A Country Christmas
Christmas Eve. Service, December 24, 2016
Messenger: Don Frank
Bible Passage - Luke 2:8-20
8 There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, 14 "May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!" 15 The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem. Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. 17 After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 20 The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
Introduction - Don't you just love Christmas? I think it's my favorite time of the year - beautiful decorations, great music and really delicious food! When I was growing up, we had some really great Christmases. I was raised on a farm in northern Iowa, so you could call me a real country boy.
Probably because of that, the one Christmas story that really makes me feel good is when the angel came to tell the shepherds that Jesus was born. And that's the story that I'd like to talk about with you tonight.
1. The Shepherds - "There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep." (Verse 8) I can imagine this very easily because that's the kind of environment that I grew up in. Always lots of cows, horses, pigs and sheep. These men were at the lowest level of society. Jesus' birth wasn't announced to the king's family, but to common people just like you and me! Can you believe it? Farmers were the first ones to hear this wonderful message! And just like the shepherds, we are hearing that same message tonight.
2. The Angels - "An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them." "Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God." (verses 9 and 13) Who did God chose to give this message of Good News to them? His angels! This is only the 2nd time in the Bible that a large group of angels came to give a message from God. Though Luke doesn't tell us the angel of the Lord's name, though it might have been Gabriel, as it was with Mary and Joseph. I can see this one angel coming to the shepherds. And then, because this is such an important announcement, God fills the sky with maybe millions of angels, and all of them are singing and praising God! What an event that must have been!
3. The Message - "10 ...I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord." "14 May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!" (verses 10, 11 and 14) And what a message of Good News this was! God had sent His Son, Jesus, to be our savior! Christmas is just the beginning of the story. True, the birth of God's Son here on earth is an amazing event. But this just points the way to the cross. The key word for us this evening is that tonight, in the city of David, a Savior is born! This little baby would grow up to die on the cross for you and me. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, then He takes our sins away from us and cleanses our hearts forever!
Conclusion - But the story doesn't end there. Look at verse 15. "Let's go to Bethlehem. Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." Did they stay in the fields and just keep working? No, they went right away to see their savior.
How about you and I here tonight? Have you really come to meet Jesus, not Santa Claus, in your heart? You can tonight. Just pray this simple prayer, "Dear Jesus, thank you for being born and dying to forgive my sins. I want you in my life. So, I ask for your forgiveness. Thanks for coming as my Savior. Thanks for dying on the cross for me. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Christian, how about you tonight? You believe in the baby born in Bethlehem. Now what will you do? In verses 17 and 18, the Bible says, "After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." Will you and I follow the example of the shepherds? Will you and I go out from Open Door Chapel tonight and tell that good news to everyone? Let's rejoice tonight at Christ's birth and then tell more and more people about this wonderful Good News! Our Savior has been born!
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