Four Gifts of Christmas – PEACE

Audio (30 min

Pastor Dan Borgelt (transcript)
Well, as Charlie alluded to in our Children’s message we are indeed going to be lighting one of the Advent Candles here for the next four weeks as we’ve started our Advent Preaching Series… a series about the anticipation of The Coming of Christ through His birth.

We’re going to be discussing these four topics for the next four weeks: the discussion of the topic of PEACE, the topic of JOY, the topic of HOPE, and the topic of LOVE.

And for the Advent Candle this year, we’re going to do things a little bit different… I’m going to be the one to actually light the candle each week as a part of my message.. and what I want to do…

It became clear to me in the last few weeks as pastoring the church here that when it comes to my “Testimony“, or the story about how I’ve come to faith in Jesus Christ, it became clear to me that while I’ve been sort of transparent about different parts of my life, and maybe would give people some ideas about my childhood and my faith journey, I haven’t ever taken the time to really share it from beginning to end.

And so I had this idea to divide my testimony in to four parts, four weeks, and after each part I’ll stop and I will point that part to the topic of the day. So today you’re going to hear the first part of my testimony and then we will light the Candle of Peace; and then next week we’ll pick up and continue and so forth.

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And so you’re going to get a little more detail than maybe the typical person would hear, because normally my whole testimony might be 3-5 minutes long, and I’m going to spend a few minutes each week.

So let me go ahead and start and then we will light the Candle of Peace.

DAN PEACE

When it comes to the topic of PEACE, I would say my childhood, for the most part, it seemed like a relatively normal and peaceful childhood.

I was born in, and grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and I have two older sisters: one who’s 4 years older and one who’s 5 years older, then my mom and dad were in the house as well.

We didn’t grow up in a religious or Christian home if you will… in fact, most of my memories are of not going to church at all. I have a few early memories of attending a Catholic church but for the most part we didn’t go to church at all.

And while I was in Ann Arbor I think I lived what I thought to be a pretty normal life… I can picture our family playing games together in the house; my parents would take us over to the Stadium and we would run across the field, and run the bleachers of Michigan Stadium and ya know I thought it was a relatively normal life.

I look back now at the home and neighborhood I lived in and I probably wouldn’t buy a house in that neighborhood or buy that house, but I never felt lacking or wanting as a kid in anyway at all.

And then when I was 7 years old, near the end of my Second Grade we moved to Toledo; my father had been commuting back and forth and we finally decided to make the move.

I don’t know if it was the additional stress of the move or just me getting old enough that I became more aware of my surroundings, but I began to realize that when my mom and dad would fight, ummm… my father wouldn’t always handle it very well and he would be physically abusive towards my mother.

And I could hear it happen on occasion; and then even on occasion, ya know, see the consequences of that the next day or two.

And so, that was a part of my life that certainly threatened the amount of PEACE that I experienced as a child… but up to this point I still feel like I had a pretty decent childhood and a relatively peaceful one as well.

I can picture in our house in Toledo, my father would play ball with me in the back yard; and my parents came to all my soccer games and all those kinds of things.

And I was about in 5th Grade though that everything changed and became very different for me.

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When I was in 5th grade I left school one day and I walked home; my house was about a mile away and I always walked home, but one day I walked out of school in 5th grade and my mom and my uncle were there to pick me up.

And I didn’t think anything of it at first, and they took me back to my aunt and uncle’s house and they explained to me that I would be staying at my cousin’s house for a couple days and I would be missing school as well… so I thought, “Hey, that sounds’ like good news…” you know.

But my mom and my sisters were staying at a different aunt and uncle’s house. And so I didn’t really see them for a few days… and then my mom came over, she sat me down a couple days into the whole experience, and I could tell we were having a more serious conversation.

She had tears in her eyes… and she explained to me that she has learned that my father had been mistreating my two older sisters as well... abusing them in a different way… in a secret way if you will.

And that my oldest sister had broken down crying at school one day, and they asked her what was wrong and she told them and then they asked my other sister if that had happened and she said, “Yes, that happened to her as well”... and so my mom of course immediately just had us all leave the house.

I don’t know really why we left the house instead of my dad… I have so many more questions than answers about that season of my life, but my dad was not arrested or anything; he stayed in our home. And eventually my mom and sisters and I moved into my grandparents’ house because they were out of town for the season.

And we lived there for several months.

And so as you can imagine, this was not a peaceful time; it robbed all of the peace that I had and in our household. And it kind of sort of spiraled down hill from that because we weren’t set up to live that way. My mom was a “stay-at-home” mom, she had no income and so we were immediately in need.

We didn’t have reliable transportation, she had no job, she immediately went on welfare… and just imagine all the stress that kept building and building from all that situation.

And so we continued just to live that way with things sort of spiraling out of control and all the sort of peace and the innocence of my childhood just disappeared if you will… overnight.

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And so today when we light the Advent Candle of Peace, it’s ironic in one way because we’re stopping in my story of a testimony where I had the least peace in my entire life.

But nonetheless, we’re lighting this Advent Candle of Peace because today, many years later, now that I have the relationship with Jesus Christ… we will light the Advent Candle of Peace because I now have peace, not only in my life, but even peace about everything that happened in my household as a child.

And so we light the Advent Candle of Peace because I now have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The details of how someone who came from that childhood and ended up having a relationship with Christ and eventually becoming a pastor will be how we will continue the testimony starting next week when we discuss the topic of JOY.

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But for now I would like to invite you to a passage of Scripture this morning which is found, as we read from the outset of our Worship Service, in Isaiah 9:1-7,

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I want to invite us to this passage because I believe this is Christmas’ claim about Jesus and PEACE if you will; this is the claim of Christmas about how Jesus brings us peace.

Here it is, of course talking about Jesus’ arrival and talking about how peace is one of the realities of Jesus’ arrival… let’s start in verse 2,

“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this“.

I want to point out a couple things about this verse, and then eventually I want to take you to a few other verses; because we’re going to address:
– how Jesus brings us peace with GOD,
– how Jesus can bring us peace with OTHERS and
– how Jesus can bring us peace with OURSELVES.

But I want to look at this passage, because it is the ultimate passage when it comes to the Christmas claim that Jesus brings PEACE.

PEACE ICTHUS

I’m going to start and ask you to look at verse 6 in the Scriptures; it starts by telling us, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,” I want to be clear, when we talk about the subject of peace we are not talking about peace in the generic… we are not saying like, “Hey, you go find peace”, and “You go find peace….”.

We’ve become so individualistic as a society, it’s politically correct to say, “You do whatever you need to do to find peace”, and “You do whatever you need to do to find peace… and that way we’ll all have our own peace.

And if you need to do your religious ‘thing’, and you knew a different religious ‘thing’… that’s OK, as long as it brings you peace”… we say things like that.

But that is not what the Scriptures’ teach us.

The Scripture is very clear when it comes to the Christmas claim about peace… that the peace comes from the Child_that_is_born, the Son that is given, and that is JESUS CHRIST.

The Scripture is making it very clear to us that Jesus and Jesus alone is the source of real peace. We’re not talking about peace in the generic–from whatever way you wanna conjure up getting peace.

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As we continue in verse 6 we see that Jesus is described as the “Prince of Peace”.

Prince of Peace

Have you ever wondered, or perhaps you’re wondering now for the first time… why did they call Jesus “The Prince of Peace”… why “Prince”?  I mean why not just call Him THE KING OF PEACE? … right? .. why Prince?

When we think of “Prince” today it sort of like being 2nd in command, or the one who’s going to be in command in the future, down the road. I mean if you’re going to make a high claim about Jesus why not call Him “The King of Peace”?

Well some people have suggested that they’re trying to maintain the Trinity Formula… that idea that we believe in One God who exists as FATHER, SON and HOLY SPIRIT and so Jesus is call “The Prince” because He’s sort of view as “The Son” if you will.

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And while I think that’s a reasonable possible solution, and it might even be part of the solution as well,  I think the real heart of why Jesus is called “The Prince of Peace” is because the term “prince” has changed in it’s meaning, in it’s understanding over the centuries… that we think of it as being sort of 2nd in command, but back then PRINCE was often EQUAL to the whole idea that someone was CHIEF, or RULER of, or the HIGHEST RANK of something.

And so I think the Scripture is being clear by saying that Jesus is “THE CHIEF OF PEACE”. When it comes to the subject of “peace” He is the highest rank… if you will.

In fact, some translations, and some commentators in their translation might even use the word “Chief” instead, but something about it… “Chief of Peace” just doesn’t quite ring as well does it. So we have “The Prince of Peace“.

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But nonetheless, Jesus is being referred to at the highest ranking person when it comes to peace–the greatest source of peace there is. Actually the ONLY source of TRUE PEACE there is.

And to be fair to this passage, when it’s talking about peace it’s talking about peace in the FUTURE. We’re going to be discussing the idea that Jesus can bring us peace in this life, but this passage, to be fair to its original intention, is talking about PEACE IN THE FUTURE.

–it’s future oriented, it’s heavenly oriented, it’s eternal in it’s nature; it’s saying that Jesus, when He comes some day… now this is written 650-700 years before Jesus arrived… when He comes someday, and we now know that it wasn’t when He first arrived, but it will be at His SECOND COMING, the Second Advent that this actually becomes fulfilled.

So it’s futuristic in it’s nature… saying, “Heaven someday is going to be full_of_peace”, because it’s the renewal of all that is unpeaceful here in this life: our GOVERNMENT, our MILITARY, our entire SOCIETY, even the ANIMAL kingdom and it’s lack of peace will all be completely restored and reign when it comes to the subject of peace.

Lion Lamb

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peace 3 ways

This morning I want to share with you 3 different ways that Jesus, the Prince of Peace can effect and change our life by giving us Peace with GOD, Peace with OTHERS, and Peace with OURSELVES.

First let’s look at this whole idea of PEACE WITH GOD:

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 In the Book of Romans 5:1-2 the Scripture tells us this,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

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Now some people might hear me saying that and think, “I don’t understand why we need Jesus to have peace with God; I mean I don’t feel particularly at war with God… I don’t feel like I’m at odds with God”… people who have been around the church and people who haven’t been around the church will even say that to me.

Why do we need someone or something to happen for us to have peace with God… isn’t God by His very character a ‘peaceful God’?  Why do I need Jesus to have peace with God?”

Well the truth is that God by His character is PEACEFUL… but He’s also HOLY and JUST as well; and the Bible says that because of our behavior which is often very sinful in it’s nature, we are NOT naturally at peace with God.

In fact, we are in OPPOSITION TO GOD… the Bible goes as far as saying that, “without Jesus we are enemies of God”. 

The Scripture tells us that in the Book of Romans 5:9-10

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So we were just reading in Romans 5:1-2… now just a few verses later, Paul continues in his discussion and says this, 

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved_through_his_life!

And then in Colossians 1:21-22 the Scripture says a similar thing,

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

You see, this is the most blessed type of peace that Jesus offers us… and that is the type of Peace with God… and we need it–it’s not natural. We are naturally alienated from God, objects of His wrath in direct opposition of Him we are called “His enemies” in the Bible, but Jesus changes all of that.

Jesus changes us from being an ENEMY to a FRIEND. Jesus changes us from being an ALIEN to being ADOPTED into His family. Jesus changes us from being in OPPOSITION to God to being the RECIPIENTS of God’s kindness and goodness.

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He changes our entire status before God. And that’s the most wonderful type peace that Jesus offers us.

It’s the most important too, isn’t it?

Because the truth of the matter is we can’t have the other kinds of peace without having peace with God. Meaning, you will never have peace with other people or peace with yourself until you first experience peace with God.

There are a lot of people who try… there are a lot of people who tried to avoid God and be at peace with other people and to have a personally peaceful life, but it doesn’t work out for them.

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However, it can be the other way around; we might experience things the other way; it’s possible for some of us to be in this room to have peace with God, but yet to allow our relationship with Jesus Christ to give us peace with other people, or even peace with ourselves.

I’ve known some brothers and sisters in Christ who have a wonderful relationship with Jesus, have a wonderful relationship with God, but truthfully they are still in real opposition when it comes to their relationship with other people. They still have people in their life with whom they’re at odds.

You see they have not allowed the peace that God offers them to spill over not just between the two of them, but into their relationships as well. People who have been brothers and sisters in Christ for years, who don’t have peace with people because they haven’t been able to forgive them for what they’ve done to them.

People who have been in relationship with Christ for years who have peace with God, but not peace with themselves because they can’t get over what they’ve done to someone else.

This is the most important part of peace–to start with our peace with God, not only because it has eternal consequences, but because any other peace that we might experience in life, it has to flow from this.

Peace Others

That’s why I think we also can have peace with others as well; and maybe you’re here this morning and you don’t need to hear the “Peace with God” part… you already have that, you know that, you had it for years perhaps.

But maybe what God wants to do with this message this morning is to challenge you, particularly this Holiday Season as you’re gathering with family and stuff, is to challenge you to say, “Look, it is contradictory to be someone who claims to have peace with God but to not live at peace with other people.”

So if there is a parent, a sibling, a child, a co-worker, someone else in the church, whoever it might be, with whom you don’t have peace… it’s contradictory to claim to be someone who claims to have Peace with God and not to live at peace with other people.

And so, the Scripture tells us in Ephesians 2:11-22 this… .”

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BTW… this is the most comprehensive passage when it comes to Jesus giving us peace with other people. Here’s sort of the context–a man named Paul who’s writing to the Early Church in the City of Ephesus… and here is the Church’s dilemma: the church was made up of people of different backgrounds and that doesn’t always produce a very peaceful situation.

The Church was made up of people who were Jewish by their nature, so they had a long standing relationship with God as their people, and they had a whole different set of customs and beliefs and opinions about how you should do the God-thing, and their private life.

And then, as the message of Jesus Christ is spreading, the passage addresses Gentiles, which is basically anyone who’s NOT Jewish.  And now they start coming to the church as well, and they have different backgrounds, and different opinions, and different ideas about things.

And so these two groups of people are coming to church together and it’s creating a real tension, and Paul is saying, “Look, Jesus should alleviate ALL of that”… and here’s what the Scripture says (Eph 2:11-22),

Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier,”… 

The two groups of people (Jew and Gentile) have become one; Jesus is supposed to DESTROY that barrier.

 “… the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two (groups), thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, (last section then…) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

This is a wonderfully rich passage about how Jesus makes the various followers of Christ ONE TOGETHER–despite their different backgrounds.

1 in Christ

There is probably nothing more beautiful than when you see a church operate in unison and in unity and live at peace with each other when they come from all kinds of various backgrounds… different patterns and paths about how they came to faith in God, various mistakes, different testimonies, different Socioeconomic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds… whatever it might be, different opinions about how the church should do things… and to see them become ONE and to live at peace with each other, is a beautiful thing.

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Kirkmont, I need to tell you something … “THIS CHURCH DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME OPINION” … you all do not have the same opinion ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD DO THINGS HERE”.

Does that come as news to you? (Pastor Dan Laughs aloud).

I hope it doesn’t… but if it does we need to get that out.

I thought about having a little poll and having you raise your hands, but we didn’t need to embarrass anybody… I don’t think I need to further that point, I think it’s obvious.

And I think it’s a good point to make known, to put out there and to know as a church.

Because I know one of the things, as we do stuff and make changes from a leadership standpoint, that I will hear from people is, “Hey pastor, it’s great that you’re talking to us about other people who are in the community and stuff but, you’ve got to remember, in your effort to reach people who aren’t here, don’t forget about the people who are already here”.

That’s a valid point… right?

But… the problem with that is, everyone assumes that everyone else in this church has the same opinion as you.  And that’s not true… I know it, because I hear the different opinions, I get the EMAILS (he laughs). I have the lunch appointments.

For every change we make there’s a handful of people who tell me “LOVE IT“, and there’s a handful of people who tell me, “NOT A FAN“.

And it’s been that way my whole ministry; and for any other pastor you would ask that’s true.

The beauty of having PEACE with each other is not that some… magical way… that because we all have faith in Jesus we all have the exact same opinions like little robots walking around–Christian robots who all want the exact same thing.

That’s not how we find peace with each other.

The beauty of the church having peace with each other is that we do have differences… BUT CHRIST IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OF OUR DIFFERENCES… and we remain ONE and UNIFIED and at PEACE with each other despite our different opinions. 

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And that’s what this passage is saying that there’s no such thing as a…  — IT’S SO SAD when you think of a group of people who all claim to have peace with God who can’t get peace with each other.

And if we can’t have peace with each other, how can we have peace with the world… and our other relationships?

PEACE with GOD, PEACE with EACH OTHER, PEACE with OTHER PEOPLE… now finally, PEACE with OURSELVES – our relationships.

ourselves

In Philippians 4:4-7 the Scripture tells us this,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Let  me ask you… “What is the opposite of PERSONAL PEACE?”

question

This was a question I asked myself this week and had a hard time coming up with an answer. What is the opposite of someone having peace?  If you were trying to describe to someone, “I DON’T HAVE PEACE” in one word, what would an opposite be?

It’s a difficult one to answer because the truth is that there’s a lot different feelings and scenarios that threaten our peace.

The beauty of having PERSONAL PEACE is that it covers many things in life.

But perhaps we might be wise to just allow this passage to give us an indicator. What’s he saying, “Do not be ANXIOUS” about anything”.

We might choose then to describe a “lack of personal peace” as anything that causes ANXIETY… any anxiousness or anxiety in our lives.

If you have anxiousness  with regards to your relationship with your BOYFRIEND, or your GIRLFRIEND, your HUSBAND, or your WIFE…

What this passage is saying is that Jesus has the ability because of our relationship with Him, to drive any of the anxiety away that we might experience in our other relationships.

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Maybe you’re here this morning, and your anxiety is not relationally related, it’s HEALTH related. You have anxiety because of some health concerns; what this passage is saying is because of our relationship with Jesus Christ we might have peace through all of life’s HEALTH’S ups and downs.

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Maybe it’s not RELATIONSHIPS, maybe it’s not HEALTH…  maybe it’s FEARS…
Fears of physical harm, fears of failure of some kind… that’s causing anxiety; and what this passage is telling us, is that because of our relationship with Jesus, we can have PEACE in all of those circumstances as well.

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I can’t imagine this morning, that there’s anyone in this room who has reached fullest measure of their peace with GOD, their peace with OTHERS and peace with THEMSELVES.

It’s probably just a matter of prayerfully, individually, you saying to God, “God, where do I need my relationship with Jesus Christ to impact peace in my life?”

This friends, is not about God changing your circumstances. This series on PEACE and JOY next week and then HOPE and then LOVE, is not about God giving us PEACE by changing our circumstances… it’s not about God giving us JOY by changing by changing our circumstances; it’s not about God giving us HOPE or LOVE by changing our circumstances… it’s about our relationship with Christ giving us peace and joy and hope and love despite our circumstances.

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It would seem then, as we close, that Jesus endured a lack of peace at least momentarily, temporarily, in all three of these areas so that we wouldn’t have to.

That He endured a lack of peace in His relationship with HIS FATHER… when He hung on the Cross… when He took all of our sins, in the full measure of the wrath of God, He became the enemy of God and cries out “FATHER, WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME?”

It would seem that He experienced a lack of peace with God the Father so that we wouldn’t have to.

That He experienced a lack of peace with OTHER PEOPLE, that although someday, “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.”  For His moment in time, He allowed Himself to be mocked and beaten by the very men and women that He created.

And it would seem that He even experienced and endured… if just momentarily, a lack of PERSONAL PEACE so that we would never have to… as He sat in the garden, and His heart ached… and the Bible says that He was so anxious that He sweat “drops of blood”.

A lack of peace in all 3 of those areas so that we would never have to experience in any area.

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I want to invite our praise team to come forward; we’ll go ahead and pray and finish our time together this morning.

Heavenly Father we thank you for Your Scripture as always. And we confess to you the times in our lives that we have not sought You first for peace in the various areas of our lives.

And this Holiday season especially we celebrate the Advent of Christ’s birth as we get together with relationships and family, as we experience maybe some circumstances that often create some inner tension and concern… we pray and invite you to be the PRINCE OF PEACE in our life… we ask these things now in Christ’s name…. Amen.


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