Today’s message summary of December 22, 2019 from Pastor Gus Brown:
God often gives our success, and he also gives us our failures. Sometimes we need to see both sides to appreciate His goodness. He wants you to know that your work for Him is not in vain.
God intends for each of us to respond to the information provided to us. For example, how do you respond when you receive a job promotion? How do you respond if you are to be laid off?
With this in mind, how do you respond to the information about the birth of Jesus?
When it comes to information, it has two requirements: It has to be reasonable, and it has to be verifiable.
This information still requires faith. It helps us to see this information for what it is as it is being revealed to us.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
The shepherds were working and doing their thing–watching their flocks. It was ordinary work, but it soon became extraordinary. Their day-to-day life changed.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
When ordinary life changes, something different is taking place. An angel is in the fields with the shepherds.
Sometimes God does something in your life that can be a profound change for you. He has a message for you.
Now while he (Zechariah) was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
There is no limit as to where God speaks to you. He can do it anywhere.
Are you listening? Do you have an ear to hear?
The shepherds and Zechariah have a responsibility to hear the angel.
How you respond will often take you to the next step. If you don’t respond (you’re not listening), then it may affect what happens thereafter.
The message that the angel was sharing was good news:
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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Shepherds were people regarded as of low status. They were far from affluent. They were often outside of the community because they spent their time in the fields.
In the Jewish Talmud (treatise) Sanhedrin, shepherds were not allowed in the courts as witnesses. God helps them into His court and makes them become witnesses to His work.
And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
The message here was being preached to the poor (v. 6). John was concerned about the average person. Jesus is referred to as the One who brings the good news to the forgotten people.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
How are the people described here? The people are in trouble because of others, and they often trouble themselves, as well.
Did you know that a sheep can only see about 6 feet in distance? It is the most defenseless of all animals. It is dependent upon the protection of the shepherd.
When people are helpless like sheep, they lack care and are cast downward. The Shepherd meets all of the needs of the sheep.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Jesus does not hold anything back. He equips us to do His will. He gives us gifts and provides for us to do His will. He prepares us to do service for Him because He is the Good Shepherd.
When Jesus was first being revealed, note that one group encounters an angel, while another group is given a star.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
The shepherds message from the angel was that the Shepherd was born. The wise men came to see the King who had been born.
God reveals the message that is relevant to the people he is communicating with.
Both groups responded with an action. They had to seek out what was being told to them and shown to them. It was done to see if what they were told was true.
Their action required faith.
Are you responding to God with an action. Are you looking at every day as ordinary, or as extraordinary?
The shepherds saw Jesus, the baby, in the manger.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
The magi came to the house and they saw the child.
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
We think they saw Jesus when he was about two years old because Herod had decreed that all first born boys in Bethlehem age two and younger to be executed (Matthew 2:16-18).
God was getting His message out to the rich and the poor. The shepherds came with nothing. The magi came with wealth (and gifts). They came from the East and took their good news back with them.
A separation had taken place: The glory of the Lord had shone around them. It was something that grabbed them and held their attention. It separated them from the reality of what they were seeing to behold the Lord’s presence (Acts 2:9).
The shepherds were captivated by the light of the angels, which prepared them to hear what the angel had to say to them.
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
When is the last time the Lord has captivated you and grabbed your attention?
The message to the shepherds was of good news.
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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Is God getting His message through to you? How are you responding to His message?
The message of the birth of Jesus Christ was for all of the people (v. 10).
He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
All people have need of a Savior…someone who can rescue them.
Now comes the real test. They heard the information–can it be verified?
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.”
How would it be verified? They needed to go and see for themselves. They still had to work while going to Bethlehem as they still had to tend after their sheep.
When the shepherds saw Jesus, they shared the truth with others.
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
Going after Jesus sometimes requires work. You have to work at it. You have to gain a desire for Him by learning. Once you learn about Jesus, are you sharing your experience with others?
For you, there is only one way to know if the message of Jesus Christ is true…try Him for yourself.
You have to go after Him.
Experience God working in your life, and share His goodness with others.