The Gift of Peace

Got peace? This December, you won’t find peace stacked on store shelves waiting to be purchased. You will not find peace tucked away among your home’s decorations nor sitting around your family’s holiday table. But, peace is available to you. True, lasting peace. This post seemed to resonate with readers last year, so I am re-posting it for those who may have not read it. I wish you a Merry Christmas . . . with Peace.

Women Walking Wisely

christmas-presents1_thumbFifteen years ago this week we lost our first child.  Twelve weeks of morning sickness and multiple tests and ultrasounds told us that someone was there.  Struggling, but there.  Finally, in the doctor’s office on Christmas Eve,  there was a steady heartbeat.  In the same office the morning after New Year’s Day, there was none.

I haven’t thought of our unborn child for some time, but I was reminded today—twice.

This morning in church, along with Christmas carols, we sang a song about restoration—how God turns our mourning into dancing.  As I sang, I thought of how God made those lyrics a reality in my own life this very week a decade and a half ago.  In January 1997 I was struck with unexpected sadness, but I was also strengthened with unexpected grace.  In the midst of our loss, God gave a gift of indescribable peace—a sober joy—to walk…

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The Person of Peace

peace (1)I have been surprised by the large number of hits on my latest post, “The Gift of Peace.”  It must have struck a chord with many people, maybe because we have been conditioned to expect—often in vain—an abundance of happy memories, hopes, and dreams to accompany the season.  But, peace is not found in memories of the past nor hopes for the future, but in a Person.  In the Prince of Peace.  In Christ alone.  In Immanuel.  In God with us.  In light of this, I want to share with you the following paragraph I read yesterday in my favorite book about the incarnation—God’s Gift of Christmas—in which John MacArthur reflects upon the Prince of Peace of Isaiah 9:6-7:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders, and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

“In Messiah’s kingdom there are no conflicts because He is the Prince of Peace.  He offers peace from God (Romans 1:7) to all who receive His grace.  He makes peace with God (Romans 5:1) for those who surrender to Him in faith.  And He brings the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) to those who walk with Him.  As we hear so often at Christmas, the beginning of His earthly life was heralded by angels who pronounced peace on earth (Luke 2:14).  There never really has been peace on earth in the sense we think of it.  Wars and rumors of wars have characterized the entire two millennia since that first Christmas, as well as all the time before it.  The announcement of peace on earth was a two-pronged proclamation.  First, it declared the arrival of the only One who ultimately can bring lasting peace on earth (which He will do when He returns to bring about the final establishment of His earthly kingdom).  But more importantly, it was a proclamation that God’s peace is available to men and women.  Read the words of Luke 2:14 carefully and note this emphasis: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with WHOM HE IS PLEASED.”  God is pleased with the people who yield their lives to Him.  “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11 NKJV).  When the angels proclaimed peace on earth, they were speaking primarily of a very personal, individual application of God’s peace that grows out of a firsthand knowledge of the Prince of Peace. . . . The prophetic message of Christmas is the good news of God’s answer to all the confusion, chaos, complexities, and conflicts of life.  It is the gift of the newborn infant who is also the Father of all eternity.  He is an innocent child, yet He is a wise Counselor and mighty King.  He is God with us.  Immanuel.”  (MacArthur, God’s Gift of Christmas, pp. 29-31)

Have you found peace in this Person?

The Gift of Peace

christmas-presents1_thumbFifteen years ago this week we lost our first child.  Twelve weeks of morning sickness and multiple tests and ultrasounds told us that someone was there.  Struggling, but there.  Finally, in the doctor’s office on Christmas Eve,  there was a steady heartbeat.  In the same office the morning after New Year’s Day, there was none.

I haven’t thought of our unborn child for some time, but I was reminded today—twice.

This morning in church, along with Christmas carols, we sang a song about restoration—how God turns our mourning into dancing.  As I sang, I thought of how God made those lyrics a reality in my own life this very week a decade and a half ago.  In January 1997 I was struck with unexpected sadness, but I was also strengthened with unexpected grace.  In the midst of our loss, God gave a gift of indescribable peace—a sober joy—to walk that sorrowful road.

This evening I was visiting with a neighbor on her front porch.  The porch light must have caused the gold band I wear on my right fifth finger to sparkle for just a moment.  In the middle of our conversation, it caught her attention, and she complimented the ring.  Nobody ever does that.  The ring is small, simple, and insignificant in design.  I walked through the open door the Lord presented . . .

“Thanks,” I said.  “Would you like me to tell you about this ring?”

“A year before our oldest was born, we lost a baby.  Actually, it happened during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. . . . This ring represents that baby.  It is a reminder to me, my husband, and my children that someone else was here.  It was so hard, but through it all, I had a very special sense of God’s grace.  I knew God loved me, and I knew God loved that child.  And, I also knew that God had a good plan and purpose in all that happened.  The Lord gave me great peace.

Near the end of my explanation, I realized that I was smiling as I spoke.   An authentic, unpretentious smile of healing—of peace.

Such peace is not a result of memories faded by time or positive thinking.  Such peace is only possible through a personal relationship with Jesus—the Savior and the God of all comfort.  The genuine spiritual peace I experienced in the midst of this loss was only possible because of the peace I first had with God through Christ:

“Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)

1.  “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The perfect, sinless Jesus made payment for my sin by bearing the wrath of God on the cross in my place.  He arose from the dead proving His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father and displaying His victory over sin and death.

2.  “The grace in which we stand.”  Because of Christ, I am secure as a beloved child of God who continually receives His grace and bountiful gifts in my life.

3.  “We exult in hope of the glory of God.”  Because of Christ, it is an assured expectation that I will experience and enjoy the glory of God forever.

And so, today I am reminded of the Prince of Peace who came to bring His Peace to earth—and to me.  Through faith in Him I am at peace with my Heavenly Father, I experience His grace and help on a daily basis, and I have an eternal hope and perspective amid the sorrows of life.   Apart from Christ, there is no salvation, strength, joy, or ultimate purpose for this life nor the life to come.  But in Him, I receive these gifts—these gifts of peace.  (To learn more about finding peace this Christmas, click HERE.)