Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas – Day #14 What Happens in Church…Does NOT…Need to Stay in Church! (Luke 2:1-20)
What Happens In Church…Does NOT…Need to Stay In Church! (Luke 2:1-20)
When we study the first Christmas, we see " And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us" (Luke 2:15). And there was the return: "And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them" (Luke 2:20). The return is especially fascinating. They returned home to their old jobs. They didn't seek new jobs in a new place. They came back to familiar places and familiar faces. Yet, they returned to the old jobs as new men. But how can we be sure they returned as new men? The same way people can tell when our lives have been changed. They thought differently, they behaved differently, they were different. They were new men. Shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks where for a thousand years shepherds had tended their sheep. The silence of those ancient hills was broken by the voice of an angel, and a bright light from heaven scattered the shadows and darkness of that place. It is significant that the birth of Christ was announced to those shepherds. The shepherds might have liked to remain at the manger, but they could not. They had to return to their sheep and their families. The stern voice of duty called them back. We can linger too long at the altar and forget the hurting world that lies just outside the walls of the church.
New men returning to old jobs. You can tell that they were not the same men who left their sheep and went into Bethlehem. Something had happened to them. They returned with a new revelation, they returned worshiping, and they returned witnessing. Only as they were made new could they do that. They did not go to hear about some new idea or feeling. They were not in search of philosophy. They went to see what had taken place. Something had happened in Bethlehem. The Lord was making something known in an event. In the New Testament you will find the same pattern. A baby is born in a stable. That baby grew up into a man who went about doing good, performing deeds of love and mercy. He was put to death, but on the third day He came forth from the dead, the mighty, reigning Lord of life and history. Once more this is revelation through a person, through events. God was not telling us who He was, He was showing us. We should remember again that the shepherds went over to Bethlehem to see what had happened, not to hear a lecture.
The shepherds not only returned with a new revelation, they went back praising and worshiping God. Luke 2:20, “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” Worship is one of the most important things we ever do. In a sense, it is the heartbeat of our relationship with the Lord, the spiritual breath that we breathe. Without worship, our faith grows weak and our theology becomes lifeless. The voice we have heard grows faint and the vision we have seen becomes dim. Worship is the spring, more than all else, that nurtures our faith and keeps alive our theology. Worship would keep alive the experience of the manger. Without it, they might forget. The writer of Hebrews saw his generation of Christians drifting from their faith. It was as if the anchors had been lifted. He knew they would continue to drift unless worship dropped again powerful anchors into the deep waters of faith. Therefore, he urged them not to forsake the assembling together for the purpose of worship. Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Often we are so casual about our worship, we can take it or leave it. It doesn't matter greatly either way. Don't be surprised if the anchors are lifted and we drift aimlessly on a poorly defined spiritual sea.
The shepherds returned not only with a new revelation and worshiping God, but they returned witnessing (Luke 2:17), “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Such a strong emphasis on witnessing is found in the New Testament. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Jesus told His disciples after the resurrection Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” They were to begin witnessing where they were. This is what the shepherds did. They returned to those hills, to families and neighbors, telling what had been told about the Christ child, telling what they had seen, heard, and felt, and what a wonderful response they received. Luke 2:18, "And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds." What we need are not new models, or new styles, not even new breakthroughs in science, but men and women whose lives have been changed by Christ and who go back into the world to touch other lives with grace and hope.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship with Christ.