Finding Peace at Christmas


If you have ever seen a beauty pageant? What is the one thing that they frequently say that they are working for or wish for? World Peace! Everyone longs for peace.

Have any of you been shopping this past week? If you were, did you walk out of the store saying “Wow, this season is full of peace on earth and goodwill to men!” Ha ha….probably not! Some of you may be thinking “Peace at Christmas? Is that possible?”

This week I watched a t.v. program that had a woman on who HATES…and I mean…HATES Christmas. She hates how mean people get to get a good deal at the stores, she hates how rude people are to the store clerks. She hates all the obligation to get together with family and worse yet….feeling obligated to buy gifts. Now, I do agree with her that people can act exactly opposite of what they should be for the season and I do agree that people should make a point to get together other times of the year as well, but….HATEING Christmas? What she is ultimately saying is “There is no peace on earth at Christmas.”

How important is peace to you? If you could purchase it at a store like you do your groceries, what would you pay for peace? Would you regularly buy a dose? I went online to check out “how to find peace”. It was amazing what came up. Here’s what one article told me to do to find peace:
1. Find a quiet, shady space. it can be anywhere (including outside) and get yourself comfortable. 2. Sit in a relaxed position.
3. Put your hands on your lap, or any comfortable position.
4. Close your eyes.
5. Focus carefully on your breathing.
6. Think about a long winding river and try to achieve stillness.
7. Notice how much easier it is to concentrate when you are done and how you feel much, much happier.
8. Practice this more; you will get better.
Disclaimer at the bottom of the page:
· To get ongoing access to the peace within, you will need to find a way to access the experience directly -- to live peacefully.
· The peace is lost due to our own disturbability of mind, which is due to subclinical neuroendocrine and autonomic imbalance and lack of focus and conviction. This can be rectified by namasmaran and pranayam which compliment every other measure to attain peace.
· The experience of peace cannot be created by mental exercises or physical exertions. Sometimes they allow you to get a glimpse of the peace within.
I had to laugh….here’s how to find peace…but you may only get a glimpse of it. It doesn’t last. Who wants that? It’s like going to thanksgiving and being told you can look at all the food and maybe have one small taste, but you can’t sit down for the dinner.

So, can you find peace that lasts? And if you can, where do you find it? Because I think we all want a piece of peace. “Isaiah 9:6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Jesus is our Prince of Peace. The word “prince” has four meaning in the Old Testament. Leader, official representative, governor and royal King. The word peace in Isaiah 9:6 is referring to rest, safety, security and freedom. It’s the word Shalom. So, what this verse is saying is that Jesus is the ruler, leader, governor and official representative of the rest, safety, freedom and security that only He can give a person in life.

True peace is a gift from God that he longs for you to open this Christmas. I believe that God has three gifts of peace for you this Christmas and my prayer is that you not only look at these gifts, but you open them and enjoy them. I pray that you don’t just set His peace for you on a shelf to collect dust in your memory banks, but that you know what it means to walk in peace in every day.

The first gift God has for you this Christmas is THE GIFT OF PEACE WITH GOD.
He who IS peace and enjoyed the peace of heaven where there are no wars, fighting or strife, became a man in the form of a baby that first Christmas night for the sole purpose of reconciling humankind to Himself so that you and I could personally know the peace of God.
Think about what life would be like if you never had a disagreement or fight. If you never had war. If you never had the stress of hard relationships. Jesus had that in heaven. It was perfect there. Let the kid in you come out and ponder the mystery of why Jesus would leave all that and come to earth for you? As I sat thinking this week, I came up with a few reasons: His great love for me. To be an example of how to live without sin in this life. To have a relationship with us and not just be the big man upstairs. To live here 33 years doing ministry and then give his life as a sacrifice for our sins so that we could enjoy the peace of heaven with him. WOW!
God sure loves us a lot. But to have peace with God, we must have a relationship with God. I believe there is a direct correlation in the Bible between peace and holiness. The Bible says there is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22, Is. 57:21), but the Lord promises peace to his people (Is. 32:17, Colossians 1:20). If you don’t have a personal relationship with God, you will seek and seek but come up short every time. Isaiah 57:2 says that those who have Christ will find peace even in death. It’s true. They know where they are going and look forward to meeting their Savior face to face. It removes all fear.

Have you unwrapped this gift of peace? Do you have sin festering in your life that needs to go? Have you ever committed your life to God? Unwrap the gift of peace with God this Christmas.

The next gift God has for you this Christmas is THE GIFT OF PEACE WITH YOURSELF
Doesn’t life get stressful trying to make everyone else happy. Are there times when you just feel like you don’t measure up? You don’t like the way you look or you are holding on to the past and the things you’ve done wrong. You may have a relationship with God, but you don’t much like yourself sometimes. Maybe you think you’re too fat or too big of a nose or you can’t sing or …yada yada yada. We can be pretty hard on ourselves sometimes.

Do you know that the Prince of Peace can actually help you like yourself? He created you in HIS image. You were formed like a pottery forms a piece of clay and makes it into a masterpiece. You weren’t an accident. And when we tell God that we don’t like how we look or what gifts or talents we DON’T have, we are telling God that he messed up and we don’t like the way he created us.

Imagine a potter molding a piece of clay. He works for hours molding and molding until it’s just right. Then he fires it and paints it up beautifully. He is a professional and his work of art is worth thousands of dollars and his art is coveted by all. Would you ever think of going up to that artist and saying…”I really don’t like this. I think it is a piece of junk! If you would have just made it with a smaller handle and with prettier colors…….” NO! You would never do that! But why do we tell God constantly that his work stinks?

When we have that relationship with God, we can open the gift of peace with God, but also peace with ourselves, because we can realize that God fashioned us. And we know that this world is not our home…heaven is and HIS opinion of us is the only one that counts. What goes on inside here (pointing to chest) is what matters. It’s the only thing that will last. When we die we don’t take our bodies with us. It’s our soul and that relationship with God that goes to be with the Lord. So why do we obsess so much over our appearance and talents?

Who does God say you are? Here are just a few truths that we can hold on to. Each one is taken right from scripture. If you want the references, ask me after church and I will give them to you. If you are in Christ, this is what God says your identity is: I am accepted and acceptable. I have been bought with a price. I am God’s temple. I am chosen. I am loved with an everlasting love. I am forgiven. I am complete in Christ. I am God’s child. I am holy. I am a saint. I am God’s workmanship. I am God’s precious jewel. I am created in God’s image. I am God’s friend. Neil Anderson says “The more you re-affirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity.” We really can be at peace with ourselves and who we are when we realize who we really are! God has given each one of you special gifts and talents that are yours alone. God doesn’t make junk and God made you, fashioned you, in HIS image. We are made to look like Him! That’s precious and amazing!

Are you willing to un-wrap that gift this year? I challenge you to take some time this week to re-affirm who you are in Christ and who He has made you to be. Maybe you remember this old song….I’ve changed it just a bit…. Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world…red and yellow black and white, old and young he made just right. Jesus loves the little children of the world!

The last gift Jesus has for you this year is THE GIFT OF PEACE WITH OTHERS.
Romans 12:18 says “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” I have heard of countless stories of family members who no longer speak to one another because of some rift that happened 20 years ago. At Christmas, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could come together in peace? Who is that one person in your life that comes to mind when I talk about being at peace with others that you just wish you could be at peace with? It IS possible!

Proverbs 16:7 tells us that if we have peace with God, we can even live at peace with our enemies. How is that possible? I have seen that very thing this week. They aren’t enemies, but the press is sure giving both sides heat. Who am I talking about? President-Elect Barack Obama and Pastor Rick Warren. Rick Warren was asked to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration and everyone is up in arms about it because they hold such different views on things. So how can Barack Obama and Rick Warren live in peace with one another when they disagree about so many hard issues? It’s because they can agree to disagree but they find common ground and stay there. They can respect one another and live in peace even if they don’t always agree.
John tells us that if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. Wow. That’s pretty strong. Jesus said that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. It all goes back to that initial relationship with God. It holds the keys to having peace in all areas of our lives.

What will it take for you to be reconciled with the ones you are in conflict with? God has offered us forgiveness far beyond what we deserve. Is it time for you to offer forgiveness to someone that may not, in your eyes, deserve it? When we are at peace with God in our hearts and when we are at peace with ourselves, God enables us to live at peace with one another. Are you willing to extend peace? I guarantee if you do, you will receive back more than you gave.

We live in a culture that seems to have lost all peace. Our rest, security, stability and safety seem to be disintegrating before our eyes. How can we have peace when our finances are upside down? How can we have peace when everything is going haywire? We go back to the first point. When you have made peace with God, you will have that quiet trust in Him, trusting that He knows tomorrow. Trusting that He can see what is best. Trusting that what looks impossible to us is easy for the Lord to take care of. Trusting Him in faith which results in peace. Un-wrap the precious gift of peace from Jesus today. Don’t leave this gift sitting under the tree un-opened.

God’s peace never lessens. The Prince of Peace has come to rule in peace over our lives. Remember, HE is the only gift that won’t break, wear out, or go out of style. Isaiah 54:10 says that Jesus offered us peace as a covenant that will not be broken. Receive His gift of peace to you this Christmas.

You’ve heard of re-gifting? It’s where you take a gift that someone has given to you and you wrap it up and give it to someone else. This is one of those gifts that you can re-gift. Give it away to others. You’ll be glad you did! Don’t leave today without this gift of peace.

Do you have peace with God?
Do you have peace with yourself?
Do you have peace with others?

Let this Christmas be different than any one you have ever experienced. “Let the peace of the Messiah rule in your hearts to which you are called in one body and be thankful.”

Comments

Pastor Al said…
Greetings Joy,

Think I know you from FLAME. Thanks for visiting our blog. I was reading the section on peace in Rick Warren's, The Purpose of Christmas. I think he said we have 35 regional concurrent wars...as we enter the Christmas season.

Pray for peace. Shalom.

Merry Christmas.

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