“And on earth Peace, Goodwill to men…”Luke 2:14 (NKJV)
A week ago today, the small, relatively unknown town of Mayfield, KY made news headlines as far as Europe after a violent tornado passed through leaving destruction in its wake.
Surely, just like the rest of the world, the town’s residents had been busy making their Christmas plans, checking off their holiday to-do list , buying and wrapping their specially picked gifts for friends and family, and decorating their homes just right.
Certainly they were looking forward to the familiar peace and warmth that this season can bring.
But in a moment, familiarity was wiped away—and, for many, in place of peace was fear, confusion, shock and sadness.
Suddenly, instead of sleeping in their own beds, they were dwelling in a shelter, wondering what had become of their homes.
And sadly, many passed the night digging through the rubble of a collapsed candle factory in hopes of finding their loved ones alive.
Jonathan and his parents used to live in Mayfield, and we have friends and family-in-Christ there so last Saturday morning we were anxious to hear news from someone.
Some of the people we know had gotten trapped in a basement and a couple of people had extensive damage to their homes. But praise God that He preserved the lives of all of them, as well as the Hispanic church there (which is now being used as a soup kitchen and a warehouse for all the donations that are flooding in.)
We had the blessing of being able to go for a day, take some donations that had been given and in a small way serve the people of Mayfield.
It got me to thinking, when was the last time I was hoping to get for Christmas a bottle of water or a blanket to keep me warm?
What if all the beautifully decorated presents, the delicious holiday dinner (complete with all the fixings), our festively adorned home, and even our loved ones, were all blown away in the blink of eye—what would be left?
What would remain of our Christmas celebration?
We’re all familiar with the words of the heavenly host to the shepherds that night “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14, NKJV)
Where would that promised “peace on earth” be found, when everything around us seems destroyed and in chaos?
The truth is that the storms of life will arrive unexpectedly in each one of our lives–and usually without any warning.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 (NKJV)
This world and everything in it is so quickly and easily shaken; only if we have our eyes and hope fixed on a kingdom that can never be moved, whose ruler is the Prince of Peace can we experience calm in the midst of the storm.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end..." Isaiah 9:6-7a (NKJV, empahsis added)
It’s not that Jesus came to give peace–He IS Peace. The Angels were declaring that Peace had come to earth that night when the King of kings humbled Himself, took on flesh and was born in an animal stable.
But we can’t stop at the manger, because if we do, we’re missing the point of His birth. Christ’s purpose wasn’t simply to be born. It was to live the perfect life that we so strive to attain, but always fall short (Rom. 3:23). It was to complete the requirements of the law–that are unattainable for us. It was to be our substitute and take the punishment that we so deserve for the sins we have committed. It was to open the way to be reconciled with God, instead of being His enemies. It was to be raised from the grave after 3 days proving the power of God and that He is God. It was to destroy the power of death and hell and open the path of peace with God, through faith in Him.
Before we can experience peace from the Lord, we must first have peace with Him. That is what Christ accomplished through His birth, death and resurrection—that is why His last words on the cross were “It is finished.” That if we repent from our sins, believe on Him and confess Him as Lord, we will have eternal peace with the Ruler of the Universe.
Therefore, having been justified [made right] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV, emphasis added)
Back in December 2017, I published an article called How Focusing on Christ can Help a Hurting Heart during the Holidays.
It talks about 4 ways we can refocus our hearts during this time:
- Remembering Who Christ Is.
- Remembering Why Christ Came.
- Remembering that One Glorious Day, God will make all things New and All Pain & Suffering will be Wiped Away.
- Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus by Serving Those in Need.
Although we are living in perilous times, the Prince of Peace is returning very soon to establish His kingdom. And then one day God will make all things…
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…and I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’Revelation 21:1, 3-5 (NKJV)
The peace of God wasn’t just on that night more than 2000 years ago. Like I mentioned before, He is peace and since He is eternal–so is the peace that is found in Him.
When we turn from our sins and turn to Him, His peace affects:
- Our Past (cleanses us from our sin and changes us from His enemies to His children and we have peace with Him),
- Our Present (because He has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell with us and comfort us & we can present our requests to Him and experience the peace from Him that surpasses all understanding [Philippians 4:6-7])
- Our Future (We will dwell with the Prince of Peace in a place free of pain, death and sin.)
This is why there can be peace after (and even in the midst of the storm) and that is why Jesus says,
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, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27
Lord, I pray for those who have suffered from the tornado last week. I pray that You remind them Who you are and that there can truly be peace after the storm—even in the midst of their sadness. Remind them that you understand their pain, and that they can find rest, forgiveness and reconciliation in You. And that You are waiting with Your arms opened wide for them to come to You. Thank you that because of what Christ did, we can have hope and a reason to celebrate knowing that although things might be dark now, the joyous morning is coming when You will make all things new! In Jesus’ wonderful Name I Pray, Amen.