The Greatest Gift Ever Given!

Angels singing Glory to God

Luke 2:8-20 NLT That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 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! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.

Can you imagine how quiet it must have been in that dark night after the sheep had been bedded down and the shepherds were relaxing from a day of caring for their flocks? When SUDDENLY…..an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the night sky lit up with the radiance of God’s glory! In just a twinkling of an eye their whole world changed from dark to light! That’s what happens in a person’s life when God’s glory shows up! Jesus is the glory of God in human form. His message of hope was shared with a group of shepherds. This was the greatest birth announcement ever made and it wasn’t given to kings or priests; it was given to lowly shepherds; those who, as an occupation, cared for sheep.

The first thing the angel said to the shepherds was “don’t be afraid”! In every visitation that we’ve seen from an angel that came to give a message to someone from God regarding the birth of Jesus we’ve heard “don’t be afraid”, or “do not fear”. God’s love casts out all fear. Fear is not from God, it comes as a message from the evil one who is the instigator of all negative forms of fear. The reverential fear of God is what comes from God; it is a respect, a reverence for who God is to us that causes us to love what He loves and hate what He hates. But fear that causes terror within the heart of a person comes from our enemy, the devil. The angel was instructed to tell the shepherds to not fear because God is the God of love.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

1 John 4:16-18 NLT We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us. We love each other as a result of his loving us first.

It has been said that there are 365 “fear nots” in the Word of God; one for each day of the year. God does not want His children to be afraid and especially not when they are encountering Him, or communing with His Spirit or having a visit from an angelic messenger. If fear is present when you are having a spiritual encounter with the Lord, it may be another spirit other than God’s Spirit. We are instructed in 1 John 4:1 to test the spirits to make sure they are of God.

1 John 4:1 NKJV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NwaiAMPtHs

Immediately after the angel gave the shepherds the message from God the night sky became aglow with the heavenly host singing praises to our God! “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Christmas is not about giving and receiving presents, although we celebrate His birth through giving gifts to others. But Christmas is about Jesus! He is the Center of Christmas! He is the reason that we celebrate! Glory to God for sending Jesus to save mankind from their sin! Jesus came to bring peace on earth; peace between God and man and relationally to men with each other. When the Prince of Peace comes to live in the hearts of men we will see the ultimate peace on earth that Jesus came to give us. When we receive Him as Savior and Lord we experience peace with God that dispels all fear and gives us the hope for a bright future filled with His goodness!

Know Jesus, know peace

Know Jesus—know peace! No Jesus—no peace!

The next thing that we see happening in the life of the shepherds on that night when an angel of the Lord came to tell them of the birth of the King was that they acted on His word. We can hear the word of God spoken to us through His messenger but it’s not really ours or appropriated into our lives until we act on it. They could have heard what the angel said and rejoiced in what they heard but it was made more real to them when they acted on it by going to see the baby of which the angel had spoken. When we act on His word we are stepping out in faith saying, “I believe it and I receive it as God’s word for me in my life right now”! James calls that action as being a person who is not just hearing the word of God but doing it!

James 1:22-24 NLT And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

The Word of God is exponentially multiplied in your life when you hear AND do it. When you read or hear it you receive one level of power from it, but when you add to it the doing then the reality of it is multiplied to you and change comes into your life. We are changed by what God says to us. His word changes our hearts and lives. We are changed from the ways of the world to know the way God thinks through the renewing of our minds to His word. (Romans 12:2) The shepherds lives were changed that night by what the angel of the Lord said to them and through their obedience to go see the baby for themselves.

When the shepherds heard the word from the angel and went to see the baby Jesus they couldn’t contain their excitement and had to go tell what they had heard and seen! When we have an encounter with the living God we are compelled to tell others about Him. We want to share what He has placed in our hearts; we want to give away the salvation that He has given us so others can know Him as well. The shepherds told everyone what had happened to them and what the angel had said to them about his child.

Luke 2:18, 19 NLT And all who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.

They had to tell others about Jesus! When you’ve had a great experience in your life you want to share it with others. It is natural to let what is on the inside of you flow out to those around you. The greatest story ever told is the story of Jesus!

And the last thing that we see taking place in the lives of these shepherds is that they went back to their flocks praising God for what the angel had told them and having seen the child, just as the angel had said. The outflow of an encounter with the Lord Jesus is praise! When we draw close to Him through a living and vital relationship with Him the natural thing to do is praise Him! Our spirit connects with the Holy Spirit within us and the automatic outflow is that of praise! God fills your life with praise for Him!

Have you had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, or do you simply know Jesus as the baby in the manger? Have you seen Him as Savior and Lord or just a little baby, helpless and defenseless? If you want to see Him as Your own personal Savior and Lord, just ask Him into your heart today and He will come in and save you and give you a new life, filled with His presence.

Father, I pray for those today who may want to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. I pray that they will open their hearts to You and ask You into their lives to change them and give them a reason to continue living. For those who are depressed I pray that they will allow the Prince of Peace to come into their lives and bring peace in the midst of their sorrow. I pray that they will ask You to save them and give them new life. I pray that the eyes of the blind will be opened today to see Jesus in all His glory! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

~If you want to know more about receiving Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord, please go to my page titled “The Road To Salvation”.  There you will find instructions on how to pray to receive Jesus as your Savior.

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The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23:1-6 AMP

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

I love the way the Amplified Bible expounds on the verses of Psalm 23. It clarifies so well the role of the shepherd to the sheep. Jesus said in John 10:11: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep.

John 10:14: I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize me–

The Shepherd leads, guides, feeds and shields the sheep. He watches over them all the time to make sure that every need that they have is taken care of. He leads them to areas of nourishment where they will flourish and find peace.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, restores our souls. Through His very own life that He laid down for us, He made provision for every need that we have. He continues to watch over and provide for us. We have no lack in Him. There are times when we walk through dark times, but He is always there to lead us out into the light. His very presence assures us of His love and provision. Fear has no place in us when we realize and rely on His presence. It is only as we feel that we are in this alone that fear can take up residence within us.

The Shepherd’s rod was there to drive off the wild animals that would try to attack the sheep. His staff was used to pull a wayward sheep back into the fold. The anointing oil was applied to the sheep’s head so the flies couldn’t lite on their heads and get up in their nose and ears to lay eggs. If the flies laid eggs in a sheep’s head when the eggs hatched they would crawl up into the brain and literally eat the sheep’s brain. The sheep would go crazy butting it’s head on the rocks trying to get the pain to stop. The Shepherd protected the sheep however it was needed.

One of the names for Satan is Beelzebub, which means “lord of the flies”. Satan throws thoughts at people like darts that, when they have pierced the mind, bring turmoil and torment to the mental realm. It is as we are anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit that our minds are soothed and calmed. We are responsible for renewing our mind to the Word of God so we can identify the lies of the enemy and cast those thoughts down before they have time to sink in and do their damage. The mind truly is the battlefield, but if we will allow Jesus, our Good Shepherd to give us His salvation the Holy Spirit then can anoint us and help us protect our minds.

1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

The Holy Spirit helps us understand the Word; He is our teacher and through the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit we grow in spiritual understanding. It protects our minds from deception as we learn to listen and rely on the Holy Spirit and His anointing.

2 Corinthians 1:21,22: Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd now sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, but He sent His Spirit to live within each believer. As we receive Him the Holy Spirit fills the empty places within us and seals us in Him. His anointing is like the anointing oil that the Shepherd uses to ward off the flies; it protects our minds as we yield to Him. Our Good Shepherd has made provision for our whole person; spirit, soul and body. We are His; evidenced by the Holy Spirit within.

 

Father, I thank you for Jesus, our Good Shepherd. I thank You for sending Him to die for us; to give us new life as we give our hearts to Him. And Father, I thank You for Your Spirit that has come to live in us as we yield our lives to You. Father, fill us to overflowing today with Your Spirit that we might experience Your presence, Your power and Your anointing. I pray for my friends this morning, Father, that You would visit them in the power of Your Spirit, lifting them to new places in You, Lord. Give them revelation knowledge of Who You are and want to be in them. Show them, Father, that it is only in You that they experience life and that more abundantly. Help them to overcome by yielding to Your love, faith, hope and peace. Give them joy unspeakable and full of glory as they pray and yield to You. Thank You, Father, for touching the sick with Your healing hand, for providing for those who are experiencing lack and for visiting the lonely with Your love and presence. They need You, Lord, for only in You can we find provision for our needs. Thank You, Father. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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