Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dialoging with Jesus

Dialoging with Christ
Scripture Reading: John 4:1-38
Then the woman of Samaria said to him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.  (John 4:9 NKJ)
Have you ever carried on a dialog with the Lord Jesus concerning matters of upmost importance? Of course you have! Every believer at some point in his or her life has brought questions, issues, circumstances, relationships, disappointments, grievances, or other requests to the Lord seeking answers and solutions. The dialog usually begins with question words such as: Why? What? How/ When? Where? Are? Does? Would? 
     Many passages in both the Old and New Testaments contain dialogs with God or his Son, Jesus Christ. For Example:
     Abraham carried on a dialog with the angel of the Lord concerning the people in Sodom and Gomorrah, “Would you destroy the righteous with the wicked?
     Miriam and Aaron’s dialog against Moses began with, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us too?’ And the Lord heard it. (Nu. 12:2)
     Gideon’s dialog with the angel of the Lord began with, “O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? (Jud. 6:13)
     Satan’s dialog with God about Job began with an accusatory question, “Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? (Job 1:10)
     The Samaritan woman’s question at Jacob’s well began a dialog over a simple drink of water and the Jew’s relationship to the Samaritan’s but escalated into a discussion over her spiritual emptiness and her need for life giving water. The woman’s estimation of Jesus grew from a simple Jew, to a prophet, and then to a Savior. She left the conversation with the assurance that Jesus was the Messiah.

     When was the last time you carried on a dialog with Jesus? Do you have a troubling question? Take it to the Lord—nothing is too difficult for him. Are you facing a life changing decision? A relational problem? A family issue? A physical need? A job related decision? An uncertain future?  A financial dilemma? Jesus is waiting to dialog with you. He welcomes your questions? There is no problem too great, no issue too complicated, no circumstance too severe, no question too out of order, and no need too great that he can’t meet it. Jesus not only has the answer, but he is the solution to our every need. Trust him! Depend upon him! Go to him! Seek him out—he is right beside you waiting for your call. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Unwanted Gift

The Young Maiden
Read: Luke 1:26 – 38
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!” You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.”  (Luke 1:30-31 NLT)
            The first promise of a redeemer took place when God passed judgment on
the serpent (Satan) in Genesis 3:15.  God said to the serpent,
“Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals, cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life.  I’m declaring war between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers.  He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”  (The Message)
The fall of man caused a separation between God and man.  Isaiah says, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.  Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”  (Isa. 59:2 NLT)  The only way to repair the damage done by the disobedience of Adam and Eve was for God himself to come down from heaven in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ and offer himself as a blood sacrifice for the sins of mankind. 
To fulfill the plan of redemption, God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in search of a young maiden by the name of Mary. 
The first question that comes to mind is:  Why Nazareth?   Nazareth was located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee.  It was not known as having any Jewish spiritual significance.  If the Messiah was to be from the tribe of Judah and lineage of David, why not have him born in Judea?  Why would God bypass Jerusalem, the place of the Temple, ignoring the seat of worship?  Nazareth was not on any major highway and was so unpopular that Nathaniel said in his response to Philip, “can anything good come out of Nazareth.”  (John 1:46)
By bypassing royalty, splendor, religiosity, and choosing a common, run-of-the mill town, God was showing that Jesus came for the ordinary – common people. 
The second question is: Why Mary?  Mary was already betrothed to Joseph, a local carpenter.  She was not a person of position, wealth, or culture.  The situation was further complicated by the fact that she was a virgin. 
Luke 1:26-27 says, “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”  (NASB)
A betrothal was not something to be taken lightly.  Most Jewish girls were married by the time they were 15.  Mary was likely 14 or 15 when the angel Gabriel appeared to her.  Can you imagine God placing his divine son in the hands of an inexperienced mother? 
Think of the humiliation and shame if Joseph chose to publicly divorce the young maiden.  It was vital that the marriage be consummated in order to legitimize the child’s birth and inheritance. 
Mary’s response to Gabriel revealed her faith, humility, character, and courage.  Her youth and inexperience did not get in the way of God’s plan.  I’m sure Mary must have wondered – how can I become pregnant not knowing a man!  In order to ease Mary’s doubts and fears the angel said to her, “Nothing shall be impossible with God.”  (Luke 1:37)

This is a statement that calls for faith in action.  How many times have you faced obstacles that seemed impossible to overcome, but through faith and perseverance victory came?  God’s timing is always perfect – we need patience to wait for it.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thanksgiving is the Heat of Worship

Thanksgiving is the Heart of Worship
“Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.” (Judges 5:3 NKJ)
Who can deny that singing is a vital part of worship? Many of the songs recorded in the Old Testament were sung as a means of celebration. The song of Miriam celebrated the crossing of the Red Sea, and the song of Deborah and Barak celebrated the victory over the Midianites. The songs sung by David and others in the Psalms centered on praise and victory over enemies.
     Worship is a time to praise and thank God for his victories over our struggles in life. Everyone faces battles. These conflicts or skirmishes with the forces of evil can sap our energies unless we remain in a constant state of worship. All of us face some kind of daily struggle whether it be: a battle against cancer, a battle to save a marriage relationship, an effort to hold on to a job, a struggle against depression, how to discipline a wayward child, or ability to meet financial obligations. Everyone has battles!
     James wrote: “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything” (Jas. 1:2-4 NLT).
     When victory was handed to Israel, Deborah responded with worship. She and Barak lifted up their voices in praise and thankfulness to God for his faithfulness in battle. As you read her song, you will notice that Deborah does what all of us should do when claiming victory over the battle we face—namely, focusing upon the source of our victory and recounting the wondrous works of God. This kind of worship honors God, and at the same time boosts our faith to face the next battle.
     When we take our battles to the Lord and see his amazing hand guiding and carrying us through each struggle, how can we not worship him with songs of praise and thanksgiving?

     What victory has God given you? Shout thanks to him! How has God blessed you? Offer up a song praise to him. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Contrast of Wealth

Four Contrasts Between the Shepherds and the Magi
Part Two – The Contrast of Wealth
In our previous devotion we saw the extreme contrast between the social status of the shepherds and the Magi. In today’s writing we continue to see extreme differences, but this time it involves wealth.
     The lowly shepherds were not only despicable outcasts and looked down upon because of their status in society, but they were also on a par with the poor and destitute. They had little or no money of their own and probably owned no more than the sandals on their feet and the cloaks on their backs. Talk about minimum wage! Their pay was even lower than the lowest paid employee. The person who did manual labor digging ditches was paid more than the shepherds. They were so poor that they couldn’t afford a gift to bring to Jesus, so they just brought themselves.
     We have many people in our cities, towns, and villages today who are working several jobs just to keep their families alive. Many do not have the means to buy Christmas gifts for their children, and must rely upon charitable institutions, and the good heartedness of others. Just putting food on the table and a roof over their heads is a daily struggle. We have the same extreme conditions between the rich and the poor in our day as existed between the shepherds and the wise men in the time when Jesus was born.
     The wise men belonged to the rich and famous group. They were wealthy men of untold riches. They did not have to face a daily struggle for survival. They lived in luxury and splendor. Their closets were filled with fancy clothes, designer sandals, and linen undergarments. When they left their palaces in the east to follow the star, it was with a huge entourage. The caravan included many of high estate with a military escort to protect them and their gold.
     A camel’s normal gait is about 3 mph and they can carry a load up to 300 pounds. They can travel 5-7 days without water or rest. A normal day’s travel is approximately 20 – 30 miles. Sitting on the back of a camel is not what I would call a comfortable ride and if it were me I would stop for rest many times in a day. When I used to travel with my wife on a motorcycle we would stop every one hundred miles at a rest area to relax and allow the tightness in my left shoulder to loosen. I have no doubt that these wealthy wise men took plenty of time to make the journey from Persia to Jerusalem. In fact, the context of Scripture seems to indicate that their trip took about one to two years because by the time they reached Bethlehem Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, were living in a house. (Matthew 2:11)
     The shepherds and wise men were as diverse as you could get. The lowly shepherds were living in the fields eating hot dogs and roasting marshmallows over an open fire, while the wise men were feasting at banquet tables filled with wine, caviar and exotic delicacies fit for a king. I can see servants hustling about serving them with great pomp and ceremony.

     The one thing that we see in this extreme contrast is that no matter how rich or poor you are in the eyes of the world—Jesus came for you. The very fact that he came to the shepherds first reveals how much the ordinary people of the world mean to him. At the same time, he did not ignore the wealthy which shows us that He came to seek and save those who were lost and “all who come to him will in no wise be cast out.” (John 6:37)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Contrast between Shepherds and Wise Men--Part One

Part One – Contrast of Social Status
The lowly shepherds who were keeping watch over the sheep were some of the most desperate in society. They were considered among the social outcasts, mistreated, dishonest, crafty, and unscrupulous, whose testimony was not even allowed in a court of law.
     In today’s society they would be on the same social ladder as the homeless, the beggars, the abandoned, and the forgotten. The shepherds of old came from the base elements of society. Most shepherds were considered on a par with gypsies, vagrants, and con men. It is possible that the shepherds mentioned in the gospel of Luke were illiterate men.
     In the Old Testament during the time that Joseph was prime minister of Egypt, the shepherds of Israel were despised by the Egyptians (Gen. 36:34). We also see in 1 Sam. 16:11 that Jesse, the father of David, when questioned by the prophet Samuel about any other children said, “There is still the youngest, but he is out in the field watching the sheep.” That is to say, David has the lowliest job of all my seven sons.
     In spite of their low esteem and position in society, these lowly shepherds were given the task of providing green pasture and protection for the sheep, making sure the one year old male would be keep healthy and pure for the family to offer as their sacrificial lamb.
     In contrast to this scene, we see the wise men in an entirely different light. It is like the difference between day and night. Their social status was viewed as an extreme opposite. They were men of influence, highly respected, and high on the ladder of success. When they came to Jerusalem looking for the birth of the King of the Jews they didn’t stop at a gas station for directions. They went straight to Herod’s palace and were received as VIP’s and given a red carpet reception. A state dinner was held in their honor in the red room of Herod’s white house. 
     The wise men remind me of Daniel’s status while a captive in the city of  Babylon. He was a young Jewish teenager when taken by Nebuchadnezzar and through his ability to interpret the king’s dreams quickly climbed the social ladder until he reached the position of favor next to the king. No one was held in higher esteem than Daniel.
     What this contrast shows you and me is that God is no respecter of persons. He came to reach out with the Good News, to both the great and the small, the lowly as well as the mighty. No one is too far down the ladder or too far up the ladder that he cannot receive the gift of salvation that comes through faith in God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

     I pray that this Christmas each one of you reading this will either accept the gift of salvation that Jesus has offered, or your will re-commit your life to him.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Questions for the Lord

Questions for the Lord
“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manassah, and I am the least in my entire family!” (Judged 6:15 NLT)
Have you ever felt like Gideon? When circumstances begin to overwhelm you and the pressures of decision making saps your resolve, questions may arise in your mind just like they did with Gideon. If the Lord sat down with you for a question and answer session wouldn’t you seize the opportunity to ask a few pertinent questions? Maybe your questions would resemble those of Gideon: Why are you asking me to do this? How can I possibly complete this assignment? Lord, don’t you think you chose the wrong person? Or perhaps your questions would take a different tack: Where will I get the funds to finance this overseas mission trip? How can I support my family without a job? What will happen to our relationship? I’m sure you can pose some questions that cover spiritual, emotional, physical, and relationship issues.
     How does the Lord react to our questions? The good news is that God welcomes our questions. They don’t upset him. He doesn’t get angry when we question our circumstances or his plan for our lives. Look how he responded to Gideon. He didn’t get upset. He didn’t reprimand him. He patiently dealt with each excuse. He didn’t require that Gideon have some super strength or courage. He simply said, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:14 NLT)
     Isn’t it encouraging, to know that we can come to the Lord in worship knowing he is not “bent out of shape” by our questions? He is fully aware that, like Gideon, we often feel weak, discouraged, or overwhelmed in our everyday lives. I believe he wants us to bring our questions, doubts, fears, and issues that plague our minds to him. The Scriptures urge us to bring everything to him in prayer—our praise, our thanks, our doubts, our questions, and yes—even our failures.
     The Lord’s response to you will be the same as it was with Gideon—“I will be with you” (6:16. If God is for us, who can possibly be against us. (Romans 8:38-39).
     Be honest with God. Tell him all that is on your heart. Don’t leave anything out. Nothing is hid from him who knows and sees all things even our very thoughts.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I take great comfort in the fact that you are patient and longsuffering with us. I feel confident and free to come to you with all my needs and desires knowing that you hear and care about me.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Fear Surrounding the Magi's Journey

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Mt. 2:1-2 NLT)
Who were these Magi? Where did they originate? How far was their journey? How long did the journey take? What fears and dangers did they face?
     Let’s investigate these questions and try to put them in some frame of reference:
     Most of our information about the Magi comes from early church traditions. We often assume that there were three wise men because of the three gifts given to baby Jesus. But nowhere is this stated in the Scriptures. As the years passed, the traditions were embellished. By the third century they were given names: Belhesarea, Melichior, and Gathaspa. Later a fourteenth century American tradition identifies them as Bathasar, Melchior, and Gasper.
     The Magi were an old, powerful priestly caste that practiced astronomy as well as astrology. Likely, they would have been familiar with the writings of Balaam the Mesopotamian. (Dt. 23:4)
     Balaam was a prophet whom the king of Moab hired to curse the Israelites on their way to Canaan. But Balaam could only speak what the Lord commanded. Instead of a curse, he prophesied a blessing. One of his interesting prophesies is found in Nu. 24:17, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” The extraordinary star that led the Magi to Jerusalem and on to the newborn king could have been the Shekinah glory of God.
The Journey
     People in ancient times traveled in caravans for protection against raiders and thieves. Since the Magi were wealthy, important, powerful men, it would seem reasonable to assume that they hired a contingent of military men to escort them and their entourage up the Mesopotamian valley and over the desert to their destination. No one in his right mind would attempt such a journey without protection. There was always the threat of attack and fear in such an undertaking. We also know that the desert in that part of the world can produce at any time violent sand storms that make it impossible to travel. It was a long trip that took almost two years to navigate.
     If you’ve been on a long trip with children in the car, you know kind of question you’d be hearing along the way. “Dad, are we there yet?” “Dad, how long before we get there, I’m getting hungry.” “Dad, I’m bored—there’s nothing to do.” Of course, that probably doesn’t happen today since all the kids have games to play on their smart phones. But it happened to me back in the 50s and 60s.
     A stir arose when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem. King Herod, his advisers, and the whole populace were disturbed and alarmed at the sudden appearance of the Magi. Their request of Herod regarding the one “who has been born King of the Jews was a calculated insult to him, a non- Jew who had contrived and bribed his way into that office. When Herod heard about a rival king he called in his priests and scribes to find out where such a one would be born. They consulted the Old Testament Scriptures and found a passage in Micah that stated: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” (NLT)
     Isn’t it amazing how a star led the wise men to Jerusalem and once they arrived, the Scriptures led them to Bethlehem and the house where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were staying.
     One of the things that I learned from this story is that the Word of God is reliable and I can rest assured that God will lead me down the right path if I follow his directions. Therefore, it is paramount that I spend time studying his word on a daily basis

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fear Surrounding the Fianc'e

Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancĂ©, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. As he considered this he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 1:18-20 NLT)
The Biggest Loser reality show has had contestants who were not only grossly overweight, but who harbored unresolved fears. I have watched past shows where a contestant was deathly afraid of heights, and it took a lot of urging on the part of the trainers to convince them to face their fears and overcome them. On the present show one of Jillian’s team members was afraid of water. She couldn’t get him to let go of the edge of the pool. Finally, she just jumped in beside him and coaxed him into letting go and attempting to swim. He did the dog paddle as most beginning swimmers do, but he made it across. What a joyful expression lit up his face and he realized that he had conquered his fear!
     We all face our giants of fear, and the people involved in the birth of Jesus were no exception. In our previous devotions we saw the fear of Mary, the shepherds, the Magi, and Herod. Now, we need to think of the fears that the prospective father Joseph faced.
     If you were in Joseph’s shoes, what kind of fears would you have to face? Would you be fearful of Mary’s young age (she was thought to be in her early teens) to be with child? Would you be fearful knowing that you would be responsible for the baby’s delivery and upbringing? Would you be fearful of the ninety miles journey from Nazareth to the small village of Bethlehem? Then there’s the fear of Mary’s condition (she may have been about eight months pregnant) to make the trip on the back of a donkey over the hilly topography of Israel? What about lodging and food when they get there? When you arrived and found no room in the inn wouldn’t you be afraid?
     The one thing Joseph had in his favor and which he could cling to, were the promises that God gave to him through the angel. He was assured that the baby would be born because he was instructed by the angel of the Lord to name him Jesus, for he would save his people from their sins. (Mt. 1:21) Both Mary and Joseph were given the assurance that Jesus would become very great and would be called the son of the Most High. “And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” (Lk 1:32 NLT)

     All of us have to face the giants of fear. Fear of broken relationships! Fear of loss of job and home! Fear of faded health! Fear of loneliness! These and many other fears we have to deal with on a daily basis. But we have the same promises and assurances that were given to Joseph and Mary. They trusted in God and enjoyed the fulfillment of God’s promises. You and I can do the same as we cling to Jesus by faith. Through the many years I have known the Savior, he has been faithful in keeping his promises to me. The same can be said of each of you. Let us renew our commitment to him this Christmas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fear Surrounding the Birth of a Child - Part Two

Fear Surrounding the Birth of a Child
Part Two
“Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.” (Mt. 2:16-17 NLT)
Herod the Great came to power in Israel when the Roman Senate proclaimed him “King of the Jews” in 40 B.C. Herod had two significant attributes: (1) absolute loyalty to Rome, and (2) political prowess, which he exercised with extraordinary brutality. He did not hesitate to execute several of his own sons when he suspected them of plotting against him. He also murdered his wife, the Hasmonean Marlamne. He was both paranoid and fearful. Herod was adroit at currying favor with his Roman masters, especially Augustus and Agrippa, the Roman governor of the eastern provinces.
     Matthew Chapter 2 relates the story of the arrival of the Magi from the east. They inquired as to the birth of the newborn king of the Jews. They said, “We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Mt. 2:2) When Herod heard this he was deeply disturbed. Since he was paranoid and suspicious by nature, Herod’s fear grew when he heard the wise men speak of a newborn king of the Jews. Wasn’t he declared “King of the Jews?” Is there another person born who would grow up and threaten to take over his throne? He could not stand to have any opposition. It is said that he had secret police that circulated among the people to report any scuttlebutt about uprisings. It was certainly within his power and a part of his devilish way of thinking to have anyone executed who stood in his way. At the moment he heard this news, he was devising a plan to get rid of any opposition. In order to execute what was in his fearful mind he tried to trick the wise men by pretending to find the newborn so he could worship him. However, nothing was further from the truth.
     He called in his priests and scribes to find out where this child would be born. They consulted the Scriptures and found the answer in Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” NLT) Having heard where the newborn king of the Jews would be born, the wise men made haste to Bethlehem and found Joseph, Mary, and the child living in a house. After paying homage and presenting their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, but to travel home another way. Joseph was also warned to flee to Egypt because Herod intended to kill the boy.
     When Herod learned that the wise men had outwitted him he was furious with rage. He sent soldiers with instructions to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under. (Mt. 2:16)

     Christmas that year was a time of great rejoicing, but, at the same time a day of deep sadness, mourning, and remorse. As you celebrate the birth of our newborn King, remember the many Jews who have lost their lives to the many evil Herods in the world today.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fear Surrounding the Birth of a Child

Fear Surrounding the Birth of a Child
Part One
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! (Lk. 2:8-9 NLT)
There is a certain element of fear involved at the birth of a child. At some point during the pregnancy questions enter a woman’s mind such as: Will I have a healthy baby? Will he or she be a normal child? Will the delivery be long or short? Will I carry this child for the full term?
     Our first boy came right on schedule. He was born on the exact day and time that the doctor had predicted and was a healthy well developed baby weighing in at 7 lb. 11 oz. I remember the joy and relief we felt at his birth. The same could not be said for our other five children. Our second child, a boy, was born four months premature and lived for only about 12 hours in an incubator. Since he lived for a short period of time we had to give him a name (Donald) and arrange for his burial which the U.S. Navy took care of. We don’t know where he was buried, nor have we ever seen his grave, but we are assured from God’s word that we will see him when we get to heaven. (2 Sam. 12:23) Three of the four remaining children were born prematurely and weighed in at a little over 5 pounds.. All of these premature births caused anxiety and fear even though we were trusting in the Lord for their safety.
     I wonder if the same kind of questions entered Mary’s mind as she carried the Messiah in her womb. The Bible tells us that she was “confused and disturbed” when the angel Gabriel first appeared to her and her first question was, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.” (Lk. 1:29 and 34)   I am sure other fearful questions entered her mind: What will Joseph think when he finds out? What will he do? Will he get rid of me? Will I become an outcast? Will I be accused of adultery and be stoned to death? 
     Mary did the same thing that Elaine and I did during the birth of our children.  She said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.” (Lk. 1:38a NLT)
     The next occasion for fear came out on a darkened hillside. Shepherds were standing night watch over a flock of sheep. Suddenly, an angel stood in their midst and the sky lit up in a blaze of the Lord’s glory. They were overtaken with fear. How would you feel if you were sitting around a fire with your cloak wrapped around you because of the cold night air, and an angel popped up beside you? Wow! That’s reason enough to be scared to death.
     The angel told them the good news that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. After the shepherds’ fear subsided, they said to one another, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Lk. 2:15 NLT)
     They raced into the village and found Mary and Joseph residing in a stable with the Messiah Jesus lying in a manger. How excited they must have been as they gazed down upon the Savior of the world. Their terrible fear that they had experienced out by the fireside had now turned to reverential fear as they stood in awe at the scene before them. I have no doubt that this was a life changing moment for the lowly shepherds also. Their lives would never be the same again. They left and hurried to tell everyone the good news.

     As you and I revisit once again the birth of our Savior, let us show our reverential fear by sharing with our friends and neighbors the Good News that salvation has come.