Monday, December 20, 2010

Shepherds Rock!

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, 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 terrified,  but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  Luke 2:8-14

Do you ever wonder why God, the great glorious maker of the universe, chose to announce the birth of His only Son, the Redeemer of mankind and King of the Earth, to a group of smelly, dirty shepherds?? 

Think about it. Shepherds at that time (and probably still today) were considered the lowest of workers. You could probably compare them today to garbage men or street cleaners. It was a very smelly, unskilled job and it certainly didn't command any respect or a decent salary. Shepherds were typically loners who spent weeks and months out tending the sheep. There weren't dressed well, smelled horribly, and probably didn't have an education. Most likely they were not invited to any fancy parties or feasts.

Yet out of all the people around at the time of Jesus's birth, God chose to announce it ONLY to a group of Shepherds!!  To compare with today, imagine Jesus being born in a back alley of some filthy city and God  announcing it to a group of homeless people.  Don't you love it when God does stuff like this? It's so like HIM!

Anyway, there's a few reasons I believe God chose the shepherds and I think we all can learn some lessons from these guys. Especially if you're like me, and you struggle to hear from God.

First of all these shepherds were humble. They had to be. They had nothing to be proud about. They had no real money or possessions, no high positions among the people. God gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud.

Secondly, and equally as important, shepherds weren't busy. The job of a shepherd is simply to watch the sheep. He spends his time guiding them to green pastures then allows them to graze. He makes sure they have fresh water nearby and that they are safe from predators. That's it! So, much of their work is spent alone in peace and quiet not doing much of anything. I imagine shepherds had a lot of time to gaze up at the stars and think about things. They pondered life and if they believed in God, they probably prayed a lot. I'm reminded of King David, who was a shepherd as a young boy. I believe it was on the shepherd's field that David learned to hear from God and to trust God. It was those years of quiet reflection on God's power and goodness that made David into, as God would later call him, "A man after My own heart."  

So you see the shepherds were in the perfect position to actually hear the angel's announcement!  If God had sent angels to the priests in Jerusalem or the rulers in the palaces of Judea, do you think they would have heard them? I imagine, like most of us, the "Important" people were far too caught up in the business of life to actually hear from God.

This revelation really convicted me and really made me wonder how many times has God been talking to me and I haven't heard Him because I'm far too busy and caught up in the things of this world?  Maybe you've been asking God for an answer to something or you've been praying for something for a long time and God wants to answer you, to reassure you that He's working on it.. but every time He tries, your ears are closed.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss hearing from God. That would be the worst tragedy of my life. We certainly can't stop doing all the things we need to do, but perhaps we can rearrange our priorities a bit and spend some time just sitting and doing absolutely nothing but thinking of God and waiting for Him to speak. I'm really going to try and do this, and I urge you to set aside time each day for quiet reflection. My bet is that eventually God will show up Big time.

Who knows? We might be the ones to receive the announcement of His Second coming!


  1. Monday, Dec 20th,
    Morning, MaryLu.
    Well ... what can I say ... "but, yet another timely Word in due season" !!! Oh, to have the heart and mind of a 'lowly and humble shepherd' ... to be open, and ready to listen/hear from God. I"m so thankful and grateful, that God works in the ways He does .... it totally confounds the proud and haughty !!! Let me 'put on my listening ears' .... I want to hear from God !!!
    Thanks, MaryLu.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Wow, Marylu...........Wow.
    May I ask? Do you get these revelations from God or do you get outside help from various places? You truly have a calling in writing, not only in novels, but devotionals. Maybe you should consider writing a book of devotionals once in a while. Spread your wings and fly!!!! *hugs*

  3. His sheep know His voice. I live on a farm and my sheep know me. My voice, my presence, the expectancy that I'm going to give them grain. I would have loved to have been a shepherdess in Bible times. So many people in the Bible heard from God and got there calling while out in the wilderness. That was where God was preparing them. I'm expecting to hear from God.
    P.S. The picture makes me happy

  4. Yes, Brenda, isn't God so incredibly awesome the way He chooses to do things? It's usually the opposite of the way I would do something.
    Thank you Debbie, for your kind words. Most of these posts come from things God pops in my head while I'm reading my Bible. A few come from sermons I've heard. Mainly, I just want to be a blessing and encouragement to others.. and to myself (cause I need it!)
    So, cool that you live on a farm and can truly understand about the relationship between sheep and shepherd. I love the way God describes how we will only follow the Great Shepherds voice!

  5. Woah, woah woah. Love this post!! Never thought of shepherds to be like homeless people in our culture. We glamorize so much about the Christmas story, it's great to reflect on what it really meant. Also LOVE your thoughts on hearing God's voice. I do spend time daily listening and journaling. Since I have to resting a lot, it feels really special that maybe I'll be one of those who hears about his 2nd coming. Thanks again for your thought here, ML.

  6. What if there's no quiet place? Outside it's so cold you could freeze to death, inside you have family that cannot be quiet for a minute, and you have no means of getting to a quiet place? Your room is empty, but you can hear everything from the other rooms? The cellar is dark and cold and you don't even want to know what else is down there.
    I also suffer with relationship addictions, I think; I always have to be near someone. Of course, my mood disorder certainly doesn't lift me up, either. The episodes of depression are the worst; you can never feel farther from the Lord at that moment.
    For me, it's like, there's no quiet place...
    Also when you have no one in your home encouraging you in your faith, instead they cut you down, who is there to help you?
    ~Abigail =[
    (My comment wasn’t to complain, I Just have so many questions with no one to answer them).

  7. I'm so sorry Abigail. I sometimes have the same problem. No where to go to be alone. If you can't go outside, why not try the bathroom? Take a long bubble bath and talk to the Lord while you're soaking. I've spent many a time with the Lord in the bathroom because it's often the only place I can be alone. OR why not put on some headphones and some music on low and just talk to the Lord then?
    Depression is the worst thing and it's from the enemy. The cure that works for me is forcing myself to write down everything I'm thankful for and then taking some time to praise God for each one. The Bible says to use the weapon of praise for the spirit of Despair. Believe me, it works.
    Remember the enemy doesn't want you to talk to God. He'll do everything in his power to keep you from it. Especially if you feel the need to be around others all the time, this will be hard for you. But I'm not talking about hours.. try just getting away for 5 minutes at a time.. maybe 2 or 3 times a day.. just try that to start out with. You'll be glad you did. I'm praying for you, Abigail!! God loves you and He wants to hang with you. :-)

  8. This is a very interesting perspective! I really love to try to understand the emotions and stories of people in the Bible better, but with stories like Christmas and Easter that are oversimplified and transformed by our culture, I find it harder to do so. Your post about the shepherds really helped me! :-)

    @ABIGAIL...I used to have a hard time finding a place to communicate with God, too, especially because many of my family members are not supportive either (they're Christians, but hold to a more "conservative" faith where they don't believe that God still speaks to us and is not very involved in our lives). So I finally figured out that if I wanted to talk to God and listen to His voice, I'd have to do it when I went into the bathroom, when I was driving places, when I was lying in bed after everyone else was already asleep, etc. I don't know if any of these would specifically work for you, but the key is to find little segments of time to talk to Him. It's not as optimal as long periods of uninteruppted time, but it's definitely better than not doing it at all. And when you said that there is no one there to help you in your faith, Psalm 54:4 popped into my head "Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul." I can't imagine how hard it would be to live without any other Christians to support you in your faith, but please know that God is our Rock, our Stronghold, our Redeemer - He can support you better than any person can, and He loves you more than life itself (literally!).

  9. Thank you MaryLu and Sapphire. This is very helpful.
    Also, I didn't mean that they're not Christians, they're just not...supportive? They hardly ever talk to me about God. He's not as big a part of our family life as He should be. Sometimes I feel like they're not Christians, just because they mention Him mostly just on Sundays, or a comment here and there. It's like they want Him to be, they just get caught up in everything else. (They are in no way abusive). My grandparents and aunts are the most supportive. I also have a youth pastor that is super helpful. My at-home family, I feel like could be much more supportive concerning faith.
    I took both of your comments seriously, and I promise to try them. I am going to print them out, and read them when these issues come up -- definitely.
    Thank you again,
    ~Abigail =D

  10. Abigail, it's good that you do have some strong Christians around you with your grandparents, aunts and youth pastor. I'm sorry about your immediate family. I would suggest praying for them daily, that their love for God would grow and that they would come to know Him more and more each day. Glad we were able to help you... God Bless!