Prince of Peace
Sunday, December 18, 2022
Read Psalm 85: 8-12 I will hear what God the Lord will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; And may they not turn back to foolishness. 9 Certainly His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land. 10 Graciousness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. 11 Truth sprouts from the earth, And righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 Indeed, the Lord will give what is good,
“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.”
We are called to be peacemakers,
We gather, as the children of God,
committed to the call to peacemaking.
We gather, as the children of God,
finding refuge in our God of peace.
We gather, as the children of God,
to re-commit ourselves to the ways of peace.
We gather to worship our God who is peace.
Advent Reading: Shari and Rick
In the Jewish culture, this is a salutation expressed to one another as both a hello and a goodbye. We know it to mean peace. One of God’s names is Jehovah Shalom Lord of Peace.
But we may not know in Hebrew, there is a depth to this peace expressed. It means harmony, completeness, and wholeness.
So when we say shalom to one another, we are extending the blessing of complete rest and harmony in Christ Jesus, our Lord. In Christ, we are complete and whole. In Christ, we have absolute peace and we can rest from all our troubles in His presence for we know the Lord reigns and He cares for us.
So this salutation becomes a beautiful and profound blessing when we speak it with the right understanding. When we say this, we are reminding one another of the Good News we have in Christ and calling one another to live in this completeness and harmony, we only find in Jesus. We are saying, I bring the peace of Christ to you, may it rest upon you, and we are encouraging them through our example to pass along the peace of Christ to others they encounter.
We are calling others to remember to live by faith and trust in the Good News they have heard and to focus on the greater, eternal things that carry His peace.
One spoken word can say a great deal, can’t it? Let’s take a moment and say it to others around you- be it Shalom, peace be with you, God’s peace rest on you, or simply peace.
This is why we gather in worship and fellowship! This is why we created the coffee ministry, to encourage fellowship and hopefully blessings through it. We gather in part to bless one another we surely need it.
What might change if we choose to speak peace to others more freely when we greet them? How might our conversations change? How might it change the day our cashiers and other workers are so busy in this season? It’s not commonplace in our culture any longer, but it has always been part of God’s culture and language. When Jesus arrived before His disciples He said, “Peace be with you.” What if we practice bringing this back into our culture more? Aren’t we to share the good news with others? What is this good news exactly that we are talking about? Isn’t it about Jesus, who ushered in a kingdom of peace?
We who believe in Jesus, have peace-which is completeness, wholeness, and harmony with our God, through Jesus.
The choice we all have is whether we receive His peace by resting in His complete and finished work on the cross. Do we see Jesus truly as victorious in all things, as the King who reigns supreme, as Lord whose ways are far superior to ours, and the One who works all things for our good?
The peace of Christ is real and ever-present in our lives. We must first choose to receive it and then learn how to rest in it to combat our daily stressors and troubles that steal our peace.
Let’s read of a prophecy given by God through the prophet Isaiah. He preached the Word of God to Israel about 700 years before the birth of Christ. Listen today with fresh ears and hear the message of hope and peace Isaiah spoke of. Let these truths resonate in your heart today. Let your mind imagine what is being described and let your faith grow. Listen to what this prophecy is saying even about us and our world today.
Isaiah 9: 2-7 NIV
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 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.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
What did you hear differently this morning? What fell fresh upon your ears? This is a prophecy of the coming of Christ and the government He would reign over, for eternity.
A light has dawned- Christ was born! New hope arrived for all of God’s people.
The people walking in darkness refer to the Israelites conquered by the Assyrians. Spiritually of us before receiving Christ as our Savior.
There will be no greater power or government ever than that of our King of kings. His government will only expand and increase. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
This is a powerful and telling prophecy about our newborn King we celebrate each Christmas, but also our King we worship all year long.
He is our Prince of Peace. He brings light into our darkness and joy to our hearts as we rejoice in who He is! He brings calm to our anxiousness and fears. He brings order to our chaos. He brings comfort in our times of sorrow and hurting. He is our peace.
The key to walking in His peace is found in Rejoicing in who Jesus is. Do we know who Jesus is? Personally?
- Peace is a Knowing.
Peace is an automatic state we feel as we gaze upon Jesus and ponder the fullness of who He is.
But what if we don’t know, or what if we don’t believe all that Jesus is?
Then we very likely are lacking peace or at best have it present from time to time but it’s not a constant flow in our lives. We don’t know how to maintain it. And we won’t, because peace-shalom- means completeness and wholeness and that can only come through one person. It isn’t you or me. It is through Jesus alone.
So when we are trying to manufacture peace in our ability, it’s no wonder we can’t hold on to it.
Peace is a knowing; it comes from knowing the One who is Peace. To truly know our Prince of Peace requires spending time with Him.
When Jesus was born the heavenly hosts filled the sky singing praises:
Luke 2: 13-14 NIV 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
They proclaimed the truth that Jesus brings peace to those whom His favor rests upon those who believe in Him and follow His ways. A promise and a blessing is spoken over all who are in God’s favor.
Later the apostles were teaching new believers and reminding them of what they already knew to be true. Let us remember today also.
Acts 10: 36 NIV 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
The apostle Paul clarified the purpose of Christ’s coming and what He brought through this accomplished purpose.
Ephesians 2: 14-15 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
Completeness, wholeness, and harmony in Him.
We must seek to know the One who is peace. We must understand the purpose for which He came, to reconcile sinners to a holy God and create a new humanity that is fused to Him through the Spirit, thus also fused to God, and fused to one another, for we are one. This fusion, this new creation destroys the wall of hostility between man and God, and between one another- creating peace. We are called in Scripture as we spoke of last week to live in harmony with one another. We can choose this through the bond of peace we share, which is Christ in us.
If we don’t know Jesus personally, we should begin there and invite Him to fully enter our hearts as our personal Lord and Savior. Invite Him to lead us in every way and invite His peace to move through our hearts.
If we forget who Jesus is and the truth about what His coming brought about, let us come back to His Word and be reminded exactly who He is. Let us remind our soul that can grow anxious, fearful, and overwhelmed of the Prince of Peace who reigns supreme in all things, for all eternity, and who loves us without end. The Gospel of Luke will show us exactly who Christ is and why He came. This is a great place to go when we need this reminder of who Christ is as our Prince of Peace.
Then Let us invite Jesus into our lives parts of our lives, especially the areas where we are lacking peace. For where there is no peace, there is no Jesus. Ponder that for a moment-where are you lacking peace right now? Have you brought Jesus into that area of your life? Do you see Him working in it?
- Peace Manifests When We Involve Jesus.
We must know peace is not the absence of hardship or trials in life. It is knowing Jesus is with us always, through every trial, every difficulty, every valley, every uncertainty and it is knowing He works it all for good.
This week I was spending some time in the mornings reading back through my journaling with God as I like to do from time to time, because it’s very encouraging to see how He brings things together that I had been praying for, wisdom I was seeking and to see how He has moved; sometimes it’s just to reread His council over my heart.
I came across a journal entry from this past May where I asked Him what He wanted to speak to me about His peace that day.
He showed me a vision of us strolling along a path and I was very young. He was holding my hand and I was looking up at Him like young children do as they walk along with someone they trust. It was very peaceful. I could feel peace. After a while, He reached down and picked me up and carried me for part of the way when my legs grew tired-just as we do with young children we are caring for.
Then He spoke to my heart, “I am with you. I will carry you when you grow weary. Notice the pace is nice and slow, not hurried. We are just enjoying one another on a stroll, taking in the beauty around us. You are focusing on time too much lately and therefore are always racing against it, removing The peace I give you.”
Note: This was when Riley was finishing her senior year so there were many end-of-year things happening, preparing for her graduation, and I too was finishing my final course. I said, ‘This is true I am. It feels like everything is pulling me and I can’t catch up. As soon as I check one thing off, another to do comes through.”
Jesus lovingly responded, “Have I ever not helped you?”
I responded, “No you always do-I know this.”
He said, “So pause, come into My presence, take a stroll with us, and let us carry you a while until you are strong enough to walk again.”
Isn’t that a beautiful invitation? Here is what He spoke to me specifically when I was struggling; I want to share it with you.
I asked Him, “why is there so much coming at me? How will I get my course done? It feels like I just can’t stay on top of it because I’m either doing things or I am mentally exhausted from all the doing and planning.”
Have you been there? Even pastors can slip into this. I had to laugh reading this because it all got done and He helped me every step of the way as I let Him. But at that moment, I was feeling like I wasn’t going to make it on time. But that was the issue that was the thing stealing my peace He gives to me. My expectation of time. Can you relate? Maybe it’s not time, but how you want something to be. That too can steal your peace from God.
He said, “My child just continue to flow in Me and together we will progress forward. Let go of expectations and just soak up what I am making known to you. It will work out and be as it should. Release the pressure to meet a certain timeline and just rest in Me.”
I said honestly, “That’s so hard to do.”
He said, “Only if you desire to keep control of your schedule. Will it matter in the long run if you finish mid-June, late June, or even July? Or is finishing what matters? He said release your expectations that are putting unnecessary pressure on you and just come to Me. I will see you through, just as I always have. Have We ever let you down in this journey?
Two powerful truths- only if my desire to keep control of my schedule remained stronger than my desire to simply follow Him as He leads me letting go of timelines and that pressure become hard. What was I desiring more? – A great question for all of us to ponder when we are not at peace. What is stealing our peace and does it stem from a desire we have for something that is not coming from God? Is it self-driven or God-driven?
The second truth posed back to me as a question- have we ever let you down yet? Isn’t it good to remember all the times when we are overwhelmed or wondering how we will get it all done, take care of things, whatever it is… to reflect back with gratefulness on all the ways God has faithfully helped us in the past?
I of course said, “No you have always helped me.”
He finished, Be at peace as you connect with Me. I am peace within you. There it is, Shalom-completeness and Harmony in Him.
That was powerful that day and equally powerful now to read. Oh, the unnecessary pressures we place on ourselves. The unnecessary burdens we carry. If only we come to Him and rest in Him, trusting all things will work out as He intends them to.
I finished exactly when He intended me to finish and having that vision of us walking together was very helpful to reflect on as I kept going forward. This is a message for all of us. The details might vary-but the message is equally true for all of us.
The truth is, we don’t need all the details worked out to be in Christ’s peace. We don’t need to know the exact dates things are going to transpire to follow obediently and trust He is working all things out. We are to enjoy the journey with Jesus and rest in His completeness being manifested in our lives.
So let us invite Jesus to work in our lives and let us believe in all He is and trust in all He will bring about, for our eternal good.
John 14:27 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.
How do we practically do this?
Philippians 4: 6-7 tells us how: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
How I practice this involves what and who I’m picturing in my mind. When my boys are out hunting and climbing in deer stands or fishing on large bodies of water or Riley is driving from or to college… I could picture the worst possible scenarios and stew on those images and have no peace at all. Or I could bring my cares to Jesus asking Him to care for my loved ones, trusting in His care over them, giving thanks for His protection, and picture the images the Spirit gives me of them safely getting where they need to be or enjoying themselves in their hobbies. Then I remain in the peace of Christ that is flowing within me. When I’m struggling with something I’m doing, I pause just as He told me to and I picture us walking or sitting together and just being still and calm. Then as I connect with His peace again, I talk to Him about what I’m struggling with and listen for His counsel and encouragement. Then I follow what He shares for me to do.
Romans 8:6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
The Spirit will show us pictures or images when we invite Him to flow freely that include Jesus in that situation because Jesus is always present in every moment. His peace rises when we look for Him. We feel a lack of peace when we picture scenes without Jesus there. Let us invite and yield to the Spirit’s flowing thoughts and images for the Spirit is life and peace. Remember our heart language is pictures and images. This is why He shows us vision as we look.
Let us practice again and again, for this is a journey we are all on, a discovery of knowing Jesus and appropriating all that we learn in our day-to-day living. Let us not become discouraged but choose to persevere in faith and hope. Let us choose to reset our gaze upon the One who brings peace.
Philippians 4:9 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Conclusion: Jesus is our Prince of Peace. He came to lead a broken world to a place where we could be made whole again. That wholeness becomes more evident as we become more aware of who Jesus is, and His abiding presence in us. Let us fix our gaze on our Prince of Peace and feel His abiding peace wash over us.
Announcements: Next Sunday wear your festive attire. Christmas Eve worship and brunch 10 am. Board meeting will be postponed. Ladies prayer group moved to Dec. 20th. Food for the food pantry- Bring by next Sunday- Pardeeville drop off or go Monday mornings directly to them. Rio Kindness Closet-now looking for socks and mittens-again bring them here if it’s easier and we can take them to school.
Final Blessing: Numbers 6: 24-26 24 The Lord bless you, and keep you; 25 The Lord cause His face to shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His face to you, And give you peace.’