Devotional # 192. 1 Timothy 1:1-2

Devotional # 192. 5/31/16. 1 Timothy 1:1-2.

 

Introduction to 1 Timothy. The first time Paul was released from prison, he went through some cities he had ministered in before. One of the cities was Ephesus where Paul, being a good leader, decided to place Timothy there to lead them. This is what discipleship looks like. Jesus calls us to do what He did. He trained 12 guys and 11 turned out really well! But Paul didn’t just put Timothy there to be a good example but also to direct them away from the bad stuff they were already doing. There was “false doctrine (1:3-7; 4:1-3; 6:3-5), disorder in worship (2:1-15), the need for qualified leaders (3:1-14), and materialism (6:6-19)” (Source 1).

But that’s not all we learn from this book. We’ll also talk about “pastoral instruction from Paul to Timothy (cf. 3:14,15)”, “the proper function of the law (1:5-11); salvation (1:14-16, 2:4-6); the attributes of God (1:17); the Fall (2:13,14); the person of Christ (3:16; 6:15,16); election (6:12); and the second coming of Christ (6:14,15)” (Source 1).
Introduction to this Devotional. Today we’ll talk about Paul and Timothy and who the letter is actually from (God). We’ll also discuss “grace, mercy and peace” and briefly touch on mentoring (discipleship).

v. 1. The custom at this time was to put who a letter was from at the beginning instead of at the end like we do now. Paul tells you he’s writing the letter and on what authority: as “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” In the same way as we talked about in Colossians 1:1-2 (Devotional # 142) Paul could have mentioned his other qualifications but all that matters is that Jesus chose him to lead and teach these things.

Paul notes that his being an “apostle” wasn’t just something  he decided on and it wasn’t just a glorious title or a religious duty. Instead Paul had been “commanded” by “God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Although we’re not called to be “apostles”, since an “apostle” was verbally called by Jesus, we are still “commanded” to answer God’s calling in our lives.

I find it interesting that Paul calls “God” (meaning ‘the Father’) “our  Savior” and then deliberately  separates “the Lord Jesus Christ” calling Him, “our hope.” Wait a minute! Paul time and again calls Jesus the Savior (Ephesians 5:23, Philippians 3:20, 2 Timothy 1:10, Titus 1:4) and explained that the only way “to salvation is through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

) so how can the Father be the Savior? And furthermore, if that is the case, how can Jesus be “the hope”, wouldn’t it be the Father? As always our answer comes from the Scriptures. 1 John 4:14 says, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (NIV). Lastly, what really bridges the gap is that it can be said of the Father that He is our Savior as well as the Son being our Savior, only since the Trinity is true.

v. 2. Paul clearly states who this letter is sent to: Timothy. Who was Timothy? Well, we’ve studied a bit about him here  and here , for example. But in the text here, Paul calls him “a true son in the faith.” We can understand this as Paul thinking of Timothy fondly as his own son. Paul had worked with Timothy since he was young (Acts 16:1-5, Devotional # 56) and Paul loved and trusted him so much that he calls Timothy a “true” son.

What words does he give to his young protégé? Paul greets him with words from the Father and the Son: “grace, mercy and peace.” In the past we’ve said the difference between mercy and grace is that: mercy is not getting what we deserve (hell) and grace is getting what we don’t deserve (heaven) (Devotional # 98).

And now Paul adds “peace”. In the same way that the Father and Son greeted the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:2) “peace” is coupled with “grace.” As we mentioned above, Timothy is dealing with a lot of church stuff, he’s probably stressed out but God reminds Timothy that He will give “grace, mercy and peace” in these times. How often do we allow our cares to overwhelm us? Do you have a godly mentor like Paul to remind you that the first thing God greets you with every day is “grace, mercy and peace” ? If not, seek one out. Be discriminating, pray about who God is leading you towards asking to be your mentor.

Conclusion. We’ve talked about the reason Paul wrote this (to instruct and encourage Timothy), who greets Timothy (God the Father and the Son) and what God says to Timothy (“grace, mercy and peace”). One of the things we can take away from this is forgiveness. This morning I was reading in Leviticus where God tells the people what sacrifices to give Him for their sins. If they do these things “it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 5:10). The concepts of “grace” and “mercy” and “peace” all are concerned with the idea of forgiveness. God has forgiveness us first so it is only logical that we forgive others. This is how we show our maturity and transformed life – by forgiving others in proportion to how Jesus forgave us (Matthew 18:22).

I’ve made a few comparisons and applications for your life but the last one I want to give you today has to do with you being a mentor. Over the course of 1 & 2 Timothy we’ll probably talk about Paul’s mentoring example quite a few times. So I don’t have to belabor the point but suffice it to say that we should be mentoring. In the same way that you should have unconditional forgiveness you should be mentoring (“discipling”) unconditionally. You can’t say ‘nobody is mentoring me so I’m not going to mentor someone else.’ Maybe you feel like you don’t know enough, or you’ll do it once someone puts a little time into you first, but in your heart you know that’s not right, you know that’s not how Jesus has asked you to handle it. If every Christian sought out who God was leading them to mentor, every believer would be discipled and discipling!

 

References.

Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1858

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Devotional # 185. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Devotional # 185. 4/11/16. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-3.

Intro. Last week we finished up 1st Thessalonians talking about how each person has a body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23) and how the order Paul put them in is important (Devotional # 184). Before we become a Christian our body is first, next our mind (“soul”) and then our spirit; but when we become a Christian Jesus transforms us and our spirit is first, next our mind and then our body takes a backseat. This week we’re starting the book of 2nd Thessalonians and there is plenty more to learn. We’ll talk again about “grace” and “peace” as a unifying factor but also look into our growth in “faith” and “love.”

vv. 1-2. Paul is going to start with a very similar salutation as he did in 1 Thessalonians. In fact the first two verses here are identical to the first verse of 1 Thessalonians. Just like in 1st Thessalonians, this letter comes from “Paul, Silvanus [Silas], and Timothy” although it was Paul who wrote the letter. My first question is, how much time passed between the two letters? “Because of its similarity to 1 Thessalonians, it must have been written not long after the first letter—perhaps about six months. The situation in the church seems to have been much the same. Paul probably penned it (see 1:1; 3:17) circa A.D. 51 or 52 in Corinth, after Silas and Timothy had returned from delivering 1 Thessalonians” (Source 1). 

So the greeting is from these men but also from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul has full authority to write this since it is God who is inspiring him to write this letter. When he says, “grace to you and peace” (again, from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ“) it’s the same as we’ve talked about before, “grace” was a common greeting among Gentiles and “peace” was common among Hebrews so there is recognition of the diversity of the Church while at the same time bringing unity!

v. 3. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians the first time it was because he had gotten a good report from Timothy’s visit (Acts 18:5) and wanted to encourage them. It appears that he had gotten another good report and wanted to encourage them again. I mentioned that the first two verses here are the same as 1 Thessalonians but the theme of this verse is very similar to the last letter also: thankfulness. Here Paul says, “we are bound to thank God always for you.” There is such appreciation from Paul, Silas and Timothy that the Thessalonians are doing as God has instructed them. I know first-hand how rewarding it is to see other Christians remaining steadfast in the things of God. You must understand that the way you live doesn’t just affect you, and not just affect non-Christians who are watching your testimony but also other Christians. And when our brothers and sisters (“brethren”) are faithful in this, it is “fitting” for us to thank God also.

Notice that the way they are being faithful is that their “faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other.” These are valuable lessons to learn: 1. Our “faith” can continue to grow and 2. Our “love” for other Christians can continue to grow. Let’s look into this more deeply:

  1. Our “faith” can grow: Never think that your current “level” of faith is enough. Never become comfortable in this. Always allow the Holy Spirit to increase your faith. This sounds great on paper but are you really willing to allow God to stretch you beyond your comfort zone? Be used by God so that the increase of your faith produces a furthering of God’s will in the world. We need it!
  1. Our “love” can grow: Don’t be discouraged if you feel like it’s too hard to love other Christians. I get it – people are hard to love. But what did Jesus do when one of His friends sold Him out for a couple of bucks and the rest of His friends deserted Him? He loved them. He loved He didn’t wait for their apology, He didn’t beat them over the head with a lesson; He loved them. In the same way when we love our brothers and sisters, regardless of what they’ve done, it produces, among many other things, a thankfulness on the part of other Christians.

Conclusion. If you read ahead then you noticed Paul’s first sentence is 8 verses long! I split up the sentence since there is plenty just in the first half. Next week we’ll look at verse 4 and following to see how the “faith” and “love” that has grown affects other churches (verse 4) and is evidence of “the righteous judgment of God” (verse 5). For now, here in verses 1-3, it is good that we meditate on how we as a Church in 2016 can be like the Thessalonians. How can we do this, you ask? By celebrating our diversity in unity (“grace” and “peace” – verse 2). By recognizing that these come from both “our Father” and “the Lord Jesus Christ” – verse 2). By thanking God for our brothers and sisters (verse 3). By recognizing that it is “fitting” to have that thankfulness (verse 3). By demonstrating our growth in “faith” (verse 3). And finally, by demonstrating our growth in “love” for each other (verse 3). These are great things for us to aspire to! I pray that you have the patience and determination to be encouraged by the Church and to encourage the Church. Remember, the Church is not four walls, it is the people that have admitted they are sinners who need Jesus as their Savior. If Jesus can forgive them so should you! Have patience with your brothers and sisters in the Lord! God bless!

 

References.

Source 1: http://www.biblica.com/es-us/la-biblia/biblia-en-linea/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-2-thessalonians

 

Devotional # 182. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Devotional # 182. 3/22/16. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

Intro. We’ve been going over eschatological (future things/ study of the end-times) themes in that last devotionals and we will continue to here, as we finish out the book of 1 Thessalonians and also as we move into 2 Thessalonians.

v. 1. By using “but” here Paul tells us he is transferring on specific subject matter (the Rapture) while keeping the theme of prophesy. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that he doesn’t need to spend a lot of time on reviewing the Tribulation or Jesus’ Second Coming with them since they’ve talked about it before. However, it is good for us that Paul does go over some of it so we in 2016 can know!

v. 2. Paul gives us our first vocabulary phrase here: “the Day of the Lord”. Anytime we see this phrase it is referring to God’s Judgment (examples are in Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 13:6-9; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1-31; and Joel 3:14). MacArthur explains, “the future ‘Day of the Lord’ which unleashes God’s wrath, falls into two parts: 1) The end of the seven-year tribulation period (Rev. 19:11-21), and 2) The end of the Millennium…here, Paul refers to that aspect of the ‘Day of the Lord,’ which concludes the tribulation period” (Source 1). We should note that the “Day” doesn’t refer to one 24 hour period but can be an epoch of time.

We find our second vocabulary phrase: “as a thief in the night.” Often this is applied to the Rapture but instead this refers to how Jesus comes after the Tribulation. We see this in Revelation 16:15 when Jesus warns how He will come on the scene for the Battle of Armageddon. There also He tells people to be watchful just as we’re told here. Note that after the Battle of Armageddon has been raging Jesus suddenly appears on the scene and ends the war (Revelation 19:17-20).

v. 3. Here we have more descriptions of what the times will be like when Jesus comes for “the Second Coming.” In addition to 1. “as a thief in the night” (v. 2) it will also be: 2. When Peace is Spoken Instead Devastation Hits (“when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them”), 3. Quickly (“as labor pains”), 4. No Escape (“they shall not escape”). Let’s talk about what these mean:

They say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them.” This will be noticeably different than any other time. We’ve always had plenty of people talk about “peace.” But when Jesus comes after literal hell on earth all of the people who have told others to be at peace and also have claimed there is peace and safety will see what true judgment and destruction looks like. This is very clear today considering the terrorist attacks in Brussels Belgium that happened at about midnight PST (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35869254 ). I heard an interview with someone from the U.S. Department of Defense this morning and when asked when terrorist attacks would stop she didn’t say, ‘only Jesus can bring peace’, she started listing tactics and intelligence and military might. But it’s hopeless without Jesus. I mean literally there is no way to get peace around the globe without Jesus’ intervention. The very people saying these things (“they say”) will be the ones immediately, completely annihilated (“sudden destruction comes upon them”). There will have been a time when the Anti-Christ offers a peace plan that will work for a short time (Revelation 6:2*) but his true motives will be revealed – “to conquer.” As this begins the 7 year Tribulation it will be evident that sin and evil will never result in peace. Sadly, there will be many who won’t acknowledge God’s peace plan and willfully condemn themselves to hell.

As labor pains.This is imagery meaning an increase in frequency and intensity. This, again, will be unlike anything the world has seen. As the Tribulation winds down the “destruction” will come on more quickly and painfully. Part of this is what Satan and the Anti-Christ bring into the picture but much of it is dished out by the Father and the Son.

They shall not escape.Revelation shows us people will try and commit suicide but will be unable to kill themselves (Revelation 9:6) and will try and hide from God although they will be unable to do so (Revelation 6:16). Both of these will have happened prior to the “Day of the Lord” that we’re talking about here but we see how stubborn it is for people who know God is real (acknowledging Him) and reject His salvation (instead they beg to be hidden from His face). They have no one to blame but themselves.

 

* Revelation 6:2: The Anti-Christ has a “bow” which is considered a peace plan. But since there are no arrows the peace plan will fail.

vv. 4-5. “But you” marks an important point: Paul notes he’s not talking about the non-Christians from verse 3 anymore, now he’s speaking to the Christians both in Thessalonica and us today. He’s saying the believers (“brethren” and sisters!) are “not in darkness” which means we have a light, a roadmap, for the end times. We also are of the “light” and not of the “darkness” (v. 6). We know “that this Day” will not “overtake [us] as a thief” because this “Day” refers specifically to the Tribulation and since Christians won’t be on earth of that it won’t “overtake us.”

vv. 6-8. So if Christians aren’t on earth for the Tribulation or for the “Day of the Lord” why does Paul give a warning of not “sleeping” here? Because true Christians will be raptured (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Devotional # 181) but that doesn’t mean just because you go to church or say you’re a Christian that you will be raptured. The clear distinction between the “true” Christian and everyone else (the “pretend” religious person included) is shown here. Let’s look at it like this:

“True” Christian: 1. “sons and daughters of light and of the day” (v. 5); 2. “not asleep”; 3. “watching”; and 4. “sober” (v. 6).

Everyone Else: 1. “of the night” and “of darkness”; 2. Not watching (by implication); 3. “sleeping at night”; and 4. “drunk at night” (v. 7).

It should be obvious that this has nothing to do with being lazy or any sort of physical sleep and certainly not with drinking alcohol but the principles and attributes that accompany such things. If you are scared of not being a “true” Christian then now is the time to take action! If you allow yourself to be spiritually lulled to sleep you will miss the Rapture and consequently endure the Tribulation. And for anyone reading this thinking, “this is the typical doomsday speech about becoming a Christian to avoid all the bad stuff” I would agree with you in one way, but in another way I would ask you what’s the alternative? If I die and I’m wrong then I’ve lived a life helping people and reading a Book that has told me to put my family first and stop being selfish. But if you’re wrong you end up going through hell on earth (the Tribulation) and the only time it stops is when you find out that you’re going to the very literal hell. Personally, I hate fire and brimstone tactics to force people into repentance. Jesus never forced anyone, but He made sure they knew. Now you know.

So for those of us who want to be found “watching” and “sober” what can we do? Paul gives us two things to put on: 1. “the breastplate of faith and love” and 2. “as a helmet the hope of salvation.” The “breastplate” covered the vital organs of the body and in the same way “faith and love” protect our vital spiritual “organs.” Interestingly, “salvation” is always associated with the “helmet” (as we saw in Ephesians 6:17, Devotional # 119).

v. 9. This is probably the most important verse to show that believers won’t endure God’s wrath but instead will be saved from His judgement. If you think about it, what would be the point? Why would God put us through something like that if we’ve been faithful to His command of “denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him” (Matthew 16:24)? Although some think that this refers to Christians being saved from God’s eternal wrath and not His Tribulation wrath I disagree. In 1 Thessalonians 4:15 we see “asleep” and so it follows that “whether we wake or sleep” we will “live together with Him.” Sure, God’s judgment wrath was “appointed” on us before we accepted Jesus and it would apply then that if we were among the last group of Christians on earth that the wrath reserved for sinful people during the Tribulation would also be “appointed” on us. But the very fact of accepting Jesus removes us out of any and all of God’s wrath, whether that be hell or hell on earth.

There is an incredibly interesting contrariety (not contradiction) here: Paul says, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation.” In the same way that we can’t have Three-in-One and yet we have the Trinity and we can’t have Jesus be both fully God and fully Man and yet He is, in the same way, we see here that the words “appoint” and “obtain” sit comfortably next to each other. “Appoint emphasizes God’s sovereignty, but obtain is a word that emphasizes human effort. Together, they show that the full scope of salvation involves both divine initiative and human effort” (Source 2). Somehow, although we cannot do good works to earn our way into heaven, God has given us a choice and as such, we are responsible for choosing what He has done for us.

vv. 10-11. What has He done? “Our Lord Jesus Christ…died for us.” The fact that the same God that holds that “wrath”, that terrible “Day of the Lord”, our fate, in His hand, would humble Himself and come down to earth and die for our sins is incredible! But what else would have worked? How could anyone but a perfect God judge us? And at the same time how could He ever find anyone equal to Him in perfection? So it had to be Him who saved us! And that is the great news that Paul tells us to “comfort each other and edify one another” with.

Conclusion. Has this put things into perspective for you? Sure, an understanding of our Bible vocabulary words will be really helpful for you as you strive to be “watchful” and “sober”, but even if you can’t remember all of those things what will stick with you is that Jesus wants us to be vigilant and to encourage each other with Jesus’ great gift of salvation! But we can’t keep it to ourselves! We have to share this gift with other who haven’t trust Him as their Lord and Savior!

 

 

References.

Source 1: John MacArthur, The John MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1849.

Source 2: David Guzik, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Th/1Th_5.cfm?a=1116001

Devotional # 172. 1 Thessalonians 1:1

Devotional # 172. 1/14/16. 1 Thessalonians 1:1.

Intro. Today we start the book of 1 Thessalonians! We have had a break from studying through just one book with the Christmas and New Year’s Devotionals. But now we continue on, having gone through Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians we come to the book of 1 Thessalonians (pronounced “thess-uh-lone-ee-ans”). As with many of the books in the New Testament we call them books but they started off as letters. This is the first letter (that’s why we call it “First Thessalonians”) that we have from Paul to the church in Thessalonica. Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy were with Paul on his “second missionary journey when [this] church was founded (Acts 17:1-9)” (Source 1) so although Paul is the primary author, he still acknowledges that his traveling companions also greet the church.

Thessalonica is modern day Salonica (see map below) and became the capital of Macedonia around 168 BC (Source 1).

250px-Salonica_Eyalet,_Ottoman_Balkans_1850s.png

It’s important for us to understand why Paul wrote this letter, and without breaking it down section by section, he simply had gotten a good report from Timothy’s last visit (Acts 18:5) and wanted to encourage them. This is a nice change of pace for us when so often we are reading something from Paul because Christians have screwed up!

v. 1. As mentioned above this letter is from Paul and he wrote it to one of their fellow, God-fearing churches. Just here in verse 1 we see the phrase “Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” twice. The first time Paul notes that he is writing “in” as in “through” God. The second time he notes he is writing “from” God. So God is both inspiring him to write and it is therefore true and important but it is also from God so it shows His heart towards them and the things they are doing well and things which will strengthen their walk with the Lord.

I’ve been careful to leave out the words prior to “Father” both times it’s used here because I wanted to draw special attention to them. The first time the phrase is “God the Father” because He truly is the one and only Father God. But the second time the phrase is “God our Father” because He is relational and His heart towards His people is to know them and be known by them. God the Father is a distinct Person of the Trinity (separate from God the Son) and Mighty Creator of the Universe but He is also “our” Father where He knows the small things like each of us by name, knitting us together in our mother’s womb and loves us unconditionally.

Both times Jesus is referenced it’s the same: “Lord Jesus Christ“. This is a great phrase because we get:

 

 

-His title – “Lord” meaning Master.
-His personal, Human name – “Jesus” meaning “Yahweh is salvation” (See Devotional Christmas: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen for more).
-His purpose – “Christ” meaning Savior.

So what does our Master, God-who-is-salvation, our Savior, desire to make known to the Thessalonians and us today? It is: “grace to you and peace”! Do you remember how important this phrase is? “Grace” was a common greeting among Gentiles and “peace” was common among Hebrews so there is recognition of the diversity of the church while at the same time bringing unity! The importance of Christian unity cannot be understated in 2016. I’m serious. You may think the Christian church in the United States is probably as unified as it has been in the past but it’s never been more fragmented and disjointed. Read the book The Great Evangelical Recession by John S. Dickerson for both the sad statistics of how we’ve allowed ourselves to be divided and the encouraging solutions to fix it. Check out Devotional #142 for more on the importance of “grace and peace.”

Conclusion.

-Try picturing your “companions” in the faith when you read through sections like 1 Thessalonians 1:1. If you put yourself in Paul’s shoes it will come alive. Do you have a Silas and Timothy? If so be thankful and if not seek a few brothers and sisters that you can become close with in serving the Lord. You will hold each other accountable and “motivate each other in love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

-Take encouragement in knowing that “the Father” who is “our Father” speaks “in” and “through” the Holy Spirit using average people like Paul. In the same way God will speak through you if you are willing.

-Meditate on the “Lord Jesus Christ” who is your Master, personal representative with the Father Yahweh and your Savior. However, He is not yours only but Savior of your next-door neighbors, of people such as Paul and Mary Magdalene 2,000 years ago and Abraham and Sarah 6,000 years ago. Do not try and hoard or hide Him, there is plenty to go around! Tell someone about Jesus their Savior.

-Pass along your “grace and peace” to others, whether they are your enemies or friends. And share the “grace and peace” that can only come from God the Father and God the Son.

 

References.

Source 1: John MacArthur, The John MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1841.

Devotional # 64. Luke 2:14 (Special Christmas Devotional)

Devotional # 64. 12/9/13. Christmas, Part 1: The Glory and the Peace.

This week’s Reading: Luke 2:14

Introduction: The traditional format of these devotionals is changing for a couple weeks as we look towards Christmas. I am excited to explore some of the incredible magnificence of when God came to earth!

If you’ve never read them I encourage you to read the first two chapters of Luke. It is the beautiful story of how God chose a specific time and place to come to earth. As I’ve mentioned several times in these devotionals I am always amazed at how God uses simple things to confuse human understanding (1 Corinthians 1:27)! He chose David to be king when he was just a scrawny kid (1 Samuel 16:1-13), He empowered Samson to kill one-thousand men by himself (Judges 15:14-17) and He used one of Christianities worst persecutors to become its most outspoken evangelist (Acts 7 & 9). When Jesus was born the Father sent angels that told shepherds, who were out in a field, what had happened. Shepherds “had a bad reputation [and]  were considered unreliable and were not allowed to give testimony in the law courts (Source 1). So not only does the Creator of the universe surprise men by coming to earth at all but He comes as a weak little baby, in a small poor town and then he tells the stinky guys with a bad reputation to tell everyone that God has come to earth!

Let’s read what the angels say to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” There are many things we can learn from this but we’re going to focus on the “glory” and the “peace.”

The word “glory” here in the Greek is doxa (G#1391) meaning “honor, excellence, heavy and preeminence” (Source 2). This is where we get the word “doxology” from. It is the same as the Hebrew word kabod meaning “weighty” or “heaviness” (Source 3). This isn’t like “fat” but like in the 80’s when people said “that’s heavy” as in a considerable amount of importance. So Doxology is defined as praising and honoring God (Source 4) because He is more important than anything else.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “on earth peace, goodwill toward men” many times. And you’ve probably understood it in the same way I have: the angels were announcing that there would be peace on earth. But historically we don’t see a stop to wars at this time, in fact we see fights and battles increase. Along with Roman oppression we also see evidence of suffering in Matthew 2:16-18 caused by Jesus birth: when Herod killed the newborns thru two year old boys. Considering the small town of Bethlehem’s population this was probably around a dozen boys (Source 5) although this is hardly a consolation. But this was one of Satan’s attempts to kill Jesus, the Savior. So we can see that our understanding of peace from this is wrong. J. Vernon McGee says they layout of the Greek is actually more like, “peace towards men of God’s goodwill on earth’ (Source 6). There will never be peace on earth until Jesus’ second coming. But Jesus’ birth as humanity’s Savior meant that men who accepted God’s goodwill would have eternal peace. We see this in Romans 5:1 which says “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

But there is also a “peace that passes all human understanding” (Philippians 4:7) while we’re on this earth.

Conclusion: So we’ve seen the only true response this Christmas season is to give glory to God! His gift (John 3:16) is more weighty than we can imagine; it is both a solemn thing and at the same time it causes us to burst into doxology! I think Philippians 4:19 puts all of these thoughts together: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Our greatest need is salvation for our sin and a close second is the ability to trust God in His plan for our lives so we can rest in peace…not in death but in life. But who causes this to happen? The answer is always “Christ Jesus”!

 

Finally, here is “A Christmas Prayer” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father,
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

 

References:

Source 1: Guzik, quoting Morris, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Luk/Luk_2.cfm?a=975014).

Source 2: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1391&t=KJV

Source 3: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H3519

Source 4: R.C. Sproul, http://www.ligonier.org/learn/sermons/doxology).

Source 5: Guzik, quoting Carson, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Mat/Mat_2.cfm?a=931016

Source 6: J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Luke, p. 36