To Become as They
Today we travel together to the Judean hills to remember what happened to some shepherds – and if we are brave and intent enough; we might discover ourselves. I believe that the actions of the Shepherds (and through our accepting the challenge of self-assessment against their actions) are a key to making deeper discovers about the Gift of the Son – who came to earth to save the likes of you and I. In summary form, here are the components of that self-assessment. Our text is Luke chapter 2.
- Doing what you ought
- God comes unbidden
- Walk uprightly; fear God
- Receive the Message
- Accept uncertainty
- Go, armed with what you know
- Make Truth known
Doing what you ought
- And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night – Luke 2:8
Remember they were in same country as Mary, Joseph and the Baby. They were as close to the Diving Gift as you and I are right now. And where were the shepherds? Were they resting comfortably in cozy beds? No, they were out in the field – laying on the ground; going without comforts. What were they doing? “Keeping watch” What were they supposed to be doing? “Keeping watch”. You and I need to be doing what we ought to be doing. Life is not about searching for ways and using your resources to do what you want – you need to be out in the field; doing what you ought. Jesus underscores this:
- So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’ – Luke 17:10
We must look at our lives as doing what He commands, going where He leads – and even then , we are only doing what we ought to be doing. So what happens when you pay attention to your responsibilities on the Jesus Path? Check out the next verse…
God comes unbidden
- And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them – Luke 2:9
Don’t lose the impact of these words. “And lo”. It means behold, out of thin air – coming from a place beyond their reckoning – from a place beyond which they (or you and I) can factor. The angel comes unbidden from the unseen to the seen. When you are doing as you ought, God calls; from a higher place – He comes upon us; He calls to us as He did to Moses.
- And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up – Exodus 19:20
God calls us from a higher place – He comes upon us from the unseen and higher plane of His dwelling; His purposes; His aims for our lives. The angel of the Lord comes upon you and I as well – my question is this… did Moses or the Shepherds ask God to come? No. Most certainly no. When you are doing what you ought to be doing – God comes unbidden – And not always at the most convenient time. He comes out of nowhere, and many times we’d just as soon He not come – because of what He asks us to do. But I want to underscore the Presence of God came only as the shepherds, kept their watch by night. Verse 9 continues:
Walk uprightly; fear God
- And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not.
What is the first message to the Shepherds? Do not fear. The angel of the Lord is speaking to you and I right now, right this minute. Do you have stuff that’s bugging you? Things of tension; things of worry or doubt? The angel calls out to you right this moment… Fear not. Friend Isaiah writes of this.
- Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand – Isaiah 41:10
This verse is packed with assurances, with promises – but what is the starting point – what place must you and I climb up tp before any of this applies to stop and believe “for I am with you” Be must begin with His Presence – His companionship – not a thing of feeling or emotions – this is something you can KNOW. Don’t anxiously look about for answers. Don’t seek release in fornication, drugs, porne, gambling, compromising your morality just to fit in with your Friends. Note too the verse states He offers strength and help. This means sometimes we must accept the fact that we must endure our circumstance. Note too that this “upholding” comes from what? From His righteous right hand; He will only act on our behalf in the language righteousness. – we must walk uprightly through our difficulties to get this help. Check out this verse from the psalms:
- For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly – Psalm 84:11
He is a sun – He gives light to show you the way . He is a shield – He protects you. He gives you grace – unmerited favor. He comes in glory – roundabout – like the shepherds. What He gives for the upright is always good – however if you live without daily reading, prayer, service to others. If your world begins and ends with you – well… you just can’t expect good. We must walk uprightly; and fear God.
Receive the Message
- And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, 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.
Here then is the message: Good tidings, Great joy, and the Savior, Messiah, God in the flesh. This is the incredible message conveyed to the Shepherds. But before we see what they do with it – I’ve three questions to ask:
- Do you see the birth of Jesus as good news? – gospell
- Does the birth of Jesus bring you great joy?
- So much so that you are anxious to tell others that Jesus is your Savior, your Messiah, and God in the flesh?
That is the message. and like the shepherds in those Judean hills we must what? We must receive the Message – Savior, Messiah, God in the flesh – by recieve I mean to hear, understand and agree. How can we expect God to guide you into your purpose if this Message is not foremost in your mind; advising you; giving structure and meaning to your life? No other message compares; all those things you and I fabricate to take the place of Christ in our lives – our indulgences; our selfish focus and actions. But once we Receive the Message – Once we get to this point God is able to direct us – just like He did to the Shepherds.
- And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger
God never sends us off without instructions. Although what He is doing in our lives seems to lack details. Did the Shepherds know where the Savior was? Just how many mangers do you think were in Bethlehem? God does not always give us the details we want. I spend hours with folks talking about “what is God’s will for me?” What direction shall I take. And what I find is that since God doesn’t give them a complete roadmap – they’re not going This verse gives us instruction on His will for us, that whatever level of revelation God tells me is enough. I must accept uncertainty.
In order to see what the Shepherds did with the Message, we must step past the next two verses – though they are so joyous and powerful!
- And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men
Go, armed with what you know
- And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another. Let us now go straight to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
Let us go now; no delay; no excuses; no analysis; no compromise. Let us go straight; no detours; no waiting for certain circumstance to be fulfilled before choosing to obey. Now is the time to make your faith a verb. Like the shepherds we have to go armed only with what you know – you’re not going to have all the answers – but He calls you to go – so go – and not only go, but to go quickly!
- And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger
They came and what did they find out? I’ll tell you what they found out. They found out that things were just as the Lord told them it would be. That the Lord confirmed every detail – that what He said was Truth. And what was their reaction?
Make Truth known
- And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child
What about you and I? We know the truth of Jesus – we have seen in our own experience – that we can be healed – that we can be cleansed and clarified . That we can leave the old self behind (though we struggle with things, of course we do) – but the Truth is just as God said it would be. Notice that once the Truth of what they heard was confirmed they made it known abroad – not just in comfortable surroundings – but cast abroad – to any and all – remember the angel proclaimed “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL people” – even people you don’t know or like very much
Note too, they did not taint the Message with their own stuff – but broadcast abroad WHAT WAS TOLD THEM. This is the error of the modern church – we have to dress up the gospell – make it entertaining and easier to swallow. But the point here is Knowing the truth was not enough for the Shepherds – they shared it. And in like manner knowing the Truth should not be for you and I . We must pass it on.
- And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds
Our task as Shepherds is not to convince or to cajole people – clearly this verse suggests there were people who did not hear it. But like the shepherds – our job is only to present the truth about Jesus – those who hear are to be left wonder about it; considering it; accepting or rejecting it – just like you did before you decided to walk the Jesus path.
Two final thoughts – one: isn’t it true that when you serve someone else; it is you who gets the blessing? After they shared the Message – they lived in the glory to God – they praised His name for all that had happened to them. So too for you and I – my fellow Shepherd
- And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them
The Shepherds were doing what they ought, God came to them unbidden, to them who walked uprightly; fearing God, they received the Message, they accepted the uncertain directions, and when out immediately armed only with what they knew, they made the Truth known. Again, so too for you and I – my fellow Shepherd.
Thank you for visiting Restart Church! May the glory of the Child be upon you – and may you share the Truth of His coming!