First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (2nd Sunday in Advent, December 6, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Peace for Troubled Times!”
Isaiah 26:1-4; John 14:25-27
Today we continue our Advent journey and on this Second Sunday in Advent, we focus our attention on PEACE. This week we remember that peace is our inheritance. It’s God’s gift to His children. Today we remember that from God alone can we receive the peace we need when our days get stormy and trials and tribulations stir up the waters around us. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are empowered to utilize the gift of Christ’s peace. Today we get to remember that we will not be shaken or discouraged by what we see and hear around us, but in a collective determination we will live out the power of God’s peace within us.
I truly believe this is another timely message. Peace is what we all need in the face of this pandemic. There is a constant need for peace. Our world needs peace. Our own nation needs peace. Our families need peace. We, as individuals, need peace. Where does peace come from? Where is real and lasting peace found? As we ponder this topic this week, I pray that you will find God’s peace in these troubled times.
This morning I would like to share with you three important principles that we find in the Bible when it comes to understanding peace; three transformational and foundational principles. What does the Bible say about peace? But before I share these three principles with us this morning, it might be helpful at this point to define peace.
What is Peace?
What is peace? “Peace” is one of the most misunderstood concepts in our culture today. Most of us today would think of “peace” as an absence of war or conflict. We think of peace as a smooth sailing where everything seems to be just fine. Yet, the concept of “shalom” in the Old Testament is more comprehensive. “Shalom” means more than just an absence of war or conflict. It refers to a sense of wholeness, completeness, fulness, and harmony. It also carries with it the implication of permanence.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for peace is “Eirene”, and it literally means “to join or bind together that which has been separated.” That’s what faith is all about. When we trust Jesus as our personal Savior, He binds us to Himself for all eternity. This unity with Christ gives us harmony, inner rest, and a state of reconciliation with God. According to the new Testament, peace, therefore, originates in our relationship with God. Our entering into a relationship with God marks the beginning of our ability to experience God’s true, heart-changing, and supernatural peace.
Peace is not the absence of trouble. Rather, it is the assurance that God is right there with you in the midst of your troubles. In other words, don’t wait for all of your problems to be solved and then decide to quit worrying and to have peace. It is actually the opposite. Decide to trust God in spite of the hardships and troubles around you. In Isaiah 26:3-4, the Prophet reminds us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Three important principles as we look at this topic today:
First: Jesus is the Exclusive Source of Peace
Christ is the exclusive source of peace. In our Scripture passage from John 14:27, Jesus boldly said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Jesus is the only source of true peace. Seven hundred years before Christ was born, the Prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 states, “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.” On the night of His birth in Bethlehem, the angels filled the night sky with the chorus “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” Luke 2:14. Friends, when Christ was born, peace was born because heaven reached out to earth and God reconciled humanity to Himself.
Second: The Lasting Nature of Christ’s Peace
Christ’s peace is radically different than the world’s peace. In John 14:27 Jesus goes on to contrast between His peace and the world’s peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” When you contrast something, you’re trying to point out how much better one is than the other. And Jesus says, “I don’t give to you as the world gives.” Jesus is contrasting His peace against the peace that the world gives. The peace that Christ gives is genuine and everlasting, but the world offers a false peace; one that is fleeting at best.
Third: God’s Peace Transcends our Circumstances
God’s peace always transcends our circumstances. Writing from his prison cell, the apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Philippi saying, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7. Yes, we can have God’s peace while in the middle of a storm. We can have peace in the good and bad times alike. Nothing should rob us of our peace. In spite of our circumstances, God can keep us in perfect peace.
The world will be just as troubled, and conflict will continue to abound. But we can be at peace not because this world is in good shape, but because the ONE who holds us in His hand is greater than all of the problems facing us and the brokenness we feel. We can trust Him to safely bring us through the swamps and jungles of life, and into His eternal presence.
“Give me some peace.” That’s the cry of humanity today. Psalms 29:11 reminds us, “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” A trip to Hawaii may bring you some momentary peace. A Yoga class may bring you some relaxation and stress relief. But believe me permanent, lasting, perfect, and transcendent peace is only found in Christ. He is our peace,” says Paul in Ephesians 2:14. “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.” Amen.
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