JOY – the Angels

Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Let’s contemplate JOY among the angels. We’ve already been introduced by name to one angel—Gabriel. 

Gabriel is named only in one other book—Daniel. There, he interprets Daniel’s vision of things in the future. Michael is another named angel. Many other angels go unnamed in Scripture, but we hear of most of them as messengers throughout the Old and New Testament.

Only one angel appears at first to the shepherds. That alone would be overwhelming out in the field at night to these simple men.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:9

Perhaps God reasoned that one angel would be all the shepherds could manage at first. Even then we see the Lord’s glory emanating from the angel. I’m picturing a glow or some kind light.

As usual, when an angel appears throughout the birth story (and the resurrection account), the angel has to give assurance.

“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” Luke 2:10

Yes, joy for all the people around Bethlehem: great joy to the people who would be told about this in the surrounding area, and great joy to all Christians down through the centuries. 

The angel goes on to share that the Messiah, the long-awaited promised one, has finally come and the angel even gives a sign to the shepherds. (Next week!)

At this point something even more dramatic happens. The angels of heaven have known about this for centuries. Perhaps they, like many ancient Jews on earth, had long anticipated this grand event. And now, at long last, it has come to pass. 

This, my friends, calls for great celebration! A great host of angels make their appearance perhaps filling the sky over that hillside in Bethlehem. If one angel exudes glorious light from the Father, can you imagine the glow of a myriad of angels?

This host of angels is called army of angels in some translations. You do know that angels are not little fairy-like creatures. Some say  “saying” and some say “singing praises.” Two things are quite evident in their declaration. They are praising God (as they do regularly) and they’re announcing that peace has come to those who believe in this Son of God.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

One week to Christmas. Are you at peace in this busy week? Steal away. Join the angels JOY. Sing praises and allow His peace to flow through you. He will bless.

~ Joyce ~

JOY – Mary

Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Today we will seek to find JOY in Mary’s life. Watch for the emotions she goes through.

Mary has been betrothed to Joseph, but is still living at home with her parents. She is a small town girl from Nazareth. 

For the second time, Gabriel appears. (See Joy – Zechariah and Elizabeth) He says to Mary,

“Greetings, you are highly favored. The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

As with others who have visitations from angels, Mary is “greatly troubled” by his words. So Gabriel says,

Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. Luke 1:30-33

Oh, my, that’s a lot to take in. She will have a child and he will be great.  Does she understand the other things from hearing her father talk about the throne of David and the house of Jacob?  Is she thinking prestige? Is she feeling honored?

No. I think we can say she is “confused.” She is still stuck on the first thing Gabriel said. Her question?

“How can this be since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34

The angel explains,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

Does she understand that this is the promised one, the Messiah? Maybe. Maybe not, but it is an answer to her question. (Notice that Gabriel did not reprimand her question as he did with Zechariah. She was not doubting or asking for proof as he did.)

Gabriel goes on to say,

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:36-37

Mary seems “resolved” at this point. She answers,

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38

Mary has been fearful, troubled, confused, and resolved. What questions plague her now as she is alone again? How will I tell Mama? Will she believe me? And do I even dare tell Papa? What will Joseph think? Will he disown me? Will I be stoned?

Mary travels all the way to Judea to visit Elizabeth. When she arrives, Elizabeth says,

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear! As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is the one who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:42, 44-45

I believe it was then that the Spirit filled Mary with JOY! She burst forth with a song much like Zechariah. Her words are in Luke 1:46-55.

As we wade through our life emotions, may we come to celebrate the coming of God in human flesh with JOY!

~ Joyce ~

JOY – for Zechariah and Elizabeth

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

As we approach Christmas this month, we will look for those who found JOY.

Zechariah and Elizabeth, like Abraham and Sarah, had reached old age without a child. Why think of them at Christmas? Their story sets the stage in Luke’s gospel.

Zechariah was born of the the priestly line, so twice a year Zechariah and other priests in his division took a turn to spend one week in Jerusalem. They did jobs in and around the Temple, cleaning the brass bowls and gold cups, etc. One of their group would be chosen by lot to enter the holy place.

On this occasion, Zechariah was chosen for this distinct honor to supply the incense before the morning sacrifices and after the evening sacrifices.

When he walked into the holy place for his special duty,

. . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. Zechariah was startled and gripped with fear. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and a delight to you, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Luke 1:11-15a 

The angel also said that this son was to take special Nazarite vows and would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. He will bring many people back to the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah! Wow. Surely this made Zechariah rejoice with gladness. But, with doubt, he asked the angel,

“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18

The angel let Zechariah know right away who he was talking to.

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to tell you the good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words.” Luke 1:19-20

The people outside were wondering why Zechariah was in the holy place so long. When he came out, he gestured trying to tell them what had happened. They realized he had seen a vision. 

We aren’t told Elizabeth’s immediate reaction, but we can imagine her great JOY after all these years of wanting a child. Obviously something miraculous had taken place. 

After she gave birth, the people assumed they would name the baby after his father. “No!” she said. “His name will be John.” The people questioned Zechariah. He wrote on a tablet, “His name is John.”

With that declaration, that obedience, he immediately was able to speak and he praised God. His JOY burst forth into a song, the words recorded in Luke 2:67-79.   

 When John grew to become a man, he was known as John the Baptist because he preached repentance and baptized many. He proclaimed the coming of the Messiah.

~ Joyce ~ 

Christmas – Gabriel Is Busy Again

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Zechariah returned home from his dramatic incident at the Temple in Jerusalem. Since he was now speechless, he had to gesture to his wife and write his amazing news.

Sure enough, Elizabeth conceived in her old age and declared,

“The Lord has done this for me. In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people. Luke 1:25

Like Sarah and Hannah of old, it was a disgrace not to bear children. She rejoiced to feel this life inside her body. Talk about a God-incident!

When Elizabeth reached her sixth month, the Lord had another special job for the angel, Gabriel.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:26-28

Like Zechariah, Mary was also  fearful and startled by this sudden appearance and these words. Gabriel said to her,

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31

My guess again is that she, like Zechariah, stopped listening at this point. but Gabriel proceeded.

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32-33

Thinking in practical terms, Mary asked,

“How will this be since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34

I told you her mind had stopped on “You will have a child.” Somehow her demeanor and her tone did not have the same kind of skepticism that Gabriel heard from Zechariah. Gabriel gently explained,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

Even if Mary can’t quite take in the magnitude of these words, she must have had a willing spirit. Perhaps she began to ponder, what about Joseph? What will the people say? How do I explain this to mama and papa? Gabriel seems to know her anxiety and gave her comforting news about someone who could identify with her.

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a baby in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Ah, there is our thought again. “Nothing is impossible with God!” What a mixture of feelings and thoughts Mary must have had.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:36-38

I wonder how she told her mother about this. Did her mother believe her?

And then there is the unbelievable story about Elizabeth, her relative. At some point the decision was made that Mary and maybe her mother would make a trip to Elizabeth’s.

Isn’t it wonderful how God gives us special people in our lives? People to whom we want to go when our world turns upside down—someone to advise or simply be a listener and comforter.

Is there someone who is special to you? Would this be a good time to tell them how you appreciate them? What better time than Christmas to write them a note, give them a personal gift, take them out to eat—someway to express your love for them.

~ Joyce ~