Anthem Camarillo is part a family of churches helping people find their way back to God. The Anthem family of churches is united around shared mission, vision, values, and submission to the Lordship of King Jesus. In our cities, we are working to obey Jesus in helping people find their way back to God.
This week we have the opportunity to focus in on peace. In hebrew Shalom and in Greek Eirene. The big idea behind peace is not just a place without war, it’s more than that, it’s wholeness and completeness.
Peace is the culture of the garden and of the Kingdom. The place where flourishing is the common theme. Work flourishes, love flourishes, kindness flourishes, creativity flourishes, life flourishes. This is the promise to come in full.
We live in the already but not yet. We experience peace with God here and now as we read Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our current reality.
Jesus has come, Emmanuel God with us, and brought us peace through going to the cross on our behalf. That relationship that was destroyed through sin, has now been restored through Jesus Christ our Lord. We now have peace, our sins our forgiven, relationship with God is now possible, and our eternity is secured through faith in Jesus. That is such good news!!
However we still live in a time and place where that peace seems to be under attack every single day. Whether it be through uncontrollable things like death, disease, various forms of loss, or intentional pursuits of this world that steal us away from the reality of God’s peace.
What sort of things come up in your life that have a tendency to steal you away from the peace that the Lord offers?
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
- Philippians 4:4-9
Seems like one of the biggest enemies of peace as we read scripture is anxiety. Now, this is tough, no one wants to be anxious, no one says hey you know what I want to do today… to be anxious. Yet for many of us that is a daily struggle. And when that arises within us there is a mini or sometimes major cosmic battle that wages within our souls. The truth is we have been justified and we have peace. But it just doesn’t always feel that way. Why? Because this world is not yet what it/ she is called to be. There is still greater redemption to come where complete shalom will reign.
Is anxiety stressful and can it lead to sin? Yes, but you know what it also has the potential to do? Point us toward the future where the Kingdom of God comes in full. This is the challenge from Paul, when anxiety rushes in, rejoice not because anxiety is here. Rejoice in the truth that one day this external and internal turmoil will no longer be. A day is coming when peace is not what passes all understanding but becomes what reigns and is experienced internally and externally. Rejoice that today you are at peace with God, and there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God.
Christmas time sadly has the opportunity to be a time where anxiety increases, along with worry, doubt, frustration and loneliness. With each of these situations you can’t just say stop. Have you ever tried that. It’s like if you have a kid who’s throwing a tantrum you tell them to just stop. How do you think that works? Really poorly. We cannot ignore these problems or just say stop. We’ve got to walk in tension, we cannot let these feelings dominate us and we cannot ignore them. So what do we do?
We bring them to Jesus. Cast your cares upon him for he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). We don’t have to pretend with Jesus, and he’s not shocked or caught off guard by anything we’ve done, or any pain and hardship we are experiencing. We get to bring them before him in prayer. We also get to share them with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Do not suffer in silence. Yes anxiety, worry, loneliness is experienced in various degrees all of us different, yet when we bring things in darkness into the light we experience healing, hope, joy and peace.
As we close our time focusing in on peace lets turn our attention to the angels announcement in Luke 2:10-14
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,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
- Luke 2:10-14
Jesus and Jesus alone is the source of where our peace is found. This week as we get closer and closer to Christmas would we slow down a little, be amazed and thankful for the peace that Jesus has ushered in. Would we not be so overwhelmed by what isn’t and would God cause our hearts to leap because of what Jesus has already accomplished. By ushering peace between God and man through Jesus Christ the son of the living God.
In John 14:26-27 Jesus reminds us that he will give and leave his peace with us through the Holy Spirit. Not only do we get to experience the peace of God, we get to carry and share the peace of God with those around us. Sometimes we take for granted the things we have because we don’t share them with others. In these last few weeks before Christmas be reminded that you carry the peace of God with you, and look for opportunities to share God’s peace with others.
Father you know exactly all the things that are going on in my heart. My hopes, my joys, and my anxieties and my sorrow. I don’t shy away from those things I bring them before you now. Jesus, thank you for ushering in peace, making it possible for me and you to be in right relationship together. That is where true shalom takes place, when I walk in relationship with you. Help me delight in you and your peace, and would you help me carry your peace with me wherever I go through your indwelling Spirit. In Jesus name Amen.