Season: 4 Episode: 055
Everyone wants peace regardless of where they live, what they believe, and whom they worship. The problem is how we go about getting it. Shanda talks about what it means to have peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
“There is no peace apart from Christ because He embodies peace.”
“God brought peace to both our vertical and horizontal relationships.”
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Hey guys! Merry Christmas! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. I am so excited about today’s episode because we are going to talk about something that many are struggling to find right now and that’s peace.
Before we get into the episode I want to remind you of Albert’s blog post which is like a Christmas devotional and it’s called “A Month Away”. You can also find my free 5 day devotional “Before There Was Christmas” on my resource page as a free download as well.
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Coming up in 2021, we have all kinds of online courses coming up for you to sign up for. If you want to get on the “to know” list, go to shandafulbright.com/2021-online-courses-landing-page. You will get the emails as the classes are coming up to see if you want to register for them or not.
Ok, so let’s get into today’s episode. I don’t want to keep talking about how bad 2020 was because honestly, God is doing a mighty work. But I know that the news and the COVID stuff can bring a lot of fear and dread. Some of you may be worried about Christmas. Some of you may be worried about 2021. Is it going to get worse? Will it be a start of a new beginning? I am going to expand on how we should look at going into 2021 in an upcoming episode, but for now, understand that I understand your fears.
I have a ten year old little boy who hears the political talk, barely got to go to school for 2 1/2 hours a day recently after being out of school since March and it’s taken a toll on him. Fear hit him hard and he comes to me every night asking me to pray for him.
So, I get it. I know what it’s like to lay your head on your pillow and anxiety to keep you awake. But I want to tell you that you can and should enjoy the Christmas season. Don’t be afraid of the future. There is good news and because of Christ we can have peace. In fact, there is no peace without the Lord.
Today, we are going to talk about:
- What is peace and how do we find it?
- Why is it impossible to find peace without Christ?
- How should I face each day and the coming year in light of all that’s going on in our nation and the world?
Our main verse today is Luke 2:13-14, “…And suddenly there appeared with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!”
We can’t talk about peace without talking about God. It’s impossible. One of the things mankind searches for no matter where they live, what time they live in, or who they live with is peace.
Our souls long for peace.
The biggest mistake we make as a people is trying to achieve peace apart from the Lord. And when you ask someone what their definition of peace is, you may get a different response.
For example, the dictionary explains it as:
*The absence of war or other hostilities.
*A state of tranquility or quiet
And all of these are an example of peace. But most of the time, when people say they want peace, it has to do with a peace in the heart and the mind. It’s internal peace more so than external peace.
Now, maybe if we lived in a time of war, that would be different, I’m sure. But for our current time and situation, many struggle with anxiety, depression and some sort of inner turmoil and struggle that keeps them from achieving peace.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe that’s someone you know.
No matter who it is, we must know how to achieve true and lasting peace and we cannot do it apart from the Lord.
In the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, it says The Meaning of Peace. In English, the word “peace” conjures up a passive picture, one showing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a personality free from internal and external strife. The biblical concept of peace is larger than that and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means “to be complete” or “to be sound.”
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It is both a greeting and farewell which means blessings.
When we turn to Galatians 5, we see that one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace. Why would peace be a fruit of the Spirit? That’s because peace is produced in our lives as the spirit works in us. Peace, when produced by the Spirit of God, does not fluctuate with circumstances; it transcends our circumstances. Peace is constant.
It’s not something we can produce on our own. If it were, it wouldn’t be a fruit of the Spirit. Look at all of the other fruits of the Spirit. Can you produce patience apart from God? Not me. Goodness? Faithfulness? None of these things are natural, thus the reason we cannot experience them without God.
One of the reasons we desire peace is because it doesn’t come naturally to us. We are born with a sinful nature. That’s a controversial statement nowadays because we live in a culture that accepts anything and everything about subjective truth. But the human condition is sinful from birth and that means we are already at war with God because of it. It will always be a fight of man to go their own way and be their own God.
Thus creating inner strife as well as external strife and turmoil.
But God uses a different tactic. Contrary to what people think about Him after reading Joshua and Judges, God is not a God of war. This is why He sent Jesus who is known as the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6).
My podcast episode last week was called Born to die, and that was the ultimate purpose of the Messiah. However, He did not only defeat death, hell and the grave by taking on the flesh of man and dying for our sins. He also reconciled us to the Father which is the first step in experiencing peace.
And this is what the heavenly hosts declared in Luke 2, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth, goodwill toward men on whom His favor rests.” They said that on the night of Christ’s birth.
We must connect the dots of Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve fell.
The consequence of the fall is that all of creation now struggles to find peace. The Bible tells us that creation groans for redemption. You’ll find that in Romans 8. So, in a nutshell, all of God’s creation desires peace because of the restlessness that occurred as a result of the fall.
But the good news is that peace is achievable. It is possible to find peace when the world struggles in fear. I used to be a huge worry wart, and worry led me to anxiety, and anxiety led to depression.
I know many people struggle with anxiety in the world.
It’s the biggest mental health issue facing our nation as a whole. And since 2020 has been a difficult and uncertain year, anxiety and depression have skyrocketed since the spring.
Our youth are attempting suicide at outstanding rates, and their mental health is declining. It’s so bad in California, that the school districts are focusing on mental health. I mentioned that my son is getting instructed on how to meditate in ELA and had to write a paper on it. We focused on meditating on the word of God to get around the secular views of mediation, but many kids don’t know about the word of God or they haven’t been taught what it says about mental health and peace of mind.
When Jesus came, He came to bring peace in this order:
First, He brought peace between God and man. Jesus reconciled the world to the Father. You may wonder why not everyone experiences this peace if that’s what Jesus accomplished. Well, being that we have freewill, Jesus does not force His peace on anyone. It is something to be accepted when we are in right relationship with Him.
He told His disciples in 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.”
Again, Jesus leaves peace with us, or the opportunity for peace. Apart from Him, we have no peace. We will revisit this verse in the next point as well.
Second, Paul says in 2 Cor 5:18 that Jesus also offers peace from man to man. He says, “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.”
We cannot reconcile others to Christ if we are not reconciled to Him, and we cannot reconcile others to Christ if we are not reconciled to the ones we’re bringing to Him.
Peace is the vertical/horizontal relationship extended by God to man (vertical), which makes it possible to have peace in our relationships with others (horizontal). Again, this also emphasizes the first and greatest commandment: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second, which is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Do you see how this is connected with peace? Peace starts with God. There is no other way to find it no matter what kind of peace we’re looking for … peace of mind, peace in relationships or peace within the soul.
So, why is it impossible to find peace without Christ?
Now, just because we ask this question doesn’t mean people won’t try. In fact, I’ve tried to achieve peace outside of God too. When I went through anxiety, I went to the movies to try and take my mind off of the worry. Sometimes it worked for the duration of the movie, sometimes it didn’t work at all.
I’ve mentioned before that my sons expository reading and writing teacher has been teaching his class how to meditate. I’ve been listening in on the class because I don’t agree with meditation in the way he’s teaching it because it stems from buddhism and Christians don’t practice Buddhism.
But the reason he feels compelled to teach it is because kids are suffering right now.
In fact, many people are suffering. The governor of California told people they should meditate since he just issued another lockdown order in the state. Obviously people recognize a need for peace, but they are going about it all wrong. They have completely taken God out of the list of choices.
According to Huff Posts 2017 article on how to create world peace, they suggested 5 ways to bring peace to the entire world.
The first one was to find inner peace. This goes back to my question during the self love lie podcast: how can someone be both the problem and the solution? So the problem is mental and emotional distress so all I need to do is meditate to find inner peace? Sounds like an oxymoron to me.
The second piece of advice was to perform acts of kindness. Although I love this idea, again, how can we do this when we are in distress? It’s hard to think of helping others when we’re suffering.
Again, loving others and thinking of them above ourselves stems from loving God first.
I said it on the self-love lie episode and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. We cannot do the heavy lifting in our relationships that require depth of connecting with others without the Lord.
The third remedy was to create balance. I don’t disagree with this, but again, self control is a fruit of the spirit. How can we do this effectively without the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Humans are really good at being all or nothing people. Balance is a discipline that takes time to develop. Not a bad idea … again, but not easy without the Lord.
The fourth remedy to peace on earth according to this article was to eliminate prejudice and include all religions in multi-cultural education and teach them to our kids. That’s it? Ok. Done and done! I mean, like I said, my son’s teacher is teaching his students how to meditate. But where’s the inclusion of the Christian religion that offers peace? Because that’s not included.
Our culture has eliminated everything to do with God and included self love, meditation, and pluralism along every other line, except Christianity. How’s that working for us?
And the fifth and final remedy for peace on earth is a doozy. You’re going to be so enlightened. It’s to “resolve to be happy”. The writer didn’t really explain how to achieve happiness, only that you should just decide to be happy even when things are hard.
Ok, so if I left this episode here and told you guys to do these 5 things so that you could bring peace to your life and ultimately to the world, I hope you would stop listening. Because anyone could have written this article. But it has no substance. It has no merit.
And if this is what people are doing to try and achieve peace, no wonder depression, anxiety and mental health issues are at an all time high. They have no real answers.
God alone is the source of peace, for he is “Yahweh Shalom” (see Judg. 6:24).
God came to sinful man to enter into a relationship with them. He established a COVENANT … that’s important to note … it was a COVENANT of peace. He sealed it with His presence. Participants of this covenant were given perfect peace so long as they maintained a right relationship with the Lord which stemmed from obedience to Him.
The OT anticipated, and the NT confirmed that God’s peace would be mediated through a Messiah.
This is where we see Isaiah prophecy in Isa 9:6-7, “Unto us a child is born and unto us a Son is given … (keep reading further and Isaiah says), “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
What does it mean that Jesus is the Prince of Peace?
Jesus embodies peace. We can’t have it without Him. It’s as simple as that. The peace of God that passes all understanding is a gift.
How should I face each day and the coming year?
First, resolve to face it with Jesus. If you aren’t in a committed relationship with Jesus, get committed. You can’t have peace without Him.
Second, face it with courage. You do not go into 2021 alone. I don’t know what the future will bring but I know the future has God in it. He is already there. He already knows it. Let that settle your heart.
One of the things I tell myself often is, well its two things:
- Jesus is the author and finisher of my faith. He started this thing, He will finish it. All I have to do is show up each day and put one foot in front of the other. You do that too. Show up and make yourself available to what God wants to do in your life. Don’t lie down on the job.
Ephesians 6 tells us after having done all, stand.
We stand our ground. We stand on truth.
No matter what year it is or what life may bring. The truth of God’s word will always be the anchor that keeps us from being tossed by fear, emotions or the ideologies of culture. Stand.
2) The other is He who began a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. God began the work in you and me. You are not doing this life alone. That should bring peace to your heart. God carries the heavier weight in all of this. He promises to keep working in you and He promises to finish the job. He completes it. God sees it through to the end and that means He will see you through to the end.
And finally, there’s a verse in Phil 4:6-7 used to irritate me.
I’m just being honest here, guys. I’m human. Do you know why it irritated me? Because it says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, submit your requests to God, and the peace of God that passes (or transcends) all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
I was irritated because first it said to be anxious for nothing. Really? How do you not be anxious when you’re anxious? For those of you who struggle with anxiety, that seems like a really difficult thing to do, as if we have control over our anxiety. But anxiety is inner turmoil and when we have Christ, as I’ve explained in all of the theology above, we should not be anxious. But when we are … we tell Him. I love that about God. He wants us to come to Him instead of go elsewhere.
What does that mean?
Before we commit an act of kindness, or try and balance our lives, or do anything else, we go to Him and we tell Him. The other thing is to remain thankful. Thank Him for the gift of peace this Christmas. You can decorate your tree, wrap presents, bake cookies and spend time with family in an attitude of gratitude because Jesus made peace of mind possible.
And finally, per Phil 4:7, when you do all these things, the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds. That means He will wrap your mind and heart in peace because of the presence of Christ in our lives. How beautiful is that? What a kind and loving God. I am so thankful to know Him.
As we close today, I have a special treat for you. I love the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Casting Crowns. And today, I have my son Wyatt singing it for you. We listen to this song often and when it gets to the part that says, “Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor does He sleep”, my youngest belts it out at the top of His lungs.
So, be encouraged that God is alive and well. He does not grow weary or sleep. He is working. Let that bring you peace.
I want to thank my son, Wyatt, for singing that song. When uses his voice for the Lord, I love it. I hope it blessed you and reminds you of the peace Jesus brought to us at Christmas. Celebrate that, my friend.
And I’ll catch you on the next one!