Peace and Praise, What Is The Connection
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Luke 2:13-20; Philippians 4:4-7
There are 3 parables in Luke 15: the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Son. Jesus ends the parable of the lost sheep with this statement: Luke 15:6b 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. NIV
What do those in heaven get excited about? What do they rejoice about? Sinners who repent.
They also rejoiced when the provider of salvation for mankind stepped down from His throne in heaven and took up residence upon the earth. Luke says that one of their number appeared to shepherds outside of Bethlehem in Judea and proclaimed the Savior's birth then... (pick up in verse 13 of chapter 2 of Luke's version of the Gospel:
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. NIV
The angels proclaimed that peace would come to the people of earth and glorified the author of that peace. Praise and Peace are often found together in the message of the Bible.
Just what is peace? We speak of the peace of a quiet house. We speak of peace as an absence of hostility between people or groups. What kind of peace do you suppose the angels were proclaiming when they came to the shepherds?
I think most of us know the peace they were speaking of. Jesus, the Christ or Messiah, came to offer peace between people and God. He came into the world to offer us the gift of reconciliation with our Creator. So, to me, the peace that the angels were proclaiming was being offered to mankind was being restored to a relationship with God. This is the central truth of Christianity. Peace.
The angels glorified God. “Glory to God in the highest!” Praise to God Almighty!
For all the hype about gift giving that the world makes of Christmas, unless they come to understand that God is offering them peace, reconciliation with Him, they, or we, are missing the point of celebrating the birth of the Messiah. We are missing the point of what Christmas is really all about.
There are so many good things that the world sees about Christmas: decorating our homes and churches, Christmas music, Hallmark specials on TV, traditional Christmas movies, gift getting and giving, family get togethers, the giving of gifts out of love for each other, even peace between nations or other groups of people. These are all good things, but if you miss the real point of Christmas, you miss out on the best news of all. God loves us and sent His Only Begotten Son that we might be re-connected to God and have the life we were created to live. This is the peace the angels were proclaiming to the shepherds and to the world.
Is that something to get excited about? Are you passionate about this truth? Do you want the world to know this peace that God is offering to them?
We, those of us who know this truth, need to be praising God with the passion of the Joy that this truth brings when we really come to understand this truth. Does this truth make your heart sing with joy and thanksgiving and love for God?
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. NIV
There is an assumption here. Having selected this passage I am making an assumption. Praise and Joy are closely related. When Paul says to Rejoice in the Lord he is telling his readers to express the joy they feel because of their relationship with the Lord.
When the Angels came to deliver the message to the shepherds and then began to glorify God who has brought peace to the earth, this was a joyful message. Were the angels expressing joy in the Lord as they said, “Glory to God in the highest”? Of course they were!
I think you would have a hard time separating Praise and Joy. To rejoice is to express our joy. When we praise God for the peace He offers we are giving thanks to Him for this gift that He has generously offered. We are proclaiming to ourselves and to all of creation that God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.
Peace and Praise. When we experience the Peace of God we are moved to Praise Him. When we praise Him, His peace is generated in our souls.
The angels, the messengers of God, proclaimed the good news. The Messiah has come to offer peace to all the world. The shepherds took that good news and began to share it with others. Today we have the opportunity to share the peace we have found in Christ with others as well. One of the ways we demonstrate and share our peace is to offer thanksgiving and praise to God for it. When we praise God for the peace we have found others will seek to experience that peace as well.
Can you praise God for the Peace He has given you and not rejoice?
What do you get excited about? I wonder if more people would be coming to church if we were not so afraid to show our emotion. When people see that we really believe that God loves us, would that not be incentive for them to at least consider that it might be true for them as well?
How will they be convinced that we do have the peace of God in our hearts?
Do any of you remember a southern gospel group by the name of The Hoppers? They did a song called “Shoutin' Time” written by Luther Green Presley. It goes something like this...
Verse 1: I will arise and go to Jesus He will embrace me in his arms. In the arms of Christ my Savior, O There are ten thousand charms.
Chorus: Its shoutin' time in heaven. A sinner once lost is found. Its shouting time in heaven! Salvation has been brought down! No wonder the angels rejoice to know, My sins have been covered by the crimson flow. And now I'm feeling fine. I'm walking on the highway with my Lord. My name is written down in courts above. Its shoutin' time in heaven, Oh yes, its shoutin' time.
What do you get excited about? When do you praise God? How do you praise God? Do you suppose anyone would know you love the Lord just by watching you worship Him?
Joy... Rejoicing... Praise... Peace.
One of the things I like most about contemporary Christian Music is the fact that they are not afraid to express their emotions as they sing the songs of praise to our Lord and Savior. Some of the music is not top notch. Many of the singers do not have the greatest voices. But they express the truths of the Bible and they are not afraid to express their joy. They rejoice!
I cannot tell you how many times I have been moved to tears as I have listened to Christian radio. Driving along in my car, the Lord touches me in the heart as I listen. Sometimes I could not even tell you exactly why the tears have started to flow.
I have come to believe that God loves me. This is what I get excited about. This is something to rejoice about. Rejoicing is expressing joy.
Praise and Peace go hand in hand. We are preparing to celebrate the birth of our Savior. The angels rejoiced and glorified God by singing: Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth and good will to all of mankind.
When was the last time the Lord touched you way down in the depths of your soul? We are called to be witnesses to the truth of God's Word. We are called to show the world that we believe He loves us. We are to tell them that Jesus Christ came into the world to prove to all of us that He would die for us. And He did. How great is that?
“Rejoice with me! The lost has been found!” What are you rejoicing about today?