Cheney United Methodist Church
Monday, January 22, 2018
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

December 10, 2017

12-10-17
2 Peter 3:8-15a. 
“Come Home for Christmas And Fill Your Mind with Peace!”

I'm excited to share our theme, “Come Home for Christmas And Fill Your Mind with Peace!” I don't know about you, but this is a very busy time of year, parties to plan and attend, extra food to prepare, shopping for special people. It's just super busy! I could use some peace of mind!

The news these days could raise your blood pressure, with stories of violence and bloodshed, or tension between nations, I'm keeping an eye on North Korea. I could use some peace. We often define peace as the absence of conflict or strife. The biblical definition of “Shalom” is broader and more comprehensive than our English understanding of peace. Shalom as a greeting or farewell is often thought of as a blessing meaning: May your life be filled with health, prosperity and victory! I want to suggest to you that Shalom has 4 parts to it. One. Shalom carries the idea of completeness, wholeness, well being which leads to good health. Two. Shalom is peace in the sense of right relationships or harmony in relationships--especially between you and God. Three. Shalom carries a sense of hoping, desiring success, fulfillment, and prosperity. Four. Shalom as victory over one’s enemies or the absence of war. Shalom is having peace regardless of your circumstances and everything that’s going on around you!

Where does our peace come from?
Let’s look at Mark 1:1-5 John the Baptist on his mission to prepare the way. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. John the Baptist is sent by God to break the silence and be the forerunner of the Messiah. There had not been a prophet in Israel for over 400 years, suddenly John comes on the scene. The heart of his message is repent, and get your heart right with God. Our peace at Christmas has to start with repentance. To repent: means that you are willing to acknowledge that you have done wrong. So, you agree with God that you have sinned. You then confess that sin, and in your heart and mind, you turn and go in a new direction. That sin can’t save you, it’s pleasure doesn’t last and it’s slowly destroying you. When you repent you are making a commitment to leave the sin and open yourself to God!

Believe it or not John’s message of Repentance was drawing large crowds. People were hungry to hear a “word” from God; and to have a chance to have a better relationship with the Lord. God was doing something new and change was coming! Do you want God to do something new in your life? Then have you truly repented? Have you had a change of heart and turned in a new direction? You won’t have peace of mind this Christmas until you repent!

When I think of coming home for Christmas I like to hear the Christmas story again--it’s familiar but I want to hear it fresh and let it speak to me. Luke 2:8-14, “8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” By the time you get to verse 8, the baby is already born. God chooses to make the announcement to lowly shepherds and they were terrified to see an angel. There was no doubting that this was an angel sent by God. “I bring you good news of great joy.” The birth of a baby should be good news, and fill us with joy. But there is more in the message--good news and joy because God has sent a Savior--the long-awaited Messiah.

 

The Greek is a little tricky because it literally reads “Christ Lord.” Christ in the Greek means “Anointed One! We tend to think that the words Messiah and Christ are interchangeable. The key word here is Lord. Luke’s Jewish audience who only knew the Old Testament, expected God to be their Savior, and the word Lord was a substitute for the unspeakable name of God, “Yahweh!” So, what you have the Angel announcing is that: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, Yahweh!” This baby is the Son of God, who will grow up among you to be your Savior! Shepherds pay attention here, this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Remember the city is bursting at the seams because of the census enrollment; it would not be a surprise if there were more than one new baby in town. But only one would be found in a manger! [It has been said, that Jesus was born where there was no room, no place for him, only a manger, the cattle stall. And the world has tried to keep him there!]

Suddenly a whole host of angels show up to declare that God is reaching out to make peace! There is a bit of irony here, the Greek word for “host” usually meant an army. An army of Angels came to announce peace. The Angels have just come from God, so they declare His glory: “Glory to God in the highest” it is God who initiates peace--it is His peace that we long for. The angels said, “and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” The angels were saying God will bring peace for those on whom His favor rest! In other words, God’s peace comes to those who believe in His Son!

Let’s Come Home for Christmas and Fill our Minds with Peace! Now I want to bring in the reading from 2 Peter chapter 3. Peter is writing this letter to correct some false teaching. In this section Peter wants to answer a question about Jesus’ second coming. Let’s look at verses 8 and following... “8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” We are nearly two thousand years since the Resurrection; but on the other hand, it was only two days ago. [WHAT?] Peter is saying that the presumed delay in the Lord’s return is not due to a failure in God’s plan, but rather a measure of it’s success. The Lord does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Consider the millions that have come to repentance and turned to the Lord to live for Him over the past 2,000 years.

What I want us to consider today is the question Peter asked in verse 11, “what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” First, some more background, at Jesus return there will be great destruction and devastation, a new heaven and a new earth will emerge. The old earth will be destroyed by fire and all the deeds that were ever done will be exposed--the end of verse 10. The question we all have to ask, and answer is: knowing what is coming, what kind of people ought we to be? What kind of life should you live? Peter gives us the answer: You should live holy and godly lives. He goes on to suggest that our attitude should be such that we look forward to the day of God--and speed its coming!” Verse 13 tells us that “we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

Question, how can we speed up the day of his appearing? If we can delay it by our sin and disobedience, then we can speed it up by our obedience and acts of righteousness. We speed it up by living holy lives and building our character. We can hasten the day of the Lord’s appearing by sharing the gospel and telling our story.

A new heaven and a new earth is a call to live now, longing for a home of righteousness; and to begin to live a life now that shows how much we are getting ready for it! We are to make every effort to live godly lives-- without spot or blemish and to be at peace (14). We have good reason to be at peace if we know Jesus as our Savior; that peace was promised at his birth! Our true peace--everlasting peace is in the future when Jesus is fully our Savior in every way!

We can have peace now, because our confidence is in Him. We know that he is our Lord, whom we obey and that His patience means our salvation. We trust in Him because we know when all is exposed and laid bare, on that day--it will not harm us for we are in Christ and we are His. When He comes in his glory, we will be glorified, we will stand with Him as Co-heirs to a rich and wonderful future with Jesus.

Our hope of peace starts with Christmas. I pray that you will come home for Christmas and look for the mystery and wonder of the glory of God and may God’s favor rest on you and bring you peace! My brothers and sisters God loves you and so do I, so I close by blessing you: May your life be filled with health, prosperity and victory!