Tag Archives: conflict

The Journey to Peace

Peninsula Community Church

The Journey to Peace

December 24, 2017 

Luke 2:11-14 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!” 

At Christmas, we often ask people what they would like as a Christmas present and inevitable some will say they wish for world peace. In most cases, what they are asking for is a cessation of all conflict, violence, and war. While this is a noble request, there is a problem. Since the creation of mankind there have been struggles and conflict, and there is no end in sight as long as human beings are in this world.

To understand peace, it would be helpful for us to know and understand what real peace is all about. When we consider the word peace, it is my guess that a variety of ideas come to mind. For example, as noted before, some would suggest that peace is the absence of all conflict. Others, would suggest that peace is not having any problems and being free from stress. Contrary to these ideas, the meaning of peace, from a scriptural standpoint, is not just an absence of conflict but represents a much deeper and richer meaning.

In Scripture, we find two primary words used for peace. In the Old Testament, the word for peace is Shalom, and in the New Testament the word for peace is irḗnē. It is noteworthy that both of these words can mean a cessation of conflict, but both Shalom and irḗnē go beyond a cessation of conflict to mean wholeness and completeness. In John 14:27, Jesus stated, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Jesus understood the mindset of the day. They wanted a cessation from conflict, but Jesus was bringing wholeness of mind and heart. Jesus recognized that life will have its issues, but if you seek the kind of peace He brings, you will not be afraid. For that reason, Jesus could honestly tell His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled (John 14:1).

In our passage this morning the angels make a powerful, life changing proclamation. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Jesus came to bring peace but not the kind of peace that most people expected. As with the wise men, most were looking for a warrior/king but they found a baby. Most thought He came to end conflict and war, but He came to make people whole and complete. His mission was to provide the means for spiritual wholeness, so regardless of the circumstances or events that come, there will be peace.

As we look at the concept of peace, I would suggest that Christ came to give peace in three areas of our life. First, we have peace with God. Christ came to reconcile us to God so we would be at peace with Him. Notice the words of Romans 5:1-2. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And then in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Paul says, All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Through reconciliation, we now have peace with God. We are no longer His enemies. Our relationship has been restored, and we are now whole and complete. We are restored because Christ gave Himself for us. Our sin, all sin, every sin, is covered by the blood of Christ. We no longer live disconnected, disjointed lives. The Greek word irḗnē means to bring together and that is exactly what Christ did, He brought us together with God.

Before Christ, there was no way to span the gulf between us. There was a wall of separation, and there was no way for us, as sinners, to be united with a perfect holy God. We were separated  because of our sin. Our relationship was broken, but He came and died to restore our relationship with God. When we have a right relationship with God, we will experience real peace! Without a right relationship, nothing else will be right. It all begins right here.

Listen to the words of Paul in Ephesians 2:13-17. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Secondly, Christ came to give peace within. This emotional peace is the peace of God. When I have peace with God, then I get the peace of God inside me. Paul again is our inspiration in this regard. In Colossians 3:15, Paul states, And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. Here is the deal, God wants the peace of God to rule our hearts. He wants His peace to motivate us, guide us, and determine where we will focus our attention. Listen to this quote by Rick Warren. For those with a broken heart, God gives us comforting peace. For those with a confused heart, he gives us guiding peace. For those with a shamed heart, he gives us forgiving peace. When we have a worried heart, he gives us confident peace. He provides peace for every problem.

Thirdly, He gives us peace with others. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:16, Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. Here is a truth you can take to the bank. If you want to strengthen your relationship with others, like your spouse or your kids, strengthen your relationship with God. The only way to have lasting peace with others is to be united with God. It all works together.

This Christmas, as we sing and talk about peace on Earth, know that God wants to give you real lasting peace in each of these three areas. Peace is an attainable dream, as it is a free gift from God and it involves our inner being but, how do we maintain peace? To answer this question, we must understand our focus will determine our outlook and will determine how we live in peace.

In Philippians 4:4-9, Paul hones in on how peace is worked out in us. Listen to his words. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. If we do this, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Isaiah 26:3 states You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Notice, we have the Holy Spirt to help us focus our mind upon Him. That is where our peace will come and there it will be maintained. Paul in Colossians 3:1-2 states If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

When we focus our attention, our hearts, our minds, and all we are in Christ, we will find peace even in the midst of the storms of life. This is seen most vividly in the life of the author of one of the all time great hymns of the faith. In 1870, Horatio Spafford’s only son died of scarlet fever. In 1871, his major real estate investment burned to the ground in the great Chicago fire. Then, in 1873 he was devastated by the news that all four of his daughters had died in a shipwreck in the Atlantic. As he was in route to Europe to meet his wife, who had survived, he was shown the spot in the mid-Atlantic where his daughters had perished. He was suddenly overwhelmed by an rush of the peace of God. With tears streaming down his face, he recorded his feelings.

In that moment, he penned these words! When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. Why could he say “It was well with his soul?” He was complete in Christ and that served to give him all of the peace he needed, even though he had lost almost everything in his life. So, how is your peace? What are you dealing with today? It begins with a relationship with Him and from there everything else springs forth.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

He Came to Live With Us

Peninsula Community Church

He Came to Live With Us

December 22, 2013

Matthew 1:23 – “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 

When we read this portion of Scripture there is a need to understand the context in which it was written. You see Mary had received the news that she would be the vessel through which Christ would be born. In her and through her the seed of God would become man. In those days, the Jewish custom and the Rabbinical law allowed a man to select a bride. Once selected there would be a period of time of up to one year between the betrothal and the actual wedding. This is what we would consider to be the engagement period of our day. Today, we would give the bride a ring and there would be an exchange of commitments. The act of betrothal was a big deal in that day as both families would have promised wedding day gifts that usually involved property, money, and/or cattle.

During the betrothal period, the couple would promise to remain pure. This was a season of preparation for both the groom and the bride. It was a time to plan their wedding as well as to begin to prepare for their future home together. If the betrothal law was broken, divorce papers were to be filed and the wedding was to be cancelled. To file papers for divorce was a serious matter as it would be an embarrassment to the groom and to the families involved. This was an esteem and pride issue for the family, so this was a big deal. If the divorce papers were initiated as a result of unfaithfulness, the bride to be was to be stoned to death. While this seems unfair, it was the law of the land in that day.

It was this context that Mary approached Joseph to tell him that she was pregnant with God’s son. It is easy for us to look back at this story now and think that this would not have been a big problem. But it was. Once Mary shared the news, Joseph was conflicted because he loved Mary. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand he knew the law and what was required of him but he also loved Mary. He wanted to honor his family, but he also wanted to protect his bride to be. Joseph was conflicted and filled with fear. 

The angel proclaimed the birth of the Messiah to Joseph. You see it was in this context that the angel came to Joseph and encouraged him with the words before us today. The angel came to Joseph in a dream. As he is sleeping or at least trying to sleep, God speaks to his heart. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us.) Matthew 1:19-22. 

The angel in essence is saying you can trust Mary and you can trust God. The angel is saying to Joseph, look she has not broken any law, she has remained pure and holy. That is why God had chosen her to be the mother of His son. 

Jesus – He will save us from our sin. In the angel’s communication he identifies two names for the Messiah. The angel stated that his name shall be Jesus for He will same His people from their sins. This is an awesome promise. Jesus came not just to forgive sin but to redeem men from their sin. There is a big difference in forgiveness of sin and redemption from sin. Forgiveness can be given to anyone but just because one is forgiven does not mean that they have been delivered from their sin. In fact it is possible for one to stay in their sin and to continue to live bound by the forces that come from the effect of the sin they have committed. But Christ came to redeem and to set man free from their sin and not just forgive them. Through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus still lives with you and has the power to deliver you from the grip of any bondage. No sinful habit, painful past, or present struggle is too difficult for the God-Man to overcome. 

The second name the angel used is just as powerful. While the angel proclaims that his name shall be Immanuel, we don’t see this name used widely in the New Testament. It appears that rather than a name that would be used, it serves as a descriptive term of who Christ would be. The term is “Immanuel” which means that God is with us. It is noteworthy that one of the most common promises in the Bible is that God will be with us. We see this promise given to Moses before he led the children of Israel out of captivity. We see this promise given to Joshua before he led the children of Israel into the promise land. We see this as a promise to his disciples and to the church when he said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God is with us; that is a promise.

Listen to this, what the angel is saying to Joseph through this passage and by way of identification with the Messiah was to not be afraid of the future or what people may say because I am with you. 

While this passage is written to Joseph it is a critical for us to receive this passage into our life and understand that it is for us today just as it was for Joseph in his day. God was with Joseph and He is with us today. Joseph changed because he knew now that God’s will was being fulfilled in Him. He knew that Immanuel was with Him.

Immanuel, God is with us in the moments when we are confused and conflicted about the circumstances we face. God is there to give guidance. When things go awry and while we can be confused and conflicted, God is there through His spirit and through the Word to give us guidance and direction. What do you do when you are confused or conflicted? Do you go to God’s word? Do you pray? Do you seek godly counsel from those you know that love God? Through these resources, he reveals that He is with us.

Immanuel, God with us is when fear has overcome us. Have you ever experienced that gripping fear that binds you and keeps you reduced to faithlessness? When I was a kid, I always hated to take the garbage to the road. I would slowly drag the can to the curb and then I would run back as fast as I could. I told my mom about how scared I was. The next time I took the garbage to the road, I was not scared. Do you know why? My mom stood in the doorway and watched me take out the garbage, just knowing she was there I felt secure and safe. Know this, no matter what you walk through, God is there, you call feel safe and secure because He is watching over you. 

Immanuel, God with us when we are discouraged. When we are discouraged we turn our minds and our thoughts to the fact that is with us and that He will see us through. Discouragement is a mind game that is so destructive. Discouragement can lead us to a false image of who we are. Discouragement can lead us to want to give up. Discouragement can lead us to run and hide. But God is with us to bring hope and life.

Immanuel, God with us when we do not know what the future holdsThere is nothing more frightening than an unknown future, but with God we can be at peace. The angel spoke to Joseph in essence and told him don’t worry. You do your part. Marry Mary! I will take care of the rest. 

While God is with us when we face emotional difficulty, there is one other benefit to understanding that God is with us. When God is with us the way we view life is changed. I know that I am an overcomer by His word and by the fact that God is with us. When I realize that God is with me it changes the way I act. It changes the way I live. It changes the way I think. This is a positive because as a passionate follower of Christ, we have a desire to please him and to honor his name. 

Do you know that He is with you this morning? Do you know that He loves you? Do you know that he holds your future? Do you know He is with you wherever you go? Whether you believe it or not, He is there. Whether you feel Him or not, He is there. Whether or not you know Him, He is there and he desires to draw you to Him. That is a powerful promise and what a hope.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized