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,
good will toward men.
O Night Divine, the night Christ was born. The Lord would be born in the humility of a stable, lying in a manger, but God would not let the night go by without a great announcement. And suddenly there were angels. Though we hear this story every year, we mustn’t dismiss it as just another Scripture. Momentous was this moment. Angels were dispensed to declare the birth of Christ and what it meant for the world. The result of the birth of Christ was to be glory to God and peace, good will toward men.
Most of us that are, let’s just say a little more mature, have memorized the KJV of this passage. We learn that the Lord gave His good will toward men, all men. Christ came first to the Jews, but He came to all men. And the Lord’s favor is upon all men, even those who reject Him. They are receiving good things that have come from the hand of God whether it be the rain upon their skin or the love of parents, children, or friends in their heart. But the meaning of this passage goes much further. Some versions have gone a bit further in their translation to say ‘peace on earth on whom his favor rests.’
The Lord’s good will is abundant as the Lord gives mercy and grace to every man, woman, and child. Each has been given not only the gifts in the physical, all have been given the opportunity to experience the full measure of God’s love and grace. But, as the Scripture goes, peace goes to those on whom His favor rests.
The favor of God is anything but one-dimensional. Is it possible for something to be infinitely-dimensioned? This is the favor of God. It is not God’s favor on finances. It is not God’s favor in relationships. It is not God’s favor in career, wisdom, love, or peace. The favor of the Lord exists within the presence of God. When His favor rests upon you, you have all of these. He supplies your needs physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This is the result of the birth of Christ that God might be praised.
One last aspect of this Scripture is something so quickly overlooked. His favor must rest. This morning, my son is playing with a toy drone. It is tiny. It fits in the palm of his hand. He and his brothers have been working to land it in one of their hands. For the drone to rest, there is a two-part interchange that must happen. The drone must land slowly and the hand must be still and gentle. When something is going to rest on something that is not by nature, unchanging, it requires a two-part interchange. We live life fluid. Physically, I suppose it is true to some extent, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we are constantly in motion and changing in our disposition and faith. But His peace is for those on whom His favor is able to rest and this is not something God does. We have a part. We must prepare our self for His presence and favor so that as it goes out to the whole world, it finds a place to rest in our life.
If we had a Christmas wish for all of you today, it would be that the Lord’s favor would rest upon you and give you peace in your heart, mind, and spirit. As Amy and I pray for each of you, this is always our prayer that the Lord’s blessing and favor would find its way into your life abundantly, flooding your soul. But this cannot happen without you. Let me share just three thing quickly that help the Lord’s favor to rest in our life.
1. Be still and know: The Scripture in the 46th psalm reminds us that God is spirit and until we slow down long enough to direct our attention to the spirit, we struggle to experience Him, to know Him. This year, that His favor might rest on us all more, let us be diligent in our quiet times. Let us keep that schedule with the same due diligence that we watch the shows we love each week. Whether we simply pray or spend time reading Scripture or devotions like this one, let’s learn to be still.
2. He rests with the contrite: We might say that the Lord is with those who live a righteous life and I certainly would not argue this, but we must remember that even in our greatest righteousness, we are the black felt on which the bright diamond of the Lord’s perfection rests. This is why is Isaiah 57, the Lord says that He dwells with the contrite. It is not those who are proud of their obedience to the Lord who find the favor of God in their life. It is those who are fully aware of how we fall short of the glory of God. This is not self-mutilation for those places where we are not perfect as if we somehow had the ability to be perfect and choose not to. It is confession of the state of our soul. We are infected with the sinful nature and we fall short. We can’t ignore it, but we don’t beat ourselves up over it. His favor rests on those who confess to the Lord where we fall short. His favor rests on those who seek and accept His forgiveness and mercy. Let us confess our sins and receive His forgiveness that His favor might rest.
3. He rests with the lowly in spirit: One thing this does not mean is depressed. He comes to those who are depressed, but His favor rests on the lowly in spirit and these are very different. To be lowly in spirit is to recognize the need for spiritual strength and power to overcome the sin that drags us away and the pain that pierces our soul. We are in need of this because we don’t have it. Our spiritual strength is none. Our ability to have faith does not rest within us. The level of our spirituality is low. This must be a constant realization that drives us to the source of everything we need spiritual. I need Him for wisdom to be a good Dad. I need Him and His guidance to be a good Husband. I need Him and His protection over my children when I am not there, even when I am there. The Lord’s favor will rest upon us when we live in a continual remembrance of our need for His presence. Therefore, we go to Him as our Counselor, our Advisor, our Warrior, and our Friend. If we seek Him only when life has fallen apart, we are not lowly in spirit. It is when we have a lifestyle of seeking Him, trusting Him in our decisions that allows His favor to rest.
Amy and I, and our family want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. We love and pray for you all and we pray that His favor would rest upon you and your family this coming year as never before. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!
Pastor Lee and Amy
PS: Let’s help one another. What are some of the ways this next year do you plan to implement into your life that His favor might rest on you and your family more fully? Take just a second and write in the comments area some of the ways you allow His favor to rest on you or what you plan to do different this next year.