Glory In The Highest
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!”
A father called a family conference and challenged everyone to be more disciplined in the management of their time during the busy Christmas season and to curtail excessive spending on gifts. He talked about better relations between visiting relatives and a more congenial atmosphere around their home. He brought his speech to a crescendo with his final rally cry, "Let’s make this the BEST Christmas EVER!" His little second grade son countered the big motivational speech by noting, "But dad, I don’t see how we could ever improve on the first Christmas."
We certainly can’t improve on the first Christmas, but we can improve on the way we celebrate it. I want us to turn our thoughts to how we ought to rejoice in the birth of our Savior. As we think about how we should rejoice in Christmas, let’s consider the song that the angels sang when they announced the event of our Savior’s birth…
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
From the song of the angels, we learn the following things about how we should go about rejoicing in Christmas…
Secularists have put forth great effort in seeking to remove God from the celebration of Christmas. From judges banning nativity scenes, to retailers renaming Christmas trees "Holiday trees," to schools forbidding children from singing Christmas carols, the unbelieving world continues to make one attempt after another to remove Christ from Christmas.
But Christmas is all about God and what He has done for us in the person of Christ. He is to be at the heart of our rejoicing at Christmas. To remove God from our celebration of Christmas is to miss out on what Christmas is all about.
In rejoicing in the greatness of God, we need to . . .
Two Texans went to Minnesota one winter to do some ice fishing. After setting up their tent, they pulled the cord on their chain saw to cut a hole in the ice. Then they heard a mysterious voice from above saying, "There are no fish under the ice."
"Is that You, God?" they asked in awe.
"No," came the reply, "but I know that there are no fish under the ice. I’m the owner of this ice-skating rink."
We may have all the "trapping" of Christmas celebration, but if our focus isn’t on God and what He has done through Christ, then our worship is just as futile as was the Texans attempt at ice fishing.
Christmas is all about Gods precious gift to the world. A Savior, born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. So innocent and so pure. Holy and precious. A Baby…to be the Mighty King.
One of our favorite Christmas carols, "Joy To The World," is not just about the first coming of Christ, but also about His second coming!
Verse 1 - The first advent of Christ
1) Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.
Verse 2 - The present activity of Christ
2) Joy to the world! The Savior reigns; let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.
Verses 3 & 4 - The future advent of Christ
3) No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.
4) He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love.
"Because of Christmas, the One who reigns up above, will one day reign here below!"
"The message of Christmas is the Christmas story. If it is false, we are doomed.
If it is true, as it must be, it makes everything else in the world all right."
A little girl was overheard, after a day at church, asking her mother, "Mommy, does God believe in us?" Give that question some serious thought. Does God believe in us? He created us. He sustains us. He sent His only Son to die for us on the cross. He has entrusted us with the responsibility to spread the gospel.
The answer is "YES!" He believes that though we are sinful, we are worth redeeming. Though we are lost, we are worth finding. Though we are condemned, we are worth saving! By His grace - His unmerited favor and kindness - He has reached out to us, so that we might become all that He created us to be!
A. The Providential Target Of It - "on earth"
This earth that is full of sinful, imperfect, rebellious men, women, boys, and girls, was the providential target of God’s grace when He took on human form to pay the price for our sin and salvation in the person of Christ! By His grace, through the person of Christ, the One who is beyond us has come down to us, so that we might have a personal relationship with Him.
The apostle John wrote some memorable words, about an even more significant historical event - the visit of God’s Son to this planet. He wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1-3)
John touched Jesus. And today, so can we. As surely as John held Him in the flesh, we can grasp the Son of God through faith. We too can experience the joy of having a close relationship with the Father and the Son. In faith, in fellowship, and in times of greatest need, we can say, "Our hands have touched You."
B. The Powerful Transformation Of It - "peace to men"
God’s desire in sending His Son was to make it possible to change our lives through changing the nature of our relationship with Him.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
Jim Walton was translating the New Testament for a tribe living in the jungles of Colombia. But he was having trouble with the word peace. During this time, the village chief, was promised a 20-minute plane ride to a location that would have taken him 3 days to travel by foot. The plane was delayed in arriving, so he began the journey on foot. When the plane finally arrived, a runner took off to bring the chief back. But by the time he had returned, the plane had left.
Fortunately, Walton had taped the chief’s diatribe. When he later translated it, he discovered that the chief kept repeating the phrase, "I don’t have one heart." Jim asked other villagers what having "one heart" meant, and he found that it was like saying, "There is nothing between you and the other person." That, Walton realized, was just what he needed to translate the word peace.
To have peace with God means that there is nothing, no sin, no guilt, no condemnation, that separates us. And that peace with God is possible only through Christ.
"When you put your life in God’s hands, He puts His peace in your heart."
27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
B. H. Carroll once said that he read the four gospels and noted the times people tried to get an audience with Jesus - either one person or a group. Carroll noted that there were at least 150 times when someone sought Jesus . . . and not once was anyone turned away.
"It’s not what you know about Jesus that counts, it’s what you do with Him."
You see…you can read the Bible from cover to cover… (and YES, I am still encouraging you to read your Bibles) But if you are not following, obeying, applying God’s commands in your life, then it is just a book to you.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
If it wasn’t for the Word of God, how could we have known about the birth of our Savior? If it wasn’t for the Word of God, how could we have known that we needed a Savior?
If it wasn’t for the word of God, how could our lives be changed?
The Gold Rush of 1849 had people from all over the world heading to California with dollar signs in their eyes. Each person came with visions of finding a fortune and many miners did indeed strike it rich. This phenomenon was all started by James Marshall who discovered gold in Sutter’s Creek. You would think the man responsible for starting all of that gold craze would have died knee deep in wealth. Ironically, Mr. Marshall died in the late 1880s as a penniless itinerant miner just a few hours from the place he first struck gold. His fortune was never realized because he failed to stake his own claim.
An individual can know all about God and the abundant life He has to offer, but if you don’t stake your claim through a life-long commitment to Christ you will never experience the riches of eternal life.
In celebrating Christmas, don’t forget to "stake your claim" on the gift of eternal life made possible because of God’s gift of His Son. As ones who have "staked our claim" let’s celebrate what we have to proclaim!
Merry Christmas… First Fil-am Baptist Mission Church. Let us not take the true meaning of Christmas for granted. Its not about what the world teaches Christmas to be. Its about Christ, the Savior born in a manger.
Pastor Richard Santos
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