walk in the word
God Can Use You
I have to confess to you that I haven’t had the best attitude about shepherds. Every year we read Luke 2 and hear all about the “shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night.” I’ve always thought the shepherds were a bit vanilla (and not Ben and Jerry’s, you know what I mean?) I just thought they were a little too plain. I’ve always dug the wise men. They came on a long journey. They brought gifts. They stopped to see Herod. They rode cool camels. What did the shepherds ride? Not sheep. They just walked. They were local yokels.
Actually, the shepherds are like us. Most of us don’t have some big fantastic I-journeyed-a-long-way incredible, dramatic story. Most of us, if we had to stand up and tell our stories, would be embarrassed because we think people would be bored with our life.
But the shepherd’s story teaches us some very important principles of how God finds us. I’ll share a couple lessons we can learn from them this week and a couple more before Christmas next week. The key to their story is to understand that before we find God, He finds us. People think, “I was seeking God.” It may seem like you’re coming toward Him, but when you find Him, you begin to understand that He was seeking you. That leads us to this first point we learn from the shepherds:
#1: He Meets Us Where We Are.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). While Scripture in general views shepherds in a positive way, in Jesus’ day, they were snubbed. They were like gypsies, moving from job to job and not able to consistently provide for their families. And these shepherds in Bethlehem couldn’t even make the day shift. Can you say . . . losers? But there they were and God came after them.
So, where were you when God found you? I know you have a story to tell. You may say, “I was in an impossible situation.” Or “Our marriage wasn’t going so good.” Or “I didn’t know where to turn, but God came and found me and opened my eyes to the good news that is found in Jesus Christ.”
Here’s the wonderful truth—when God finds a person, He meets them where they are.
But He doesn’t leave us there. Next . . .
#2: He Brings Us To Our Knees.
Luke 2:9 says, “An angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them. And the glory of the Lord shown around them and they were terribly frightened.”
All through Scripture those who meet with the Lord go to their knees. By this point, the shepherds in the field are certainly on their knees if not on their faces. But the posture of your body is not nearly as important as the posture of your heart. That is what God is interested in.
God help you if you ever think of Him as a big brother or your buddy or the “man upstairs.” The Bible says that our God is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). If you think you can somehow flippantly approach God (“Well, God is going to accept me and I think everything is going to be fine”), you have another message coming.
God meets us where we are, but He brings us to our knees, to a position of humility. This is always the way with God. God cannot help you until you rightly view Him and until you rightly view yourself. Coming to God is the process of understanding how great He is and how small and sinful and unworthy you are. Until you get those two pictures, you can’t get reconciled to God.
Two lessons: God meets us where we are and He brings us to our knees. All Christmas story stuff aside, what is the circumstance that God is using to humble you right now? What is the terrifying uncertainty? What is the painful situation? What is the difficulty that God is using to bring you to a place of humility before Him where you can say from your heart, “Yes, God. I know that I need Your help.” People say that Christianity is a crutch. You’re right; it’s a crutch! The issue is, have you figured out yet that you need one? God orders the circumstance of your life to give you an opportunity to see how desperately you need Him. That’s what we can learn from the shepherds.
Three more principles next week. Until then, every time you see or hear about those Bethlehem shepherds, thank God for the lessons we can learn from the “local yokels. They’re just like us.
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