The Shepherds’ Obedience

Luke 2:8-20

Since the Savior’s birth was the greatest news of all time, shouldn’t God have announced it to important people like kings and nobles? Instead, He sent His angel make the announcement to insignificant shepherds. They were absolutely awed by what they heard and witnessed—the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived. Though their message probably seemed strange to others and could have resulted in ridicule, they wanted everyone to hear the good news.

We must become bold like those shepherds. It’s our job to take the gospel to people who haven’t heard, but many believers lack the courage to share their faith. At times we don’t feel knowledgeable enough, and yet we understand far more than the shepherds did. They had this one experience with angels, but we have the written Word of God available anytime we choose to open it. Don’t let the fear of rejection, embarrassment, or inadequacy keep you from sharing the only message that can change someone’s eternal destiny.

Today you probably won’t get a message from an angel, but through Scripture or by an inaudible “whisper,” God still speaks to those who are humbly listening. The real issue is what we do after hearing from Him.

The shepherds left immediately to find the newborn Messiah—just think what they’d have missed had they refused to leave their sheep! Are you quick to obey God’s instructions? By hesitating, you could miss great opportunities. Ready obedience is the key to experiencing the Lord’s plans for you.

Why The Christ became a man

snow sheep barn
The True Christmas Message is Not the Cradle, but the Cross

It was the harshest of all frontier winters. The man’s wife and children left for the Christmas Eve worship. He could not bring himself to believe in the Christ of Christmas. To him, God, becoming a man to “save” humanity, was, absurd.

The old Indian chief’s community weather forecast proved to be false. Rather than just a few flurries there appeared on the horizon a cold wind of blanketing heavy snow. As the wind increased with intermittent gusts and the snow began to drift, the man scurried to gather the farm animals into the barn.

Once inside the sheltered barn with all the animals intact, the man noticed the birds being blown hither and yon by the gusting winds. It was if they also wanted in the sheltered barn to be delivered from the treacherous storm.The man, who loved birds and often welcomed their nests as perched residences within his barn, sadly paused before closing the door. He thought to himself:

“If only I could coax them inside, they would not freeze and would be saved from the wintry blast. It’s too bad I can’t be a like a bird and communicate with them to coax them into my barn. If only briefly, I could transform myself into a bird, I could fly to the flock, inform them of the present danger they face and end up rescuing them into my barn of safety – free from the present dangers and ultimate devastation of the wind, snow and cold.”

Upon hearing himself think these [above] thoughts, there flashed into the man’s mind, the clear and simple meaning of the First Christmas.

My friend, the simple, yet clear meaning and significance of Christmas, is the celebration of Jesus Christ.He came as God, in human flesh to destroy sin, (eternal) death and the devil. He came to rescue us from our sins and eternal death (damnation) by His birth, [holy] life, suffering, death and resurrection.

He came to deliver us from being children of God’s just and holy wrath [because of our sins] and call us into His family. [Ephesians 2:1-10] The Lord God could do that masterful divine work, no other way, than to communicate with us — and He did so with flesh and blood. He did it by being born as you and me [yet, without sin]. He did it by living a sinless life, (of which we could not), and by suffering and dying [as God’s perfect sacrifice for human sin] upon a cross. He completed his rescue and sealed its eternal finality by rising from the dead.

It is this author’s prayer that those of you who visit this site and read and hear this message, would come by faith to know and experience God’s saving Grace [Hebrews 11:6 ; Titus 2:11-14] – the one and only Triune God, who manifested Himself in the Savior person of, Jesus Christ.

The good Lord did not leave His creation without a clue. He provided for us the Holy Scriptures — His Divine Revelation for that very purpose. Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; Acts 8:26-39 ; 1 Peter 1:23 ; James 1:18.

May you come to understand, by faith, – that, which only the Lord of all, can reveal to you. Amen.

By Nathan M. Bickel
http://moralmatters.org/2013/12/25/the-true-message-of-christmas-why-the-christ-became-a-man/

What We Celebrate at Christmas

“And [Joseph] knew her [Mary] not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matthew 1:25)

The actual birthday of Jesus was sometime in the fall (September or October) rather than in December. The date is of lesser consequence, however, than the reason for the celebration (Isaiah 1:18). Heaven itself celebrated the birth (Luke 2:8-14). And after the shepherds got over their fear, they couldn’t stop telling the news.

Then there were the wise men from the east who came to worship the one “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). They got there well after the birth, having put their lives on hold, and willingly gave of their time and treasures to honor this great King while they rejoiced with “exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Surely all Christians should worship and rejoice as well as open our treasuries when we celebrate Christ’s birth.

But if we just focus on the birth, we may miss the greatest reason for the commemoration. After all, there was nothing uncommon about the physical process. But the conception, now that was miraculous (Luke 1:35)! The eternal “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The great Creator and Son of God, “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), submitted to the will of the Father and “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). That was why heaven celebrated.

Counting back nine months from around September puts us pretty close to the end of the previous December. Perhaps our sovereign God has orchestrated events so that we would celebrate the real miracle of the conception: “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). HMM III

His name shall be called Emmanuel…. God with us

“His name shall be called Emmanuel…. God with us.” (Matt. 1:23.) “The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6.)

“There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.”

A FEW years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Saviour’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Saviour had disappeared.

A ring at the door-bell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.

Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.

Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”

Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11.)

“He comes to make His blessing flow,
Far as the curse is found.”

May our hearts go out to the people in heathen lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and SEND PORTIONS TO THEM FOR WHOM NOTHING IS PREPARED.” (Neh. 8:10.)

Have you been forgetful of your high calling?

“And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” Job 1:5

What the patriarch did early in the morning, after the family festivities, it will be well for the believer to do for himself ere he rests tonight. Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth.

There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Come, believer, in what have you sinned today? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-day—to wash anew in the cleansing fountain.

Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good to-night, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.

Gladly I close this festive day
Grasping the altar’s hallow’d horn;
My slips and faults are washed away,
The Lamb has all my trespass borne.

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Let us today go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see Him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in Him, and can sing, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance His miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son.

The first promise ran thus, “The seed of the woman,” not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to His human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that He may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note His humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as “a virgin,” not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!

Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.