Early in the morning, you can savor the sounds of peace—the quiet rustle of leaves in the wind, the first stirrings of birds in the trees, the rhythmic breathing of children not yet awakened from their dreams. You may even wake up early, long before the rest of the world, just to get a passing glimpse of this peace. Perhaps you’re eager for weekends at the lake, vacations by the sea, or time spent in a quiet cabin. Whatever your ideal escape, you are no doubt looking for a few days of relief from the hectic pace of everyday life. You’re hoping for peace! Unfortunately, anything more than temporary peace is a rare commodity these days.
From the fall into sin onward, the world has seen little peace. Relationships on earth are often marred by the jealousy, greed, and anger that create conflict and ruin relationships. As peace takes hold in one part of our lives, other parts turn back to turmoil. If we cannot even create lasting peace in our own hearts and with the people closest to us—those we love most—how can we ever hope to make peace with God?
Getting to the Heart
The lack of peace in our world—and the lack of peace between God and us—is a result of our own sinful nature, which puts us at war with our Lord. Sinful pride prompts us to search for peace in our own ways. We bypass the wisdom of God’s Word and let ourselves be tricked into believing we can find peace in the things this world has to offer. How easy it is to ignore the Prince of Peace when we are trying to achieve peace through our own wisdom, efforts, and techniques.
That cottage at the lake is peaceful—until we show up! That new deep-breathing technique works—until our friend or spouse or daughter walks into the room.
Take a moment to catch your breath. Think about the times you have tried to create peace for yourself and make it last. Did it work? Did it last? I doubt it! I’ve tried too—and found it fruitless.
I have good news for you today. You can give it up! End your self-guided search and simply let yourself rest in the one, true source of peace—Jesus Christ. Listen! “The Lord of peace himself give you peace always” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). (Read the verse again, more slowly.) Jesus knows your brokenness, your restlessness, your worries and sorrows, your pain. Trust him. Rest in him. Let his peace cover all!
Once you have given up your frantic pursuit of peace, you will experience the peace that surpasses all human understanding, the peace that our unchanging and unchangeable God provides for us in Jesus. Our Savior came to earth as a true human being for just this reason: to create a pathway of peace between us and our Father in heaven. In love, Jesus willingly walked from Bethlehem to Calvary, showing us—shouting to us!—that he is the source of the peace we so earnestly seek. Though human sin destroyed our peace in the Garden of Eden, God graciously restored it through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son.
True peace on earth begins with God’s work in the believing heart—your heart. No matter what is going on around you, faith in Jesus’ sacrifice can put your heart and mind at rest. The war has ended! It’s over! Believe your Father’s promises, experience his presence, and put your trust in him alone. Rest assured of his care, concern, and compassion for you today, tomorrow, and forever.
A heart at peace demonstrates goodwill toward all. How could it be otherwise? The peace of God within you will express itself, pouring out pure thoughts, encouraging words, and helpful actions. As the Holy Spirit works within you, you will become a real and living instrument of his peace in the world. Who knows how much of God’s peace and hope others will experience through you or just how the Holy Spirit will use you to influence the people around you?
Taking It Home
True and lasting peace depends not on where you are or who you are, but whose you are! The Prince of Peace has called you by name! He yearns to shower you with soul-deep serenity. He longs to fill you with the peace that lies beyond all your ability to understand it.
As you leave today, each of you will receive a Christmas Peace Ornament of Faith®. As you hang it on your tree or mantel or display it in your office, use it as a reminder of the peace that Jesus was born to bring to every heart. Let it remind you to take a deep breath and relax in the peace that surpasses all human understanding. Use the ornament as a reminder to share that peace with those who do not know the Prince of Peace, the Savior.
Editor’s note: This devotion is slightly adapted from one that accompanies one of CTA’s Ornaments of Faith—four of them new for 2013. Check them out! They make meaningful gifts and they won’t break the bank!
© 2013 CTA, Inc. Permission to make photocopies or reproduce by any other mechanical or electronic means is granted only to the original purchaser and is intended for use within a church or other Christian organization, but not for resale.