Christmas and the Sheep, No. 212

BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO YOU! 

Luke 2: 8-11, “And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were sore afraid. And the angel of the Lord said unto them, Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you are born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” 

Dear friend, I still have to send to you Part 5, in our series of Home Destroyers. However, it is Christmas week and therefore I thought I would send you a Christmas devotion this time. Instead of writing it myself, I have asked my sister, Kate, to write it for you. Kate and I are both familiar with sheep. Our father, Ivan Bowen, designed the way shearing is done across the world and he was the fastest shearer in the world in his prime. He passed away at nearly 92 years of age this last January. Kate also shepherded a flock of sheep when she lived up in the Caribou of Canada. She has a special love for sheep. May you be blessed by her writing…    

I would love to share a couple of thoughts that came to me as I pondered again the Christmas story. 

God Chooses the Poor and Despised! 

The Palestinian shepherds in Bible days were despised by society. They were not allowed to give testimony in a court of law as they were considered unreliable. Doesn’t it astonish you that God chose the despised members of society, those with unreliable testimony, to be witnesses of the most important message of all time? He entrusted them with a message that was foretold by prophets hundreds of years before and would change the course of history. If it was me, I would make sure this message was given to the most influential, reliable men of the nation to ensure it was accurately broadcast world-wide. Yet, how God is this! His ways are greater than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) 

I believe these ancient shepherds were good shepherds. I was a shepherdess in Northern British Columbia, Canada for a time, and as I worked with the flock, I experienced something of the heart of the shepherd. The sheep pulled at my heartstrings. I believe these shepherds would have had tender hearts.  

They would also have been tough physically, braving the elements. They were watchmen, always on the lookout for predators, or the enemy that would attack the flock.  Remember how David contended with the lion and the bear? In fact, a shepherd never rests until the entire flock is safe in the fold, especially at night. “There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold, but one was out on the hills away, far from the gates of the fold…”  This old hymn speaks of the shepherd going out to look for the one astray. I had to do this many times in my shepherding days.   

These ancient shepherds were courageous, too, willing to lay down their lives for the sheep.  And, ultimately, they were a living illustration of the Great Shepherd of the Sheep. God saw beyond what society perceived these shepherds to be, and saw their tender, courageous hearts.   

God Chooses the Sheep! 

The other point that hit me is that not only were the shepherds there when the angels appeared, but who else?  The sheep! The shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night.  As we fast forward two thousand years later, we peer back into this divine hallowed moment in history and see ourselves represented through the sheep.  Again, how God is this! He does not make mistakes.  What does God liken us to in the Bible? Sheep! It is one of the recurring themes throughout Scripture--the shepherd and his sheep. On looking through one of Promise’s (my six year old) Bible story books, this same passage was illustrated with bright lights beaming on the shepherds. But, I was fascinated to see that the illustrator had perceptively drawn the cute little sheep with their heads looking up at this light also!   

All we like sheep! They go astray, wandering off unaware of the dangers from under the shepherd’s care. They get dirty; they’re stubborn, often stupid--although not dumb as is the popular belief.  They’re vulnerable and need constant attention. In fact, the flock cannot survive without the shepherd. Sound familiar! In spite of this, the sheep are entirely loveable. 

Today, as 21st century sheep of His flock, we are witnesses to and of this amazing proclamation that the savior of the world is born and has come.  In the business of this season, let us remind ourselves that we carry this great proclamation wherever we go–in our homes, into the city streets, into the stores, on the road, as we go out and come in. Whatever we are doing, this proclamation is with us. And remember, it is backed by a multitudinous heavenly choir! It is the message of hope in these troubled times. 

Truly He is the king, worthy of proclamation! 

Kate Marchiniak 

Can I add some more thoughts that came to me this morning? 

Jesus Wants His Sheep around Him 

After the amazing experience of seeing the multitude of angels praising God, the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem and see the Savior who had been born! Did they go alone? Or did they take their sheep with them? I am sure the sheep went too. The shepherds would not have left the sheep, vulnerable and alone, to be attacked by animals. In the Middle East the sheep always follow the shepherd as he leads them.  

Nativity scenes often show one or two sheep, but there would actually have been many sheep around Jesus. Remember, it wasn’t only one shepherd, but  number of shepherds, each with their own flock.  

As the sheep surrounded Him at His birth, Jesus still wants His sheep around Him. He wants them to be close enough to Him in order to hear His voice as He speaks to them.  

Shepherds Lead their Sheep 

Just as the Bethlehem shepherds led their sheep to Jesus, so as a mother shepherdess, we  should also lead our flock to Jesus. This is the big question? 

Am I leading my flock to Jesus? 

I am going to be asking myself this question over this Christmas time?  Am I leading my children to Jesus by His character which they see in me? Am I truly showing them the way? Are there some ideas or better ways that can I implement to lead my lambs to Jesus? I don’t want to tell you how to do this. God will show you and me individually. But will you pray this prayer with me? 

God is Looking for Father Hearts 

God wants mothers and fathers to have shepherd hearts. It is interesting that God chose a carpenter to be the earthly father of His son, Jesus. Like the shepherds, carpenters were not on the highest rung of the career ladder. Joseph was a humble man, but the Bible says he was “righteous.” But he must have had a father’s heart. God would not have put His son into a family of a man who did not have a father’s heart. God was more interested in this quality than what career he had. Now, in our 21st century, God is still looking for father hearts to father His sheep and lambs. This is more important to God than a high-powered career. 

In fact, every aspect of Jesus’ birth was bathed in humility—his earthly parents, the place of His birth and his dedication where Joseph and Mary brought turtle doves because they could not afford a lamb. In the birth of Jesus, God revealed to us His true character. Although He is the God of the universe, King of kings and Lord of lords, He is not afraid to come to the lowest place to associate with and meet the needs of His created ones. Read Psalm 68:4-6; 107:41 and 113:4-9. 

May this same spirit of humility be upon us at this season.  

May God’s peace and anointing be upon your home. May you enjoy the presence of the Lord, whether you are celebrating Hannukah or Christmas. 

Love from NANCY CAMPBELL 

PRAYER: 

“Oh great shepherd of the sheep, please teach me how to be a true shepherd of the little flock you have given me. Help me to lead my flock to you. Help me to show them the way, and please help me to be a true watchmen over them. Amen.” 

AFFIRMATION: 

I’m a shepherd to my flock and a sheep to my Shepherd.  

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