The Message of the Angels

The Message of the Angels

Angels play a big part in the Christmas narrative. They appeared first to Zechariah, then Mary, Joseph and lastly a group of shepherds.  But the initial reactions to these supernatural beings was not joy but; dismay, being gripped with fear, perplexed and terribly frightened. I would have been too. Angels in Scripture are formidable and shine brilliantly they are not fluffy little child like creatures. The message for each person was individual but they all heard the comforting words: “do not be afraid, we have good news”.     

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”     Luke 2:8-12 (ESV)

 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”   Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

Even though the birth of Messiah had been prophesied long before by Isaiah, Micah and other prophets it seems very few were actually looking for him like the wisemen and not everyone was happy. Zechariah was a priest and he had trouble believing the angels’ message. King Herod was afraid of competition for his illegal position on the throne. People respond the same way today to God’s message.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (which means God with us)    Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)       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 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.      Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

Whatever our journey has been or the circumstances we find ourselves in today, God doesn’t want us to be afraid but instead to come to Him.  “A child was given” – He came as a baby so people would approach him. Jesus grew into a man and experienced everything that we do so he really understands our feelings and problems. The good news is for everyone.

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.17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.         John 3:16-17 (NLT)

The Jewish word Shalom is more than just simply peace; it is a complete peace.  It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being, and harmony. The peace Jesus offers is not like what the world offers. He is Immanuel. God is with us, watching over us and walks beside us. The angels’ message of good news is for everyone. Can you hear them?

From Casting Crowns- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to men  *** Chorus

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on Earth, ” I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on Earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (peace on Earth)
Like a choir singing (peace on Earth)
Does anybody hear them? (Peace on Earth)
Peace on Earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
(Peace on Earth)
(Peace on Earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on Earth, good will to men  ****

Do you hear the bells, they’re ringing? (Peace on Earth)
The light, the angels singing (peace on Earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (peace on Earth)
Peace on Earth, good will to men

Peace and Joy in Difficult Circumstances

Peace and Joy in Difficult Circumstances

Do you ever have times when a particular theme keeps reoccurring? Maybe you just read about a topic and then you see a sign about it or hear a song on the radio that reminds you again. God has been whispering in my ear… “Child, pay attention”.

I just finished a month long study on the book of Philippians. One of the main themes is Joy and another is Peace. Joy is not a fleeting or a superficial and soon forgotten feeling but a deep inner emotion that lasts and is remembered. Russell M Nelson stated, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

In this pandemic crisis and world of social distancing it is hard to feel joyful. Instead,we are afraid, depressed, sad, overwhelmed and over worked. Our brains are tired from adjusting and trying to live with new restrictions, changing rules and new expectations. Remember, the apostle Paul was writing from prison when he challenged the early Church.

                    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice        Phil 4:4

We are to make the Lord our focus and not our circumstances. He is the source of our strength in each new day.  Our relationship with Him needs to take higher priority over anything else. It’s easy in times like this to reverse that order but we will only feel more exhausted. When I am “too busy” to read my Bible and pray I end up with a bad attitude and more stress.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christians do not have to have it all together. It’s okay to feel burnt out, confused or frazzled….or whatever emotion you may be feeling. And it is okay to have good days and bad ones. That is the only thing normal right now. Most Moms weren’t planning to run their own one room schoolhouse. Most service people weren’t expecting to be facing a health risk on the job. We were created for community not isolation. Every day we are facing a lot of uncertainty and it is stressful but we can choose our focus and adjust our attitude.

Anxiety is a joy robber. It’s been said that “worry is like sitting in a rocking chair – you think you are moving but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.      Phil 4:5-7

Remember “the Lord is near” : we need to live with an awareness of God’s presence (read Psalm 139:1-12 and Joshua 1:8,9)  Other translations for “reasonableness” are; be considerate, gentleness, forbearance, work together. God gave us our emotions so it’s okay to talk to Him about how you are feeling. Get it off your chest – He already knows anyway. When we leave our fear and doubt at His feet we exchange those negative feelings for inner peace. He will guard our hearts and minds – our attitudes, emotions and thoughts.

Our problems are real and won’t go away instantly but our hearts can change. Faith is exercised when things cannot be seen. We can have peace and joy in difficult circumstances when we remind ourselves that God is Sovereign and in control. We choose to trust in His faithfulness and promises for each day – one at a time.

 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you       2 Cor 13:11

 

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