Friday, December 13, 2013

Come, Lord Jesus [Week Two]

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
"Peace on earth, goodwill towards men."
The above saying is a common one this time of year. Encouragements of peace, love and joy fill the air...though without an explanation of how we attain them. Doesn't quite seem sufficient, does it? To wish for these cordial blessings, yet not know--or not explain--how one knows them personally, or from where they come?

Believe me, I am a huge fan of the wonderful delights of Christmas! Glowing lights reflecting off soft, rolling blankets of pristine white snow. The smell of cinnamon and chocolate in the kitchen. Steam floating lazily from a mug of hot apple cider. Friends and family gathered, sharing gifts and loving exchanges. The joyful ring of Salvation Army bells from the man dressed up as Santa Claus. Christmas brings so many of our favorite good gifts.

Interesting, isn't it, how humanity longs for peace, love and joy no matter a person's culture or religious background? We love exclaiming "world peace!" and celebrating a season of philanthropic goodwill towards men.

But the problem is that the world is searching in the wrong places for peace.

Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Christ's salvation work bring us positional peace, uniting us to the Father, from whom we were once eternally separated. His peace also rules in our hearts (Colossians 3:15) when we walk worthy of our calling as Christians.

Here are three promises of peace His coming brings to His children, at Christmastime and forevermore: 

God is forever with us. We can rely on who He is. Jesus is Immanuel, meaning "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). I love the lyrics to a Sojourn song that say, "Our God in a manger / Our God as a child." What a surreal reality to fathom, that the God of the universe sent His Son to earth to live the perfect life we could not live, and die the death we deserved...only to be raised to new life and ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. God promises us the peace of knowing that He is forever with us--this is who He is! His very nature is to be present and near, the One who sees us. Practically, this means that we can rely on God's faithfulness, trust in God's goodness and lean into God's compassion for us. His peace will surround us when we do.

Christ is forever for us. We can rely on what He has done. Christ humbled Himself, descended to die for our sins, then was raised to make us alive! And right now, He is advocating for us in heaven, as He sits at the Father's right hand. Grace upon grace is lavished on God's children because the Son of God made a way for us. The gospel of Jesus means that all Christ lived, died and rose to accomplish is ours in Him! It means that, no matter the circumstances of our lives, we can rely on Christ's eternal, victorious work, rejoicing that we have been approved and are part of God's plan for creation. It also means that we do not have to work for acceptance and love, because the Lamb of God secured both these gifts for us. His peace fills us when we trust the work of Christ.

The Holy Spirit is forever within you. We can rely on what He promises. Our daily battle with sin can feel defeating, can't it? But we know and trust in Christ's promise of His Spirit dwelling with us. His identity is now our identity, and our hearts have been regenerated. This means that we have the Holy Spirit's power at work within us to overcome the sinful flesh that vies for attention and elevation. It means that we can submit to His work on the cross, trusting the Spirit to help us walk worthy of our calling in Christ, rather than trying to muster up moral goodness on our own efforts. His peace reigns and rules in our hearts when we submit to the Prince of Peace.

God Almighty, You are very great and awesome! You deserve all our praise. We so often forget what Christ has done on our behalf. Thank You for sending Christ into the world, for redeeming us, and making a way for Christ to rule in our hearts by faith. Strengthen us and keep us in Your grace, and help us to submit to You. Surround us with the peace of Christ.

Amen.

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