Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:17
An anonymous poem appeared in the Church of England Magazine on March 3, 1858. No one knows its author, although various theories are suggested. It’s a simple prayer, and perhaps its words will encourage you today, 161 years after they were published.
Prince of Peace, control my will;
Bid my struggling heart be still;
Bid my fears and doubts to cease,
Hush my spirit into peace.
May Thy will, not mine, be done;
May Thy will and mine be one;
Chase these doubtings from my heart,
Now Thy perfect peace impart.
Peace is elusive in our world today, but we have the Prince of Peace with us, and He gives us His perfect peace. Let not your heart be troubled. Ask Him today for His peace—and claim it.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit, Part 1 (John 14:15–19)
Sovereign Lord, . . . you may now dismiss your servant in peace. Luke 2:29
On Christmas Eve 1944, a man known as “Old Brinker” lay dying in a prison hospital, waiting for the makeshift Christmas service led by fellow prisoners. “When does the music start?” he asked William McDougall, who was imprisoned with him in Muntok Prison in Sumatra. “Soon,” replied McDougall. “Good,” replied the dying man. “Then I’ll be able to compare them with the angels.”
Although decades earlier Brinker had moved away from his faith in God, in his dying days he confessed his sins and found peace with Him. Instead of greeting others with a sour look, he would smile, which “was quite a transformation,” said McDougall.
Brinker died peacefully after the choir of eleven emaciated prisoners sang his request, “Silent Night.” Knowing that Brinker once again followed Jesus and would be united with God in heaven, McDougall observed, “Perhaps Death had been a welcome Christmas visitor to old Brinker.”
How Brinker anticipated his death reminds me of Simeon, a holy man to whom the Holy Spirit revealed that “he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah” (Luke 2:26). When Simeon saw Jesus in the temple, he exclaimed, “You may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation” (vv. 29–30).
As with Brinker, the greatest Christmas gift we can receive or share is that of saving faith in Jesus.
Reflect & Pray
Why do you think McDougall saw death as a welcome visitor for Brinker? How does Jesus bring you joy and change you?
Jesus, thank You for ushering in peace through Your death and resurrection. Help me to share Your gift of salvation with someone I know or meet.
The Christmas season offers a wonderful opportunity to show love and appreciation for others by giving gifts. God the Father set the precedent by giving His Son to the world, but we must not forget that Jesus Himself was characterized by selfless giving. Generosity isn’t measured as much by our gift as it is by the sacrifice required to give it. So, what did God the Son give up when He came to earth as a tiny infant?
Jesus gave Himself as a Servant. We know that He was God’s servant because He did and said only what His Father commanded. But Jesus didn’t stop there. The Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth also became a servant to sinful mankind. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and taught the multitudes. But His humility didn’t stop there.
Jesus gave Himself as a Sacrifice. He humbled Himself to die on a cross, bearing the Father’s righteous wrath and judgment for our sins. Although He was holy and pure, He gave Himself up to be beaten, tortured, mocked, and executed by sinful men.
Jesus gave Himself as a Savior. Now all those who believe in Him can be forgiven, reconciled with God, and saved from the penalty of eternal punishment in hell. But that’s not all. He also gives us eternal life and the promise of an inheritance in heaven.
We can’t imagine what it was like to leave the glories of heaven to come to earth as a human being. All we can do is thank Jesus for the indescribable gift of Himself.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
One basic reason why so many people seem to have trouble understanding the Bible is that they try to “interpret” it to fit their private opinions. The Greek word for “private” (idios) is related to such English words as “idiom” and “idiosyncrasy,” and this key passage warns us against any exposition of Scripture that is based on the teacher’s pet doctrinal or behavioral prejudices. A reader or hearer of the Word of God whose “heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing” will be unable to “understand” (Matthew 13:15) because he comes with his mind and heart already bound to his own opinions.
The Bible does not need to be “interpreted” at all. In every other New Testament reference to “interpretation,” except the one in our text (which means “explanation” or “exposition”), the meaning is simply “translation.” The Bible does, of course, need to be correctly translated from Greek and Hebrew into English and other national languages, but that is all. God is able to say what He means, and He wants to communicate His authoritative Word to men and women of obedient hearts, who are willing to devote diligent study to all the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:12-14), to obey them (James 1:22), and then teach them to others (2 Timothy 2:2, 24-26) carefully, and clearly, and graciously.
To such students of the Word, the promise is: “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:3-5). HMM
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Then there is the matter of constant consolation and peace—the promise of always feeling relaxed and at rest and enjoying ourselves inwardly.
This, I say, has been held up as being quite the proper goal to be sought in the evil hour in which we live. We forget that our Lord was a Man of sorrow and acquainted with grief We forget the arrows of grief and pain which went through the heart of Jesus’ mother, Mary. We forget that all of the apostles except John died a martyr’s death. We forget that there were 13 million Christians slain during the first two generations of the Christian era. We forget that they languished in prison, that they were starved, were thrown over cliffs, were fed to the lions, were drowned, that they were sewn in sacks and thrown into the ocean….
But there is something better than being comfortable, and the followers of Christ ought to find it out—the poor, soft, overstuffed Christians of our time ought to find it out!…
We Protestants have forgotten altogether that there is such a thing as discipline and suffering. WPJ017-019
Forgive me for complaining, Lord, about the few trials I’ve experienced. Amen.
There was no room for them in the inn.—Luke 2:7.
God often would enrich, but finds not where to place His treasure,—nor in hand nor heart a vacant space.
Richard Chenevix Trench.
The soul, in its highest sense, is a vast capacity for God. It is like a curious chamber added on to being, and somehow involving being, a chamber with elastic and contractile walls, which can be expanded, with God as its guest, illimitably, but which without God shrinks and shrivels until every vestige of the Divine is gone.
All that God desires is to give you His great love, so that it may dwell in you, and be the principle of your life and service j and all that withstands God’s desire and His gift is the want of room for it, and for its free movement, when that room is taken up with yourselves and your little personal interests.
William Bernard Ullathorne.
By rooting out our selfish desires, even when they appear to touch no one but ourselves, we are preparing a chamber of the soul where the Divine Presence may dwell.
“Thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee.” Deut. 33:29
That arch-enemy, the devil, is a liar from the beginning; but he is so very plausible that, like mother Eve, we are led to believe him. Yet in our experience we shall prove him a liar.
He says that we shall fall from grace, dishonor our profession, and perish with the doom of apostates; but, trusting in the Lord Jesus, we shall hold on our way and prove that Jesus loses none whom His Father gave Him. He tells us that our bread will fail, and we shall starve with our children; yet the Feeder of the ravens has not forgotten us yet, and He will never do so, but will prepare us a table in the presence of our enemies.
He whispers that the Lord will not deliver us out of the trial which is looming in the distance, and he threatens that the last ounce will break the camel’s back. What a liar he is! For the Lord will never leave us, nor forsake us. “Let him deliver him now!” cries the false fiend: but the Lord will silence him by coming to our rescue.
He takes great delight in telling us that death will prove too much for us. “How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” But there also he shall prove a liar unto us, and we shall pass through the river singing psalms of glory.