Advent 2016: Peace Revealed-12/11/16

Series Title: ‘Advent Revelations’

Message: ‘Peace Revealed’                                        Text: Various

Introduction: Pastor Jeff Srite  wrote that according to Psychiatrists Frank Minrith & Paul Meier, the majority of Americans suffer from  clinical depression at some point in their lives. Most never get help….they just fight this battle on their own.

He related the story about a church that had at least 600 coming to their Mid-Week Prayer Meeting. At at the end of one of the services they had a time for people to come forward and have the Elders lay hands on them and pray for healing.
The response began as a trickle. Soon, others began making their way down from the balcony; walking individually, in pairs, even rolling forward in wheelchairs. Before long, the trickle became a torrent.
One of the Elders said he wasn’t prepared for the response to the invitation. Another said he didn’t expect the vast response either… nor did he anticipate the type of prayer needs revealed.

  • At least 2 out of 3 asked for prayer for depression, he said. He thought it would be more for physical needs.
  • But so many said, ‘I’m depressed. I feel unworthy. I see no future.’ He was amazed at how many felt unworthy.

The famous Minrith-Meier Clinics, in an average week, will see 50,000 people for therapy.

  • 75% will have either clinical depression or some sort of anxiety disorder. (Jeff Strite)

Since most people who are depressed or suffer with anxiety will never get professional help, they will try to relieve it many different ways.

  • Hobbies, entertainment, spending time with other people, burying themselves in their work, food binging, alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • And they will often stop the depression and anxiety… for a while, they’ll feel better.
  • But it wears off and they go back to finding something else that will work for them.

The problem is, the constant emotional up and down, up and down, often ends with a huge, and long lasting, down.

  • Depression, fear, and anxiety take over.

They have fallen into what Christian author John Bunyan called the ‘Slough of Despond’ The ‘Slough of Despond’ is a place of despair, of hopelessness, restlessness.

And often, people who constantly go through that process, end up defeated. That’s life w/o peace.

  • Perhaps you know someone who’s living like that.
  • Perhaps you once did. Perhaps you still are.

Transition: Let’s see what Job has to say about life w/o peace.

  1. Job 7:2-6 No Peace: Tossing and turning

Read: Job 7:2-6

Job, suffering with no end in sight, said: I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. When I lie down I say, When shall I arise? But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.

  • Job longed for a good night’s sleep, for rest, for… peace in his life.
  • But it constantly eluded him.

Can I ask? Are you tossing and turning at night, can’t get to sleep, can’t stay asleep, because your mind is worrying about this, depressed over that, fearful of something else?

And during the day, are you are distracted; you just can’t seem to concentrate, or focus? Is your mind still thinking about what you couldn’t resolve the night before?

  • Then, like Job, you know what it’s like to live w/o peace.

Now, we can understand when it happens to people who aren’t in the family of God through faith in Jesus.

  • What we can’t understand, is why it happens to us, why Christians can live w/o peace in their lives.

Let me address the world’s lack of peace first. Because it’s the place we all start. In Isaiah 48:22 we read: There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked.

  • The reason the world, those w/o faith in Jesus, have no peace, is because they’re wicked.
  • W/o going in to depth, wicked here just means they’re still living in their sin and under the consequences of their sin. One of which, is the lack of peace.

The OT Prophets described it as walking in darkness. You ever done that? It’s a very fearful, restless and unsettling time… until you find the light switch.

Well, wicked, is living all of your life, in the dark… always fearful, always struggling, always unsettled, and never finding the light switch.

  • But God promises there is light.
  1. Philippians 4:7 Shalom

Read: Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. That’s it! That’s what we’re all longing for, peace. A peace that will end our tossing and turning by guarding our hearts and minds from:

  • From tension, worry, fear, despair, anxiety, depression, restlessness and that overall feeling of being unsettled.

Paul, describes a peace that comes to us in a way that we never would’ve expect, so we don’t even look there…God!

  • And because we don’t look to God, we can’t understand how a peace that comes from Him, could be the answer to our restless, unsettled life.

You see to the world, peace is just the end of conflict, whether it’s on a worldwide scale or in our interpersonal relationships.

But, to God, peace, is shalom.

The Hebrew word shalom includes the end of conflict, but it’s so much more. God’s shalom is:

  • Health and wholeness.
  • It’s a harmony and completeness that comes from knowing your purpose in life.
  • To have God’s shalom is to not only have a quiet life, but a fulfilled life, in every way.

Transition: And God’s shalom, is the gift of Jesus, to us.

III. John 14:27  Jesus is our peace

Read: John 14:27

Earlier in John 17, Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving and going to the Father. But, He wouldn’t leave them as orphans, He would come to them.

  • Well, I gotta believe they were asking themselves, so are You going or staying.
  • You said You’re going to the Father, but that You won’t leave us alone because You’re coming.

At that time it would have seems a bit confusing. So let me explain, because it’ll shed light on the shalom God offers. Track with me here.

  • In John 14:2 Jesus said He’s going to the Father.
  • In verse 6 Jesus said the only way to God is by faith in Jesus.
  • In verse 15 Jesus said to those who place their faith in Him, He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them forever.
  • In verse 18 Jesus told them He wouldn’t leave them alone, He would come to them.
  • In verse 27 Jesus said He was leaving them His peace.

If you put those verses together, you’ll find that Jesus is our peace, And He will always be with us through the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus is leaving, not just with us, but in us… forever.

7 times in John 14 Jesus tells us to believe.

  • Believe in God, believe in My works, believe in Me!

And listen, belief in Jesus,

  • not only brings you forgiveness for your sin and eternity in heaven,
  • it brings you the Holy Spirit to live inside you, now, tomorrow and forever.
  • And it’s His presence in you, that’s the source, the fountain of peace in your life.

Jesus promises that when you have Him in your life, your heart will not be troubled or afraid.

  • That’s the peace that passes understanding!
  • That’s the peace that the world can never give you.

Transition: So how does belief in Jesus bring peace?  By reconciling you to God!

  1. Ephesians 2:11-19 Peace is reconciliation

Read: Ephesians 2:11-19

In Ephesians 2:1-10, the Apostle Paul tells his readers, and us, being acceptable to God (that’s being forgiven for our sin) is wholly a gift of God’s grace.

  • There is no way you could earn God’s acceptance.
  • No way you could work hard enough or long enough to have your sins forgiven.

In fact, Paul writes that you, we, were dead, without any life in us, because of our sin. And we know that dead men tell no tales, but they also don’t do anything else either… they’re dead.

But God… two utterly amazing, beautiful words!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved, and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

  • How? By graciously extending to us faith, faith that we could not muster on our own.
  • Why? So that He might display the immeasurable riches, of His grace towards us.

Paul, in verse 11 said, remember you were once alienated from God, separated from His grace and love, because of your sin. In fact, Paul said you, we, were without hope.

  • And where there is no hope, there is no peace!

BUT, because of God’s grace, you, we, who were once far from God have been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ… Faith, given to us by God’s amazing and extravagant grace, reconciles us to God. For He Himself, is our peace!

Peace; true peace, lasting peace, complete peace, God’s shalom, is Jesus living in you.

Conclusion: Grace & Peace

So,

  • If you’re here this morning and you’ve been tossing and turning at night,
  • can’t get to sleep, can’t stay asleep,
  • because your mind is worrying about this, depressed over that, fearful of something else.

And

  • If during the day you’re constantly distracted because you just can’t seem to concentrate, or focus because your mind is still thinking about what you couldn’t resolve the night before.
  • If you’re struggling to know peace in your life…

Look to Jesus.

  • Acknowledge your sin to God, take ownership of it.
  • But then give your sin to Him, by accepting God’s offer of forgiveness.
  • Ask Jesus to come into your life… to be your Savior and your peace.

Earlier I said that we can’t understand why Christians also live w/o peace. I want to talk about that for a moment.

Our greeting this morning was a favorite of the Apostles and found over 18 times in the NT.

  • Grace and peace to you…

You see, you will never experience peace until you live in God’s grace.

  • Christian, you will fail Christ, you will sin, you will rebel against Him.
  • You will live, at times, in disobedience to His Word.
  • You may even return to the same sins you committed before you were saved.

But, if you are truly in Christ, those times will be grievous, will shake you to the core, will keep you up at night and cause you to lose focus during the day.

  • Because you’ll think that you’re no longer worthy, of God’s presence, of God’s love and God’s blessing.
  • And, you will lose your peace.

The Apostles knew that because they weren’t perfect, they experienced it too.  BUT, they remembered God’s amazing, extravagant, and abundant grace.

  • They confessed and repented of their sin.
  • And God restored their peace.

One last text.

  • On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,

A little context. Jesus’ disciples had deserted Him. Peter, 3 times, vehemently denied even knowing Jesus. Then, Jesus was crucified and buried. Three days later He rose from the dead! Amen?

Do you remember Jesus’ first words to His disciples who were hiding in fear of their lives?

  • Peace be with you. (John 20:19)

He didn’t criticize or condemn them. He didn’t remind them of their sin. He simply offered them Himself, Who is the very source of peace, and what they needed most.

So, Christian, friends, if you are struggling with peace this Advent season, remember: Grace, to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2)