Summary: This is the third in a series of sermons on Advent. This message deals with what we can learn from the shepherds about becoming a part of God’s plan for salvation to the world.
The Stories of Advent
Becoming Part of the Plan
As we continue in this series on the stories of Advent we come today to the story of the Shepherds these anonymous men who were the first to hear the news of the birth of the Messiah. Remember that for thousands of years prophets had been telling men to have hope because God had a plan. A plan for the redemption of men through a Messiah who would come. Last week we looked at the Angels who served as messengers inviting men to be a part of the plan. Before we get started I would remind you that most of you stood last week and said to God ¡V I want to be a part of the plan. Whatever it takes ¡V help me be a part of the plan. Well as we look at these shepherds we find a few starters for becoming part of the plan.
Look at these men ¡V they are anonymous ¡V some shepherds ¡V that is really the most astounding thing about these men ¡V they aren¡¦t outstanding at all. They are just folk.
What an unlikely scene for the announcement of all time - After all these men were not
Scholars - steeped in the history and prophesy surrounding Messiahs coming
Statesmen - In royal array - ready to receive a visiting dignitary
Elite- in fact they were the lowest of the low- in the pecking order of the time - rough, smelly, dirty men who spent all their time with the sheep-
Impressive people - they were ordinary, common, and altogether insignificant in the turning of the world around them.
These shepherds represent possibly the most wonderful thing about Christmas -
Because The Shepherds part in God¡¦s plan reveals His very heart to us-
Angels and Shepherds - together -The highest realms of heaven come to the lowest parts of earth - God¡¦s plan is not for the elite, or for the privileged it¡¦s for everyone - from the highest to the lowest. We don¡¦t have to be scholars, or theologians, or statesmen, or perfect, or presentable - We come as ourselves ¡V and participate as part of the plan.
The greatest reality in all the world is that God wants me to be a part of the plan. Some shepherds ¡V just ordinary folk ¡V but used in extraordinary ways in the plan of God.
But how does it happen ¡V how do we move from everyday living to participating in the plan? How do we go from a pasture field to the pulpit like the shepherds?
1) The first thing is you need to begin thinking outside the box. V10 ¡V Understand the message delivered to the shepherds. Messiah is born. An event that had been foretold by the prophets but that many of the religious elite never considered would really happen. Oh they taught about it ¡V thought about it ¡V theologized about it ¡V and even preached about it ¡V but the reality is they didn¡¦t really think it would happen or if it did it certainly would not happen in their lifetime. We have a tendency to get boxed into thinking that as things have been, so shall they ever be. Even those with a faith that Jesus is coming back don¡¦t really keep a weather eye open on the eastern sky. For the shepherds to believe what was happening around them they had to start thinking outside the box. The box is everyday stuff ¡V outside the box is an adventure of epic proportions. Looking back at Isaiah¡¦s prophesy ¡V Isaiah 53 the most widely known Messianic prophecy starts with a question ¡§Who has believed our message?¡¨ This plan made known through the prophets and proclaimed by angels would rock the core of the shepherds belief system. It turned their world on it¡¦s ear. Many would be so unwilling to accept it that they would reject the very Messiah that had come to save them. The reality is that God invites us to be a part of the plan but many reject it because we are unwilling to accept that our world must change if we are to participate. That we must think outside the box if we are to be a part of the plan. What are you willing to do or to try if God asks you to? Are you willing to quit your job and become a missionary? Are you willing to stretch your talents and become a teacher? Are you willing to stretch you comfort zone and become a prophet at work? What are you willing to do if God asks you to ¡V your answer needs to be anything!
2) Overcome Your Personal Inertia ¡V v15 ¡V ¡§Inertia is defined as the property of an object that causes it to remain at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted on by some external force.¡¨ The truth is that the most dangerous thing to the church of Jesus Christ today is not apathy (in reality people do care) it¡¦s inertia. It¡¦s the tendency of people to remain at rest or continue in a uniform straight line unless something happens to change their course. Some outside force must act on them to change their direction or set them in motion. That was true for the shepherds ¡V their plan ¡V remain shepherds ¡V keep doing what we have always done. But that was not God¡¦s plan. Angels came and said to them ¡V do you want to be a part of the plan? I love their action ¡V they slapped it in B for boogy and split. They said let¡¦s go straight to Bethlehem. They overcame their personal inertia. The truth is that you and I are in the same place ¡V doing what we have always done ¡V and God is calling us to more. It won¡¦t happen with wishing, wanting, or dreaming ¡V it will happen when the Holy Spirit of God acts in your heart and changes the course of your life. Folks this is the hardest thing in the world ¡V changing direction ¡V overcoming our own personal inertia. We know what we like and we like what we know ¡V change is hard. But if you want to be a part of the plan you have to change ¡V your world has to change ¡V your heart has to change ¡V you have to finally surrender to the Spirit of God and listen and be obedient to His voice. He will make you part of the plan.