Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Isaiah 9:6 – 7
“The Power of The Incarnation”

Incarnation means: Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, became human. Paul says, He took on the form of a “servant.” Yet this is one of the most powerful truths in the Bible. It was an early acid test to distinguish false teachers from real teachers. The idea that God Almighty would leave Heaven, voluntarily allow Himself to become the most fragile and vulnerable human to suffer death on the cross implies many things.

I. The Incarnation moves us beyond wishful thinking.

A. Darkness has always been part of human history.

1. Isaiah 9:1 – 2 describes a sunrise in “the land of the shadow of death.”

a. C. S. Lewis noted that we live in the “shadow lands.” Everything is only a shadow of what it was supposed to be and what it will be in eternity.

b.In the face of despair, we tend to develop a sense of wishful thinking.

1.) E.g. The various proposed “solutions” to Iraq only deal with the immediate.

2.) Often medical treatment deals only with symptoms...

3.) Loneliness drives people to do things that are often against their personal beliefs.

2. The power of a name is well known. In the Old Testament, it revealed something about the person.

a. Abram became Abraham when God made a covenant with him and gave Abram part of His name. (The “h” from the sacred name of God.)

b. Jacob’s name was change to Israel when God made a covenant with him and gave him part of His name. (The “el” meaning “God.”)

c. Simon’s name was changed to Peter. (Possibly this was a special covenant with Peter.) Peter means “rock” and was one of the names of O.T. names of God. (Gen 49:24, 1 Samuel 2:2, 2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:2, 31, Isaiah 26:4 etc...)

B. But hope is part of the Christmas tradition.

1. We fill our senses with good things like lights, smells of baking, candies and sweets...

2. We set this hope up against the “N.U.T.s” in our lives.

a. Stress studies show that little things that are constant are worse than a sudden big thing that passes quickly.

b. “N.U.T.s” stands for Nagging Undone Things”

1.) How many are thinking about lunch right now?

2.) How many are planning tomorrow or our Christmas vacations/celebrations?

3.) These things DISTRACT us and DRAIN our energy.

c. So we hope, when we decorate and bake all the holiday goodies that for a short season, we can focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

II. The Incarnation stabilizes our sense of lostness.

A. Think about the name of Jesus for a moment. They are considered “throne names.” The idea is to reveal Jesus.

1. These names reveal Jesus position.

a. The fact is that Jesus is God. (Not a good teacher, not one of many “gods,” etc...)

b. As the rightful rule of everything, He is worthy to be worshiped.

2. These names reveal Jesus character.

a. Some would like to see Jesus as terrible, moralistic, or hateful.

b. God has our safety, good, and best in mind.

3. These names reveal the function of Jesus.

a. What Jesus was going to do, like bring peace.

b. What Jesus was going to mean to us... like being wonderful.

4. These name reveal the divinity of Jesus.

B. Jesus’ purpose was to bring us salvation at His expense.

1. Our salvation is based on the person of Jesus.

a. What happens is we have a difficult time getting past our sense of lostness.

b. We were born lost, live in a lost world, and our sense of spiritual direction is easily disturbed.

2. If Jesus is all this, then our salvation is solid.

a. A contract is only as good as the person/company who signs it.

b. If God made a covenant with us through Jesus, then we can depend on that covenant.

III. The Incarnation is God’s grace towards us.

A. How?

1. “Wonderful” is a cure for the dullness of life ruled by sin.

2. “Counselor” gives direction in the choices of life free from sin.

3. “Mighty God” empowers us to meet the demands of dealing with life.

4. “Everlasting Father” settles the questions of our eternal destiny.

5. “Prince of Peace” deals with the disturbances to our life.

B. Here’s how this happens:

1. Thomas a’ Kempis explained it this way: “He to whom the Eternal World speaketh is delivered from a world of unnecessary conceptions.”

a. There is a difference between knowing ABOUT Jesus and KNOWING Jesus.

b. What happens when we cross over between knowing about and know is that EVERYTHING changes.

1.) Our attitude changes. We see things from an eternal perspective.

2.) Our perspective changes. We see things from a biblical perspective.

3.) Our behavior changes. We do right things not selfish things.

4.) Our ownership changes. We (our lives and our stuff) are controlled by God.

2. Once we have been to the stable in Bethlehem we see the cross outside Jerusalem, the empty tomb, and the New Jerusalem to come... nothing can ever be the same.

IV. The Incarnation offers transformation.

A. Yield the government of your life to King Jesus.

1. When we trust (v “accept”) behavior patterns change:

a. We act to please our King.

b. We are delighted to serve for someone/thing else bigger than ourselves.

2. We move from success (which is for ourselves) to significance (which is for someone else).

3. What do we need to yield? (Everything)

a. We yield our heart. Our emotions and affections are sensitive to the heart of God.

b. We yield our will. Our desires are for what God wants us to do.

c. We yield our mind. Our thoughts line up with how God would think.

d. We yield our bodies. Our obedience becomes actions of love toward our King.

B. We can then enjoy God’s peace.

1. When you know:

a. you are save...

b. what happens is for a greater good...

2. Then you don’t take things personally.

a. Personally means we make “it” about us.

b. Instead, we make it about our King.

If Jesus was born into this world and experienced physical life, we can be born into the heavenly Kingdom and experience eternal life.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Here is the background study I have been doing on the biblical concept of peace. Several of you asked for it. The first point is difficult for some to understand. After all, peace is the commodity of the righteous, right? While peace belongs to the the rightesous, the promise/message of peace may indicate serious trouble. Please read these verses prayerfully.

Peace study.
O.T. = “completeness”

□ In reference to the nation of Israel, 50 of 60 usages mean “absence of strife.” [TWOT]
□ “the idea of unimpaired relationships with others and fulfillment in one’s undertaking.” [TWOT]
□ The Septuagint [Greek translation of the Old Testament done by Jews), often translates “shalom” (the common Hebrew word for peace) as “teleios” (commonly translated “perfect” in the New Testament and gives rise to the concept of Christian perfection].

N.T. = “unity”

“Peace” is the message of the false prophet and the devil’s way of destroying people!

JER 6:13 "From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
JER 6:14 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
`Peace, peace,' they say,
when there is no peace.

JER 8:10 Therefore I will give their wives to other men
and their fields to new owners.
From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
JER 8:11 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
"Peace, peace," they say,
when there is no peace.

JER 8:15 We hoped for peace
but no good has come,
for a time of healing
but there was only terror.

JER 14:13 But I said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, the prophets keep telling them, `You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.' "
JER 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.

JER 23:16 This is what the LORD Almighty says:
"Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.
JER 23:17 They keep saying to those who despise me,
`The LORD says: You will have peace.'
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, `No harm will come to you.'

JER 29:4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: [5] "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. [6] Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. [7] Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." [8] Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. [9] They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD.

JER 33:6 " `Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. [7] I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. [8] I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. [9] Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'

EZE 13:8 " `Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD. [9] My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.
EZE 13:10 " `Because they lead my people astray, saying,"Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, [11] therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. [12] When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, "Where is the whitewash you covered it with?"

MIC 3:5 This is what the LORD says:
"As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
if one feeds them,
they proclaim `peace';
if he does not,
they prepare to wage war against him

MAL 2:3 "Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. [4] And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty. [5] "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. [6] True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
MAL 2:7 "For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. [8] But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the LORD Almighty. [9] "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.

DA 8:23 "In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. [24] He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. [25] He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many [by peace shall destroy many – KJV] and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.

1TH 5:1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, [2] for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. [3] While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

LK 12:49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! [50] But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! [51] Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. [52] From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. [53] They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

MT 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Peace is often associated with death.

GE 15:15 You (Abraham), however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age.

LEV 26:6 " `I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.

ISA 57:2 Those who walk uprightly
enter into peace;
they find rest as they lie in death.
Lack of peace means sin.

2KI 9:21 "Hitch up my chariot," Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. [22] When Joram saw Jehu he asked, "Have you come in peace, Jehu?"
"How can there be peace," Jehu replied, "as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?"

PR 17:1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.

PR 29:9 If a wise man goes to court with a fool,
the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.

ISA 59:8 The way of peace they do not know;
there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
no one who walks in them will know peace.

ISA 57:16 I will not accuse forever,
nor will I always be angry,
for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me--
the breath of man that I have created.
ISA 57:17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;
I punished him, and hid my face in anger,
yet he kept on in his willful ways.
ISA 57:18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
ISA 57:19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,"
says the LORD. "And I will heal them."
ISA 57:20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
which cannot rest,
whose waves cast up mire and mud.
ISA 57:21 "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked.

EZE 7:23 "Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. [24] I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. [25] When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. [26] Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. [27] The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the LORD."

MK 9:50 "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."

LK 19:37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

LK 19:38 "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
LK 19:39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
LK 19:40 "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
LK 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it [42] and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes.
Peace comes from a right relationship with God!

NU 6:24 " ` "The LORD bless you
and keep you;
NU 6:25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
NU 6:26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '

NU 25:10 The LORD said to Moses, [11] "Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. [12] Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. [13] He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites."

1CH 22:6 Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel. [7] David said to Solomon: "My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God. [8] But this word of the LORD came to me: `You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. [9] But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. [10] He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.'

2CH 14:2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. [3] He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. [4] He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. [5] He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. [6] He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the LORD gave him rest.

PS 29:11 The LORD gives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace.

PS 85:8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say;
he promises peace to his people, his saints--
but let them not return to folly.

PS 119:165 Great peace have they who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.

ISA 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
ISA 26:4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

ISA 32:17 The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

ISA 55:12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

MK 5:34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

LK 7:50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

LK 24:36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."

AC 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism [35] but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. [36] You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all

RO 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, [2] through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. [3] Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; [4] perseverance, character; and character, hope. [5] And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

2CO 13:11 Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

PHP 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! [5] Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. [6] Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

PHP 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. [9] Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

1TH 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [24] The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it

HEB 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? [8] If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. [9] Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! [10] Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. [11] No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Peace is found in Jesus!

ISA 9:6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
ISA 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

ISA 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"

ISA 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

JN 14:25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. [26] But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. [27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

JN 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

EPH 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, [15] by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, [16] and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. [17] He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. [18] For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

COL 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. [19] For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

COL 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful

Peace is a result of the Holy Spirit

RO 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. [6] The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; [7] the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. [8] Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

RO 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, [18] because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

RO 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1CO 14:29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. [30] And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. [31] For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. [32] The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. [33] For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

GAL 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law

Peace requires effort!

PS 34:14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

MT 10:11 "Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. [12] As you enter the home, give it your greeting. [13] If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. [14] If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. [15] I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. [16] I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

RO 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. [18] If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone

RO 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

HEB 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

1PE 3:11 He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.

2PE 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Peace brings blessing.

PS 37:11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

PR 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.

PR 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace;
he will bring delight to your soul.

MT 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

JAS 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. [18] Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Philippians 4:4 – 9
The Power of Peace

(Ill.) A little girl heard the story of Snow White at school. Excited, she told the story to her Mom. At the end she asked, “Do you know what happened next?” Her Mom answered, “Yes, they lived happily ever after.” “No silly,” said the girl, “they got married.”

Some of us are in desperate need for peace, even in our own homes. Let’s look at a the power of peace.

I. There is peace beyond circumstances and understanding.

A. How do we define peace?

1. There are confused ideas:

a. We confuse peace with being nice or civil.

1.) We think if people are nice to each other then we have peace.

2.) The problem with this is, its only on the surface.

b. We confuse war with peace.

1.) When we fight a common enemy we don’t fight each other (George Orwell in his book 1984).

2.) The problem with this is, its only a distraction.

2. Peace is freedom from internal fear.

B. Anxiety is a problem.

1. It comes from adversity.

a. We struggle with the events and circumstances of life.

b. We struggle with the external pressures.

c. We struggle spiritually

2. It comes from fear.

a. We are uncertain about our health, finances, children, etc...

b. This sets the conditions for terrorism.

1.) “Scientific terrorism” where scientists are discovering “alarming” things all the time.

2.) There is “bird flu,” ultra restrictions on air travel, indexing of passages, etc...

II. Peace is tested in the storm.

***** Peace is NOT the absence of a storm! We are all heading into a storm, in a storm, or just coming out of a storm. *****

A What do you do when anxiety/worry are stirred in your heart.

1. Paul suggests two things.

a. [v 6] “by prayer”

1.) If you have a problem, you go to the person who can solve the problem.

2.) You have a problem. You go to God “Almighty.” (The one you believe created by just speaking. The one who conquered death and sin’s claim on you through the death and resurrection of Jesus.)

b. [v 6] “with thanksgiving”

1.) Scary things strengthen us. (Ill. Winter scares people, unless you live here... Then you don’t understand others fear of winter.)

2.) Anxious things make us MORE dependent on God.

2. These things happen SO THAT the peace of God will be effective. (Like a muscle it must be exercised.)

a. Anxiety/worry/fear are the result of an undisciplined spiritual life.

b. Anxiety becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” We get what we expect.

B. Other biblical explanations for peace:

1. Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Peace through salvation.)

2. Psalm 4:8 “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Peace through safety given by God.)

3. Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Peace through spiritual stability.)

4. Isaiah 26:3 [KJV] “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in thee.” (Peace through a mind fixed on God. When our eyes are on Jesus we will not sink in the storm.)

III. Peace is made sure in spiritual life.

A. It is the peace of God, no our peace.

1. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27]

2. “For he himself is our peace...” [Ephesians 2:14a]

3. The saying “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.”

B. The peace of God surpasses anything the human mind can understand.

1. Paul in Philipi [Acts 16]

2. Acts 16:25 says they were “praying and singing hymns.”

a. God tore open the prison doors, ripped off every chain on every prisoner.

b. WHEN GOD’S PEACE IS IN YOUR LIFE, NOTHING CAN CHAIN YOU DOWN, NO PRISON OF ANXIETY, WORRY, FEAR, OR DESPAIR CAN HOLD YOU.

(Ill.) We were flying on a plane at sunset. On one side is beautiful sunset while on the other side it is dark. It doesn’t matter which side you look out, the plane is going to the same place. You have a choice...

IV. Bottom line: peace is a condition of the heart put into practice.

You are given a choice: peace or anxiety?

1. It begins with your relationship with Jesus.

2. Do you practice prayer and thanksgiving?

3. Do you allow God’s peace to guard your heart and mind?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Society Meeting

***** Christianity is “simple” as far as purpose and process.

Matthew 22:34 – 40
Jesus sums up the Old Testament.

1. Love God (total)

2. Love others (“as your self”)

3. Serve in love! (Love is not “just” a feeling.)

***** Loving God is connected to loving others.

1 John 2:7 – 11

1. Its “either/or” but we would be much more comfortable with lots of “gray area” in between. That way we do not have to take responsibility to love for feel guilty because we are not loving.

2. Our relationship with ONE accurately reflects our relationship with God. One non-loving relationship calls into question the whole.

John 17:20 – 23, 26

1. Unity is witness [v 21].

2. Unity is a reflection of relationship [v 22].

3. Unity is a function of love [v 26].

When a church is in a cycle of conflict it demonstrates a lack of love, which is a reflection of a lack of relationship with God. When a church demonstrates love, it is an attractive witness to those who need God.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Luke 2:8 – 20
The Power of a Breakthrough

Charles Kuralt reported that the Livermore CA Fire department had a light bulb that was turned on in 1901 and seldom turned off. If it was an ordinary light bulb it would have burned out 852 times. However, this one was made by the Shelby Electric Company. The Shelby Electric Company went out of business because they made light bulbs the last. Nobody ever needed a new one!

Wouldn’t it be BREAKTHROUGH to have a spiritual experience that would satisfy every past, present, and future spiritual need?

Let me share one with you.

I. God broke through our human problems.

A. God broke through the doubt and fear.

1. “Do not be afraid.” (Any rational person would be terrified.)

2. Fear comes from what we think are bad possibilities.

3. Fear comes from uncertainty and lack of trust.

4. Fear is based on experience and wrong information. (Past angelic visitations required the person to do something extraordinary and were often seen as divine visitations that lead to death.)

B. God broke through the depression and monotony.

1. The “daily grind” and the “boredom” can be get to us.

2. The holiday season is a prime time for depression.

3. Some suffer self-inflicted stupidity, we chose to be miserable.

4. There are circumstances beyond our control which begin to control us.

5. The Christmas message is “good news of great joy.”

C. God broke through our lostness.

1. God provided a “Savior” because we need one. It is a delusion to think we can have “peace on earth” by ourselves.

a. Remember when the President was sending troops to Bosnia for “a year?” (They are still there.)

b. Remember the multitude of peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians?

c. Remember the “War to end all wars?” (We now call it World War I)

2. It is about time someone said, “duh.” We cannot create our own Utopia.

3. It is time we recognize our need for God. Jesus is the only way.

II. The shepherd’s action broke through to eternal change.

A. They had a break through of RECOGNIZING.

1. They recognized something was happening.

a. Recognizing God at work may be the most difficult part.

b. We have so many rational and natural explanations that it can become difficult to recognize God at work.

2. They recognized God at work... “which the Lord has told us about.”

a. They could have said, “that was just a natural thing easily explained by chance and time.” (The evolution argument.)

b. They could have said, “its just a coincidence.” (The “no God” argument.)

3. They recognized that there must be an appropriate response.

a. The message was for them (not someone else).

b. The message carried responsibility for them (not someone else).

B. They had a break though in DOING.

1. Three levels of “spirituality.”

a. knowing

b. doing

c. being

2. The hardest is to break the barrier of getting the body moving.

a. Deciding is important...

b. “Once the feet are set right, all will be right.” (C.S. Lewis “Chronicles of Narnia)

C. They had a break through in SHARING.

1. “They spread the word.”

2. This news was for “all” not just for them.

3. The broke custom and told others.

***** Do we really believe something if we don’t talk about it? We talk about what we believe in and what motivates us. *****

III. Today WE can break through the same way.

A. RECOGNIZE that God wants to break through in our lives.

B. RESPOND to God.

C. REACH out to others.