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“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
What would it have been like to be among the shepherds on a hillside outside of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth?
No iPods, iPhones, video games, book lights, radios, portable TVs, laptops, or Domino’s delivery. Not even a Porta Potty.
Aside from the occasional bleating of sheep (don’t know if they snore), your night would be filled with extreme quiet and darkness. In such a setting you likely would be fighting off sleep and boredom.
My first Christmas away from home was at the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. My assignment was to guard a Dempsey Dumpster (a giant trashcan) in the middle of the night. Not only was it bitterly cold, it was extremely dark. Once an hour, I was required to check in with the Officer On-Deck and give a report on the Dumpster’s security status. That non-eventful experience didn’t make my best Christmas highlight reel. I can only imagine how I would have reacted to a heavenly chorus.
But into the mundane world of the shepherds came a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Suddenly the sky over the shepherds was filled with a great light as they beheld “the glory of God.” An angel announced the reason for the spectacle, the birth of “a Savior… Christ the Lord.”
Then a great company of angels appeared in a heavenly chorus of praise. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
What had just happened in a feed trough in Bethlehem was worthy of an angelic celebration of praise. Into our world of wars, strife, fear, and despair, God had intervened with “peace” and “favor.” The shepherds were witness to the greatest and most spectacular performance of all time.
The peace that God offers is first of all, peace with Him. Sin puts us at enmity with God and there is nothing we can do to change it. God’s peace offering is that of His Son, Jesus. The little baby in the manger was sent by God to die in our stead, to pay the penalty we deserve, which is death.
When you accept God’s offer of peace by receiving the gift of His Son, then you enter into eternal peace with God.
Second, the peace of God brings inner peace in a world where there is no peace. In the midst of your trials and burdens, God offers peace that “surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) It’s a feeling you can’t explain that says, “Everything will be OK. Everything is under control.”
Followers of Christ have the help of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to reassure and give comfort in times of need.
Not only did the angels declare the peace of God, they also spoke of the favor of God. He always has something extra for those who are His. God favors those who belong to Him through Jesus Christ.
In a setting in which other children are involved with my granddaughter, she will always be my favorite. No matter how I try to be unbiased and treat all others the same, my granddaughter is more special to me than all the rest. I will always give her more and better gifts and treatment because of the special place she holds in my heart. So it is with God and His children. We hold a special place in His heart.
No, you can’t see what the shepherds saw. You can only imagine. But you have heard the message the angels declared. And if you receive their message and believe in the One that God sent to save you, then God’s peace and favor will be yours forever. And someday… not only will you see that great performance of praise witnessed by the shepherds; you will be a part of it.
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Find Peace in a Chaotic World
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.