Today’s AMI QT Devotional (new) is written by Andrew Kim who serve as the executive pastor at Tapestry Church in Los Angeles.
Devotional Thought for Today
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
In today’s passage, we come across the familiar story of the shepherds who were given the privilege of being one of the first ones to hear the angel’s announcement about the birth of the Savior and Christ. It was the type of news that the entire nation of Israel were longing to hear for hundreds of years: that God would come back and bring salvation. What’s interesting is that part of the angel’s announcement in verse 14 is that the coming of the Savior would result in peace on earth. In order for us to understand what this might mean, we have to define what biblical peace is.
I think peace has become one of those words that’s lost its original meaning. Often times when we think about peace, it almost always equated with feelings of calm and you picture someone in a meditative state with no worries. No anxiety. This inner calm or tranquility. Or we associate the word with the absence of conflict where hostility no longer exists between groups of people. And I think these are definitely aspects of what peace is, but it doesn’t provide the whole picture of biblical peace. The Hebrew word for peace is the word shalom and it’s a rich word. You see, the Jewish people believed that the world was created by God as a fabric of different parts that was supposed to be woven together and interdependent, in a way that brought life and flourishing to the whole.
For example, Tim Keller explains biblical shalom by giving the illustration of when your body is working properly, every part, each organ and cell is working with all the others the way that it was intended, and it brings a kind of shalom to the whole. There is health and physical well-being. But if you have cancer, it’s a sign that a part of the body is at odds with the rest and you begin experiencing the unraveling of physical shalom. And this is what the Bible is getting at when it’s talking about peace. It is the world as it was created to be in all of its parts, where there is harmony in all relationships, whether between God and humanity, between people, or our relationship to creation.
No one would argue the fact that this God-intended shalom has been broken by sin. Every type of relationship has been marred by brokenness and selfishness. Millions of people do not know God. There is strife and hostility between people. And we have exploited the earth in ways that have caused much harm to the world. And this is precisely the reason for the coming of Jesus on Christmas morning. He has come to remedy the absence of shalom through His life, death, and resurrection. He is the hope that we have been waiting for. During this advent season, let us be reminded that our hope for peace does not rest in human hands but in the hands of a savior that was born on Christmas morning.
Prayer: Father, I thank You for sending Your Son to bring the peace that all of us long for. I pray for Your shalom to mark my relationships, especially those that have been strained by sin. Help me to be an agent of your shalom in all areas of my life.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 5:1-11: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Questions to Consider
- According to this passage, when did God save us and why is that surprising?
- What does our justification by faith lead to?
- In Romans 5:6-11 Paul repeatedly emphasizes the idea that God saved us while we were enemies, weak, and ungodly. God’s salvation did not come when we were on the road to improvement or when we decided to come back to Him. He decides to pursue us even when we were in rebellion against Him and His ways. The is the surprising truth of God’s love for us. His love is truly defined by grace and mercy.
- Our justification by faith leads to peace with God that was achieved by Jesus’ sacrifice. What was once a relationship marked by wrath and hostility, is now one of peace because of the gospel!
What is the state of the relationships of your life? Are they marked by peace? Ask God to bring up names of people that you might be in conflict with and ask Him to help you bring restoration into those relationships.