What if the Shepherds Didn’t Seek the Messiah?

courtesy pexels.comWhat if the shepherds didn’t seek the Messiah?

The Bible tells us a multitude of Heavenly Hosts filled the sky the night Jesus Christ was born. In their appearance to the shepherds watching their flocks, we’re told the shepherds were afraid. I’d be frightened, too, if an army of angels suddenly appeared in the sky. Wouldn’t you?

An angel told the shepherds the news he shared was great. He said it would bring great joy to everyone. The great news was the announcement of the Savior’s birth. After the angels praised God over Christ’s birth, they told the shepherds to go see what had happened.

We remember the shepherds left their flock of sheep, their livelihood, and went to Bethlehem. The City of David.

In Bethlehem, the shepherds found Baby Jesus in a manger.

Before the shepherds headed to Bethlehem, they did not form a committee to figure out the best way to get to Jesus. They did not ponder what they should say when they found the baby. They didn’t vote to see who would lead the way. They simple got up and went.

The shepherds left their sheep and went quickly into Bethlehem. Once they found the newborn baby, they told Mary and Joseph what the angels said to them in the field. Today your Savior was born…He is Christ, the Lord. Then the shepherds returned to their sheep, praised, and thanked God.

But what if the shepherds didn’t go?  What if the shepherds didn’t leave the security of their fields?  What if they didn’t walk however-many-miles into Bethlehem?  What if they didn’t search for Jesus?  Would their lives be changed, or would they be content to let the day of Christ’s birth pass by without notice?

Like the shepherds we are given a glorious message. Unlike the shepherds we live this side of the cross. We know what it cost God to send his son, Jesus, into our world to save us from our sins.

As we reflect on Christmas and the birth of a baby in the manger who became the Savior on the cross, we too must seek the Messiah. We must go quickly and tell others the Good News of a Savior who came to seek and to save everyone who is lost.

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When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said. Luke 2:15-18 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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How Do We Describe Christmas?

How do we describe Christmas? If someone who never heard of Christmas asked, “What is Christmas?” what would we say?

Would we start by explaining the Christmas tree, mistletoe, and Santa Claus?

Or would we start with the brightly wrapped presents we give each other?

Maybe we’d explain about families and friends gathering together for a festive celebration. Perhaps we’d mention the different customs across the world.

Then again, maybe we’d mention Christmas plays and concerts along with Handel’s Messiah.

How far down the list would it be before we mentioned the virgin birth of Jesus, God’s son, born as a human baby who lived as a man, walked this earth, was falsely accused, and sentenced to die a most horrible death through crucifixion to save us from our sins?

Hopefully, that would be the very first thing we’d say to explain Christmas.

However, when people observe our behavior this time of year, is that what they’d assume? Would they see Jesus holds the top spot in our lives?

What is Christmas without Christ?

Without Jesus Christ there would be no angels singing Glory to God in the Highest. No shepherds bowing before a baby in a manger. No wise men bringing their best gifts to a baby boy.

Without Jesus there would be no salvation. No resurrection. No Hope. No Light.

We celebrate Christmas because we celebrate Christ.

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That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang, “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.”  Luke 2:8-14 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Will We Still Have Christmas?

As I propelled myself across the floor on my walker, I wondered. Will we still have Christmas?

What a silly question, you might think. And I would agree. If I hadn’t just broken my hip – again. You can read about my previous broken hip here and here.

Six years ago I broke my left hip at Thanksgiving. Last month I broke my right hip. At Thanksgiving. What are the odds? Not high according to my orthopedic surgeon.

So this year, as I looked at everything that won’t get accomplished before December 25, I wondered. Will we still have Christmas if there is no decorated tree?

Will we still have Christmas if there are no special gluten-free Christmas cookies?

Will we still have Christmas if there aren’t as many presents to open as usual?

Will we still have Christmas if I’m unable to attend every event I planned on attending?

The answer to each of those questions is absolutely. We will still have Christmas.

The things we attach to our Christmas celebrations do not Christmas make.

The birth of a Savior is what makes Christmas.

Perhaps there is something or someone missing from your Christmas this year. It may seem like you can’t possibly have Christmas without them.

When we remember long before the beginning of time, God planned for his Son to be born in Bethlehem at just the right time, in just the right stable, to just the right parents, we see Christmas is not about the celebrations we attach to that blessed day.

Christmas is about the Christ who willing sacrificed himself for a lost world so none would perish.

Will you still have Christmas at your house regardless of how you celebrate?

I pray you do.

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But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past,will come from you on my behalf. Micah 5:2 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Suggestions to Fight a Blue Holiday

According to many studies, holidays increase feelings of loneliness and despair. The death of a loved one or unmet expectations of renewed happiness during the holidays are often sited as causes for feeling blue during the Christmas season. Throw in Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, and some of us may feel like we should hibernate until springtime.

Although not an all inclusive list, the following suggestions may help fight a blue holiday.

Watch holiday classics, sip hot chocolate, and eat Christmas cookies. Or skip the movie and just eat cookies. Watch a funny movie. Watch something uplifting. Watch The Princess Bride for the umpteenth time. Watch a musical, just not The King and I. The ending makes me cry every time.

If dealing with the break-up of a romantic relationship, stay away from the Hallmark Channel. Even if the guy gets the girl by the end of the movie, and maybe because the guy gets the girl by the end of the movie, those movies can make us feel lousy.

Read a good book. Try out a new creative outlet. Exercise. Go throw an axe.

Attend holiday events. Window shop. People-watch. Purchase something for someone in need. Volunteer for a worthy cause. Get in touch with a friend we haven’t spoken with for awhile.

Listen to music. Something I find especially helpful if I’m really in a funk, is listening to something snappy which sets my feet to tapping. Something I can warble out loud to. Avoid those beautiful ballads like, My Heart Will Go On, and The Way We Were, unless you really need to cry it out. If that’s the case, set a limit to how long you’ll give yourself to feel the pain.

Make new traditions if need be. Life is not static. It moves and flows with each breath we take. It’s okay to change things up a bit. If it doesn’t work, try something different.

What’s the best way you’ve found to help fight a blue holiday?

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I waited patiently for the Lord‘s help; then he listened to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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On Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. However you spend today, I pray the day is a joyful time full of thanks and gratitude for God’s bountiful rich blessings.

Amid all the joy of celebration, this day can sometimes be a challenge. Especially if there is an empty seat at our table. Or health issues restrict our ability to spend the day as we would like. Or others are unable to join us for whatever reason. Or unresolved problems threaten to steal our joy and thankfulness.

As we spend the day with those we love and enjoy, there might also be those with whom we disagree. Sandpaper people who irritate us and rub us the wrong way.

But you know what? They may feel the same way about us.

In Romans 12:18 the apostle Paul said, “As much as is possible, live peaceably with all men.”

Do you think Paul meant for us to live peaceably even during holiday get togethers when stress is at an all time high?

Probably.

Maybe Paul meant for us to live peaceably with others, as much as it depends on us, especially during holiday get togethers.

In preparation for Thanksgiving get togethers, one thing we might do is ask God to clothe us with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and self-control. We might ask for his power to help us bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances we have against one another. Forgive as we’ve been forgiven. Love as we are loved.

May not just today, but everyday, be filled with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forgiveness, patience and self-control.

How do you like to spend Thanksgiving?

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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