Luke 2:8-20 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD NEWS that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his FAVOR rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
I want to talk to you for just a few minutes about Good News. This last Thursday was a good news day for me as I got to share in and rejoice in good news with three different families. I love the unexpected moments that bring great joy, those blessings that come out of nowhere that cause you to look up and go, “I see what you did, God.” Those are moments that make your heart smile and cause gratitude to fuel your day. I also love the moments that a person prays for and longs for and waits for, those moments that when they happen, it is almost hard to contain the joy you feel.
We have plenty of bad news to deal with every day, don’t we? Did you know that those who put the news together have an expression that if it bleeds it leads? What that means is the more tragic, the more violent, the more horrific a story is, that is what leads at the top of the news show. Isn’t that awful? In my opinion, that is totally warped. I am afraid we have become a people who are addicted to bad news.
Listen, the angels met the shepherds with a “Fear Not” message. Most of our news is wrapped in fear and is being used as a tool of Satan to traumatize and paralyze us. I believe we need a wake-up call to the fact that the Good News of the Gospel trumps any bad news we could receive in this life. God came to earth. Jesus, the Son of God, lived a perfect, sinless life and paid the price for the sins of humanity by giving His life as a sacrifice for our sin. He rose from the dead, proving He was God. And He has made it possible for us to share in His life. Yes, that is right. We can share in the life of Christ. We can have a state of perfection conveyed to us, a holiness and righteousness that isn’t our own, but is the righteousness of Christ. The Spirit of the Living God can dwell inside us, truly in our souls, to keep us in a state of peace and can give us power, a sound mind, and constant joy that cannot be destroyed by the news story of the day. We can live a life pleasing to God because there will be a Divine control on the inside of our being, and we, just like Jesus, will overcome death, hell and the grave and will be eternally in Heaven. Now if that isn’t good news, I don’t know what is!
Maybe today you are thinking, “How do I get started? How can I sign up? How can I receive the Good News of great joy?” It starts with faith and faith is simply this: Faith is believing the Good News. Faith believes that God has brought rescue to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is God. Once you accept that the Good News is real and ask Jesus to become your Savior, you begin a journey with God, like the shepherds.
Allow me a couple of observations about the Good News.
- The Good News Means You Can RECEIVE God’s Favor.
Listen to verses 13-14 again: 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his FAVOR rests.”
This was amazing news for the shepherds. Favor with God? They didn’t have favor with anyone. They were considered the lowest of the low, the outcasts, the dregs of society. They were the poorest of the poor. They were the people who couldn’t do anything else for a living so shepherding just became their lot. They were the subject of people’s jokes. No one ever woke up and said to themselves, “When I grow up, I want to be a shepherd.” They weren’t even regarded as credible witnesses in a court of law. They weren’t allowed to testify. Their word meant nothing. Nobody was posting their picture on social media to say, “Look at my son, the shepherd, I am so proud of him.”
And yet God chose them to be the recipients of the Good News! God favored them over everyone else that night. God elevated them and delivered Divine, angelic messengers to tell them they could receive Good News. The news wasn’t for everyone but them; It included them. God’s favor was for them. They had never been the recipients of favor. Their lives were about to change!
God’s favor opens doors you could never open on your own. God’s favor brings about extra support and supernatural strength. God’s favor moves obstacles out of your way. God’s favor connects you with people that can help you get where God wants you to go. God’s favor can keep you intact when the circumstances would encourage you to come apart. God’s favor can lift oppression and depression and a feeling of rejection off of your life. You want and you need God’s favor.
- The Good News REQUIRES a Response. Why anyone would want to reject Good
News and not receive it is beyond me, but it happens. Thankfully for the Shepherds, they received the Good News and said, “Let’s go investigate this situation. Let’s go see this thing. Let’s get up close and personal to the miracle. Let’s go and experience this promised favor.” They made the trip to the manger. They left where they were to connect with this infant-king, with God Himself.
If you are going to receive the full benefit of the Good News that God has come into the world, you are going to have move from where you are in response to God’s invitation to experience Him. There will be a physical relocation of sorts and there will definitely be a relocation of your thoughts and emotions. There will be a reprioritizing of your life. You won’t settle for the status quo. You will want more and more of the things of God. You won’t be satisfied with watching others grow in their spiritual life. You will want to press in to “see for yourself” like the Shepherds did. When you receive the Good News by faith and desire to experience God’s favor, it will lead you away from where you have always been. Your life will change and for the better.
That leads me to the third and final point of this Christmas meditation.
- The Good News RESULTS in Transformation.
The Shepherds went from being on the fringes of society, from keeping to themselves, from living a low-profile existence, from being outcasts, to being witnesses to the birth of the Messiah. Verse 17 says they spread the word about the Good News to everyone they could encounter. They weren’t going to keep the Good News to themselves!
They had a new purpose, a new confidence. They understood that God placed a value on them that was different from the worth the world had assessed to them. God entrusted them with the best news ever. Their lives had a brand-new meaning.
I don’t know what you have done with the Good News of great joy. The Good News the Shepherds heard is still the Good News for all people. You can have favor with God. Listen, you need the favor of God on your life. You do. Someone once told me, “I need God in my life so that I can go to Heaven,” to which I replied, “Honey, you need God to go to Walmart.” You need Him to protect you from becoming a captive to fear and from becoming a casualty of all of the constant bad news. You need Him in order to understand your own value and worth. He has plans for you that you can’t comprehend. Whatever the world has told you that you can’t do or that you aren’t worthy of, well, God thinks differently, and He knows how to bring to pass the things in your life that He has purposed for you.
It’s time to respond fully to the Good News. It’s time to get as up close and personal as you can. It’s time to worship the Lord with your whole being. It’s time to let God order your steps. It’s time to be forgiven of sin and to walk in newness of life. It’s time to allow God on the inside so that He can transform your entire life.
It’s time to get your heart and mind off of the bad news that has covered our world and to get your heart and mind on the Good News that Jesus has covered our sin. “God with Us” has become God in us for all who will receive and respond to the Good News that Jesus Christ, the Messiah has come and has conquered every fear and every foe we face.