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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#965. And there were shepherds - Luke 2:8-12 (22/12/23)

This Christmas, we are revisiting some of the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth that we have looked at in our Luke series. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story the truths and the God of the Christmas story.   


Today, we reflect upon how God’s salvation is by grace alone and is to fill us with joy and praise for His glorious grace. 


You can listen to this devotional at:



‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”’ (Luke 2:8-12) 

i. God reveals the Saviour

God declares the birth of Christ to these shepherds. God reveals the Saviour and His plan of salvation to them. They are not seeking Him, but He reveals Himself to them. We are told that they were, ‘living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night’. We have to ask ourselves if there was anything special about these particular shepherds? Were they praying on the hillsides? Luke wants us to see that God is the initiator in this moment of revelation. They hear about and come to the Saviour by God’s grace and this is true for all of us. Our salvation is by grace as God chose to reveal Himself to us and so glorifying His mercy. In Ephesians, Paul summarises God’s grace in salvation and the appropriate:

‘He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.’ (Ephesians 1:5-6)

ii. The Saviour is for all  people

Luke includes shepherds because he is keen throughout this gospel that we see God’s heart for the poor, rejected and outsiders and sinners. Shepherds were despised and considered to be unclean by many. God comes to those we would not expect to be first in line. The gospel comes to the unexpected. God reveals Himself to sinners. He reveals His great plan of salvation to the unworthy. Jesus’ desire that sinners come to Him is seen in his response to the criticism of the religious leaders:


‘But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”’ (Luke 5:30-32) 

Luke, as with the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, wants us to see God’s heart for sinners, the poor and outcasts. shepherds were often despised and their honoured inclusion reveals God’s heart for all people.  


Response

Today, we’ve seen that God’s salvation is by grace alone and is to fill us with joy and praise for His grace. 

We were far from God - out on the dark hillside of our lives and doing our own thing - when God broke in. He revealed Christ the Saviour to us. May His grace fill us with joy and praise for His glorious grace. 

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

In particular, we have services on Christmas Eve, Sunday 24th December 10:30am - 11:30am; Monday 25th December, Christmas Day Family Service

10am - 11am; and Sunday 31st December 10:30am - 12pm. 


2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?


3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another. 


4. Study and pray together  

This Christmas, we are revisiting some of the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth that we have looked at in our Luke series. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story the truths and the God of the Christmas story. 


Prayer to begin

To begin, please read Luke 2:19 and pray for one another in light of this text


Please read Luke 1:39-56

  1. What is the great theme in verses 46-48 with which Mary begins her song, and what does this teach us about how we are normally to begin our worship and times of devotion? 

  2. What are the various things that she praises God for in verses 49-55? 

  3. How is Bible study and memorisation crucial in the development of our ability to worship? 

  4. David, also sets us a great example of worship from the mind and soul. Please read Psalm 103:1-5 and list the truths that David praises God for. 

  5. SIV - How does rich personal and corporate worship make us more effective in our evangelism? 

  6. SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  7. SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV. 

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