Summary: The example of the shepherds who heard about the birth of Christ leads us on hearing from God.
What It Takes to Hear From God
Part 4 of 4 in the series, "Christmas Calms Our Fears"
Luke 2:1-20 (NLT) 1At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3All returned to their own towns to register for this census. 4And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5He took with him Mary, his fiancé, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
6And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
8That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10but the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!"
13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God: 14"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors." 15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
Not everyone that first Christmas heard from God like the shepherds did.
Caesar in Rome was so powerful that all he had to do was make a census decree and everyone had to travel to their hometowns whether or not it was convenient. But he didn’t hear from God.
Herod was powerful enough to have all of the baby boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem killed because of his fear of a Jesus becoming his rival – but he didn’t hear from God either.
Likewise not everyone today is looking and listening for the right things to be able to hear from God.
The Judean shepherds watching their flocks on the night of Christ’s birth saw and heard from heaven in a remarkable way that first Christmas! You need to hear from God in your life. You need to understand His will, you need to receive His blessing, and you need to have Him answer your prayers. So what can you do to help insure that you hear from God? These shepherds teach us.
We’re finishing the series on "How Christmas Calms Our Fears." The best thing you can possibly do to deal with your fears in life is to hear from God. Whatever you worry about, whatever makes you anxious, whatever doubts and fears you have, hearing from God is the best medicine for dealing with those unpleasant emotions. Four times in the Good News Accounts angels appeared and said, "Don’t be afraid": to Joseph, to Zechariah, to Mary, and now to the shepherds.
We’ve been applying the message, "don’t be afraid," to our lives. The story of the Judean shepherds is just one more example from which we can learn how God can calm our fears. This time we see that listening to God’s message calms fears and we learn what it takes to hear from God.
The shepherds just may have seen and heard what others missed because they were watching for the right thing. That is what it takes to hear from God. You need to know what to listen for.
1. If you want to hear from God you’ve got to seek God’s glory, not your own.
Luke 2:9 (NLT) Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.
Why were the shepherds out with their flocks that night guarding their sheep? Why weren’t they asleep in their tents? They were guarding their flocks because this was the time of year that the lambs were born. The reason they stayed up was to make sure the lambs entered this world safe and sound. Their night watch wasn’t interrupted as much as it was fulfilled! The Lamb of God was born on their watch so God dispatched a choir of angels with an explosion of light to let them know their watching was over!