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When an Angel Spoke to Shepherds, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
December 27, 2022 7:05 am

When an Angel Spoke to Shepherds, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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December 27, 2022 7:05 am

When Angels Spoke

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Over the last several programs, we've set aside all other topics to focus entirely on the very first Christmas. And last time, Chuck Swindoll described the shocking moment when an angel addressed Mary. Then our attention turned to the reassurance the angel gave to her fiancé Joseph. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll takes us to that hillside setting where an angel appeared and broke the news. The one who was coming, this little baby, would transform the world forever. Chuck titled today's message when an angel spoke to shepherds. You were never alone.

I know some of you are saying, but you don't understand. I lost her this year. Or I no longer have him, whom I leaned on and needed. I am alone. Actually you're not.

You really are not. Not any one of us is ever alone. The psalmist wrote in 91 verse 11, he will give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. You're the last three words, all your ways. That's tonight when you lie down, thinking you're alone.

You're not. They're watching over you. In the morning when you arise, Monday morning, another day, another week, not alone, they're always there.

I know you can't see them, but they're there. Mary thought she was alone, and before she could blink, there stood Gabriel telling her that great revelation that her womb would be the vehicle God would use to bring his son. She would bear the Christ child.

She realized, not only am I not alone, soon I will have one within me. Joseph thought he was alone. He had heard Mary's story and strongly doubted it. I mean, it was hard enough to believe she was pregnant, but to believe that it was God who made her pregnant, really. So alone, at least he thought, he went to his place and fell into bed, dropped to sleep, and before he knew it, standing beside him, remember, un galas kurios, there he was.

We don't know what he looked like. We don't know what he sounded like, but Joseph realized he wasn't alone, and what Mary had said was true. Not only should you believe her, said the angel, you should marry her, and he did. That cluster of shepherds in the field near Bethlehem, they were, well, they thought alone out there under the open skies, that cold night, clear and crisp. Suddenly, they realized they weren't alone. Un galas kurios, surrounded by the dakshat kurios, angel of God, glory of God, and the message they received, my, my.

Every once in a while, you just suddenly come to a realization that you don't go through life alone. God has a better plan. He has sent his angels. Now, our difficulty is that they are not like us. We have a hard time with that. We don't really know what they look like. Some appear with wings. Some have no wings. Some have a glow around them and above them. Some have no glow. Some look just like the person sitting next to you. They can cover a vast amount of space in an incredibly fast amount of time. They can pass through solid surfaces, whether it be a thick wall or a locked door, and there they are. You see, they're not made like us.

Different whole molecular makeup. I remember the first time it began to really dawn on me. I was an adult sitting in a class of theology at Dallas Seminary, a student with all the other guys around me, and we were listening to the lecture in what was called angelology by a professor who, who did not exaggerate. In fact, one of my classmates called him orthodox on steroids.

I mean straight. He did not stretch the truth, but suddenly he pushed his textbook back and he said, I want all of you to hear a story, and I hope you'll never forget it, and I haven't. He had a missionary friend who was home on furlough, and he was going from church to church to raise the level of his funds. They were getting low, and also to spend some time with friends from former years, from one church to another. His schedule was tight, didn't have long, and so he finished one church on a Saturday night late, realized he had to be at the next church early Sunday morning for the service, which meant probably driving most of the night, if not all the night. To make matters complicated, it was pouring down rain. He got into his car, shook his head, and said, Lord, just ask you to keep me awake.

I gotta get there safely. He rounded the bend outside the city limits of that city and he saw a man standing inside the road hitching a ride. Now he was raised like you were and like I was.

You don't ever pick up hitchhikers, except he did. He thought, well, maybe you'll help keep me awake if nothing else. The guy hopped in, and before long they struck up a terrific conversation. It was a fantastic conversation.

The guy knew most of the people he knew. Somehow he knew all about his ministry, and they had that in common, and they had a delightful time, and before long, it was close to dawn when they got near the destination. The stranger said, well, here's where I get out. He said, well, wait, before you leave, there's a cafe over here.

Let's stop for a cup of coffee together. So they walked in. Spent a few extra minutes there.

So enjoyable. When it ended, he went his way, and our missionary friend got in his car. He realized after he'd driven away, he hadn't even gotten the man's name or address. He wanted to keep up with him. So he quickly turned around and went back to the little cafe. He said to the cook standing behind the counter, he said, did you notice which way the other man went when we left? He said, what other man? I wondered why you ordered two cups of coffee when you came in alone. In fact, I wondered who you were talking to at the table.

You seemed a little weird to me, frankly. Missionary crawled back in his car and cranked it up, suddenly realized the night before in the pouring rain when the stranger had gotten in, he wasn't even wet. Gives us the willies, doesn't it?

You know why? Because we don't really understand angels. They don't get wet when it rains. They don't get tired at the end of the day.

They don't forget that you've been their charge. They don't sleep or slumber. They're not born, nor do they die. We have the same number now we've had since God created them, and they're in the multiple millions. Step into the imaginary time tunnel with me.

Let's leave the familiar 21st century and go back to the dawning of the first. We're walking along the rolling sloping hills of southern Judea. You can drive there today on highways and when you do, you see little brown tents every once in a while. Those who live in the tents are not called shepherds. They're known as Bedouins, or better as the Israelis refer to them often, Bedouins.

I said to a friend of mine who lived there, born there, he's a guide and so he would certainly know. I said, you ever meet one of those out there that live in the tents? He goes, a Bedouin? Meet a Bedouin?

No. That little answer lets you know the rank in the world that Bedouins have. There's a cluster of them squatting together around a fire out in the field.

We don't know what field. We don't know how far it was from the little town of Bethlehem, but there they were sharing stories, smoking their hookahs, whatever they were doing. And all of a sudden, the sky is lit with a million laser-like lights and there stands a creature they've never seen before. I don't know what he looked like. Allow me a little preacher's imagination. Let's say he was 12, 15 feet tall.

Let's say his wingspan went out 25 feet if he had wings. And his voice was like a dozen Niagara's as he said, greetings! But first he said, I love this, don't be afraid.

Can you imagine you're out in the field and a 12-foot giant shows up in the sky and says don't worry. All is well. Well, they were scared. They didn't know what to think until he began, unto you is born this day.

Wait a minute before we rush ahead. When you read it as Luke wrote it, who mean for you is plural. So let's do it right. Unto y'all. And there's a group of them, so it's all y'all. Under all y'all, that's the first time you've ever heard that passage rendered, all y'all. Under all y'all is born to you this day in the city of David, the Savior is Christ the Lord.

You know why I love it? Because they're Bedouins. They don't have any name ever etched in scripture. They're nobodies.

Except in God's eyes, no one is a nobody. To all y'all is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, Christ the Lord. You'll find the baby just behind the kadaluma. We know it as an inn, but it was a little more like a bed and breakfast. Stable behind there where the animals were kept. When you go there, you'll notice in a feeding trough, Immanuel.

That's fabulous. The angel didn't appear to some royalty in Rome, some godly dressed priest in Jerusalem. Not even some rabbi in prayer, in a synagogue, appeared to the Bedouins. Folks like us. Just like us. To us is born in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. At that moment, that angel was surrounded by, get this, the original says, an army of heaven. How many millions?

We can't count them. Someone has said every star represents an angel and that even is too limited. A host of these magnificent creatures who said, glory to God in the highest on earth, peace among those with whom he is pleased. Born to you is Christos Kurios.

Isn't that great? Angelos Kurios. Christos Kurios. Surrounded by Daxaglor Kurios.

And then remember, the routine? Angels show up, step up, speak up, then they scoot. And this one's gone. They're all gone. Leaving the Bedouins to say, let's go into Bethlehem and see this thing that they told us about.

Isn't this amazing? The first ones with the announcement of the Son of God is a group of no names. And we read after they saw the Christ child, they told others. And all were amazed at what they were saying. They were the first evangelists. I love that.

You don't even know one of their names, nor do I. God has them all over. You're never alone.

You have one around you or with you at all times. I'd been invited to speak back in the late 90s at a church in Fort Worth. So Cynthia and I decided we would go fairly early. We would take the seminary vehicle.

I was a part of the leadership team at the school and we left to drive there. And I was told it's full of gas and it's in good shape. The car was a little, shall we say, vintage. And I drove this station wagon. It's tires pretty slick. And so I had to be careful.

Wouldn't you know it? Halfway there, late into that cold evening, blew out. So I pull over and I look up my rear view mirror and there are two bright headlights. I'm thinking, oh, good.

I like it when cops follow me and I'm behaving myself. So I pulled over and walked back and a lady stuck her head out and said, Chuck, you okay? I go, yeah, yeah. Is that Cynthia?

I said, yeah, it is. She said, I saw you had the blowout. Tell you what, I know right where we can get this fixed.

Follow me. So she pulled a car around and I followed, followed around and got to this little service station, the nicest guy. He had the tires I needed. He said, I'll put them on. I said, well, I've got to go to a meeting.

He said, just pay for it now and we'll, we'll hide the key and we'll call it even. So we did that, made those arrangements. I hopped in the car and I said, we're going to, she said, I know I'll get you there right now. So she drove us and pulled right up and, and we stopped and I said, want to come in? She said, no, I'll wait out here. So we had a great evening. I spoke, we, we had a little Q and A afterwards with some potential students, about quarter to 10, we finished and walked out and there she was waiting for us, got in the car and she was driving us back to our little place where we had left our vehicle.

And I said, would you just please take a little bit of money for Utah? She's absolutely not. I didn't realize it, but my money was no good where she lives.

And of course, I'm talking to one who was sent to us. She knew all about us. She knew all about the ministry we were having, even wanted to know about Insight for Living, know all about our children. And when I turned around to find the key, she was gone and I never have heard from her again and never will, most likely. I felt kind of special.

I had a woman angel who drove a neat little car, who knew exactly where that church was. We're never alone. You aren't.

I'm not. Oh, you don't see them. You don't necessarily hear them. But just when you need them, they're there, sent by God to watch over you wherever you are. I was never more alone than the 16 months I was away in the Marine Corps stationed on Okinawa. I felt alone, but I was never alone. Again and again, I sensed God's presence. I didn't think about angels back then, but I realize now, even on that Christmas Eve when I happened to have been near Atsugi, Japan, our outfit was stationed there and all the other guys had gone into the village.

I went into a little restaurant and listened to music, drank a Coke, thought about my bride at home. And I thank the Lord for his presence in my life. Are you sure you have the Lord in your life? Are you absolutely certain?

I mean certain. If you're not, this cross up here behind me is a symbol that we place in high profile at our church because that's where the battle was fought and won by the Savior. Even if you didn't know about it, your sins were paid for. He came to our world. Came to his own, but his own did not receive him.

But to those who do, he gives them the authority to become the children of God, even those who believe in his name. Believe in him right now. Make this Christmas complete in Christ.

Bow your head, will you? If you know the Lord, pray for those sitting near you. Pray for others. Now I speak to the others, all of you Bedouins out there, those whose name I don't know, we've never met and probably never will, I invite you to the Savior. He cares very much about you, enough to watch over you day and night and even to bring you to this moment where you and I would connect and you would have a chance to hear how to move from darkness to light and from death to life by trusting in Christ, just accepting the gift. Just like you'll do on Christmas morning, just take the gift and Christ will come in, will live there forever. Forgive your sins, bring you to his home when you die.

In fact, angels will escort you. Thank you Father for the privilege of knowing you while on this earth. Thank you for those unusual moments when we suddenly become aware that we're not ever alone. For Jesus who loved us and gave himself for us, we will thank you forever. Bring those who search today into him so that they, like us, might come and adore him.

Christ the Lord, in his name we pray and all of us say, Amen. You're listening to a special Christmas edition of Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, When an Angel Spoke to Shepherds. If you'd like to learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at Before we hear Chuck's closing comments today, let me remind you that we're entering the most important giving season of the year for nonprofit organizations like Insight for Living Ministries.

To continue this Bible teaching program on your station and to give our global audience access to all the resources we offer, your financial support is critical, especially before the deadline Saturday night at midnight. Chuck, you know from the first day this program aired back in 1979, the recurring theme has been one of grace. And you've often helped us understand that the gift of grace isn't an isolated event. First, there's the vertical transfer of God's grace, but then there's another one. It's not enough to claim a vertical relationship with God. Yes, God's grace comes to us vertically. That is, we receive His grace from above. But grace doesn't stop with that vertical transaction. Grace is meant to be shared liberally across the board horizontally in all of our relationships, and even with those we may never meet. Remember what Jesus told His disciples that night before He was crucified? I'm reading from John 13 verse 34 out of the message where Jesus said, let me give you a new command. Love one another.

In the same way I loved you, you love one another. Now that's our mission here at Insight for Living Ministries. It's our mission to send a fragrance of God's love and God's grace to our community, our country, and even around the world, which includes your country. And now, as December 31 approaches, please ask the Lord to guide you in standing with us by giving a very generous year-end gift. Without exaggeration, I can tell you that your support is urgently needed. Your gift can make all the difference. So together, let's be lavish with our love by responding generously with our resources.

Please get in touch with us right now. Jesus said one more thing to His disciples that evening before His ultimate sacrifice. He added this statement. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples when they see the love you have for each other. As you give, others will see the love you and I have for them.

Let's do it together. And here's how you can respond to Chuck Swindoll right now. Perhaps the quickest and most efficient way to give is by going to slash donate. And we're always grateful for those who prefer to give by calling us. If that's you, we'd like to invite you to call us right now. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.

That number once again, 800-772-8888. Or you can give a donation online by going to slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll begins a brand new mini series designed to prepare us for 2023.

That's tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message when an angel spoke to shepherds was copyrighted in 2020 and 2021. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-26 17:04:32 / 2022-12-26 17:12:53 / 8

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