December 9, 2011

Peace On Earth

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Are you singing yet? Christmas carols! Its the time of year when it seems they are heard on the radio, in shopping malls, television commercials and every where in between. Although we know the Messiah  wasn’t actually born in December, it is the time of year recognized by our culture to focus on His birth. This miraculous story, put into a multitude of songs, is proclaimed around the world during this period. If you are like me, I am sure you have your favorites…O Come  All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, Away in a Manger. The list goes on and on!  As I heard one of my favorites recently, I began to listen intently to these words:

“It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold. Peace on the earth goodwill to men, from heavens all gracious King!”  As I hummed along I started thinking about the Scriptures from which it was    composed. Although I could quote it by heart, I sat down to read the passage again. The familiar recitation I had in my mind came from the King James Version. This is the one I had always heard used in plays, read in my home before we opened presents, and preached from the pulpit at church; however, this particular morning I picked up an NIV edition to read. Luke 2:14 said something slightly different than the song I had been singing and the story I had memorized. This     text proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Interesting! Quickly, I checked another translation. The NASB read  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Did this indicate there wasn’t peace on earth for all  men?

As I researched further into the original manuscripts, I discovered the peace is directed toward those with whom the Father favors. It resembles the     promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  The Greek word for “love” in this verse means “those who have been faithful to”. As I began to ponder these concepts, I realized the Father supplies his peace and goodness as we demonstrate our faithfulness.  We often assume even when bad things come, God is always working out things for everyone’s good. The proclamation of the Messiah’s arrival did  indicate a potential for all to find peace; however, this peace is only rewarded to those who wholeheartedly receive this Messiah and faithfully walk in accordance to his instruction. The promise of peace isn’t distributed to those outside His umbrella of favor. Fortunately, through repentance and surrender, we can find this peace the Father desires for us to encounter. The great news is if you are walking daily in this position, you are assurance of indescribable peace that surpasses all fear and anxiety.

This time of year also brings to remembrance a period we went through about three years ago. Our eight week old daughter had to undergo surgery to remove the entire upper lobe of her lung due to a large tumor that was basically crushing here heart. Not only was the heart at risk, but we had no idea whether or not the tumor was malignant.
After weeks of worrying, crying, and pleading for the life of our child, a  peace finally came over me that cannot be explained. When I finally let go of the situation as it appeared on the surface and embraced the peace that came from my relationship with Christ, my tears were replaced with comfort. It may have even seemed to outsiders that I wasn’t living in reality or that perhaps I wasn’t concerned enough. This was not the case at all. God took me to the place where I could honestly say as Job did, “The Lord gives and takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord”. I had unexplainable peace that whether or not our daughter made it to the point of birth, was born with cancer, or was miraculously healed, I was going to be okay. However, by the grace of God, she was born without requiring in  utero surgery, and later had the mass removed. The biopsy came back benign and her lung has almost grown back completely. The doctors said she would most likely have breathing problems, but today she is an absolute picture of health without any problems at all! Truly a miracle!

The peace of Christ is an unmatched privilege and comfort for any situation you may be facing.  Your scenario might be different from anyone else’s, but the same Jesus can bring  ultimate, perfect peace to your situation, no matter how uncertain it may be. As we sing about peace on earth and the arrival of the Messiah, it is an incredible time to reflect on all He brought to those who would embrace it. Let this time of the year be an opportunity to point people to the Prince of Peace and the availability of peace as a result  of a commitment to Him.

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