The God Who Heals
(2 Chron. 7:13-16; Acts 9:1-9, 17-18; Mark 5:25-34;
Mark 2:1-12; Matt. 6:25-34)
“The movie Simon Birch follows a boy with stunted growth who has a clear sense that God has an important plan for his life. Little Simon is often met with obstacles and opposition, but he plods on through life until he really does become a hero.
Simon and his friend Joe do everything together, even though they are an odd pair. The unlikely Simon is always talking about the great plans God has for his life, but Joe is always doubtful. Joe has been deeply wounded by growing up without a father, and simply cannot move from cynicism to true faith.
Early in the movie, Simon and Joe are heading home from the swimming hole. As Simon and Joe wander through a field of wildflowers, they turn to discussing destiny and the role of faith.
Simon: But things will be different…once God makes me a hero.
Joe: You know, you shouldn't talk about this hero stuff, Simon.
Simon: Why not?
Joe: Because it's weird. The other kids tease you enough as it is.
Simon: I don't care. It's the truth.
Joe: But you don't have any proof.
Simon: I don't need proof, I have faith. Your problem is that you have no faith.
Joe: I got faith. I just want proof to back it up.
In the end, Simon does become a great hero, even though it leads to his death. Many years later, as Joe reflects on Simon's life, he can't help but finally move to a place of faith as well.
Elapsed time: DVD scene 6, 00:17:13–00:17:43. Rated PG
Simon Birch (Buena Vista 1998), written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California.
Our natural desire is to have proof of God’s existence or to have Him speak to us before we’ll take a step of faith
Often times, but not always, God is waiting for us to take the step of faith toward Him, before He does the miraculous or speaks to us
In the midst of difficulties, it can be hard to have faith in God’s ability to heal spiritually, physically, and financially
As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to take the necessary steps of faith, toward God, even when we have spiritual doubts, physical illness, and financial struggles. Our natural desire will be to demand signs from God before we move in faith. Now more than every we need to remember that . . .
BIG IDEA – God has the power to heal every area of our lives.
Today’s message is going to be done in a way that is different than usual. We are going to look at healing in three areas: spiritual, physical, and financial. As we complete each area, we are going to spend time praying through the Scriptures we’ve looked at and then responding in worship.
Spiritual Healing (Acts 9:1-19; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)
There are certainly many passages of Scripture we could use to talk about spiritual healing
I’ve only chosen two passages
One will focus on spiritual healing for those who have never believed in Jesus
The second passage focuses on believers who have turned away from the Lord
Unsaved (Acts 9:1-19)
Read Acts 9:1-19
We are all familiar with this story of Saul’s conversion (we know Saul by his Greek name, Paul)
He was zealous for God and the Jewish way of religion, but Jesus’ arrival on earth had transformed religion to a relationship with Jesus
Change came hard for the religious leaders (chief priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees)
They continued to try to stop the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and Saul was the ring leader
But everything changed on the road to Damascus
Saul had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus
Jesus arrested him and stopped him in his tracks
We see the glory of God surrounding Saul, and Jesus questioning him
God’s glory temporarily blinded Saul – that’s how magnificent His glory is
PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s glory is beyond compare (magnificent)!
Ananias used by God
God used a follower of Jesus Christ to restore Saul’s sight
God used Ananias to bring physically healing to Saul’s eyes
God has the power to heal every area of our lives
This is an important principle for us to understand
PRINCIPLE #2 – God uses His people to help others come to Jesus.
We learn from this interaction that Saul was God’s chosen instrument to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles and their kings
Saul was transformed
We see Saul praying, basically for three days’ straight
I’m guessing that his prayers were different now
After having his sight restored, Saul gets baptized
This was an outward expression of an inward decision
He was showing those, who were traveling with him and the believers in Damascus, that he had changed
He was now going to experience being on the other side of persecution
Salvation – the Good News
With Saul, we see a complete 180 degree turn from trying to kill followers of Jesus Christ to sharing with everyone about Jesus Christ
That is what repentance is – a 180 degree turn away from sin and running to Jesus
We’ve all sinned – lying, stealing, blasphemer, adulterer and murderer in our hearts (Romans 3:23)
Punishment for sin is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23)
God is loving and just
Loving (Romans 5:8)
Just – He has to punish sin
Ecclesiastes 3:17, I thought in my heart, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” (NIV)
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice
His death, burial, and resurrection opened the way for us to be in a right relationship with God
Read Hebrews 10:13-24
Being spiritually healed
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I encourage you to take that step of faith today into spiritual healing
Prayer for salvation (encourage anyone who has never believed to pray after me)
We looked at being spiritually healed for the first time, but we also need to look at being spiritually healed as believers (it’s different concept)
Saved (2 Chronicles 7:13-16)
Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-16
The Lord spoke to Solomon after he had completed the temple and the royal palace
God was basically telling Solomon that the Israelites would turn away from worshiping Him
God gave Solomon a picture of what the discipline of His children would look like
There would be droughts (no rain)
Locusts (bugs) would eat up their produce and grain
Plague among His people
God also shared what steps the Israelites would need to take to stop His discipline of them
Identifies those He is talking to (God’s people, called by His name)
What they would need to do
Humble themselves (put away pride and selfishness)
Pray – talking to God
Seek my face – turning to God instead of anything else
Turn from their wicked ways (repentance)
He will see and hear from heaven
He will forgive their sins
1 John 1:9
We see here the spiritual healing that takes place
He will heal their land
This passage really addresses all three areas of healing
When God says He will heal their land, we have to go back to see what His discipline entailed – the drought and locusts would have devastated their economy/finances – and God promises to bring healing to their finances
The plague would have affected their physical health and God promises to bring physical healing
God has the power to heal every area of our lives
The physical and financial healing will be developed more in the next two points
For now, we need to focus on the spiritual healing aspect
Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that Your glory is reflected in/through . . .” (Acts 9:3)
Prayer Prompter: “Almighty God, thank You that You have the power to . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:13)
Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, I confess that I have persecuted You when . . .” (Acts 9:4)
Prayer Prompter: “Righteous Father, I confess that I have not ________ (humbled, prayed, sought Your face, or turn from my wicked ways), please forgive me.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Prayer Prompter: “Gracious God, please help me to hear Your voice and obey Your leading with . . .” (Acts 9:17)
Prayer Prompter: “Loving Lord, I am committing today to __________ (seek humility, pray, seek Your face, repent of my wickedness) so that I can experience Your promise(s) of healing ___________ (spiritually, physically, financially).” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, help me to obediently take the next step of faith by . . .” (Acts 9:18)
Prayer Prompter: “Faithful Father, thank You that Your eyes are open and Your ears are attentive when I cry out to You about . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:15)
SONG: Jesus Messiah
Physical Healing (Mark 5:25-34; Mark 2:1-12)
I believe that as we take the step of faith into spiritual healing that God promises to sustain and provide for us physically and financially
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching a prosperity gospel
Jesus never promised us that following Him would be easy, spiritually, physically, or financially – you won’t find that in Scripture
But, we know that the all-powerful, Creator of the universe is now our Heavenly Father and He watches over His children and promises to sustain us and provide for us through difficult times
“In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don't see God moving is simply because we aren't moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!
I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won't be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.”
Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah, 2008), pp. 32-33
PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people step out in faith.
Individual Faith (Mark 5:25-34)
Read Mark 5:25-34
The woman’s ailment
We know that this woman had been dealing with a bleeding issue for 12 years
She had probably sought out the best physicians of the day
None of them were able to help, but she kept getting worse
She was out of options and money
The woman’s faith
Notice that the woman isn’t seeking recognition, but simply expresses her faith in thought
She knows who Jesus is and His reputation of having healing power
She believes that simply touching His cloak will release His healing power to her
She is correct!
Immediately her bleeding stopped and she knew it physically
I really appreciate her incredible faith in Jesus’ healing power
God has the power to heal every area of our lives
Jesus realized that healing power had left His body and so He asked who touched His clothes
The disciples didn’t understand, because many people probably touched His clothes since they were crowding around Him
When the woman fearfully identifies herself, Jesus affirms her faith, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
I like that this potentially shy and reserved woman could quietly express her faith by simply touching Jesus’ cloak
Mark also records another physical healing that Jesus performed, but the entrance was much more dramatic
Corporate Faith (Mark 2:1-12)
Read Mark 2:1-12
People heard that Jesus had returned home and they wanted to be around Him
He was preaching to a packed house, so much so, that this group of friends couldn’t get their paralyzed friend to Jesus
So, they went up on the roof, dug a hole in the roof, and lowered their paralyzed friend right in front of Jesus
Jesus recognized the faith of the group of friends and the paralytic, so He told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven (spiritual healing!)
That didn’t sit well with some teachers of the law, but that didn’t matter to Jesus
He then tells the paralytic to get up, take his mat, and go home, which he does
Jesus told the man to get up, take his mat, and go home, so that the people would understand that He was God and had the authority on earth to forgive sins
God has the power to heal every area of our lives
Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, thank You for revealing Your omnipotence (all-powerful) in my life by/through . . .”
Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, please forgive me for doubting Your ability to know everything, especially when it comes to ________ in my life.” [Mark 5:31]
Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I am currently skeptical about Your power to forgive the sins of __________ (name the person specifically).” [Mark 2:10]
Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, help me to have faith in Your healing power as I struggle with . . .”
Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that You promise to give me peace as I step out in faith concerning . . .” [Mark 5:34]
Financial Healing (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 6:38; Malachi 3:6-12; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)
Financial struggles, especially with COVID-1 (Coronavirus pandemic)
I think we would all be kidding ourselves if we said that we weren’t concerned about our financial future with state and federal “stay-at-home” orders.
God’s part (Matthew 6:25-32)
Read Matthew 6:25-32
God’s provision of food
He takes care of the food needs for birds, who don’t sow, reap, or store food away in barns
He says that we are more valuable than birds, which means that He will provide for us
We may not know how it will happen, but it will
Upper Adams Food Pantry, Gettysburg Soup Kitchen, New Hope Mobile Food Pantry
Generosity of family, neighbors, or friends from church
God’s provision of clothing
God provides beautiful dressings for the fields through flowers
The dressing of the fields is temporary and He says that He will clothe us even more
As God’s children He says that we are valuable to Him and He will provide for us
Discipline of His children (2 Chron. 7:13; Malachi 3:6-9)
As His children, He will also discipline us, just like a parent with their child(ren)
As we already saw in 2 Chronicles 7:13, He will bring about droughts, and devouring bugs, and plagues as a way to get the attention of His children, so they will turn back to Him
Read Malachi 3:6-9
In Malachi 3:6-9 we see that we are under a curse for turning away from the Lord and robbing Him by not giving our tithes and offerings
God’s part is to provide and discipline, but we have a part to play also
Our part (Matthew 6:33a; Malachi 3:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14a)
Seek God’s kingdom first
Seek God’s righteousness first
What has first place in your life above God’s kingdom and righteousness?
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse
For the Israelites this was the first fruits of all their labors (field and flock/grain and animal)
To what or whom are you giving your first fruits instead of giving it to God?
2 Chronicles 7:14a
Seek God’s face
Turn from our wicked ways
When we obediently do our part, God promises us certain things
God’s promises (Matthew 6:33b; Malachi 3:11-12; 2 Chronicles 7:14b)
All these things will be given to you as well
God promises to provide our every need (food & clothing)
God will prevent pests from devouring their crops (livelihood)
God will make sure that nothing is wasted
Other nations will call them blessed
2 Chronicles 7:14b
God will hear and see from heaven
God will forgive our sins
God will heal our land
God has the power to heal every area of our lives
Prayer Prompter: “Lord, since You never change, I worship You because/for . . .” [Malachi 3:6]
Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You that you value me more than . . .” [Matthew 6:26, 30]
Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I seek ________ first instead of Your kingdom and righteousness.” [Matthew 6:33]
Prayer Prompter: “Lord, please forgive me for using my first fruits on _________ instead of giving them to You as a tithe and offering.” [Malachi 3:8-9]
Prayer Prompter: “God, will You please help my faith to grow through _________ (difficult situation), so I will trust You more.” [Matthew 6:30]
Prayer Prompter: “Lord, help me to take the step of faith to test You concerning robbing You of ________ (time, talents, or resources),” [Malachi 3:10]
Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You for blessing me and providing for me through . . .”
SONG: God Will Take Care Of You
My Next Step Today Is To:
Believe in Jesus and receive God’s gift of eternal life (spiritual healing)
Step out in faith and trust God to heal me physically (physical healing)
Trust God to provide for my every need, even during difficult times (financial healing)
“Every other Tuesday, Maria Lopez would come to clean my house.
Maria always arrived like a bubble of energy determined to restore order to my universe, scrubbing as though it were an act of worship.
As we became acquainted, I learned that Maria was a pastor's daughter from Peru who had no family in the United States. I had only been a Christian a few years and appreciated Maria's enthusiastic faith. She prayed out loud while she cleaned, and sang praise songs in Spanish while she scrubbed. She praised Jesus everywhere she went.
One Tuesday, Maria didn't show up for work. I anticipated seeing her cheery face the following day. But no one came.
When she didn't arrive the next day, I called. No one answered the phone.
This is so unlike her, I thought. She's so reliable. There must be a good reason.
On the third day, a nurse called to say Maria was at the hospital. Alarmed, I cut some flowers and drove to Northridge Hospital to find out what was wrong. I found Maria sitting up in bed, rocking back and forth with her head encased in a heavy iron cage resting on her shoulders. Her eyes were closed, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Touching her arm gently, I held out the flowers. She clutched them to her chest.
"What's that around your head, Maria?"
"Oooh, Meessus," she moaned, touching the iron contraption, "it is the torture of Satan."
Puzzled, I turned to the nurse. She explained, "It's called a halo. It's screwed and bolted directly into the skull in four different places. It isn't pleasant."
"How long must you wear it?" I asked Maria.
"Five months, my doctor say, maybe. But Meessus, you tell him, Maria, she no live five months with thees in her head. She die. You tell him, yes?"
"I'll talk to him, Maria. Anything else I can do for you?"
"Yes, Meessus. My Bible." She pointed to the bedside table. "Please, you read to me."
I started reading John 14. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."
Out in the corridor, I found Maria's doctor. "Why is she wearing that hideous device?" I asked him.
"Because, to put it simply, if she didn't," he said, "her head would fall off. Maria has cancer. Her neck bones have degenerated to the point where they can no longer support her head."
"Can they be repaired? Or regenerated?" He shook his head gravely.
"It means we can't ever take it off. Maria will have to get used to living with it."
Every week when I visited, Maria asked me to pray with her and read from the Bible. She always requested the same chapter from the New Testament: John 14. Weeks turned into months. The heavy metal halo was crippling.
During one visit, months after being admitted to the hospital, Maria clutched my hands and whispered, "God tells Maria it won't be long. Soon, he say, we take this off."
Before I left the hospital, I stopped at the nurses' desk to ask how much longer Maria would be there. A nurse said they were preparing papers to release [her]. Maria doesn't have insurance or enough money to stay in the hospital. That's why they're releasing her.
Maria panicked when the doctor told her she must leave. "No! You take new x-ray." Touching the halo she cried, "You take this torture from me! I no leave with this!"
"There is really no point," he insisted. "Nothing has changed."
When I returned to the hospital two days later to pick up Maria, I was surprised to find her sitting in a chair, beaming ear to ear. "I no leave today," she said.
"Why not, Maria? Have you had your x-ray?"
"Yes. But I stay until they take this off." She rolled her eyes toward the halo.
Hasn't anyone told Maria what will happen when they take the halo off? It was my turn to panic. I can't tell her. Her despair will be overwhelming.
I cornered the doctor. "She won't leave until you take the halo off. What do we do?"
"We'll take it off," he replied.
"You said her head will roll off without it!"
Suddenly, Maria's doctor began acting strangely. He looked left and right, then muttered in low tones, "It won't roll. The x-ray we took this morning indicated her neck bones have regenerated."
"You said that was impossible."
"It is impossible."
I shook my head, confused. "Were the original x-rays a mistake?"
"Not at all. They're here for anyone to see."
Before answering, the doctor sighed. "So there are things I can't explain. Her bones have regenerated, and they are strong enough to hold her head. That's all I know."
"Doctor! Is this a miracle?"
"I don't know about miracles, that's Maria's department. She tells me Jesus healed her."
Adapted from Barbara Royce Extract, "Maria and the Halo," Christian Reader (Jul/Aug 2001), p. 63.
4th Sunday of Advent
The Star: A Journey of Peace
(Mark 4:35-41; Isaiah 9:6; John 14:27)
VIDEO – Peace Bumper video
This is the final Sunday of Advent. What an amazing season it has been as we’ve journeyed together toward Christmas. We’ve learned together that the word Advent is a version of a Latin term meaning “coming.” The Israelites were waiting for the coming of the Messiah. It was a highly anticipated event. There was great expectation. Each Israelite family had hoped that their baby boy would be the Messiah. Their expectation was that the Messiah would bring peace, but it wasn’t the kind of peace they were hoping for.
We hear celebrities, politicians, some adults, and especially children talk about wanting world peace. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are waiting for the second coming of Jesus when true peace will be established. We wait with hope for the new heaven and the new earth, where the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a child will lead them (Isaiah 11:6). As we wait for Jesus’ second coming and the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, we continue on our faith journey that will include hope, love, joy, and peace.
Perhaps one of the greatest stories of peace is the story behind the song “It Is Well with My Soul.”
[Show VIDEO – It Is Well With My Soul: The Story Behind the Hymn – Horatio Spafford (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvq3pYsHidA)]
Peace is a lot like joy, it can be experienced even when there is turmoil and chaos, hardship, trouble, violence, and fear. As the hymn so beautifully captures, this journey of peace is not immune from those things. In fact, they are central to the story. On this journey, we learn that peace is not the absence of trouble but rather the presence of God.
Minimally high blood sugar and blood pressure
It wasn’t long after moving from Ohio to Missouri that I went to the doctor for a regular physical
The bloodwork caused the doctor to order a glucose tolerance test
Those are always fun, aren’t they, especially for someone who hates needles
The test revealed that I had minimally high blood sugar
I was also struggling with minimally high blood pressure numbers
The doctor asked me all the questions they normally ask to determine if there was anything I should stop doing
Do you smoke? (No)
Do you drink alcohol? (No)
Do you take drugs? (No)
The doctor then asked me a couple of other questions
Do you exercise regularly? (No)
Are you under any stress? (YES!)
We had just moved to Missouri not long before the appointment
We had bought our first home
I started a new job at the Headquarters of Child Evangelism Fellowship
Judy had had a miscarriage before we moved to Missouri and now she was expecting Levi
The doctor’s response was, “Well, there’s nothing I can tell you to stop doing, but I would encourage you to start exercising every day.”
I started riding a stationary bike in our basement
I started out slow and eventually was riding between 20-30 minutes a day
I lost a little bit of weight, I didn’t need to lose much back then
The cardio-vascular work out was good for my heart
We started eating a low sugar diet also
Peace in the middle of trouble
Exercise was a part of what I started doing, but I also started praying
Prayer is what motivated me to continue to exercise and it helped to bring me peace
I knew that everything was going to be alright, because God was with me
What pain are you facing this season?
What struggles are weighing you down?
What anxiety and stress are stirring up chaos in your spirit?
Those pressures and problems can be both external and internal
We often take the external pressures and problems and internalize them
When we internalize those pressures and problems we begin to experience health problems
It’s our body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right
Stomach ulcers are a sign that our body is producing too much acid
High blood pressure can be an indication that stress is present
Headaches and muscle aches can be an indicator that our bodies are tense
Insomnia can be a result of our brains trying to process the problems and pressures we are experiencing
Are you willing to open your heart to God’s peace even in the midst of your struggles?
Through this journey of peace, today, we can be assured that . . .
BIG IDEA – God’s presence provides peace.
This journey of peace is certainly an appropriate journey for our world today. Just as the ancient Roman world must have felt during that first Christmas, our world seems full of violence and warfare and uncertainty. And the pressures of our daily lives barrage us at an unparalleled pace. Ours is a world in desperate need of peace! But it is a world where the Prince of Peace has walked and understood. He has come, and He is present. His peace is available to us today.
Peace in the Midst (Mark 4:35-41)
The first Christmas
We sing about that first Christmas night being a silent night where everything was calm and bright
I’m not sure that’s exactly what the characters in the Christmas story were experiencing
The city of Bethlehem was hustling and bustling with an influx of those who were from the line of David
The city was filled to beyond capacity with people from all over the region
These travelers were tired, dirty, and probably testy
Everyone was trying to find a place to stay and perhaps food to eat
Mary and Joseph were perhaps anxious, nervous, and stressed as Mary went through her first delivery
It was shortly after giving birth that the shepherds began to arrive
Sometime during Jesus’ first two years of life, the Magi arrived in Jerusalem
They questioned King Herod about the whereabouts of the baby who had been born king of the Jews
Matthew tells us that King Herod was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3)
The news of Jesus’ birth did not bring peace to King Herod and since the King was disturbed, so were his subjects
King Herod ordered that all the boys, two years of age and younger, living in Bethlehem and the surrounding vicinity, were to be killed (Matthew 2:16)
Imagine the chaos King Herod’s order created in Bethlehem and the surrounding villages
The parents of two year old boys and younger were not experiencing peace
Can you relate to the chaos that those who were part of the first Christmas were experiencing?
Perhaps you’re going to be traveling or have already traveled to be here this morning and you understand the exhaustion, frustration, and testiness that the travelers in the 1st Century felt
Maybe you’re experiencing the interruptions of a quiet family time together as others come to see you
Some of you may be experiencing the birth of a child or the loss of a loved one during this Christmas season, so you understand the exhaustion and emotions involved in both of those scenarios
Our journey of peace this season is not one separated from the realities of life but a journey of peace in the midst of life with all its noise and chaos
VIDEO – “The Rain Keeps Falling Andrew Peterson Lyrics” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn8cbI9jFGc]
The lyrics contain a long and honest confession of so many struggles
Notice that interjected into and over the lyrics are the words of Jesus, “Peace. Be still.”
We can have peace in the midst of life in a fallen world with God’s presence in our lives
The words that Jesus spoke are found in Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calming the storm
Read Mark 4:35-41
The disciples were in a situation where they felt helpless
They were afraid!
Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the stern of the boat – the storm did not bother Him
After the disciples woke Him up, He immediately rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet, Be still!” (most translations have “Peace, Be still!”
Jesus asked His disciples why they were so afraid
His second question concerned their faith in Him
The disciples should have known by this point that Jesus was all-powerful
His power, from God, extended to all of creation
God’s presence was with Jesus, so Jesus’ presence provides peace
Jesus’ presence in our lives provides peace also
We don’t have to be fear when pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress stir up chaos in our spirit
We can have faith in Jesus who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and sovereign
Perhaps you need to express that faith today
My Next Step Today Is To: Trust by faith in the peace that Jesus’ presence can bring during the pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress I am currently experiencing.
I’ve found that Jesus’ peace can be found in reading God’s Word the Bible
It can also be found in praying – that’s us talking to God
God talking to us requires us to sit quietly and patiently before Him – we can experience peace in those moments as well
Some people have a specific place where they go to find peace from the chaos of their lives
Jesus brings peace right into the center of our hurt and frantic striving
He brings power to cease the noise, calm the storm, and overwhelm our hearts with His restorative sense of perfect peace
He is indeed the Prince of Peace
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Isaiah 9:6, 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.
Peace is not just a feeling or a state of being
Peace is a person
Jesus is the Prince of Peace
By sending His Son, God sent peace into the world
Paul tells the Ephesian Gentiles that before they came to faith in Christ, they were separate from Christ
Ephesians 2:12, remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
That is the condition of every person who is born – we are separated from God and Christ and we have no hope
Sin is what separates us from God and Christ
Sin is the rejection of God and His authority in our lives
We become our own boss/authority
God’s Word tells us that when we reject Him and become our own boss, that there is a consequence for that – for the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)
When we reject God and His plans and way we are really at war with Him
Perhaps you’ve experienced that in the past or are experiencing that right now
You know that God is pursuing you, because He puts people in your life who talk to you about Him
Your reaction towards them is harsh and unkind, not because you don’t like them but because you’re at war with God – you’re not at peace with God
Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty talks about his life in his book Happy, Happy, Happy
He thought he was happy, but he was busy “romping, stomping, and ripping with [his] drinking buddies”
He owned a honky-tonk bar at this point in his life
His sister decided that Phil needed to hear about Jesus, so she brought her pastor, Bill Smith, with her to the bar
This was Phil’s reaction, “‘You some kind of preacher?’ I immediately asked him. When Smith told me he was, I added, ‘You ever been drunk?’ ‘Yes, I used to drink a few beers,’ he told me. ‘Well, what’s the difference between you and me?’ I asked him. ‘You’ been drunk, and I’m getting drunk right now. There ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between you and me, Jack. You ain’t putting any Bible on me. That’s the way I was born.’” [Robertson, Happy, Happy, Happy, 79]
God made a way for us to reconciled to Him – to have peace with Him
It is through the Prince of Peace – Jesus!
Ephesians 2:14-18, For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
In this passage, Paul is talking to both Jews and Gentiles
He was explaining that through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, all people could now be reconciled to God – it wasn’t just for the Jews anymore
Jesus’ sacrifice brought peace between the Jews and the Gentiles
It also brought peace between God and humanity
Romans 5:1, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is nothing we can do on our own to deal with our sin problem
There is nothing we can do on our own to deal with our rejection of God
God in His infinite wisdom, justice, and love provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him – to have peace with Him
It is through faith in what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross
Justified can be defined as “just as if I have never sinned”
That is how God sees us when we admit we are sinners, repent of our sins, and trust in Jesus by faith
Perhaps you’re ready to be reconciled to God today – to be at peace with God
You’re ready to end the war with God
You’re ready to accept God’s authority in your life instead of rejecting it
My Next Step Today Is To: Recognize Jesus as the Prince of Peace, admit I am a sinner, repent of my sins, and have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Peace with God does not guarantee freedom from pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress
We are human and still fallible
We still make mistakes and fail to trust God in every area of our lives
In the midst of all that was happening that first Christmas, we are told that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19)
On the surface, Mary’s life did not become more peaceful
If anything, things got crazier with the announcement of her miraculous pregnancy and the birth of a new baby
But Mary was learning to trust the One who was in control
When we can surrender control – stop worrying, stop planning, stop striving – to the Prince of Peace, we can find rest in Him
The inner and outer chaos, anxiety, noise, and busyness of life may not change, but we can experience peace because we trust the One in control
Where do you need to surrender and enter the journey of peace this season?
I want to encourage you to pause and embrace the words of the Psalmist, Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)
The same things I mentioned earlier about how to find Jesus’ peace also apply to being still, and knowing that God is God (reading God’s Word, spending time in prayer, and repeating Scripture)
This can happen in the morning before your day begins, throughout your day as needed, and before going to bed
While we can experience peace through Jesus Christ, we also realize that the world around us may still be experiencing pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress
Peace for the World (John 14:27)
All we have to do is look at the news coverage to realize that our world is not at peace
Countries are at war (Our young people are concerned about what North Korea is capable of doing right now – they’re concerned that they have the ability to launch an attack on the eastern part of the United States)
Refugees are far from home
Our neighbors are hurting
There is violence in our schools
Church leadership teams are discussing strategies to provide a safe and secure environment for their parishioners to worship in
There is anger in our families
While Jesus brought peace to the earth when He came the first time, it is not a perfect or complete peace
We live in the tension between the already and not yet
We know that Jesus has won the battle over sin and death, but the manifestation of that victory is still to be revealed when Jesus comes again
In the interim, we are encouraged to draw close to God and to rely on Him for His peace
God’s presence provides peace
Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace doesn’t make sense to us as humans
It’s beyond our understanding sometimes
Have you or someone you’ve known experienced that kind of peace?
Perhaps they’ve gotten news about their health that is concerning, but instead of worrying about it they immediately began to pray and while they should be stressed, they’re at peace
When someone losses their job or is just struggling financially, yet they’re not anxious about the situation, but are trusting God, it doesn’t make sense – that’s the peace of God that transcends our understanding
Our natural inclination is to worry, fret, and complain instead of turning to God in prayer, waiting on Him, and experiencing His peace
So often we come to God asking Him to change our circumstances or those around us
Sometimes God answers our prayer by changing our circumstances or those around us
More often, He uses the difficult circumstances to change us – He wants us to be transformed and to grow in our faith
He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and sovereign
He knows what’s best for us
He will not give us more than we are able to bear, without providing a way of escape
Perhaps you’re feeling anxious, right now, about a particular circumstance in your life
Now is the time to turn to God in prayer and present your petitions to Him with thanksgiving
My Next Step Today Is To: Turn to God in prayer with thanksgiving about the circumstance I’m feeling anxious about.
Jesus gave His disciples a promise that is still relevant for us today
He promised them the gift of peace
John 14:27, 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.
We can claim that promise for ourselves
We don’t have to be afraid, because we serve a God who is in control of everything
Whatever is causing you pain, struggle, anxiety, and stress now, in the end, Jesus’ peace will overcome it
His peace will sustain us through our difficulties, which may be great but are also momentary (2 Cor. 4:17)
You can trust by faith in the peace that Jesus’ presence can bring during the pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress that you’re currently experiencing
You can recognize that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, admit you are a sinner, repent of your sins, and have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ
You can turn to God in prayer with thanksgiving about the circumstances you’re feeling anxious about
God’s presence provides peace.
VIDEO – “Advent_2_-_Peace_English_Version”