My Sunday sermons given at Sellwood Baptist Church in Portland, OR, for those who missed church or just want to see what we're up to. You can also listen to these sermons if you prefer. Just go to our church website and click the "Online Church" tab. Here's the link:

Monday, December 7, 2009

"PEACE That the World Can't Give or Take Away" - (12/06/09)

Have you notice? The Christmas season is a time when there is always renewed interest in the subject of angels due to the role they play in the Christmas story.
  • You see them on decorations, pictures, nativity scenes, etc.
  • Decorations in the malls
  • Books by wacko New-Age groupies about their “guardian angels”
  • Usually depicted as beautiful, blond female angels, or winged-babies
The first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke record some of the most remarkable encounters between angels and humans, all having to do with the birth of the Lord Jesus.
  • Gabriel with Zacharias, announcing the birth of John
  • Gabriel and Mary, announcing the birth of Jesus
  • The angelic host and the shepherds out in the fields
It is especially this last encounter that we want to focus on today. Let’s read this familiar passage once again. It is found in Luke 2:6-15.
While they were there, the time came for the Baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” [lit. “of (His) good pleasure.”]. 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
This morning I want to focus on basically one word from Luke 2:14, the word “PEACE.” The Greek word for peace is “eirêne.” It gives us the female name, Irene. It is used approximately 100 times in the N.T. and is a very important word. It has various shades of meaning. It often is used to simply mean the cessation of hostilities, the opposite of war. But it also carries the idea of harmony and order. It corresponds directly to the Hebrew word “Shalom” which means not only peace, but health and welfare also. To pronounce a blessing of Eirêne or Shalom on a person, a family, or a home includes all of these things.
But where is this peace to be found? What is its source? Where can we get it? These are the questions we want to examine today.

I. God is the AUTHOR of peace. — He is the architect, source, and supplier.
  • Isaiah 9:6 – “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. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.” 
  • II Corinthians 13:11 – “Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 
II. God is the INITIATOR of peace with men. — He chose to make peace with us, even though we are sinners by nature and by choice, and have been in rebellion against Him since the Garden.
  • John 3:16-17 – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
  • Romans 5:1, 8 – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • II Corinthians 5:18-19 - “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 
  • I Peter 3:18 – “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” 
III. God is the GIVER of peace. — It is His gift to those who belong to Him.
  • Isaiah 26:3-4 – “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed [steadfast] on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee. Trust in the LORD forever, for YAHWEH, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” 
  • Colossians 3:15 – “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” 
  • Psalm 4:8 - “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” 
  • Psalm 29:11 – “The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace.” 
  • 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.” 
  • John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 
  • Philippians 4:4-7 – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 
In this last passage the Greek word translated “guard,” or “keep” in the KJV, is a fascinating word. It is the word “phrouréo.” If you look it up in a Greek dictionary you will find that it is a military term, which means “to keep by guarding, to keep under guard, as with a garrison.” It is used of blocking up every way of escape, as in a siege. And it is also used of providing protection against the enemy, as a garrison does.

The peace of God puts a strong wall of protection around out heart, which is the center of our emotions, and around our mind, which is the place from which our thoughts come. God’s peace is like a 24-7 armed guard over the two things that Satan uses to frighten us and rob us of peace and joy.

Do you have this peace in your life today? Have you asked the Prince of Peace to come in and be your Savior and Lord? With the world in constant uproar with wars and rumors of wars, I pity anyone who does not know Christ in a personal way. Knowing about Him is good — it’s the starting place. But actually knowing Him is something else altogether. If all you have this Christmas is the story of Baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, then you don’t have the package. The whole reason He came was to finally go to the Cross to pay the price for your sin, and mine. Won’t you open your heart to Him right now, and ask Him to forgive you and save you and abide in you forever?

One of the sad things in the Christmas story is the fact that Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. If the people of Bethlehem had only understood who He was and the incredible miracle of that night, that “unto you is born a Savior”, every door in the city would have been open to Him. Unfortunately, people were so caught up in their own lives that they failed to see and understand what was happening. The same thing happens now every day. When Jesus knocks at the door of people’s hearts they are often too busy to hear, or too cold-hearted to answer the door. They simply hang out their sign which reads, “Do not disturb! No room in the Inn!” I hope you won’t do that. I hope you will hang out a big “WELCOME” sign and invite Him in today.

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About Me

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Since 1994 I have been the pastor of Sellwood Baptist Church in Portland, OR. Before that I was a missionary in South Brazil for many years. Until just recently I have also served as a police chaplain with the Portland Police Bureau. Now, however, God has a new assignment for us. My wife and I have been appointed with WorldVenture and are preparing to move to Ireland to help plant a new church in Sligo, a small city in NW Ireland. I'm married to Ramel, a crazy, beautiful redhead that I love more than life itself. We have three great kids, Jonathan, Chris, and Simoni who have given us ten wonderful grandchildren. We are truly blessed.

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