Everyone wants peace.  Whether you are a natural leader sitting across a table from other world leaders, or a business person facing the pressures and deadlines at the office; a homemaker trying to corral the kids, or a student just trying to make it through the semester, everyone wants peace.  And most people will go to whatever limit to find peace.  But most people in our world today, if they are honest with themselves, have to admit that they experience more stress than peace.

We, Americans, live in comfortable homes, but domestic violence is at an all-time high.  Our cities are the most modern in the world, yet the streets are unsafe.  Our communication technology is unsurpassed, but there has never been more misunderstanding.  In fact, many come to church filled with anxiety.

So where can we find peace?  Where on this earth can we discover lasting and fulfilling peace?  For many the destination for finding peace may seem preposterous.  The place of peace is actually a person – the Prince of Peace.  The only lasting source of peace is God Himself.  In fact, it is the message of Advent.

The bottom line is that we’ve got to have peace with God before we can have any other kind of peace.  This is a fact – a truth revealed to us by our maker – God Himself.

I would like to share this very interesting story with you.  Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict.  It was their first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.  Then the long collaboration fell apart.  It began with a small misunderstanding, grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning, there was a knock on the older brother’s door.  He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days’ work,” he said.   “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there.  Could  I help you?”

“Yes,” said the older brother.  “I do have a job for you.  Look across the creek at that farm.  That’s my neighbor; in fact, it’s my younger brother.  Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river     levee and now there is a creek between us.  Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better.  See the pile of lumber by the barn?  I want you to build me a tall fence so I won’t need to see his face anymore!  That’ll show him!”

The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation.  Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”

The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.  The carpenter worked hard all day measuring, sawing, nailing.

At sunset, when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.  The farmer’s eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped.  There was no fence at all.  It was a bridge!  A bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other.  A fine piece of work.  Just before the farmer could say anything, he saw his younger brother coming across the bridge, his hand outstretched.  “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” 

The two brothers met at the middle of the bridge, taking each other’s hands.  They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder. 

“No, wait!  Stay a few days.  I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.

“I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but I have so many more bridges to build.”

The fact remains that before we can experience personal peace, we must receive the Prince of Peace in our life.  How can we do this?  Simple.  Admit to God that you are powerless and that sin separates us from God.  Believe that Jesus – born in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago and with us now – is the Son of God, and accept God’s gift of forgiveness.  Confess your faith in Jesus and invite Him into the Inn of your life.

We must have peace with God before we can experience the peace of God.  Everyone who really knows Jesus can go through any problem and still have the peace of God in one’s heart.  When your spouse dies, or your children get sick, or you lose your job, you can have peace that you don’t understand.  This peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with conflicts and frustrations.  Even in the midst of difficulties, God’s peace will be present –  for the asking.

So, Advent reminds us that you will not experience true or lasting peace until Jesus is in charge of your life.  Peace, remember, is not a trouble-free life; it’s a sense of calm in the midst of life’s storms.

What, then, is robbing you of peace today?  Is it guilt?  Turn to God for forgiveness.  Is it worry? A job change? Finances?  Major surgery? A difficult person? You can talk to Jesus about all of these things and anything else that is bothering you.

The God of all peace wants to give you peace, and He is here now – ready to make that gift to you. Will you     accept it?