Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Peace: A Benediction

Episode Resources

Watch Nancy teach this message.

Dannah Gresh: On this final day of 2019, I'm happy to announce that Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and I are going to sing a duet! Ready? Here we go, Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Uhhh, no. When Revive Our Hearts started, I was told early on that I could never sing on the program.

Dannah: Who told you that?

Nancy: Trust me. So why do you want to sing?

Dannah: Because I want to demonstrate something very important.

Nancy: Can you just explain it without the singing?

Dannah: Oh . . . all right. I’ll try. Okay, you know about harmony?

Nancy: Yes, I love it when other people harmonize.

Dannah: One person sings. The other listens and complements them. It shows that a lot of time that two are better than one.

Nancy: Well, that's true. I believe that.

Dannah: And here in December, there has been a lot of harmonizing . . . and I’m not just talking about Christmas carols. Some friends of Revive Our Hearts know two are better than one, so they’ve been harmonizing with our listeners.

Nancy: You want to explain that?

Dannah: We’ve been facing some big year-end financial needs. At the same time, opportunities abound ahead of us in the new year. But to be ready to keep current outreaches going and to move forward in new areas, we need listeners to give here in December.

Some friends of Revive Our Hearts know about these needs, and they know two are better than one. So they’ve been matching the gifts of every listener as part of a matching challenge. When you give, they join you and give too—kind of like adding harmony to your song.

Nancy: I like that harmony stuff, Dannah. And it’s been beautiful to see as listeners have joyfully responded to our year-end needs. Just a reminder, today is the final day of that matching challenge. So if you’ve been thinking, I’d like to help Revive Our Hearts meet that matching challenge, today’s your last chance!

Dannah: Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation today, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Nancy: And let me just say from my heart, "Thank you so much for supporting the ministry as we prepare for another year of calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ!"

Dannah: Now, Nancy, can we sing the theme song together—“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”?

Nancy: Umm, no.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with the non-singing Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender, for Tuesday, December 31, 2019.

This year has brought us reports of conflicts around the world and conflicts at home. Every day you can look at your phone and read stories about a world without peace. But it’s not only in the headlines. We look at our own homes and relationships and too often find turmoil there. But we know a Savior who is our peace, and we can experience it no matter what is happening around us. Today Nancy will bring us a message called “Peace: A Benediction.”

Nancy: On Sunday afternoons, Robert and I usually call my mother. She lives in Florida; we live in Michigan. We don’t get to see her nearly as often as we’d like. We love talking with her. And let me just say, parenthetically, my mother loves Robert. She is so sweet to him and he is so sweet to her. So those are always really sweet calls!

But at the end of the call, Robert will usually say, “Okay, let me ‘benedict’ our call.” And what he does is, he prays a blessing on her—a benediction. “Benediction” I looked this up, just because I was curious about it the other day. You don’t hear the word a lot these days in normal usage. There’s a thing you can Google where it can tell you words that are printed in books and how often they’re often used today compared to how often they were used years ago. (I’m kind of a geek about that stuff!) The word “benediction” was way more commonly used in the 1800s than it is today . . . for those of you who can remember back then. 

It comes from two Latin root words: “bene” meaning “well” and “diction” meaning “to speak.” It means “to speak well of.” Some of our church traditions close the service with a benediction, which is “speaking well of God and the people of God.” 

It’s a blessing spoken over God’s people, and it’s come to be thought of mostly at the end of the service. It doesn’t have to be at the end. It could be at the opening. But usually we’d say the benediction is at the end of the service. It’s a blessing spoken over God’s people.

Many of the epistles in the New Testament end with a benediction. Some of them even have some benedictions that occur midway through the book. A recurring theme in these benedictions is a prayer that God’s people will be blessed with peace. Peace.

Let me give you a few examples. 

Peace be to the brothers [and sisters] . . .from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:23). 

It’s a benediction. Here’s one at the end of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 23. 

May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. 

And Romans 15:13: 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen” (Rom. 15:33).

And then, Jude—that little epistle—verse 2: 

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 

So these writers, different ones of them in the New Testament, were praying for peace for the people who were receiving their letters.

Now as we come to the end of this year, only God knows for any of us what the year ahead will hold. But one thing we know for sure, and that is that there will be a lot of things this coming year that will try to steal our peace! I just made a list of some of those.

You could add to the list, but some of the things that are going to try and steal our peace are good things: family, church, work, friends. But sometimes you’re just going to feel during the course of this year so stretched and overwhelmed with all the things on your to-do list, and you lose your peace! It’s not because they’re bad things; it’s just because there’s so much of good things, right? 

But then there are hard things that can steal our peace: tensions, hostility. You can see it if you turn on the news; you see it in social media—combative words, shrill tone! There are going to be politics in the year ahead, and it’s going to threaten to steal your peace, I can tell you that. 

We’re a severely divided nation, and a lot of times we just sit and scream at each other across the aisle, or across the table.As we go into this next year, we’re heading into an election season.

The primary season is just around the corner! (It feels like we’ve just barely finished the last election season, but they just kind of lead just one into the next!) That’s going to be stuff that will steal your peace, or try to. 

We have racial division in this country, and we’re being reminded of that constantly. And division not only between races but between men and women, between young and old, between rich and poor. These are things that get us having conflict with each other rather than peaceful relationships. 

There are going to be some weather crises in this nation, for sure, in the year ahead. There will be hurricanes; there will be storms; there will be tornadoes.

And may you not be in one of those, but you may be. You may lose things that you hold dear, or you may have to evacuate—as a friend of mine recently did—because of wildfires, forest fires coming up to your area. So there are going to be weather crises. 

There are going to be, for some, financial stress. You may lose your job in the year ahead.

You think, This is the end of the year. You’re trying to make me feel good about the year coming!? I’m just being realistic. 

You’re going to face some relational challenges, conflicts—whether at work, at church, at home. It’s going to happen! 

There are going to be some family crises. You may find out this coming year that your son is leaving his wife. Or you may find out that your husband is leaving you. Right now you have no idea, but there are going to be some crises around the corner. 

Today is New Year’s Eve, and you’re celebrating and you’re optimistic and you’re upbeat, because you’ve just been through a good Christmas. But what you don’t know is, in the turn of this calendar year, there are going to be some things that are going to threaten your peace.

There are going to be some health crises. You may get a cancer diagnosis or find that someone you love is facing a terminal illness. There’s going to be death of loved ones—not in all of our families, but many of us are going to face that this year. You may be facing your own death this coming year. And you’re going to have time to think about it, and you’re going to be losing your peace, potentially.

You may be battling this year with temptation, with sin, that just has a stranglehold in your life. And you just don’t have peace, because you feel like you’ve tried and you’ve done it, and you’ve fallen and you’ve failed and you don’t want to try again. There’s that battle.

You may be tempted to lose your peace this year when you face yet another year of unfulfilled longings for a mate, for a child, for restoration in your marriage. 

There’s a lot of stuff! Now, probably not all of that stuff is going to happen to any one person, but I’d be surprised if something on that list doesn’t happen to every person who is listening to my voice today. There are going to be things that threaten our peace.

So on the last day of this year, I want to leave you with a benediction—a blessing for the year ahead, a prayer for peace. I’m going to take this benediction from the end of 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, verse 16. This was Paul’s benediction to the believers in Thessalonica. 

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 

That’s my benediction for you today. Now, we’ve got some time left on the program, so let me unpack that just a little bit.

Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia. The population was approximately 200,000 people. It was a big city in that day. It was a political and commercial hub, so there was a lot of hubbub going on in that city! That stuff can just threaten your peace, right there! 

Paul’s talking to the believers. Paul had planted the church there, and then he had been thrown out of the city. There had been ongoing pressure and persecution against believers. So the believers who were left in Thessalonica were experiencing hostility against their faith—hostility from both Jews and Gentiles who wanted to be rid of this new people of The Way, these Christians.

There were issues in this church with false doctrine being taught. Some in the church were acting in a disobedient, disorderly way that was causing chaos and confusion in the church. They were in the middle of a spiritual battle. They were dealing with discouragement. There were some who wanted to throw in the towel and just give up on their faith.

These believers needed comfort. They needed encouragement, and they needed strength to keep pressing on. Paul could not be there with them, but he could pray for them. Between 1 and 2 Thessalonians—those two books, eight chapters between them—there are six benedictions! I think Paul just felt like this little band of believers especially needed these blessing prayers—prayers for them to be blessed. 

This is the final one of those six, at the end of 2 Thessalonians: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way” (3:16). A different translation says it this way: “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance” (NASB). I’ll take either of those translations. I love them both!

So what is this peace? Now, you’re familiar with the word that’s used often in the Old Testament—the Hebrew word shalom that’s often translated “peace.” That has to do with a sense of being safe, a sense of security, with well-being, with prosperity. Shalom was often just a greeting, like, “Hi, how are you doing?” Shalom. But it means “be well,” “be whole.”

When we come to the New Testament Greek, the word translated “peace” is a word that sounds like “irenic.” That’s not probably a word we use in our everyday language, but it is an English word that means “tending to promote peace.” In fact, I have a friend who has named her little boy Iren, which is related to this word for peace.

If you go back to the Greek and Latin roots: “peace” “irenic” . . . If you say somebody has an irenic tone, they’re not bombastic; they’re calm, they’re tending toward peace. That’s the word that’s used in this benediction.

This peace can refer to nations being at peace—where there’s an absence of war, there’s national tranquility. It can refer to peace between individuals—where they have a harmonious, peaceful relationship. It can refer to individuals feeling safe—feeling free from danger. They’re at peace.

We’re able to have peace as believers in Christ of a kind that nobody else in the world can have. And that’s because we know that we have been rescued from the wrath of God!

  • We know we have received salvation and eternal life through faith in Christ. 
  • We know that He is always working for our good, even through suffering.
  • We know that God is on His throne; we know that Heaven rules. 
  • We know that He will have the final word in this world. 
  • We know that He will judge the wicked and that He will vindicate the righteous. 


So we have a lot of reason to have personal peace, even if we’re in the midst of circumstances that are not peaceful, because we look beyond our circumstances and we see that Heaven rules; we see that God wins!

We can be at peace, we can cease striving, we can do away with anxiety and panic even in the midst of storms knowing that He’s got the whole world in His hands. Listen. We have cause for peace that those who do not know Christ can never experience!

My “friend,” Charles Spurgeon, talks about this peace as “the deep tranquility of a soul resting on God.” I love that! “The deep tranquility of a soul resting on God.” So, yes, arrows are flying your direction and bombs are bursting in air and problems are happening and stuff is going on at work.

It’s not that you’re just oblivious to it and pretend like it’s not going on. You’re not like an ostrich with your head in the sand. You know this stuff is going on, but you still have a deep tranquility in your soul because your soul is resting on God. That’s peace!

And so Paul says to the Thessalonians, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way” (2 Thess. 3:16). The Lord of peace Himself! Peace in your heart today, tomorrow, next week, next month, and all throughout the year ahead comes from one source—from the Lord of peace. He is the author of peace; He is the source of peace.

This concept first shows up in the Old Testament in a passage you wouldn’t necessarily think of as relating to this benediction. But let me take you there for just a few moments, to the book of Judges chapter 6. (You may want to turn there or you may want to just listen.)

This was in a very unsettled, chaotic time in Israel’s history; there was anarchy. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. There was not peace in the land. Judges 6, verse 1 tells us that, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.”

I won’t read all the details, but the Midianites were a fierce, powerful people who hopelessly outnumbered the Israelites, stole their crops, laid waste to the land—this passage tells us. Verse 6 tells us, “Israel was brought very low.” This was a hard, hard time in the nation’s history!

But then we see that the angel of the Lord appeared to a man named Gideon and God addressed him as a valiant warrior, a “man of valor.” But Gideon, looking at himself, thought of himself as any way but valiant! He was cowering in fear, like everyone else in Israel in those days.

Now, when God appeared to Gideon, He appeared as a theophany. A theophany is the appearance of God in physical form. Or it may have even been a Christophany, which is a physical, bodily appearance of Christ Himself before He came to this earth in Bethlehem. Sometimes occasionally, very rarely, he would appear in a human form. 

“The angel of the Lord” looking like a man “appeared to [Gideon]” (v. 12). The angel of the Lord is either an Old Testament appearance of God Himself or of Christ Himself. So God appears, Christ appears to Gideon and says, “The Lord is with you.” Basically, “I’m here!”—the Lord of peace. And basically He says to Gideon, “I’m sending you to deliver Israel from the Midianites”—their oppressors.

And Gideon says like, “No way! I’m a nobody from a nobody family. We haven’t seen any evidence of God’s presence or power around here in a long time! If you’re here with us, if the Lord is with us, how come all this mess is going on in our country?”

And then the Lord answers his fears by saying, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike [Midian down] as [if it were] one man” (v. 16). It was way more than one man! It was lots and lots and lots of soldiers! But, “you’ll strike them down as if it were one man, because I am with you.” And if God is the Captain of your army and the Captain of your host, He is all-powerful over every enemy—no matter how great!

God is saying to him, in effect, “You are weak—yes you are! But I am strong!” And so the Lord did a miracle. There’s a whole story here about God causing a flame to come and touch the offering that Gideon lifted up to Him. The bottom line is that God showed His power to Gideon, to show him He was not any ordinary man: this was the angel of the Lord! This was God Himself! “The Lord is with you.” And Gideon was appropriately terrified!

And then, this is what I’ve been wanting us to get to, Judges 6, verse 23: “But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.’” Now, He just told Gideon, “I’m going to use you to conquer the enemy!” So God wasn’t going to do away with His servant just before He used him.

“Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace” (v. 24). Yahweh Shalom. It’s one of the most precious Old Testament names of God: The Lord Is Peace, Yahweh Shalom. Who is this Old Testament appearance of “The Lord Is Peace”? Is it any other than the One that Paul talks about in 2 Thessalonians 3, “The Lord of Peace himself give you peace”?

“The Lord is peace”—shalom: peace, wholeness, safety, well-being, absence of agitation or discord. That’s the peace word: prosperity, joy, safety, tranquility, rest, harmony. It’s all that we need! In the midst of fearful overwhelming circumstances, the Lord is shalom-—the Lord of peace.

We see this concept again in the book of Isaiah chapter 9. We’ve heard this passage through the recent holiday season: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called . . . Prince of Peace.” Prince of Peace—Sar Shalom. “Sar” means “governor or ruler,” and “Shalom”: the Prince of Peace.

Peace is possible because Someone is in charge of the world—and that Someone is not you. That Someone is Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of peace Himself! Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:33, just before He went to the cross, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.”

Now they were getting ready, as far as they could tell, to lose their best friend, their Savior, their Lord. But He said, “In me you . . . have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” You see, the government is upon His shoulder. He has overcome the world!

My shoulders are not big enough to carry the government of the world; they’re not even big enough to carry the government of my own little world! But His shoulders are big enough. He has overcome the world! And so Paul says again in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace.” 

He is the only One this coming year who can give you peace! No one else can give it to you—not your mate, not your kids, not your boss, not your best friends, not the President, not a political party. (You’re saying, “Yeah, I knew that!)No one can give you peace. But the Lord of Peace, Himself, can give you peace!

Jesus, speaking in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” 

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times—perpetual peace, peace that is independent of whatever else may be going on in your life or in our world.

These are restless times; these are chaotic times; these are crazy times, but He is the Lord of every situation. He is the Lord of Peace, and He can give you peace at all times and in every way. Or as the one translation says it here, “. . . in every circumstance.” 

In every circumstance? Think about that list that I read off, of things that may disturb your peace in the year ahead. Some of you are experiencing some of those things right now. “May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times, in every circumstance.” He can give you peace in that circumstance! 

That doesn’t mean it’s going to change your prodigal child’s heart. It doesn’t mean it’s going to change your husband’s heart. It doesn’t mean it’s going to give you a job. It doesn’t mean it’s going to give you the child that you’ve longed for. It doesn’t mean the people at work are going to stop being crazies. But it means you can have peace in the midst of those circumstances. 

God uses many different means to bring us peace. Sometimes the very things we would not choose—the storms, the loss—are the things God uses to bring us to lean more fully upon Him and find in Him our peace. We live in a fallen, broken world. There will always be trials, disappointment, pain, and sorrows. But in the midst of that, there is no circumstance when our hearts cannot be at rest and at peace if we are rightly related to the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Peace.

And so Paul says at the end of this benediction, after he’s prayed for peace for them, “The Lord be with you all.” The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Listen, I don’t know what you’ll face in this year ahead, but I can tell you one thing for sure: you are not going into this world alone. He is with you; His presence and His grace are what ensure that you can have peace at all times in every circumstance. And when you do, by the way, it’s going to be a powerful witness to our world that desperately needs to meet and to know the Prince of Peace!

Oh Lord, I pray for my friends who are listening today. Coming into this new year may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. May the Lord be with you all and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen.

Song:

May the Lord, may the Lord bless and keep you. 
Make His grace and His face shine upon you. 
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you; 
And give you peace, and give you peace.1

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wishes you a new year full of peace. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1Marty Goetz & Misha Goetz. "Aaronic Benediction." Marty Goetz & Misha: Live from Jerusalem. Singin' in the Reign Music & Misha Goetz Music. (P) 2018.

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