#3 ADVENT--The Announcement

Advent Wednesdays  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:02
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Advent – The Announcement
Luke 2:14
It was, by far, the most important event ever, accompanied by the most important song ever, that contained the most important announcement ever. I want to get you to think with me about this very familiar, one sentence hymn that is found in Luke 2:14— “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” I wonder how many people have any clue what these words mean?
I wonder if we do. There's something about familiarity that puts our brains and our hearts into a sort of mental, spiritual, monotone. We quit thinking; we quit hearing; we quit questioning; we quit considering. I am persuaded that these words, the deep expansive content of the words of this little hymn, are often misunderstood.
Yes, this is a hymn of celebration of that baby’s birth, the Messiah that was promised. But these words also define your need and mine. And in defining our need, they define the mission of that baby in the manger; these words not only announce a birth, but they also predict a death! ‘Glory’ and ‘peace’ are the two principal words of this little hymn, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.”


We were created to live with the glory of God in view. We were created so that the principal motivation in our life would be that God would be praised. We were created to live in the most practical sense of what these words mean, a God-ward existence, an upward-focused existence…that we could really argue that God would be the reason that we do all that you do.
We know that creation was designed to remind us of, to point us to the glory of God. That everything created is meant to be a finger that points us to the person and the character, the plan of God, that we would be reminded again and again, everywhere we look that God is the center of our existence.
Whether it is frigid cold and snow that you don’t want to yet face, or the beautiful song of a bird, or the shocking bright colors of the fall leaves, or a scary storm, or the touch of another human being’s hand, or the tone of their voice, the brightness of the morning, the darkness of the night, all of those things, all of those glories are shadow glories that are meant to reflect the one glory that is truly glorious glory of God.
That’s the way it was meant to happen, but in a sad moment of disobedience and rebellion, Adam and Eve chose rather to live for the glory of the creation than the glory of God. They wanted something in the creation more than they wanted God, and ever since that horrible moment, there has been, in all our hearts, glory confusion and a glory war. We don’t always live for the glory of God. There are other glories that can compete in our heart for this one glory.
You are in a crowded shopping mall Christmas shopping, and I doubt you thought anything about the glory of God. You didn’t think that the mob of people is a somber reminder that the Lord is in control. Very often we forget God’s glory, and we live for other glories; in fact, you could argue that every sin has, at its root, an exchange of God’s glory for some glory in creation.
What is materialism all about? Materialism replaces the glory of God with the possession of physical things. Pride chooses to live more for self-glory than the glory of God. We’re all glory confused; we’re all in some way glory thieves.
And if you reflect on your world this week, you probably wouldn’t be able to say in every way possible, “I lived with the glory of God in view this week.” I know I couldn’t say that. There are times when other replacement glories become more precious to you, and you convince yourself that you can’t live without them, and your life is more dictated by the worship of what was created than the worship of the Creator.
But listen, that never leads to a heart that’s at rest; it never leads to inner peace; it never leads to satisfaction because the replacement shadow glories can’t fulfill your heart. They are not designed to do that. You can’t turn the created world into your own personal messiah; it will never work. We have a glory problem. All of us are still in the midst of a glory war. We all have moments of glory confusion. And we all have times where we want the creation more than we want the Creator.
“Glory to God in the highest!” This is the way God designed humanity to live; we all are called, chosen, and created to live for the glory of God. That was the creation plan. And then, in a moment of self-glory and rebellion, that was shattered. Ever since, we all live in the middle of glory war and glory confusion as a result.


The second word is that word ‘peace.’ Peace among those with whom He is pleased. You and I were created for peace with God. We were created so that the most important thing in our lives would be relationship with God. We were created to have the high honor of being the worshipful, obedient, friends of God. That friendship with God would be the most meaningful reality of our lives.
And that peace with God would allow us to have peace within our hearts. The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom” and when that shalom with God is shattered, then, the result is that our hearts are not at rest.
There is a horrible moment in the garden where God comes in the cool of the day to commune with Adam and Eve; it’s a beautiful picture. These are the friends of God that He would walk with them and commune with them; what a beautiful thing. Yet, Adam and Eve aren’t running to meet Him. They are not excited to see Him. No! They’re hiding in guilt and fear because they have been disobedient, and that peace with God has been shattered.
I love that Old Testament word “shalom” because it pictures something more fundamental than just the absence of conflict. It pictures that all things are in their proper order, are working the way they were designed to work; peace with God means I have peace inside. But we don’t always have that. All of us have the experience of anxiety, sometimes anxiety that we can’t escape, or anger or frustration or discouragement or depression or hopelessness; our hearts struggle to find rest.
Have you had any sleepless nights where your mind went over that endless catalog of ‘what ifs’? Be at peace—peace with God; peace within.
The third thing that we were created for is peace with others. You see, if I don't have peace inside of myself, it makes it very hard for me to live at peace with others, especially when and our lives are marked by conflict. I don’t think anyone here has lived a conflict free 2023.
It's amazing that all around us is unrest, all around us is conflict; we have a peace problem. Brokenness with God leads to brokenness within, leads to brokenness in the community that’s around us. This song really does capture the great human dilemma. Glory thieves! Shalom shattered, and in defining our need, this little hymn really points us to the mission of the Messiah.
Listen! If I have a peace problem, then, what I have is a heart problem. My problem isn’t so much my relationships; my problem isn’t so much my situation. My problem is something broken in my heart. David gets it right when he prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” That’s what we need: radical, personal, long-term, heart-change, because that is our problem.
The prophecies of the coming Christ are very clear that He is coming to address this problem. “I will give them a new heart. I will take that heart of stone out of them, and I will replace it with a heart of flesh.” His work is to take this stony heart, resistant to change, and mold it to become a heart alive to God and now able to change. And then people, who once lived for their own glory, would now, by His grace, live for His glory. Oh, not just in religious matters, but in every day in their lives that these people, in their words and their thoughts and their actions and their relationships and their desires, would live for God! This is the mission of Jesus! And that I would be brought by grace into peace with God.
Listen! It is not okay that masses of human beings do not live in peace with God. It’s not okay that the people who walk those streets live apart from peace with God. It’s not okay that masses of people in the United States couldn’t care less about peace with God. It’s not okay that, in the nations around the world, masses of people live with no knowledge of what it means to live in peace with God. It’s not okay! It's not okay because the epicenter of the human existence is be a relationship with God.
Listen, this ought to break your heart; it ought to make you weep; we must not become comfortable with this because, if it were okay for us to live in broken relationship with God, Jesus would not have come. Yes, I am passionate about this; this is important.
What a tragedy that I would wake up and my whole life would be lived for self-glories that never satisfy me. What a tragedy if I didn’t care about peace with God. Those things are not okay. So, Jesus came because our only hope would be His grace. The true is, no one can escape is the condition of their heart.
My problem is me! And so, a Lord and Savior must come. And you hear the word ‘Savior,’ know what you’re hearing, you don’t need a Savior unless you are unable to help yourself— ‘Savior’ tells you, you need to be rescued. These words really do define our need. They really do define Christ’s mission.
But there’s another thing they do; they define for us the price of this mission. It’s really captured in that final phrase, “…peace with whom He is pleased.”
You see, the only hope of peace is grace, and the vehicle of grace is a death. You see, that stolen glory that shattered peace left us all guilty, because rather than living for God, we have sought to be God; rather than honoring the Creator, we have worshiped the creation, and the sentence of that guilt is death. You do not understand that baby in the manger unless you know that that baby came to be a Lamb.
Here is the plan, Jesus came, and from day one, all of His thoughts and desires, all His actions, reactions and responses would be fully and completely and perfectly lived to the glory of God. He, on our behalf, lived for our glory; He lived the life that we could not live. And on the cross, He bore our penalty, and faced the rejection of the Father so that we could know His acceptance and peace with Him. Upward peace that would create inward peace that would give us the ability to have outward peace; that was the plan. He came willingly; He knew what the price would be. He must die so that we could live.
And so, the work of grace is as needed by us this evening as it’s ever been. The angels announce your hope. The angels announce your redemption. The angels announce to you grace; grace of a life lived, grace of a death offered so that you may live for His glory, and you may experience in all the ways possible, His peace. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased!”
In the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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