“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks”

While shepherds watched

The theme for each of our devotions this week is based on a different Christmas carol.  Today, I would like for us to examine, “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks”.

 

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around,

And glory shone around.

“Fear not!” said he; for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds,
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind,

To you and all mankind.

“To you, in David’s town this day,
Is born of David’s line,
The Savior who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign:

And this shall be the sign:

“The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid;
And in a manger laid.
“All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace:
Good will henceforth from heav’n to men,
Begin and never cease,

Begin and never cease.”

 

“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” tells the story of the shepherds found in Luke 2:8-20.  At the time of Jesus’ birth shepherds were at the bottom of the social ladder.  They often lived for long periods of time, right in the same fields where they took care of the sheep; so most people looked down on them.  God could have announced the birth of his son to the most influential, rich and successful leaders of the time.  However, instead God chose to first tell the lowly shepherds. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord’” (Luke 2:10-11).  God sent his son for all people – for the rich and the poor, the leaders and the abandoned, the educated and the uneducated, the popular and the friendless.  God had his good news first delivered to the shepherds to demonstrate that the gospel is for all people.

The angels told the shepherds that baby Jesus was “born to you” (Luke 2:11).  Typically, we think that a baby is born to his parents.  But Jesus was a gift given to the shepherds, and each of us.  Jesus was born for us, to save us from our sins so that we may one day have eternal life.  Jesus is the ultimate Christmas gift, given to each of us.

When the angels left, the shepherds said, “’Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:15-17,20).  The shepherds heard the good news, they believed it, they told others the good news and they worshiped God. What about you?  Do you believe the gospel?  If so, are you telling others the good news?  And are you spending time worshiping and praising God for the wonderful gift that has been given to you?

 

-Jill McClain

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The Boy who Changed – and Is Still Changing – the World

Luke 2

Luke 2 final

“Do not be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: today a savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” Luke 2:10-12

 

Today, we are reading through Luke chapter 2 which contains one of the most popular accounts written in the Bible—which is the birth of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ. Regardless of our religious affiliation or background, we are familiar with the story line. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem to be registered under Caesar Augustus’s decree. While there, it comes time for Mary to give birth. Because there is no room in any inn, she must give birth in a stable.

 

For us, this narrative is important because it is the beginning of the story of a man who turned (and is still turning) the world upside down. We can skip forward and see how much of an impact Jesus had on so many, and we can also see how he works in our lives today.

 

But imagine being in the shoes of Mary, Joseph, and even the shepherds. They weren’t able to skip ahead, they had to live it out. For Mary and Joseph, they had to trust in God that he would see them through. They had to have strong enough faith that God would do what he said he would do. For the shepherds, imagine going from a normal day to having an angel tell you that the Son of God has been born. The Messiah is here! It is even written that they were terrified (Luke 2:9).

 

Why does this matter? I just think it’s important for us to realize that these heroes we read about in the Bible were more than just characters. They were real people. They didn’t get the luxury of knowing what was written on the next page. They had fears, and they weren’t perfect. They had to trust in God and his purpose. They had to believe that God was going to hold their hand through everything. Imagine the trust! Imagine the faith!

 

So as you read today, place yourself in their shoes. Because if we can understand what Mary and Joseph went through, maybe we can learn to emulate their faith in our own lives.

 

-Leslie Jones

 

 

Included:Luke 2-3

 

 

May 14, 2017

The feeling of exclusion is one of the worst feelings I have ever felt. It’s the classic “I get picked last at recess” feeling. It is also the feeling we get when we find out someone that we normally do stuff with is doing something without us, and they post it on social media. Feeling excluded can often trigger us to feel unwanted or worthless, but I am here to tell you that is not the case.

May I turn your attention to Luke 2:30-32 and Luke 3:6-9? These verses talk about the salvation of God. One interesting fact about the salvation of God is what is said in verse 32 “A light of revelation to the Gentiles,”. This phrase is talking about how Jesus will reach out in his ministry and include the Gentile people in salvation. This concept is hinted upon in verse 10 as well when the angel that scared the shepherds says, “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people”. The word “all” in verse ten and the phrase, “Presence of all peoples” leads me to believe that everyone will be included, not just the “people of God” at that time who were the Jews. Also, this idea is found in Luke 3:6 when it says “all flesh” which includes the Gentile, or non-jew, in salvation.

How can this be, that all people, can now be included in salvation? Well, I think that John the Baptist explains this very well in the next chapter. In Luke 3:7 John starts to rebuke those who are coming to be baptized only for the sake of looking good in front of others and not actually because they care about being saved. He continues and spurs them to change by telling them to bear fruit “worthy of repentance”. Not claiming that they are a part of the Jewish faith, that no longer matters because everyone is included now as long as they bear fruit. He also tells them the consequence of not bearing fruit, which is being chopped down and throw into the fire.

How can we accept the offer and become included in the salvation that Jesus brings? We change our lives and actions to reflect that of Jesus’. Since Jesus was the Light to the Gentiles, it no longer matters if you were a Jew by heritage to be a part of the people of God. Sometimes I feel that we think the same way the Jews did, “Well, I have the title of Christian so that must make me one, right?” According to John the Baptist in these verses, it does not. But those who bear good fruit, of the spirit of God, will not be thrown into the fire and will have salvation. So the next time you’re feeling excluded remember that Jesus wants you to be included in the people of God.

-Jesse Allen