Monday, December 8, 2014

He Is Our Peace

Perhaps the greatest gift you can ever receive is peace.

Love without peace is misery.

Wealth without peace is less than poverty.

Life without peace is not a life worth living.

Without peace, we are unhappy, discontent, and depressed.  We must have peace to feel any joy or happiness.

Peace is defined as “freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.”  Yet it wasn’t always that way.  At one time, peace was the norm, not the absence of war.  The war began long ago in a place called Eden. 

Eden was peaceful, and life was easy there.  Our relationship with God was pure, undefiled, and intimate.  God would walk through the Garden, talking to Adam and Eve, and giving them all they needed from the fruit that grew in the garden.  They had no need for clothing, because like the animals, they felt no shame for just being in their skin.  They had no need for housing, because God took care of the climate and their well-being.  There were no struggles - none at all.

In the garden there were many trees which bore fruit, and God told them to eat as much as they wanted.  But two trees in the Garden received names.  One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This was the tree in which God said “Do not eat of it, for on the day that you eat of it you will surely die.”

The second tree was the Tree of Life.  Eating of this tree would allow you to live forever.

There was peace for a period of time in Eden. How long we do not know.  With one rule to follow it would seem so easy not to sin, just not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But then satan entered the garden.  His words to Eve were lies, and Eve bought the lie.  He said, “You will not surely die! For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  And Eve ate of the tree, and shared it’s fruit with her husband.

At that point, peace left us.  Peace with God was gone.  We had sinned and we felt it.

The curse of sin is death, and though Adam and Eve did not physically die on that day, they did eventually experience death.  Romans 6:23 tells us that “The wages of sin is death”, and we had earned our wages.  We earned death.

Yet God’s unfailing love continued. 

He could have stopped there.  He could have given us justice, which was to experience death as any other animal, and death would be the end of our life.

But God’s love would not let Himself do that.  In Genesis 3:22-24 we read:

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.  So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

When God set a guard around the Tree of Life He did the most loving thing He could do.  He prevented our eternal life in sin, and apart from Him. 

In Jeremiah 31:3 God says I have loved you with an everlasting love”.

Our sin did not take God by surprise. Isaiah 46:10 tells us that God knows the end from the beginning.  He sees the future as history.  And He planned for our return to Him, our sins removed, our peace returned, even before we were created.

Christmas is when the plan was enacted through the birth of Christ, but not when the plan for us began.  Revelation 13:8 tells us that Jesus was the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  And in Ephesians 1:4 we read that God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”.

To be holy and without blame can only occur when sin is gone.  John the Baptist when introducing Jesus to the crowd in John 1:29 said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” 

Through believing in Jesus Christ, Jesus takes away our sins. 

Peace is returned to us through a relationship with God, which Christ makes possible by removing our sins.

Ephesians 2:14-16 says FOR HE HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

What Jesus did for us was to remove the wall of sin that separated us from God.  And God planned the whole thing.  Why?  Because He loves us with an endless love.  In our worst state, in full rebellion, He loved us, and He continues to love us.

C.S. Lewis said it best when he said “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.  There is no such thing”.

Faith in Jesus Christ returns to us everlasting life, because those that believe in Him will die in the flesh, but the Spirit lives on eternally with Him. 

But perhaps the most important gift Jesus gives in this life is peace.  There is no war between us and God when we choose to return to the perfection of Eden, walking with Him.

Beth Moore said “God’s peace is like a river, not a pond.  It is not stagnant.  It is not confined.  It moves.  It brings life.”  Your peace with God not only benefits your life, but the life of all who know you. 

Jesus said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

His peace is unlike anything else we can experience.  His peace is eternal, unending, and built on a strong foundation of love.

Peace.  It’s what the Angels sang about when they announced His birth to the Shepherds.

“Glory to God in the Highest.  And on earth, PEACE, good will toward men!”

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