Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Angels

As Christmas approaches, I've been thinking about the role angels played in the Christmas story. Angels have always served as God’s messengers. They still exist today and continue to serve as God’s messengers. Though angels are very real, we should never pray to angels, or worship them, because only God deserves that honor. But we can learn some important truths about life by looking at how angels impacted the Christmas story.

First Angel - The Message to Zechariah
Luke 1:11-13 - An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

               Zechariah was a priest at the Temple and was offering incense at the altar when he saw an angel.
               Because of the large number of priests and limited number of times incense was offered, this was probably a once in a life time experience for Zechariah.
               Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had not been able to have any children and now were too old for it to happen naturally.
               As Zechariah prayed, he asked God to do a miracle and give him a son.
               There are moments in our lives that are so special, they will never happen again. We should learn to cherish such moments.
               Likewise, we all have supernatural experiences that are once in a life time moments with God. We should not take them for granted because they cannot be recreated.
               Other times God puts a desire in our hearts that just will not go away. We should keep on praying, even if it seems impossible for it to happen.
               An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah while he was praying, which startled him and he was overcome with fear.
               Zechariah was so shocked that he did not believe the message the angel told him.
               It is ironic that Zechariah was praying for something important to him but when God answered, he was startled and afraid.
               But if we are honest, we would have to admit that the same thing sometimes happens to us. We pray and then are surprised when God answers.

The First Message of the Christmas Angels for us today is: We should pray in faith believing that God hears and responds.

Second Angel - The Message to Mary
Luke 1:26-29 - In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, "Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you." But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.

               Mary was Zechariah’s wife’s cousin.
               In the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the same angel came to Mary and gave her the same message, which was that she would also have a son.
               The angel calls Mary “highly favored.”
               Some churches teach that Mary was sinless or had some other special spiritual quality that made her “worthy” to bear the Christ child.
               Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Mary was extraordinary, as a matter of fact the Bible is actually silent about the background and life of Mary.
               The Bible is silent about Mary because the focus should be Jesus, not on Mary.
               If any of the visitations of Mary that people claim to have are real, Mary’s first message to them would be to stop praying to her and worshipping her, because Jesus alone is worthy of worship.
               Mary was an ordinary person whom God chose to help accomplish His extraordinary plan.
               God still uses ordinary people to do remarkable things.
Luke 1:38 - I am the Lord's slave, said Mary. May it be done to me according to your word. Then the angel left her.

               Mary’s response to the angel was that she was willing to submit to God’s plan for her life even though it made no sense at all.
               She got to see God do some amazing things and her life was blessed because of her willingness to obey God’s plan.

The Second Message of the Christmas Angels for us today is: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things if we are willing to be obedient to His plan.

Third Angel - The Message to the Shepherds
Luke 2:8-11 - In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.

               The angel proclaimed good news to the shepherds and the same good news is proclaimed to us today.
               The good news is that we no longer have to endure lives of emptiness but we can have hope and purpose.
               The good news is that we no longer have to bear the guilt of our sins, or fear hell, for our sins can be forgiven.
               This good news is for all people. How have we responded to it?

Luke 2:15 - When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."

               The shepherds may have been uneducated and poor, but they were smart enough to go check it out, accept what they found!
               Are we smart enough to check out the Gospel and accept it?

The Third Message of the Christmas Angels for us today is: The Gospel is the Good News about Jesus and we have no hope without it.

Fourth Angel - The Message to Joseph
Matthew 2:13-15 - After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him. So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod's death.

               These verses happen sometime after the actual birth of Jesus, probably about two years later.
               The traditional Christmas story as we know it is over by the time these verses happen.
               King Herod had been alerted that a new “king” had been born and he was afraid of the competition.
               Not wanting competition for the title “King,” Herod ordered the murder of all the baby boys two years old and younger in the area where Jesus had been born.
               That was an incredibly cruel act, but when people in power feel threatened, they often use their power in terrible ways.
               Regretfully, our lives are often filled with pain because the people around us feel threatened, especially those with power over us.
               An angel warned Joseph and told him to flee to Egypt.
               There was a large Jewish population in Alexandria, Egypt. Joseph would have been able to find work and friends among the Jewish community there.
               Joseph took his family and moved to Egypt even though it was disruptive to his life. Joseph was not able to return to Israel until after King Herod died. Even then he moved to Nazareth, instead of his home town.
               Having to move a couple of times and settle in a different town than he may have wanted to was probably very frustrating, but imagine the consequences for his family if Joseph had not had God’s help in this terrible situation.
               The reality is that trouble is going to come to each of our lives at some point, why not have God’s help when that trouble finally comes?

The Fourth Message of the Christmas Angels for us today is: Following God does not mean we will never face problems in life, but it does mean that God will help us in those times of trouble.

God has given us Four Christmas Messages from Angels:
1.      We should pray in faith believing that God hears and responds.
2.      God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things if we are willing to be obedient to His plan.
3.      The Gospel is the Good News about Jesus and we have no hope without it.
4.      Following God does not mean that we will never face problems in life, but it does mean that God will help us in times of trouble.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

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