Prince of Peace
Dear Friend in Christ:
Grace and peace to you in the name of the Lord! Yes, grace and peace, even in days of turmoil, strife, and confusion; in fact, especially in these days.
We just witnessed the memorial service for former First Lady of the United States Rosalynn Carter. There were many inspiring and moving moments and the service closed with this familiar song:
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Peace on earth is what everyone claims to desire, but how can we achieve peace on earth when we can’t even achieve peace in our neighborhoods, in our jobs, or in our homes? How can we have peace on earth when we don’t have peace in our hearts? The truth is, as long as we lack peace with God personally, we will not have peace with one another.
A popular bumper sticker for many years said: “Visualize World Peace.” Later, a much more relevant bumper sticker retorted: Visualize Whirled Peas!” World peace doesn’t come from visualization, good wishes, or even from Santa Claus. In fact, peace on earth cannot and will not originate on the earth. It’s a gift that comes down from above.
It’s always a bit of a challenge to write a Christmas letter, because we all think that we’re familiar with the story. But, if we will make room for Him in the inn of our hearts, the Lord Jesus will give to us fresh revelation and insight.
In the early verses of Luke 2, we read about Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, and that amazing moment when Jesus Christ was born in a stable, wrapped in a little blanket, and placed down on the only bed that was available: a hay-filled animal feeding trough.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:8-18).
This is not science fiction or a fairy tale. I believe this happened, just as the Bible says. And if it is true, it has eternal cosmic consequences worthy of our attention and rejoicing.
The War Gene
As my friends know, I enjoy “strange-but-true” news headlines. One of my favorites from years ago is, “PEACE ACTIVISTS RIOT.” Well, peace can be a stressful endeavor!
There’s a lot of talk these days about war and peace. It’s really nothing new. Even before time began, there was war in heaven. Proud archangel Lucifer had the notion to rebel against God, and he led a mob of malcontent angels against the Lord. The battle went very poorly for Lucifer and his followers, and they were cast out of heaven.
Lucifer eventually found his way into the Garden of Eden—a place of beauty, peace, and harmony here on earth—where God, Adam, and Eve enjoyed perfect fellowship. There, in the form of a serpent, Lucifer—who is the devil, Satan, the accuser—tempted Eve. Her husband, Adam, stood by as the enemy whispered words of seduction to his wife. And then, after abdicating his God-given leadership and protective role, Adam himself gave into the devil’s temptation, thereby plunging creation under the chaotic curse of sin.
War came quickly into Adam and Eve’s house, as their younger, jealous son Cain murdered his brother, Abel. Even as Adam and Eve’s other descendants began to multiply and fill the earth, jealousy, striving, and lack of harmony with God caused sinful men to plot and scheme against one another. These plots frequently led to bloody violence. Even after the flood, when all of mankind perished, except for one righteous man, Noah and his family, the “war gene” remained in the human DNA. This sin flaw within provoked eventual warfare and splintering in the human family.
The soil of the five continents is bloody from the battles that have arisen from our fundamental inability to live in peace with one another. And our fundamental inability to live in peace with one another arises from our fundamental inability individually to live in peace with God. That is, enjoying peace with God is not something that we can achieve or obtain through any form of human initiative, goodness, wisdom, or strength.
How wonderful it is, then, that enjoying peace with God is a blessing initiated by God Himself towards man, through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. God, recognizing the lost and hopeless condition of mankind, sent love and hope in the form of a person, Jesus Christ, God’s very own Son. God made flesh.
Jesus displayed righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. He lived a sinless life, and brought healing and blessing everywhere He went. But He was despised and rejected by mankind; He was falsely accused and executed in a heinous Crucifixion by the Roman occupiers.
He died not for His own sins, for He was sinless, but He died in our place – God placed upon His Son the sins of the world, so that when Jesus died, He paid the price for all of mankind’s evil behavior. Where Adam’s sin had brought separation between God and man and placed the sin gene into all of Adam’s descendants, the death of Jesus paid for all of the sins and made a way for mankind to walk in newness of life with God.
Jesus was buried, but He didn’t stay dead! On the third day, He rose again, triumphing over death and hell, bursting forth from the tomb in glory and power. His victory gave to everyone everywhere a blessed hope that the grave is not the end. For those who would believe in Him, take up their own cross and follow Him, and receive His Resurrection power, they would not only experience His life and healing here on earth, but for all of eternity in Heaven with Him.
THE OFFER STILL STANDS
Even today, at the dawn of 2023 AD, the same gracious offer from God still stands. All who would embrace faith in Jesus can have peace with God. Jesus stands at the door to our hearts and says, “Follow Me!” We don’t come to Jesus through our perfection, but through His. We don’t have to be perfect to be seated at His table. He brings us into His family, and then He perfects us in fellowship.
Peace is not caving into the desires of your enemies, especially when your enemies are committed to your total destruction and to the destruction of the innocents. Ultimate peace is won by the Lion Who is a Lamb; the little Babe in the manger Who became the Mighty Warrior; the glorious One Who triumphed over sin, death, hell, and Satan; the winner and still champion; the Greatest of all time, Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth!
It is in receiving Jesus, and on that basis alone, that we can have peace with God; peace in our hearts; and peace with one another. The man who is at odds with God will eventually be at odds with his neighbor. However, the one who receives peace with God is not only blessed personally, but they also become another signpost on the one, true roadmap to peace for everyone, everywhere.
On that glorious night more than 2000 years ago, the angels declared: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men.” The Bible says that the shepherds not only heard, but they went and saw, and upon seeing, they went out and told everyone, everywhere.
We have heard the angel song, and we have beheld our Savior. We live in a world that still needs to know this same news and receive His gift of peace. I heard my dad talk about how not only can we have peace with God through Jesus, and peace from God, but we can also have the peace of God. It’s the peace that God Himself has, sitting on the Throne, ruling and reigning in righteousness and majesty and power.
God Himself is the peace that passes all understanding that transcends all circumstance and emotion. His peace is unmovable, unshakable, and cannot be stolen or destroyed. This peace existed in Heaven with God from before the beginning, and it will never, ever come to an end. It’s God’s gift to us through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who was given to us on that first Christmas night so long ago.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken through Isaiah, 700 years before the birth of Jesus:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Thanks to all of you who have prayed for our family during multiple health crises, including for my father, Charles Simpson, who was hospitalized for three days with AFib and respiratory issues. Praise God, he is now resting at home and improving. Both he and I have dates available in 2024 for travel ministry and fellowship. Please call (251) 633-7900 for more information, and follow Charles Simpson Ministries on Facebook and X (Twitter) @CSMinPublishing. We also have a YouTube Channel: CSMPublishing. Would you prayerfully consider a special year-end, tax-deductible gift to support the work of the ministry here and to more than 100 nations worldwide? We are also supporting many other ministries as they serve God and people. This year has been a challenge for all of us financially. We don’t spend a lot of time on fundraising, but we are asking now. We are trusting God to provide all of our needs and yours as well. You remain in our prayers. If you have any prayer requests, you can visit us here and we are honored to stand with you. We love and appreciate you so much and pray you have a truly joyous Christmas and blessed New Year!
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.