A Multitude of Angels

In both the Old and New Testaments, the words translated “angel” literally mean “messenger”. Many times God sent individual angels to deliver His message to selected persons on earth: to Hagar (Genesis 16:7-12), Abraham (Genesis 22:11-18), Moses (Exodus 3:2), Gideon (Judges 6:11-12), Zechariah (Luke 1:11-20), Mary (Luke 1:26-38), and many more.

On the other hand, visions of heaven speak of multitudes of angels. These multitudes appear in the visions of the prophets Micaiah (1 Kings 22:19) and Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-4) and in John’s visions recorded in Revelation (5:8-14; 7:11-12). These angels are shown serving God through obedience and praise.

But I know of only once when God sent a message to earth, not through an individual angel alone, but through a multitude of angels. This multitude was sent to announce an event that would be the turning point of all history. At that moment they would bring the praise and glory of heaven down to earth.

It was night. The place was the sky over an open field outside a small village on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Only a handful of shepherds saw and heard this one-time appearance:

Suddenly there appeared 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 2:13-14, NASB)

The event they announced had been whispered since the beginning of human history. This event was a Gift, prophesied for centuries by God’s seers. They had spoken in common images of a Child, a Shepherd, a Servant, a Warrior, and a King who would somehow be beyond all titles, all descriptions, and all imaginings. This Gift was a coming, a personal arrival, and on that ordinary, extraordinary night, the arrival was now:

Transcendent God had taken flesh and blood.
Holy God was, now and forever, wholly human.

Heaven itself had come to earth. The One who had sat on the throne was now an infant lying in a feeding trough. But for just a few moments that night, He brought His throne-room choir with Him.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: A Song Was Born at Christmas
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Prepare for Advent: Peace

Father, You are peace.
You are wholeness,
harmony, and
complete well-being.

I long to breathe Your peace
as Christ breathes it,
so perfectly and naturally.
You and He are
one Spirit,
one heart,
one mind,
one love.
As I trust You, I share in Your peace.
I share in Christ, and
He Himself is peace. (Ephesians 2:14)
The fruit of His presence is peace. (Galatians 5:22)
He gives peace in every circumstance. (1 Thessalonians 3:16)

On this second Sunday of Advent,
You give us a glimpse of a new world in which
Your perfect peace flows like a river
through every relationship and
through all of life,
through the very fabric of creation itself.

That peace comes only in Jesus Christ,
who alone can make us one with You.
His peace began at His first coming –
and how I am enjoying those beginnings!
But His universal, all-encompassing peace will not be complete till
He comes again.

O come, Lord Jesus!
We wait for You and
long for You! 

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Hymn: Sweet Peace
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I Will Stay Faithful

Psalm 126

Father, because Your working is thorough,
it is often long-term.
Because it is long-term,
it often involves lots of waiting.
Because it involves lots of waiting,
it requires persistent faith.

Father, I trust You.
I will await
Your working in
Your time.
I will continue to be faithful in
what You have called me to do. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: In Your Steps
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Christmas Is for Everyone!

Christmas is for everyone!
God’s great Gift is given to each of us
and to all of us.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of our entire race—
not just our nation or our religion.
Culture doesn’t matter.
Education doesn’t matter.
Age doesn’t matter.
Money doesn’t matter.
Every human being can have a
rich, full, satisfying life,
now and forever,
by simply trusting Jesus Christ.

God wants everyone to know!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Christ the Lord Is with Us!
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Prepare for Advent

Father, Advent reminds me that
we live in a period of eager waiting.
This time between
Your first coming and
Your second coming
is one long Advent season.

Christ has come.
He has brought us forgiveness for sin, and
He has promised to return and do away with sin forever.

He has empowered us for life and service.
He has poured out on us His own holy life,
the life of the Father,
His Holy Spirit.
And He has promised that when He returns,
we will be united with Father, Son, and Spirit
completely and
forever.

He has risen from the dead, and
we are already enjoying His new resurrection life.
But He has promised to come back and
finish His resurrection transformation.
We will be fully risen in Him,
complete in Him,
new in Him,
alive in Him
in ways we have only tasted.

During this Advent season, Father,
heighten within me
the waiting,
the hoping,
the anticipating.
Fix my heart, mind, and daily life on our
oneness with You
in Jesus Christ. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Live in the Promise
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Christ the Tabernacle

Exodus 25 – 30; 36 – 40; John 1:14; 6:48-58; Hebrews 8:1-5 

God gave the Old Testament tabernacle so that
our senses, minds, and imaginations
might be permeated with
the glory of His presence.

Jesus Christ is that tabernacle perfected,
its intent completed.
The tabernacle was only a copy.
Jesus is the full presence of God
now living within and among us,
forever uniting heaven and earth.

He is the law of God,
all that is pleasing to the Father,
no longer engraved on stone tablets,
but written on the hearts of His people.
He is the Bread of the Presence,
spreading an eternal feast for all who come.
He is the Light forever burning,
illuminating the whole world.
He is the incense of God’s Presence,
the fragrance of His holiness,
the aroma of His unfailing love.
He engulfs us in the richness,
the texture,
the color,
the beauty of heaven itself.
He is the final, perfect sacrifice,
making us right with the Father.
He is the Great High Priest,
uniting us with the Father.

In Christ, the Transcendent God fills
our souls and our senses,
our daily routines and our highest dreams.
Jesus Christ enfolds
all we are in
all He is. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: God Is with Us! Alleluia!
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Jesus’ Family

Notice the women mentioned in these excerpts from Matthew 1:1-16:

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar 

…Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife 

…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary,
of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (NIV)

For a Jew in biblical times, his genealogy was the leading item on his resume. It was his pedigree, and often it included only men. The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 bends tradition by including five women. And what a colorful lot they were!

Tamar entered Jesus’ family tree by seducing her father-in-law.

Rahab was a prostitute. Both she and Ruth were foreigners…outsiders…unclean Gentile “dogs”.

The woman called “Uriah’s wife” was Bathsheba. She won her place by committing adultery with King David, who then murdered her husband.

And finally, Mary was a teenager who became pregnant before she was married.

Even in his genealogy, Jesus broke down all barriers between us, and between us and God. He embraces us all as His own family if we simply trust Him. In Him there is no Jew nor Gentile, male nor female. We are all one in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26, 28, para.). Our holy God is proud to call Himself our Brother (Hebrews 2:11, para.).

Father,
our treasure is not our passing possessions or
the money that flows through our fingers,
but You and Your eternal love for us.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Family Tree
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Prepare for Christ the King Sunday

O Father, the day is coming when
every knee will bow and
every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Every heart will sing of Him.
Every life will worship Him.
All that is will glorify Him.
Everything that is not of Him
will be gone forever.
All reality will reflect
Him and
Him alone.

Father, I long for that day!
Today,
begin it in me.
Begin it here, among Your people.
The culmination of the Christian year and
the culmination of all history
is the crowning of Jesus Christ as
King of All Kings and
Lord of All Lords.
For me,
for us,
in our hearts,
in our worship,
may today be the day.

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” (Revelation 19:6, NASB) 

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Hymn: Enthronement Hymn
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Fall and Incarnation

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER
John 1:10-14; Genesis 2 – 3 

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:10-14, NASB)

Father, Son, and Spirit gifted the humans with the freedom
to will and speak and breathe,
to live and create and rule.
They shared with the human beings the right to
think and choose.

A Rebel, a Liar, a Hater, a Destroyer,
a created being who had turned his own gift of choice
entirely toward himself,
seduced the humans into doing the same.
They chose
their own will,
their own wisdom,
their own sovereignty instead of the Father and Son.
They chose
darkness instead of light,
shame instead of glory,
a curse instead of blessing,
grief instead of joy,
death instead of life.

But the love of the One Being was
still full and overflowing,
still giving and longing for the creature He had made.
Instead of abandoning the humans,
He drew still closer to them.
From His unquenchable love,
the One Being came to them.
He didn’t send them a messenger:
He came Himself.
He didn’t just speak to them.
He joined Himself to them.
He became one with them.
He became one of them.

When the time was right,
the Father willed, and
the Spirit breathed, and
and the Word became flesh.
Heaven and earth,
holy and human,
creature and Creator
were again One.

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and
became man. 

–from THE NICENE CREED 

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Hymn: Before the Starry Universe
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You Speak

O Living God,
Almighty God,
Transcendent God,
from the silence of Your eternal completeness
You speak.
O Father, Your love never stops speaking.

You spoke this entire world into existence.
And through it, You speak Your presence with us.
You speak Your power,
Your wisdom,
Your boundlessness,
Your faithful care.
By Your speaking
You enfold us in all You are.

But You not only speak TO us, Almighty Father.
You speak THROUGH us.
Listening to Your servants, we hear
Your sovereign voice through
human lips.
You move us,
You enable us,
You inspire us to speak for You.

But Father, You speak
fully and
finally
through Your Son, Jesus Christ.
This human being always speaks with Your voice.
His words are purely Your words.
When He speaks,
all reality bows to His authority.

This Jesus Christ has filled us with
His own Spirit.
Through Him, You speak within our
hearts and
minds.
The same Voice that created the universe is now reverberating
throughout our entire beings.

O Living God,
Almighty God,
Transcendent God,
speak freely!
Speak Your will.
Speak Your love.
Speak Your holy life.
Speak Jesus Christ in me! 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Voice of God
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