Finding Peace On Earth

Part of the Christmas story are angels appearing to shepherds proclaiming, “Peace on earth”! Where is that peace in the midst of warfare, famine and community violence? The answer is found in a letter Paul wrote to a local church.

Part of the Christmas story is the angels appearing to shepherds in the field. As they announce the birth of creation’s Messiah, they proclaim (Luke 2:14):

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

This connection of peace with Christmas has been inseparable ever since. And rightly so. However, there are some misunderstandings. The foremost being there can be no peace on earth or good will toward men until glory is given to the highest God.

The Advent Season building up to Christmas reminds us that there must be a Second Coming of Jesus to earth. It is at his return that heaven’s government will be brought down to earth. Until that time, wars and rumours of wars will persist. Christmas is the first Advent. There can be no second Advent without a first. Therefore, Christmas is rightly the time to celebrate the coming peace to earth.

Still, peace has come down to earth with the first Coming of our Lord. Because of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, peace can be found within the heart of every believer. The same Gospel writer who gave us the angelic proclamation to the shepherds also recorded these words:

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:20-22

When demanded for the time heaven’s government will descend to earth, Jesus responded God’s kingdom is already here – it is inside of your heart; it is within you.

The key to finding peace on earth is stop looking for it from others.

The government will not be able to supply lasting peace. No project or program, no matter how much it is funded, will be bring lasting peace. No promotion or career will bring you lasting peace. No education achievement will bring you lasting peace. No person will bring you lasting peace outside of Jesus Christ himself.

Stop looking outside of yourself for the answers. The answer lies within yourself. Jesus, in your heart, is the source of all eternal peace.

How does one find that peace while living on earth? How can one enjoy the contentment of peace in the midst of despair and negative news? How can one remain at peace during heart-breaking relationships? In Paul’s letter to the Colossian church, he gives three answers to our question in 3:12-17.

  1. You find peace on earth when you forgive one another as Christ forgave us.
  2. You find peace on earth when you withhold speaking evil of others and God.
  3. You find peace on earth when you determine to be thankful in all things.

PRACTICAL CHALLENGE – NEW YEAR RESOLUTION

The Psalms is a particularly helpful resource for cultivating the inner attitude for peace on earth. Why not resolve that in 2019, you will read 1 chapter from each of the book’s 150? You can take 22 days to read chapter 119 if you like. Meditate daily on each psalm and discover peace on earth before the end of June 2019!

Full Sermon Audio available under Videos.

Mission Enabler

On 6 May 2018, I was commissioned as ‘Mission Enabler’ for St Aidan’s Presbyterian Conifer Grove/Takanini Church in South Auckland, New Zealand.

By God’s grace, I am blessed by a full return to ministry.

It is a story of redemption, restoration and forgiveness. God is a God of second chances.

Last January, I began a full-time role as a chaplain in an aged-care facility (hospital). It enables me to assist a struggling church who can only fund part-time leadership.

It is an incredibly blessed time in my life. I am very happy and very, very thankful.

Thank YOU for encouraging me along the way. It has been an incredible journey!

St Aidan's Commissioning

 

 

Verbal Abuse

How do you cope with that person who constantly berates you with foul language?

This is the first of a series. The series is based on three 20 minute sessions. The purpose and nature of the sessions are confidential. However, the principles for coping are universal truths.

Before we even begin, please recognize three things:

  1. YOUR well-being is important;
  2. YOUR feelings have value; and
  3. YOUR action plan will empower liberation from victimhood.

Dealing with verbal abuse is not easy. Let’s back up and get an overview of the situation. We can do this by distinguishing the difference between knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

  • What is an intellectual explanation for the person’s abusive behavior?
  • How does that explanation apply to YOUR situation?
  • What do you believe is an appropriate response to this behavior?

The first question gives you knowledge. The second opens up your understanding. The third is where wisdom is discovered. The first is a tool. The second is how you use it. The third is why you use the tool.

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The remainder of this post will focus on the knowledge aspect of verbal abuse.

There is an old story in the bible about a king who wanted to curse Israel. His name was Balak. Balak hired a prophet from the East named Balaam. In the story, we learn why people curse.

1. Verbal abuse is a tactic employed by the weaker party.

  • Do you see yourself as the weaker or stronger party in this situation?
  • In what ways?
  • Recognize you are in a position of strength.

2. Cursing is an attempt to overcome the stronger party.

  • How can you utilize your strength to respond instead of reacting?
  • What is the difference? Think of examples of how you can respond instead of react in your situation.

3. Cursing is designed to drive away the stronger party.

  • We are taught to respond with a blessing. What does that look like?
  • Find something good in that person and then minister to that goodness for the sake of that goodness. What is good about this person?
  • Love the person, not the actions.

Thanksgiving with Forgiveness

The following prayer was revised from Hannah Hurnard, “Simply Faith”.

Thank you for teaching me to welcome everyone and to think lovingly about them. Thank you for helping me to forgive those who hurt me, or seem to neglect me. Thank you for forgiving them not just for the things they say and do, but also for being the sort of people they are. Amen.