Prepare to Receive the Gift of Peace

December 10, 2023
Prepare to Receive the Gift of Peace

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40: 1 - 11 (NIV)

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arm sand carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Message:  Prepare to Receive the Gift of Peace

A call from exile

This Scripture is from the section in Isaiah where the people is called to prepare to receive the restoration that God is going to bring  

This call is made to them in the midst of where they find themselves - Exile

It announces the restoration of peace - inner peace and security

Surely a call that would have ignited hope in their hearts

For they found themselves in a place of exile

The call is prepare to receive…

The people of God was taken away into exile - removed from what brings them comfort and surety in their lives

They were living without peace, because they were torn away from all forms of security in their lives - they were foreigners, they did not have freedom, they did not own land, they did not have their temple anymore (the symbol of their connection to God), they did not even have their families together anymore

Exile is such a powerful metaphor, isn’t it?

Exile is where we find ourselves when we experience loss 

Exile is where we find ourselves when we get hurt by others

Exile is something we experience when everyone else around us is excited about Christmas and we feel the great pain of missing someone

Exile is a place in our minds when things aren’t going well emotionally

For many of us, this time of the year is a reminder that exile exist in our lives

If this is you, there’s a call from exile for you:  “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord

Prepare to Receive

Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for the action of receiving 

With our own reference to exile in our lives, it is easy to be resisting Christmas celebrations in this time

This call from the wilderness is a call to action

It is a call to intentionally accept what God is giving in this time, despite having reason to turn away from it

It is a call to accept rather than to ignore or resist

It is a call to be open to fully experience what God is giving to you in this time

It is a call to make the effort to think and ponder rather than to be ignorant

It is a call to renew and rediscover your faith - the faith you have in a Saviour that came to this world to set you free

This call is call to prepare to receive what God is giving

Have you made preparations to receive from God in time of Christmas?

You might be surprised what can happen this Christmas when you make the effort to intentionally prepare yourself to receive what God is intending to give to you this Christmas

Advent is all about preparation and receiving

So let us anticipate that God has something special for us this Christmas!

Receiving the Gift of Peace

One of the most vivid scenes of Christmas is where shepherds and angels meet up in the field where sheep graze

Let’s put ourselves in that field for a moment - Reading from Luke 2: 8 - 14 (NIV)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

Peace on earth - the gift the great company of angels came to announce

Because peace is what we lack when we find ourselves in exile

And here’s the good news:  Peace on earth!

Peace to those on whom his favour rests

I do believe that God wants everyone to receive his Gift of Peace

But we know that everyone will not choose to receive what God give

Might it be that God’s favour rests on those who are willing to let go of their pride and resistance, and choose receive the Gift that God give?

Today, I believe there’s a call coming from the wilderness

A call that is meant to be heard in place of exile

It is a call that is all around us this time of the year - you cannot miss it with all the decorations and events around us

But Peace can be illusive if we don’t take care to prepare

We might just miss the Peace God is giving freely if we aren’t willing to receive

May you prepare to receive the Gift of Peace this Christmas!


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