4 Steps to Maintaining Peace at Christmastime
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’” (Luke 2:13-14).
Why does it seem that “peace on earth, good will toward men” is inapplicable in holiday traffic? Or at Black Friday sales. Or during Christmas dinner with disagreeable in-laws? The way most of us celebrate the holidays causes extraordinary mental stress, and difficulty in keeping our lives in balance. Whether it’s because of running here and there, cramming more than humanly possible into the holiday schedule, or dealing with sadness, loneliness and emotional pain, there is no doubt about it – we all need to experience more of the Christmas promise of peace.
And I love that God sent the angel to announce peace on earth from the Prince of Peace Himself, at the precise moment of Mary and Joseph’s need – when the stress surrounding His birth had reached its pinnacle. In fact, the young couple learned a lot about having peace during that first Christmas that can help us this Christmas as well.
The same peace that pierced their struggles and empowered them to carry on in the face of hardship and uncertainly, is a promise to each and every one of us. So if you’re stressed out and can’t take anymore, are spent emotionally, and struggling just to keep going…
If the holidays have brought you a sense of despair instead of joy and gratitude, I’ve got good news for you – the Savior of the world and the Prince of Peace is holding out one of the most powerful promises in the universe – peace!
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Recognize God’s Presence
Peace is actually a mindset that recognizes God’s presence in every situation, even when things appear chaotic. When you realize that your daddy (who happens to be God) is with you, fear and worry leaves, anxiety leaves, doubt leaves and confidence, courage and peace move in.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
We will have peace when we remember that nothing is too difficult for our Father. He can calm any storm with His word; He can heal any kind of disease. He provides in a multitude of ways, financially, relationally, miraculously.
He can turn any situation around for our good, and nothing can hold Him back or stand in His way. After all, if death couldn’t hold Jesus in the grave, what makes us think that our situation, whatever it is, can hold God back from helping us! Our Father is God, and He’s with us!
“Fear not for I am always with you!” (Isaiah 43:5).
Recognizing the fact that He is always present is an important key to experiencing His peace. In fact, isn’t that what ultimately brought Joseph and Mary peace? They recognized that this baby was no ordinary child, but rather He was God with them.
And God is with us too, even when we don’t see Him. So the midst of your stress and struggle this Christmas, renew your commitment to spending more time alone with God until you recognize His presence. Then watch how His peace fills and empowers you.
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Obey God’s Principles
The Bible is our owner’s manual for life.
It’s not just a book of history. It’s a book of spiritual and natural principles that teach us how to make life work. If you disregard the owner’s manual, you will cause unnecessary breakdowns in your life.
It’s much like when you buy a car. If you follow the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual, the car runs better and lasts longer. If you ignore it, the car is stressed and doesn’t operate optimally; it eventually breaks down and doesn’t last as long as it should.
The same is true with life. If you don’t obey God’s principles, you put unnecessary stress on all areas of your life. Your finances begin to sputter, you lose physical power, and it costs you big time to repair – sometimes money, sometimes relations, sometimes undo tragedies, but it almost always costs you your peace.
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).
The Bible is God’s gift to us. It gives us the instructions we need to live a victorious life. And when we obey the word of God, life just works better! And all that means less stress, and less stress means more peace!
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Trust God’s Plan
Sometimes it’s difficult to trust God’s plan because we just don’t understand.
We don’t understand how a + b is going to work out for our benefit. We don’t understand how something that looks so horrible can turn around for good. We don’t see how a setback can be morphed into a setup for a comeback.
And although we may not always understand the “how” and the “why,” we need to trust that He’s got a plan and the plan has our best interest at heart!
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Don’t lean on your own understanding, because if you do, you are limiting yourself to your capability. When you lean on your own understanding, it will produce worry and anxiety. There are certain things you and I just aren’t smart enough to navigate through, but God is an expert in all things which concern us! And He always has your best interest at heart.
Even if God leads you the long way to the Promised Land, instead of what appears to be the easy way – God’s got a plan. You may not fully understand it, but you can always trust His plan. When you trust God’s plan it will produce peace.
Mary knew this, and when the angel appeared to her and told her of a plan she didn’t understand, she said:
“’Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).
What was she actually saying? Even though I don’t really understand this God, I’m trusting your plan. That’s how you receive God’s Christmas promise of peace!
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“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Ultimately, you have one of two options in life: panic or pray. But panic and worry never does anything except steal your peace. So if you want peace this Christmastime – pray! It is God’s official antidote for worry.
After we recognize God’s presence, obey His word, and trust His plan, our focus must remain on prayer. Prayer is powerful because it changes things. It makes the impossible possible, it alters the bad report, it influences the outcome and calls in God’s promises, and it causes the tide to turn in our favor.
Are you too tired to carry on? Pray. Too weak to move forward or keep fighting? Pray! Prayer impregnates us with God’s strength.
Prayer places the burden on God. When we panic, the burden to fix things stays on us; when we pray, the burden is rolled over on God. It’s like saying to God, I’ve got this problem that’s too big for me to handle, so I’m placing it in Your capable hands!
Prayer is an earthly license for Heaven’s interference. Prayer calls God on the scene of our circumstances, and invites Him to intervene. Prayer gets our Father (who happens to be God) involved in our outcome. And when you know God as “Daddy,” that gives you great peace – because our Father always has our best interest at heart.
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Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.