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Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Peace Of Advent




This is the manuscript of the sermon preached at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA on Sunday 
December 23, 2018.  

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  Jesus is Wonderful, the Counselor who comforts and guides us. He is our Mighty God, fully divine. And as the Prince of Peace, He brings our hearts a peace that passes all understanding today and a home of eternal peace in Heaven.  

To hear the audio click on the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

Thank You

This is the third of our four Advent sermons.  Two weeks ago we talked about the Hope of Advent.

Biblical hope which is built on faith. Hope is a peaceful assurance that something that hasn’t happened yet will indeed happen. 

Romans 8:24-25 NIV For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Last week we talked about the Joy of Advent.  A joy that we can’t express in words.  Here’s the way that Peter described it

1 Peter 1:6-9 HCSB You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials  so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

It’s a joy that’s different from just being happy which vanishes when things get tough.  A joy that doesn’t depend on circumstances.  Joy that rises above our circumstances.  Joy that’s not produced by something external that makes us happy but is the supernatural result of a life filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God. 

This week let’s talk about the Peace of Advent. Now peace is defined as freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.

The kind of peace that we look forward to during Advent was prophesied as being brought to mankind through a man. 

Isaiah 9:6 (HCSB)  For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

God foretold the coming of Jesus long before He came, through Isaiah. From the foundation of the world, He knew His beloved Son would humble Himself so that His beloved — but sin-stained —  people, that’s us, could be lifted up. Jesus would leave all the might and glory and majesty of Heaven to be born an infant, a babe laid in a dusty manger.

Luke 2:8-12 HCSB In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

Who is this baby?

Let’s go back to

Luke 1:30-32 HCSB Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

The Son of God… given to us is Jesus and He is the Cornerstone upon which our faith is built, upon which all the promises of God are kept.

In his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter said,

Acts 4:11-12 HCSB This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone.   There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

This Jesus is Wonderful, the Counselor who comforts and guides us. He is our Mighty God, fully divine. And as the Prince of Peace, He brings our hearts a peace that passes all understanding today and a home of eternal peace in Heaven.  Jesus is the person Isaiah was talking about. He is the Prince of Peace.

As Prince of Peace he will bestow what shālôm, which is the Hebrew word translated "peace," implies in its fullest meaning: which is health to the sin-sick soul; a sound and healthy relation between sinners and God, as well as between sinners and fellow sinners; and a sound condition of universal righteousness and prosperity prevailing over the earth.

This shalom is not just a psychological state of mind; this peace is spiritual peace…the peace of the God of all Creation, the peace that passes all understanding.   This  peace guards you from anxiety, fear, and worry, it's the peace Paul talks about in;

Philippians 4:6-7 HCSB Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

This peace is the opposite of anxiety.   It is the tranquillity that comes when you commit all your cares to God in prayer and don’t worry about them anymore.  You are confident that God can and will do what is best for you. 

This is the peace of people whose sins are forgiven

Romans 5:1 (NKJV)  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

From the very beginning, or at least after man sinned in the garden of Eden, God promised to do something about all the agitation and distress in our world.  He promised to restore the peace, and He did.  He sent the Prince of Peace to come and do what we can’t do for ourselves.  Jesus brings true, lasting peace, the kind of peace that all of us are desperately seeking. 

Isaiah 9:6 (HCSB)  For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

The Greek word for peace eirēnē, corresponds to the Hebrew word shalom and expresses the idea of peace, as well-being, restoration, reconciliation with God.

You see, Sin created a barrier between us and  God and we can’t destroy that barrier on our own. Without God’s intervention, we would have never found the way of peace with Him. But He provided the perfect solution to our sin problem. He sent His Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to pay for our sins and remove the separation that existed between us and Him.  When we trusted Jesus as our Savior, we were reconciled to God and no longer His enemies.  In Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we have peace with God.

Without a relationship with Jesus we are in opposition to God, we are His enemies.   Reconciliation with God happens at salvation and that only happens through the right relationship with the Prince of Peace. 

Romans 10:9-10 HCSB If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV)21  And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22  in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight--

Romans 5:10 (NKJV)  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

The peace that comes from being in a right relationship with Jesus is not a peace that depends on everything going well.  If that’s the case, when things go bad, that peace quickly goes away. Like the difference between happiness and joy we talked about last week.  

Here’s what the angel said when he announced the birth of the Prince of Peace to the shepherds.  We read this scripture last week when we talked about the Joy of Advent.

Luke 2:14 (NKJV)  "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" ​

The reaction of the shepherds to this announcement of peace and good will was to immediately go see and then tell others.

Luke 2:15-18 NIV When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Jesus came many years ago, right into the midst of chaos and weariness.  Remember when He was born Israel was occupied by Rome and they were looking for this Messiah that God had promised.  And to a dark world, He brought peace and great hope.  They were hoping for  military victory that would bring peace and joy but this Prince of Peace was bringing a victory over sin and death, and peace between God and man through His own death.

He still brings it today. He lifts our burdens and heavy spirits and promises rest for our souls.

May God help us to reflect that same heart of peace and grace to our world today. Giving a simple gift, a smile, a kind word, a meal, or just taking the time to listen to a friend who’s hurting, or letting someone in through a long line of holiday traffic. Just the little things can be more meaningful than we could ever know, to another who feels weary or burdened.

Sometimes in the rush of the holiday season, it seems that more people appear stressed, on edge, weary and worn, tempers are short. What's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year can often feel more like madness - in the traffic - in the crowds - in the shopping frenzy.

There's  nothing wrong with being “on the go.” Or being active. Except this one thing.  We often never stop.

God is not so interested in whether we "get it all done" with a few days to spare before Christmas. He's interested in "us," in our hearts, in our lives.

We read this scripture earlier;

Philippians 4:6-7 HCSB Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Pursue the peace that passes understanding in all you do because there is something greater at stake.  In this world where there seems to be no peace and no way to achieve it, we need to be the ones who say that real peace is available only in the Prince of Peace. 

Here is the way that Philippians 4:7 reads from “The Passion Translation”, a new translation of the Bible 

Lord Jesus Christ, my Prince of Peace, I come to you to tell you every detail of my life, so that “God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to  me through Jesus Christ”

Dear God,

Thank You That Your Yoke Is Easy And Your Burden Is Light.  Thank You That You Promise To Give To Us, Those Who Feel Worried, Hurried, Pressured, And Stressed; Deep Rest And Peace For Our Souls - If We'll Just Come Before You. Thank You For Your Reminder That We Don't Have To Carry It All. Forgive Us For The Times We Try To Be Self-Sufficient, For Not Taking Time To Rest. Thank You For The Refreshing That Comes From Your Spirit, Filling Us With Joy, Covering Us With Your Shield Of Favor And Blessing, Leading Us Forward With Hope.  Equip Us To Be Those Who Notice The Lonely, The Hurting. Help Us To Slow Down, To Take Time, To Point Others To You, The Prince of Peace.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen


Sermon Audio