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!”
Listen to the angel, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people" (v 10).
--Every Advent and Christmas is a time of great joy!
--The long-awaited Messiah - our Savior - has come.
--With a message of forgiveness, and eternal life.
--A message of "joy." It is in the Season and song.
--In our greetings. In our gifts. And in people.
--Jesus brings us - and the world - lasting joy!
It is "good tidings" - good news our world can use.
--Not just for a select few, but "to all people."
--"For there is born to you.. a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord." Like "wise men" let us seek Him now.
--He comes with an angel host, with a message,"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to men" (v 13f). What our weary world needs!
Sometimes we may hear, "I can't enjoy Christmas."
--They may have their reasons. But we can enjoy it!
--No matter who we are or what our circumstances.
Suppose you were expecting your child or grandchild.
--Would you not be excited? Rejoicing at the birth?
--God came down, in human flesh, as a new born Babe.
--To "dwell among us," and show us what God is like.
--To show us how to live. And die, for our sins.
--He came in the greatest of love, to reach each one.
--He is God's gift, for all to receive, and enjoy.
--You want to know how to fully enjoy Christmas?
I. TO REALLY ENJOY CHRISTMAS - PRAY FOR IT.
--Like the saints of old, who longed for His coming.
--Pray, to receive this Savior. Find His joy, peace.
--"0 Come Emmanuel" is more than a song! A prayer.
--Jesus said, "What things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them; and you will have them." God wants us to pray. He will answer.
Christmas joy is not a matter of things, but of attitude and gratitude of God, for all His blessings.
--Of being "content". Bringing joy to others.
--Faith, and prayer, bring us "joy in Jesus" always.
One Christmas a friend sent John G. Whittier one magnificent blossom of radiant colors, pressed expertly between two glass panes.
--The great Quaker poet was so grateful, but he noticed one side was of beauty. The other lacked it.
--It depended on which side one looked!
--Suppose he had just looked on the wrong side?
--Friend, doesn't our attitude - dispostion - determine pretty much how we meet each day?...or gift?"
Whatever life hands us, let's pray about it.
--See the good that can be in it. Make the most of it.
--"The Lord is rich to all that call on Him" (Rom.10).
--That "Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord (in faith believing), shall be saved." God will bless!
II. TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS - PONDER IT. Think about it.
--Think of the Christmas message, like a first time.
--Read it often. Prophecies of Old. The Gospels.
--Put yourself in the picture .. and story.
--Consider all the words. Events. People. Feelings.
--Think of all the hardships - yet no complaining!
Recall when a child, you may have acted it all out.
--0r been in a church pageant. A play to remember.
--How the people of old longed for Messiah's coming!
--How this Savior to be "born of a virgin" (Isa 7:14).
--When He would be born - "to seek and save the lost."
--Where He would be born - "in Bethlehem."
--When He would be born - "in the fullness of time."
--Ponder how many prophecies Jesus fulfilled!
What can cheer and thrill a heart as Jesus' coming!
Besides shepherds and wise men, we are told, "..Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). What a wonderful example Mary gave us!
To enjoy Christmas all year, "Keep it .. ponder it."
--Not so much gifts to give or get ...as God's to us!
--No better gift to receive, or give, than Jesus!
--No one else, or any religion, like Jesus - Who died on a cross but arose again, to get us to heaven!
--All this is worth pondering, dear friends.
"God did not use a silvery box
Or paper, green and red;
God laid His Christmas gift to us
Within a manger bed." Prentice.
Christmas calls us ponder Jesus' life. Eternal life.
--Your life .. and mine. What are we making of it?
--In 1809 Napoleonic Wars were raging in Europe.
--Many dreaded, decisive battles being waged.
--But also many great babies, born to be a blessing!
--There was William Gladstone, in Liverpool, England.
--And Alfred, Lord Tennyson, great author."
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, what a fine, gifted leader.
--Also a poet, lecturer, medical doctor, and teacher.
--That year Felix Mendelsson, composer, musician, giving us beautiful, lasting, inspiring music.
--And Abraham Lincoln, born in alog cabin in Kentucky.
--But destined to be a Christian! To free the slaves!
--To become one of our greatest U. S. presidents.
--With the Lord, friend, who knows what we can be?
Difficulties, and battles, and babies come.
--Difficulties overcome .. battles soon forgotten.
--But babies? Ah, babies are all remembered, loved!
--Remembered for the contribution, betterment of all.
--That's why we all need Jesus! We need Christmas!
--The more we ponder and know Him, the more like Him!
III. TO FULLY ENJOY CHRISTMAS - PREPARE FOR IT.
--Honest now, the better we prepare for anything, the better, and more, we enjoy it.
--Let's prepare our hearts. Minds. And our homes.
--If we don't enjoy it, maybe we have not prepared.
--Do something special; for Jesus, others, family!
Take time to cozy up to Christ. One another.
--Make some cookies together! Candy. Popcorn balls.
--Some simple decorations, with children helping.
No one invites guests without preparations for them.
--Soldiers don't go into battle until well prepared.
--Doctors don't go into surgery, unprepared for it.
--Nor would I have a decent sermon, unless I prepared.
--Take time to be holy. "Be prepared" as good Scouts."
IV. TO FULLY ENJOY CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR - PRACTICE IT.
--People say, "Wouldn't it be great if this joy could last all year?" Well, why not? It was meant to be.
--What is Christmas? It is Jesus Christ, our Savior!
--The "love, joy, and peace of Jesus Christ" to us.
--His forgiveness. Salvation. Guidance. Blessing!
--To be practiced .. lived out in us .. for others.
When we neglect to practice it, fail to pray, prepare and all the rest .. its easy to get ruffled feelings, and nerves on edge, quick tempers, misunderstanding. No one wants that.
--Little talks with Jesus can prevent, or make right!
--Just stop, look, listen .. and demonstrate Jesus.
My friend, they will know we're Christians, as we do.
For most of us, these are difficult days.
--Amid joys and love this Season, some are in trouble and tears .. sadness or sickness. Or financially.
--When we need oneness and holiness, divisions maybe.
--The old nature is naturally selfish, and sinful.
--That's why we need Jesus! Need His Holy Spirit!
--Seek His infilling! Without His Spirit we fail.
The carols, hymns, Scripture, help us to His peace.
--To be a little kinder; a little blinder, to faults.
--And more aware of our own need of improvement.
--To resolve to work on it. Keep looking to the Lord!
We practice Christmas, as Christians, we do things to change ourselves .. and to change the world.
--When our lives are laid up for God, "Jesus, Who laid His life down" on a cross for us.
--When our prayers are prayed up .. for one another.
--When our differences are made up .. peaceably.
--When our offerings to God .. are paid up.
Beginning first with offering ourself to the Lord.
--Then our tithes, and offerings, of thanksgiving.
Dear one, whoever you are, let Jesus bring His joy!
--His Christmas joy, all year. As "doers of the Word."
--Take it from me, its the best life in the long run!
--Who will begin today?
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 862