Today’s Scripture:  Psalms 29:11

The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Introduction:

I figured when I was looking through the possible Christmas Devotional series that when my heart settled upon this one that I’d run across a few that I’ve never actually heard.  This would be one of those Christmas Carols I’ve never heard, but I’m trusting that God will help me to write a message anyways.  I did, however, manage to find it on YouTube, and I found a version done by Casting Crowns.  So, knowing that their music is Biblically sound…it gives me some added peace to know that I’ve got a Carol that isn’t overdone, but also has a message that Mark Hall is willing to sing.

So…let’s find out what we can from:  “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

Today’s Video:

Casting Crowns – I Heard The Bells (with lyrics)

 

Today’s Message:  “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”

In a series like this when you’re not ever really sure what you’re going to write about because you’re certain that there are many Christmas carols I don’t know about…like this one…that’s one of the things that makes this series challenging…but a little bit exciting at the same time.  So…you can imagine when I saw these words which are lyrics from the song…I found additional faith to trust that God’s going to have some good stuff to say through this message.  What words gave me that kind of boost of faith?

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

“God is not dead, nor does He sleep.”.  You know, that gives me such a feeling of safety when I put those song lyrics together with Romans 8:38-39.  It’s in those verses that we read that there’s absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God, and earlier in Romans 8:31 Paul writes that if God is for us…there’s none that can be against us.  As I think of the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that if God is for us there’s none that can be against us…and then you add-on the lyrics of this song…it gives me a feeling of peace and security because that means that there’s never a time when I’m out of my Father’s sight.  He always has His eye upon me, and He’s always watching over me.

I think back to the nights of Marine Corps Basic Training where we learned to do fire-watch…which is basically four men guarding the squad bay in the night while the other Marines sleep.  There’s a peaceful feeling when you know that while you’re sleeping…there’s someone watching over you to make sure you’re safe.  That’s what fire-watch was all about…protecting our fellow Marines.  I remember that there were certain people, however, that weren’t able to stay awake themselves during that time.  It may have been a sub-conscious kind of thing…but whenever we knew those guys were on fire-watch…we didn’t sleep quite as peacefully.

So, now…when I expand that experience to the knowledge that God is not only not dead, but that He never sleeps (or slumbers as some translations say).  That means that there’s never a time when God isn’t watching over us.  I don’t know about you…but that gives me a cause to have that peace that surpasses all understanding.  The God…unlike any other God…is watching over me…at all times.  Now, that’s a secure feeling…Amen!?!

Who is God to you? Is he your protector? Your provider? This Christmas Season, have you allowed him to be your peace?

When I began doing certain things in my personal ministry I had a lot of persecution come my way, and to be honest I was a little bit intimidated by where He was asking me to be a light in.  In fact, there are some things that He’s spoken to my heart that would liken me to a sheep in wolves clothing.  As I said, I was quite intimidated by what I knew in my heart God was asking me to do, but just because I knew He was asking me to do it…didn’t mean I felt secure about it.

When you say sheep in wolves clothing there’s a lot of “religious” people who don’t understand what that means.  The devil has plenty of people who the religious world would classify as wolves in sheep’s clothing…in fact…that term is in the Bible.  Matthew 7:15 (KJV) to be exact.  Those are words written in red.  That means Jesus spoke these words about the devil’s people:  “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”.

So, what is a sheep in wolves clothing?  It’s people called by God to go into the places that the church is afraid to.  Places like bars, strip clubs, drug houses, and homeless shelters.  Places where the church talks about reaching, but are too afraid to actually go because they’re worried that more of the world will rub off on them…then they will rub off on the world.  I believe they’re worried about their image, and what they’re going to look like to other believers.

So…as I mentioned, I was concerned about my own image, and I was intimidated by the idea of what God was calling me to do.  There wasn’t much peace about it, but I still knew in my heart what the Lord said.  So, after a couple of weeks, a friend of mine from a church my family attended came back from a worship conference they were attending where God spoke to her something that He wanted her to relay to me.

To make a long story short…God’s word to me was that what He wanted me to worry about was what He was calling me to do.  He didn’t want me worrying about where He was sending me or what people were going to think.  In fact, I’m paraphrasing, but His words to me went something like this:  “I will be your protection.  I am holding you in the palm of My hand, and if anyone comes against you they’re coming against Me.  I will raise up people who will pray for you and be your protectors.  I will be watching over you personally.”

Can I tell you that once I got that word from God…I felt empowered, I felt a confidence and boldness that I’d never felt before, and I also felt a sense of comfort.  How many of you know that when God speaks something like that to you…it takes away any fear you might have…Amen!?!

Who is God to you? Is he your protector? Your provider? This Christmas Season, have you allowed him to be your peace?

God is everything to me.  He’s my Provider, my Protector, my Strength, my Shield, my Song, and my Beloved.  He’s also my Peace…and when God speaks something like what He spoke to me…instant peace comes from knowing…that when you’re in the hands of God…there’s NO one or NO thing that can harm you.

It can be easy to view God simply as a friend to go to in times of trouble or a magic genie that grants all of your prayers. But God is so much more than that, and the blessings he wants to give to you are endless! He offers so many wonderful things–completely free of charge-including hope, joy, and peace for your heart. God wants nothing but the best for you.

You know, one of the things that offends me the most is when people talk about how we as Christians use God as a “crutch”.  I get as offended with the “magic genie” thought, and the last one that bugs me is when we’re accused of being “simpleton’s” because we need God to “show us how to live”.

God’s so much more than all of those terms.  He’s much more than a friend to go to in a time of need.  He’s more than a “magic genie” or “crutch” to lean on when you need Him to do or bless you with something.  And relying upon God for the direction of my life is a much better idea than relying upon myself.  I’ve come to the place where I’m alright with being accused of needing a crutch or being a simpleton…because being a simpleton has gotten me a lot further along in life than trying to be in control.

Anyone else okay with being a simpleton?

Although your circumstances may be difficult, or hard to understand at times, that doesn’t mean that God isn’t there.

I can’t tell you how many times I found myself like the man in the Footprints in the Sand story.  I looked back at the sand, I saw the one set of footprints, and just like the man in the poem I found myself upset and angry with God.  I found myself angrily asking Him how it was that during the times I needed Him the most…there was only one set of footprints, and I was also equally unaware of the fact that those footprints I thought were mine…I was equally humbled when God spoke the same thing to my heart He spoke to that man…and when I realized that all those times in my life I thought I was walking alone…He was carrying me…that broke me, and made me fall deeper in love with Him.

Don’t you know that now-a-days, I continue to look back I see more and more of those areas that God carried me through, and it just causes me to fall deeper in love with Him all over again.

So..let me assure you that God is always there…even in the darkest of times…He’s there. I am reminded of the words of King David in Psalm 23:  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…thou art with me.”  David understood that there wasn’t anywhere he could go where God wasn’t with him. Take some time to read the words of Psalm 139, and allow them to help you see that there isn’t anywhere you can go to get away from God.

He cares about you and loves with a giant-sized love, and he’s waiting for you to let Him be your peace. So this Christmas, as you think about all the gifts you need to buy, and your never-ending to-do list, don’t forget to stop and remember that only God can provide you with the unwavering quiet strength that comes from his peace.

Family, God does care about and love you.  There’s more love available to us than we’re aware of, and there’s peace that surpasses all understanding.  Where is it found?  At the feet of Jesus…in the presence of God…and I just want to encourage you to know that no matter where you are or what you’re facing…God’s there…and He’s got you in the palm of His hand…and there’s nothing that can harm you…because He’s protecting you.

It’s a peaceful and comforting feeling to know that God is not only watching over me, but holding me in His hand.  It’s a comforting thing to know that God’s with me where ever I go, and that He’ll never leave or forsake me…and I just want you to know…He will do the same for you.

Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader:

I guess these are more questions to meditate upon, but either way…I would like to encourage you to be more than just a reader…take the time to really consider these questions.

In what ways do you find peace and comfort in God? What difficult circumstances are you dealing with that you need God’s peace in helping you endure?

In Closing:

I find peace and comfort in God’s presence, and that’s why it’s so important for us to spend time at His feet.  Family, there’s so much happening in our lives I know how busy and stressed we are because I have the same busyness and stress.  However, there’s absolutely nothing that eases my mind like spending time at the feet of Jesus…and it’s there that He can minister everything I need…and then some.

There isn’t a circumstance in my life that I can’t think of that I don’t need God’s peace to come in…and because I know He loves me and is watching over me…there isn’t much that shakes my peace.  When there is…I know where to go today because I know He’s always there…and without fail He gives me that peace I need.

The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace. Psalms 29:11