Advent: PEACE

December 13, 2015 Speaker: Chris Hall Series: ADVENT 2015

Topic: Default Passage: John 14:27–27,

As one author says, we have a gap in our gospel. Christians understand that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. We also look forward (with hope) to the day when we will be free from the presence of sin and death. But between the past and future sides of the gospel there exists a gap. What about now? Far too often we forget that the gospel has a present tense too! 

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Some of us have done worse than forget this truth, because judging by our lives some of us straight up don't believe the gospel benefits us in the here and now. Consider how much we worry and fear the troubles of this life. 

The story of Christmas Day 1914, during the heat of World War I (yes, it's WW1--not WW2 as I said on the recording. Doh!) resonates with us because we too long or peace, a cease-fire in the war. Just ask the mother of a toddler. They know how to enjoy a lull in the action!

And if we're honest, we'd admit we think it's unfair that we have to face whatever it is that we face. We think we deserve better. We don't trust that God is in control or that He knows what's best for us. Basically, we say we believe what Jesus did and what He promises to do but we live today like pagan ahtiests. 

Apart from Jesus, any peace we come up with will never last. It will be momentary at best. For example, that Christmas Day truce only lasted a moment. A short while later they picked up their weapons and began to kill one another. The war raged on.

That's NOT the kind of peace Jesus offers. As He says in John 14:27, His peace is not like the world's version of peace. 

A little survey of the New Testament shows a few ways His peace is better:

1. He gives ULTIMATE peace 

with God (COLOSSIANS 1:20)

"...and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

Apart from Jesus, we are enemies of God. Our sin makes it so. The bible calls those outside Christ, "sons of the devil". In Christ, that war is over. He made peace. Now when God looks on us He sees His perfect, faithful, obedient Son. And now He is well pleased in you. The war is over. 

There is nothing you could do to change that so Jesus did. All you have to do is believe it was necessary and believe it is finished.

with each other (EPHESIANS 2:14)

"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."

Not only did Jesus reconcile our vertical relationship with the Father, but Christ's sweet, sovereign, saving grace reconciles our horizontal relationships with God's children too. The "walls of hostility" have been torn down. We're saved into a family--not as lone rangers out there on our own. We get to share one another's burdens, mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. We're in this together. Jew and gentile, black and white, rich and poor, American and ISIS--if we repent and call on the name of the Lord and know Jesus in a saving way it doesn't matter where we come from because we, the elect, are grafted into the same family tree. It makes for an interesting family reunion every Sunday but it's a picture of eternity where every tongue, nation and tribe will be singing praises to the lamb.

by faith in Christ (ROMANS 5:1)

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

The key part of this peace is "faith". We can't make the peace, we just have to belief that Jesus did. In fact, the only thing we contribute to the equation is the sin that made Christ's intervention necessary. How amazing that the work is done, peace is made and now we get to live into our new identity.

2. He gives peace INDEPENDENT of our CIRCUMSTANCES

His WORD gives peace that overcomes the troubles of this life (JOHN 16:33)

"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.”

It's not uncommon to counsel someone through a difficult time and have them one day just be all smiles. What changed? Well, the circumstances that caused the pain changed and got better. Things went from sucking to not sucking and they think all is well. They say "God is good!" But only days prior they were singing a different tune. 

God is good. And He is unchanging. That means He was good when your circumstances were bad. 

Often what happens is we put our faith in our circumstances, in functional saviors. If my job stinks, I'm miserable. When my job is okay, I'm happy--I'm saved from my misery. Anything that has the power to control your moods and emotions has gained your devotion. In this case, having a job that doesn't stink is what you desired. When that went away or wasn't possible, you were miserable. See how this works?

The problem is that this sense of peace will never last. Circustances change. Trials and tribulations are part of life in this fallen world. Until Christ returns or we go on to glory we will live with wars and rumors of war.

The peace Jesus offers us is not tied to our circumstances, they are tied to Him. And He is good! We see what He accomplished on the cross, we see how He pours out His Spirit upon us to live life with Him and we look forward with hope to a future with no more sin or tears. All that demonstrates a true savior Who is worthy of our trust and hope. 

You'll note His solution to troubles isn't to remove you from the troubles or to remove the troubles from you. Instead He GIVES you something...His WORD so that you can know Him more. He overcame the troubles of this world so you need to find your peace in Him.

The more you go to that well, the more He will fill you with peace. Might not be overnight mind you. I've been preaching this to myself a lot over the last few weeks. After a while I stop asking for God to remove the trouble but to instead give me a heart that trusts His goodness and greatness. Funny thing too. It works!

Now when you've been struggling and I see a smile I'll ask "what's changed?" You can say, "nothing's changed. But God is good!" That is a sign of a growing faith in a good, gracious, glorious and great God. This kind of peace will never let you down Jesus isn't in the failing business.

If you truly KNOW HIM He changes you and guards your heart (PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7)

"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. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Once trouble returns we're not to worry or be anxious but instead to be in prayer, talking with our Father Who loves us enough to overcome the world for us. Bring it to Him. He has broad shoulders. Over time you'll see that your heart is gaurded from worry and fear. 

And that is weird. People notice. When bad happens and you aren't crushed they want to know why. That is a peace that surpasses all understanding! Soon you'll see your peace multiply to others...

3. He gives peace that MULTIPLIES surpasses all understanding & they SEE it! (PHIL 4:4-7)

They will see your peace and want some too. Your life will be a walking testimony to the power of the gospel in your here and now! 

Knowing God multiplies peace (2 PETER 1:2)

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."

Notice again how this happens? By knowing God the Father and God the Son. As God the Holy Spirit grips your heart you'll see grace and peace multiply in your own life too. The better the view you have of His attributes the more you'll be willing to trust Him to handle tomorrow. You can't even remember to take the recylcing to the curb and you want to worry about tomorrow? Seriously?

We become peacemakers (MATTHEW 5:9)

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

We get to be participants in His peace! When God does what He does in the here and now it happens through people--His people, the church. This multiplying peace is spread through your words and deeds. No longers sons of the devil, we are sons of God. And sons who love their Father continue to return to Dad for guidance, encouragment, correction and the peace of knowing there is one Who knows better. 

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Worry, anxiety and fear do not have to be your current reality as you simply bide your time until Christ returns or you go on to glory. Don't forget: The gospel applies to your today just as much as it applies to the past or your future! Peace awaits you and it's a peace that lasts (unlike the peace offered by this world). Jesus says "peace I give you". Receive it. Embrace it. It won't let you down.

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More in ADVENT 2015

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Advent: JOY

November 29, 2015

Avent: HOPE