Gracefully Truthful


Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 2:1-18
Isaiah 9:2-7
John 3:16-17
Psalm 19
Psalm 105:1-4

God is more patient than my deadlines, I think. But is that true? 

He’s certainly more forgiving, yet it feels wrong to prioritize other tasks, delaying prayer and worship until urgent responsibilities are handled. Maybe what I’m calling “urgent” isn’t as significant as precious time with the Lord. 

I’m just so tired. Do I need a wake-up call to jump start my stalled spiritual life? I truly love Him with everything in me, but sometimes it feels like I’m treading water as life’s waves roll around me. Help me, God? 

I wonder how these words in my journal will leave the page and jump into daily life. Will this be the year I remember the sacred wonder of the Christmas season, instead of letting it be buried by busyness?

The shepherds, whose encounter with Jesus is described in Luke 2:1-20, knew about being focused on work. After all, caring for sheep is a 24/7 gig. They probably got sleepy, too. I mean, how exciting can it possibly be to watch a flock in the middle of the night? Or perhaps the chill of the spring air kept them alert so that they could fend off any wolves creeping out of the darkness. Either way, it was an ordinary, uneventful night. 

Until it wasn’t. God interrupted mundane routine with a spectacular announcement unlike anything the shepherds had ever seen. He moved their hearts to move their feet into Bethlehem, so they could worship the newborn Messiah.

Their encounter with God’s glory wasn’t merely about the angelic display in the field, incredible as it was. The ultimate Glory was wrapped in cloth, lying in a box of hay, and probably a little fussy when He got hungry or needed changed. Moments in His presence relegated the sheep, which usually consumed their lives, an afterthought as the shepherds raced to spread the news through the streets of Bethlehem. 

Of course, those sheep did still need them, so they eventually returned to the field. But it was with hearts full of worship as they continued to glorify and praise God. Their rejoicing overflowed, and they shared the joy of the Lord with everyone around them.

Each Christmas, we sing,
“Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.
Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!” 
(Go Tell It On The Mountain)

We’re invited to join the shepherds’ proclamation, 
but it doesn’t start with shouting words from a high place. 
It doesn’t even begin with hearts full of joy. 

It starts with quiet moments in the presence of the Messiah.

“While shepherds kept their watching 
o’er silent flocks by night, 
behold, throughout the heavens 
there shone a holy light.”

The sleepy shepherds received quite a wake-up call. My vivid imagination isn’t big enough to truly picture the angelic array, but I hear the shepherds tell their story through Scripture. They point to the many ways God is tapping on my shoulder to get my attention, whether by seeing His hand at work in my struggles or through displays of His splendor in a sunrise. The sky proclaims His handiwork indeed. (Psalm 19:1)

“Down in a lowly manger 
the humble Christ was born, 
and God sent us salvation 
that blessed Christmas morn.”

He calls us into His presence. We remember the manger and the cross, His life and His death, every moment a part of His gift of salvation. When we’re near to Jesus, we are overwhelmed by the magnitude of His love. He fills our hearts just as He filled the hearts of the shepherds with uncontainable joy. Gifts are for giving, and, like the shepherds, we are compelled to proclaim the goodness of the Lord in the streets and from the mountaintops with all who will listen.

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
proclaim his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell about all his wondrous works!
Boast in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!”
(Psalm 105:1-3)

Many of us don’t often climb mountains. When we sing the familiar chorus of Go Tell It On the Mountain,” we often imagine a grand declaration in a special place. However, to the shepherds, mountains were familiar terrain. After their morning in Bethlehem, they returned to their own neighborhood and brought the life-changing good news with them. They truly went “over the hills and everywhere” telling folks about Jesus.

Where is our home terrain, our “hills and everywhere”?
Wherever we find our community is where we proclaim the Gospel.

We honor the sacred holiday by telling people we meet Jesus Christ is born, and why. Maybe we’ll use words, perhaps tell the story, or we might best communicate in kind acts with God’s compassion. There’s no truer way to celebrate Christmas than by following in the footsteps of humble shepherds, sharing the most amazing gift we’ve ever received. 

It all starts with Emmanuel, God With Us. (Isaiah 7:14) He’s with us through busy responsibilities with their varying levels of urgency. He will help us make time to pause for heartfelt worship, learning to understand how much He matters. Perhaps we’ll be able to see His glory that surpasses illuminated heavenly hosts and is found in His presence alone

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