A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
If you are listening to this on the day it’s released, it’s Christmas Eve. What an exciting time for all the kids! There is great anticipation of what tomorrow brings. What will be in those stockings hung by the fire? What will that jolly old elf pull out of his sack and put under the tree? For we adults, it’s about watching those kids and grandkids seeing those special gifts. It’s about the sparkle in their eyes and the joy they have in those special moments of surprise. Christmas morning brings with it some work for the family also as we prepare the feast for all of us to consume.
Christmas can also bring some anxiety. Family arrives that you don’t see very often and maybe some friends and family that you don’t want to see very often. You love them, but the pressure to be something or someone you’re not is pretty high. Unresolved conflict creates tension in the air and that atmosphere spoils some of the joy that should be the highlight of the celebration we should project throughout the day instead of some façade of happiness you just don’t feel.
We should remember, though, that Jesus came to bring peace. Micah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah says as much in chapter five. That’s the chapter that tells us the Messiah will come from Bethlehem, but just a three verses later, he says, ‘...and he shall be the one of peace.’
I don’t know about you, but I can use that kind of Messiah. The Israelites were not looking for one of peace at the time. They wanted a warrior who would free them from the oppressive rule of Rome. They wanted someone who would take charge and give them victory over all their enemies and they assumed that someone would be a powerful ruler with both political and military might.
God had different ideas, though. He spelled them out in many of the prophecies. Jesus would come as a suffering servant. He would bleed and die for us. He would sacrifice himself in our stead. The Israelites and their religious leaders did not want to accept those verses. They wanted to focus on the ones that talked about his kingship, his power, his strength, his sovereignty. They wanted someone who was able to judge and destroy all their enemies.
Micah’s words didn’t fit that bill. Born in Bethlehem? Some little backwoods hovel that held no importance except it was the birthplace of David and his brothers. And by the way, if you think hard about David’s family and read between the lines of scripture, they sound like a bunch of pretty bad dudes. Many of them are listed among his mighty men and leaders in his army. You only got into those position by your prowess as a warrior. They did things like kill a hundred enemy at a time...by themselves. David was no pipsqueak either. You can’t be that picture of a skinny little shepherd and kill a lion and a bear. I expect David looked a lot more like Atlas than the meek, mild shepherd boy pictures we see. Saul’s armor didn’t fit him when he faced Goliath, not because he was small, but because Saul stood head and shoulders taller than all the other Israelites.
So here was this prophecy about a peaceful Messiah born in a village that produced some of the fiercest warriors in Israel’s history. Jesus said the same of himself. When he talked with his disciples at that last Passover meal with them. He told them he was leaving his legacy of peace with them. He told them the world would hate them because of him, but despite the persecution they would face, they would face it with peace. They did not need to fear as much of humanity did and still does. They could face life with courage and determination and peace. He would assure them of it because of the hope he left behind for them.
He does the same for us. That legacy of peace extends to all who believe in him. John 3:16 sums up his purpose pretty well. “God loved the world (you and me) so much that he gave his one and only son so that whoever (that includes you and me, it doesn’t discriminate against anyone) whoever believes in him will not die but will have everlasting life. Now that’s a promise we can enjoy.
All that leads me to a sad celebration my family is experiencing at this time. As I’m preparing this, my brother-in-law is facing that final step into eternity. He is the first of my siblings or their spouses to face this milestone of life. This final step for he and his wife came so unexpectedly. At the first of December, he seemed fairly healthy, ready for their traditional early Christmas party with his children and grandchildren, and the excitement of the season. Then came December 11. He went from healthy to hospice and I expect as you are listening to this podcast, my sister is preparing his memorial service.
Through these couple of tragic weeks, though, my sister and brother-in-law have been pillars of strength. No fear. Sadness of course because we don’t understand why life should be cut short at 55. That’s way too early these days for disease to take over and decimate life so quickly. But their witness to their children, caregivers, family, and friends shows the legacy of peace that comes with knowing life doesn’t end with our last breath. He knows he will go to sleep very soon and will awake in another realm. He will step foot in paradise and be with his savior forever.
When we believe in the son of God, we can have that same assurance and like him, we face the worst life has to offer without fear. We can know the final outcome and understand that peace can be the predominant emotion even when the world would expect something far different. My brother-in-law has expressed no fear in this next step. Sadness? Some, especially for my sister and their children and grandchildren, knowing he leaves an emptiness that will be filled. Anxiety? Only in regard to making sure everything is in place to ensure my sister is taken care of at his passing.
Joy? Yes. Joy. Can it be true? Joy in dying? Yes. He knows his destiny. He knows his wife will not be alone for long, but will join him in just a short while. What’s a few years in terms of eternity? He knows her faith and she shares the same hope and peace and joy in seeing Jesus that he does. Even in this time the world expects deep sorrow, anger, denial, and a host of other emotions, they have that legacy of peace Jesus said he would leave with us. It is real. It is ours for the asking.
Would I ask for this situation? Absolutely not. Have we prayed for healing? Yes. Did it come? Yes, but not the way we wanted. He will soon have no pain, no tears, no disease. He will soon be perfected in every way. It’s not what we wanted, but God is answering prayer. And we accept that God knows what’s best in every situation. Are we sad? Yes. We will miss him.
We also celebrate with him, though. We will see him again. We will join him one day because as he knows his destination, so do many of us. We have peace and know that one day each of us will wake up on the other side of life. We will see all those who have gone before us and we will see Jesus.
Micah prophesied more than 2500 years ago the Messiah ‘...shall be the one of peace.’ I’ve watched it in the conduct, actions, and bearing of my sister and her husband. Their witness of his peace in their faith is remarkable. Their love for each other is overshadowed by their love of God and their realization that he is with them through every moment of this journey. His legacy of peace is real. We can have it, too.
Merry Christmas to all.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.