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December 9, 2018


Good Morning Everton Community Church. It’s great to be back again to see you and to bring you the word of the Lord.

We are here at Christmas advent time, the 4 Sundays prior to Christmas with the purpose to look forward to the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as the first coming of Jesus into the world two thousand years ago.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word advent as “The arrival of a notable person or thing”.

Of course, the arrival of the notable person we are setting our minds and hearts on- is Jesus. For the Christian Church, we celebrate the advent season - both for Christs’ second coming but also in remembrance of his 1st coming into the world; when Mary gave birth to Jesus- the descendant of Abraham - the descendant of King David - - in the city of David; that is, Bethlehem.

The birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise from Genesis 3 that the seed of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head while the serpent will bruise His heel. To

Abraham a promise of Kings would come through Isaac - to the initiation of God’s choice for king of a young shepherd boy who would become King David - to Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Matthew 2 verse 1 tells us when the wisemen followed the star, they stopped in Jerusalem to ask, “where is he who has been born king of the Jews”.

When Herod heard this, he assembled the chief priests and scribes - not the scribes and priests of Herod - but of the people - the Scripture says, and “he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. What does the GPS say - God’s positional system? They told Herod in Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet. Do you know who believed this. Herod believed this, because the Scripture says at Matthew 2:7

“then Herod summoned the wisemen secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared, and he sent them to Bethlehem”.

Go there wise men - for that is the place because the prophet wrote it. Yes, because that is where it was written - and what did the wise men find when they got there; Jesus.

The Scriptures, right from Genesis 3:15 - the proto -evangelium - which means first gospel - looks forward in time to the day of the birth of Christ our Saviour. In the weeks ahead in the new year we are going to take a look at God’s redemptive plan, and how it all leads to Christ.

In the writings of the prophet Isaiah in 8th century BC, we see the prophetic hope. In our time, in the New Testament writings we have a 2nd coming of Jesus that gives us hope. Time is in God’s hands, and the birth of Jesus fulfills prophecy.

And because all events are in God’s hands, we know that Isaiah foretold that Christ would come: Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son; and shall call his name Immanuel - God with us.

Isaiah 9 verse 6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.

Foretold by Isaiah, 800 years before the birth of Christ. The Prince of Peace.

God is not silent about His plan of redemption, and He sends another messenger to announce the ministry of Jesus: John the Baptist. John’s father when John was born, utters a prophecy:

Luke 1:76-79 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” To guide our feet into the way of peace. For what reason: to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins. To give knowledge of salvation – we are to know church what that knowledge is.

And what is this salvation: Why was Jesus born; what is so special about His coming? Matthew 1:21 “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins”.

Peace is the 2nd advent theme today, as we look to our Lord and Saviour Jesus who gives us peace. Who delivers and saves us from our sins. You see, these 2 things go hand in hand.

But what kind of peace. What does the Bible tell us about peace? In Luke 24:36-38 after the crucifixion, Jesus appeared to the disciples:

“As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?

The disciples of Jesus had gathered together - as we have gathered as a church - and then Jesus Himself stood amongst them. The Holy Spirit is present in this church - and through each believer, so it is as if Jesus Himself is standing here among us - as if he would say - Peace to You. Peace to You, disciples of Christ gathered here at Everton Community Church. For we too, gather here as His disciples.

Here is peace Everton disciples; Jesus asked of His disciples “why are you troubled”?

We will not, or should not, be troubled when Jesus comes again - and Jesus says,

“why do doubts arise in your hearts”.

Church - have faith and do not doubt in your heart. Much is written regarding the second coming of Jesus, and His purpose here on the earth. The disciples as yet did not have the NT, but we do. There is no need for us to be startled or frightened - we look forward to his coming with joy, hope and peace.

Two ways to look at peace is the Peace “with” God, and there is the Peace “of” God.

Have you ever thought about that? They are two separate things.

Our souls have no peace when there is no peace “with” God; and when we stop our internal struggle “with” God - who shall reign in our hearts - we can possess the peace “of” God. Adam in the garden of Eden had peace with God, as well as the peace of God. Adam had dominion over all of God’s creation, and every green plant was good for food.

Genesis 1:31- And God saw everything that he had made; and behold, it was very good.

The next day God rested: there was peace with God and the peace of God. God blessed Adam and Eve and God blessed the day of rest. The Sabbath. There is nothing better than to be blessed of God - to find favour with God. Being blessed by God brings us a sense of peace. But if - and I’m going to say “our truth, which is usually Satan’s lie”, and not God’s truth, sometimes -we just don’t feel blessed -, even when we are.

Jesus Himself, on the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 gave a whole list of terms when we are blessed - when we are poor in spirit; for those who mourn; for those who are meek; for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; for those who are merciful; those who are pure in heart; for those who are peacemakers; for those who are persecuted for righteousness sake; and we can have the peace of God knowing we are blessed even when others revile us and persecute us and say evil things against us falsely accusing us on Christs account;

You mean we can we have peace in that? Jesus says in Matthew 5:12 concludes with

“rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Yes, even in these things, we can have peace. Blessed are you in these things.

When we know we are loved by God; when we know we are living a life pleasing to him, we can have peace with God even in - and through - the trials. The reward Jesus says may not be right now - your reward is great in heaven.

Adam was placed within the boundaries of Eden, with purpose and with safety where Adam could see God as well as enjoy His presence in the garden. This is a place we all hunger for, isn’t it? Where we can live in the presence of God! There was no anxiousness in Adam’s soul - just working and keeping the garden in the center of

God’s will and creation.

But then things changed. Genesis Chapter 3 introduces the serpent who is more crafty than any other beast in the field, and Eve and Adam do what God has commanded them not to do:

Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man - not a request- but a command - “You shall surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”.

To have peace with God they must obey his commandments. Two “surely’s - two of

God’s “assurances” are written here. Of every tree you shall “surely” eat God said, except for this one, for if you eat of it you shall “surely” die.

One hundred Christmas presents under the tree - but don’t open this one-It’s got a poisonous snake in it and if you open it will bite you and you will surely die. Does this remind you of childhood - kids - do not try this at home - Well, you know, what would happen if we got up in the middle of the night - snuck to the Christmas tree - carefully opened the present to see what’s inside - careful not to rip the paper with the tape - for you know what - surely our parents won’t find out -surely they didn’t really mean if we opened it we would surely die - let’s take our chances - like Eve told the serpent - surely you will die - becomes something different and less consequential - lest we die. Surely will die becomes we might die. After all, if we open the present in the middle of the night - who will know? So you open it, and nothing happens. But later in the day, you say something about the package - because you know you opened it and you don’t have peace in your conscience and you say something about it - and your mom

or dad says to you, how did you know that detail about that one present. And you know as it left your mouth, you’re busted. Adam does that.

Well, Adam and Eve do eat of it, and everything changes - And they do not have peace with God or the peace of God. The first thing that happened is they could see that they were naked and the consequences begin. Then they heard God walking in the garden and they hid themselves. Their conscience is bothering them. God called to the man,

“where are you”, the man said “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself”. And as the words are leaving Adam’s lips, God knows. Just like the parents who find out you opened the present. God says

who told you that you were naked”. Busted…big time. Adam said he was afraid - and he was afraid because he was naked - and so he hid himself. Fear, and shame and hiding that goes with it have their immediate effects. Sin is immediately at work. But God is much smarter than any crafty serpent - and God initiates a plan of salvation for the forgiveness and deliverance from our sins. Genesis 3:15 – the first gospel.

We have peace with God when we don’t have to hide ourselves from God. Sin causes us to hide from God - we hide from his presence and don’t want to be seen.

Jesus says in John 3:19-21: And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

In feeling fear, and shame, and hiding from God - what they lost in the garden was their peace of God. Where God had created everything in the garden and said it was all very good; Adam and Eve’s actions is not very good. Sin has caused their loss of their peace with God, and sin does not want to obey God. How good to the soul to know that God is pleased with us, and to hear Matthew 25:23

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

or Luke 3:22 “and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

When we know we are in harmony with God - in obedience - love - and with his word we have peace with God. But further: God says You are my beloved son: Do you know that you are adopted as sons and daughters of God in Christ- when He sees you He sees Jesus- and you brothers and sisters are God’s beloved. The Holy Spirit and Christ’s atonement for our sin gives us peace with God because we are saved by grace. But Jesus says in Matthew 10:34 such as was read this morning:

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”.

Isn’t that contrary to Isaiah 9:6 - the Prince of Peace. Isn’t that confusing, that Jesus would say he brings not peace but a sword- and then goes on to say further that “he has come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter - law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household”. This sounds more like war than peace. This is not good news at Christmas time, when the separation of loved one’s causes us pain and sorrow with broken relationships. But Jesus point is this: Is there anything in your life that competes with Him that will stop or inhibit your will to follow Him. Will you take your cross and follow Jesus, even if it means there will be things and people you will need to release if they pull you away from Christ – if they compete for Lordship over your life - or if persecution should come. These things have a way of stealing our peace. Matthew 10:39: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”. The fact of the matter is we belong to Christ, and He has made us His own. We are in the hands of God - the Creator of the heavens and the earth - and we are saved from the power of death because the wages of sin is death from which we

have been saved. Does that knowledge that you are sons and daughters of the living God give you peace? Is God your refuge and your strength?

Where can we find that He is our Comforter and Prince of Peace: It comes a few verses back at Matthew 10:29 - I am going to slow it down here for a second: Take a moment to quiet our minds and settle our hearts.

Jesus is Immanuel: God with us. The Holy Spirit lives in you - you are the temple for the Holy Spirit. Because of that, even the groanings of your heart and mind are being downloaded to God, where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.

Here we go. How can we find the peace of God?

Matthew 10:29-31“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows”.

Peace is found in trust: trust in God, we trust that He is sovereign and is in control over our lives. We trust that He is present and sees our lives - our joys - our hurts - our suffering- every hair on your head in numbered. He knows You.

What is going on in your own heart, disciple of Jesus. He is living in you - He is Risen indeed. Advent is looking forward to a notable person. That is why we are spending 4 Sundays looking to Him. For His coming: Does he come to you and ask you this question as he asked his own disciples:

“Peace to you!” “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?

If Jesus were here to ask you – right here right now. What would be your answer to Him be? Peace to You. Jesus says to have the peace of God and He provides for us a prescription as well as the remedy:

Luke 12:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the

field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.

Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

In the last year a friend of mine has gone through some significant life changes. Someone many years ago had given him a spoof gift and it read: Lord give me patience: NOW. We used to laugh about that. But when it comes to our own trials and tribulations, can we rest in God’s word; the assurance of our salvation; to know God is a God of details and He cares about You- and loves You - specifically? Do you have the peace of God in that? But God has been putting my friend through longsuffering- a time of waiting. For him, this is where he found the peace of God:

Proverbs 3:1-8 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones”.

Is God’s steadfast love and faithfulness written on the tablet of your heart? Do you have peace that you can trust in Him? In all your ways - do you acknowledge Him - so he can make your paths straight? I like verse 8 and I think it’s one of those verses taking some time to meditate upon - to think about what “healing to our flesh” and “refreshment” to our bones means for us - what is going on within our own flesh and

bones that would find healing if we place our trust in Him. To have peace with God - and the peace of God.

This advent season, we look forward to the second coming of Jesus - when he will come again:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers,

(Don’t be uninformed -God wants us to know-)

about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. Let me repeat those last words: and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. Immanuel: God with us.

When Adam heard the sound of the LORD walking in the garden after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam said he was afraid - and he was afraid because he was naked - and so he hid himself.

When Christ comes again, we who belong to Christ will not be afraid. We are not naked - we are clothed in Christ. We do not have to hide – Jesus comes to you, disciples to say peace to you - we look forward to His coming into the world as God came into the garden of Eden. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and the LORD knows who are His. As I read this morning from Matthew 1, it was told to Joseph,

“Do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins”.

We know because we belong to Christ, through Grace we have been saved; Jesus paid the ransom for our sins; He is the sacrifice for the atonement as well as High Priest; for those who believe in Him shall inherit eternal life; you shall surely “not die” does not become “lest we die”, but another assurance “ we shall inherit eternal life”; that we do not need to fear the power of death: Christ overcame the power of death.

Hebrews 2:14-17: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Last week’s advent message was HOPE. Does this give you hope, that for you who believe in Jesus, will always be with the Lord.

I am going to repeat this verse - bookends so to speak - holding this sermon up at both ends where I started our message on Peace this morning: Luke 24:36-38 “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?

As we talk about these things; as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus this advent season and for every day; as we think about his first coming of his birth, and his second coming in Hope: Remember the words of Jesus: Peace to You. We will not be startled of frightened when we see Him again. No need to be troubled- No room for doubt - God’s word has revealed the Promise and we look forward to that day in Hope-in Peace- In Joy- and- Loving God with all our heart- soul - mind and strength.

Let’s go to prayer.


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