Who were those shepherds? They are us. Their story is our story. Their situation is our situation. We share a common theme. We share a common enemy. The terror that stalked their night is the very one that preys on the hopes of believers today. They are so much like us! Their future was sold to pay a debt to a foreign empire. For them, it was Rome, for us it is China.
Their leaders forged an unholy alliance with Augustus Caesar. Some of our Democrat leaders take bribes, appease our enemies, attack Christian values, and apologize to the world for our greatness. The faith of the shepherds’ forefathers was diluted by false ministers and mocked by pagans. Our faith suffers the same fate! Their weak economy created a crime wave that forced them to stay out in the fields watching their sheep.
We have watched governors and mayors go crazy, destroying small businesses and jobs. Can Americans relate to getting through a day by choking down emotions and doing their jobs on cruise control?
What do we want most for Christmas? Let me propose an answer. What we want most in all of this mess is good news. We could sure use some good news! It would be so wonderful to see the unrelenting torrent of scary headlines, dire predictions, and disappointing reports swallowed up by good news! But what would be good news to you right now? What message do you need from God right now?
What we want most is a visitation of God. It is easy to think that we want something else, but nothing would help us more, nothing would do the job better, nothing can compare to it. In 1982 I watched as San Jose was enveloped by the Glory of God. It was a time when the economy was as bad as it is now. The prime rate soared to 22% and unemployment was even worse than today. Yet thousands crowded into the meeting every night for 22 weeks! The presence of God that filled the building evaporated fear and worries.
Yes, the people needed jobs desperately, but somehow, it was overruled by the Glory of the Lord. Each night they sang their hearts out, each night tears of joy washed away the cares of their life. Things other than material things became important. Something priceless had come to them and they were not about to let human concerns rob them of that precious moment in their life.
I am a Pentecostal. It is that simple. I know what it means to have the Holy Spirit drench me. I know that when the Spirit of God is upon me, fear, worry and anxiety all vanish.
What the Angels did was to turn those shepherds’ priorities upside down. We know the Bible says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you,” but in the daily grind, it can seem to be an impossible task. Moments ago, these men were taut with tension and defensive of their herd, to the point that they would have gladly fought to the death to protect their flock. But after the announcement made by the angels, they were ready to run to a manger, oblivious of the sheep they were leaving behind.
Yes, we need jobs, healing, and many other things, but what we need most is the Glory. Glory will make our soul gaze at God, and as we gaze, distracted by His splendor, God will fix the issues of our life. Modern pulpits have done us a great disservice by focusing on “how-to-Christianity.” It seems so right to get practical teaching on relationships, money, and handling emotions. And that is the very problem! We have been taught that we need to “handle our lives” and “fix” ourselves.
This is the bait of Satan: to get us to strive and fret and battle by our own wits, and not by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. What leaders are failing to do is to seek and obtain a move of God among their people.
Why did God skip the theologians, the priests and the king, and send those angels to the shepherds? This is the question of the ages! How embarrassing to all of those in power and to all of those who made a life out of studying the prophets, reading the times, and being “in the know,” who were overlooked in favor of these lowly shepherds!
We are constantly trying to qualify for a career, a credit card, a club, or some kind of status, but are we qualified for a visitation of God?
What if these are not the bad times? Maybe the bad times were back when you had money and toys. Maybe in these hard times you are holding your loved ones closer, praying a little more deeply, and trying a little harder to be humble and grateful. Maybe instead of suffering, you are merely getting into a position to be visited by God.
So, thank God for your circumstances. You have been born for these very times. They have come from His nail-pierced hands, and the very trials you are going through are preparing you for your destiny!