- Always Winter
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Last week, we saw how the world had been waiting for the Messiah for thousands of years. We looked at the 400 years between Malachi and Matthew, how God was silent, but He was busy preparing the way for Christ. Waiting for God can be hard, it can be hard to be patient waiting for answers when God is silent. God is rarely early, but never late!
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'” – Luke 2:8-11
Happiness is very different than joy. Happiness is a feeling that happens because of what happens “to you” but it is temporary. It changes with circumstances. People say “I just want to be happy” but really what they want is joy!
“Joy is an inner sense of well being and satisfaction that endures in good times and bad, it abides between happy experiences and sad circumstances. Joy is a gift God gives us when we allow Him to be the Lord of our lives.” – Kyle Idleman
John 15:11 says “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
God says I want to give you my joy, and it will fill you up to the brim and pour out of you! God wants to give you the gift of eternal joy that comes through His Son. That was the same joy the shepherds experienced that first Christmas.
Think about these shepherds mentioned in Luke. They weren’t famous, or powerful, or even known for their hygiene. They were lower class type people, and there wasn’t much that exciting about being a shepherd. They literally watched sheep all day. I’ve never gone to the zoo to see the sheep. Sounds a lot like watching the grass grow. In Luke 2 we find them watching their sheep at night. So now their job is even more boring, watching a bunch of sleeping sheep. Did you know that sheep only sleep about 4 hours a day? Another fun fact is that when sheep have insomnia they count people till they fall asleep. Barring a predator trying to eat their sheep or a sheep wandering off and getting lost, their job was just routine, mundane, boring. But right in the middle of the average, boring, mundane God breaks through with the most important event in history. An angel of the Lord appears and the joy of the Gospel breaks through the mundane.
Many of you have a life that feels that way. The same thing over and over. Alarm rings, punch into work, lunch break, punch out, eat dinner, watch the news, rinse and repeat. The same thing, day in and day out. Weeks, months, years go by and we get so bored. Some people turn to alcohol to break the boredom, some break the mundane in the arms of a mistress, or they gamble away their check trying to experience excitement. The excitement that you get from those things doesn’t last! But when we really experience the gospel story of Christmas, the real Christmas, life can be routine. But it is anything but mundane.
“And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night (boring). And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”– Luke 2:8-14
Joy broke through the shepherds’ average boring life in an amazing way. Fear was their first reaction when they came in contact with this message from God. They were terrified! These were guys that would at times have to protect their sheep from lions, wolves, or bears. But when the Glory of the Lord showed up they were sore afraid. The angel was not there to scare them but to give them the gift of joy! The gift of a Savior! This was a gift for the whole world! The angles say go find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes in a feeding trough, a manger. Then the boring average shepherds got to behold the very first Christmas concert, angels singing Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, and goodwill toward men! The angels didn’t come before kings, or wise men to declare the birth of Christ. They came before simple shepherds. They weren’t sinless shepherds or something the world thought was special.
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27
God has a pattern of using simple, weak people.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
God uses broken, boring people like you and me to paint beautiful masterpieces with our lives. God loves a restoration project.
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” – Luke 2:15-20
So the shepherds searched for this manger with the Christ child in it, with all the stables and mangers in Bethlehem you have to believe God led them to just the right one. It’s fitting the Lamb of God’s first visitors were shepherds. I’ve never thought about who watched their sheep while they went to Jesus, but I imagine that everything else ceased to matter and Christ took the priority after that message from God. The shepherds told Mary and Joseph all about the Angels and they praised and worshiped God together. Notice as they leave the shepherds didn’t write a book or open a gift shop there in Bethlehem, they weren’t looking for selfish gain, they returned to their flocks praising and glorifying God all along the way, telling everyone that would listen about this Baby Boy! It brought wonder to everyone that the shepherds told about Jesus and the heavenly host of angels.
When you share Christ with excitement and conviction it will make people very curious. Too often though if we do share Christ we are timid, and tiptoe around the subject. But these shepherds were never the same.
God wants to bring that same joy to your life that He brought to those shepherds. Your life may seem pointless, aimless, mundane, and boring but don’t turn to sin for momentary thrills that leave you full of guilt. God has a glorious adventure planned for your life if only you would put down your fear and pursue Christ.
You may be thinking, I’m just average, I’m not special, I’m not talented, or popular, my life is boring. Perfect. That means God can use you to do amazing things through His power. He wants to take your simplicity and build something so beautiful that everyone that sees you knows the Eternal Artist had a hand in your life. God wants to bring a joy to your life that can only be given through His Son Jesus. Not happiness based on material things or circumstances. It’s so much bigger than just fleeting happiness. He came to give good tidings of great joy! Joy to the world!