There will not be a Good News Brief until the new year on January 4.
RECAP: PEACE ON EARTH based on Isaiah 11:1-9
We all want peace on earth. Yet as human beings, we are very proficient at not producing peace, but war and conflict. We have tried for millennia to bring peace on the earth, but we just see more and more division and strife. In part, this is due to varying definitions of peace. Some define peace as no war or physical conflict. Others define peace as complete tolerance of neighbor, while still others define peace as the lack of offense and everyone embracing everything. But as long as we have free will as humanity and the ability to choose, these definitions of peace can never be achieved.
However, for the ancient Hebrews, a different definition of peace emerged. This shalom peace is defined as a state of all is well with our relationship with God, our relationship with others, and our relationship with ourselves. It is an all-encompassing sense of peace, that all is as it should be, and one can simply rest and enjoy. This peace can change the world. But is it solely ideological, or is it possible?
Isaiah prophesied of a day when the wolf would lie down with the lamb, the lion with the calf, and a child will reach into the viper’s nest without injury. The utopic picture at the end of this passage is what we all strive toward. But how do we get there? Isaiah pointed out four things:
1) Peace cannot be achieved without the Messiah. We have tried for ages to find peace on our own, or find another way of peace. But this peaceful state comes from the shoot coming from the stump of Jesse, or later described, the Branch. The stump of Jesse refers to the line of kings broken by the exile. From the midst of ruin, the Messiah will come and restore all things. We can try and restore that which is broken, our relationship with God. But our sin can only be overcome by the perfect Son of God. We can try to find another path to eternal life, but Jesus is the only way. Although popular opinion (and even held by many people of faith) is that everyone is in, there is no such thing as hell, and all roads lead to heaven, that contradicts even the very words of Jesus himself in Matthew 7! Without the Messiah, there is no peace with God possible, and certainly no peace on Earth! And we access this peace by abiding in Christ, by being connected to the Branch. Apart from him, and the regular spiritual nourishment from faith, we will eventually lose that connection and lose true peace.
2) Rest in the Spirit of God. When we rest in the Spirit of God, we gain access to the very mind and heart of God. The Spirit of God provides wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, and knowledge. We gain the ability to know how to proceed, the why behind how people feel, true understanding of the Word, the boldness to stand, and the ability to hear God’s leading. If God is the source of all peace, and we are connected to him and his leading, we will also know peace! But we need to rest–that means, we have to be content and come to the place where we say God is all we need and stop striving to find alternatives and going to God as a last resort!
3) Delight in the Fear of the LORD. To delight in Hebrew is to spend intimate time with, to enjoy one’s company, or to savor (like a Lindt truffle or a baked potato!). But our delight needs to be in the fear of the LORD. This is not being afraid of God, but rather respecting God for who he truly is. God is love, but God is also holy. Without holiness, no one will see God. The world tries to find peace by ignoring the sin problem or overlooking sin. But until we deal with our sin, we can never truly delight in the fear of the LORD and we will never know peace. Sin is sin. No matter how much our world tries to redefine sin, God’s Word is still the standard and is unchanging. Even many of our fellow believers want us to minimize sin, saying we shouldn’t talk about it so we don’t offend. But truth exposes darkness, sets people free, and is offensive (1 Cor 1; 1 Pet 2; John 8). That doesn’t mean speaking the truth in hate, but with love and concern. But if we remain in willful sin, we show we do not fear the LORD or respect his holiness.
4) Live in righteousness and justice. Those who live in true peace live in righteousness and justice. Righteousness is living according to God’s holy standard as seen by his character and the Word of God. If humanity was the standard of righteousness, it would lead to death (Prov 16:25). Justice strives to make all things right in the world, to level the playing field. It is to make sure, according to the whole body of Scripture, people in need are taken care of, that no one is denied access to the presence of God, and that all people are treated in a way that all are welcome to God’s table. But all efforts of justice must be rooted in righteousness and in the fear of the LORD. Forsaking God’s character to make things equal does not bring true peace or justice! For what good does it profit to gain the whole world and make everyone feel good, but have watered down the gospel, lose the call for repentance and forfeit our souls? No, justice should be executed to be able to give everyone the opportunity to not only live on this earth but have the ability to make the choice to accept Christ or reject him.
Peace can come to this earth, at least the peace God intended. It is difficult and meets us at our core; but if we can follow through, we will know the peace that passes all understanding.
Questions for Reflection
1) How do you regularly strengthen your connection to Jesus?
2) Do you believe that Jesus is all you need? If not, what might be holding you back?
3) What unconfessed sin do you need to bring before the Lord and surrender?
4) Where could you serve as an agent of God’s justice?
Christmas Eve, we will hear the meditation “Goodwill to All Humanity”, based on Isaiah 42:1-7. How does Christ provide goodwill?
Sunday we will hear the sermon titled, “The Year of the Lord’s Favor”, based on Isaiah 61:1-11. What does the favor of the Lord look like?
Epiphany Sunday we will hear the sermon titled, “Out of Egypt,” based on Matthew 2:13-23. How does God prove faithfulness in the midst of adversity? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for December 21 – January 3
December 21: Luke 1:39-45 What was Mary and Elizabeth’s combined peace?
December 22: Luke 1:46-55 How would the Christ child bring peace?
December 23: Luke 1:57-66 How did Zechariah finally find peace?
December 24: Luke 1:67-79 How would God bring peace through John?
December 25: Luke 2:1-7 How did God demonstrate peace through the birth of Christ?
December 26: Luke 2:8-20 How did God show favor to shepherds?
December 27: Luke 2:21-34 How did God show favor to Simeon?
December 28: Luke 2:36-40 How did God show favor to Anna?
December 29: Luke 2:41-52 How did God show favor to Mary and Joseph?
December 30: Matthew 2:1-12 How did God show favor to the Magi?
December 31: Matthew 2:13-23 How did God show favor to Mary and Joseph again?
January 1: John 1:1-18 How did God show favor to all humanity?
January 2: Exodus 1:1-22 How did Pharaoh try to stop Israel from growing?
This Week’s Events:
Friday, December 24–Christmas Eve Service @ 11 pm
Sunday, January 2–Bread & Cup Communion
Sunday, January 2–First Sunday Breakfast & Offering (God’s Pit Crew–tornado relief/recovery)
Wednesday, January 5–Worship Team @ 7:30 pm
Advent Food Baskets
Please do not forget to collect your food items for the pantries found on the backside of the Hanging of the Greens insert. If you would like to reacquire the list, please let the church office know.
We will take a pause from question/answer and listening sessions for the Advent Season. In January, we will schedule several different listening sessions as we continue to discern.
We will start our new Bible Study soon! The topic is how to grow in our ability to study the Bible. Dates will be announced soon.
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s stories. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer & Discernment
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
7) Guidance for our congregation in the days ahead
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Patsy Dastoli (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
John Fix (addiction)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary G Miller (health)
Marty Moore (recovery)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Lottie Ritchie (health)
Abbie Shiflet (health)
Chris Shirk (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Tom Wilfong (health)
Charles Wright (recovery from surgery)
Joyce Wright (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB