses us with peace. It is one of our rights and we need to claim it as ours!
Maybe the instructions of the angel in every chaotic moment surrounding Jesus’ birth needs to be repeated today. Maybe Jesus’ repetition should get our attention and be a clue that the key to experiencing peace is to make sure that we ...
Don't let your hearts to be troubled.
Give no place or seat to fear. Don’t be afraid.
Has fear taken over your heart? Is what comes out of your mouth an indication of what is in your heart? Have you talked your heart into being troubled? Have you allowed your peace to be stolen?