An Advent Mini-Minute with Pam: Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter?
Week Three: The Shepherds. Joy
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…”
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!”
“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.”
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.”
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
What About You?
Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter? Join the conversation in the comments below.
Do you need encouragement in your walk with God?
Awaiting His shout,
Christian Life Coach
Leading from Your Strengths Mentor