Are you in search of peace? It starts from within, says Dale O'Shields, senior pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg, Md. His blog this week offers inspiration as the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, approaches:
"One of the words that ubiquitously appears at Christmas is 'peace.' You see it on lots of Christmas cards and decorations. It's a theme of many of our favorite Christmas carols. The reason it's such a popular word during this season is because it's a key part of the Christmas story.
"When God announced the birth of Jesus the Messiah to the Bethlehem shepherds, angels sang out this familiar chorus: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'
"The coming of Jesus to the world opened the pathway to real peace. In fact, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Messiah as the 'Prince of Peace.' When we put our faith in Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, the possibilities of peace open up to us like never before.
"God's peace is a two-dimensional experience. It is something that happens inside of us. It is also something that should go beyond us. It is something that should be extended through us to others.
"Real peace begins within. The coming of Jesus to our world provided us a way to shed the burden of guilt and shame. Through His death and resurrection, we can now know that our sins are forgiven. We can have peace with God.
"As followers of Jesus, we can trust Him with every part of our lives. He provides for our needs, helps us with our problems, and cares about our cares. Knowing this gives us an inner peace that goes beyond natural understanding.
"This wonderful peace of Jesus also places some requirements on us. For God's peace to be sustained in us, it must be demonstrated through us to others. We must be willing to let go of offenses, release resentment, refuse jealousy and put an end to division and strife in our relationships. The coming of Jesus calls us to live in the peace of God and to choose to be at peace with others.
"Do you need some peace within? Jesus offers it to you!
"Do you need to make peace with others? Jesus gives you the power to make peace!
"Don't forget the 'in's' and 'out's' of God's peace!"