Good News!

Luke 2:8-20

Angel&Shepherds

When was the last time you received good news? What did you do?  Did you keep it to yourself or did you share it with others?

Imagine you were one of those shepherds watching over your sheep.  It was a night like any other or so you thought…

Suddenly an angel appears out of nowhere and a bright light shines around you. You’re scared.  You wonder what is going on.  The angel assures you and the other shepherds that there is nothing to be afraid of.  He has come to share good news.  Then he makes the big announcement, “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 to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

The Savior whom you and others have been waiting for is born.  He’s in Bethlehem in a manger.  While you are still trying to digest this incredible news, other angels join the first one and the air is filled with their glory as they raise their voices in a song of praise to God. What a glorious sight. You can hardly believe what you are seeing.  After the angelic host leaves, you and the other shepherds are filled with excitement.  You can’t wait to go and see the Child for yourselves. You are anxious to go and see what the Lord has made known to you. You hurry off to the manger where you see Mary, Joseph and the Child.

The shepherds “made widely known the word which was told them concerning this Child” and those who heard it couldn’t help but marvel but Mary kept these things in her heart and pondered over them.  I can’t imagine what must have been going through her mind.  First, an angel visited her and told her that she was going to have a Son who would be called Jesus and that He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. Then, on the night after she gives birth, shepherds show up at the manger to see Him because they too were visited by an angel.  This is a lot to grasp.

The shepherds left the manger and returned to their sheep, praising and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen.  It was a night they would never forget.

What can we learn from this wonderful story?

  • After hearing about Jesus, seek Him out for yourself
  • After you have seen Jesus and have been in His presence, go and tell others
  • Glorify and praise God for sending His Son into the world so that through Him we can be saved

This Christmas, take time to reflect on God’s greatest Gift to mankind.  Celebrate Jesus and thank Him for leaving the glory of heaven to come to earth to dwell among us.  Thank Him for the gift of eternal life which we can receive only through Him.  Share the message of love and hope of the season with others.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men – Luke 2:14

 

 

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NEVER TOO YOUNG TO LEARN

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” – 1 Timothy 4:12

Teaching the next generation about God is the duty of all Christians.  Teaching our children who will in turn teach their children God’s law and share with them how God had demonstrated His presence and power in their lives.  The Ten Commandments were written for the Moses’ generation and the generations that followed.  “These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and command that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ Tell him: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders—great and terrible—upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household.  But He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that He promised on oath to our forefathers.’” (Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 20-23)

 

Moses had records of what happened in Egypt and when the Israelites left Egypt and everything that happened during their journey to the Promised Land so that these could be shared with the next generations.  We too could share God’s commandments with our children so that they could live the way God intended them to.  And when God works wonderful miracles and brings blessings in our lives, we get to share those with our children as well.  We could also share these things with other young Christians and non-believers.

 

Before he died, David said to his son, Solomon, “So, be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires:  Walk in His ways, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep His promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kings 2:2-4)  Solomon later advises, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

 

As a child I was taught that Jesus loved me and that is why He died on the cross for me.  I was taught that Jesus loved all children—children of all colours. I was taught the Our Father prayer and other prayers.  Even now I’m learning things from my mother and my aunt.  I’m learning things from God who is my Father.  He is opening my eyes to what I am reading.  Even though I have read the Scriptures before, I feel as if I’m reading some of it for the first time.

 

Solomon’s advice to the young is, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)  When we are young, we want to enjoy life, have fun, and be adventurous.

 

When we are young, we don’t want to take life seriously or responsibility for our actions.  We just want to have a good time.  When we are young we think we are invincible, untouchable.  We think we can experiment with drugs and alcohol and not be affected; we think we can handle them.  We drag race and not think that we can get hurt or hurt someone else.  We do anything to get into a fraternity or we are willing to do anything to be accepted into the in-crowd.  We want to seem cool to others so we do things that we are not comfortable doing just to impress other people.  When we are young, we are easily influenced and vulnerable to peer pressure.  We don’t want to be seen as the geek or the wallflower.  We want to be popular.

 

Young people should be taught that it is cool to be a follower of Jesus.  It is cool to obey His commands and hold on to them.  It is cool to read the Bible, go to church, pray, meditate, help others, tell their friends about Jesus.  It is cool to do volunteer work, Bible study, work hard in school, do well in their studies and stay out of trouble, say no to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.  It is cool to serve others.  Jesus wearing just a towel got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples.  It is cool to feed the homeless, visit the sick, help the poor and to treat others as you want to be treated.  It is cool to be part of God’s crowd rather than the in-crowd.  It is cool to stand out as a committed believer than as the popular girl or boy or the jock.  Young people should be taught that following God is the coolest thing they could ever do and the wisest.

Everything to God in Prayer

Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth” – Psalm 54:2

When we pray to God, we should kneel before Him, an act of humility for He is sovereign.  We should revere Him and remember that He is almighty.  When we pray we do so with the knowledge that God desires to show us His compassion and goodness because He is a loving God.  The love of Christ is so profound that He gave His life for us.  When we pray to God we should thank Him and acknowledge that He is able “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

When we come to God in prayer we should remember to whom we are praying.  Hannah wanted a child and she turned to the Lord because she knew that He was her only hope.  She prayed continually and in her heart.  She was pouring out her soul to God and she believed that He would answer her prayer because her face was no longer downcast.  And God answered her prayer.  He remembered her and she conceived and gave birth to a son.  “For this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”  (1 Samuel 1:12-13, 18, 19, 20, 27)

Samuel is recognised as a prophet in all of Israel.  He Lord was with him and his mother too because she gave birth to more children.  God gave Hannah above and beyond what she asked for.  Hannah praised God and acknowledged His goodness.  “My heart rejoices in the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:1a)  “There is no one holy like the Lord, there is no one besides You, there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

I have learned that for prayers to be effective they must be specific, such as asking for understanding, strength or for the healing of a loved one.  We should ask for things only God can give you as nothing is impossible for Him.  We must be humble, submissive and unselfish when petitioning God.  “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)  We must be like the publican who recognized that he needed God instead of the Pharisee who felt he didn’t need God.  We must recognise and give thanks to God for His faithfulness and glorify Him in our prayers.

 This was how Paul prayed for the Colossians who were new to the faith.  He asked God that they be filled with knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. (Colossians 1:9)

This was how Hannah prayed.  She was barren and longed for a child.  She prayed to God asking for a male child whom she would dedicate to Him.  She knew only God could open her womb.  She was humble, weeping and praying with all her heart and from the depths of her soul.  She was willing to give up her son to serve the Lord once He granted her request.  Praying to God lifted Hannah’s spirits and she went home, confident that her prayer had been answered.  She recognised that there was none besides God and she rejoiced in His salvation (1 Samuel 2:1).

Knowing God’s Voice

“To day if ye will hear his voice” – Psalm 95:7

God speaks to us but we must listen. We must be able to discern His voice like a child is able to discern his/her mother’s voice by listening for it. The child knows his/her mother’s voice. We, as children of God, our Heavenly Father, should know His voice. To do this, we should read about Him, learn more about His nature from the scriptures and spend more time with Him. It is like a person you develop a relationship with. The more time you spend with him or her, the more you learn about this person. You become close and you are able to tell when they are happy or when they are troubled.

God is the same way. The more we get to know Him the more we are able to tell the difference between Him and the intruder who enters the pen through another way instead of the gate. This is the devil who tries to draw us away from God through whatever means are at his disposal. He tries to tempt us, deceive us and distract us. But, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and listen for His voice we will not be led astray. He will protect us and provide for us. When we lean on him, trust Him, give our lives to Him, it will be easier to block out the temptations of the world and not be led astray by the intruder (the thief, robber) who tries to separate us from God and the truth.

Jesus is the means through which we are able to have a relationship with God. He is the gate through which we, the sheep, enter and God is the Shepherd. We have to go through Jesus to get to our Father. It is through Jesus that God expressed His love for His sheep. It is through Jesus that our sins were forgiven. It is through Jesus that we have the Holy Spirit, which dwells within us. It is through Jesus that God conforms us to Christ’s image and prepare us for His work. We are sanctified through Jesus.

It is through Jesus that we are able to resist temptation, follow His example, learn more about God, Heaven, forgiveness, love, trust, faith, tolerance, mercy, salvation, truth. Jesus is the gate. Whoever enters through Him will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture (John 10:9). This means that once we accept Christ, we are saved and have everlasting life. The pasture is the word of God. Once we feed on the word of God, we will not want of anything as pointed out in the 23rd Psalm. The pasture is God. Once we hunger for Him, we will not want of anything.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep and we know Him. He laid down His life for us. He protects us from the wolf (the devil). If one of us gets lost, He goes out of His way to find us and bring us back to Him—under His loving care and protection. He will not allow the wolf to scatter His beloved sheep.

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