Marv Wittenberg | The Voice of Zion December 2022 --
It is once again the Christmas season in which we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. As a child of God, you experience a peace not known by the world – the true peace of Christmas which is the peace of God.
Long ago on the first Christmas night, the shepherds were watching over their sheep when an angel approached them with the heavenly message of the birth of the Messiah. “Fear not for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11). After sharing with the shepherds where they could find the baby Jesus, the angel was joined by a great throng of heavenly beings: “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, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13,14).
In the world, we long for temporal, outward peace. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom and it conveys the idea of completeness and well-being. As an individual, one can be at peace with a decision or an outcome in his or her life. Between people and families, peace exists when individuals get along and are not at odds with one another. Temporal peace also exists between nations when they are not at war. Relatively speaking, we live in a peaceful time, though there are places where restlessness and even war exist. We can remember in prayer those who suffer; may they feel the call to seek salvation, to gain peace in their lives and hearts. Peace amongst nations is a blessing to be thankful for, but in life a child of God has a far more important peace, the peace of God, God’s peace.
God’s peace is different from this temporal peace, for it is spiritual. It is owned only by faith, through believing the gospel and living of God’s grace. Such peace is a gift only from God – it doesn’t come from human endeavors. This peace comes when one’s sins have been forgiven and one can freely believe. It brings a joyful and happy heart, and with eyes of faith, God’s kingdom is seen as beautiful and God’s children as fellow travelers and escorts. It is a matter beyond human comprehension and difficult to describe with words. Apostle Paul used these words: “The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
What are the contours of God’s peace in our lives? Peace resides in our daily environment – a spiritual home in our home congregation. The congregation cares for us, instructs us and provides escorts on the journey. We can follow the age-old pathway that has been set before us from the beginning. And God in His Holy Spirit lights that pathway for us, a piece at a time. God provides a place to rest our sorrows and cares. We are assured that our petitions are heard. Above all, we own the grace altar, on which we can deposit our sins when we ask to hear the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. All these elements create a refuge of holy peace in our lives and bring the promise of everlasting peace in heaven.
By faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the child of God can own in his or her heart the true joy of Christmas, our Lord Jesus. He has shared with His own: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). He further relates: “These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Be uplifted yet as another Christmas approaches to continue believing. Traveling in faith, one can have Christmas every day of the journey – by believing all sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and precious blood.
God’s Word promises that one day we will be free from the trials and tribulations of this life and be able to celebrate the eternal Christmas in heaven with all the saints. “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev. 7:16,17). The songwriter has also preciously written: “You hear it, O children, each Christmas, how one day our way doth lead from trials to Christmas eternal and heavenly Christmas peace!” (SHZ 28:3). It is worthwhile to yet believe!