Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peace on Earth

Luke 2:8-11
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

I love to imagine myself within some of the stories I read in the Bible. As I read about the shepherds guarding their flocks of sheep on that “Christmas” night in winter when an angel of the Lord appeared… I imagine what it might have been like had I been there with them.

Soooo…ok,I hate to admit my very first thought was…this all happened during wintertime…it hadto be cold that night.Yikes…I hate the cold!I’m pretty sure if any details were given about my being present that night,well…I’d be the Sheppard girl found huddling with the sheep just to stay warmer!But,thankfully,another thought occurrs to me almost as quickly.
I’m probably use to working outside on a winter’s night…so the cold would not be an issue for me! Finally… with all this “concern” dealt with I am able move on into the story…

I imagine that quiet night with only the soft sound of a few crying sheep …looking up into that clear night sky and gazing at the beauty of a full galaxy of stars! Amazing …the vastness of them all as they appear to be near enough to touch with my hand. Although I have experienced similar starry nights, this particular night seems special somehow as my heart leaps to praising God and thanking Him for creating such beauty and bright lights!

“What an unusually beautiful night” I said to my fellow shepherds. But before they could respond and while I was still content in the pleasure of praising God…Suddenly an angel of the Lord appears!

If I thought the night sky had been lit up brightly before by all the stars… well… the “radiance of the Lord’s glory” is now surrounding me and all the other shepherds! The brilliance of this light is so blinding it would just have to knock all of us off our feet! As I strain to adjust my eyes… I feel terrified… "is it because the Lord’s radiance is revealing my unworthiness to be in its glow?" What a moment that was for both the angel who spoke and for us shepherds who heard!

I pause here in the story as I begin to wonder…”How did the angel of the Lord sound when he delivered this message of great joy to the shepherds? I mean, after all, he was speaking about Jesus…he already had seen our Lord and worshipped Him in heaven… and now God the Son had arrived into the world as a baby to live in human form! I wonder…did the angel know why Jesus had chosen to leave perfection to dwell among the imperfect? Did the angel of the Lord not think this was a strange thing for God to be doing? The bible doesn’t tell us what the angel knew...or thought…only that He was the one chosen to announce Jesus’ arrival (birth). So perhaps when he saw the shepherd’s fear, his voice was first filled with compassion and than quickly changed to the excitement he felt as he spoke of a joy that he was very familiar with…a joy yet unknown to these shepherds!"

No sooner had the angel assured us saying; “Don’t be afraid! “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David.” (Luke 2:11)


13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14-15)

What an amazing and joyous moment…imagine, in the middle of a shepherd’s field among sheep and shepherds…armies of heavenly beings appear and sing… pouring the joy of the Lord over us! What an amazing 1st Christmas gift! God has chosen to tell us about the birth of the Messiah, our Savior - the Lord!

Then…just as suddenly, all the angels disappear from our sight and the night returns once again to a quiet and star lit night.

Luke 2:15-18 (Amplified)
15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing (saying) that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. 16So they went with haste and [by searching] found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. 17And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them concerning this Child,18And all who heard it were astounded and marveled at what the shepherds told them.

There is so much more to this story… but this is where I have decided to stop and “visit a while” this year. I don’t know about you…but I desire to experience what the angels sang over those shepherds that 1st Christmas night…I want to experience their anticipation of seeing Christ and experiencing the promise of peace on earth.

God’s PEACE…not the fleeting kind felt only when things are going well…but the lasting peace found only in God.

I know I am saved by faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God… and that there is no “works” I must do to get to heaven. But something caught my attention this year in the song of praise the heavenly hosts sang…did you catch it too? It is found in Luke 2 verse 14. (NLT)
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (The NIV version; “whom His favor rest”).

“What pleases you Lord?” I’ve decided to ask this Christmas… As I reflect on my prayers over this past year I realized that most of my prayers have been me telling God what I want (whether for me or others)and saying to God what I think is best for my life in order for God to eventually please me here on earth. Yikes! Maybe… I have at least once (or more?)… held some hope that somewhere in my prayers that I would “touch on” pleasing you too Lord. Unfortunately…it has been far too rare that I have even thought to ask the Lord…”what is it I may do this day which you have given me… to please You Lord?” I believe the answer to finding a lasting peace will be found in God’s answer to this prayer and my response to Him.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16)

I sincerely believe our Lord desires to give all of us His peace… not only as we celebrate our Savior’s birth…but throughout every day…in every circumstance…in the good times and in the hardships and trials of this life.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

May this Christmas… when Jesus opens our gift to Him…may it be a life that desires to be filled only by Him.

Merry Christmas!

John16:20 (NLT)
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.

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