Thursday, December 11, 2014

Peace On Earth- Part 2

This week was the second and final part of the "Peace on Earth" series.  After a time of fellowship and snacks we began with a worship set that included: "Prince of Peace (You Are Holy)/O Come Let Us Adore Him", "Our God/Silent Night", and "How Many Kings" (Downhere).  After a brief review of the previous week and talking about the topic of "Peace On Earth" we dove right into the message for the night.

We again read Luke 2:14 where the angels praised God.  The second part of this praise is a reminder that there is a breakdown between man and God, which is sin.  Our sin has separated us from God, but Jesus came to restore this relationship.  This is the peace that Jesus offers.  Our peace with God is of most importance.  We also read in Romans 4:25-5:1 that through Christ's sacrifice, we can have peace with God.

I explained that many of us have experienced this peace that Jesus offers.  We know we are saved and are growing in Him.  However, many fall into 1 of 2 other categories.
1) You have been saved, but there is a lack of peace as you doubt your salvation.  Often we allow Satan to steal our joy as we live in fear.  Sometimes it can be because of our lack of pursuing God, to blatant sin and disobedience.  At this time, Belinda shared about how she has struggled at times in her life.  However, when she seeks God for assurance He always shows her.  Often times she would reflect on moments when the Holy Spirit was prompting her to something.  She knew that if she was not saved then the Holy Spirit would not dwell in her and not lead her to something.
2) You think you were saved but you never made a true commitment.  At this point Fallon shared her story.  She recently was saved at the Hearts on Fire conference.  A few years earlier other people had been saved and she went through the emotions to make others happy.  Since she had lived in constant fear knowing that she had not made a real commitment but was also worried that people would be disappointed in her if she told the truth.  She made a true commitment to Jesus a few weeks ago and she now lives in peace.  It was amazing to see her stand before a group and share her heart because I know that was way out of her comfort zone.

We closed with a time of prayer.  I asked the students to seek God and answer the question if they are at peace with God through Jesus.  It is a question that can only be answered by each individual.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Peace on Earth- Part 1

After a week off for Thanksgiving we resumed Wednesday Night Worship this week.  We began the night with a time of fellowship that included hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee, egg nog, and cookies. After a spike in sugar levels we went into a worship set that included:  "O Come O Come Emmanuel" (Grace Asylum arrangement), "You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)/O Come Let Us Adore Him", and "Waiting Here For You" (Christy Nockels).  

I opened the message by talking about some of my favorite things at Christmas, one of which is looking at Christmas lights.  I like to drive around if I find the time and look at houses that are decorated with Christmas lights.  However, my favorite display is the "Osborne Spectacle of Lights" at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  I showed several pictures and one which shows the display "Peace On Earth" at one end of the street.  With the lights, music, and fake snow there is a sense of serenity and you feel the outside world diminish and gain a sense of peace.  We hear the term "Peace on Earth" during the Christmas season, but what does it mean?  What does it mean for us in this chaotic world?

We first looked at Isaiah 9:6, where Isaiah prophesied around 700 years before the birth of Jesus.  We read these titles, but peace is often the furthest thing that we see on this earth today.  So how do we make sense of the fact that Jesus is the Prince of Peace?  There are a couple of things we first need to consider about this:
1) This is a prophecy of both Jesus' 1st and 2nd comings.  Jesus initially came to earth to establish peace to us through salvation.  His second coming He will establish peace forever.  
2) Peace does not necessarily mean the absence of conflict on earth, but does mean that Jesus is present.

So, do we still celebrate Jesus as the Prince of Peace now?  Of course we do.  We read in Luke 2:14 that the angels glorified Jesus and praised Him for the peace He was bringing.  The earth was stripped of peace when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve in the garden.  After years of waiting for peace to be restored, the Savior who would do so was now in the world.  But if this world is still chaotic, and peace will not be totally restored until His 2nd coming then what is my part?  We are to still be a display of peace with everyone we come in contact. If we are saved, the Prince of Peace dwells within us.  It is then our responsibility to spread this peace.  

My challenge for the students was this: seek to be at peace with everyone this Christmas season- friends, family, siblings, parents.  I challenged them to take the time to show others this year that they care.  We read Matthew 5:9; 5:23-24; 5:44-45.  Jesus taught us to be peacemakers.  In fact, if we are not at peace with someone in our lives and we come to worship Him, Jesus says that until we make peace with that person that He does not want our worship because it will not be genuine.  If we say we are Christ followers, then we should exemplify peace in our relationships.  We closed with a time of prayer asking God to reveal to us anyone we are not at peace with and with the idea that we will go from there and make peace with them.