Friday, December 12, 2014

A divine announcement that came with a catch ...

It had to be one of the most fearful moments anyone had experienced in human history.

There they were, sleepy shepherds trying to stay awake in order to guard their sheep from pesky wolves when ...

" Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them ..." Luke 2:9a.

It wasn't a subdued appearance, either ...

"... and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them ..." Luke 2:9a.

Yeah, it turns out it was scary ...

"They were terrified," Luke 2:9b.

If you think that scared them, the visit wasn't limited to a single angel ...

"Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others --- the armies of heaven --- praising God and saying ..." Luke 2:13.

These lowly shepherds saw more of heaven's hosts and glory than most human beings who have ever lived!

It seemed like all of heaven was busting at the seams. Something was happening, something so exciting that heaven interfered and directly made the announcement to mere mortals.

But it was an announcement that had a catch to it. At least in the last sentence of the herald's statement ...

"Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased," Luke 2:14.

Notice the angel did not say, "... and peace on earth for everyone." There was a catch in this clause pronouncing peace on earth: "... to those with whom God is pleased."

That's because there is no lasting peace outside of a reconciled relationship with God. It was through this baby born that night in Bethlehem that God would reconcile the world to Himself, and God would be pleased with all who would receive His Son as Savior and Lord.

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and it's peace will never end," Isaiah 9:6-7a.

When God is pleased with you, there is peace.

"Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us," Romans 5:1.

And not just any kind of peace ...

"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," Philippians 4:7.

Nicholas Ridley knew this kind of peace from God. In 1555, Ridley was burned at the stake because of his witness for Christ. On the night before his execution, his brother offered to remain with him in his prison chamber to be of assistance and comfort. Ridley declined the offer and replied that he meant to go to bed and sleep as quietly as he ever did in his lifetime. Because he knew the peace of God, he could rest in the strength of the everlasting arms of his Lord to meet his need.

Part of the good news is, so can we!

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" Isaiah 26:3.

Christmas ushered into this world the Prince of Peace. Part of the gift of Christmas is peace with God, and peace from God, through Jesus Christ. Have you received His gift of peace?

Scotty

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