Pastor Joe Miller IV
I have so many great memories of growing up. Christmastime, vacations, fishing and hunting trips, birthdays, picnics, too many to list, but one of my favorite memories is the week-long church camp at Mahaffy, PA. For seven days, the youth from the CMA churches in Western Pennsylvania would get together and socialize, hang out, listen to great messages and music, play games, eat and grow up a little bit. The week was so enjoyable because of the upbeat spirit - the joy, fun, and being surrounded by the glory of God and His children. The only part I hated about church camp is when it ended. Seven straight days of a taste of what life should be like came to an end, and we all had to go back to our 'regular lives,' and that is not always fun, enjoyable, or satisfying. There is a passage from the Bible that tells about a group of regular people like us that had a short time of being surrounded by the glory of God. Luke 2:8-15a 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 round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven... As quickly as it happened, the angel, revealing of prophecy, the multitude of the heavenly host, the glory of the Lord, and the good news, it suddenly ended as quickly as it started. Then the shepherds found themselves surrounded by a bunch of sheep, lonely in the middle of the night, back to the old grindstone. Sometimes, we find ourselves in similar situations especially after the holidays when the shiny lights are put away, the decorations are down, the good food is eaten, the Christmas music is silenced, and all the presents are opened - we have to get back to the grindstone, but I want to remind you that the peace, joy, and goodwill that was revealed to the shepherds has also been revealed to us. 'There is a Saviour, and His name is Jesus' is never confined to a day or week or holiday - but every day. Here are lessons from the shepherds that we as individuals are compelled to exemplify after the lights are down.
1. Be in unity at Harvest Baptist Church. A body is only as productive as the members are united for a cause. Don't allow opinions and preferences to disrupt unity. Luke 2:15b says, 'the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.'
2. Don't put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. 'Life is too short.' Luke 2:16 says, 'And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.'
3. Share the Good News of Jesus the Saviour and God's love and purpose for life. Luke 2:17 says, 'And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.'
4. Make a difference. Our lives as Christians should change lives around us. Luke 2:18 says, 'And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.'
5. Do what we were created to do - glorify and praise God. Luke 2:20 says, 'And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.'
I do leave my Christmas lights up all year long, and I pray that HBC would shine every day brighter than ever in 2021. To do that, each individual's words and actions need to be seasoned with God's grace and love, and each one's light replacing that darkness that is all around us like the examples of the shepherds.