Glory to God in the Highest Heaven, And on Earth Peace

On Earth Peace

Long ago an angelic chorus announced to a band of shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The occasion, of course, was the birth of Jesus. When the angels ascended into heaven, both the sound of their voices and the glorious brilliance which shone around them dissipated. Their message did not.

The shepherds, like many of us today, struggled with the profound simplicity of their promise. Those far-reaching, never-achieving words, “favor” and “peace,” echoed like hollow rhetoric in their ears. But now the message came, not through prophets or teachers, but through angels.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Luke 2:9-12

The validation of the angelic message slept, as only babies sleep, in a manger.

Prince of Peace

Look around! Can you see it? Feel it? Hear it in the air? This message of peace for all the people?

While tornados rip apart communities, homes, and families, where do we find peace? We silently watch as military giants set siege to defenseless nations and ask again, “How will peace be found?” Floods destroy. Fires consume. Addictions devastate. Yet, God’s Word echoes eternally,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those o whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

Peace, illusive peace, embodied the paramount blessing Israel looked for with the coming Messiah. The shepherds, like us, desired this state of tranquility, freedom from civil disturbance, security and order, as well as harmony in personal relationships.

The peace which God offered reached beyond the natural realms. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to extend peace within, dispelling confusion and discord, first in the hidden recesses of hearts and minds.

Isaiah spoke,

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government
and peace there will be no end . . .”
Isaiah 9:6,7

My heart longs for such good news, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace!”

Peace and Hope

Hope within the humble band of shepherds latched on to these words! Hope of peace spurred them into the streets of Bethlehem until they found Him.

When they looked into the face of the Christ Child, what did they see? Did they recognize the Holy Lamb of God who would pay a horrific price for their peace? This Gospel of peace declared first to them, would one day echo through the hills of Galilea, and eventually reach even us!

The message reached me when I was over twenty years old — my mind filled with confusion — suicidal and broken. As broken as the family, my internal peacelessness helped to break. Lost and without hope. Needing a Savior, I didn’t know. A Redeemer. An Advocate.

In a last ditch effort to take my life, He came to my ditch. He offered what no man could offer. He gave what no human could give. Peace with God! The peace of God.

In a single moment, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, not the Baby in a manger, but rather the glorified Lord, reached down to me, the worst of sinners, granting indescribable peace. Faith arose. Knowledge of Jesus bearing the sins of the world, even my sins, burst through disillusionment and despair. I believed Jesus died for my sins and was bruised for my iniquities to arise from the grave three days, all to give life. I knew in that instant the offer extended to me, to you, to all . . .

Not through angels, but Holy Spirit breathed words,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

Shalom

The most common Old Testament word translated into “peace” is shalom. It embodies a sense of wholeness, soundness, health, well-being, and prosperity.

Though none of these immediately became outwardly evident, inwardly my heart filled with shalom! Why? God, the Author and giver of peace became my peace.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
Romans 5:1

When we experience peace with God, nothing and no one can rob us! The peace and hope flowing from Him surpasses anything. Vertical peace — peace with God — inevitably becomes horizontal peace — peace with others. The evidence of internal peace expressed to others resounds the loudest,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rest.”
Luke 2:14

Let Peace Rule

Paul wrote to the church in Colosse,

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
Colossians 3:15

God grants peace to us, but we cooperate by letting His peace work and rule through us. With me, it is impossible. But God makes a way through His indwelling Spirit!

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
Romans 8:6

Jesus intends for the enduring “greatness of his government and peace” to operate consistently and continuously through us as we surrender the control of our minds (and hearts) to Him.

As we follow the path of peace, we ultimately follow the way of God, yielding our minds and motives to Him and purpose.

Jesus knew how much we would need to live at peace within an unpeaceful world. Three times after His ressurection, He says, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19, 21, 26) Co-incidence? Not at all!

On Earth Peace

This earth, the broken, aching world, knows no peace. But it longs for it!

Our neighbors and communities, our friends and our families wait as the shepherds waited. They wait for someone, anyone, to bring them “good news that will cause great joy for all.”

God strategically places you and me to be His voices to herald the Good News, sharing the message of peace to those around us. Peace, perhaps greater than anything else, remains the most desired gift of this and every generation.

“When they had seen him (Jesus), they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
Luke 2:19

When we see Him, we want to tell others about Him!

May we all follow the example of the shepherds, spreading the Good News. Jesus makes Himself as available to all people as He was to the shepherds long ago. May the message of peace and hope be loudly and broadly proclaimed, not just at Christmas, but every day.

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons (and daughters) of men.”
Luke 2:14 TPT

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Adonai Jehovah – The Giver – The One Who Pours Out

As we approach the season of giving, I’m reminded of the ultimate Giver who continues to out-give us all. His very name means “The One who pours out.”

During our first years of marriage my husband and I often tried to out-give each other. Our giving started out with loving intentions, but it didn’t take long for our practice to become foolishly insane. Eventually, we realized that it was the simple day to day giving of ourselves that reaped the greatest relational dividends. Over the years, we developed an ever deepening appreciation for each other as we increasingly valued the moments we shared.

These lessons came with much struggle. Yet, the joy of daily serving each other in a thousand little ways out measured the futile task of finding the perfect gift to demonstrate inexpressible gratitude.

The Inspiration

Around $10 billion flows into charitable donations annually in Canada alone. Thirty percent of those donations occur during the Christmas season. Why? It’s recognition of the Giver, the One who poured out His very best to us all through the Gift of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

That most precious of gifts, generously given by a loving Father to us, His needy children, continues to inspire giving globally. Of course, no monetary giving compares to God’s ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus. Yet, out of gratitude, humanity imitates God’s example becoming givers and thereby meeting the needs of others. Even in this small way, we reflect His compassionate heart.

Adonai, one of the names for God, means “Giver or “One who pours Himself out.” Giving is who He is, not just what He does. It is an attribute of His nature.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

Out-Giving the Giver

David also captured a bit of God’s heart wanting to give something back to Him. David wondered how he could live content in “a house of cedars” (1 Chronicles 17:1) while God inhabited a tent. He wanted to build a house for God to dwell in, giving God the best he could.

Just like in our marriage, the desire to give backfired for David. As soon as he disclosed his aspiration, God turned the tables out-giving David’s greatest intentions. First though, God reminded David of his humble beginnings.

“…I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock,
and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you have gone,
and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.”
2 Samuel 7:8-9

David’s desire to give reflected God’s own gracious favor. His capacity and opportunity to give originated from the heart of The Giver. In response to David’s intention, God opened His treasure trove of promises offering even more gifts of grace, to not just David but to all his descendants.

“...I will make your name great,
like the names of the greatest men on earth.
And I will provide a place for my people Israel
and will plant them so that they can have
a home of their own and no longer be disturbed…
I will also give you rest from all your enemies…
the LORD himself will establish a house for you…
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you…
And I will establish his kingdom…
I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…
But my love will never be taken away from him…”
2 Samuel 7:9-16

Relationship

Can you imagine how David felt in that moment? His intended gift to God held no comparison to what God now presented back to him. Immediately, David sensed an even greater awe and reverence for the God he thought he knew.

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD…”
2 Samuel 7:18

Something became more intimate about their relationship. Deeper revelation of the Giver above all givers permeated that moment. Seven times in the next ten verses David refers to God as “Sovereign LORD” — Adonai Jehovah, the One who continually pours Himself out to the unworthy and undeserving.

I’ve experienced brief encounters with God, coming into His presence for no purpose other than to offer my little in worship to Him. Consistently, He turns the tables and lavishes upon me such a sense of His favor and grace it has left me in a weeping heap — speechless and helpless.

Though undefinable, something supernatural triggers a divine flow through even our limited imitation of the heart of The Giver. He sweeps in with love that will never be taken away.” He plants us secure in Him “no longer disturbed” as He welcomes us to come and sit close. Over and over again, God gives us the gift of His Presence!

Adonai Jehovah

Adonai Jehovah speaks first of relationship, either as Master and servant, or as Husband and wife. Both a slave and a wife in biblical times were “not their own,” but rather bought with a price. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily they became the property of their lord, fully dependent upon His faithfulness. But the Master made the first move through covenant willingly pledging Himself to sustain, keep and provide.

Paul and the other apostles considered it the highest honor to be known as a servant of the Lord, their beloved. In the Old Testament, Adonai Jehovah, signified a person’s hope in every weakness and encouragement in times of great struggle. God’s covenant presence guaranteed security and favor.

When everything around Isaiah seemed to have reached its darkest most desperate level, he says,

“In the year that King Uzziah died,
I saw the LORD (Adonai),
high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
Isaiah 6:1

In times of despair, Adonai comes giving Himself in the most intimate of communion with His people.

“For your Maker is your husband
the LORD Almighty is his name —
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.”
Isaiah 54:5

The images of God’s loving care to his bride abound throughout the Bible, lavishly providing for her, extending all He is and has for her benefit.

The Giver

Just as the Lord loved us and gave Himself to us, He desires that we now give ourselves to Him. This personal relationship between the Giver and His people flows with intimate and mutual confidence.

“They that know His name will put their trust in HIm.
And they that trust in Him shall never be confounded.”
– Andrew Jukes

Adonai came to humanity over two thousand years ago, pouring Himself out in complete servanthood — through life and death — that we might give ourselves back to Him. The best and greatest Gift has already been given. In receiving Him, we, like David, enter into a new sense of reverence and ever deepening fellowship with Him.

Adonai, the Giver, pours Himself out to a world in need of The Gift that all earth’s riches could never purchase. In both the giving and receiving resides great joy.

Christmas – The Reason Jesus Came to Earth!

The Reason Jesus Came

The festivities of Christmas have begun: family and social gatherings, decorations, baking, gifts, anticipation and excitement. But why was Jesus born? Why did He come to earth?

Hallmark sells about 93 million cards for Father’s day and another 141 million for Mother’s day. Valentine’s Day tops that at around 151 million. Does anyone want to guess what the number of Christmas cards might be? Those figures come in at 1.6 billion!

In spite of any push away from recognizing Christmas, these numbers speak for themselves. Christians and non-Christians alike place tremendous value in celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Christmas

Many of us follow traditions of previous generations, or have created our own traditions of how we celebrate Christmas. However, the significance of Christmas reaches far beyond traditions.

Why was Jesus born?

Angels Announcement

The birth of a baby is an anticipated event in any family. New parents approach the day with excitement and concern while extended family wait to see, touch and smell the new addition.

So it was for Mary & Joseph!

When a mother was ready to deliver her baby, midwives would be called. Family and friends would congregate on the roof awaiting the announcement from a close but guarded distance. Following the birth, the midwives would take a broom and knock on the ceiling. Then they would break into jubilant song; their familiar chant announcing the details!

“I bring you good news,
today in the town of __________
born to (names of father and mother)
this day a (son or daughter)
He/she will be (occupation, destiny or purpose)”

Their predictable chorus would set the roof top guests into clamorous celebration!

For Joseph and Mary, however, there were no midwives. Neither family nor friends attending the birth of this “unplanned” child. Alone, the Baby came! Only the sounds of chewing of cuds or gentle cooing from the rafters filled the night air.

Angel

God could not and would not allow this birth to go unannounced! Angels were released to declare the song of the midwives!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

This Child, Jesus Christ, was not for limited purpose or design! This Child was “for all the people…Saviour!” The Messiah had come!

Son of God and Son of Man, born to die, to take away the sins of the world.  The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem – for all!

Calvary

[bctt tweet=”The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

His Purpose

People continually misunderstood Him. Even for those who believed in Him, their hope of rescue clouded their vision. They wanted a king to set them free! Now!

Just before His crucifixion Jesus responded to Pilate’s questioning,

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.
For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—
to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 18:37

The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end “was born“! A king? Yes, but so much more!

[bctt tweet=”The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end was born!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

Every aspect of His birth was swaddled in the supernatural with angelic visitation and divine encounter. Yet, Jesus lived fully Man. At the same time, He was a fully natural demonstration of the fullness of the Father, the fulfillment of the law, revelation of love, and peace in a tormented world.

Jesus came “to bear witness … to testify to the truth!”

 “The true light that gives light to everyone
was coming into the world.
 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—”
John 1:9 &11

Christmas

Christmas! The Truth shining in all His brilliance came to a world unprepared – unwaiting!

Are you ready? Am I?

It is  challenging to intentionally celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas. With Holy Spirit help, we can add a little more Christ to this Christmas.

Love

Several years ago we had a few guests staying with us over Christmas. We decided to share something we were each thankful for. As it turned out everyone around the circle talked about how significant their relationship with God and with family was to them. These moments had a powerful impact on a young visitor. He neither had a living relationship with Jesus or strong family connections. This simple time was transitional in his life.

Small things can made a big difference! For this young man, Christmas became an encounter with the Saviour!

Christmas is a reminder that real love is shown through sacrifice. For this Jesus was born, testifying with His life and death the truth in every respect. The Truth wrapped in swaddling clothes is love.

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Another read: Meeting God in the Ordinary – From Common to Holy

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