Glory to God in the Highest
Text: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear . . . . And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!’” Luke 2:9, 13
Full text: Luke 2:8-14.
I don’t know about you but if I were on a hillside watching my sheep by night and the sky light up with a heavenly host I would think it was the end of the world.
I would be sorely afraid!
Not what you would call a normal or average night in the hills.
The question becomes why the shepherds on a hillside?
They were within the area and able to go and see this thing that the angels spoke of.
I have to wonder about years later when Jesus was healing, preaching, or as he was crucified if they remembered that they were there at his birth.
Did they say, “So this is what all the fuss was about”.
I have to wonder what they did know as Jesus grew and ministered in the area.
Did they put it together?
Did they know that this man was the babe in the manger?
How about, Shepherds did you know?
That would be a good song to do.
Of course another good one would be, Christian do you know?
We know but we do not know.
Is that worse than those who did not know at all?
It just could be.
We have no excuse to not know.
But then, if we do know, why do we not act on what we do know?
What a night that was.
I can’t help but wonder what the people there really thought was happening.
You must remember that no one expected the suffering servant that came.
They wanted a mighty king who would defeat Rome and set Israel up as an independent country again.
Who wants to hear that you can serve God as a slave or a servant even better than if you are a king?
Maybe a servant or slave.
But all of that comes later.
Today we celebrate God coming into the world in a strange way.
In the weeks to come we will look at some of the great words associated with Christmas.
The word for today is glory.
The Scriptures declare that “the glory of the Lord shone around them” and that the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest.”
John said, “We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”
Through the first miracle in Cana Jesus “manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
The Glory of God is a visible manifestation of His power.
The life of Jesus was radiant with the focused weighty impact upon men which summoned them to a new awareness of His purpose and prestige.
The glory of God and human fear.
They were filled with fear.
The glory of God was a visible manifestation of the invisible but powerful God.
In the Old Testament the glory of God indicated His presence, power and authority.
In The Exodus the glory of the Lord appeared to the people in a cloud.
A cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
By means of this brilliant and shinning manifestation of his presence, God revealed himself to Israel in both grace and judgment.
It was grace to the fleeing Israelites and judgment to the pursuing Egyptians.
The Lord fought for the Israelites and defeated the Egyptians.
The tabernacle was inhabited by the presence of God and it was sanctified by his glory.
Isaiah was to experience an awareness of the universal glory of God in his call experience.
The glory of God was a visible manifestation of his burning presence in Old Testament days.
It created an attitude of dread and fear and anxiety in the hearts of men and women because they felt unworthy to come into the presence of this Holy God.
Christ came to manifest the glory of God and to bring glory to God.
John said, “We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father”.
Jesus, in his great High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17, said to the Father, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made. I have manifested your name to the men whom you have me given out of the world; yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word”. John 17:4-6
Jesus revealed the grace and truth about God in what he said.
Jesus revealed the grace and truth about God in the works of mercy, kindness, an helpfulness that he did.
Jesus revealed the grace of God supremely in his sacrificial death on the cross.
On the cross Jesus demonstrated the greatness of the love of both Jesus and the Father.
Jesus went to the cross for the joy of the benefit that would accrue to people as a result of this new revelation of the glory of God.
The followers of Christ are encouraged to glorify God.
The heavenly host sang, “Glory to God in the highest.”
If we would glorify God in the highest, we must also glorify God here in the present.
We must be a visible manifestation of his presence in the world today.
We must let him live within us in such a way that others can see his grace and goodness.
We are to glorify God in our bodies.
Using our bodies for God’s glory.
We can do this because we have become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
As Annie Johnson put it: “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today; He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way: He has no tongue but our tongues to tell men how He died; He has no help but our help to bring men to His side.
We are to glorify God by bearing much fruit.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.”
There are at least two kinds of fruit that we can experience and by which we can glorify God.
We can cultivate the fruit of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit lives in us so we can reproduce within us the character and the nature of Jesus Christ.
As we let the Holy Spirit produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we will become living exhibitions of what God can do when he is permitted to come and live in the hearts of human beings.
We can be a seed sower bringing glory to God.
As we sow the seed of the Word of God in the hearts and lives of those about us, some will hear and respond.
Some will believe and be saved.
Some will reflect God’s grace and glory and we will experience the joy of the harvester who comes with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him.
We are to glorify God by good works.
Christ calls us to live as an example of what God can do in the hearts of those who obey Jesus Christ.
We are to demonstrate works of faith, labors of love, and great patience of hope.
By so doing we can glorify God in our good works.
Paul said, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.
The indwelling of Christ is the hope that God has for us to manifest his presence in the world.
The presence of Christ in each of us is the only hope that the world has today for beholding God’s glory and experiencing his loving presence. The Christ of Christmas came long ago, but he comes today to live in our hearts.
The indwelling Christ is God’s hope for revealing his presence through you.
Christ in you is the basis for your hope for a home in God’s final glory.
We celebrate His coming.
We release His presence in us.
We live in His love and grace inviting others to come along and enjoy a life of Diving Purpose.