Christmas Unplugged Part 4: A Stable Condition
On Sunday 17th December at our morning service, we continued our Christmas series 'Christmas Unplugged' with the topic A Stable Condition. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to this, click here.
When I was just 21 years old I was interviewed for a field sales job in Bristol. At the time, I was living in Kent, and so I took the train to Temple Meads Station in Bristol, and there the area sales manager, Alf Mullins, met me. Alf was a very experienced manager, and the best sales trainer that I ever met in the whole of my sales career. In fact it was a meeting that changed my life. During the interview process, Alf established that I had no previous sales experience, I still lived at home with mum and dad, I was immature for my age and very naïve, I had very little knowledge of the products I was selling, and even though I was 21, I only looked about 17 or 18 and I was an introvert: If you had written down what you were not looking for in a candidate, that would have been a description of me. Nevertheless, I was offered the job!
There are parallels to this story with that of the shepherds in Luke’s account of Jesus’ life, chapter 2:8-20. In fact, there are many lessons in this story. Starting at Verse 8:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
Shepherds were considered to be amongst the lowest members of society, often despised by some people. Nevertheless, God chose them (after Mary and Joseph) to be the first people to see Jesus after he was born. God still invites societies’ outcasts to join him in his kingdom.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Many followers of Jesus today are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. It could be to give more financially to God’s work, or to give more time, or to tell others about Jesus. Nevertheless, trusting him, that’s what he wants us to do.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
The good news (gospel) is for everyone. You, me, your neighbour, everyone, everywhere!
Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Today is the key word. The bible tells us elsewhere that “Today is the day of salvation”. The implication is, commit yourself and your life, now! Don’t put it off to tomorrow.
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
God still gives us signs today, but are we just too busy to see or hear them? Do we look for signs, do we expect signs, and do we ignore them?
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
I love the attitude that the shepherds display. They have heard from God’s messenger, and their response is, let’s go, let’s do it! We can learn a lot from that.
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Having heard from the angel, seen the baby and understood the message, they immediately “spread the word”. Surely this is a challenge to us to tell our friends and neighbours about Jesus? What are we waiting for?
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Another challenge: to read the word of God – The Bible. Check it out, daily. It will be just as God has told us, and that’s one guarantee that we can be certain of.
The lesson I like most though is that when they returned, their circumstances were still the same. They were still shepherds, the lowest of the low, and they still had a low wage, unsociable, smelly job. Nothing had changed (externally), Nevertheless, having met Jesus, everything had changed (internally), and they just couldn’t help glorifying and praising God. You see, once they had met with Jesus on that holy night, they were not the same – ever, I suspect.
Perhaps your circumstances have been very difficult this year? They could be financial, relationships, job, health or something else. The truth is that some of us have never had the experience that the shepherds had. Some of us have had that experience, but it was a long time ago, and some of us are looking forward to it happening soon! My prayer is that each one of us will meet with Jesus, TODAY, and that we will know and be able to say whatever has happened, whatever is happening or whatever happens in the future – Nevertheless, Jesus!
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. What more, if anything could you do to help those in society who need help? (Homeless, beggars,)
2. What stops you from trusting God more when it comes to financial giving, your time, and your talents, telling others about Jesus?
3. What are you putting off doing for God? What are you waiting for?
4. Are you looking for from God, and are you expecting them?
5. Are you doing what you know God wants you to do? What stops you? Do you have a “let’s do it” attitude, or is it more, “let’s wait and see”?
6. When was the last time that you talked to someone about Jesus?
7. Are you reading the bible daily? If not, what can you do to make it happen? Is it worth the effort?