God Thought 12/20/23

'As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”'

Matthew 3:16-17

'“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” '

Luke 2:14
Today’s Scripture passage from Luke 2 is a beautifully vivid and artistic passage from the angelic voices. The image of a choir of angels announcing the birth of the Savior can feel like the stuff of myths and legends, and yet to believe in a supernatural birth requires us to believe in a supernatural announcement of that birth.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you consider that night so many years ago? Personally, I’ve always been struck by the line “with whom He is pleased!” I might be showing my theological convictions here, but I love how the angels describe peace—that it is for those with whom God is pleased. What pleases God? Well, it’s not sacrifice; we know that. God makes clear throughout Scripture that He doesn’t want our tangible sacrifices but the sacrifice of our obedient hearts. An obedient heart is the only heart God can be pleased with and therefore have peace with.

How do we gain obedient hearts that please God? That’s where the glorious gospel comes in. The birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus made it possible for God to have peace among those with whom He is pleased (Heb. 11:6). However hard this is to hear—the truth is that we are born with hearts that have no peace with God because they are unredeemed and unwilling to surrender to Him. It is not until God in His grace brings us to the end of ourselves and we repent of our sins and trust in the work of Christ on the cross that we enter into a peaceful relationship with God where He is pleased with us.

Pause and reflect now on the grace God showed mankind by sending His Son to be an obedient sacrifice for you. Think of the possibilities it has opened for you: peace with God, a loving relationship with Jesus, and a sure hope in this life and the life to come.

It’s helpful to remember that these shepherds didn’t return to a life of ease after their angelic visitation. There would still be long, shivery nights tending their flocks by the light of the moon. They would still be people who were not highly thought of due to the nature of their lowly vocation. Yet there would always be this one glorious night when the unimaginable happened and everything changed forever. They may have returned to the same vocation, but they didn’t return as the same shepherds. They returned glorifying and praising God for all they’d seen and heard.

What will you return to after the glory of the holiday season has passed, when it becomes a fading memory in your aging consciousness once again? Will you return like these unremarkable shepherds, glorifying and praising God for the remarkable love He has poured into your hearts through His Spirit? Will you remember that because of Christ’s supernatural visitation to Bethlehem so many years ago, all the sorrow and suffering that have visited you in your life will, like an unwanted intruder, never be given entrance again? This is the kind of infinite, everlasting peace God is pleased to give the person with whom He is pleased.
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