It's four days until Christmas. One of the most needed messages during this time of the year is God is your PEACE. The stress and anxiety of gift giving, busy schedules, family dynamics, loss, grief and living make PEACE seem distant this time of year. But Isaiah 9:6 says that Jesus, the child in the manger, would be called a Prince of PEACE. All those who were touched by the Christmas story were promised peace. The angel told Zechariah, the shepherds, Mary, "Don't be afraid." The angel said that the announcement of Christmas would bring the blessing of peace in Luke 2:14.
Peace was prophesied. Peace was promised. Peace was provided.
So where is it now?
While Americans tend to be myopic when considering their experience, everyone's experience, there is no doubt that world peace seems impossible, which it is if you understand spiritual things from a biblical perspective.
Here's a newsflash: Global Peace Index 2018 says the world is less peaceful today than at any other time in the last decade. Here is the list of things you can do to bring world peace. (Try not to laugh)
1 Start by stamping out exclusion
2 Bring about true equality between women and men
3 Share out wealth fairly
4 Tackle climate change
5 Control arms sales
6 Display less hubris, make more policy change
7 Protect political space
8 Fix intergenerational relations
9 Build an integrated peace movement
10 Look within
Of course, none of these things will produce world peace because there's sin in the world and the Prince of this world is Satan.
The kingdom of God through the coming of Jesus Christ offers real and LASTING peace for anyone who lives in that kingdom (both now AND forever.) Jesus himself said that the peace he offers is NOT like the peace the world gives. (John 14: 27) The peace of the world plays on your fears. The peace of God requires your trust. They say there are 365 references in the Bible to not be afraid. That's one for each day. (Phil 4: 6-8; Isaiah 26:3,4; John 16:33; Rom 14:17 are just a few of my favorites.) Gideon first gave God the name "Shalom", which means peace in Judges 6 during a time of great fear and trouble in Israel. And God IS Peace. He is three persons who work together in total unity. There is never a lack of perfect harmony between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is always PEACE. The characteristic will be the mark of his kingdom and should be the mark of every follower who bears the name of Christ.
Peace comes from exercising faith in the character of God and His Word. We can have peace in the midst of challenges when we remember that “all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). It is not the absence of trouble any more than joy is the absence of sadness. It is all about being in the presence of God.
And so here is my recipe for PEACE this year. These are the things you can do to bring peace into your life...and it IS available NOW.
Recipe for Peace in your heart.
-Practice Presence. (Learn to walk with God ALL day)
-Grow a heart of thanksgiving.
-Intercede for others.
-Practice spiritual disciplines. (Col 3:5-14. This involves choosing life over death in your moment-to-moment choices.)
-Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.
-Keep your eyes on Jesus (Trust)
I actually wonder if people are interested in peace. It is available and they can have it. I believe the gifts of Christmas as celebrated during Advent: Hope; Joy; Peace are the marks that every Christian must bear if they are to shine in such a way as to attract others into the Kingdom of God.
The future kingdom of God will be peace-full. Isaiah 11:1-9 prophesies this place of perfect peace.
This Christmas, my prayer for you is the blessing of God in Romans 13:15 that brings all three of these Kingdom characteristics into one verse:
"May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you TRUST IN HIM, so that you may overflow with HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Come quickly Lord.