I love the story of Jesus’ birth because it does much more than simply tell a story. It reminds us we can experience peace no matter what we’re going through. In fact, peace on earth is the main focus of the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. Here’s what the multitude of angels say in verse 14 once the announcement is made: “‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”
I have a question for you as we enter the Christmas season. Do you have peace on earth? Are you going through a struggle? Maybe it’s a financial issue or a struggle with your health or in your marriage. Maybe it’s a struggle with a child or your job or you’re just struggling with life. Did you know the suicide rate is higher at Christmas than it is during any other time of the year? It’s supposed to be a joyful time, but the enemy does everything he can to capitalize on our emotions during Christmas, and I believe it goes back all the way to Jesus’ birth.
Think about Jesus’ mother, Mary. Most people would say her life was going well on the day He was born. Yet here she was, a young teenager married to a much older man she probably didn’t know very well, giving birth to a baby in a barn far away from home. She didn’t have any friends or family nearby, and the family she did have most likely rejected her because of her pregnancy. I want you to be honest: Would you have believed her if she told you she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit before she was married? Things weren’t going well for her, and yet God was doing something amazing in her life, and she had peace. Maybe things aren’t going so well for you either, but here’s what I want you to know: You can have peace on earth because Jesus came, and He is the Prince of Peace.
A few years ago, Debbie and I took a weeklong vacation to Colorado where we rented a little cabin by a river. I was looking forward to some time off for a few days, and I remember thinking Thank You, God. One week with nothing to think about! I got a call from Pastor Tom Lane later that day about an emergency back at the church. I ended up having to take care of things at the church every day of the trip. One day, I took my Bible and a little chair to the river to spend time with the Lord, and I told Him I just wanted one week of peace. He said, “Stop complaining! You’re in a battle and you chose to be on the front line. But in the battle, will you take your Bible and chair no matter where you are and sit by a river and talk to Me? Even if there is no peace in the world around you, you can have peace in your heart.”
Then the Lord took me to Psalm 42:1. It says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” I love to watch and study deer for long periods of time. Something I’ve learned from years of doing this is there’s only one time they pant, and it’s when they’ chased by an enemy. That’s exactly what was happening in David’s life when he wrote this Psalm. He was being chased by his son Absalom, who had become his enemy. As I sat by the river and read the verse again, God said, “Son, you need me just like a deer needs water, because the enemy is chasing you right now and you better get with me.” I needed peace on earth, and if you can relate, here is how you can have peace on earth too.
Recognize you’re in a battle.
In Psalm 42:3, David was on the run and he was going through a tough time. He says, “My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’” Now, who do you think is asking David this question? It’s the enemy. Have you ever heard this question? Satan never takes a break, not even at Christmas. He’s constantly reminding us of bad memories and people we’ve lost. It’s amazing to me that Satan will even take the death of loved ones and torment us with them, and he does it a lot during the holidays.
We need to remember the battle is real, and it’s taking place in the spiritual realm so it must be fought in the spirit. What’s the enemy’s best tactic? He lies to us, and he’s good at it. In fact, he’s had 10,000 years of practice.
Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself.
This may sound funny, but let me tell you what I mean by it. We have to stop listening to our souls (mind, will, and emotions) and start allowing our spirits to do the talking. Our souls get hung up on our feelings and circumstances, and they often fall for the enemy’s lies. Look at Psalm 42:5 and watch how David’s spirit starts talking to his soul: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” Our souls must be quiet, our spirits must rule over our souls, and we must rebuke the enemy.
Get with God.
The best way to strengthen your spirit is by spending time with God. Take a look at Psalm 43:4. After all his time in exile and being chased into the wilderness, David writes: “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.” I think David realized he was missing the presence of God, so he began to praise God and spend time in His presence.
I’ll never forget the time a lady in our church told me about Christmas in her house when she was growing up. She said it was the worst time of year because her father was an alcoholic. As an adult, she dreaded Christmas every year because of the flood of memories, but then something happened. She decided, “I can’t have another bad Christmas.” She got her Bible and played some worship music and began to spend time in God’s presence. She asked Him where He was all those years growing up, and He began to show her all the ways He protected her and her family and how He saved her. Now she has great Christmases.I’m telling you, Christmas is the most joyous time of the year and you can have peace on your earth, and it comes from the Prince of Peace. No matter what battle or struggle you’re facing, spend time in His presence and you will have peace in your heart.