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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Superior Way

Is there anything in your home you replaced because it was obsolete? Maybe an electronic device which was the absolute must have until the next latest and greatest superior thing came along? I believe it safe to say each of us has something like that.

For me, something I needed to replace was my Nikon FE2 camera. Not because I thought it inferior, but because I broke it during a tragic fall wandering around the Aztec ruins of Chichen Itza, Mexico.

Long story.

I loved that camera. It accompanied me on numerous trips all over the world. It was familiar. Comfortable. I knew how to operate it. I knew how it performed. I saw no reason whatsoever to look for a replacement until that fateful day.

Although I did revert to a different Nikon I already owned after losing the FE2, in my mind nothing was superior to that camera. Nothing.

Through the years Pilot tried to convince me to give up shooting pictures with film, and switch to digital. Nope. Wasn’t interested. Until one Christmas I gave in, and he gifted me with a digital Nikon D5000.

The new camera has its advantages.

Lighter. Less cumbersome. Ability to see pictures I shoot immediately.

No need to purchase film or have it developed. Definite plus these days.

Still … I attached quite a bit of sentiment to the FE2.

Comparing my resistance to changing my camera habits reminds me of the Jewish leaders who insisted on sticking with the old, comfortable, familiar way they practiced their religion.

They knew what they needed to put into their religion, and knew what they could expect from it. They saw no need to change, even when the Superior Way of Jesus Christ stood right in front of them.

Some of us react the same way today when we study a familiar scripture, and God sheds light on a different way to look at what his words say.

Or maybe that familiar passage requires us to examine our lives in a way we’d rather not, because doing so means we must change how we live or how we treat others or how we treat God.

We like our traditions. We like our comfortable, reliable.

We don’t like thinking maybe there’s a better, superior way than what we’re already doing.

There are aspects of my FE2 I miss. But you know what? I don’t want to return to it. Just as I sure wouldn’t want to return to a religious system that required an animal or grain sacrifice every time I sinned.

I am so very grateful for Jesus Christ, The Superior Way. The Son of God. Perfect Sacrificial Lamb who died once. For all.

Amen?

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Christ is not like other religious leaders. They had to give gifts every day on the altar in worship for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. Christ did not have to do that. He gave one gift on the altar and that gift was Himself. It was done once and it was for all time.  Hebrews 7:27 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Jesus is Our Living Hope

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is our Living Hope.

The Lion of Judah roared mightily that Resurrection Day so long ago, and his victorious voice continues to speak to all with ears to hear.

He set us free. He broke every chain that bound us to the evil one.

Jesus is the Victor. The Mighty Warrior. The Conqueror. He defeated Satan, hell, sin, and death.

Jesus Christ is the One in whom our hope is found.

He sits at the right hand of his Father in heaven, waiting for the day he returns for his Bride, the Church. On that day, Christ will take those who confess their hope, trust, and allegiance to the King of kings and LORD of Lords with him to their eternal home in heaven.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

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Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Remember Me

We remember on the day the crucified Christ died alongside two criminals, one of the men mocked Jesus. The man told Jesus, if indeed he was the Messiah sent to save the world, Jesus should save himself and the man who hung beside him as well.

The other criminal recognized Jesus as the sinless Christ. God’s Only Son. Savior. Redeemer. Messiah.

This man admitted he deserved to die for his sins, but Jesus didn’t.

Acknowledging who Jesus was, this second man asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.

Upon hearing the man’s confession of faith, Jesus assured the man he would be remembered. Jesus said he would be with Christ in Paradise that very day.

Although Jesus accepted the sins of both men upon his perfect sinless self; the one who believed and the one who mocked, only one of the men would be with Jesus in Heaven.

One of the criminals on the cross recognized the truth of who Jesus is. He admitted his sinfulness deserved punishment. He confessed his belief in Jesus as Lord. Because of that, Jesus gave his solemn promise the man would be in Paradise.

The other man’s lack of faith and sin separated him from Christ.

Jesus died for all so we could have life eternal with him in Heaven. It’s up to each individual to decide whether to accept Christ’s invitation or not.

Jesus paid the debt we could never pay with his life.

The decision we must make is what will we do with that sacrificial gift.

Accept it? Or reject it?

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One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

But the other criminal protested. “Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done one thing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is a solemn promise.” Luke 23:39-43 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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