Summary: What is the right way bibilically to respond to a Word from the Lord?
Introduction . . .
Christmas is about journeys. There was the journey of:
· The Shepherds – from the fields to the stable
· The Wise Men – from distant lands – following a star
· Mary & Joseph – from Nazareth to Bethlehem
· Jesus – from His home in Heaven to a bed in a barn
We often journey at Christmas today:
· To parties and social events
· To grandma’s house
· To see family and friends
· To malls and stores – chasing the stars we call bargains
· To the scales to measure our weight gain
· To the bank to measure our financial loss
This advent season I want us to join the journeys of some of the Christmas characters. Maybe we can grow by learning from their journeys. Let’s join the journey of the shepherds today.
Luke 2:8-20 (p.725)
Context: Shepherds were common, ordinary folk. They did not view themselves as God’s gift to society. They were not the socially elite. They were just common, everyday sort of folk.
Most likely these shepherds were tending their sheep just outside of Bethlehem and these were probably sheep being prepared for the temple sacrifices. Their job was to guard these sheep from human and animal predators. It was not uncommon for a Shepherd to have to pay for a lost sheep out of his own salary.
The Shepherds would have taken turns on watch during the night. Most likely the watch was three hours in length. It was sometime during the evening that the angels appear.
We don’t know what time of night it was. Were some of the Shepherds already asleep or were they sitting around the campfire telling stories and singing Kum-Ba-Yah? We don’t know. We have no record of the Shepherds saying anything to the angels. All we know is that they were sacred. Wouldn’t you be?
Plot line: Here we have a story of life’s routine being interrupted by God’s messengers, who brought a word from the Lord. What do you do with a word from the Lord?
Question: So, the shepherds were out in left field, or at least left out in the field. And the word of the Lord came to them.
Notice: The Word of the Lord was a word of…
· Courage – v.10 – do not be afraid – The Word of the Lord gives courage to the fearful; it gives courage to the discouraged!
· Good news – v.10 – The Word is good news to those who have been battered by life
· Joy – v.10 – The Word of the Lord gives joy to those who are sad and grieving
· Hope – v.11 – a Savior (Roman Tyranny – they needed a savior; Sin – they really needed a Savior) – The Word gives hope of a better tomorrow.
· Individual Word – v.11, 12, 15 – the use of “you” and “us” – The Word of the Lord is for us as individuals and as the people of God.
God still speaks to us today. We still get a word from the Lord today.
Many people doubt this story because they don’t believe God speaks any more … but they are wrong. The problem for many is that they are looking for bright lights and angel messengers. They are looking for bells and whistles. But, God is speaking to their hearts. God speaks to us,
· through the living words of the Bible . . . .it’s a love letter written to us that we can read again and again.
· He speaks through the experiences of life. Sometimes we learn the most about God from the things that happen to us. Often the circumstances of our lives are designed to wake us up … take us deeper…& let us see how God is working in our lives.
· God speaks through His Spirit. He might use the teachings of a speaker, a writer, or a singer.
We don’t hear because we are preoccupied and distracted. We are so busy with life that we spend most of our time "on the run". We have obligations . . . commitments. We’d like to rest, but we can’t.
Illustration: Young child struggling in school
The story is told about a young child who was having trouble keeping up in school. He worked really hard to keep up with the others in his classroom, but because of his unique challenges, he kept falling behind. As a result, his backpack was crammed full with homework every night. There was no letup. He no longer could play outside with his friends after school. By the time he had made a swipe at all his schoolwork, it was time for bed. The parents consulted with the elementary school guidance counselor and decided that their son needed to be placed with a class of slower learners. It quickly became apparent that the right decision had been made. The third grader got his childhood back, complete with after-school play; a more positive outlook, and grades that matched the front end of the alphabet.