The Gift of Peace

The Gift of Peace

Lasting peace is received from the person of Jesus Christ.

Well, hey there everyone and welcome to the second Sunday of this Advent season. I’m excited that you’ve joined us for this time of worship and Bible study this morning to go ahead and invite you to take your Bibles and turn to John 14:27.  The second week of advent that we’re looking at is the Week of Peace. Jesus came and brought hope, a lasting eternal hope, which we talked about last week and today we’re going to talk about a lasting peace.  And so, we’ll be in John 14:27.

The very first mission trip that I went on, many years ago was to Ecuador.  I took several teenagers and a few college students with me and we went down there with the International Mission Board with their youth missions organization and we were having a great week. It was about halfway through the week and I was actually not as stressed as I thought I would be given that I’m taking teenagers and college students out of the country into a third world country. And you know, sending them into places that I don’t know where they’re going to be at and you would think that had caused me a lot of stress. But it didn’t. I was pretty relaxed. The mission work was going phenomenal.  I was personally getting to hang out with kids all day and do Bible schools and it was just it was fun.  I was having a great experience and then after one of our longer mission project days, I come back to the camp and I notice that there is a congregating group of people outside of my door. Now we’re seeing like little college area, some dorm rooms and I’m like why are they standing outside of my door?  Is it flooded I mean? What’s going on and you start to worry. You start to think about these things and you know, I walk up there and it was much worse than a flooded room.  It was much worse than somebody breaking in.  There was on the ground in front of my door the biggest spider, tarantula, I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Now I will say that every mission trip I’ve been on since then, I have come into contact with a tarantula in one way, shape or form.  I think it’s Satan’s way of trying to attack me and rob me of my peace.  Because one thing that you’ll learn about me is I am extremely terrified of spiders.  Big small it doesn’t matter. I don’t like them. I don’t want to be near them. If one is in my house, Jennifer is going to come and kill it. I have nothing to do with spiders and it’s ’cause when I was little, my brother made me watch Arachnophobia.  And so I have a phobia of spiders.  And here is this huge, I mean, big is my head, not really hyperbole big as my head spider outside of my door an immediately, the relaxation, I felt gone. The stress that I had overcome, gone.  The joy I was experiencing being there, gone.  And so, when I went to bed that night, guess who didn’t close his eyes?  I just laid there, like where’s the spider?  But now you may be thinking, why did they kill it?  Well, that’s what I said?  And somebody went to touch it and it ran away.  And I said why did you kill it?  And they said, we can’t kill an animal? It’s when I was like it’s a spider.  You got snakes and you got spiders. Satan lives in both.  And so all night, there’s no peace. I’m worried. I’m stressed. I’m just thinking if I go to sleep, I’m going to wake up the spider is going to be on my face, and it’s going to be bad. I was ready to get on the plane and come home. I was no longer at peace with the situation now.

I know that’s a funny story. But I’m sure that you’re like me and you’ve experienced similar situations where you’ve been relaxed and then something happens, and you’re no longer relaxed you go through these times where you are searching for inner peace and you can’t find inner peace. you’re trying to sleep at night and your mind is running a thousand miles an hour and you can’t rest.  There’s just no rest because your mind is not at peace and you know, I go through those situations a lot. You know you start to worry about you know what’s the future gonna be. You start to worry about the plans that you want to make and you start to worry about your kids. And I’ve been told, and my daughter is getting closer and closer to 16 and so I’ve been told that when they start to drive, you’re absolutely never going to sleep again, especially when they go out the first night.  You’re going to be worried there is not going to be any peace inside of your heart or inside your soul.

But we also have relational unrest or relational unpeaceful situations. You know there’s relationships that we may be in conflict with.  There are maybe we struggle with our in laws, or outlaws, or whatever you want to call it.  Or maybe it’s friendships that are just starting to fray a little bit.  Or maybe your boss is just getting on your nerves and you’re just not at peace in those situations and so we’re looking for ways and areas to make peace in our life.  And you know,

I looked up in the dictionary, the definition of peace. And there were 2 of’em that I saw.  Peace has been defined, as a state or period in which there is no war.  War has ended. The conflict is over. You know at the at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the Great War ended.  That was Armistice Day in World War I had come to an end and it was a great celebration. There was peace because you remember World War I was the war to end all wars.  When that war was over, there was going to be peace.  They weren’t going to be anymore wars.  And if you know your history, you know it didn’t take but just a few decades and then you’re in World War 2?  Then you’re on into the other wars and conflicts that have been happening around the world, including the conflicts that we see every single day.  Conflict is just a part of life. It seems there is no peace. Even though there have been wars that have ended.

Peace also have been defined more personally as the freedom from disturbance or tranquility.  So when’s the last time you had a tranquil moment where you were free from disturbances? When’s the last time you really were able to sleep through the night with not a care in the world and maybe it was last night. Maybe it was a few nights ago. Maybe it’s been a while. Maybe you have goodnights and bad nights.  You know, raising children and stuff, it’s tough.  Going to work, it’s tough.  You know, managing your finances, tough.  College students, especially freshmen, junior, seniors, sophomores in college, college is hard.  You know you’re getting close to midterms or finals actually and actually by the time this is shown on TV, the finals might be over.  But it was a stressful time where you were worried about your grades.  You’re worried about who you’re going to marry you’re worried about your spouse and there’s just no peace. There’s no tranquil moment.

You know the people in Jesus’ day, especially his 12 disciples, they were experiencing some restless nights. In John, 14, Jesus is coming to the end of His ministry.  He’s beginning to talk about what the end is going to look like.  Now you can imagine his followers the disciples who had in their minds that Jesus was going to be an earthly King and we talked a little bit about this last week. You know they thought that Jesus was going to set up an Earthly Kingdom. They were going to be His 12 right hand men that govern this Kingdom and now Jesus is all of a sudden talking about His death?  They’re like whoa wait a minute.  He’s starting to talk about the conflict that’s going to happen when they head towards Jerusalem and I imagine they were beginning to get stressful or were getting stressed out.  And so Jesus understands their anxiety. He understands that they are restless and here in John, 14:27 He says this encouragement Jesus says “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Jesus tells His disciples, they don’t have to worry about the future, they don’t have to worry about what’s getting ready to happen. They don’t have to worry about the stress or the conflict that they’re getting ready to experience because Jesus is giving them a gift.  And that gift is peace and like hope it is a lasting peace. It is something that only Jesus can give.  You know the peace that the world offers is much different than the peace that Jesus gives us as a gift.  The world offers us what is called escapism peace.  We can escape our troubles and find peace.  Maybe we can escape into a drink. We escape into that alcohol that you know takes away the pain but it doesn’t last.

Maybe for some of us, it’s escaping to the beach. If we can just go to the beach and get our toes in the sand, we’ll be at peace now. I don’t know if you’ve been to the beach lately, but I know I have and it is relaxing.   But the relaxation doesn’t end because you have to eat supper at the beach.  Luckily, we cook, a lot of food, but that means we have to go to the grocery store and if you ever go to the grocery store at the beach, there’s not a lot of peace in the grocery store at the beach.  If you go out to a restaurant with young children, there’s not a lot of peace as you’re trying to wait for a table.  Today you know, do we really escape it?  We carry with us these cell phones that are attached to us all the time and we always have our email. We always have Facebook. We always have Twitter. We always have our notifications popping up so we really don’t even escape the things we’re trying to escape because we are attached to the world through our phones.  But again, it doesn’t last.

You know you can go to conferences, they make a lot of money, you know “8 Ways to Find Peace” or let’s come to this conference “3 Days to the Most Peaceful Life Ever.”  Yeah, there’s that stuff doesn’t work. It doesn’t last.  They can give you pills that help you rest and give you peace, but again, it’s not lasting peace.

And Jesus is giving them a peace that’s not like the escapism peace of the world. It is an eternal peace. It is a peace that is a lasting peace that is received from the person of Jesus Christ.  And that’s the only place that you can find lasting peace is through the gift that Jesus Christ offers you.

Isaiah 9:6, says “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.”  Luke Chapter 2 “glory to God in the highest heavens and peace on Earth to those with whom God is pleased?”  If you want to have lasting peace in your life, it starts here, with your vertical relationship with God. If you get the vertical part right. Then the horizontal relationships will be more peaceful. You’ll have inner peace, if you can have peace with God, and that’s the peace that Jesus is offering.  He says I I’m giving you a gift of peace. Jesus came to make peace. Peace with God was the primary reason that He came.  He lived, He died, He rose again and He taught about a lot of stuff, so that we could have peace.  Jesus was born the Prince of Peace. He taught about peace. He tried to live, I mean He lived very peaceful life, other than those who tried to come against Him.  He demonstrated what that looks like in the way He responded to life situations. Then He says. I’m going to leave you with this eternal lasting peace.

2 Corinthians 5:18, says that “God sent Christ to make peace between Himself and us.”  Did you know that there was a war between God and humanity?  There’s conflict and you may be asking what caused the conflict or what kind of conflict are we talking about?  Well anytime that I try to do something my way and not God’s Way, I’m in conflict.  Anytime that I commit something or do something that violates God’s laws, I’m in conflict and rebellion with God.

You know, Adam and Eve were created in the garden. The garden was good. God says that man and woman were very good.  In those moments, they were perfect. The world was perfect.   Humanity was perfect. And then the temptation to sin crept in.  Satan shows up in the form of a certain serpent and questions God’s truthfulness. He looks at Eve and says, “did God tell you that you can’t eat from this tree?”  She said no we can’t eat from that tree. We have all these other trees. But she didn’t say this but they had all the other trees. They couldn’t eat from that one and Satan says did He say that you would die?  And Eve goes, yeah.  Now Satan is distorting the truth a little bit, he’s distorting some of the things that God said.  He’s calling into question God’s holiness and God’s truthfulness in an effort to get her to give into temptation.

And that’s what she does.  She goes oh, I’ll be able to have all this knowledge and I won’t die?  And so she takes the fruit.  Listen, sin deceives you.  Sin comes into your life in the form of temptations and you’re tempted and you think it’s OK, what’s 1 little bite?  What’s 1 little wrong decision really going to do? I’m not gonna die? I’m not going to suffer consequences.  But the truth is, you do suffer the consequences of sin because it puts you in rebellion against God.

You guys, I’ve always wondered this and I’ve always thought about this.  God could have created a world that was completely devoted to Him with no free will.  You ever thought about that?  God could have forced humanity to worship Him.  But He didn’t.  He gave them free will because He wanted them to choose to worship Him. I mean, that’s a pretty awesome, God in my opinion.

But in this moment, in Adam and Eve’s moment of temptation, they chose to rebel.  And whether you like it or not, from that moment forward you and I have been in constant rebellion against God. It is our nature. It is natural for us to sin.  It is natural for us to want to give in to the temptations of this world.  We want to give into the pleasures. We want to take that drink or we want to take that pill or we want to smoke that drug.  We want to say those things.  We want to gossip. We want to be angry.  We want to be complainers. We want to gossip that’s natural.  It puts us at war with God.  But you see, God’s desire is for peace between us and Him and so he sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins.

Romans 5:12, says this “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people,” The sin of Adam and Eve lead to death, not physical, but spiritual.  Because of our sins, we are spiritually dead and we are at conflict with God.  You know, this is what I’ll tell you.  Wherever there is sin, there is death. I have seen sin ruin marriages.  I have seen sin kill friendships. I have seen sin kill careers. I have seen sin kill job opportunities. I have seen sin kill self-esteem.  I have seen sin, kill peace because of the guilt and the shame that we experience when we sin.

And so we’re at war with God, but peace with God comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:1, says “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”  You might want to circle that, highlight that, star that.  “For what Jesus Christ, our Lord has done for us.”  Jesus has done all the work. We can’t do anything to make peace with God.  Jesus did the work to make peace. He died on the cross. He was our substitute. He bore our sins. With every hammer that was nailed into His skin of His hands and His feet, He was taking the sins of the world upon Himself, because He was our substitute so that through His blood, through His sacrifice, you and I could have peace with God.

You know Romans 5:10, says “even though we were His enemies. God made peace with us because His Son died for our sins. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved for eternity by his Son’s life.”  You know there’s a lot of religions that have what’s called sin offerings. The Greeks had sin offerings. The Romans had sin offerings.  Native Americans have sin offerings and the idea is “Oh God’s angry, the gods are angry, so let’s offer them something. Let’s offer them a sin offering.”

Now if you’re married you can relate to this because is this not what we do when we upset our wives?  We have our sin offerings of flowers or candy or jewelry and we’re like if we just do this and we admit that we are wrong and say honey “You’re right, I’m wrong. Here’s a gift,” we restore peace.  But Jesus is that offering for us Christians.  We don’t have to go to God and say “here’s a gift, Here’s a gift.”  No, no. God gave us the gift.  God gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.  God said, I want to be at peace with you, so I’m going to make it happen. My Son will be sacrificed.  And Jesus says “I leave you the gift of peace, peace with God.

Hebrews 7:27 says “Jesus sacrificed for our sins once and for all when He offered Himself on the cross.”  It was finished. No more sin offerings.  It is finished. You know if you want lasting peace in your life, then you need to receive the gift that Christ offers to you.  That’s all you gotta do.  You know it’s Christmas and so we’re going to be giving and exchanging gifts.  You know, I’m going to get gifts.  I honestly don’t deserve them.  But people love me, so they give me a gift. All I have to do is receive that gift.

To have peace with God, all you have to do is receive the gift that Jesus is offering.  And you may be asking, how do we do that?  Well, it starts by coming to Jesus.  I’ve talked about this in my trial sermon, honestly, we should talk about it every Sunday.  To receive the gift of peace, we come to Jesus.

Matthew 11:28, says “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  That’s a promise from God’s Word.  Do you need rest?  Are you carrying the burdens of this life? Do you have conflict with friends or relatives or coworkers? Do you have internal conflict?  Do you have things that you’re worried about that? You’re stressed out about?  That you’re anxious about?  It’s keeping you up at night? Do you have the burdens of your sins that are weighing you down?  Come to Jesus.

Now Jesus doesn’t say He’s going to take away your pain or your panic or your worry or your stress.  And He may not take away your conflict but you will have peace through your pain. You will have peace through your panic.  You’ll be able to lay down in your bed at night and say, “I’m giving it to God” and you’re going to close your eyes and go to sleep.  He invites you into a relationship with Him.  He says you don’t have to do anything.  You just come and receive the gift that I’m giving to you.

In the year 1555, there was a guy named Doctor Nicholas Ridley.  He was sentence to be burned at the stake in England because of his witness for Christ.  On the night before Ridley’s execution, his brother offered to remain with him in the prison.  His brother said I will be here to comfort you and give you assistance on this last night of your life. Nicholas Ridley declined.  He said “nope”.  Here’s what he said and I love this.  He says, “I intend, God willing, to go to bed and sleep as quietly tonight as ever, I did.”  Because he knew the peace of God. Facing his ultimate execution, being burned at the stake, he could have peace because he found his rest and his strength in the everlasting arms of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Most of us will never face that kind of trial and our life or for our faith.  But we will face difficult times. We will face times of stress.  During those times, we have an opportunity to fix our eyes on Jesus and receive the peace that he is offering to us.

I’ll close with this. Isaiah 26:3-4.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”

If you need peace this Christmas season, look to the Lord Jesus.

Let’s pray together.  Father, we know that this world has burdened us with so many things.  Every day is just one big ball of stress.  Anxiety has become the norm. Father help us to remember Your words that You are offering us a gift and it’s a gift of peace.  Most importantly, it’s peace between us and God and if we can have peace between us and God than our internal peace in our external peace will be received. And Father, so I pray, that You would help us to follow You, and to look at to You and to keep our eyes fixed on You. I pray that if there’s anyone who has never made the decision to follow You, if there’s someone who’s never confessed You as the Lord of their life that You would draw them into that relationship today. That You would help them to pray to receive Christ.  That You would lead them to a church where they can get connected with the community of believers where the Bible is preached and taught.  Father I just pray that You change their lives.  That You help them to be disciples, who make disciples, giving them the peace that they so desperately need.

We ask all this in Jesus Name Amen and Amen.