Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Peace Making God

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

This past Sunday we lit the Peace candle on the Advent wreath.  Yesterday we focused on how Christmas can bring us peace with God and today – Christmas can bring us peace with others.
Christmas Brings Us Peace with Others.

·      God is a peace-loving God, and a peace-making God.
The whole history of redemption, including the birth of Christ and His death and resurrection, is God's strategy to bring about peace between man and himself, and then between man and man.  Therefore, God's children are that way, too. They have the character of their Father. What he loves they love. What he pursues they pursue. You can know his children by whether they are willing to make sacrifices for peace the way God did.

For those who have come to Christ, the conflict should be over. We have peace with God. And because we have peace with God, we should be those who do His work of peacemaking.
What will bring you peace with others? FORGIVENESS!

"No peace will exist between nations unless peace reigns in each country. And no country will have peace unless peace resides in each community. And no community will have peace unless peace dwells with in its people. And no people will have peace unless they surrender to the Prince of Peace."  - Haddon W. Robinson

Isn’t it sad when you stop to think about it...how “out of sorts” people can get with one another, how estranged people can become, how hostile they can feel toward one another?  Revenge actually is never sweet; it ultimately becomes a sour stomach and a bitter memory.  Violence only breeds more violence.  Hate poisons the soul.  Resentment, jealousy, bigotry, prejudice — these are spiritual viruses that will absolutely make us sick!

You can be right and do wrong by destroying relationships in your demand to win.

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  - Romans 12:16-18

I saw a strange Christmas headband. It has mistletoe above it on a spring. When you wear it… everywhere you go… you’re under the mistletoe. Do you know where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe came from? Actually, it came from the Druids in Northern Europe. They believed mistletoe had curative power and could cure lots of things including separation between people.
When two enemies happened to meet under an oak tree with mistletoe hanging above them, they took it as a sign from God that they should drop their weapons and be reconciled. They would drop their animosities and embrace one another under the mistletoe.

When the missionaries moved into northern Europe they saw this mistletoe custom as a perfect symbol for what happened to the world at Christmas. God had embraced the world through His Son. At Christmas a new age dawned, it was a time of peace, a time of healing, a time of reconciliation, a time for embracing one another.

Christmas offers us the gift of peace within and the gift of peace with others, but we have to accept the gifts.  If you want to have a “peace-full” Christmas, go in the spirit of love and fix those broken relationships in your life.

If you are alienated or estranged or cut off or at odds with any other person, go in the spirit of Christmas and make peace. Don’t put it off any longer… drop your pride, drop your resentment, drop your grudges, and go set it right.  Go… and God will go with you. That’s what mistletoe is really about…and that’s what Christmas is about.

God comes to us in the Christ Child so that we might be…set right with God, set right with ourselves, and set right with other people.  This simple story exemplifies what God did:

One day very close to Christmas, a young boy was coming down the hallway at church. He had in his hand a little ceramic tray that he had made in Sunday School. It was to be his Christmas gift to his mother. He had been working on it for several weeks and he was so proud of it.  As he ran down the hall, he tripped and fell. The tray crashed to the floor and broke into several pieces. The little boy was devastated. He began to cry loudly and uncontrollably. He was absolutely heartbroken. People tried to comfort him with all kinds of counsel: It was just a tray. Not worth much. No big loss. Besides, you can make another one. It’s nothing, forget it. You can give your mother something else. Don’t worry about it.” But nothing helped. The child was inconsolable. Finally his mother arrived on the scene. Quickly she realized what had happened. Kneeling down beside her crestfallen, distraught son with his broken gift, she hugged him tightly and said, “Well, now, I think this is fixable... Let’s pick up the pieces and take it all home. We’ll put it back together and see what we can make of it.” The little boy hugged his mom back and smiled.

Isn’t that exactly what the Christmas message is about? The world is broken into many fragments, as are our lives. And God stoops down beside us. He hugs us and says, “Well, now, this is fixable. Let me help you pick up the pieces. We’ll put it back together and see what we can make of it.”

In the same sense, Christ has come down to this earth to help us get back together with God who made us… and who loves us.  That’s what that word Emmanuel means - God with us! God comes in the Christ Child to seek and save the lost. That’s what Christmas is all about. 

Scripture to Claim:
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

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