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Week Three: The Shepherds. Joy

An Advent Mini-Minute with Pam: Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter?

Week Three: The Shepherds. Joy

Merry Christmas with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter? Unloved. Ignored. Like an outcast? I know I have. You are not alone in that. Many are lost. Many are full of anxiety and afraid Do you think that is how the shepherds in the Christmas story felt?

I don’t know about you, but I need to continually “reboot” my “brain” to “refresh” from what I see and hear day-to-day. The theme this third week of Advent is the Shepherds’ response of Joy. David Jeremiah said: “We are so used to Christmas that we have become dazed by the season, rather than amazed by the REASON.” The shepherds were not dazed. They were most definitely amazed!

These past weeks we have been reminding ourselves about precious real stories of real people in the Bible. They all point us to pieces of the puzzle in the Jesus story. This Christmas season, let’s help make the Bible come alive for those in our orbit. Will we CHOOSE to be alert for those who feel ignored? Maybe there is someone who needs to find their way back into the fold. Jesus is The GOOD Shepherd. If you have welcomed Him into your life as Savior and Lord, then He is YOUR Shepherd. In the Scriptures, Jesus is also called The Lamb of God. He willingly sacrificed Himself. If you have decided to follow Him as your Savior, then He has become your very own personal sacrificial Lamb.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter?

The shepherds in the Christmas story

Our focus—on this third week of advent—is the lonely shepherds on the hillside, caring for the sheep for the temple sacrifices. These shepherds were despised. Uneducated. They were outcasts because of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances and observances. They were dirty and considered spiritually unclean. Unable to enter the Temple to worship on any of the holy days because they were so busy doing the dirty, under-appreciated work on the hillside with the stubborn, sometimes dumb sheep. These outcasts were the exact ones CHOSEN by GOD to be the very first to receive the message that the SAVIOR was born in Bethlehem. Isn’t that just like our God? He often does the opposite of what we might expect.

The shepherds’ duties

It was a physically demanding job. They were continually outdoors in extremes of heat and cold. Perhaps they are wearing coarse woolen coats made from sheep’s wool. Outcasts—yet, they were a vital part of the Jewish economy. They made possible the “temporal” sacrifices in the temple, as all awaited the day of the coming of the “permanent” sacrifice (Jesus). At night, they built a fence around the sheep, and protected the entrance from predators. They made sure the sheep were safe. The sheep knew, recognized, and obeyed the shepherd’s voice.

The shepherd knew each one individually. These amazing men have literally given up their NORMAL way of life—FOR THE SHEEP. They have sacrificed a NORMAL life in order to serve the greater community. They loved their work. These shepherds were caring for and providing the sacrifices for the sins of the people. So, it is no surprise that when the angels appeared to announce the news of the Savior’s birth, they were already alert to anything unusual.

“…there were 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 a sign to you. You will see 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…”

Luke 2:8-13

They believed

They had no doubts. They were initially afraid. (Lots of bright lights in the middle of the night tend to do that to a person!) But when they heard the angel’s news, they believed it!

They didn’t argue with each other or try to explain it away. They simply believed. (That is what the Lord asks of us, as well. When He “appears” to us in any way, He expects us to believe and obey like these lowly outcast shepherds.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter? – Your faith can make a difference!

The “world” doesn’t understand

If you are a fully devoted follower of Jesus, then undoubtedly, there have been times in your life when people thought you were a bit too “religious” or maybe even “wacko”.

“Christ is worth infinitely more than what we see, touch, or gain in this quick and temporal life. He is worth leaving houses, lands, and loved ones. He is worth selling everything for. He is worth the often humiliating wait at the back of the world’s line. The world will look at you with ridicule for whatever it is you gave up for Christ (like the shepherds in Biblical times). BUT, the world won’t see that, in Him, you now stand at the front of the line. Jesus changes everything!”

Anchor devotional

“Heaven will be full of those of whom the world is not worthy. Rejoice to be in that group!” (See Hebrews 11:38)

They acted without delay

When the angels had gone from them back to heaven, they said to each other, “Let’s go!” They believed and acted on that “which the Lord has made known to us.” The Scriptures say that they went “with haste” and that they saw it was true. Sure enough, there was Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger just as they were told. THEN, what did they do?

They JOYFULLY told everybody

“Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning the child.”

John 2:17

And the people marveled about what they were told by the shepherds. Remember. These are introverts. They are smelly.They are not used to being in town or around a bunch of people. They are most comfortable with each other and with the sheep. They are unschooled. Outcasts. Yet, they forget about the fact that they were nobodies. They knew in their “KNOWER” that it was true! They had no doubt. No one could talk them out of what they had personally experienced.

They did not hold back. They were totally in awe and wanted everyone to know. That’s what happens when you meet the Lord personally. You cannot hold back the Good News. What about you? Are you in the before or after state of what the shepherds experienced? Do you know Him personally? What about those you do life with? Do they know your story about when YOU met Jesus? (When you discovered personally that Jesus is who He says He is.)

David Jeremiah asked in his devotional:

“Will you share the true Christmas message this year with those who need to hear about God’s love and forgiveness?”

Back to the shepherds…After all this, what did they do?

They returned to their work

The Lord tells us to “occupy” until He comes (again). We are not to go and hide until He comes back for us. We are to go about out daily duties, BUT always with one eye towards Heaven, WAITING in EXPECTANCY for Him to appear with a shout!

Joy arrived that day. Pray with me

Holy God, thank You for the story of these shepherds who actually witnessed what the angel had told them. It was/is true. And they were jumping for joy. They would never again think of themselves as despised outcasts. They knew they had witnessed that “Heaven came down” that Christmas day. I pray for Your strength today to think clearly, serve creatively, and follow you consistently. Father, You have all authority in Heaven and on earth. Fill my mind with clear convictions that You are in charge. Empower me to stand true to You! Give me an unassuming servant heart like the shepherds. I know that You never ask me to do anything more than You will provide the strength to accomplish. I am so grateful for this season of the year. Thank You, Jesus. You left your palatial home to come down to live with Your creation and show us the way HOME. Never ever let me take that for granted. Never let me take YOU for granted. YOU are AMAZING! Glory, glory, glory! You deserve all Glory, honor, praise and thanksgiving. I want to be a JOY GERM…infecting as many people as possible each day…drawing them to YOU, the reason for our joy!

This week’s verse

“Then, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

Luke 2:20

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

What About You?

Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Advent Week 1 | Week 2

Do you need encouragement in your walk with God?

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Leading from Your Strengths Mentor

Do You Have Test Anxiety?

Have you ever suffered from test anxiety?
There are all kinds of tests. Tests we had for each subject in school. Standardized tests. It is getting to be that time of year for school kids of all ages to take final exams.

There are Real Estate license tests. College entrance tests. Drivers tests. Medical tests. Breathalyzer tests. Etc. Test anxiety is a very real thing for many people. It’s all-consuming and immobilizing. For those who suffer from it, it sucks them down into a black hole of fear and despair.

Feeling turmoil and stress
This season of life on this planet can feel like that sometimes. It seems everything everywhere is in turmoil. Just living your daily life with people, can bring challenges and trials and can feel much like test anxiety. And in a sense, that is exactly what is happening. God gives us “opportunities” to trust Him. God tests us so WE can see how much more we need to grow, judged by our response to the testing. I am thinking of Job in the Bible. He questioned his “friends” and he even wished he had never been born, his testings were so difficult. But the wonderful example Job leaves us is that he never stopped TALKING to GOD. Even when he was confused and in horrible pain and suffering and betrayals from his friends.

It’s hard to concentrate

When we’re going through trials and testings, it can feel overwhelming. We may try to ignore it or we may try to talk ourself out of it. Sometimes we try to drown our sorrows in addictions and bad behavior. Often, we try avoidance by sleeping too much, or maybe we can’t sleep well or long enough each night, which can bring out the worst in us sometimes.

We often then neglect fellowship with God

And that is our biggest error. We become self-focused to the point that we neglect God-time. We neglect the very thing that will make the testing manageable and give us the victory.

It helps to remember this world is not our home

It’s easy to forget that this world is just a temporary residence, while we are in the midst of daily “testing. Yet, in spite of the fear or anxiety, we have a CHOICE to make. We can CHOOSE joy. We can CHOOSE to think before we speak.

We are not victims of our feelings. God has given us the “tools” to rise above the anxiety—to rise above that sense of overwhelm. He says ASK. He says SEEK Him. And then He promises when we seek Him, we WILL certainly find Him! He WANTS to be found by you and me.

CHOOSE this day to focus on God

Choose to be God-focused, rather than problem-focused. Run into the arms of God the Father. He has the answers you need. SEEK HIM in His Word—the Bible—and in prayer.

CHOOSE to TRUST your faithful God

SHOW yourself faithful in the midst of the testing. In the midst of anxiety, He even gives His beloved sleep and peace. He promises,

Ask and you will find Him expectantly waiting for you to come to Him, so He can express His love to you. So he can help you through the testing. The trial. The circumstance.

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

“Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Jeremiah 33:3

Until next time…

Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus.

Related Post: Needing God Desperately

Do you need encouragement in your walk with God?

I offer one-on-one coaching and would love to come alongside you to help you become the woman God created you to be.

Let's Connect!
Awaiting His shout,

Christian Life Coach
Leading from Your Strengths Mentor