Where do you find true peace at Christmas? The silly season is in full swing isn’t it? I always find the lead up to Christmas one of the most exhausting, stressful and overwhelming times of the year. School is wrapping up, shops are ramping up and I’m barely holding up under the incessant pressure. Our time is stretched, our budgets are stretched and our patience is stretched to the limit, and there’s still 31 sleeps till Christmas.
That’s 744 hours, 44,640 minutes or 2,678,400 seconds, don’t get stressed! And in the middle of this silly season where we rush too much, we spend too much and we eat too much, you can buy a Christmas card that says, “Peace on earth.” Is that some kind of sad joke? I find it hard to get 2 minutes peace, let alone experiencing peace on earth.
We live in a world crying out for peace, yet unable to attain it, even at Christmas.
Luke 2:9-14 (ESV Strong’s)
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
TRUE PEACE ON EARTH?
Peace on earth? According to the NY Times, in the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. In the US, they have had only 17 years of peace in their history, meaning 93% of the time it has existed the US has been at war.
Peace is something often spoken of but rarely if ever achieved. The peace we wish for one another at Christmas is almost entirely absent from human history. Thus phrase “Peace on earth” bears looking at. Let’s look at the text.
GLORY TO GOD
Luke 2:14 starts with the phrase, glory to God in the highest, and this is the first step towards peace… Give glory to God! The Greek word for glory is doxa, which means to give dignity, honour, glory or praise that is due. It means to hold in high praise or estimation of, and this is where so many today go wrong.
You can have pesos, prestige, power, possessions, but no peace, because you didn’t start with the Prince of peace! If you want peace in your life this Christmas, you need to start by putting God in His rightful place.
God created the universe, the stars, the galaxies and this planet, and He created you. He has a plan and a destiny for your life, and He opened the way for you to be reconciled to Him, but the last thing the world wants for you this Christmas is to put God in the place He deserves and give Him the glory and honour that is due to Him.
PEACE AMONG THOSE WITH WHOM HE IS PLEASED
The Bible never promised peace on earth to all men. We conveniently overlook the end phrase, among those with whom He is pleased. And who is He well pleased with? Those who trust Him, that’s who!
This Christmas more than ever we need to totally yield our lives to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, because then, and only then, will we know true peace.
PEACE IN OUR TIME
In 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was much celebrated for brokering a peace agreement with Adolf Hitler, appeasing the dictator by giving in to his territorial demands. He produced a signed agreement, called it peace in our time, but while the world celebrated his effort, this same Adolf Hitler shortly after plunged the world into its darkest and most evil conflict ever.
Mankind speaks much about peace, governments claim they will bring it, people wish it for each other, but none of them can produce it! It’s even an integral part of many languages… Jews greet one another with the word “shalom”, Arabs with “Salam” and in Malaysia they say “Salamat”. These phrases mean peace be with you, but it never happens.
Perhaps the greatest paradox of all in the 21st century is that a religion calling itself peace is responsible for almost all of the 828 armed conflicts currently raging in 69 countries around the world. I could call myself His royal highness the king of Nambour, but the reality doesn’t match the words. Don’t be fooled by the media, Islam has nothing to do with peace in our modern world.
But true peace actually transcends circumstances. If your peace is dependent on you having money, or success, or anything else, it in not true peace, it’s a fragile substitute. True peace should be independent of whatever is happening around you, because it is deep within you, if you are among those with whom God is pleased.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
THE MISSING TRUE PEACE OF THE PUZZLE
The missing piece in true, lasting peace is the presence of God. Isaiah says
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong’s)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
The Hebrew word for peace is of course shalom, which means peace, prosperity, security, completeness, soundness, health, tranquillity. The Hebrew word for stayed is samak, and it means to lean upon. So Isaiah is telling us that this Christmas, peace is not about gifts or family or pudding, it is about leaning on the very presence fo God. That’s why Jesus could say,
John 16:33 (ESV Strong’s)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
What is this true peace? It is an inner sense of contentment and quietness, regardless of life’s circumstances. It is steadfast confidence in our ever-faithful, immutable heavenly Father. It is the presence of faith in the midst of faithlessness, a smile in the midst of pain, and joy in the midst of unhappiness.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV Strong’s)
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
True peace does not merely dull our pain. A person who has genuine, godly peace can endure an avalanche of hardship and difficulty and still enjoy an inner peace that surpasses all human understanding. When we pray with Paul,
Philippians 4:7 (ESV Strong’s)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Why is this true peace so powerful? Because this peace does not come from pleasant circumstances, nice events, or good things others may do for us. Instead, it is based on the fact that the Spirit of our holy, omnipotent, and never-changing God lives within us.
Does enjoying God’s perfect peace mean that you’ll never feel the effects of the storms raging around you? Hardly. But His peace is complete, adequate, and sufficient for anything you face.
Lets look at three keys to experiencing sustained, true peace in your life:
1. FOCUS ON GOD
Perfect peace comes when you fix your mind on God, or as we saw before, lean on Him. You must discipline yourself to concentrate on or meditate on God’s presence and work in your life, not the problems you face. When you spend time concentrating on a problem, doesn’t it seem to grow bigger? In the same way, you will have a bigger sense of God’s presence and provision as you fix your mind on Him.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV Strong’s)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
The Greek word for looking to Jesus is aphoreo, which means to turn your eyes away from other things and fix them, focus them on one thing… Jesus. And when we turnout eyes upon Jesus, when we look full in His wonderful face, the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and Grace.
2. TRUST IN GOD
You never have to worry about God acting too late or providing insufficient help. His timing and purposes are perfect; In fact, He uses your tribulations to reveal more of Himself to you.
Can you trust Him, no matter how hard it is, however huge the mountain you seem to face right now, can you trust Him to come through?
I remember facing a vicious and very public attack from another person. A letter, full of lies and venom had been sent about me, and forwarded to me. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t even accurate, but I was angry, deeply distressed and fearful. But I faced a choice…
I couldn’t reply, I couldn’t defend myself without looking guilty, I just had to keep quiet and trust God. I remember laying the letter out before the Lord one night, (like Hezekiah did) praying over it and giving it totally to God. And over time He vindicated me. I had no choice, I couldn’t fix it, or control what people thought, I just had to trust God, but He is faithful!
His Word is full of rock-solid promises, many of which involve granting you peace in the midst of trials. Know that He will always honor His promises!
Romans 15:13 (NIV-WS)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. HIDE GOD’S WORD IN YOUR HEART
New Age gurus will tell you that peace comes from meditating, and I have to admit, they’re onto something.
Thinking about, dwelling on, chewing over truths can drive them deep into your spirit, but while New Agers are contemplating their naval or a single syllable, we have the greatest tool of all upon which to meditate…the Word of God!
Psalms 119:165 (ESV Strong’s)
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
So, if you’re in a fix, remember Philippians 4:6, and 7.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV Strong’s)
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Greek for the word for surpasses is hyperecho, which means to transcend, to be superior to, to rise up and overcome all understanding or knowledge.
All the knowledge in the world can’t give you true inner peace this Christmas. All the wisdom of the ages, all governments, all media, all presents or family times cannot help you find peace. You don’t need more Christmas hype, you need hyperecho, you need the peace that transcends all understanding, and you can only find this peace in Jesus Christ!
WE WILL HAVE TRUE PEACE ONE DAY
And this same Jesus is coming again! But He’s not coming as a baby in a manger this time, He’s coming back for His beloved people as a king, as he King of kings and Lord of Lords, and when He come He will usher in 1,000 years of incredible peace such as the world has never known…
You can learn more about this in Revelation 20 and Isaiah 65. At that time men will be at peace and dwell together in harmony, the Wolf and the lamb will graze together, and God will be near to His people…
Isaiah 65:24 (ESV Strong’s)
Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
But God us with us now, we don’t have to wait until He returns!
This world is crying out for peace, but it will never know peace until it knows the prince of peace … and neither will you!
ACCEPT THE PRINCE OF PEACE
In the hustle and bustle and insane pressure at the end of the year, the enemy wants to bring up your past, he wants to fill you with fear for the future, he wants to see you in conflict with people around you this Christmas… in short, he wants you to never truly know peace.
Some of you here are lonely, some are stressed, some of you are angry at your family, some are facing Christmas not with joy but with dread. It’s because you lack true peace, because remember peace can be in your life and your heart, no matter what others are saying or doing, and no matter what pressure you face.
Romans 5:1 (ESV Strong’s)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can have peace with God and in our lives. It’s not about your situation, it’s not about your circumstances, it’s about your heart. So, as we face this Christmas silly season, if you are stressed right now, I want to ask you to open your heart to the Holy Spirit right now.
No Jesus, No Peace… Know Jesus, Know Peace
You can know peace by allowing the peace of God to flood your soul in the person of the Holy Spirit.
In the OT, the shekinah glory of God was seen as a cloud filling the temple, as a pillar of fire, in a vision of a prophecy, but today you can have the glory of God manifest in your life all the time because the Holy Spirit, the presence of God lives in you.