The People He Uses The Shepherds

Faith Church December 5, 2009 Luke 2:8-20

 

Introduction:

- In just a little over 2 weeks, it willall be over

- The decorations will probably start coming down; the tree will be hauled away; and the wrapping paper and boxes will be piled up outside for the garbageman to take to the dump (or to be recycled!)

- We’llstart singing different songs, and those favorite Christmas carols will have to wait another year

- In a little over 2 weeks, many people will start something they do every year the day afterChristmas – they will start a diet!

>  And when the first of the year ROOOLLLLLLS around (no pun intended), many will make pledges and commitments for the coming year, and for some, those new year's resolutions will soon be forgotten

- It's easy to let the Christmas season come and go -- to get all caught up in the flow of trafficand get distracted and not allow the Lord to work in our hearts the way He would like to work.

- Our theme for this Christmas series is: Finding Hope in God the Father’s Perspective!

- Today, in our time together, I'd like for us to do a brief study on the shepherds who were the first ones to publically receive God's message about the Jesus’ birth!

- I’d like to approach the subject from this perspective:

1.  What kind of people were the Shepherds? W hat kind of men does God Iook for to be involved in His service?

2. What did God say to them through the angel?  What message did God have for them?

3. How did they respond to God's message?  How does God expect us to respond to His word today?

Read Luke 2:8-20

- First of all, let’s consider

I.  The People God the Father Chose: Shepherds

- from a Jewish perspective, this was an incredible and an unexpected choice

- the 1st announcement of Christ’s birth was given to some anonymous shepherds

(Note: No names are given!)

- You and I might ask the question:  Q:  Why shepherds?

  • Why didn’t the priests or the scribes get the message (after all, they are the religious people)?
  • Why didn’t the message get delivered to some people who seemed a little more important and influential?

A: By coming to the shepherds, the angel revealed the grace of God towards mankind!

- think about the characteristics of these men:

A.  Men who were rejected

- Shepherds were really considered outcasts in Israel!

- Their work not only made them ceremonially unclean (sometimes dealing with dead animals)

- But it kept them away from the temple for weeks at a time so that they could not be made clean

Point:  God made it clear at the beginning that He does not call the rich and the mighty – He calls the poor and the lowly

- Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 1:

  • 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 chooses people to serve His who come to Him with humble hearts – David wrote this in the book of Psalms (long before the birth of Christ):

  • Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Has there been a time in your life when you understood that you were a sinner, and you said with God:

“It’s not by works of righteousness which we have done, but it’s according to His mercy He has saved us”(Titus 3:5)

>  and anything you had to offer as good, is REJECTED by God because all our righteousness is as filthy rags?

- God chooses people who understand what it means to be rejected by God because of sin, but accepted in Christ because of His death on Calvary

- For the believer today, God wants us to have as our ambition, not the praise of men, not to have somebody come up and teII us what a great person we are!

> instead, God wants us to have as our ambition to please Him in all we do.

> and if that means being rejected by the worlds standards, then that’s OK because you want to be God's kind of person

Although these shepherds were use to rejection, they were still …

B. Men who were responsible

- These men were use to hard work - finding the pasture ground, finding the water supply, and caring for the sick and injured sheep

- They were use to long hours (they watched by night) & they were use to sacrifice

- Jesus would later say:

  • John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

- these men, like David, had to risk their life to protect the sheep

Point:  The kind of person that pleases God is the person who is responsible!

> a person who is willing to sacrifice for a cause much bigger than he is (eternal) and who doesn’t get caught up in the things that pass away with time (temporal)

- People who are willing to work hard, to sacrifice, to be faithful in their responsibilities!!

Application: Does that describe the kind of person you are?

- not only were these men responsible, they were…

C. Men who were real people!

- Shepherds are not easily frightened – they were used to having to defend themselves from wild animals (lions/bears, etc.) and people who would try to steal their sheep!

Q: Why were they afraid this time?

A: Because at the time, they didn’t know what was going on!

> but the LISTENED – they were LEARNERS!

- they didn’t have all the answers, but when God spoke, they listened

Application:  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 do what Christ said His sheep should do!

- and that is this: * When God speaks to us (through His Word!), we should ‘hear His voice and follow Him!’

- now, what is the message the angel delivered to these shepherds?

II.  The Message God the Father Delivered to the Shepherds!

- this could be described as an INCREDIBLE message – an UNEXPECTED Message!

- interesting that angel told them:

A. Do not be afraid!

- nearly 70 times in the bible, God says, “Fear not”

- We don’t have to be afraid because God is on our side

> He said He would never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5)

> He said that His grace was sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9)

> He said He would not give us a trial too great to bear (1 Cor. 10:13)

- Fear goes all the way back to Genesis 3 – the wrong kind of fear (fear motivated by guilt)

- Adam said the reason he was in the bushes was because he was afraid!

- if Adam had a proper ‘fear of God’ – he would not have sinned and would not have been in the bushes!

B.  God has provided us with a Savior!

- Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Christ had not come?

- What kind of life would you be living if He were not your Savior?

ILLUSTRATION: Seeing/talking to family member over Thanksgiving – some of them in BIG trouble spiritually, legally, etc. – trying to live life without Christ! – IT WON’T WORK!!

 - Jesus said in John 15: 5 “…without Me, you can do nothing”

* Jesus makes difference in our lives, not only for eternity, but also for today!

Q: When is the last time you consciously chose to consider the HOPE that is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ?

> You don’t have to be afraid!

> God’s in control – next week, I’ll be preaching on How a Servant Trusted His Father!

C.  Everybody is involved in this celebration – v. 10

  • Luke 2:10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.”

- this message is not for a select few (though only a select few would receive it), but for EVERYBODY to hear it

PAUSE: This is why we have such a strong emphasis on Community outreach AND Missions – we are commanded by God to ‘go into all the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY creature’ (Matthew 28:19-20)

APPLICATION: Connect the message to the Living Nativity and Christmas Musical!

- old song entitled: “Everybody Ought to Know”

> “…everybody ought to know, Who Jesus is!”

- we know everybody ought to know, but * What are WE doing to proclaim the message?

- last of all, let’s find our hope in God the Father’s Perspective and think about …

III. The Response God the Father Expects

- the first thing the shepherds did is the same thing we should do when we hear God’s message!

A. We should believe God’s truth – v. 15

- they didn’t question or complain, they immediately accepted God’s message (granted, it was from an angel sent from heaven – but we have God’s WHOLE WORD in front of us!)

- we need to ask ourselves a question:

Q: When I hear God’s truth, is my first response one of belief? Do I respond with faith that leads to obedience and commitment to God?

-  or do I question it and twist it to make it say what I want it to say because it makes me uncomfortable?

Apply: >  When God says something about anger/worry/fear, do I listen and obey?

>  When God says something about how to love my wife (or how a wife should respond to her husband), do I listen?

- other examples!!

- At work or on the job or in our relationship with others, do we react and return evil for evil or do we say, “Lord, You said to return good for evil, and I’m going to do what You tell me!”

Point: God expects us to believe His Word!

B.  We should obey His truth! – v. 16

- these shepherds are a good example for us to follow

- they received by faith the message God sent them through the angel, and then they responded with IMMEDIATE OBEDIENCE

  • Luke 2:16So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

- notice they did it in a hurry – they didn’t drag around, loafing along…

Q: How do you respond when you tell your child what to do and they don’t do it immediately?

Q: What does that communicate about their view of authority and their responsibility?

- their obedience resulted in their service

C. We should serve because of His truth – v. 17

- the impact of the message motivated them to serve others – by proclaiming the message they heard

  • Luke 2:17When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

- they were thinking of others (Faith Christian School theme for this school year)

Point:  When we hear God’s truth and respond properly it will result in our serving our Lord and serving others

>  Think about that in a backwards manner – if you’re not serving the Lord and others, then you’re not responding properly to God’s truth!

Note: Jesus was called ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and He was the best (perfect) example of a SERVANT!

- lastly,

D.  We should glorify and praise God – v. 20

  • Luke 2:20The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

- the impact of hearing God’s message and seeing the Son of God NEVER left them!!

- as they returned back to their responsibilities, they were giving the right opinion of Who they had heart and Who they had seen

- they were praising God

Input: What are some ways we can try to give to your family and to others the right opinion of God during this special season? What are some ways we can be like these shepherds?

[various answers]

 

Conclusion:

* Normal people can accomplish great things for the glory of God with the help of the only true and gracious God!

Faith Church