Talk About A Surprise Appearance!

I love thinking about the shepherd’s scene. They were peacefully resting with their sheep on a hillside near Bethlehem. All was quiet and calm and into the night an angel appeared to them. Just like the others in our story, they were afraid. The angel knew they were not just afraid but terrified. They were told to put their fears away and rejoice in the news the angel had for them.

Luke 2:8-14 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,  and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Why would God choose lowly shepherds as the first to know this glorious and heavenly news? Perhaps because it shows that the Savior, God’s Son, came to all people not just kings and priests. He was the Savior and Messiah of all men- rich and poor. Perhaps it was because Jesus was to be known as the shepherd of God’s own people. Many times Jesus used analogies about believers as being sheep and He called himself the good shepherd in John 10:11 I am the good shepherdThe good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” We as sheep know the shepherd’s voice. John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Whatever God’s reasons, they were a privileged group that did not let this heavenly experience leave them unaffected. They marveled at the scene, took in the message and acted upon it as we will see in tomorrow’s passage.

The shepherds were given the Who– Christ, the Savior, Messiah has arrived

When– right now,

What– a special child, the Messiah has been born

Why– because His arrival brings good news and joy to all mankind

The shepherds were told this glorious, heavenly news and could not stay put but left their sheep and went in search of this Christ Child.

What about you? What heavenly news have your received? You probably were not visited by an angelic choir but God called and spoke to you when you came to know Jesus. Was it life changing? If it was and you feel your first love has faded, pray and ask God to renew your first love for Him. In Revelation, the church at Ephesus was chastised for losing their first love. They had persevered in the faith but had lost their fervor. Revelation 2:4 “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Let us renew our love for Christ this Christmas and bask in the joy of His coming. Let us rely upon the truth of His Word as we seek to live daily for Him. If you have not received the truth of who Jesus is and His love and forgiveness, don’t waste another minute. Pray and ask God to forgive you and claim His gift of eternal life. John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Rejoice this Christmas in knowing Him as Savior.

May your encounter this Christmas with the Christ child be glorious and joyful!

Linda

Advent…What is your reaction to the Savior’s Birth?

Luke 2:14-15 is the part of the shepherd’s story that involves the reaction by both the heavenly beings and the earthly shepherds to the announcement of the birth of a Savior found in verses 10-11 “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.” Their reaction was:

“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.”

The large company of heavenly angels came to praise God. Angels are heavenly beings but are not omniscient, and therefore do not know the future. They were genuine in their praises of joy at the announcement of Jesus’ birth. Their reaction was one of praise to God for fulfilling His plan and sending Jesus to bless all mankind. The shepherds reacted to the news from heaven with curiosity and a determination to find out about this child who was born that would save them. They trusted the messenger, their vision of angels and the message sent from God to be true and worthy of validation. So they acted upon this and went to seek out the child. Verse 16 begins “So they hurried off …”

My question for today is What is your reaction to the birth of the Savior? Are you filled with praises towards God for sending a way of reconciliation and restoration in Jesus? Do you praise God for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection? Do you praise and thank God for the forgiveness of your sins through His Son? That is a spiritual response of grand proportion to Jesus’ birth. In addition to praise, do you act upon the message of His birth? Do you step out in faith daily to follow and seek Him? Are you curious about who God is enough to study God’s Word for yourself? Are you determined to serve this Jesus with your life, acting with love towards others and telling them about this Savior, Christ the Lord? That is a physical response of grand proportion to Jesus’ birth.

Which is it? or Is it both? Meditate on verses 14 & 15 today, talk to God about your reaction to the birth of His Son. The outcome of your reaction will have a profound affect upon your life both today and tomorrow. I am reminded of Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,  whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Tell others of your reaction to the birth of your Savior; it is a glorious story!

Linda

This is a photo of the hillside just outside of Bethlehem as is looks today. Can’t you just envision the shepherds on the hillside being greeted by the hosts of heaven?

Advent…Do you please God?

On the night Jesus was born Shepherds heard the news in an amazing way. Luke 2:8-14

 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

I cannot even imagine seeing a host of angels shouting and praising God. The sound must have been deafening but glorious! It is understandable that the shepherds were afraid. These were God’s warriors from heaven’s armies come to earth, visibly, to announce this amazing news. The angel, probably Michael or Gabriel or the leader of the host of angels calmed the shepherds with his words and then quickly told them of the birth of God’s son, the long awaited Messiah. Their message to the shepherds and all of us too, was one of praise to God for sending this messenger of peace for all mankind. This peace on earth is to be bestowed upon those with whom God is pleased. Our question then is how does one please God?

Scripture tells us what pleases God. Here are a few for you to meditate upon today.

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Faith is essential to pleasing God.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?
Living a life based upon His justice, love and kindness with humility pleases God.

Psalm 147:11 “but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
Our reverence, awe of Him and our trust upon His love pleases Him.

Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
    but those who act faithfully are his delight.
” Our faithful actions please God.

Jesus said in John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Our love for others shows we love Him and our obedience pleases Jesus.

May you be encouraged today as you mediate on the ways you are pleasing God and yet, challenged to do even more.

Linda