Luke 2:8-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
Glory in the Highest
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Is there any time of year the world has such cheer as at Christmas? What a message of joy, Jesus brings!
--Listen to the angel, "I bring you good tidings, of great joy which shall be to all people. For, there is born to you.. a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
--Imagine, God come to dwell with us! What joy!
Christmas is so special, because Jesus is special.
--Because of Who Jesus is - "Immanuel - God with us."
--Because of how He came - "born of a virgin."
--Where He came from - "the presence of the Father."
--What He came for - "to seek and save the lost."
--The words He spoke - "No one ever spoke like this."
--The life that He lived - "Sinless and undefiled."
--The hope that He offers - "Life, abundant, eternal".
"Down from His glory, bringing loves sweet story .. my great Redeemer came .. and Jesus is His name!"
That's what the choir of angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."
--Let's echo those words, this spirit, to all we can.
--Of a "Savior" we all need. "Joy" all could use.
--To brighten life's darkness. Bring the world love.
--"Peace and goodwill" a warring world needs so much.
Isaac Watts, the great hymnwriter, has us singing: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room And heaven, and nature, sing!"
--If only we all had His joy, and keep it, all year.
A dad took his lad, for a present, to a pet shop.
--The little boy wanted a puppy .. to play with.
--They looked them over. The lad took his pick.
--"I want the one with the happy ending!" he said.
What makes a "happy ending"? A beginning, with God.
--Until "born again" we've not really begun to live!
--The world waited long for Messiah's fulfillment.
Exodus 12:5 tells he will be like a "lamb without blemish," and Jesus lived a spotless, sinless life.
--It was said by many, "He went about doing good."
--Isaiah 9:6 speaks of His wonderful names, "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace .. the government shall be on His shoulder."
--We find dozens of prophecies, Jesus precisely filled.
Luke (2:1-7) tells how a pagan Emperor's edict was given to bring the holy family from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
--You see, Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Mic.5:2).
--While in Bethlehem, Jesus was born! In a stable.
--What humility! "There was no room in the inn."
--But all heaven watched! Angels sang! A star shone!
--The Messiah and Savior of the world had come in joy!
--The angels sang their "Alleluia's."
--Jesus had come to call us to repent, and be saved.
Charles Wesley could not put it better as he wrote:
"Love divine, all love's excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down.
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown."
Think back on your childhood. Remember Christmases.
--Maybe for you, as for us, the happiest times, as the families and friends gathered in love and laughter.
--You see, Jesus brought God to man.
--Faith in Him, brings man to God, as we let Him lead.--Jesus was born to die - on a cross, for our sin. --So we may live. Live forever with Him, for He arose! --No other has ever done what Jesus did, for us! --That's why there is such joy, to the world!
Many have loved greatly, like our parents' sacrifice.
--But none, like God loves us. Let's return His love.
--To the Lord. To others. Even "love our enemies."
--Paul prayed we may "know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, and be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
--I want to do that. Let's make it our prayer and aim.
We all make mistakes. Fail to fully follow the Lord.
--I do. But daily confessions, and prayer, cleanses.
--No one is too far gone for God to save and change!
I hear people say, "I'm too far gone. My sins are too great. My past too checkered. God could not save me."
--God is Almighty! All gracious! Can save anyone!
--Or just as bad, some say, "I don't need Jesus. That religious bit isn't for me! I'm good enough!"
Friend, Jesus saves and changes people worse than you, and better than you! Brought joy to them, and family.
--A woman taken in adultery. Or Mary Magdalene.
--The apostles - fishers and tax collectors - like us.
--The thief, on the cross, who said, "Remember me."
--Paul, part of the stoning of Stephen.
--Peter, with Jesus three years, but swore and denied, after being warned he would - even lied, saying, "I never knew Him!" Then, went out, "wept bitterly."
--John, James, others, all saved, forgiven, changed!
That is the reason of the season! Joy of Christmas!
--Why so many worship Christ. Claim Him as Lord.
--C. S. Lewis wrote, "If false, Christianity is of no importance. If true, it is of infinite importance."
I love biographies. I read of Columbus, his 3 ships.
--Before Columbus, Spain's motto - "No More Beyond."
--Columbus believed there was "more beyond"!
--He set sail August 3, 1492, into unknown waters.
--His greatest difficulty, he wrote, was the fear that the crew possessed - of dying, "no more beyond."
--Afraid of what lay ahead. But Columbus had faith!
Kept encouraging his men. There is "more beyond!"
--Kept saying, "Sail on! Sail on! God is with us."
--And God was! Christmas Eve, 1492, they landed.
--Landed in Haiti; named the place Christmas Bay.
--A lovely place to look upon. His mission succeeded.
--There is a fine Christian mission nearby, we visited.
--Fear evaporates, when we trust the real Jesus!
Dear one, you may be lonely. Maybe lost a loved one.
--You may not be in the best of health. In old age.
--Or may be a young person. or marital difficulty.
--May have lots of troubles. Lots of bills.
--Little money. Feel forsaken. Or been forgotten.
--But God doesn't forget, nor forsake. God cares.
Things looked dark for Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem.
--They had made a long, hard journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, on donkey or foot. Mary, expecting.
--In Bethlehem there was "no room," anywhere.
--A lowly stable, to have her baby, "God's own Son."
--They had little. But in Jesus they had everything!
--Often angel's assured, "Fear not! Fear not!"
--Listen! God is saying that, to you, who believe.
--0 yes, God cares! Cares for you and me, today.
--He will provide, and guide; as we trust in Him!
Growing up in Texas in our town was a man among men.
--Always in church. Good family. Always cheerful.
--Always had a smile. A good word of encouragement.
--We know some like that today. What an inspiration.
--He didn't have a whole lot. But he had Jesus!
What makes for happiness? The Reader's Digest writes that it takes three simple essentials. What are they?
--First, someone to love. And to love you. God does!
--Second, something meaningful to do .. each day.
--Third, have a strong hope for the future.
--These are all very good. But there is one more.
--I believe that we all need Jesus, as Savior, Lord!
Jesus is what the world needs, for genuine peace,joy.
--Forgiven! Saved! Growing in His Word and grace.
--Begin each new day in prayer, talking with the Lord.
--Hear Him say, "Be of good cheer! Be not afraid."
--To another, Jesus said, "Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you" (Matthew 9:2).
--To His sorrowing disciples, Jesus said, "In Me, you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Heaven in us. Us in heaven.
Friend, where else is there such joy, as in Jesus?
There is no life, or situation we face, where our God cannot save .. improve .. bring joy and blessing!
--It is all God's loving gift to a waiting world.
--Receive it all, by faith in the Lord God just now.
--It is "under the tree" on the hill of Calvary.
--At the feet of Jesus, "your heart shall rejoice."
--Real joy! "Your joy no one takes from you" (Jn. 16).
--No joy as His in the world!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 77