December 13, 2017
“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 …” Luke 2:8-9a (NIV)
I’m sure it didn’t go the way he’d planned. In fact, his words just moments before indicated he had great expectations for this morning. Something tells me this is not what the music director meant.
We stood side by side in the front row, eager for another wonderful Sunday of worship. My family and I sit in the front row — not because we’re super holy Christians or because we’re always on time so we can grab the best seats in the house — but because when you sit in the front row there is no one in front of you to be bothered by kids kicking the seats.
So we stood there in the front row while our music director shared how he felt something really special would happen that day. Then we proceeded to sing.
During the course of worship our music director actually messed up a few times (which he rarely does), and I think the instruments may have even been playing different measures a time or two. Nevertheless, my crew and I bellowed at the top of our lungs. And in the midst of this chorus I realized, we sound awful!
Some of us were basically yelling. Some of our voices cracked. We sang some right notes and some wrongs ones. It was a musical mess.
But in the midst of our half-sung, half-yelled song, my thoughts drifted to God on His throne, and I smiled. I think God smiled, too. Because perfection is not the standard that paves the way to God.
In today’s key verse, we find the announcement of the birth of Jesus, “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 …” (Luke 2:8-9).
God didn’t announce Himself to the kings of earth. He didn’t even orchestrate a banquet for His unveiling. Instead, God sent a chorus of angels to a forgotten field, and He invited shepherds to share His story.
In a world where love and acceptance are so often performance-based privileges, it seems love must be earned … and once earned it must be kept. Love from the world comes based on your status or what you have to offer. And if you have nothing, you receive nothing.
Because of the conditions placed on the world’s version of love, it can be easy to evaluate our relationship with God based on how well we do. If we can say things are basically under control, we feel good about ourselves. We decide we’ve done enough to come to God’s throne and ask things of Him or enjoy His presence.
But when we look around and see chaos and one mess after another, we decide we must be doing something wrong. We determine God isn’t available to us — or He’s waiting on us to figure it all out before we can approach Him.
God’s love is very different than human love. God isn’t waiting for us to get it right to approach Him. Just as God extended the miraculous birth of His one and only Son, Jesus, to a group of shepherds on a hillside, He extends His gift to you today.
The angels announced. The shepherds responded. And when they went, they met the Savior, Christ the Lord.
Let’s stop trying so hard to impress God, and simply be impressed by Him.
You may have heard this story many times before, but have you responded? Today, let’s exchange our efforts to earn God’s love for the invitation to encounter Him right where we are.
Dear Jesus, I admit that in the rush of the season, I can miss Your miraculous entrance to earth. Forgive me, Lord. Today, I pause from all of my efforts and accept the invitation into Your presence. Refresh me with Your Word and renew my thirst for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Luke 2:10-11, “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 Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’” (NIV)
We’re committed to helping more men and women enter a real relationship with Jesus through Scripture. If Encouragement for Today has helped you meet with Him in a real, relatable way, we pray you’ll consider giving to Proverbs 31 Ministries this holiday season. With your donation, we can reach more and more people all over the world! Give here.
When we seek to earn God’s love we can fall victim to fear, but God’s Word promises there is no fear in love. Stop by Katy McCown’s blog today to receive a free download of 15 Power Promises to Fight Fear and Anxiety.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How have you measured God’s acceptance with your personal performance? In what ways are you striving to be good enough for God?
Take a moment to talk to God about these self-imposed expectations. After you pray, linger long enough to listen for His truth.
© 2017 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.
Originally published Wednesday, 13 December 2017.