Today’s Scripture: Luke 2:14
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
We are taking our first visit to perhaps the greatest narrated of the Christmas stories…in the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke. I believe we’ll probably spend a lot of time in Luke Chapter 2, and I also have a suspicion that we’re going to be using a lot of videos put to Chris Tomlin songs. I’m excited to get to talking about: “Angels We Have Heard On High”.
So, without any further delay, let’s see what we can learn from this beloved Christmas Carol: “Angels We Have Heard On High”
Angels We Have Heard On High
Angels we have on heard high
Sweetly singing ore the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
I believe that perhaps the best version of this song I’ve ever heard is played and sung by Chris Tomlin. I mean if you can’t find away to get excited about listening to this song…and his version of “Joy To The World: Joy Unspeakable Joy”…then I think maybe you might need to have someone check your pulse to make sure you’re actually alive. In fact, I’d even go so far as to hold a mirror in front of your nose to make sure you’re not just alive, but breathing too.
Can I touch on something for a moment!?! I find it amazing that we can get so excited over so many other things, but when it comes to God…it’s like pulling teeth to get us to even say an animated “Amen”. We get all excited over our favorite sports team winning a tough game, a job promotion, a new car, a new house, maybe a new marriage or baby, but we can’t seem to find the ability to get excited about the Lord…can we?
Is it just me…or have you noticed it to that when it comes to God it’s often difficult to muster the ability to shout an Amen, Praise the Lord, or Hallelujah. Which brings me back to my point…if you need help getting in the Christmas spirit, and getting excited about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior…try listening to the first two songs of our “Carols: A Christmas Devotional” Series back to back…and if you’re not even mildly excited…please have someone check your pulse.
What gives you awe? What things cause you to become speechless when you see them? Is it the sight of a family member you haven’t seen in years? Is it visiting a majestic place like a mountain or a historical place like the ancient pyramids of Egypt? The night Christ was born was the most monumental and awe-inspiring event that as ever occurred in human history as God sent His one and only Son to earth so that we could ultimately have eternal life.
This is a packed little paragraph isn’t it? Let’s see if we can’t break it down some. What gives you awe? What things cause you to become speechless? Not to sound too overly spiritual here, but I think the things that leave me feeling the most awe is those personal, intimate moments in the presence of God. There are times when I am worshipping God that His presence is so tangible that I can’t even speak. I just sit there in silence, awe, and quietly enjoying the presence of the King of kings.
Just the simple fact that all I have to do in order to spend time in the presence of God is start worshipping…and He likes it enough to come and visit with me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s no feeling like it in the world. There’s nothing that compares to being in the presence of the Lord…and I mean nothing. It’s the only time that I know of that I can find myself in awe and speechless at the same time.
Anyone else ever been there? Anyone else know what that’s like? The awe-inspiring thing is that it’s not always the same presence that shows up. Some times, it’s that sweet, silent and still presence of God. Some times, it’s the thick heavy presence where it’s like He’s sitting right next to me. Some times, it’s the loving presence of God where I can almost feel Him holding me. The point is…this is what is awe-inspiring to me…and when you spend time in God’s presence…there’s nothing at all that compares.
The night Christ was born was the most monumental and awe-inspiring event that as ever occurred in human history as God sent His one and only Son to earth so that we could ultimately have eternal life.
I can’t disagree with this at all. Folks make a big deal about the first time Barak Obama was elected, and that was an amazing moment in US History. Some people remember the moon landing as one of the greatest events. There are others that are talked about as great events in world history…but the single most important event of the world was when that little baby known as Emmanuel who found Himself in a tiny manger. The Savior of the world chose to enter time the way that all of us have to…and He did this so that WE could all have a relationship with Him.
If that’s not awe-inspiring…then I don’t know what is.
There has not been an event in history before or after Christ’s birth that resulted in such celebration that the angels themselves made their physical presence known and their voices heard in song. Can you imagine how the shepherds’ jaws must have dropped at the site and sounds of the angels? That moment was so majestic that we probably cannot fully comprehend what it was like because honestly, none of us have encountered such a sight.
There are only a couple of time periods that I think I would’ve liked to have been alive to witness. The first is the old western days, but the second is that I would’ve liked to have witnessed was any part of Jesus’ time on earth. What an amazing thing it must have been to have Jesus walking with you in the flesh. What an amazing thing it must have been to see the things He did…to see the star in the sky that night…to hear the angels singing. I can suppose that I would be quite frightened myself…I mean no one has ever seen anything like the shepherds and wise men did…and while there are amazing sights…I can’t imagine anything else was greater…except maybe witnessing the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus at the conclusion of His baptism.
Either way, I try to imagine what they saw, but even on the clearest nights I am certain that what I see today falls far short of what they saw that day. I try to imagine what it felt like, but I don’t believe I could ever accurately know what that night felt like neither. Majestic is a great word for what they must have seen, thought, and felt. I think that maybe that’s the feeling I get when I’m in the presence of the Lord today, but I’m guessing that anything I think that I can imagine probably falls far short of what those who witnessed the day of Jesus’ birth had.
It seems like people tend to have fewer experiences these days of complete awe. Technology has brought so much of the world to our living rooms and fingertips that we can see anything we want and feel like we are at anyplace we want to be. Unfortunately, most of us probably have fewer awe-inspiring moments with God like we should. Our relationship with Him often becomes too comfortable and even ordinary.
I have to admit. I don’t know why everyone is so down on the iPhone. I finally got my first iPhone this year, and it’s light-years better than the BlackBerry I owned. I have to admit there’s a joy in discovering all the features, and what the phone can do. Maybe it is a tad awe-inspiring, but even all the excitement over the newness of my phone doesn’t compare to being in the presence of the Lord.
I agree with the writer of this devotional. Technology has certainly dulled our senses to the awe-inspiring, but only to a certain degree. Those of us who know the tangible presence of God know that there’s nothing in the world…even all of the advances of modern technology that compares…Amen!?!
Where I agree with the writer is that I think we need to have more awe-inspiring moments, but the only way to do that is to turn off all those pieces of technology. It requires doing like Jesus did…we must get some where away from people…and seek the presence of the Father. Family…we need to do that too, and we need to do that on a regular basis. We can’t expect to encounter God once a month, once a week, or maybe a couple of times a year…we have to make regular time and visits to spend with God…and only God.
Family…every time I make the conscious effort to turn everything off, and just spend time with my Father…He shows up…and that awe-inspiring encounter happens. Like I said, the beauty of it is that it’s not always the same kind of encounter…but I promise you that if you’ll make that kind of effort…God will honor it, God will show up, and God will leave you with that feeling of awe you’re missing.
This Christmas, make an attempt to regain those awe-inspiring moments with God. Strive to make your relationship with Him something so inspiring that it causes you to rejoice like the angels did. Don’t let your relationship with Him be ordinary, but rather make it extraordinary.
I’m going to issue a challenge to not make an attempt just for Christmas, but once a week…every week…for the entire year. Make in a personal commitment to take one day a week to get alone with God, shut off the world and all those electronic devices, and seek the presence of your Father. Don’t let anything get in the way of it, and don’t let it become a routine. Don’t do it on the same day of the week, don’t do it at the same time of the day, but make sure that you take the time to do it…a minimum of one day a week…every week for the entire year…and see if this time next year…you don’t have more of them awe-inspiring moments and encounters with God.
I’m going to add something to that challenge. Get yourself a journal of some sort, and write down what happens in those moments. Be an active participant in your relationship with God. Remember the old cliche that you get out of things what you put into them. Family, you’re going to get out of your relationship with God what you put into it. In other words, with God you reap what you sow. If you sow very little…you’re going to reap very little, but if you sow much…you will reap much. God will show up…but how much He shows up and to what degree He shows up…is up to us.
I don’t know about you, but I can always use more encounters with God. I’m going to make it a personal commitment of mine to do this challenge, and I hope you do too.
Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader:
What? Homework in a Christmas Devotional? Yes. There’s homework. As always, the home work is between you and the Lord. It’s your decision as to whether you want to try it…or not. Just like I told you a minute ago, however, one thing I do know is that every attempt and step we make towards God…is honored…and He will draw nigh to us every time we make the effort to draw nigh to Him.
Describe some of the awe-inspiring moments you’ve had with God. How have these moments impacted you?
What changes do you need to make in your life so that you can start having more awe-inspiring moments with God?
So far, I know it’s only the second message, but this series has lived up to what I thought it would. It’s early in the series, but so far it has been great! I hope you’re enjoying reading these messages as much as I’m enjoying writing them…and I also hope that you’ll incorporate some of the challenges in these messages to your personal lives and time with God.
“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:2)
Blessings & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA