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The Message for the Shepherds (And You!)

Over the past few weeks, we’ve noted how each of the different Gospels draw our attention to different characters within the Christmas story. For example, Matthew draws our attention to the wisemen and King Herod – whereas Luke draws our attention to the shepherds and the angels. Both Gospels are telling the same true story of Jesus’ birth, but they each draw your attention to different aspects of the story.

The same is true even concerning Jesus’ parents. We see that Matthew writes his story from the viewpoint of Joseph and Luke writes his story from the viewpoint of Mary. It’s the same story – but we see it play out from totally different perspectives.

And so for the last three weeks, we’ve approached the Christmas story from three different angles – we’ve read from three different Gospels which have focused on three different characters – Mary, Joseph, and of course, Jesus Himself.

We started by looking at Jesus as he is introduced in the Gospel of John. And John doesn’t spend much time talking about Jesus’ birth, per se, but he focuses on how Jesus existed before he was even born! He talks about how Jesus has existed eternally as the second person of the Godhead and how He is our Creator. What’s more, out of his great love for us, Jesus choose to become one of us, born as a human being, so that He might live a human life and one day die a human death in our place so that we could be saved from our sin. We don’t always focus on that aspect of the story at Christmas time, but that’s really what Christmas is about!

From there, we turned to the Gospel of Matthew who focused on the character of Joseph. We saw that, while Joseph was indeed a descendant of King David, he did not live a life of royalty. He was just a regular guy – working in the trades, doing his best to provide for his family. But what’s impressive about Joseph is His godly character! Even when he believed that his fiancé Mary had been unfaithful to him and had committed adultery – because she was now pregnant and Joseph knew that child wasn’t his – but even then, Joseph determined to do what was right and to act in a loving way towards Mary even when it seemed that she had been unloving to Him.

Furthermore, we were impressed by Joseph’s immediate and constant obedience to God. Every time God gave him some instructions – even ones that were pretty difficult follow –  Joseph did it immediately and without arguing or complaining or anything. All we see from Joseph was immediate obedience to God. What a great example for us!

And then last week, we looked at the Gospel of Luke to see things from Mary’s perspective! And Mary is another impressive character! Even though she would have been very young at the time – probably 13-16 years old – she displayed some incredible spiritual maturity when God revealed to her that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah. I’m sure Mary realized the negative social consequences of having a child out of wedlock and that having this baby now would completely change the course of her life – but like Joseph, all we see from Mary is immediate submission to the will of God.

Luke 1:38 sums it up well:

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:38a

Mary’s willing submission to God was clear evidence that she knew the character of God – and if God was going to ask her to do this very difficult thing, then she could trust Him. Even though she didn’t fully understand what God was up to, she could trust that God was doing something good – because that’s just who God is.

Again, what a great example for each of us. As I said last week, it is no wonder that God chose this couple to raise His son Jesus.

And so that’s a brief summary of what we’ve been going through for these last few weeks. Now today, I want to continue looking at the different characters of the Christmas story – specially, I’d like us to look today at the shepherds.

Now the shepherds may not be ‘essential characters’ in the Christmas story – after all, Matthew, Mark, and John all leave them out of their Gospels entirely – but yet, Luke does include them – and their part of the story has been recorded for us in the pages of Scriptures, so there is obviously something important about them. There is something that God wants to communicate to us through the story of the shepherds, and so today we’re going to see if we can dig some of that out!

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Begin with Prayer

Listen to this Sermon!Last week we started off the new year by counting our blessings. And I dare say that each one of us was humbled by just how greatly God has blessed us. We talked about our physical blessings – 1/3 of the world is starving and we can’t even eat all of the food we have. 1/2 of the world lives on less than $2.33 per day – our minimum wage here in Alberta is $9.75 an hour! We truly are some of the wealthiest people in the world.

But that’s only our physical blessings. We are also relationally blessed – we have friends and family who love us dearly – that’s not the case for everyone in the world. We are blessed historically – To live in Alberta, Canada in 2013 is a blessing that billions of people do not enjoy! And of course, as Christians, we are also blessed spiritually. To know Christ – to have salvation, forgiveness, peace, joy, eternal life – Billions of people die never knowing any of that.

We are truly the most blessed people in the history of the world! And that begs the question “WHY?” Why has God blessed us so much?

That’s the question we looked at last week, and one of the key Scriptures that we found was Romans chapter 11 – verse 36.

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.”
Romans 11:36

We came to the conclusion that God has blessed us in order to bring Himself glory. Remember our Spider-man line? “With great power comes great responsibility”

With such great blessings, we have a great responsibility to bring God great glory!

So how are we going to do that? How do we bring God great glory through all these great blessings that He has poured out on us? The answer is that we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing. God intends us to use our blessing to bless others for his glory. In other words, we have not been blessed just to be blessed – we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.

And over the next five weeks we are going to be looking at exactly how to do that – not just with our physical blessings – but with our relational, historical, and spiritual blessings as well. How can we bring God glory by being a blessing to the people around us?

And again for you studious folk who like homework, I’m going to be using a lot material in these next five weeks from a couple of books. You might want to read them for yourself. One book is called “Discover Your Mission Now” – it’s a free ebook and you can find a link to it on our website – www.mirroralliancechurch.com. The other book is by Bruce Wilkinson called “You were born for this”. If you’re interested in reading this, I can certainly get you a copy.

To help us remember the lessons over these next few weeks, we’re using the acronym B.L.E.S.S.

Begin with prayer, Listen, Eat, Serve, and Story. And so today, we’re looking at lesson #1. B – Begin with prayer.

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