The Angels’ Song for 2020

 

Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Before we put away the decorations and “de-ornament” the tree, let’s take a last look at a carol that we don’t sing as often—”It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. 

My first thought was, What came at midnight? I discovered that it was the song. What song? The angel’s song, of course. Now we don’t know that Jesus’ birth was at midnight, but it was at night.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Luke 2:8

The carol pictures these angels coming close to the earth from their heavenly reign to sing this song, accompanied by their harps. Small harps were quite common for accompanying the psalms. Remember, David was a harp player!

We read in Revelation about John’s vision of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders falling down before the Lamb (Jesus).

Each one had a harp…. Revelation 5:8

             

It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold.

“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men from heavens all gracious King!” The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.

Of all the music in the world, I can’t imagine that any other would be more glorious than this very one with all the heavenly host of angels joining in. Their exact text was….

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

          

The song is two-fold—our praise to God and His peace to us. What a song to carry with us!

In another verse, the author, Edmund H. Sears, wrote of the crushing loads, toil, and pain we bear in this life. Each of us have experienced our unique share of loads this year, but the carol compels us to look for the the ways the Lord has lifted us and carried us during the hard times and to remember the peace, the rest that He brought us in spite of those difficult times.

Look at your year. Think of the angels’ song.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow;

Look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing; oh rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.  

As we look toward a new year, let us carry the two-fold angels’ song with us—our praise to God, His peace to us; to us on whom His favor rests. Not to everyone, only those who call upon Him and believe in Him.

Inhale His peace, exhale anxiety. Inhale His peace, exhale worry. Inhale His peace, exhale confusion. Inhale His peace, exhale ______ . You fill in the blank. Stopping to literally do this exercise about four times brings amazing calm and causes our focus to be on Him, not self.

Carry the angels’ song with you all year. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’

Blessings to you as you move into 2020.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

 

 

Prince of Peace

          

     Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

We found last week that Matthew gives the lineage of Jesus from Abraham to the father of Joseph, “the husband of Mary.” (See Son of David

This week, we look at the lineage by Luke, given in reverse order, and all the way back to Adam. Likely Luke, a Gentile, would find identity in that Adam is the father of us all. But there is a discrepancy in this list. David back to Abraham, is the same in both accounts, but from Jesus to David, nothing is the same.

So what do we do with that? Luke states that Jesus was…

…the son, so it was thought, of Joseph. Luke 3:23

Many scholars believe that Luke gave the lineage from Mary’s side. It still goes back to David but through David’s son, Nathan, rather than Solomon. Either way, Jesus was the Son of David as was prophesied in the Old Testament.

In addition, he was born in the town of David—Bethlehem. It is interesting to think that those hills around Bethlehem, where David watched his sheep and spent time praying, were the very same hills where future shepherds would see an angel with the brilliant glory of the Lord shining around them. Remember, the angel said,

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 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 [swaddled up tight] and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

Could it be any more thrilling to these lowly shepherds?

Oh, but there’s more! Suddenly the angel is joined by a whole host of heavenly angels. Imagine a sky full. That, my friends, is the great welcoming of the Savior. How glorious! They joyfully sing their text together.

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

Two ideas—praise to God and peace for people, people who have found their way to God.

Fast forward to 2019. We’re still reading these glorious words. We’re still celebrating and rejoicing over His blessed coming. The world jumps on the band wagon with us but tries to dilute its impact with frivolous, mushy, secular influences, yet we cling to the heart of these powerful words.

We must praise God our Father and God His Son with all our hearts for therein we find our peace.

Peace, even with the extras at Christmas. For me personally, that means finding peace in the midst of selling a house, packing up, and moving to our new house. Yes, in the middle of December! With seven grandchildren and their parents coming. You have your set of distractions as well, but may we intentionally make time to be still, hear the angel voices, and give praise for the God-man’s birth.

… he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

~ Joyce ~

Staying Refreshed

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

Staying refreshed. Yes, that’s my goal these days. I have felt such oppression of late to the point that I believe Satan is working overtime on me. Perhaps you’ve heard it in hints along the way in my writing.

I have felt overwhelmed with various deadlines and things that must be done, then mother’s hospitalization and move dropped in the middle of it all. I fretted over being so worried all the time. Worried about being worried. Is that like worried squared? Heavy laden, I guess the Scripture would say.

This morning when I woke up, I looked at the clock. Five minutes until the alarm goes off. I laid my head back on the pillow and whispered, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I hadn’t done that in a while. It felt good.

       

Other verses of praise came rolling out of my mind and I had a wonderful worship time before the alarm interrupted me.

Maybe this holy moment came because we were talking about the fourth commandment in Bible Study this week—Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. How He loves to have holy moments with us.

I found this passage from Philippians to spur me on.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let you gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:4-5

When I meet a new person and they seem to fumble with my name, I say, “Joyce, as in rejoice, rejoice!” I love that verse. But where did that next sentence come from? I didn’t remember that. “Let you gentleness be evident.” Oh dear, I hope that’s true. Do I show gentleness? To all? Big order.

If you back up a few verses for the context, Paul is getting after two ladies in the fellowship who are not so much “in fellowship.” Paul is saying that our rejoicing needs to show in our gentle attitudes. “The Lord is near.” Hmm, does that mean God is looking over your shoulder? No, likely Paul meant the Lord is near to help you.

Then here it comes!

DO NOT BE ANXIOUS, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Nothing new here, friends. He says it over and over in His word—pray. In those anxious times, pray. Along with your petition, give thanks. The results?

       

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Is that beautiful or what? Peace. The kind that transcends all understanding. Flow-all-over-you kind of peace. Peace that protects and guards your heart, your emotions. Peace that guards and protects your mind and thinking. That’s flow-through-the-inside-of-you kind of peace. After all, He’s the Prince of Peace.

How do you get there? Prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. May that be our goal for staying refreshed in Him.

~ Joyce ~

Fruit of the Spirit – PEACE

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

If you should ever journey to Israel, the first greeting you will hear is “Shalom”—peace be with you.

We occasionally sing the little chorus,

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

As is often said for the Christ follower, peace is not just the absence of war; it is the presence of peace in your soul. Having the “peace fruit” means you have a sense of harmony and tranquility, a rest in your soul in spite of chaos in your life. While it is  always available, our awareness and benefit is once again dependent on staying connected to the “vine” (Jesus.)

At times, we become overwhelmed with work loads, responsibilities, activities, and expectations which crowd out peace.  Unresolved issues and worry, fretfulness and bitterness also serve as enemies to our peace.

As we allow the Spirit to grow that inner peace, it provides us a place to go when the storms and heavy winds of life try to overpower and bring defeat. I heard a beautiful illustration of this very thing.

Once there was a king who offered a prize to the artist who could paint the best picture of peace. Many artists submitted their masterpieces, but the king narrowed it down to two paintings.

One picture had a calm lake that mirrored beautiful mountains complete with fluffy white clouds in a pale blue sky. Many thought this a perfect picture of peace. 

The second picture had rugged, bare mountains with an angry, dark sky full of torrential rain and lightning. A foaming waterfall rushed down the mountain. This did not look peaceful at all, but then the king noticed behind the waterfall a bush growing. In the bush, a mother bird had built a nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry waters, the mother bird sat on her nest—a picture of perfect peace.

The king chose the second picture, because, he said, “Peace does not mean a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.

A tip—when you feel overwhelmed, stop, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Inhale the Spirit, exhale anxiety. Try that right now. Close your eyes and as you breath deeply, say in your mind, “Inhale the Spirit, exhale anxiety. Inhale the Spirit, exhale anxiety.” Memorize it, practice it.

Peace is not a place, it is a person—Jesus Christ. While Jesus was at a dinner, a sinful woman wept and washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. He said to her,

“Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50

Jesus explained things to His disciples before He was crucified.

“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave you; my peace I give you.” John 14:26-27

When Jesus appeared to His disciples after the crucifixion, the first thing He said was,

Peace be with you.” John 20;19

Inhale the Spirit (of peace), exhale anxiety.

Shalom.

~ Joyce ~