In yesterday’s post, ★ Day 14 – Reason for the Season – Joy to the World ★ we looked at Luke 2:8-14 (KJV) which was the proclamation of Jesus’ birth from the Angel of the Lord to The Shepherds who were nearby in the fields. The Angels not only proclaimed the Good News but verses 13-14 tells us…“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.” So not only was the night sky set ablaze from the glory of the Angels’ radiance but they also worshiped the Savior of the World in song from a “multitude of the heavenly host!” And I think that they give us a great example that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! We discussed yesterday about placing ourselves within the story and imagining what that must have been like to see brilliance of the Glory of the Lord and be told the news that everyone in Israel was longing to hear for hundreds of years. Today’s “Reason for the Season” will look at Christmas through the Shepherd’s eyes. Angels from heaven visited Shepherds in the field to proclaim that the Savior of the world has been born in the City of David. That is pretty incredible news but as we have been discussing over the past 2 weeks, all too often we can miss the significance, miss the whole “Reason” for the “Season” by being a Bible reader but not a Bible absorber, and never find Jesus in a meaningful way within these passages.
The light and beauty of the Angel’s praises filled the night as they announced the greatest event in history to lowly Shepherds. What an honor the Shepherds were given, not only to be visited by Angels but also to be the first to hear of Jesus’ birth. Have you ever wondered why the Shepherds were honored? What made them so special? If you look at the Shepherds, they were just average men, living amongst animals. By the measure of this world, you would think a King or rich man would be the first to hear the news, someone of “significance.” We give such reverence to people who have acquired great wealth or power. But God doesn’t work that way. He seeks out the most unlikely of people to use them in His master plan. My pastor, whom I was saved under his teaching back in NJ in 1998, said it perfectly in one of his messages…
“The people that men consider to be NOBODIES, God considered them to be SOMEBODYS.” Kevin Brennan
In those days the Shepherds were part of the lowest class in society, likened to thieves and scoundrels, yet God sent His angels to proclaim the birth of His Son to the most undesirable of all people! I like how Matt Chandler put it in his sermon called “Advent (Part 2) – Tell of His Coming: The Shepherds and Angels,.”
“God brings glory to Himself, by being the power, the authority, and the presence by which all things happen. So when God calls, rescues, redeems, calls to Himself…He calls among the weak, and broken so that He is most glorified…
God often times, if not always, calls people to Himself that are undesirable, they are unlikely, they are unhealthy, they are the last person you would ever think…In fact if you pay attention throughout the Bible, this is almost His M.O., in fact being super strong might disqualify you.”
Now if this visitation and heavenly announcement was not amazing enough we will pick up the story with what the Shepherds’ response was which to me is what I find almost just as amazing…Luke 2:15-20 says,
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the Shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the Shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the Shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
So it was the Shepherds who were first to know and spread the word, not rich men or kings. Incredible! Look at the response from these lowly recipients of God’s message to the world…After the Angels went back to heaven; the Shepherds left the fields and their flocks and went out in faith to see what the Angels announced to them. To me this is amazing because the Shepherds could have stayed with their flocks and just discussed what happened. They could have waited until daylight to go. But to them everything else was secondary to going to see the fulfillment of prophecy. Instead they set out immediately, leaving behind what was the source of their livelihood, and even though it was dangerous to travel at night, the Shepherds did not let Christmas pass them by and so the last became first to proclaim the good news that Christ had come, See Matthew 19:29-30 (NIV1984). God never does anything as we expect Him to…Amen? That is what I love about Him…He is the God of the miraculous and unexpected. The Hope and Salvation of the World was not trumpeted in Jerusalem to Kings of men, but to Shepherds in an obsolete part of the countryside to the lowly and insignificant (in the world’s eyes,) in order to show us that God works in small, unnoticed places like a manger in a Palestinian stable. And that is what we need to understand this Christmas…That night in the stable our hope and our salvation was born and we CANNOT let this Christmas season pass us by without accepting the free gift that God gave us through the birth of His Son! Philippians 2:6-8 says,
“Though He [Jesus] was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
John Piper made this powerful point in his “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,”
“What defines Jesus’s humility is the fact that it is mainly a conscious act of putting Himself in a lowly, servant role for the good of others.”
Unfortunately that realization has been lost in the commercialism and materialism in the current state of this world. This “Reason for the Season” started out about looking at the Christmas story through the eyes of the Shepherds, but there is more that the Holy Spirit wants to say. We need to look deeper than the Shepherds and the Angels. We need to look to the “babe in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.” Since the start of this blog, we have been posting in a series called “Back to the Basics” in order to understand our faith and set our minds and hearts on Jesus, focusing on what is really important. We have talked about the “Gifts of the Spirit” and using them to help minister to people. And we talked about being radical for Jesus that “1 Conversation Change a Life.” Today as you read this blog, I pray a conversation is happening within your Spirit between you and God. I pray that you will really examine what this season means and strip away any preconceived notions you have about Jesus, push out the noise of the obligations of the “things to do” and take captive your thoughts to ignore the lies of Satan as he attempts to discourage you through circumstances. It’s not about Christmas trees, or presents or anything else that some a marketing department tells you. Christmas is about Jesus Christ, who humbled himself and was born into a dark, damp, dirty place. He came not to be served but to serve to give us an example for us on how we should treat one another with humility and love…Not for 25 days in December, but for 365 days! He is the bridge and our access to heaven. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 says that we should make prayers and requests for everyone that:
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.”
Don’t let the significance of Christmas pass you by. The advent calendar, though I didn’t realize it when I was growing up is a tool for us to get out hearts and minds in the right place for the birthday of our savior. But you don’t need a calendar to do this – just talk to Him. I challenge all of you to spend each day this month and consider the love and grace of God in sending His son. Pray, read the Bible and thank God for the Gift of His Son to a world lost in sin and hopelessness. Start this month and continue each and every month…Get to know Jesus. Will you be like the Shepherds and step out in faith, trusting in a higher power? Ron Hutchcraft once said that there are (5) things that you can do with Jesus. You can:
1. Reject Him,
2. Ignore Him,
3. Postpone Him,
4. Agree with Him or
5. Commit your life to Him.
You can flat-out say ‘I want nothing to do with Him.’ Or you can take the apathetic approach and ‘decide to do nothing.’ You could postpone Him, that is say ‘yes I’m interested but I want to live life my own way, I will get to accepting Him as my savior eventually.’ You could agree with Him, believing in the parables and bible stories but decide that ‘you still want to do things your own way.’ And then there’s the last thing you could do and that is to accept the sacrifice he made on the cross and ‘commit your life to Him.’ Today I want to ask you, will you reject Jesus or Commit your life to Him. Will you continue to run your life on your own terms or will you stop and accept what that baby in the manger did for you and me?
If you are ready to accept Jesus, here is a simple payer to pray, the words that you use are not important but it is your act of submission and humility to accept God’s Son that does…
Lord I am a sinner. I have tried to run my life and failed, I cannot do it on my own. I need a savior. Please wash me, cleanse me, and create in me a new heart. I am sorry for my sins and I believe that Jesus died as the payment for those sins. Please take my life I freely give it to you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!
If you prayed that in faith and truly believe this, then I have Great News! You are a new creation and will be spending eternity in Heaven! I urge you to tell people about your decision and to find a Bible teaching church and get yourself a Bible. I have been reading this year the New Living Translation (NLT) and highly recommend it as a good place to start! Humility is the key! Let us not forget the Glory of our Lord that was presented to lowly Shepherds this Christmas. For those who seek Him will surely find Him. Yet, not as a babe, but as a King, who one day will reign over all.
Here is a great follow up to today’s “Reason for the Season” from Ron Hutchcraft who explains more about how Jesus is the “THE BRIDGE TO GOD”…★ Just Click Here ★
As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Shepherds – The Voice of Declaration.” This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Shepherd’s perspective.
If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★
Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★