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December 26, 2021 12:56 am
As we near the end of our Christmas series with Phil Needham, today he focuses on how God used this incredible moment, this miracle the world had been waiting for- to shine a spotlight on the people sitting on the lowest rung of the social ladder.
Series: CHRISTMAS BREAKTHROUGH
Hi this is breeding welcome to the Salvation Army's words of life and Merry Christmas everyone back to words of life by Bernie Dake and I'm Cheryl Galland from all of us here with words of life to you and your families. We pray that you've had a peaceful beautiful Christmas day yesterday Cheryl what's Christmas Day like for you and your family.
Wow. Well I think it's a gotten older and looks a little different.
I mean they'll wake up back in oh dark 30 in the morning anymore. We get to sleep in a little bit more, but usually we we wake up now maybe around eight or so we gather around that the tree we have some time together focusing on what the real meaning of Christmas is probably reading Luke two and all that good stuff.
And then we opened presents and we have a wonderful breakfast together, man what what time is breakfast. Maybe will show up in your house. You are welcome. Always welcome to come on over. Yet we have it. We don't have any kids but we have a little bit of a tradition where we open up our stockings before breakfast. Yeah. And those are just generally, you know like little gifts and little of remembrances throughout from through the year before and things that are maybe special, but just nice things and then after breakfast we go back in the big now. I did that growing up, my family didn't when I was a kid so bad like upstate New York thing or yeah maybe yeah and listen at the end of the day it's for us. It's not about the Christmas presents. It's really just even just about the ability to be present and I that's become more important over the course of my life.
Value the people that are in your life, your family, take an inventory you know and just have a real sense of gratefulness for all of the things that the Lord has blessed us with absolutely and so as we near the end of our Christmas series with Phil Needham today. He focuses on how God used this incredible moment this miracle the world had been waiting for to shine a spotlight on the people sitting on the lowest rung of the social ladder, especially this time of year is an incredible reminder that God will always use ordinary people to do extraordinary things accomplished.
Hello this is Phil Needham and am continuing the series that runs through the end Christmas Todd today let's talk about shepherds we may want to be thinking about Luke 28 through 20 on Christmas day we celebrate the miracle we've been waiting for. We call it the miracle because for the first and only time in human history. God and man became one we also call it the miracle because all the miracles that ensued over the course of Jesus life were made possible by this one reckless birth the whole story of Jesus is the continuation of this miracle we call incarnation the inflation of God.
Emmanuel, God with us.
Jesus son of God and man. We should say also that this miracle of miracles came quite a peculiar time. The very location of Jesus birth does not suggest suitability for an important event in history. We expect the Jewish Messiah would be born in Jerusalem the center of Jewish faith and worship. Instead, Luke's gospel spotlight travels to little Bethlehem, and not to its better homes and ends, but to a stable as if all this wasn't audit enough. Things get downright weird is Luke leads us from the humble birthing stable Alta even more obscure terrain were the only people who are tough and desperate enough to hang out or accrued herdsman in particular shepherds were talking the lowest wrong on the social and economic letter. The humblest of the poor were talking course dirty and smelling of sheep people unaccustomed civilize worship in holy living. The last group you'd want at your nice family gatherings.
The angel of the Lord shines the spotlight on them in order to find worshipers and witnesses of this never before seen causing human flesh of a baby.
The angel goes out looking and finds shepherds. He scrapes the bottom of the barrel of humanity. People who know practically nothing about Scripture and rarely go to worship, if at all. As hard as these outdoor herdsmen are watch their reaction when the angel shows up and showers then with glowing glory. They're scared stiff their rugged fortitude has not prepared them for this. They are probably temporarily blinded by the glory that the angel says what the Angels love to say don't be afraid. And then he delivers the message I've got good news, wonderful, joyous news for everyone. In other words, even and especially for you shepherds. Your Savior is born this very night Christ the Lord go and see it. It's not far from here look for a stable with some light and see if you can find a newborn baby wrapped the snuggly and lying in a manger with mom and dad nearby. No sooner has the message been delivered that a choir of heavenly forces burst on the scene and fills the sky with an anthem. Glory to God in heaven and on earth peace among those he favors as quickly as the choir has appeared, they disappear, leaving the shepherds to decide whether or not to go look for a baby Messiah. They don't hesitate. Let's go. Now they say to each other. Let's see, let's confirm they leave immediately. They find Mary and Joseph, and the small, fragile newborn Messiah divinity in swaddling clothes Luke doesn't say of them, as Matthew says of the three Magi that they kneel and worship Jesus.
The Magi are astrologers and contemplative's shepherds are men of action so they act. Luke says that they start reporting what they'd seen and what they've been told this birth means they must be telling the story in a convincing way because everyone who hears it is amazed. The last we hear of though shepherds is that they return home glorifying and praising God. Have you ever wondered what happened to them. They may have not lived long enough to see and hear Jesus when he began his saving mission. 30 years later most shepherds of that day probably did not have a long lifespan. It was a very hard life in the wild. The gospel say no more about them.
Perhaps they live the rest of their earthly lives by the promise revealed in the aluminum straw that night. Perhaps they were stunned into the revelation that they the lowliest were the first to hear the angels first to obey first to see first to proclaim the first witnesses witnesses who believed because they actually saw the child. When Jesus did begin his mission about 30 years later. He talked about a shepherd.
He called him the good Shepherd and he said he was that Shepherd, the shepherd who cares for his sheep and would give Ethan his life for them as a boy. Jesus had plenty of opportunities to observe shepherds he saw in the best of them. The qualities that would shape his heart and his ministry. The church later took the name of Shepherd which means Pastor to describe his spiritual leaders. Truth be told, the name could be applied to the calling of every follower of Jesus. We all have someone to shepherd love, care for, give our lives to maybe those common shepherds who came from the hillside that night almost 2000 years ago received such love such goodness in such grace that they became good shepherds for the shepherd and Guardian of their souls. Now we celebrate the coming of our Savior in human flesh. Jesus, who became our good Shepherd, and privilege. The group of ordinary shepherds to have first sight at the first witnesses. This birth humbles us strips away our arrogance and pride because we ourselves are the unworthy ones on that hillside brought to the manger as we are called to be shepherds for the good Shepherd this Christmas look up to the sky. Let yourself see angels singing their singing to you. If you feel as lonely as those first shepherds did know that the good news comes first to you. If you feel all too good about your positions and accomplishments know that this night tells you who you really are no better than those who think they're the least but privileged to be one of them. Please join me in prayer dear Jesus, who came in humility and was revealed to lowly shepherds. Teach me to see myself among the least so that I can know myself for who I really am one of your beloveds made precious, not by anything I've done by the value you give me through the life you lived in the death you suffered for us all.
This Christmas I come again to the stable of your birth all by the miracle overwhelmed by your presence right here with us. Teach me to be like those first shepherds. A living witness that you have indeed come into the world.
They my actions show the difference. Your presence can make it. One person's life. I pray this through you, my Lord, my shepherd, amen. The Salvation Army's mission doing the most good means helping people with material and spiritual needs to become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army visit Salvation Army USA.org to offer your support and love to hear from you. Email us email@example.com or call 1-800-229-9965, write us at PO Box 29972, Atlanta, GA 30359 tell us how we can help share prayer request or share your testimony.
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