Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Angel's Message to the Shepherds

(If you haven't read the December 2 post, I encourage you to scroll down and read it first.)

Ordinary Lives, Holy Callings

Luke 2:8-20, The Message translation

"There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly,God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be aftraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
     At once the angel was joined be a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:
     Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
     Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

     As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
     Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!" 

Please consult your Bible and The Message translation above as you think about these questions.

The first people God chose to hear of Jesus' birth were shepherds, common laborers doing what they were trained to do.
     What insights do you observe about God's character with His choice?
     They were in the midst of their ordinary. How have you experienced God in the midst
          of your ordinary this past week or month. 
The shepherds were given a holy calling, a kingdom sized job. What they were hearing was for all people.
     How did they respond to their task?
     What holy calling has God put in front of you ... in the midst of your ordinary?
          How are you responding?
Consider each phrase of the angel's announcement in verses 10 and 11. (written from NASV)
     What truths about God do you hear in each phrase?
     If this was the totality of what you know about Jesus, what do you know?

     *Do not be afraid
     *I bring you good news
     *great joy
     *which shall be for all people
     *there has been born for you
     *a Savior
     *who is Christ the Lord.

The multitude of angels spoke of peace. Is your understanding of peace in your own world, your family, your church, your community a reality?   
     Jesus is also called the Prince of Peace. 
     Sit with this identity and this offer;invite Jesus to bring his peace to you. 

The peace is offered to those with whom he is pleased. 
     Matthew 17 records the Transfiguration. God identifies Jesus as his beloved son 
           with whom he is well-pleased. God is pleased with us if we are also his children.
          Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is our faith that pleases him.
     As a child of God, what does it look like for you this week to please God?

In the ESV, the three verbs in verses 18 and 19 are "wondered", "treasured", "pondering". 
     As you come to your Bible this week, what will wondering, treasuring and pondering look like for you? Why do you think these particular verbs are used?  

What have you heard from God in this passage?
How will it affect you as we draw closer to Christmas?   

Next Thursday, Christmas Eve, we'll wonder together over the passage know as The Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55.

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