“The Shepherd’s Visit”

December 27, 2016

Awesome Wonder, Monument Valley (Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)

“Awesome Wonder”
Monument Valley
Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)

“The Shepherd’s Visit”

Message summary: Today we will consider the shepherd’s visit to see the newborn Messiah.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15,16).

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Google HomeWhat gifts did you get for Christmas? We both received hand-printed gift certificates from our Amish “grandchildren”. The girls offered to help Brooksyne “clean the house and pull weeds” and the boys offered to help with “whatever needs done”. Now these children have a strong, responsible work ethic and this is a great gift!
However most of our gifts are things, usually something of a materialistic nature. Brooksyne’s biggest gift this year was a little gizmo that looks like an air freshener called “Google Home” which is a voice-activated, internet-connected device. Brooksyne says “Hey Google” and tells Google what she wants her*¹ to do such as play a particular kind of music, check weather, news, our calendar schedule, reminders, shopping list, etc.

Ryobi miter sawThis year my biggest gift is a compound miter saw. I am already putting it to use as a I build railing for our backyard deck. It’s a nifty tool! During our Lord’s working years prior to when He began His ministry (Mark 6:3) I think He would have enjoyed using a tool like this!

But any gift received this Christmas or all other previous Christmases, regardless of its beauty, size, extravagance or even the sacrifice one made to get you the best gift possible, does not even begin to compare with the greatest gift of God giving His Son, which our daily text describes as “this thing”. The reason we can’t even make a comparison is because Jesus is a spiritual, Divine Being, the gift of salvation to mankind. No material treasure can fill the spiritual void within our hearts, though the majority of people spend their entire lives trying to satisfy their spiritual need with material stuff. Only heaven’s treasure, Jesus Christ, sent down to dwell among us can meet the greatest need of every human.

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.'” Earlier this month our pastor visited the Holy Land and shared that, as he looked at the hills around Bethlehem, it occurred to him that these were the very hills the shepherds came from for the first visit. The stunning angelic visit they had just experienced prompted a desire to explore. What a great example of spiritual hunger.

“This thing” – these two bland, non-descriptive words in the text have long intrigued me. What a description! It probably indicates the marvel of the shepherds in seeking to express what they were about to witness. Today when we don’t know or can’t mentally recall the name for something we may say “whatchamacallit” or “thingamajig”. (BTW, both of these words are in the dictionary!)

However “this thing” designated the first human title of the first Christmas and the very first Christmas gift. I suppose, after their encounter with the angel and then the angelic chorus, the shepherds were at a loss for words and had trouble processing the magnitude of what they had just heard and were about to see. The shepherds, surely in a state of wonderment and perplexity, call the blessed event that would impact every generation afterwards for all eternity, “this thing”. Thus the very first human designation for Christmas is “this thing”! *²

The shepherds were blessed to receive this unexpected announcement from extraordinary beings, yet they could not fully picture in their minds just what to expect or the right words to describe this historic event. God did not require the shepherds to be statesmen and thus they could not eloquently describe this incredible moment in history.

“And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” Today let us thank God for “this thing” which the shepherds went to see. The holy Son of God came as a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. That’s the redeeming message on which we must focus and it is the greatest thing! Some are hesitant to witness to others about Christ for fear that their message might not be delivered as eloquently as a studied preacher or gifted speaker. Yes, the words we speak are important but the lives we live may have more meaning when we share of Christ’s redeeming work in the hearts of His people.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we’re so thankful for Jesus whose infant birth took place in a smelly stable and whose bed was a feeding trough padded with stubbly straw and hay. It was certainly not a celebratory setting for the infant born King but we can now see the stable as a composite of this unwelcoming world toward King Jesus. We’re so glad that He was willing to come to earth though He would be rejected by the vast majority from every generation. Yet we gratefully number among those who receive Him as our personal Savior. We thank You that He came to deliver us from our fears and release us from our sins. Through Your own eternal Spirit rule in our hearts today and raise us to Your glorious throne on Your appointed day. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

DonateSpecial Year-end Financial Appeal: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful.

Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

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Make A DonationPlease Note: We also provide this familiar PayPal option due to the convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official tax-deductible receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal. This will open to a page that designates the offering to: “brooksyne@dailyencouragement.net”

Thank you

Stephen & Brooksyne

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
*¹ Google Home has a very realistically sounding female voice

*² Virtually all standard versions use the two words “this thing” in this text. See here.

“The Shepherd’s Song”  Video  Hearts Of Saints

“Angels We Have Heard On High” Video  Laura Story

We both recall a simple chorus we sang early in our Christian journey titled “The Greatest Thing” Video  Mark Pendergrass  This song expresses our priorities as they should be.

“Preacher Revolutionizes Evangelical Thought With ‘Jesus Is The Greatest Gift Of All’ Christmas Sermon”  Another bit of satire from the folks at the Babylon Bee.

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