First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (2nd Sunday in Advent, December 8, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Psalm 46; John 16:25-31
Today is the Second Sunday in Advent. Peace ~ God’s Shalom “the peace of God” ~ is celebrated as the theme of this Second Sunday of Advent. Is peace possible? Is it attainable? Before we dig deeper into this topic this morning, let me make one important remark. God never promised that we, as believers, will be exempt from the challenges and problems of life and that everything will always go smoothly. Hardships and difficulties are faced by every single human being. However, God did promise that those who have placed their trust in Jesus can have peace in the midst of those hardships and difficulties. Psalms 29:11 states, “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”
What is Peace?
But what is peace? I believe “peace” is a misunderstood concept in our culture today. As you may know, the Old Testament word translated “Peace” is “Shalom.” Shalom means completeness, wholeness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. It is the well-being of the total person. The Greek New Testament word for peace is “Eirene”, and it means “to bind together.” When you trust Jesus as your personal Savior, He binds you to Himself for all eternity. It is the faith that as you go through the valley of weeping, you’re not alone because God is with you.
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. Listen to what David says in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 91 echoes the same truth. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” … He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” Psalm 91:1-2, 4.
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 no matter what is happening around you. Find that place of peace and make up your mind that you’re going to have peace right in the midst of the storm. Two short observations as we look at this topic today:
First: Peace Originates in our Relationship with God
We need to understand that the peace of God originates in our reconciliation with Him. Our entering into a relationship with Him marks the beginning of our ability to experience His true, heart-changing, supernatural peace. The Prophet Isaiah says these words in Isaiah 48:22, “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
As I mentioned, the Greek word for peace is “Eirene”, and it literally means “to bind together.” When we trust Jesus as our Savior, He binds us to Himself for all eternity. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” asked the Paul in Romans 8:35. “Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Paul’s answer is an affirmation of his faith and peace in all circumstances. In Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Peace originates in our relationship with God through Christ.
Second: God’s Peace Always Transcends our Circumstances
Yes, we can have God’s peace while in the middle of a storm. As you might know, in the center of any hurricane, there’s something called the “eye of the storm” where it is very calm and peaceful. All around there is chaos, winds blowing 100 plus miles an hour, debris flying left and right, danger everywhere; but as long as you’re in the eye of the storm, it is as calm and peaceful as can be.
I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “Still waters run deep.” It’s a proverb of Latin origin and it has a great meaning. In the ocean, on the surface the water is always changing, depending on the wind, the tide, what time of year, even what time of day. It can be very smooth and calm. Later in the day it can be rough and choppy. When the wind is strong and the tide is just right there can be ten-foot waves where a few days earlier it was just small whitecaps.
What’s interesting is if you go down about 30 feet deep, the water never changes. It’s as calm and still as can be. On the surface, water may change a dozen times a day, but 30 feet down, it never changes; always calm. That’s the way we need to be. In life, on the surface, there will be waves, wind, and tough times. That's just life. Circumstances will create waves up on the surface. But deep down in your spirit, you will experience a peace and calmness that surpasses all understanding. Isaiah 30:15 says, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
As long as you’re alive there will be something to deal with. But when you learn to go down to the deep waters, you have this calmness, this rest. This is what the apostle Paul did. All kinds of things came against him. He was shipwrecked, went days without food or water. He was beaten with rods, falsely accused, put into prison. Yet he said, “None of these things move me”. Paul wasn't living on the surface. He was stable, consistent, living in the deep waters.
Friends, we don’t really know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future. God has you in the palm of His hand. Nothing can snatch you away, neither the storms of this life nor anyone. My challenge for us today: don’t let the storm get in you. Hold your peace. Remain at rest. Psalm 46 says “Though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging, we will not fear.” “Be still and know that I am God,” says Psalm 46:10. Friends, living in peace is intentional. It’s a choice because peace has a name. His name is Jesus, the Prince of Peace. In Ephesians 2:14, Paul says “He Himself is our peace.” Amen!