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Because He Came #2 We Have Peace December 9, 2012 When I came home from the office for supper Thursday

evening I did something incredibly depressing. The NBC Nightly New with Brian Williams was just coming on and I watched it! What a downer! Story one detailed the ongoing civil war in Syria. There are ominous reports and growing concern about the potential use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Army. Its a horrible situation. Story two was filled with images of the ongoing street fights in Egypt. People are rioting and burning buildings because of the power grab by president Mohammed Morsi. There is chaos in the streets. Up third on the story list was a report about the ongoing conflict in Washington. There is an ongoing political fight and divide concerning the looming fiscal cliff and how to deal with it. Other stories detailed continuing conflict in Afghanistan, war in the electronics marketplace, and clashes in Americas courtrooms. I was eating supper while I watched the news. You know what happened. It gave me indigestion. Watching the news can be an unsettling experience! Two things occurred to me Thursday. The evening news is usually bad for your health and live in a world where conflict normal. Peace of any kind is a rare commodity. National peace, political peace, business peace, legal peace and even personal peace is in short supply. Brian Williams reminded me . . . OUR WORLD AT WAR NEEDS PEACE! We do too. Could you use a greater measure of peace today? In the biography of Jesus by the time you get to John chapter 16 Jesus is just hours from being crucified. If you know his story at all you know Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem. Its why he came. We celebrate his birth because of his death. It is the fulfillment of his purpose to die in our place. From the Bible we know Jesus carried the sins of the whole world to the cross to do what only he can do. He took our place. When Jesus came he made a transaction with a holy God that allows each of us to experience forgiveness, and salvation and a relationship with our Creator. It is good news. So Jesus is on his way to be crucified. Thats when he speaks the words recorded in John 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. John 16:33 NIV Jesus words reveal the reality of real trouble that comes to us in the world, but also offers hope. Why do we need peace? Jesus said it is because trouble is real. In this world you will have trouble.

I want us to start here today because these are not my words. These are the words of Jesus Christ and he is amplifying this message for us. In this world it will always be a mixed bag with war and peace living side by side. Trouble and victory exist in tandem. The good news is we get to pick which one we live with. The key phrase in this passage is in me. There is peace to be found in Jesus. Hold on to that. This is the real Son of God is inviting us to join our lives with him. He is saying, There is something in me, something about being rooted to me, connected to me, joined to me, in a relationship with me that produces peace, real, tangible, personal peace in your life. Do you want peace? We certainly need it. There is trouble in this world. What kind of trouble? Global trouble is obvious. There is war in the world. Some folks in Libya recently killed the American Ambassador and three others in the name of their prophet Mohamed. These people dont seem to have much peace in their lives. Fighting is a tradition. They know war. There has been ongoing war in the Middle East for centuries. And sadly, war is not limited to the Middle East. Our America seems to be constantly at war. In my lifetime America has been involved in proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba against the Soviet Union. There have military operations in Honduras, Grenada, Columbia, Panama, Haiti, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The war on terrorism goes on and on. And thats a just partial list. On this planet theres always a war somewhere. We need peace. Can I let you in on a little secret? Sometimes we even need peace at church. It is horrible, but true. Sometimes there is conflict in the church. A father heard a commotion in his yard and looked outside to see his daughter and several playmates in a heated quarrel. When he reprimanded her, his daughter responded, "Its okay, Dad. We're just playing church!" Sadly, that's not too hard a scenario to believe when you think about all the conflict that can plague the average church. Church conflict is so real Leslie Flynn wrote a book about it titled Great Church Fights. Im sure the volume could be expanded. What a sick reality. I know this will be hard to comprehend, but sometimes people who are part of the household of God do not get along. A few years ago Nathan Klimosko was sentenced to two years probation in Kelowna, British Columbia, for hitting and choking his girlfriend into unconsciousness. The fight started in the car when the two disagreed over his interpretation of a certain passage from the Bible. He reached over and smacked her in the face, blackening her eye. I guess they were believers. Usually our Bible disagreements dont escalate to that level of violence, but if youve had any experience at all around believers you know that sometimes they fight. Interpersonal breakdowns happen. In the Bible the church at Philippi was a healthy, growing, robust church. Nonetheless, from his prison cell in Rome, Paul confronts a dispute between two of the church leaders. 2

In Philippians 4:2 Paul writes, I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. He tells these two women, faithful workers in the church, to stop fighting and get along. What was their conflict? Nobody knows. But the incredible thing was the conflict was so bad Paul heard about it hundreds of miles away in prison. We need peace in our churches. It's no wonder someone wrote: To dwell above with saints we love; that will be grace and glory. To live below with saints we know; that's another story! And the need for peace isnt just out there somewhere. Our need for peace is personal. There is discord in our homes. Some of you here today really need peace in your house. The real battlefield you face is in your family. Four-year-old Susie had just been told the story of "Snow White" for the first time in her life. She could hardly wait to get home from nursery school to tell her mommy. With wide-eyed excitement, she retold the fairy tale to her mother that afternoon. After relating how Prince Charming had arrived on his beautiful white horse and kissed Snow White back to life, Susie asked loudly: "And do you know what happened then?" "Yes," said her mom, "they lived happily ever after." "No," responded Susie with a frown, "they got married." Out of the mouths of babes comes the truth! Relational peace, even with those we love the best, is sometimes in short supply. We need peace. We need peace in our cities, our countries, our families, and our churches. But the greatest need for peace on this planet is the need for peace in our hearts. There is a battle in our hearts. Every day I meet people with troubled hearts. They have no peace. They are at war with themselves and with God. They are filled with internal conflict. James 4:1-3 NIV describes our internal conflict. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Dont they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but dont get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Did it ever occur to you that you will never be at peace with others until first you are at peace with yourself? How can we stop the war in our hearts? It is into this world at war that Jesus came to bring peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And because he came we can have peace. This is what Jesus says to us today, I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Focus in on the keys words in me you may have peace! He didnt say youd have peace by being in church. He didnt say youd have peace because there is a bible somewhere in your house. He didnt say youd have peace because you have a certain religious set of beliefs. 3

Jesus said real peace comes from a relationship with him. When your life and my life become the same life, when you immerse your reality into my reality, thats where peace is found Jesus said. So how did Jesus become the Prince of peace? By his sacrifice on the cross. Listen to Ephesians 2:13 NIV: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace . . . Because of Jesus we can somehow have peace peace with God, peace with others, and peace with ourselves. HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE THE PEACE JESUS OFFERS? If we look at the world around us, and the turmoil within us, what we really see ruling life is discord, conflict and violence. There is a different way to live. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NIV We are told to let peace rule in our hearts. So how? What do we do? We allow everything to rule in our hearts but peace. We focus on every conflict but ignore the inner gift of Gods peace. The Holy Spirit tries to help us, but we don't really listen to His voice within us. We run around filled with all kinds of fear, and as a result we have troubled hearts. Jesus gave us His peace, and for the most part, we act as if it never existed. The Hebrew greeting, which Jesus repeated often, even after His resurrection is, "Peace be with you." John 20:25 NIV And if Jesus commanded peace to be with us, then it is. Our problem is that we don't receive it. So how do you experience his peace? Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and give you peace. When Jesus was preparing to depart from this world, He told His disciples in John 14:26-27, But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives who produces peace that passes understanding. The present of His presence gives me peace. Jesus said, "I will be with you always, even to the end of the age." When you belong to Jesus the Holy Spirit is your 24/7 counselor. He is always on call. Before you got up this morning and after you go to bed tonight, the Holy Spirit will be dwelling in you and interceding for you! Isnt that comforting. Doesnt that add a huge measure of peace to your life? God is with you and out for your good all the time. Teresa once said to me, Jeff, you are the most peaceful person I know. Why do you have such peace?

The answer to that question is pretty simple. Ultimately, my peace is a gift from God. It is his miracle in my life. But there are some choices Ive made that allow Gods peace to rule in my heart. These are my peace filling choices. I have peace because of my disposition. Im open to God. All my life Ive basically been open to God. I am disposed to seek God. One of my earliest preschool memories is of praying every night with my sister when I went to bed. The prayers were very simple, but my experience of God was profound. I prayed as a child because I want God in my life. I want to be with God. I want God to be with me. God answered my prayers and sent Jesus near to me. I have peace because of my disposition. I choose to be open to God. I also have peace in my life because of my position. When Jesus came he brought me peace. Ephesians 2:17-18 NIV, He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Jesus gives me peace For He Himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:14 NAS Romans 5:1 NIV adds, We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1 NIV promises, There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It is a peaceful thing not to have your sins counted against you. I am in Christ and in that position Im not condemned. When Jesus came to me I surrendered. My battle with God is over. Im not at war with God any more. I have peace with God because of my prayer. Galatians 5:22 says, But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol. Galatians 5:22-23 NLT I try hard to pray every day and surrender to the control of Gods Spirit. Stop reacting and start responding to the troubles of life. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NIV) Do you surrender power over your feelings and behavior to other people? Many do. But the way of personal peace involves learning to take responsibility for yourselves and not blame others. Do you know how to remain calm in the midst of the storms of life? Do you know how to respond instead of reacting? A young man starts Junior High and is verbally attacked by many of the other boys. What does he do? When he tells the story of being bullied he smiles and says, "I am bigger than all of them and I think it is funny when they try to act so mean." Here is a seventh grade kid who refuses to react to taunts and threats. Instead he chooses to respond by smiling and laughing. Bullies and manipulators always try to suck us into feeling badly. A wise person keeps calm and peaceful and will not react. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "Turn the other cheek." What does that mean. It means respond thoughtfully, dont react emotionally to people who attack you. 5

Are you and I reactive or responsive when someone "pushes our button" on some topic? When Bill Clinton was President many of my friends were reactive whenever his name came up. Why did they allow the mention of his name to evoke such anxiety? Then some of my friends reacted in exactly the same way to George W. Bush. Now its Barrack Obamas name that creates a negative reaction. Why do they allow his name to bother them? Reactivity indicates that we need to grow in an area. Gary Sweeten says it is God's Yellow Caution Light warning us that we have lost our peace. Like the bumper stickers from the Seventies, "Support Peace or I will Kill You." Live for a higher purpose in life. Now what is the purpose of most people in life? Is it self-preservation getting me and my family as far down the road as possible? The closer I get to the end of the road in this world the more I realize what a futile purpose that is. Let me suggest a higher purpose from God to relax greatly, love deeply, and enjoy our life in Jesus as much as possible. This was Pauls advice Phililippians 4:4-7, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Because he came we have peace. And if you what the peace of Christ to rule in your heart today then I have one last suggestion. Surrender to the Peace Child. God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. Colossians 1:20 (NLT) When it comes to pursuing conflict as a way of life few people have ever topped the Sawi people of New Guinea. In 1962, the Sawi still lived in relative isolation. They were real life head-hunting cannibals. It was into the middle of this culture of conflict that of Don and Carol Richardson moved in 1962. This missionary couple came to share Jesus with the Sawi. When the Richardsons moved into the area the Sawi people were fascinated. In fact two rival Sawi tribes were so fascinated they moved their villages very near the missionaries' jungle home. The Richardsons struggled to finally learn enough language to share the gospel. Finally Don was invited to climb the ladder into the Sawi man-house. The skulls of cannibalized victims surrounded him. He began trying to teach in the Sawi in terms and categories familiar to him, but foreign to them. Richardson told about Abraham and Gods selection of the Jews. He explained about the Messiah and the Lamb of God. The Sawi were bored and unresponsive. Although fascinated by the foreigners, the Sawi continued to fight each other. Tribal factions battled in sight of the Richardsons jungle home.

Don became frustrated by his inability to find a point of contact. He was also discouraged by the 14 civil wars he had already counted right outside his front door now that the two tribes lived side by side. Eventually, the Richardsons decided to leave. The Sawi response to this news totally surprised them: "If you'll stay, we promise we'll make peace in the morning." The next morning the Richardsons awoke to see the most amazing ritual they had ever witnessed. The two tribes were lined up outside their houses, on either side of the clearing. Finally, one man dashed into his hut, grabbed his newborn son, and began to run across the meadow towards the other tribe. His was in absolute agony. His wife ran after him, screaming and begging him to give the baby back to her. But her husband wouldn't stop. He ran over to the other tribe and presented the boy to them. He cried out, "Plead the peace child for me. I give you my son, and I give you my name." Moments later, the scene was repeated as someone from the other tribe performed the same agonizing sacrifice with the same intensity and passion. What just happened? Richardson found out later that as long as those two children remained alive, the tribes were bound to peace. If they died, then literally all hell would break loose--cannibalism, murder, civil war. While this amazing scene unfolded before him, Don suddenly realized that this was exactly the analogy he needed to tell the story of Jesus. The next time he spoke to the Sawi elders he told them of the perfect Father and his Peace Child, Jesus. He told them God gave his Peace Child. He pled the Peace Child, Jesus Christ, given by God to make peace with all the Sawi people and tribes. Eventually, droves of Sawi became followers of Christ. Several years later the Richardsons and the Sawi experienced the most amazing Christmas day. Thousands of Sawi from every tribe in New Guinea tribes that had warred and cannibalized each other for many years gathered together for the first time. They came together for a feast to honor Jesus, Gods Peace Child, who now lived with them. A Sawi preacher stood up and read in his own language a scripture that few people in the history of the world have ever understood so clearly: 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. Isaiah 9:6 NIV I just have to believe that if you would welcome Gods Peace Child, if you would surrender to Jesus and let the Prince of Peace rule in your heart, then peace would come flooding into your life and fill your little corner of the earth. Do you really want peace? Surrender to Jesus! It will make for the best Christmas you ever experienced. Remember: Because he came we have peace.