Sunday, December 5, 2021

Second Sunday of Advent - Peace

As we begin the second week of Advent, we find another wonderful gift addressed to each of us. It is the gift of peace. This gift fills us with warmth on the inside. We don’t feel fear when we are at peace. It is a place of serenity for us. Peace is more than just the warm fuzzy we feel on the inside.

When you look at the original Greek word used in the New Testament, eiréné, the word takes on a deeper meaning. According to Strong’s Concordance, eiréné means one, peace, quietness and rest. Considering our lives, peace is certainly a very precious gift to us all. When we are at peace with ourselves and each other, we are truly one and at rest with all. There is no conflict or storm. The word, serene, derives itself from the Greek word, eiréné. 

In the midst of everything that is going on around us, there are spots still left in the world where peace continues to reign. We find peace when we go to church and sit quietly in the pews. The quiet surroundings allow us to focus on God and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is not enough to simply be there. We need to be still and actively seek the Lord.

The psalmist, in Psalm forty-six, records the words of the Lord, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

It is through that stillness that we find peace in the midst of the storm we call life. Life is full of surprises. I don’t have to tell you about all of the times when trouble and strife just seems to pop up and you are engulfed by fear, uncertainty and doubt. Your world is turned upside down and inside out. In short, your life is no longer at peace.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way for you. You can seek out peace even in the storm. Think about a hurricane. As you travel into a hurricane, you experience rain and high winds. In fact, as you travel deeper and deeper into it, the wind and rain becomes more and more intense. Then, something happens. All of a sudden, the winds die down and the rain stops. You are now in the eye of the hurricane. This place is completely different from the outside where only the storm exists.

The noted Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Willem van Gogh, once said, “There is peace even in the storm.”

In order to find peace, you must work to seek it out. Peace just doesn’t create itself. It is something that we have to work and strive for in our lives. We must work to have peace with God and with others.

Paul, in chapter five of his epistle to the Romans, writes, “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.

The peace we have with God comes directly from the actions of Jesus. When he came to live among us and ultimately die for our sins, he gave us peace in our relationship with the Lord. In the storms of our lives as we wrestle with sin, Jesus gives us the gift of peace and provides for us the way back to the Lord. But, in order for us to have this peace, we must accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. It is not enough to just see the gift; we must accept that gift.

In fact, one of the names of God is Yahweh Shalom, which means “the Lord is peace”. Jesus, in chapter nine of the Book of Isaiah, is called the “Prince of Peace”.

It is through the Prince of Peace that we receive this precious gift. One of the definitions of peace from the Greek word is “one”. Being one is important. It is through Jesus’ death on a cross where he reconciles our relationship with the Father.

Paul, in chapter two of Ephesians, writes, “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

Our disobedience had separated us from God and our relationship with Him was damaged. Jesus repaired our relationship and brought us near to the Father. In short, we are at peace with the Lord and have joined Him as part of His family.

When we become part of the family of God, we also join with our brothers and sisters in Jesus to live together in peace and harmony with one another. We are united as one.

In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul writes, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Through peace, we are unified into one family that shares one Spirit, one God and Father and one faith with one Lord. As members of the same family, we are encouraged to love one another and when issues do come up, we are also called upon to be peacemakers.

The last part of this gift of peace is peace with ourselves. We have been reborn as a new creation and to walk in the newness of life. Paul points out in chapter one of his letter to the Philippians that we will be total and complete on that day that Jesus returns through the work of God in our lives.

In Psalm thirty-four, the psalmist writes, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

During this second week of Advent, I encourage you to seek not peace for yourself and with others but also seek peace and pursue it with God. It is so easy to allow the storm of Christmas shopping and preparing for parties to get in the way of your peace with the Lord. Be earnest in your pursuit and seek the Father daily. If you do all of these things, I can assure you that you will stand firm in His grace. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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