One remarkable element of the Christmas story is the appearance
of thousands of angels to shepherds on the night of Jesus' birth. Luke 2:13-14 tells us that they sang, "Glory to God isn the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men (NKJV)."
While preparing a Christmas Eve message, it occurred to me that praise almost ALWAYS precedes peace in the Bible. And, when God gives peace without or before praise, it's often incomplete or substandard compared to what comes AFTER man chooses to give Him glory.
It made me think of a typical Sunday AM worship service. People often file-in 20-30 minutes late, during or even after the worship music is over. It's as if we're saying, "I want the real MEAT--the sermon. The singing and prayer is just a warm-up act, an "opener" so-to-speak. I want to be fed--that's the real reason for going to church."
But is that true?
In scripture, God's blessing follows praise and worship. It's typically NOT the other way around. In Luke 2:14, the word translated "peace" actually means "wholeness." To achieve wholeness, fulfillment, and true peace; we MUST glorify and worship God as our highest priority. We were created to worship Him and glorify Him. If we don't do this or make it our focus, we'll never find "wholeness." We'll never feel complete.
Peace follows praise. Wholeness follows worship. True gratification follows glorification.
I think this is a good lesson, not just at Christmas time, but year-round. I pray I'll remember that....
To that end,