Special Business Meeting Following ServiceDecember 23, 2018 - 12:00 PM - 12:30 PMSpecial business meeting to discuss the possibility for a Hispanic church to meet at and use FBC Minneola property.
- Christ of the Andes is an impressive symbol of peace. Once Chile and Argentina were enemies and fought constantly. At last they decided it was in their mutual interest to live in peace. So, high upon their natural boundaries, the Andes Mountains, they erected a great statue of Christ with outstretched arms. The inscription reads: “Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust than the Argentines and Chileans break the peace sworn at the feet of Christ the Redeemer.” Christmas reminds us of the coming of peace to earth.Jesus was known as the Prince of peace. His motives, manner, and ministry all reflect peace. He said:“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.As you get together around Christmas tress in two days, will you have true Christmas peace?True Christmas, what does that make you think?Imagine, if you will, the smell of a turkey roasting.Can you smell it?Can you see ornaments and lights on the tree?Do you hear the sound of Christmas music.Do you sense the great excitement in the children?For me, I have lots of good Christmas memories like these.In my mind I have lots of wonderful images like these from when I was a boy up until today.These memories are reminders of how good life is for me and helps me to look forward to another Christmas that might even be better.Now, let me be clear, these sort of memories are great, but not what I mean when I say a “True Christmas.”Our favorite Christmas hymns take words from the Biblical story of Christmas like:“peace, hope, joy, Emmanuel, shepherds, wise men, gifts, angels, manger, & fear.”What, you say you had me pastor until that last one “fear.”But, let me tell you, even if we take all the religious Christmas stuff and steer clear of the commercialistic traps, we still won’t know a “True Christmas” unless we encounter God’s Glory and know holy fear.The Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and they were surrounded by God’s glory and “filled with great fear.”Do we know the sense of fear of God?What has happened to the awe we should have at mentioning His name?Are we so used to doing things and come to be so inclined with the way of this world that we’ve lost the ability to revere God in our worship services?I like what John Franklin once said. He was a specialist for LifeWay who stated, ““Some say become relevant, be contextual, nontraditional, change the way we do church. These things may be needed, but they are not enough. We must rediscover the ‘Fear of God.’ ” - John FranklinEST - Our text this morning notes the response of fear a group of shepherds had when God’s glory surrounded them.ESS - Our message this morning will remind us that true peace comes when we first know to fear God.OSS - At the end our our time this morning I will ask how do you know if you have true peace?TRANS - Let’s begin by looking to the Word and hearing what God says.What does it say?And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.What does it mean?The Meaning of Holy FearChristmas is a great time to rediscover the “fear of God.”The idea is all through the Christmas story.Last week we discussed how Zacharias was gripped by fear:And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.And recall the angel telling Mary not to fear:And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.Why this holy fear?For one, who wouldn’t be afraid if a an angel appeared?Also, fear is a result of exposure to the glory of God.Note verse nine:And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.God’s glory was all around them.Wherever there is God’s glory there is holy fear.Consider when Jesus healed the demon possessed man:When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.Or that time Jesus walked on water:After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid.You know the centurion charged to watch Jesus’ grave was scared when Jesus rose from the dead:Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”So no wonder holy fear gripped them at the announcement of God becoming man to save His people from sins.The announcement made to the shepherds came at a time God’s glory broke out on earth.It’s like all of heaven could no longer keep the glory of God from going forth to the earth.The words of the angel were like a train horn blasting loudly “Joy to the World, the Lord has come!”TRANS - Holy fear gripped the shepherds when God showed up.Why did God show up?(next point)The Message of the coming MessiahThe powerful message ushered in a new time in the history of the world.Everything in all creation was about to change.God was about to become a human baby and sent his angel to tell the world.Why did God choose a priest, a carpenter, a teenaged girl, and a bunch of shepherds to receive His glory?Why Mary?The teenaged girl was going to give birth to the Messiah of Isreal, the Savior of the World: Jesus Christ.As far as need to know, Mary needed to know about Jesus.Why Zacharias?It was not because he was a priest but because he and his wife, old as they were, were going to give birth to John the Baptist who was the forerunner of the Messiah who would tell others, “Prepare for the way of the Lord.”They needed to know.Why the carpenter Joeseph?Well, not because he knew how to build things.God sent his angel because his wife was Mary.Remember the message to him:But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”Okay so Mary, Zacharias, and Joeseph all needed to know.They were personally involved, they needed to know.But, what about the shepherds?Why the shepherds?Most people today have little knowledge of what it is to be a shepherd, especially in the biblical times.I’ve never even heard of someone looking to hire a shepherd nor do I know anyone that is or has been a professional shepherd.All most of us know about shepherds is what we see in Christmas movies or see on greeting cards.“Earlier commentators drew attention to the shepherds as members of a despised trade, ritually unclean, but this is doubtful.”
Earlier commentators drew attention to the shepherds as members of a despised trade, ritually unclean—e.g., Godet, 1:130; Jeremias, Jerusalem, 303–12—but this is doubtful. The positive image (both literal and metaphorical) of sheep and shepherd in Israel’s Scriptures as well as Philo’s affirming mention of the Jewish people as graziers, stock-breeders, and shepherds (Spec. Leg. 1.133, 136) imperil any negative evaluation of shepherds as a group on purity grounds during the era in question. Moreover, it is hard to imagine that a vocation on which the Jewish cult and Jerusalem temple were so heavily dependent—requiring, e.g., some 30,000 lambs for Passover (cf. Sanders, Judaism, 136)—would be labeled unclean by those very institutions.
Shepherds in an agrarian society may have small landholdings, but these would be inadequate to meet the demands of their own families, the needs of their own agricultural pursuits, and the burden of taxation. As a result, they might hire themselves out to work for wages. They were, then, peasants, located toward the bottom of the scale of power and privilege.Shepherds were pretty much the bottom of the social ladder.The shepherds where critical to the life of the Israelites, but they had no real pull and spent most of their time away from other people.So, again, why the shepherds?Why does the angel appear to the shepherds?Was it because they raised lambs used for the ceremonial temple sacrifices?Regardless of the why, we do know this, they understood the fear of the Lord and were, therefore, spiritually ready to hear from God.The way to peace found only in JesusThe message they heard was:And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.The angle was gone, the shepherds heard the message and looked at their sheep and recognized that the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8) to was the one born and that He will save people from their sins.This news was not just for the religious people, nor for just the people who knew Jesus growing up, it was news for “all the people” even the shepherds.The news is for everyone, them, me, you, us, for everyone from all of time.How does this change me?I hope that you will experience the glory of God and know holy fear this Christmas.In this way, you will know a True Christmas.In this way, you will have real and lasting peace.Only when you have this fear will you clearly hear the message “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”John Henry Newman once stated:Joy is tumultuous only when it is not full; but peace is the privilege of those who are ‘filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord(end)
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