Journey to the Light | A Journey with the Shepherds

Understanding How Christmas Was Celebrated By The Shepherds

Darrell Ingram
Dec 26, 2021    27m
Lean in with Pastor Darrell as we explore how the very first Christmas was celebrated and what we can learn about how to celebrate Christmas now. To truly enjoy the season of Christmas, we must first really experience the reason for Christmas, the birth of Jesus, the Savior promised by God. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Darrell Ingram: [00:00:00] Good morning. Oh, got to do better than that. Good morning. Hey, on behalf of Pastor James, I just want to wish you a merry Christmas. You know, Christmas is something that we should celebrate every day. But, you know, Mrs. Debbie, she's here. Come on, let's give it up. She's been watching after our pastor very, very hard. I'll tell you, Pastor James, you know, he had that surgery and he's doing well. He's recuperating. We do pray for his speedy recovery. But in the meantime, he allows me to do something that I love to do is get up here and preach the Word. And I'm so thankful that he has allowed me to do that. But let's continue to pray for him and pray for Mrs. Debbie because she's got to keep him tied down. And you know our pastor doesn't like to be tied down. He likes to be everywhere and I mean everywhere. So let's just continue to bless, to help her, bless her, and just to lift up our pastor. Last week I wasn't here. And I may get this out, but I may not. My mother is 87 years old. And I've only talked to her for about four hours in the last 40 years. Now, my niece graduated. She's from California. My sister's daughter. And just so happened that my sister had a talk with my mother, and she brought her to that graduation. So I got to spend the weekend with my mother, and that was a blessing. So I just wanted to share that that God is at work all the time, and He's still giving me presents and I love it.

Darrell Ingram: [00:01:37] I mean I enjoy what God has done and how God has blessed us. But we're going to start looking at the shepherds in this journey. And I know most of us have heard the story, and most of us, we can recite it by memory. If you have children or grandchildren, they probably can tell the whole story, too. I even wrote a little book about Pepe, and Pepe told his children about the story, the greatest story ever. And I want to focus on though, I want to focus on the first human beings that ever experienced Christmas in real-time and the ones that were given the story and the privilege to actually, in my opinion, make the Christmas story even more amazing than we might ever realize. You see, Jesus was born and when He was born in the 21st, if he was born in the 21st century, how would you publicize that? How would you go around telling people about the birth of Jesus Christ? How would you throw the party for Jesus Christ? How would you to step out and make sure that everyone heard that Jesus' birth is here? How would you do that? Well, there's an invitation. So let's go back into Luke 2, verse 8 says, and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over the flocks by night.

Darrell Ingram: [00:02:57] You see, you're getting paid millions of dollars, let's say. And you have this promoting company, and they're paying you millions of dollars. And they tell you, hey, on December 25th, the son of God is going to be born and we want you to publicize it. We want this to go viral. We want it on Facebook. Not only Facebook. Old people like me, that that's all I use. We want it on Twitter. We want it on Instagram. We want it on Snap. We want it everywhere so that it gets across the whole world, and people will know that the son of God is being born. Well, I don't know if I would do that, but I'll tell you, I'll tell you, you would go after the high rollers. You would go after the billionaires, the movers, shakers, the people with the most likes on their Instagram or Facebook or whatever. You would go after all those people. But what if you were 2,000 years ago? Who would you go after? Who would you ask? Who would you invite to come? Well, you would invite the high priest because he's the leader of the religious leader of that entire nation. We would like to ask the chief priest because him and the scribes, they know God's Word. They are the leading biblical scholars of Israel at that time.

Darrell Ingram: [00:04:14] You got to ask the Sanhedrin. They are the Supreme Court of Israel. All 70 of them have to come. We want them because they represent the whole land. We want the Pharisees to come as well because they know the law, and we need to have these movers and shakers, these people that know God, these people that are close to God. The first group that gets invited are the shepherds, the lowly shepherds in the field. And let's keep reading the story here in Luke, starting in chapter 2, verse 9 says, 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, for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. This is a sign to you. You will find the baby wrapped in clothing lying in a manger. Now here you are in the pitch black, out in the fields, doing the same old, same old thing as a shepherd. You're tending the sheep. It's boring. Night after night after night, the same old thing. You have the 24-hour shift. In other words, you have the midnight shift. Every shepherd did. And all of a sudden explodes this bright light, this shining light, and the angel of the Lord comes. And you're a shepherd.

Darrell Ingram: [00:05:55] How would you feel? I would be afraid. It's the greatest announcement of all ever history that the Son of God is being born. It's something that the whole planet needed to know. And He makes it known to the shepherds. How did they feel? What did they see? You see, they may have been afraid, and we would be afraid. But you know, we don't know their names, and we still don't know their names. And after the story, they're never heard from again. We know little about them. But immediately after, we know some little nippets of them other than that they are never seen again. And yet is the king invited? Nope. Is the press invited? Nope. The scribes and the Pharisees, are they invited? Nope. Are the Sanhedrin? Is the Sanhedrin invited? Nope. Does the chief priest get invited? Nope. Lowly shepherds are at the top of the guest list, and they all get invited to the first Christmas ever. Why would God do it this way? Why is this story even in the Bible? Well, I'm convinced that what we're going to see today is the way they experience Christmas is the way you and I ought to experience Christmas today and every day of our life. It is what we ought to do with the good news. We ought to do what they did with the good news.

Darrell Ingram: [00:07:40] You and I will never enjoy the season of Christmas until we really experience the reason for Christmas. So what did these shepherds do? What did they do and how did they do it? Just like the shepherds, what did they expect? Just like the shepherds, you and I should be expecting the presence of God. We should be expecting the presence of God. We should be expecting Him to come. Yes, it started out rocky. Yes, it was kind of terrifying. Yes, an angel of the Lord shone, and the light was bright. It was an explosion. It was literally quiet, and then all of a sudden, boom. That word shone literally means an explosion of light or explode within light. That's what the Greek word says. We say shone, but it's literally an explosion like the atomic bomb, an explosion within an explosion. That was the announcement. And they were afraid. And I would have been afraid. Just like these shepherds though, we should continue to expect the presence of God. You see, that explosion of light, no other word, just one other time in the New Testament is that even talked about. And it refers to this guy riding down the road on a horse or a donkey, and this explosion of light happened. And it literally knocked this guy off this horse. That's the only other time in the New Testament. No wonder these shepherds were terrified.

Darrell Ingram: [00:09:24] And by the way, our English word, our English language only gets one word to five words in the Greek language that describes it. They feared with great fear. In other words, they were trembling in their sandals. They were trembling. They were afraid. They were terrified out of their minds. That's why this word and these words are so important. These next words, we need to cling onto them because if we were standing there and we were godly people, this is what would happen. But the angel said to them, do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy to all the people. Oh, no way. No, listen, these shepherds, it wasn't normal how they reacted. It was very, very normal. Not un-normal. And yet this angel comes out and this angel says, don't be afraid. Listen, there's only one reason you ought to fear God, and the Bible tells us. It's when we ridicule Him, when we reject Him. We ought to fear the judgment of God. We ought to fear the wrath of God. But the angel specifically tells them, says, hey, guys, you don't need to be afraid. You don't need to fear. Now, let me tell you what this tells me, that eventually for God, you know, they didn't fear Him because they were God-fearing men, because they knew. Why do I know that they were God-fearing men? When the angel had left, what did they do in verse 15? They said, let's go to Bethlehem and see. The Bible says, see this thing.

Darrell Ingram: [00:11:11] Let's see this thing. That's a very important one. Let's see, let's see the thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about. Now, if you're reading the English language, you'll see that it says thing in there, and that's not what it literally means. What it means in Greek, it literally means message or word. So what they were saying, it says, Let's go to Bethlehem and let's see the message that has happened. Let's see the word. And the Bible tells us that Jesus is the Word. Let's go see the word. Let's go see what has happened. Jewish parents and good Jewish parents always taught their children about the Messiah and about how the Messiah would one day come and He would deliver the Jewish people from their depression or their oppression. And He announced to the shepherds of all people, announced to them lowly people, people that were outcasts. Let me tell you something about God. It doesn't matter if you're an outcast. Jesus wants to draw you in no matter who you are. He's always there. No matter what you have done in your life, no matter how far you have strayed, no matter how far you will go, God is always there, running after you and calling you back.

Darrell Ingram: [00:12:40] Let's go to Bethlehem, and let's see this word. Let's see this message. And for years, they were taught this. And then finally, this promise came about. He kept His promise. From the beginning of time, Adam and Eve from the beginning, and Adam and Eve sinned, plunged into the world, all because of them, God said, I will make a promise and I will fix what you broke. I will fix what you broke. I am going to solve the problem you just created. You brought sin into the world. I'm going to bring salvation into the world. I'm going to bring salvation to you. So these are the Jewish men. These are the shepherds that are sitting there. They knew, they knew that it came and it was here. And they were excited and they believed it every day, that God would come. Don't you think that we should believe that every day God is present and He should come every day in our lives? You see, if you learn anything about the Christmas story, I want you to learn this. God doesn't just show up on Christmas Day. God doesn't just show, He shows up every day. You know, there's a God that knows me. There's a God that knows you. There's a God that cares about me. There's a God that cares about you. And what I'm telling you today is, unashamedly, I'm expecting God to guide me every day. I'm expecting God to walk by me every day, to walk beside me, to walk over close near me, to walk everywhere that I go.

Darrell Ingram: [00:14:29] And we ought to get up everywhere, every day knowing that God is with us. If you believe in the Christmas story, the angel said, you will call His name. What? Emmanuel. Emmanuel, God with us. What I'm telling you is that every single day, not just Christmas, not just even Christmas Eve, not just Thanksgiving, not just Sunday, not just Monday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and all day Saturday that God is with us always. Wake up and expect God every day of your life. That's what these shepherds were doing. They were expecting God's promise to come alive. They were expecting God to show up. And if I didn't expect God to be here, I wouldn't be here. I love you, but I don't love you that much. I'm not trying to be ugly, but I'd rather God show up and you not show up than you show up and God not show up. You see, I'd rather God be here. And that's the way to celebrate Christmas is we need to expect the presence of God in your life. Amen? Oh me. Oh no. We should be expecting God's presence. We ought to be trusting Him to protect us. Listen now, this is the very favorite, most favorite part of my message, and I know that y'all, when Pastor James is preaching or when anybody else is preaching, I know the best and the favorite part of yours is when we say, everybody stand and bow your heads and let's go to the Lord in prayer. That's not mine. That's not my favorite part. It's the thing that I heard or that I read, and God just begin to suddenly share it in my heart and it taught me and it's going to teach you that God's provision, trusting in God's provision in our lives. The angel makes the announcement that Jesus has been born and the angelic choir. Can you imagine hearing that angelic choir behind the angel of the Lord? That bright light? If the light didn't scare you, that angelic host, you would have been trembling in your shoes. And they were singing glory to God in the highest, glory to God in the highest. Why can't we sing glory to God in the highest every day of our lives? Oh, the angel makes the announcement that Jesus was born. They're behind him, just singing away, praising God. But now they're all gone and the sky is dark and everything is back to "normal". The angels' song echoes in silence, and it's gone. What happens next? When the angel left and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, let us go to Bethlehem. Let us go to Bethlehem, and let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about. So they hurried off. And those two words, hurried off, that's very important words right there because they found Mary and Joseph and baby lying in the bed.

Darrell Ingram: [00:17:58] They found Jesus lying in the manger, and there was no doubt in my mind that these men, this is why I love this story, these men were devout, godly, Christian or godly men. Who were they looking for? They were looking for the Messiah. This ought to alleviate the doubt of whether they were godly men or not. The angel did not specifically tell them to go and find the child. It wasn't a command. I want you to go and find the child. He didn't say that. He just simply said, you can find him lying in a manger. You see, this morning, here's the thing. God's not telling you you need to hurry up and find His Son. He's actually saying you can. The rest is up to you. You see, they dropped everything and they hurried off and they wanted to find this child. They simply wanted to see Him. They hurried off and they could have gotten fired. They've could have gotten thrown in jail or both. At least it could have cost them ridicule and looked down upon and rejected every day of their lives in their community. And there's only one explanation. These shepherds believed that they could leave the sheep under God's protection, and God could take care of those sheep alone.

Darrell Ingram: [00:19:32] Because after all, God can send the Savior in human form, God can take care of our flock. God can take care of us. If he can become human in human flesh, don't you think that God can take care of your income? Don't you think that God can protect anything that might harm you? Don't you think that God is there with you, walking every day of your life? I want you to listen to this, and I want you to listen close. God, the God, our God that guides the shepherds to the manger and guards the sheep can also guide us and guard us as we go. As we go, He can be with us every step of the way. And those shepherds literally took off. At the moment, they realized that finding Jesus was more important than keeping the sheep. I want you to hear me and listen close because, oh, God, began to speak to my heart and I was one caught up in all these things, trying to get, trying to get, trying to make it. Finding Jesus is more important than making money. Finding Jesus is more important than climbing the corporate ladder or being a success in front of the whole world. Finding Jesus is more important than a big house that you can live in, a nice fancy car, or for some guys in Louisiana, in the South, a big old F250 truck with big old tires on them. Finding Jesus is more important than all that.

Darrell Ingram: [00:21:24] Finding Jesus is more important than anything you can ever ask for. Finding Jesus, there is nothing in your life that's more important than finding Jesus. I got 27 pages left because everyone's asleep in here, and I don't know how you can sleep with my loud voice string voice. But finding Jesus is more important than anything you could ever want, anything you can ever want. You see, doing, think about it, doing what they were saying, I got one priority in my life. I'm not going to let anything stand in the way of me, of me finding Jesus. You see, they finally realized that they were keeping watch over their sheep, and God was actually keeping watch over them. You see, no matter where we are, God is always keeping watch over us. You see, God is the source of everything. He is the source of everything. Who's the supplier of everything? God is. Who is the security of everything? God is. Who is a safety for everything and for everyone? God is. It all belongs to the Lord. Job was right when he said, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Why? Because you, you belong to Him. He is your Father in Heaven. Our Father who art in Heaven. Thy will be your name.

Darrell Ingram: [00:23:16] You want God's Kingdom to come? Pastor always tells us. Then you start being part of the Kingdom. I'm going to tell you, some of us don't really believe in Christmas. You know why? Because we're more worried about stuff than finding Jesus. Just find Jesus, and He'll take care of the stuff. Just find God, and He'll take care of the stuff. As we begin to close, don't worry about the sheep When it comes to anything that stands in your way of finding Jesus. Forget about it, shelve it, put away. There's nothing more important. It's not about you. It's all about Jesus. You see, as you stand and as we begin to close, everybody go ahead and stand. We're not bowing our heads yet. But as we stand and we celebrate, we celebrate Christmas, let's give God a round of applause for sending His Son. You see, it's just like the angelic host. Glory to God in the highest. It's about God. It's not about me. It's about worshipping Him. It's about praising Him for who He is and for what He has done. Have you found Jesus this morning? Have you found Him? You see, if you haven't found Him and if you're not 100% certain that you don't know where you're going, you don't know you're going to Heaven, you don't know. I don't know where I'm going. Then you need to find Jesus this morning.

Darrell Ingram: [00:25:01] Jesus said, I'm the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me. You want to get to the Father? You want to get to Heaven? You got to first go through Jesus. You got to find Him. There should be nothing in the way of you finding Jesus. If it is, listen, shelve it. Put it aside. Because it's not about things. It's about the only thing, and the Bible tells me that thing that they went looking for was the Word, the message. So this morning, I'm asking you to seek that Word that became alive. Let's go to the Lord in prayer. Father, I thank you. Father, I thank you for your grace, Father, for sending your Son. Lord, to being born. But ultimately, for giving His life so that each and every one of us could have salvation, so that each and every one of us can have access to you. Father, right now, there are people in this congregation that are hurting. Maybe they lost their jobs, maybe they've lost a loved one. Whether they're here or whether they're online, Father, they're hurting. But you are a God that loves. And if we're broken-hearted, you promise to restore our broken hearts. So, Father, whatever is on our heart, whatever's going through our mind, whatever we're worried about, help us to get rid of it and put Jesus in that place, Father, we praise you in Jesus' name. Amen.

Bruce Goulart: [00:27:03] On behalf of Pastor James, I want to say thank you for joining our online experience this morning. Y'all, what an amazing end to this series, Journey to the Light. Y'all, it was absolutely amazing. And if you need someone to pray with you right now, we have people on standby that are willing to pray with you right away. Just click the link in the description, fill it out, and someone will get with you. Y'all, New Year's is coming. And so we just want to say, Happy New Year to everyone online and thank y'all for joining this week and I hope to see you next Sunday.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360