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Angel Encounter: Shepherds

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Series looking at the main characters of the Christmas story. Mary, Joseph, and today these shepherds. Each encounter the angel had to remind them DO NOT FEAR…fear not. We are tempted to think that the angel’s presence brought fear. But in reality, the angel’s presence REVEALED fear in them.
We talked about Mary’s fear being rooted in a sense of inadequacy. We talked about how it’s a normal response to feel inadequate when God calls us to something.

The outcomes are God’s responsibility; obedience is ours.

But if he calls us to it, then we can trust that God is doing something; all we need to do is follow him and leave the outcomes to Him. we don’t need to worry about what will happen… when we are following, that is all that matters
Joseph’s encounter with the angels came at a time when he was was about to miss what God was going to use him to do.

Ordinary obedience precedes extraordinary acts of God.

If you remember Joseph was about to divorce Mary, unable to believe that the Holy Spirit had done what in fact the Holy Spirit had done; reminding us again that Extraordinary acts of God are preceded by ordinary obedience. Christmas is an invitation to be a part of God’s plan and purpose, will we follow?
Today, just for a moment, I want us to look at these shepherds and their angel encounter, but first, I want to explore how fear and Christmas are related and the best place I could think of was Charlie Brown and Lucy.

VIDEO

Why shepherds?

In
Shepherds were the underclass… blue collar… not as religious as they could be…some describe them as despised in culture, but that probably referred to the cultural leaders.
Shepherd was the vocation of spiritual leaders in OT; Moses, Jacob, David
Shepherd was the image of of God’s role with his people.
Jesus came to Shepherds, because those were his people.

Why Fear?

Fear of the unknown
Fear came the first Christmas to the Shepherds when the angel appears. For the shepherds, this fear was about experiencing something unknown.
Shakinah. The glory of God isn’t something that many people this side of heaven get to experience. If you remember in the OT, Moses covered his face and still got sunburned when he experienced the Shikinah Glory of God.
This wasn’t normal.
Look what happened though, as soon as the Shepherds heard why the Glory of God was there, their fear went away.
It wasn’t the extra normal reality of it, it was the fact that it was an unknown experience.
Life is like that, when we are faced with the unknown, fear enters in.
It may be the doctors report. The late night call. When we haven’t heard from a loved one who was supposed to call. When our boss says meet me in my office at 9 without explaining.
it’s not the call from the doctor, the phone ringing, silence, or meeting our boss that causes fear.... it’s the context - we don’t know why we are experiencing what we are experiencing.
Dare I say that Christmas should produce fear in our lives.
But the shepherds found the solution to fear.
Shepherd was the vocation of spiritual leaders in OT; Moses, Jacob, David
Shepherd was the image of of God’s role with his people.
Jesus came to Shepherds, because those were his people.

LINUS VIDEO

Do not be afraid

Linus dropping his blanket… security blanket, couldn’t get him to let it go.
Dropped it willingly… without even thinking about it when Jesus arrived
Because

Faith in Jesus overcomes fear in everything else.

"Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying through this, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant. The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears… The birth of Jesus allows us to … drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to [God] instead. The world of 2020 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be…2020 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not.” But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found".
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Look back at the shepherds. What happened when the angels left? Did they sit around talking about what had happened, comparing it to the other supernatural things they had experienced in the country?
No, they got up and went to see. They acted on their faith in Jesus.
Psalm 103:13 NLT
13 The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
Proverbs 14:26 NLT
26 Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a refuge for their children.
Proverbs 14:27 NIV
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.
Psalm Look back at the shepherds. What happened when the angels left? Did they sit around talking about what had happened, comparing it to the other supernatural things they had experienced in the country?
Faith enables us to see our lives in proper perspective.
Look back at the shepherds. What happened when the angels left? Did they sit around talking about what had happened, comparing it to the other supernatural things they had experienced in the country?
No, they got up and went to see. They acted on their faith in Jesus.
Faith enables us to keep our future in perspective.
That’s how the NT describes faith; an active belief. And this active faith held their fears and doubts in check.
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