Advent Day 16 – Prince of Peace

“And He will be called . . . Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)

I would guess that most of you reading this devotional are, like me, from the Western Christian tradition, that is, not a member of the Jewish faith.  Therefore, words and phrases in the Bible such as “Prince of Peace” don’t ring with the same significance to as they did to the descendants of the Hebrews.  Taken separately, these two words simply mean Prince as a ruler or leader of a nation and PeaceShalom – or in the ancient Hebrew – salom – means safety, prosperity, wellbeing, wholeness, and contentment. But when a Jew heard these words, they spoke volumes more – of the long oppression of the Hebrew people and their struggle to survive.  And they spoke to the hope of the promised Messiah.

The nation of Israel cycled in and out of oppression and blessing because of their hot-then-cold devotion to the Lord.  In 607 bc, after falling deeper and deeper into idolatry and disobedience, God took the nation of Israel away from the Jewish people and for seventy years exiled them in Babylon.  When they returned to Jerusalem, their homeland was under foreign rule; they were subjects of the Persians, Greeks, and, at the time of Jesus’ birth, the cruel Romans. They would continue under foreign rule until May 14, 1948 when they were once again recognized as an independent state.

The Jewish people longed for a descendant of the line of King David – the Prince of Peace –  who would free them from oppression and re-establish their nation.  He would reign on “the throne of His father David, and  . . . over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32-33).  At the time of Jesus’ birth they expected a warrior-King who would defeat their enemy and restore the kingdom.

They were right about the Messiah’s mission – yet they were also wrong.  He did come to defeat their enemy.  But their enemy was not Rome – the real enemy that had enslaved them was the curse of death and sin – the same enemy that has oppressed every human being since Adam and Eve. The same enemy that has enslaved you and me.  The Prince of Peace – the Messiah – came to break the power of that curse.  His mission was much bigger than freeing a nation; He came to free all of humanity.

You may not trace a Jewish heritage, but you can proclaim Jesus Christ as your Prince of Peace, the One who set aside His crown in heaven to wear a crown of thorns on earth that you might be free and reconciled to your Creator.  The mission of Messiah was to rescue you and restore you to the family of His Father.  At the cross of Calvary Jesus accomplish that mission.  For you.

 

Read: Colossians 1:19-20

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Advent 2015 – Day 8 – The Prince of Peace

advent2aFor 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.  Isaiah 9:6

It is a well-loved verse at Christmas time, and rightly so for it expresses the marvelous roles of the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Isaiah saw the coming of the Promised One, both as a Child and as a King.  He saw Him as a Wonderful Counselor who would rule with perfect wisdom.  He saw Him as the Mighty God, the Conqueror of evil.  He saw Him as the Everlasting Father, the source of eternity.  And He saw Him as the Prince of Peace, the Son who would reign in unending, unshakable peace.

Peace is the focus of our second week of Advent devotionals.  God’s promise of peace is timely for our world today.  We long for peace, we have Peace Talks and Peace Summits and Peace rallies, but we have no peace.  Perhaps we are looking for peace in the wrong places.  Peace in the world, peace in our nation, peace in our communities and families will only come when there is peace in our hearts.  Not the ethereal kind of peace that our culture tries to sell, but peace that reaches down deeply into our very soul.  That is only possible when we have peace with God.

And that is why the Prince of Peace came to this earth as a little Babe in the manger.  He came to bring us peace, the kind that lasts for eternity, the peace that cannot be broken.  Jesus Christ came that you and I might have peace with our Creator.  He came to lay His body down as a bridge between us and God, ensuring peace in the most important place of all, our hearts.

Prince of Peace come and cast Your peace in our hearts this Christmas and for all eternity.

Peace that Never Ends

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”  2 Thessalonians 3:16

On this, our last day in the Advent week of peace, let’s recall for a moment the many ways the Lord of peace has given us His peace.  We have considered how Jesus Christ became the way to peace with God.  We have seen how the peace of God can calm our fearful and anxious hearts, and how it can bring peace to our relationships.  God offers peace in our “dark night of the soul,” bringing His light to the night that surrounds us.  We have also seen that a life focused on peace brings fruit such as unity, rest, life, strength and hope.  These are all available to us today, when we choose Jesus Christ, the true Prince of Peace.

But there is a peace we have not yet considered, a peace that we will not know in this life for it is an eternal peace.  In the beloved Christmas hymn, “Silent Night” we sing, “Sleep in heavenly peace.” This is “heavenly peace.”

We live in a world that is fraught with the threat of war, terrorism, and never knowing when another unhinged person will open fire in a killing spree.  Every day the news is filled with reports of abuse, hatred, oppression, and violence.  National, world and local leaders are corrupt.  Children live and die in fear, hunger, disease and war.  Will it ever come to an end?

Yes, and it will be a spectacular end indeed.  One day, and I think not so very far away, Jesus Christ will return, and bring with Him the fulfillment of God’s promise of peace. He will come, not as the baby in the manger, but as the victorious King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He will come with power and authority.  He will bring an end to evil and wickedness.  He will bring punishment to those who love evil and hatred and corruption – to all who rejected Him in this life.

But to those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ He will bring peace.  No more war. No more disease. No more violence. No more hatred.  No one will harm another person.  No one will ever again be hungry or fearful or lonely or sad. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).  We will never be separated from God.  We will live forever in perfect peace.

Do you long for this peace? Do you, like me, ache to see an end to evil and hatred and corruption and violence?  Do you know the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, as your Savior and Lord?  This helpless baby in the manger can bring you everlasting peace if you will believe and trust in Him.  Let today be the day that you make your peace secure.

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, I want this peace that will never end. Today I turn from sin and turn to You.  By faith I receive you as my Savior and surrender my life to You as Lord.  I receive Your promise of everlasting peace.  Amen.

Peace of Mind

“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

We need peace in this world.  We need peace between ourselves and God.  We need peace when we are afraid.  And we need peace when we are upset and our minds are a whirlwind of anxious and angry thoughts.  We need the peace that only comes from the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.  This is the peace we are focusing on in this week of the Advent season.

I am upset today.  My mind is racing with a hundred thoughts of frustration and anxiety, all because of some comments my seminary professor made.  I am having a hard time grabbing hold of the things that I need to focus on today.  I need peace of mind this morning.  I wonder if you do too.

God promised us the gift of peace, and if you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, that peace is yours.  We’ve seen that He has made peace possible between us and God, and that He is our peace when we are afraid.  But what about now, when the real issue is simply my thoughts and attitude?  How do I find peace when my mind is anything but peaceful?  I have to choose peace.

The peace of Christ is there for me, but it is my choice to receive and apply it, or to leave it on the shelf and continue to stew.  Where will I allow my thoughts to roam – to the wasteland of anxiety or to the peace of Christ?  Two verses of Scripture offer me important keys.  From the Old Testament, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trust in you” (Is. 26:3). And from the writings of Paul, “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).  I can have the peace of God by focusing my mind on Him, trusting Him, remembering His faithfulness and His character; and by submitting my mind to the control of the Holy Spirit.  I cannot just grit my teeth and force myself to be at peace.  Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), and it only comes when I am surrendered to the Spirit.  Ephesians 4:23 tells us to “be made new in the attitude of your minds.”  This will only happen when we fill our minds with the things of God; things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” (Phil 4:8).  Isn’t it interesting that when we consider all these characteristics we are to think on, they all add up to one thing. Jesus.

Holy Father, Giver of true Peace, I chose today to turn my thoughts to the Baby in the manger, the flesh-and-blood gift of your perfect peace.  Let my mind be at peace, Jehovah Shalom as I trust in You.  Amen.

Peace in a Manger

“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.”  Isaiah 9:6

Today we observe the second Sunday in Advent and our focus for this week is Peace.  Peace is a very popular topic today.  Politicians and world leaders meet in an attempt to bring peace to conflicting nations.  The radio plays songs about peace, and great orators give inspiring messages calling for peace.  Yet there is so little peace.  The world is full of war, pitting nation against nation.  Neighbors battle one another, and even brothers and sisters, parents and children are at odds.

Can there really be true peace in this world? There can, and the One who can bring peace is the Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to bring peace, not the man-made peace the world seeks, but real peace, the only true peace.  The peace we desperately need, the peace that Jesus brings is peace with God.

The world seeks peace between men, between nations, but the true peace-breaker is our sin. In fact, sin causes us to be God’s enemy.  That is a harsh thought, but according to the Bible, it is the truth. But Jesus Christ came to bring peace between God and man.  Listen to Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God’s love for us is so great that He could not bear to be in conflict with us, so He paved the path to peace with the life of His Son, Jesus. Only when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, will we know true peace.  “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

This is peace that starts in one man’s heart, and as it multiplies in other hearts, true peace begins to take hold.  This world is looking for peace, longing for peace, but we will not find peace at a conference or in songs and speeches.  Peace can only be found in a manger, wrapped in rough cloths and adored by sheep and cattle and all the angels of heaven.

Yahweh Shalom, the Lord of Peace –thank You for the peace that You sent to this world through the Baby in the manger.  Let your peace reign in my heart this Christmas season.  Amen.