Please listen to this message from Pastor Steven Olson on the upcoming Christmas season.
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“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests! (Lk 2:16)” It happens sometimes with words and songs that we know so well. We forget what the words mean!
On the night our Savior was born the angels were praising God before his throne in heaven while their chorus rang out through the hills of Bethlehem. The angels had been waiting for these events to unfold since the Lord announced his plans to send a Savior for a fallen world. Finally, after thousands of years, God’s promises were being fulfilled! There was no stopping the angels from bursting into song praising God for his amazing grace being directed toward a world that was hopelessly lost in sin. The grace of God appeared in the flesh when Jesus, the eternal Son of God, wrapped in swaddling clothes was found lying in a manger!
These angels are the same messengers God sends our way each and every day to keep us safe from harm and danger. The very idea that these holy angels are this excited about our salvation sends goose bumps up and down our spine!
What a difference the birth of Jesus makes in our daily lives! The angels only tell us that there is “peace on earth.” But where is the peace in city streets where building after building sits empty driven out of business by a wild and crazy virus that has turned our world upside down? Where is the peace in an angry and hurtful world that seems more determined than ever to do us harm? Where is the peace in homes where families are isolated and quarantined away from the people they love and the life they long to live and enjoy?
Because of Christ’s birth, the world has an opportunity to celebrate a different kind of peace – a better peace! The Bible reminds us that peace is a “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23. God offers peace to us freely and completely through the birth of Christ. This peace is a byproduct of faith in Jesus Christ.
There are some who prefer the King James Version translation of this verse which says “good will toward men.” God’s “good will” was poured out on all people when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Jesus was born to give peace to every person of every culture of every of every age of human history. God’s favor rests on mankind because Jesus Christ was born to save us all!
Dear friends, don’t ever take for granted everything that Christmas means for us! Somehow or other Satan would love nothing more than to convince us that we can’t celebrate Christmas if some of the traditions we have grown accustomed to are impossible this year. He wants to take the joy of Christ’s birth right out of your Christmas celebration. If he had his way, your Christmas celebration would have nothing to do with Christ at all! He would love for you to spend your time doing anything rather than spending some quiet time contemplating what God has done for you through Jesus Christ.
So make an effort this year to remember again the “golden oldies” that you learned when you were a child. Read Luke 2:1-20 to your family this year. See if you can still recite it from memory. Sing the songs that tell of Jesus’ birth and all that his birth means for us. Talk about Jesus this Christmas. When you are alone, think about the manger scene that might be set up somewhere in your home.
The simple beginnings of our Savior’s life on this earth set into motion a solitary plan by which God intended to touch the lives of every human being. Be like Mary and “treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart.” And in joyful awe, marvel at the way God brought that message to you and planted it in your heart.
Christmas is a great time of year – virus or no virus! Let us use this time wisely. Make use of the worship opportunities available to you if you are able. But no matter what, be sure to review what God did for us when he came in the flesh on Christmas Day. Make the most of each new day! One day, you and I will be able to join the chorus of angels in heaven to sing “Glory to God” in the highest because peace has come to me for Jesus’ sake.
God bless you all this Christmas!