Every year Rob and Bethany Ruth have been faithful to do a fantastic, fireworks display here. It draws people from all around and people throughout the community have told me they have sat at home and enjoyed our display. While they do an amazing display for us each year it is nothing compared to a display that happened 2000 years ago
Luke 2: 8-20
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Shepherds were the mainstay and the backbone of the economy in Israel.
There were some pretty famous shepherds –
Abel, Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Laban, Jacob’s twelve sons including Joseph, Moses, David, prophet Amos
They are famous now but were not so famous then, while they were the backbone of the economy they were not valued as much. We don’t know where they are on the scale of all things social they were not on the top of anyone’s priority list
We don’t even know their names, we know from history that it was more common for men to be shepherds but women could have been there that night.
We know they were obedient which was an amazing thing and a certain blessing for you and I because we have and know the story
They responded to their being told by needing to tell others
- God knew exactly where to find the shepherds
The shepherds on a hillside overlooking the sleepy town of Bethlehem. Away from everyone. Because they seemed to the community to just be there, not very important but like a piece of furniture you ignore, they were there. But God knew where they were. Just like the shepherds, the Lord knows where you are.
There are times were people tried to hide from God and they could not…Elijah hid in a cave, after performing one of the most amazing miracles and then destroying the enemies of God. He became so depressed he ran and tried to hide from God in a cave. We Know Jonah tried to run away and hide, but God found him.
David wrote this to us in Psalm 139:7,8
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
God always knows where you are physically. He doesn’t need to track you down. You are always on His mind. Remember, you are the one He loves the most! You are never alone because as Jesus promised Matthew 28:20b
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
- He not only knew where they were physically but he knew where they were emotionally and wanted to elevate them to the way he saw them. – (Vast group of angels to remind them how important they are – Gideon, Joshua
It is so easy at times to feel as if you are unimportant. So many are feeling disenfranchised because of the economy, family situations, the way they were raised, cultural environment, so many things…all of it meant by the enemy of our souls to make us feel like we are
Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” 15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” 16 The LORD said to him, “I will be with you.
God’s word is always true and if we are willing to listen, He will speak to us and encourage us to not settle for who we think we are but to see ourselves through His eyes.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
You have heard me say many times that the plans God has for us are for a hope and future but so many times we limit God by our circumstances but God created us all for a purpose that goes far beyond our circumstances.
The shepherds that day were raised by shepherds, all through their families this is what they knew they were meant to be. The people in the villages would have looked at them as “those are just the shepherds but that night changed everything. God came to them they night because he knew they were hungry for God and knew exactly what they would do.
When God asks you to do something he knows you have the ability to grow into it. You might not feel at the moment that you are really qualified but why would he call, why would he say something unless he knew what you could do. You need to understand, the shepherds were terrified initially but they got over that fear when they realized who God saw them as.
- God gave them a challenge that we all have, even though they had never done it before they said “yes” It changed the world
Did you notice the angels did not tell them what to do, only the gift God had given them then they had to make the choice…..what if the shepherds never went into Bethlehem that night?
I believe based on Job 42;2 God would have raised up others in their place
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
God will always fulfill His purpose and bless those through whom his purpose is being fulfilled but we must be willing to be stretched to be made uncomfortable to leave our comfort zone and be Jesus’ hands extended.
The shepherds had no idea what was going to happen when they saw and felt the “nudge” of God through the display but they knew they must do something.
God is always speaking to us through His word, our prayers, and godly people. Because God created you for a purpose, he knows exactly where you are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually and has an even better purpose for you that where you are right now. He wants to draw closer to you. He wants you to know him better
Psalm 139:17, 18
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up you are still with me!
These are God’s words over you too. The angels encouraged these people who thought they were trapped and that this was the best life was going to be, into being something bigger. Just like Gideon, Joshua, Moses, David and so many others. God saw their ordinary lives and wanted to use them for an extraordinary purpose. Nothing tells us that they stopped being shepherds, their shepherding just became greater as they now began shepherding people too!
Luke 2:17 After seeing him, (Jesus)the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,
The pharisees said of Jesus isn’t this the carpenter’s son? That night I am sure many were saying isn’t this Murray the shepherd? But God saw him as something more and they responded and became something more.
The light show was simply a tool to get the attention of people God knew and believed in. What things have the Lord don for you to reach you….if you haven’t seen something look for it.
Like the shepherds you are so much more than you think you are. There is so much more the Lord has for each of us as we keep saying “yes” and go deeper in our relationship with Him. We don’t grow but sitting back and waiting, we grow by doing!
God know you! He knows exactly where you are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and even though for most, it is a good place, He still has so much more for us that will change the world and our world…look for your light show….it may be this sermon, it may be a job opportunity, it may be a conversation with someone that sparks an idea, it may be a challenge of some kind but if you recognize it coming from the Lord he will use it to change your world!