Peace: The 2nd Sunday in Advent

He will be known as the Prince of Peace.
2nd Sunday in Advent PEACE

The second candle lit in our Advent Wreath is the candle symbolizing Peace.

Isaiah 9:6-7
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace”

Peace. Peace is the condition that exists when people are able to resolve their conflicts without violence and thus work together to improve the common good.

Peace on Earth, can you imagine? Violence, that use of physical force to injure, abuse, damage, destroy, a lifeless memory of the past quickly forgotten.
We have a hope that one day, beginning with the event we call the Second Coming of Jesus that the world will know peace.

Isaiah the prophet said when that day comes there will be endless peace.
When I imagine such a time, I see the end of hatred, the end of oppression, the end of injustice. There will be no room for it in the hearts of those who will rejoice in the coming of Christ.

Until that time our world is filled with strife and division, hatred and discord, people killing people, slander, and lies. Nations pitted against nations. Religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, inflicting pain and suffering on people. Polarization in our politics, such that those with differing ideas have become enemies that need to be silenced one way or another. The bonds that bind us together are wearing thin. Justice is beaten back. We are tolerant of everyone who believes like us and if you have a different opinion you’re labeled as intolerant.  Households divided; families at odds with one another. Anger, exploitation, scams, thieves, abuse, oppression, obscenity, racism, fear of the other, all sides yelling at the other, this is the world, this is the country, this is the neighborhood we live in. This may be the hearts we have. “We long for light but sink into darkness, long for brightness but stumble through the night” (Isaiah 59:9 (MSG).

Romans 3:17 KJV
"The way of peace they have not known,"

Christmas is time to remember the coming of the Prince of Peace. Three tasks He brings. The first task of the Prince of Peace is to bring reconciliation. The reason we do not know peace is because we do not know God.

The first task of the Prince of Peace is to bring reconciliation between a sinful humanity and an offended God.

Isaiah 59:2 (MSG)
There's nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that he doesn't hear.

Romans 5:12-14 (MSG)
You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, … Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God.

God’s wrath comes upon the perpetrator of sin. Because of this, there is an estrangement, a disaffection, an alienation, a schism, and a hostility that it brings. The Prince of Peace comes to bring reconciliation, to bring resolution to the conflict, to reunite relationships that have been torn asunder. In the Prince of Peace, we see Justice and Love meet.

 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) & 1 John 2:2 (MSG) & Col 1:19-20 (NLT)
[Jesus] “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness…” “When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world's.” “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”

It is by acknowledging this situation and desiring the reconciliation that the Prince of Peace has already made possible for you is how your relationship with God changes from adversarial to righteous. To claim the gift you bend the knee, nailing egoism to the cross, committing, that from this day forward, it is your intent, that your life is lived according to His way.

Ephesians 2:12-14 (NLT)
You lived in this world without God and without hope. 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. For Christ himself has brought peace to us.

Peace starts with a heart made right with God.

We celebrate Christmas because Jesus offers us peace with God and He brings peace for our self with our self. Peace with self is the second task.

In the gospel according to Mark, Jesus is refuting the accusations of the Pharisees and says this: “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25 (NIV). Have you ever felt divided in yourself? The Apostle Paul knew this struggle.

Romans 7:14-15 & 18-19  & 24-25 (NLT)
“The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

When you have no peace with yourself you are set up for cycles of depression, and anxiety. You can become encumbered with a heavy burden of regrets. You get stuck; trapped.  This inner battle can manifest as anorexia, body dysmorphic disease, hating yourself for what you did or couldn’t do, never feeling that you’re good enough. Habits, attachments, and addictions that you need to be done with, hang on. You see yourself as defective; others have convinced you to own the labels they accused you of. The pain tempts you to self-medicate. Joy and happiness are fleeting.  Internal conflict causes mental illness.

The Prince of Peace offers sanctifying power, transformation power, to change you from the inside out into a new person.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (MSG)
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life [flourishes]! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him….

This empowerment separates you from your sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12). You throw off the old and realize that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You learn that with Christ you are capable (Philippians 4:13). You learn how to forgive yourself (1 John 3:20). Most important you discover that you are deeply loved, and that love brings peace and joy within.

Zephaniah 3:17 (MSG)
Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he'll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.

“He will quiet you with His love…(Zeph 3:17 (NKJV). His love brings you peace. Experience tells us that this change is not instantaneous but rather we learn to live God’s way as you do you grow deep and grow up, and then we bear fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG)
“…what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”

Like fruit appears in an orchard. From a seed of faith, with enough light (John 8:12) and enough water (John 7:38), the seed germinates, you see the sprout, the root grows deep, the sprout grows up to become a sapling, becoming a tree, and then in time, the tree bears fruit. The tree fulfills the intent of its creation. For you and I when we realize that we are living our lives to the full, there is peace within. We have grown into reciprocating God’s love with loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and, strength (Matthew 22:37).

The fertilizer for this process is asking the Prince of Peace to sanctify you. You are already a believer, but you know that inner peace is elusive. No matter how hard you try you still feel like you are falling short of God’s desires, you realize that you can’t become the person God wants you to become without more help. If that is where you are today in your spiritual journey, then go to God in prayer and consecrate your struggling self to Him. Consecrate means dedicate, it means turning over every aspect of your life to His control and care. It is yet another time that you bend the knee to God, but this time it's no longer to attain the gifts the Prince of Peace brings, this time it is for service, this time it is to leave self-centeredness behind and become Christ-Centered. No longer will you demand to do things your own way, now your intent will be to please the one who gave himself for you (Titus 2:14). You are already a believer, if you sense there is something more in your spiritual journey, this most likely is it. Consecrate and ask:God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV). God will empower you to live your life to the full.

We celebrate Christmas because Jesus offers us peace with God and because He brings peace for our self with our self and because He has given us the privilege of being peacemakers. Being made peacemakers is the third task

Matthew 5:9 (MSG)
"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

It is the saved and sanctified believer’s task to be like the Prince of Peace and work for reconciliation upon the platforms God has given us to influence. We are called to be peacemakers. To first tell people that they can have peace with God, then that they can have peace with themselves, and then that they can have peace with others. Believers are empowered for this mission (Matthew 28:19:20).  Disciples are to be agents of change, activist, working to establish the peace of the Kingdom to a world that does not know the Prince of Peace. What an honor to be named an ambassador of the Prince of Peace.

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV)
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

That is our message. Be reconciled to God. When that happens the rest follows. Our labor is fueled by the hope that one day there will be peace on earth and good will among all.

This 2nd Sunday of Advent, in our celebration of Christmas, enjoy the party; for the Jesus offers us peace with God and He brings peace for our self with our self and He has given us the privilege of being His peacemakers.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (MSG)

All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.

Three opportunities have been afforded you today. First is to bend the knee to the Prince of Peace, becoming his disciple. All you need to do is desire it, ask for it, mean it, and Jesus will come to you and in you and Peace is the gift He will bring into your life, peace with God. Second is to fertilizer your spiritual growth, you’re a believer and you see the need to grow deeper, grow higher and bear more fruit. All you need to do is desire it, ask for it, consecrate all you are to His will, His way and His service and the Prince of Peace will bring new sanctifying power into your life, that empowerment sets you free to choose. The third is to fulfill the duties of the high office of peacemaker and know yourself to be an ambassador for Christ, bringing his reconciliation and peace into the streets you walk upon.

If it’s your desire to actualize any of these three opportunities in your life today, I ask you to come forward before God and people and tell us your desire and we will pray that God will grant you what you seek. 


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