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Go and Tell

“After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. “
Luke 2:17, NIV

It was only one line, but I executed it well.

Standing as tall as a preschooler could stand, I looked across the crowd of adoring parents packed into the small chapel. It was my moment—my opportunity to shine—to proclaim the birth of the baby Jesus.

“While shepherds washed their sheets by night….”

Oops! Not exactly the message I was expected to convey, but one I spoke with delight and with words that certainly brought joy to the faces of everyone who heard them.

The Christmas story reminds me that God first entrusted the news of his Son’s birth to men on the lowest rung of society—outcasts, who slept on the ground and smelled like sheep. Shepherds considered so untrustworthy their testimony wasn’t allowed in court. If I’d written the script, I’m sure I would’ve chosen a much more flamboyant conclave of men to be the first evangelists.

But God got it right. And so did the shepherds. Over two-thousand years later, we’re still talking about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Though we can only speculate as to why God chose the shepherds, we can learn from the things this band of unschooled men got right. Take a moment to read the Christmas story in Luke 2, and let’s make the shepherd’s response our own this Christmas season.

The NIV translation relays that the shepherds were nearby (v.8). They were positioned to hear a revelation that would awaken a nation. May we position ourselves to hear the words of our Heavenly Father—words that will awaken our hearts and impact the lives of others.

They kept watch (v.8). The shepherds were alert and prepared to care for the sheep and handle whatever took place on their watch. May we live in expectation as we prepare for and carry out the tasks that God has assigned us.

They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby (v.16). The shepherds sought to confirm the angel’s message for themselves. May we not settle for second-hand information but move without hesitation to confirm the things we read and hear.

They spread the word (v.17). The shepherds boldly proclaimed Christ’s birth and all who heard their words were amazed. May we understand that we’re all valuable to God and have a story to tell. It’s our responsibility to share the Gospel; God is responsible for the response.

They returned glorifying and praising God (v.20). Elated, the shepherds returned to the fields with a new sense of purpose and worth, knowing that God was who he said he was. May we realize that it’s not our position in life, but the position of our hearts before God that will make a lasting impact in a world that needs a Savior.

This is your moment—your opportunity to shine. Go and tell!

Merry Christmas!

Starr

The Funniest Christmas ever

…”behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

Luke 2:10

“Sing to The Lord, for He has done glorious things.”…

Isaiah 12:5

“Make a joyful noise unto God…”

Psalm 66:1

I am from a small town in the state of Mississippi. I have a big family and when we get together we are very noisy and we have a big time. My husband, Michael, is from a big city in the state of Illinois. His family is small and their gatherings are quiet but eloquent. Both are wonderful but very different.

The funniest Christmas I ever had was the first Christmas Michael spent with my family. We all gathered at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, and the party was on. We cooked, played games, and dodged kids that were running all over the place. We talked and laughed until the wee hours of the morning. Try to picture this. My Mom has six children, all with “A” personalities.  When we get together it becomes a competition to see who can talk the most and the loudest, and we absolutely love it.

The next morning we gathered around the Christmas tree to open our gifts. My Mom has a farming back ground. My Grandparents were sharecroppers. So, naturally, she enjoyed all things country. One of her gifts was a decorative straw hat to hang on the wall. Another gift for her was an old butter churn, also for decoration. Well, being the gracious lady she was, she took the hat, put it on her head, grabed the butter churn, and started pounding away, singing, “coming butter come, come butter come”.

Everyone in the room burst into laughter, but we were not laughing at her. We were laughing at Michael. My poor sweet man, the city slicker, was sitting in a chair with a look on his face that was priceless. He looked as if he just realized that his life would never be the same again.

Of course, Michael became close to Mom and enjoyed her company, but we still laugh at the story of his first Christmas with us.

Christmas is and should be a time of “great joy”. God sent His Son to us as a baby born in a manger because He loves us. He wants us to know Him through His Son, Jesus.

With that in your hearts and minds this Christmas, make a “joyful noise unto The Lord” with your laughter, your boisterous conversations with friends and family, and your praises to Him for the many “glorious things” He has done for us

Merry Christmas and blessings to you all.

Janice

The Gift

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV)

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I can almost see it…

He looks around. His Father watches with grief filled eyes as Jesus scans the streets of gold, the gates of pearl, and the twelve precious stones making up the foundation of Heaven – His home.

Sinless perfection. His Father. Those He loves. Beauty. Light. It is all He has ever known. But He is about to walk away from all of it.

I can almost hear it…

Total silence from tens of thousands of angels as He removes His royal robe and crown and steps to the threshold. They don’t want to see Him go…

Yet evil awaits and He has determined to go after it, face it, and defeat it. All for love. The fight will take place in enemy territory – behind enemy lines. Where darkness reigns and evil rules. Earth.

As He heads into this battle, He will not call upon His supernatural physical strength as one might think. He will do it by transforming Himself into a baby, to be born to a young teenage virgin.

The birthplace will be a smelly, filthy horse stable – with animal dung within a few feet of where His crib – a feeding troth coated with cow slobber – will sit.

His earthly parents will be alone in this drama for more reasons than one.  Their families and one-time friends are busy standing in judgment, shaking their heads at the outlandish story the virgin and her fiancé have told. They don’t realize it is a God story of a nature-defying miracle.

As incredible as it seems, I can imagine the Son looking at His Daddy and saying, “I’m ready. Let’s get this show on the road!”

I can’t help but wonder, when the baby opened His eyes as He left the womb, did He think of Home? Did He feel joy or sorrow? Or both?

Did He have you and me on His mind? That’s why He left Home…because of His love for you and me.

I don’t know the answers to those questions – or for sure if the above scenario even took place. However, I do know this; He left a perfect home in heaven to come to this stinking ‘ole earth.

And the only reason He did it was for love. A gift so amazing that as Jesus stepped through the portals of time, the sky over the shepherds field split open with the brilliance of a vast host of angels saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

Yes, God did this because He wants peace for us and He has Good Will towards us. So, this Christmas, choose the gifts you give wisely. Gifts of time, attention, love, joy, grace, and mercy. The same priceless gifts Jesus came to give to us.

And please, as you receive gifts from others, don’t neglect the most important one of all.

He offers it to you – with great sacrifice to Himself.

Merry Christmas,

Your Traveling Partner,

Brenda