Shepherds - First to Receive the Message

December 3, 2005 Luke 2:1-20

Introduction:
1.  This morning, we want to begin a 2 part series of our ABF study on the subject of Christmas.
2.  It’s interesting to consider something (event, decision, etc.) through the eyes of another person
- when you do that – your perspective can change
- I think one of the impacts of the curse of sin is ‘ruts’ (i.e. doing the same thing the same way at the same time with the same motive and with the same attitude or the same perspective)
- now, in some areas, routine is good – it can be part of a person’s self-discipline
> God did make us habitual creatures (made in His image and likeness)
> one of the characteristics of God is His immutability (big word – it simply means = God never changes – He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!)
3.   However, don’t confuse God’s immutability with a lack of creativity – God is very creative (look at the people in this room – He’s VERY creative!!!)
4.  Sometimes, it’s good for us to push the pause button and look at a situation through the eyes of another person
-  that’s why the Gospels and the epistles are so interesting – they present the message of Christ from different perspectives (life situations)
- the power of the Word of God gets us out of our ‘comfort zones’ and into God’s way of thinking
5.   It is so easy to get wrapped up in the WRONG reasons of Christmas – finish this phrase:.
Input:  The world (and sometimes believers) tends of think of Christmas in terms of _____________?
Point:  We don’t want to look back on Christmas of 2006 with regrets because our focus during the time was not pleasing to the Lord
6.  The Christmas season can mean a lot of different things to different people – and we want to make sure we have a biblical perspective on these events
7.  It’s good for us to think about Christmas through the eyes of the individuals most closely associated with the event
- it gives us the same message, but we can learn from the different perspectives
- Turn to Luke 2: Christmas Through the Eyes of Shepherds – The First to Receive the Message
[READ Luke 2:1-20 – this morning, we want to study 3 perspectives these shepherds gives us regarding the events of that incredible day!


  I.  An Incredible Choice by God


- the first announcement of Christ’s birth was give to some anonymous shepherds – their names aren’t even mentioned – but you can be sure God knew who they were!
- we might ask:  Why shepherds? Why not to the priests or scribes?  Why not to some people who seemed a little more important and influential?
- it might be helpful to understand a little more about these guys & why God’s choice was incredible:
A.  Shepherds were culturally rejected
- shepherds were really outcasts in Israel
- their work not only made them ceremonially unclean, but it kept them away from the temple for weeks a time so they could not be made clean or even regularly worship God
Input: What characteristic of God is revealed by the fact that God chose shepherds to reveal His message of the birth of Christ? 
> [GRACE toward mankind!]
[technically, nobody deserves it – but the fact that He did this with shepherds sends a strong message to everyone else!]
* God made it clear at the beginning that he done not call the right and the mighty, He call the poor and the lowly of heart!
- Consider what Paul wrote:
 1 Corinthians 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.
- God chose a group of men who understood what it meant to be rejected (sounds like something His Son was going to face later in life:
 Rejected by His people - John 1:11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
 Rejected by His disciples – Mark 14:50 And they all left Him and fled.
 Rejected by God – Matthew 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, . . . "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?.
* Lesson: God want us to have our ambition, not on the praise of men, but to please and glorify God
- if that means being rejected – the so be it!
Input: Can you think of other people in the bible who faced rejection and were willing to pay the price for it?
[Daniel – 3 Hebrew guys and the fiery furnace – David & Goliath – Ester!]
B. Shepherds were responsible men!
- these men were use to hard work – finding the pasture ground, finding the water supply, and caring for the sick and injured sheet
- they were use to long hours (they watched by night)
- they were use to sacrifice – The Great Shepherd would eventually say, “the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep”
- the kind of person that pleases God is the person who is responsible – a person who is willing to sacrifice for a cause much greater than himself and who doesn’t get caught up in the things that pass away with time!
- people who are willing to work hard, to sacrifice, to be faithful to their responsibilities – even if they have to face rejection by others!
C.  Shepherds were ordinary men
- they were real people with real emotions, real life situations to deal with, etc.
- ordinarily, shepherds were not easily frightened – they were used to having to defend themselves from wild animals and people who would try to steal and/or harm their sheep
ILL: David in the OT – faced the lion and the bear!
Q: Why were they afraid this time?
> at the time, they didn’t know what was happening – but they listened and didn’t panic – they didn’t have all the answers, but when the angel spoke, they listened!
*Lesson: God is looking for people who when He has something to say about a situation (about how to live life, or handle problems), that person will listen and DO what God says to DO!
- this is what Jesus would talk about later when He said:
 John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
- as we look at this event through the eyes of the shepherd, we also see . . .


II.  An Incredible Message – 2:10-14


- the angel told them 3 important things:
A.  Don’t be afraid – v. 10a
- nearly, 70 times in the bible, God says, “Fear not”
> this is the wrong kind of fear – the right fear of God is an awesome respect and a constant awareness of God’s presence and God’s power in my life!
> but this is the wrong kind of fear (we know that because they were not suppose to fear)
Input: What are some reasons we don’t have to fear in situations where we don’t have all the answers?
1)  God is on our side – Ps. 118:6
 Psalm 118:6 The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
2)  He never leaves us nor forsakes us – Heb. 13:5
 Hebrews 13:5. “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
3) His grace is sufficient for us – 2 Cor. 12:9
 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
4) He will never give us more than we can handle – 1 Cor. 10:13
 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
B.  The good news of great joy was for everybody – 2:10b
- this message is not for a select few (upper class or shepherds), but everybody out to hear it
- this is where verses like John 3:16 come into the picture!
 John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
- good new of great joy for EVERYBODY – sounds a lot like Jesus’ words in . . .
 Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .”
Q: How was that going to happen? (look at v. 17 – we’ll talk about that shortly)
- what is that message?
C.  God has given us a Savior! – v. 11
- Luke uses 3 key Christological terms:  Savior, Christ (Messiah), and Lord
> this combination of words do not appear together in any other NT text!
- the message of redemption was proclaimed:  A Savior is born!
Q:  Where would we be had this not happened?
* Apply: Imagine your life without Christ –
Input:  What words would you use to describe your life prior to your hearing the message about the Savior?
D.  Praise to God – v. 13-14 [read]
- imagine that happening to you – talk about a Praise and Worship service!
- giving glory to God and pronouncing peace among men with whom God is well-pleased!
[mention the Peacemakers study next year – probably our falls series – fitting into the theme of “Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness” – a church that isn’t solving problems, families and individuals not solving problems will NOT BE VERY EFFECTIVE!


III.  An Incredible Response


A.  Belief – v. 15
- they didn’t question or complain – they immediately accepted God’s message
Q: When you hear the truth, is your first response one of belief, or do you question it and twist it to make it say what you want it to say because it makes you uncomfortable?
- in your relationship to others (husband/wife, boss/employee, friend/friend) – do you believer what God has to say about a given situation?
* God expects us to believe His word!
B.  Obedience – v. 16
- these shepherds are a good example for us to follow
-they received by faith and the message God sent through the angel(s) and then OBEYED
- how much more simple can you get?
 James 1:22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
- notice their attitude about the whole situation: “They came in a hurry . . . “ – v. 16
C.  Service – v. 17
- make this very clear: Genuine faith, genuine obedience leads to being a SERVANT
- after all, what did Isaiah write about the coming Messiah:
 Isaiah 42:1 "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
- one of the first things these shepherds did was to transfer truth to other!
- a friend of mine, along with some other guys, produced a vocal CD (The River City Trio – Christians Arise – it’s in the MRC) – one of their songs explains what I’m talking about:
[Play the CD in ABF – Song: Jesus Saves]
Chorus:
I’m gonna shout it from the housetops, Proclaim it from the mountain tops,
Tell the world around me Jesus saves;
I have made my choice, I’m gonna make a joyful noise,
The world will hear my voice, Jesus saves!
Point: We all know everybody ought to know that Jesus saves, but the question is: What are we doing to get the message out?
D.  Glorifying and praising God – v. 20
- the impact of hearing the message and seeing the Son of God was life-changing
- as they returned back to their responsibilities, they were giving the right opinion of  Who they had heard and Who they had seen!
Input:  What are some ways we can try to be like these shepherds – giving the right opinion of God and praising Him?
Summary: 
1.  Christmas ought to remind us of our need to
1) Realize God has chosen us to be His children
2) The message we proclaim is an incredible truth
3) We can demonstrate our faith with an incredible RESPONSE to what God has revealed to us!
2.  What God wants is a bunch of shepherds doing the right thing at the right time in the right way
– that way – HE gets the glory!


ABF: Christmas Series
“Christmas Through the Eyes of Shepherds – First to Receive the Message”
Luke 2:8-20
Introduction:
Input:  The world (and sometimes believers) tends of think of Christmas in terms of _____________?

  I.  An Incredible Choice by God
A.  Shepherds were culturally ______________
Input: What characteristic of God is revealed by the fact that God chose shepherds to reveal His message of the birth of Christ? 


 1 Corinthians 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.
 Rejected by His _____________ - John 1:11
 Rejected by His ______________ – Mark 14:50
 Rejected by ______________ – Matthew 27:46
* Lesson: God want us to have our ambition, not on the praise of men, but to please and glorify God!
Input: Can you think of other people in the bible who faced rejection and were willing to pay the price for it?


B.  Shepherds were ______________ men!

C.  Shepherds were ______________ men
*Lesson: God is looking for people who when He has something to say about a situation,  that person will listen and DO what God says to DO!
 John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;”
II.  An Incredible Message – 2:10-14
A.  Don’t be ______________ – v. 10a
Input: What are some reasons we don’t have to fear in situations where we don’t have all the answers?

B.  The good news of great joy was for ________________ – 2:10b
 John 3:16; Matthew 28:19
C.  God has given us a _____________! – v. 11
Input:  What words would you use to describe your life prior to your hearing the message about the Savior?


D.  Praise to God – v. 13-14]
III.  An Incredible Response
A.  ___________ – v. 15

B.  __________________ – v. 16
 James 1:22-25
C.  ______________ – v. 17
 Isaiah 42:1 "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”
Chorus:
I’m gonna shout it from the housetops, proclaim it from the mountain tops,
Tell the world around me Jesus saves;
I have made my choice, I’m gonna make a joyful noise,
The world will hear my voice, Jesus saves!
D.  ____________________ and _______________ God – v. 20
Input:  What are some ways we can try to be like these shepherds – giving the right opinion of God and praising Him?


Summary: 
*   What God wants is a bunch of shepherds doing the right thing at the right time in the right way
– that way – __________________________!


ABF: Christmas Series
“Christmas Through the Eyes of Shepherds – First to Receive the Message”
Luke 2:8-20
Introduction:
Input:  The world (and sometimes believers) tends of think of Christmas in terms of _____________?
  I.  An Incredible Choice by God
A.  Shepherds were culturally rejected
Input: What characteristic of God is revealed by the fact that God chose shepherds to reveal His message of the birth of Christ? 
 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
 Rejected by His people - John 1:11
 Rejected by His disciples – Mark 14:50
 Rejected by God – Matthew 27:46
* Lesson: God want us to have our ambition, not on the praise of men, but to please and glorify God
Input: Can you think of other people in the bible who faced rejection and were willing to pay the price for it?
B. Shepherds were responsible men!
C.  Shepherds were ordinary men
*Lesson: God is looking for people who when He has something to say about a situation (about how to live life, or handle problems), that person will listen and DO what God says to DO!
 John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
II.  An Incredible Message – 2:10-14
A.  Don’t be afraid – v. 10a
Input: What are some reasons we don’t have to fear in situations where we don’t have all the answers?
1)  God is on our side – Ps. 118:6
2)  He never leaves us nor forsakes us
– Heb. 13:5
3)  His grace is sufficient for us
– 2 Cor. 12:9
4)  He will never give us more than we can handle – 1 Cor. 10:13
B.  The good news of great joy was for everybody – 2:10b
 John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
 Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .”
C.  God has given us a Savior! – v. 11
Input:  What words would you use to describe your life prior to your hearing the message about the Savior?
D.  Praise to God – v. 13-14 [read]
III.  An Incredible Response
A.  Belief – v. 15
B.  Obedience – v. 16
 James 1:22-25
C.  Service – v. 17
 Isaiah 42:1 "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.

 

Chorus:
I’m gonna shout it from the housetops, Proclaim it from the mountain tops,
Tell the world around me Jesus saves;
I have made my choice, I’m gonna make a joyful noise,
The world will hear my voice, Jesus saves!
D.  Glorifying and praising God – v. 20
Input:  What are some ways we can try to be like these shepherds – giving the right opinion of God and praising Him?

Summary: 
* What God wants is a bunch of shepherds doing the Right thing at the right time in the right way
– that way – HE gets the glory!