Good Tidings!

good tidings

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-11)

Shepherds in Bible times were not used to heavenly visitations, so it’s no wonder they were “greatly afraid”!  The most excitement they would have normally encountered would have been something closer to a wolf or coyote threatening the peace of the flock.  As a result, their first reaction to this angelic visitation was to expect something evil, something that would harm them.

Notice in verse eleven the next message from the spokesman angel: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people…” The angel obviously sensed their fear, and knew they needed some reassurance of their purpose.  The message they brought was “good” and filled with “joy” . . . and not just joy, but great joy!

The message didn’t stop there.  In Luke 2:13-14, the host of angels continued, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!’ ”

Not only were they given “good tidings,” but also “good will”!  It wasn’t bad news with a bad motive.  It was all good news with the motivation and desire to bring good.  It was meant to inspire joy and godly excitement, not fear and dread.

All messages that bring fear a dread come from the devil (John 10:10; 2 Timothy 1:7).  We can easily define a message from him based on three things: 1) It does not match God’s written Word, 2) it is not good news, and 3) it inspires us to give up or hide.  Just like the liar he is (John 8:44), he may sow seeds of fear in our hearts, even when we receive a message from God.  The last thing he wants is for us to respond joyfully and in faith to a heavenly tiding. Once we do, he knows we are able to experience God’s goodness to the full.  He will do whatever he can to stop it, either by sending his own message, or by distracting us from the real one.

Just like the devil’s heart motive is revealed in his message, the heart of God is always revealed in His Word.  In contrast to the devil’s tiding, God’s message teaches us that His nature alone is good.  “You are good, and do good …” (Psalm 119:68) “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)  “So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.’” (Luke 18:19)  We know that any time He speaks to us, either through His written Word or through His Spirit to our hearts, it will be an accurate expression of who He is and what He desires.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Based on our lack of faith in the supernatural promises of God, our flesh may immediately recoil in fear and intimidation when receiving a big message from God.  We may think it’s impossible, or feel like we aren’t good enough to receive it.  When we cower at the message, the supernatural, “good will” is never seen. But God’s desire is that we recognize where that fear comes from, and choose to believe and act on that “good tiding”!  If we act like the shepherds, and “come with haste” (Luke 1:16), we will see a miracle . . . one that only the God of good tidings could bring!

God’s Preservatives

junk_food

Most people know me as being “health-conscious” (I prefer that term over “health nut.” It somehow sounds more sophisticated.). I’m one of those people who read the labels before I purchase a can of vegetables or a package of crackers. I look for special words that every nutritionist frowns upon. I’m referring to those mile-long words with multiple syllables that indicate the product will last for a million years if left on the shelf for that long. I cringe to think of those words floating around in my body while the rest of the processed ingredients do zero benefit to my immune system. Needless to say, the junk food and candy aisle doesn’t receive too many visits.

However, one kind preservative I do appreciate and can’t do without. That preservative is God’s protection, His means delivering me from harm. Unlike artificial preservatives found in a box of Cheetos or a loaf of processed white bread, it wreaks no havoc on the body.   It does the complete opposite by filling its charge with an injection of protection.

Psalm 121 says:

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and our coming in from this time forth and even forevermore.”

We live in a world full of evil, surrounded by contaminates that would seek to harm us. Accidents, sickness, violence, and poverty try their best to destroy our lives.   We can try our best to protect ourselves – install burglar alarms, take a handful of vitamins, and drive the speed limit. Even then we don’t have the power to ward off every unseen attack of the devil against our lives. We need Someone Who can see it all . . . and Who has the power to do something about it.

One wonderful characteristic about our Bodyguard is that He “neither slumbers nor sleeps.” In fact, one of the words pertaining to the word “preserve” is “circumspect.” Our Bodyguard is “circumspectly” (or in a circle) guarding us. He is ever-aware of everything concerning us, day and night. We could be at the store, taking a walk, or going to bed, and His presence would still be with us. With attentiveness like this, no imposter, thief, or assailant has a chance to succeed in the attack.

We have no need to fear in light of God’s promises. Catastrophes may be happening beyond our circumference, but trust in our faithful Bodyguard will keep it out of our circle. The whole earth could be collapsing, yet we can still rest in the assurance that we are protected (Psalm 46:1-2). Our only responsibility is to maintain our faith that He will do just as He has promised, no matter how bad it looks. He responds to that faith like a parent to his child – swift and faithful.

Yes, we may get a few “dents” as the delivery truck transfers us from the warehouse to the store. We may get a few “rips” in our label when handled carelessly. Regardless of the number of “afflictions,” God has promised to deliver us out of them all (Psalm 34:19)! No matter how terrible the world looks, we can always be sure that the eye of our Bodyguard has never strayed from our position in Him!

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though it be cast into the midst of the sea.” Psalm 46:1-2

Suggested Reading: Psalm 91