Shepherds

Shepherds

You may be seated if you’re not already. Thank you for being here this morning, man. Sometimes when we’re worshiping like this, can we give these guys another hand? Come on. Just those knock God, just the worship team. Sometimes when we’re in that moment of worship, I just don’t want it to stop anybody with me. I just like, why do I have to come up here and talk? Some of you are agreeing with that, but I just don’t want it to stop. I mean, is this worship? Sometimes in our week, it goes by so fast and this time of year, I was just telling my wife, Tina the other day that man, I think Christmas because maybe Thanksgiving came late. Christmas has kind of snuck up on us this year and I don’t know that people are ready for and I don’t know what we want to be ready for it, but time is flying and we’re going to different things and this is, I just want to worship and when we get into this moment, I just don’t want it to stop.

Well, you have an opportunity, as Jeremy mentioned earlier, and you’re going to get these cards when you walk out today. There are little small invite cards and I encourage you to just get as many as you can. We have a lot, we don’t need them after next week, so take as many as you know that you want to give out to your neighbors, to anybody and invite people to our Christmas services here at the point next Sunday, a five-man, we’re going to have a spread of hot chocolate and cookies and all the atmosphere boy ready for our neighbors and your friends. That atmosphere is there. It’s just you got to get him here and you know this Christmas and including next week, we’re going to conclude this series that we’re talking about certified at the beginning, what took place at the beginning, and we’re talking about some people that were at the beginning and sometimes maybe we grew up differently in different places and ethnicities and different parts of the world.

And Christmas means many things to all of us. But I w I grew up in a place in the South where Christmas was just shiny and spectacular and all about Santa Claus. And I was probably not nine or 10 years old and I grew up in the church, but I was probably about nine or 10 years old before I really figured out that Christmas was not about what we get, but about what was given. It was Jesus at the beginning. And we’re going to talk a little bit today and then conclude next week how these people. Last week, Pastor Greg mentioned about these mad GY or astrologers or Kings that came and were on this two-year journey. And at the end of that, how the journey was changed, the route was changed and occasionally God wants to change our route. Today I want to talk about someone else that change history because they were at the beginning and how they change history and what that means to you and me.

But we need to realize and understand that as we go into this, that Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise. And I don’t want you to get into this season, especially this last week of this is the last full week before Christmas is here. Believe it or not, I don’t want you to get into this and maybe you’re ready. Maybe you’re not because we always talk about who’s got all their presence and who’s ready and who’s all that. I don’t want you to get into that and forget about the fact that Christmas is about God’s greatest promise and that you would real Revelle in that. Just take note of that and go forward at that moment and not forget about that moment and we’re going to talk about how to do that today because this promise is about to bring redemption to all of the world. As we mentioned earlier, many of us are from different parts of the world and it doesn’t matter what part of the world this promise is for redemption in every place in the world to restore all of mankind back to God.

Because as we have the propensity to do, we have the natural gravity to walk away from God even at Christmas when we recognize it’s really what Christmas is about. And the amazing fact about this huge promise is that God decided to use some of the most unlikely people on earth to bring this promise to pass. I mean, you or I would never realize or never even fathom to use some of the people that God used to bring this promise to pass. You know, most of the world, most of the world there for a few parts or some foreign parts that don’t, but most of the world celebrates Christmas and all the songs that are sung about Christmas. And even this past week, my wife and I, we love to watch specials in music on TV about the very Christmas to get ourselves in that Christmas attitude and atmosphere and mindset because the world takes it away and just makes it about consumerism.

And we were watching something from Nashville to see the country music award, you know, music special that I mentioned. I’m from the South. So country music’s kind of a thing for me. And all the songs that these country artists were singing were about Jesus. It was about this promise. And I was just amazed and I’m asking myself, do you people realize what is actually coming out of your mouth about this promise? And I began to think about that and to things in the words and what’s coming out of them. And this promise has been fulfilled by the birth of this savior, this a little baby. And I began to think that we don’t Marvel at this promise anymore yet we might like the song, but do we even today is we’re singing these at this moment and when we come into this corporate moment, whatever time we come in, do we really Marvel at the promise or do we just like the song?

We don’t tend to Marvel at the promise anymore. Actually, in America and maybe here, especially in Silicon Valley, we’ve reduced the promise, the promise to bring all of mankind back. You’ve got maybe we’ve reduced the promise to a consumer-driven holiday that just tries to make us feel good about what we get or how much we spend on who we give it to. Or maybe some of us in this place today because there are a lot of things that are wrapped around Christmas. Just can’t wait until it’s over because you tend not to Marvel at the promise any longer. What’s happened, what’s happened to this thing that we call Christmas, this moment, this moment that God brought himself into the world in the form of a baby to bring man back to him. Well, maybe just maybe if you’re taking notes, you may want to write this one down.

Maybe what’s happened is that you tend not to Marvel at the promise of God if you don’t think you need the promise any longer because we’re so self-sufficient, we’re self-made people. Or maybe you think you figured it out so you don’t really need the promise anymore. So Christmas is all about the anxiety and do I have enough money in the account and how much am I going to go in debt? Or maybe you’re past that and it’s not about any of that anymore, but it’s still not about the promise. So today I want to take a look at this second group of people that very unlikely group of people that were at the beginning. Take a look at the scene that we know about the shepherds. So if you have your Bible or your iPad or your eyeballs, you can look up at the screen and take a look at Luke chapter two and I’m going to read a little bit of scripture here verses eight through 20 Luke chapter two verses eight through 20 that night.

And I think it’s pretty awesome that it differentiates the fact that it was night because a lot of scary things can happen at night. For many of us, we don’t go around at night and many of us in this room, some do, but we don’t even work at night. They were and so they weren’t expecting this, but that night they had no idea what was about to happen. The shepherds were staying in the fields nearby. They were guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them and the angels that say, we’re terrified and that is actually an understatement. They were terrified out of their mind and we’ll figure out why. Just a few moments. The angel reassured them, don’t be afraid. He said I bring you good news. That will bring great joy to all people.

The savior. Yes, the Messiah. The Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David. You will recognize, recognize him by this sign. You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth line and a manger. Suddenly the angel was joined by a vast host of others. The armies of heaven in Neta. Wouldn’t that be a scene? The armies of heaven praising God and saying glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to those whom God is pleased. When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherd said to each other, let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that’s happened, which the Lord has told us about. They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine the shepherds? They had no idea who Mary and Joseph [inaudible], but they were probably going to every place they could find and I’m sure that they didn’t expect to find them in a barn in a manger. The only reason we know that word manger is because of this story. They were probably frantically looking everywhere they could look and they finally find them. There was the baby lying in this manger and after seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. They told everyone, keep that in mind, everyone. There were only a few people there, Mary and Joseph. So they had to run around and tell everyone

what did the angel said to them about this child? All who heard the shepherd’s story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and she thought about them. Often the shepherds went back to work. They went back to their flocks back to the night, but they were glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them, so why was this a group of people that we wouldn’t have chosen? Because see, for the most part, we’ve seen this story depicted in plays. Some of us who have children, our children have played shepherds. Our children have been in Christmas plays where the shepherds were old men with beards and a staff and mild-mannered as they walked across to find the baby wrapped in the strips of cloth and a manger. But let me tell you what the reality of this era was and who these people probably were because of what we know of the history in this era and this area.

Most shepherds, and you’ll recall this if you’re familiar with the story of David becoming the King and are familiar with that story, King David, most shepherds in this era, especially in this, we’re children, they were children. David, remember David, the youngest wasn’t even thought about by his father when he lined up his other sons. When the prophet came in to anoint the next King, he was a forgotten child on the backside of the desert watching sheep as most of the shepherds were, they were the youngest of the family, probably rebels, probably those in the family that everybody kind of wanted to hide and get away. As we were talking this past week, they were probably the black sheep, no pun intended, of the family, thieves, troublemakers, and it’s amazing to me that we don’t think about that, not know this true story of who God depicted when he’s coming down into the grace and he depicts those people who need grace the most to proclaim the grace that he’s given.

It’s amazing to me that if the people, all the people of the world, God chose to announce the birth of his son, God goes to the youngest, God goes to the most insignificant people that we know of in this era. He goes to the least influential, the least trusted people of all of the land, the forgotten of everyone. Most people didn’t even know they were out there, but they did enjoy what the proceeds of what their work gave them and the most important announcement in the history of redemption. God chooses children. Maybe that’s why Christmas is so special to children. I don’t know, but he chooses children. God uses angels. You know when we have children, if you are here and you have children in America, a lot of times we send postcards to people that we know in our family announcing, heralding the birth of your child and the baby’s picture is on the postcard and you send it to all the most important people. We’ve just had a baby. It’s a girl, it’s a boy. Here’s the picture. Here’s the name, and God used angels, not a postcard to announce the birth of his only child, the birth of this promise, and he sent them two children.

Why?

Why did he not announce this to the most prominent people?

I mean there’s all these questions. Why these people? Why the most insignificant? Why the most forgotten why children may be because God knew as children, even rebel children, what they could bring into Christmas, what children could do for Christmas. In fact, his every desire, and this is probably the thing that I want to twist this whole message on and turn it to you, his very desire is for you and me to grow up to become one of these children. Maybe that’s why it says in other places, Bible that less of me is actually more of him. That the least of these and the first shall be last. And the last shall be first. Maybe this is why God chose the last, the most insignificant, the youngest son, the forgotten to announce this promise and bring about this very promise. In Matthew 19 Jesus was teaching and parents were bringing their children to him to sit in his lap and for him to bless these children and they were bringing him to pray for his, their children and the creepy old adults were trying to just shoot them out.

Get these kids outta here. These kids don’t have time. Jesus didn’t have time for kids. And Jesus said these words in Matthew 19 verse 14 let the children come to me. Don’t stop them. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like these children. So I’m asking you this morning as you approached Christmas 2019 and we move into a brand new decade, are you like a child or have you grown just dignified and I’m too old to do these kinds of things? I don’t even want to clap my hands. I don’t want to read. Are you coming to Jesus as a child? Because this is a pretty potent scripture for that purpose. So maybe our goal is to grow up and become a child, not childish. There’s a difference, but childlike in our faith and our wonder and our awe and our Marvel at the promise that we have eternal life and God can do anything.

Just like a child believes in their father. When a father stands at the bottom of the stairs and says, jump to me, I’ll catch you. That child doesn’t even think twice. Boom. It’s off the Marvel in the wonder of childlike faith. Just maybe that’s what God desires for you and me to become this Christmas as we move into another decade. I just love watching kids and I happen to have my grandchildren and my grandchild around me who’s only six years old, be seven in just a few weeks. And I just love watching him at Christmas in the lights and this year he had an opportunity to string lights on the house and his dad didn’t like that too much because it wasn’t too, but it was childish childlike and the lights were his own and it’s just gorgeous. And every time we drive up to the house it’s his idea.

And every time we go look at lights, it stopped. Can we look at this and stop? Can we look at that and stop? Can we stay here? Just a few moments. And yesterday Tina and I had him all day. It was their anniversary and we spent the day at Hillsdale shopping center just walking around and he just wanted to see everything about what makes this moment special. And it was all about that. I just love watching kids at Christmas. I like to sometimes think I become one at Christmas. I love their reaction to everything. And there are particular areas that we all love about Christmas and knowing that is even as I say that there’s some of us in this crowd probably in this room that as I said earlier, just maybe wants Christmas to pass by quickly because it’s not a good time. It brings back some memories that you’re not fond of, but it’s my challenge today to get past that, get through that and remember about the promise that was given to us at Christmas because there are particular things that even in the Christmas spirit of what we do and how we celebrate that we all like about Christmas, the food and the music and the decorations and for me and I start wearing it a little bit, the eggnog, I mean if you like eggnog, I love it, but it loves me also stays around a little bit too long.

The one thing I really love about Christmas also, my wife is a ho anybody here besides my wife Tina, and you can ride her and get her afterward. That is is a Hallmark Christmas movie junkie. Anybody here willing to say, yeah, that’s me. There’s only no book, two hands. The rest of you are just, there you go. And no men should raise her hand right there and if you are, that’s okay. I love Christmas music. I love, but maybe, maybe it’s the, it’s the rebel child in me. I like the Grinch stole Christmas the most. All my kids have given me books in various things cause I just liked that movie and I liked the various movies that come about at Christmas and I liked it, it’s a wonderful life and I liked Home Alone. Shout them out. What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Come on.

Yeah, home alone. Home alone to all of them. What was that? Oh die hard. Somebody said die hard. Yeah, that’s a Christmas movie. I was going to show a clip of that. I said, nah, I probably don’t have a boat. What? Some others come on. You all have them. You all have them. The Christmas that comes alive, kids are just wide-eyed and some of these movies I was going to show you clip but forget about the clip. Let’s move on about that one. Cause my favorite one besides the Grinch is a Christmas story. And by remember that the kid who’s going to get the red rider BB gun, and every time I see it, I think all the parents need to get, you know, blasted by the red rider BB gun because they’re all just like, yeah and yucky and all the kids are wide-eyed and full of joy, which is what God wants us to become at Christmas wide-eyed, full of joy and Marvel at the promise the kingdom of God should be made up of people, especially at this time of the year when we walk into our communities that were wide eye and were full of joy and we’re expected the promises come, the promises here.

And we should be sharing that promise, not just with our voice but our counting. It’s in who we are. But some of us, even as Christ-followers, where the anxiety that everyone else is wearing because we’ve not marveled at the promise long enough. And maybe we need to become a little more childlike this Christmas. So I want to give you as we conclude today, several reasons why I think we should be like a child, like the shepherds in the story who were children and the least of their family. So it’s, you’re right. A few things down for me just to make me feel good. Just write them down and let’s give you a couple of reasons why we should become like children and maybe talk about them at dinner today or lunch or sometime this week before Christmas. Maybe even challenge yourself. Do you have some room to grow here as an adult? The first thing I like about God using children is number one, children as you know, have mastered the art of living in the right. Now

I love what it said about the shepherds. The angel said, go and they said, let’s go see this thing. And they left. There was no contemplating as children don’t, who’s going to stay with the sheep? There’s no contemplating. Well, we got work to do. Are we going to get paid? No, they were children and the angels said go and they left. And I think that we need to be more so in that type of mindset of living in the right. Now, see, children are not stressing about tomorrow. They’re not focused on what happened yesterday. They understand something that yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, and maybe that’s the gift that God has given us through these shepherds. This Christmas is today because as you know, the Bible says the tomorrow is not promised for any of us, but yet many of us are stressed about tomorrow.

Today is that gift live in the right now, God has given us this immense gift. This immeasurable gift is tremendous gift and it’s called today. Matter of fact, I love what the message version says in Matthew chapter six verse 34 look at the screen with me. Give your entire listen. Give your entire attention to what God is doing. Say it with me out loud right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Right now. That’s the gift that you have and some of you need to look in the eyes of your loved ones that you haven’t looked deeply enough even when it’s sad to do and it’s hard to do and look at them and say into their eyes, thank you for right now and what we can do and how we can bring this promise as a child-like follower of Christ. Second reason I think it’s become a child is that we need, and children have done this very well.

We need to learn to soak up the moment, not just live in the right now but soak up the moment. Are you good at recognizing and savoring those times where you know this is a moment and I can’t forget about this moment? See, after the shepherd saw Jesus at that moment, they told everyone because it was a moment that they didn’t want to forget. Are you like me? And I think, I don’t think it’s age. I think it’s just times I weren’t in the moment that I’ll look at a picture of something just five years ago and can’t even remember being in that moment. But just I know it was there cause the pictures here and I probably wasn’t at that moment.

Let me tell you something, guys. I’ve had the privilege of walking my two daughters down the aisle and matrimony. I’ll never forget that moment and I determined as a pastor in those moments that before the doors opened and we walked down the aisle, that I would not just look back at pictures, but I would savor the memory of those moments of my daughter is marrying godly men and becoming young adults and women and mothers and wives. That’s a moment that I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget the birth of my first grandson who is now looking at the picture. 17 years old and a senior in high school playing football. I think it’s coming up. There it is. He’s a man. He’s got more hair on his face and I could ever think about, that’s my first grandson whose, I couldn’t miss this moment that Tina and I flew back in August 1st of September to watch him play his first senior football game as a senior.

I didn’t want to miss that moment. So I cleared everything and just broke the bank to go home and said, we’re going to be in this moment. I don’t want to forget that moment and I want to just look at a picture. I want to remember it, or the birth of my youngest grandson, Luke, whom we had yesterday. I want to remember that moment. I don’t want to ever forget that moment that I held him in my arms and thought about the beauty and the miracle of what God has done in my life. And then just past year celebrating with Tina, our 40th wedding anniversary as our children paid for us to go to the Rose parade. So we grabbed a frame at the Rose parade and celebrated a moment. Kids are awesome at the moment. You know why? No kids are awesome at the moment because every time they’re in a moment and it’s fun.

They say something, let’s do it again. Have you ever experienced that from let’s do it again? Let’s do it again. And if finally as an adult, you’re like, let’s not. But they just want to do it again cause they want to save her and relish the moment. That’s why I don’t want to grow old and be nothing but like a child. I don’t want to miss these moments, but unfortunately there are moments that I don’t remember because my heart and my mind weren’t there. They were still at work when it should’ve been in the moment. They were anxious about am I going to have enough money to pay the bills when they should have been in the moment? Just trust God that he’s going to always provide. Maybe there are moments this Christmas that are stressful and you just need to go back and remember the promise that Christmas is all about.

Even as we read in verse 19 of Luke chapter two Mary, a teenager herself probably only about 14 or 15 when God spoke to her and she’s pregnant with the child from the Holy Spirit. That didn’t make sense. None of this made sense to this teenager. When Mary said these words, I’ll just ponder this in my heart and Luke describes it. She just remembered them often because it was a moment. That’s what we’re going to conclude that whole scene next week and you need to invite your friends cause we’re going to talk about that moment with Mary and how it brought about this promise. The last reason I want to be like a child, number three is children really know how to sing over moments.

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Remember the scripture in Luke two the shepherds went back to work singing and praising God for what they had seen and what they had heard and the right now and the moment they went back to work. Listen, the work didn’t change. It was still stinky old sheep. It was still at night. They were still the least significant of all of creation. They were still children. Nothing about the circumstances of those shepherds changed absolutely nothing. What had changed was them their attitude and worship and singing and praising God. Was there a response? Even circumstances don’t change to the moment these shepherds had been given a new beginning and worship was their response. Do you ever pull up beside somebody in traffic when the next light at the traffic light and they’re just over there, jam and man on the stairway? Ever done that before? Maybe that’s you. You’re just jamming at the moment, but the next time you pull over and somebody just jamming or they’re singing loud and the radio’s going or whatever they’re playing is going right. Roll down your window and ask them to roll down their windows. Ask him if you can join them. Just sing over the moment of being stuck in traffic. Just sing over that moment. I remember a time when my grandson loop. Let me show you this 22nd clip of how he loves to sing as would you show that room quick?

instead of drop the mic, it’s dropped the sticks and we could have gone on. He just got louder and he got louder and he got louder and he still to this day at seven years old getting louder and louder and louder and one day. Just a few weeks ago. The reason I showed that about, look just a few weeks ago, I’m watching the football game. I love football on Saturdays. I only get it once a year, you know, because it’s football season, just only like 10 or 11 weeks of the year. I’m watching a football game and Luke comes in and he’s got his guitar and he’s got his microphone and he set it off and he’s singing so loud and he’s singing us aloud and I can’t hear it. I’m turning the, there’s a competition between Luke single and the football game going on louder and louder. Finally, I’ve had enough and I just said, Hey look, Whoa. Time out buddy. Can you give me a break and just let me watch the game.

And, and if you know, Luke, he didn’t give me a break, he just went for it. But afterward, I started feeling really lousy about me asking him to stop singing over my football game. Actually, I just kicked myself because here’s my hope for my grandchildren and you, I hope you never stopped singing as a church. I hope we can learn to sing louder and louder and never have to be Coworks by a worship leader to sing about the promise that has come to take away the sin of the world. Because that’s what Christmas is about. And that’s why I believe he used children, even rebel children to bring about, and they went back to work. These rebel thieves forgot, insignificant children singing as loud as they could sink cause everything for them, but their circumstances had changed. That’s why I want you to be a Saint when life knocks you down. I want you to sing, sing louder. When you get disappointed and trust me, you will. I want you to sing, sing louder. When things get really hard and trust me, they will. I want you to learn to sing and sing louder and become childlike when you go to work and you don’t like work, sing and sing louder. When you’re stuck in traffic, sing and sing louder every time you think of God. Sing and sing louder. Why? Because Psalm chapter 96 first one sets to us. Sing a new song, everyone on this earth that includes you. Those of us who’ve convinced that we don’t like to sing or we can’t sing, sing a song, sing praises to the Lord. Psalm 98 four and I could just keep going with Psalm 98 four say, shout with the joy to the Lord all the earth. Listen to this, burst into song and make music.

Jesus. Don’t ever let us grow up to be big, dignified old people that have forgotten about the promise that brings mankind to redemption eternal way. Let us learn to unwrap them right now. Let us learn to soak up the moment of the sweetness of God when everything in the world is going wrong and let us sing until the day that we leave this earth. I just kind of want to conclude with a note that I have had for many years written in a guidepost. If you remember those, if some of you may not even know what they are, but just some literature that’s really, really encouraging and uplifting concerning the founder of prison fellowship and the angel tree, his name was Chuck Colson. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Maybe you’re in heaven if you’ve ever donated to an angel tree. Have you ever given the prison fellowship? It is entirely for children to have Christmas because their parents, one of them were, both of them are incarcerated in prison and Chuck Colson, the founder of prison fellowship as they were buying gifts for the incarcerated parents to give to the children that wouldn’t have because her mom and dad was incarcerated.

Chuck was delivering some gifts to an inner-city family in Washington DC. One day he said he got to this one apartment building. It was this project of project kind of building really, really dilapidated. The screen door was hanging on just one hinge, barely enough heat in the home.

Yet the radiator was full blast. There were four or five kids running around. Mom wasn’t there. She was working. Dad was incarcerated. He walked in the house and all of these gifts, the little boy just went crazy when he saw the gifts that Chuck and his staff had brought and went over there and hugged and squeezed his legs and he asked, what’s your name? Chuck. Mr. Olson responded because I brought some presents from your dad. He sat them down and he asked, what’s your name? And the little boy said, my name is Emmanuel, and Chuck said, do you know what your name means? A little boy said, no. Chuck got down on one knee in his Bible, took out the verse and read it to the little boy and said, your name means this. Look, Emmanuel, God with us, and about that time his mom comes to the door and the little boy goes running and screaming to the top of his voice, mommy, mommy, God is with us.

God is with us. God is with us today. Colson said when he turned and walked out of that apartment, started walking down that cold snowy street in Washington DC. He could just hear that little boy’s phrase ringing in his ear loudly, God is with us. God is with us and it’s a little boy. He started singing and shouting and he said, the awe and the wonder of a child, friends, God is with us longing for us to embrace the gift and be childlike, to still believe that God is with us. Do you believe that even in the middle of rotten, horrible, nasty circumstances with the door hinged hanging, God is with us. God is with us. What? You close your eyes all across this room, just all across this room as we prepare to just worship one last time today.

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It’s literally my childlike wish for you this Christmas, this season that you in this room, regardless of your age or your circumstances, that you would embrace the hope grace, the grace of God, the promise, and maybe even right now admit, confess God. I’m sorry for not living in the right now at the moment, singing over your promise and worrying about my own circumstance. Maybe this is the season that in this very moment that you humble yourself if you haven’t become his child, his son, his daughter, and you can do that in the midst of this song by simply praying a simple prayer that says simply Jesus, I give you my life. All of it. Jesus, I give you my life. I’m just going to ask that you just let that flood into you. And as the worship team sings this song, if you just open your eyes when you’re ready, stand when you’re ready. And let’s conclude this service with the song God is with us.