Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Good Shepherd


The Good Shepherd.jpg.001

Looking back over our posts this year I realized that we missed posting the notes from the Bible Study on Sunday November 30.  These notes took us through the end of chapter 10 in our study of the Gospel of John.

INTRODUCTION:
Sheep are completely dependent upon their shepherd. Someone once said jokingly that sheep are an animal that make a case for why evolution cannot be true – if it were sheep would not have survived as a species.

Sheep are remarkably helpless animals!

Sheep can find themselves in a situation where they are “cast”. This is when the sheep is fat or has a lot of wool and lies down in small depression their center of gravity shifts and their feet come off the ground. The sheep will panic and roll further, if not rescued they will die in that position.

Sheep have limited intelligence. They will follow the same path and walk right past a field of green grass. If not led into it they will starve.

Sheep are timid and easily frightened. Sometimes it takes nothing much to frighten them terribly.
Sheep can be annoyingly stubborn. They require the most work in animal husbandry.

And here is the point… God chooses this animal and the relationship between the sheep and shepherd to help us visualize God’s relationship to us!

Psalm 100:3 “We are the sheep of His pasture.”

So what do we learn about this Good Shepherd who loves and cares for His flock?

THE GOOD SHEPHERD LIVES FOR THE SHEEP (11)

The shepherd gives his entire life for his sheep

Psalm 23 – A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will

It is a life-consuming commitment – this is not a 8-5 job for the shepherd, it is a 24/7 life commitment. My Grandad was a dairy farmer – Milking the cows 7 days a week. Never took a day off, never went on holiday, never took off Christmas. He was up in the night to help with birthing calves, he was preparing the hay in the summer, he shoveled the gutters, He treated the wounds, and he did the milking.  Taking care of sheep requires even more effort and energy!  It is a commitment that consumes all of you!

  • It involves loving provision – green pastures, still waters (Ps. 23:2a)
  • It involves providing leadership – He leads His sheep to external provision (Ps. 23:2b).  He leads His sheep in internal righteousness (Ps. 23:3).

Application: What are you living for? What is “your life?” For some it is sports, some it is their business, for others their children.

The shepherd lives for the sheep because there are predators (12)

Wolves are after the sheep

Mt. 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.

The sheep exist in the midst of wolves

Mt. 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The shepherd gives his life for the sheep because there is none else who cares the way he does! (13)

This is seen most clearly the well-being of the flock is threatened by an enemy. David killing the bear and lion. (1 Sam 17:34-37)

Hired help (hireling) abandons the flock when the wolf comes (12). Hired help flees when danger approaches.  Why does the hired help flee? He is a hireling and does not care for the flock.

Jesus is referring to the religious leaders that he has been sparring with!  Clearly they didn’t care as evidenced by the way they were willing to throw the blind man under the bus (9:30-34). Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites…

THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS HIS SHEEP (14-15)

A good Shepherd has close relationship with his sheep (14)

He knows them by name (3). In Scripture knowing someone by name involves a personal, intimate knowledge. Jesus know everything about you!

Think about this! He cares for you individually – Jesus knows every hair on your head (Mt. 10:30).  He knows your fears and tears. He knows what makes you happy and what makes you sad (Ps. 56:8).  Jesus knows everywhere you go (Ps. 139:3), and every time you sit and stand. (Ps 139:2a). Jesus knows your every thought (Ps. 139:2b) and he knows the words on your tongue before you speak (Ps. 139:4).

Jesus’ thoughts toward you are so numerous that they cannot be numbered (Ps 40:5)

A Good Shepherd is working out what is best for his sheep based upon his intimate knowledge of them.

Our Shepherd created us and He created us for a purpose!  His will for us is based upon His character and nature – He is a “Good” Shepherd!

  • He is sovereign

Romans 11:36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

  • He is love

1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Eph 2:3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • He is all-knowing – his direction and instruction is always right
  • He is all-powerful – He can enable you to do His will.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP (15,17)

He laid down his life

Why did He lay down His life? First because the wages of our sin is death (Ro. 6:23).  Second because the justice of God demands punishment for sin!

Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

He laid down his life willingly

Jesus Christ was always in control of the outcome of His life when it appeared that he was out of control.  He willingly laid down his life because He LOVES His sheep!  He willingly laid down His life because it fulfilled the plan of God the Father who knows His Son and loves His Son and at the same time LOVED us! (Ro. 5:8)

He laid down his intentionally

He had the power to lay His life down. He also had the power to take his life back. He arose victorious from the grave: over Death, Satan and Hell!

THE GOOD SHEPHERD IS ACTIVELY BRINGING OTHER SHEEP UNDER HIS CARE (16)

The Salvation provided by the Shepherd is for the World (16a,17)

Jews looked at Judaism as the way into the Kingdom of God. Jesus is telling them that there are “other sheep” which are not of the fold of Israel whom He must bring.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the “WORLD” that He gave is one and only Son that “WHOSOEVER” believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life!”

This salvation and “shared Shepherd” is our connection point (16b)

The salvation provided by our Good Shepherd becomes the primary connection point that brings us together across cultural divides, across racial divides, across economic divides

We are ONE IN CHRIST! We have the same CALLING, we share the same BLESSINGS, we are in the same FLOCK, We have the same SHEPHERD! In Christ the Afrikaans and the English are ONE. In Christ the American and the Zambian are ONE. In Christ the President and the yard boy are ONE.

Gal. 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

So here is the point! The DOOR divides! (10:1-10)

The door has two purposes: It shuts some people out of the fold – “he has a demon and is mad.” It shuts others in – “these are not the words of one who has a demon.”

The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep – He does this because he paid the ultimate price to purchase them with own blood! He laid down His life for His sheep!

So is He YOUR SHEPHERD? Will you receive Him as your Good Shepherd today? There is only one way into the flock – that is through Jesus Christ. Enter through faith in Jesus today and you will under the loving care of the Good Shepherd.

Here is the pdf download of The Good Shepherd

2014 In Review


Thank you for following the Kitwe Church blog this year!  Our hope is to continue each week throughout 2015!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Take the Bible Reading Challenge in 2015


Read Through The Bible.001

According to one market research firm, of over 2 billion Christians in the world, less than 30% will ever read through the entire Bible!

We hope that you will decide to be part of the 30%!  Here is a challenge that will have positive impact in your life in 2015!  Determine to read through the Bible this coming year!  Join us for the Kitwe Church Bible Reading Challenge for 2015!

Here are five benefits from reading the Word of God each day:

  1. Reading through the Bible will give you a big picture of what the Book is all about.  You will be amazed at what you will learn about God’s Master Plan for the redemption of His people!
  2. Reading through the Bible will contribute to your spiritual growth.  1 Peter 2:2 says, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
  3. Reading the Bible daily develops a healthy spiritual discipline in your life.  1 Timothy 4:8 says, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
  4. Reading the Word of God gives us instruction and direction for our daily lives. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  5. Reading the Word of God will cleanse us. Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.”

If you will commit to reading about three chapters from the Bible each day, you will successfully read through the Bible in 2015!  Even if you decide not to read three chapters a day, begin to systematically read the Word each day.

Here are a couple of downloadable Bible Reading Schedules that you can print and check off the chapters as you read!

TableTalk Bible Reading Plan for 2015 – This plan will have you read two chapters in the Old Testament and one chapter in the New Testament each day.  You can read through the Bible in a year.

Bible Reading Plan – If you prefer to read through the Bible at your own pace this is a perfect plan for you!

Take the Bible Reading Challenge for 2015!  You will be glad you did!

Christmas IMPLICATIONS for the Rest of the Year


Christmas Implications for Year.001

We have gazed at the angels on the hills outside Bethlehem.  We have have rushed with he shepherds to visit the manger with our mind’s eye we have gazed at the Christ-child.

We have spent precious time with family and friends.  The gifts have been opened, the meals have been prepared and consumed.

Christmas is over, now what?

The first twelve verses of Matthew chapter two provide two soul-searching implications for the rest of the year!

As you read these verses – and I hope you will pause right now to read them – there is a word that you can’t miss – worship.  Early in the text the Wise Men arrive in Jerusalem and announce that they have come to worship the newborn King.  Herod secretly call them aside with instructions to find the King and call him so he too can come and worship.  Finally we see the Wise Men enter the house with joy and fall down to worship.

  • Adam & Eve were created worshippers! Worship was what they enjoyed before the fall in Genesis chapter 3.
  • Worship is what God demands of His creation.
  • True worship was what was lost, and what Jesus came to restore.
  • Worship is the centerpiece of eternity – God is gathering a great number from all tribes tongues and nations who will worship Him eternally.

Someone has said, “All men worship someone, if only themselves.”  In the final analysis, the acid test of wisdom and foolishness is how a person responds to Jesus Christ.

IMPLICATION #1 – THE CHRISTMAS RESPONSE OF WISE MEN: WORSHIP

These wise men were the outsiders! They were Gentiles from the East – region of Persia and perhaps from the city of Babylon itself.

There are many Christmas traditions surrounding these men.   The Wise Men are always pictured as being three in number – we know there were three gifts given to Christ, but the text doesn’t tell us how many Wise Men there were.

We often see the Wise Men in the Nativity Scenes bowing with the shepherds at the manger. Our text makes it clear that Jesus was a small child by the time the Wise Men visited under the age of two, but no longer a newborn baby, and verse 11 tells us that they entered the house of Joseph and Mary in order to worship him.

We sing the familiar Christmas Carol “We Three Kings”, but these men were not kings.  They were astronomers, scientists of their day who practiced the ancient art of Astrology.  They were wealthy, well respected in society and highly educated… but they were not royalty.

There are some important lessons we learn from these men however:

First, Wise men seek Jesus at all costs

In Jeremiah 29:13 God told the nation of Israel:

And you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart”

They seek Him! (1)  They had to use their energy.  They were required to reason and make decisions.  God miraculously opens our minds to Christ – but He expects us to diligently seek Him if He is to be found by you!

They unashamedly acknowledge Him (2)

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Mt. 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

They know His true identity (2). He is born king… not born to be a king.

Phil. 2:9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Second, Wise men submit to Jesus in great personal humility (10-11)

They joyfully bowed before Him! These were important, respected men yet they joyfully humbled themselves and bowed before this child king.

Ps. 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Worship involves the whole of our being!

Ro. 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Third, Wise men serve Jesus at great personal cost (11b-12)

They brought valuable gifts.  Christian tradition suggests that gold was given to because he was royalty.  Frankincense was given and pointed to His Deity.  Myrrh was a common spice used to anent a dead body prior to wrapping it in death cloths, therefore the gift of Myrrh points to His suffering and death.  Whether this is what the Wise Men had in mind when they gave these gifts we don’t know, but we do know that each of these gifts was extremely costly.

They also offered unfaltering obedience. They departed another way as per instructions (12).

Note the order that this story unfolds: First they seek for Jesus, they find Him, they worship Him, and they obey Him.

So what have you brought to Jesus this Christmas? As we head into a new year, what will you offer Him?  You may not have gold, frankincense or myrrh, but you can give him priority in your time, your talents, and your treasures.

What has God said to you that you have determined by His grace that you will obey? In John 14:15 we are reminded that “if you love me, keep my commandments.”  What are some of the commands that God has revealed to you so far this year?

First He commands you to believe & receive His Son.

Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

He commands those who believe in Jesus to publicly identify themselves as His followers through believer’s baptism.

Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (See also Acts 8:12, Matthew 28:18-20)

God commands His children to be committed to a local church.

Acts 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

We are commanded to share our faith by telling others about Christ (Mt. 28:18, Ro. 10:17).  And we are commanded to put Christ and His kingdom first.

Mt. 6:33 seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.

Warren Wiersbe suggest that the Wise Men provide us three lessons for finding God’s will:

  • They followed the light God gave to them.
  • They confirmed their steps by the Word of God
  • They obeyed God without question and He led them each step of the way.

The Implication we draw from visiting with the Wise Men in this text is that Wise Men & Women acknowledge Jesus Christ and worship Him!

IMPLICATION #2 – THE CHRISTMAS RESPONSE OF FOOLISH MEN: REJECTION

Foolish people reject Jesus in two ways: Apathy or Opposition

The Insiders – Apathy (4-6)

Apathy is a self-satisfied state of indifference. This is the “whatever” attitude.

Bethlehem was only 8km from Jerusalem! This is the distance our orphan children from Faith Children’s Village travel to secondary school everyday.  Anyone could walk this distance with ease and yet these religious men were indifferent to the news of the newly born King.

These were religious fools, these high priests and scribes. They knew about Messiah in their head, They even knew the Scriptures that prophesied where He would be born, but they did not believe it in their heart.

Rom. 3:11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.

Mt. 15:8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. (Quote from Is. 29:13)

2 Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

Never forget this reality: You LIVE what you BELIEVE!

These religious Insiders were indifferent to this new King.  Indifference to God is simply hatred that is concealed and rejection that is delayed.

Luke 19:14 “We will not have this man to reign over us!”

Prov 1:32 And the complacency of fools will destroy them;

The Placed & Powerful – Opposition (7-8)

By the time the Wise Men arrived in Jerusalem it is likely that Herod was sick.  He would soon die at the age of 70.

Herod was a wicked and hated Edomite king.  In fact five days before he died he killed his own son and ordered that all the leaders of the Jews assemble at his palace and then he incarcerated them. He issued an order was that when he died these Jewish leaders were to be executed so that the Jews would weep instead of rejoice at the news of his death.

King Herod saw Christ as a threat to his ambitions, to his dreams, his position, and his power so he tried to eliminate him. Herod secretly called the wise men to assure them that he too wanted to worship this newly born King of the Jews – Devious, pretense. He would call for the execution of all baby boys in the region from 2yrs old and under. (see v16)

Perhaps you are like the Priests and Scribes – you too are a religious Insider.  You have grown up in the church, you have attended Sunday School, you enrolled in Religious Education, you may have been baptized.  You know about God and the Bible but you like them are apathetic!  Be warned!  There is coming a day of judgement, listen to what Jesus said to the religious Insiders in Matthew 7:22-23:  “depart from me, I never knew you!”

Or perhaps you are like Herod – you are positioned and powerful.  You are a high-stakes man or woman, a mover and a shaker in society.  People know you, fear you, admire you!  To you Christ’s demands are a threat to your agenda, to your dreams to your position and power.  There was a man like this in Luke 16:19-31 who died.  In hell he was in torment and cried out for someone to go to his five surviving brothers to warn them not to come to such an awful place.  Abraham answered “they have Moses and the Prophets let them hear them.”

Here is the bottom line: everybody makes individual decisions about what they will do with Christ after Christmas: The Outsiders, The Insiders, and The Placed & Powerful.

Jesus gives us an insider glimpse of how it ends for Wise Men and for Foolish Men:

Mt. 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

The house symbolizes our lives.  The rain, wind and flood is the judgement that is coming.

The Wise Man builds His life upon the rock, the Lord Jesus Christ.  When the wind and rain and flood of judgement comes His life stands firm.

But not so with the foolish man.  You see He has built his life on the sands of his own desires and human wisdom.  When the storm of judgment comes everything he has worked for, invested in – his life is destroyed.  He has nothing to show for all his life efforts.

None of us want to be numbered with the foolish this Christmas! Be a Wise Man, be a Wise Woman – search for Jesus, find Him, worship Him and obey Him!  Build your life this coming year on the Rock – the Lord Jesus Christ!

You can download the pdf version of Christmas IMPLICATIONS for the Rest of the Year

‘Twas the Night Before Jesus Came


‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house 
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house. 
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care 
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed, 
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head. 
And Mom in her chair with baby on her lap 
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter, 
I sprang to my feet to see what was The matter. 
Away to the window I flew like a flash 
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear 
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here. 
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray 
I knew in a moment this must be The Day!

The light of His face made me cover my head 
It was Jesus! Returning just like He had said. 
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth 
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His Hand 
Was written the name of every saved man. 
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name; 
When He said “It’s not here” My head hung in shame!

The people whose names had been written with love 
He gathered to take to His Father above. 
With those who were ready He rose without a sound 
While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late; 
I had waited too long and this sealed my fate. 
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight; 
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear; 
The coming of Jesus is drawing near. 
There’s only one life and when comes the last call 
We’ll find that the Bible was true after ALL!

Source unknown

The REAL Story of Christmas


The REAL Story of Christmas.001

We all are likely to have unique Christmas memories from our childhood. Mine include cutting down the family Christmas tree, and snow – lots of snow.  One particular Christmas as a little boy, my brother and I went with my dad into the forest to cut a pine tree.  In the forest the tree looked so small, but when we dragged it back to the house it was way too tall to fit inside.  My dad ended up cutting off just the top of the tree for our living room.

Christmas time is surrounded by Christmas myths like Santa Claus and Christmas traditions which include decorated trees, stockings and gifts.  We all sing the Christmas carols.  But what is the REAL story?

In Luke 2:1-20 we have the REAL Story of Christmas! From the fall of man in Genesis chapter three, God promised that He would send a Redeemer (Gen. 3:15). The Old Testament Prophets foretold the coming of the “Chosen One” (Is. 7:14,9:6).

Today we pause to look back at an event that changed the world!  The birth of The Christ.

The Main Character in the REAL Christmas story is God (1-7)

God is bringing to pass His sovereign plan!  There are three truths about God that cause us to marvel!

God controls rulers (1-3)

Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

The Caesar spoken of in verse 1 is Caius Octavius the grand-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar.  Octavius defeated Anthony & Cleopatra and ascended the throne after the death of Julius in 44 BC. Instituted a world-peace by brutal force that lasted for about forty years.

He was given the title Augustus by the Roman senate.  Augustus means “Exalted one” or “holy one,” a term denoting religious adoration.  Up until this time this title had been reserved for the Greco-Roman gods. Octavius was a self-serving, arrogant man who thought he was god. One incription that has been uncovered refers to him as the “savior of the whole world.”

What a contrast between this self-proclaimed “savior” and the real one who humbly entered the world on this first Christmas!

Caesar Augustus issued a decree that everyone in the Roman empire must be registered in a census and pay a tax. This census was to take place every 14 yrs.  The decree was given in approximately 8 BC but was not carried out until 2-4 years later.  Jesus was born between 6-4 BC.

God controls history (4)

Micah 5:2   But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.

Messiah was to be born in the humble village of Bethlehem.

Caesar’s edict required that every person be registered in the census in the city of family birth. For both Joseph and Mary this was Bethlehem, the city of David, because they were descendants of King David.

Joseph and Mary had to travel 128 km from Nazareth through the mountains to reach Bethlehem. That would be like traveling from Lusaka to Siavonga. This journey would have taken them 4-7 days trip depending on how quickly Mary could travel.

God’s will often requires great personal cost and sacrifice, even danger.  Part of the road Joseph and Mary traveled – the Jericho road was known for highway thieves.

God controls circumstances (5-6)

Scripture had told that a virgin would became pregnant – prophesied 600 years before the events in Luke chapter 2. For the impossible to happen, God had to be in control!  The Spirit of God came upon Mary and she bore a son.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

It is at this point that two sad words insert themselves into a wonderful story; “No Room!”  What was the innkeeper thinking?  Clearly Mary was large with child!  Joseph doubtless would have explained his situation.  Was it that the innkeeper was calloused, or was he so overwhelmed by the number of people descending upon this little village that he could not do anything more than offer them the stable.

There is a sense though that these two words form a template for the response of humanity to Christ!

Herod had “no room” for this new King. He was a threat to his family’s kingdom (Mt. 2:1-8,16).  In fact when the wise men came and he learned of his birth he commanded that all children two years and under in the region around Bethlehem be executed!  No Room!

One day Jesus traveled across the Sea and healed a demon possessed man who had terrorized the community.  The people of Gadara came and begged Jesus to leave their coasts.  They had “no room” for this one who had the power to bind Satanic forces at work in their land. To these people Jesus was a threat to their pig business (Lk. 8:37).  No Room!

The Pharisees had “no room” for Jesus. He was a threat to their comfortable lifestyle and to their position as spiritual leaders among the Jews (Jn. 11:53).  No Room!

How many people today, like the innkeeper, have put a sign across their heart that reads, “No Room!” He can stay in the stable out back but not here in the house!  I have my own agenda for my life, my own business plans, my desires and plans.  There is no room for the Son of God to come in and mess things up!

Jesus was born in a messy place, a stable and he was laid in a manger. Stables were usually caves with feeding troughs carved into the walls. The surroundings were dark and dirty.

We must not limit God! He is at work wherever needed in our sin darkened and dirty world.  When we do God’s will as Mary and Joseph were doing, it doesn’t guarantee a comfortable life.

The main message of the REAL Christmas Story is good news (8-14)

A message of “good news” for all people! (8-12)

“Good tidings” comes from the Greek word from which we get the word “gospel.”  It simply means: Good News!  And this message brought by the angel was good news indeed!

It was a message that announced the end of fear! “Fear not” (10a)  Regardless of what situation you may be in today, the message of Christmas is that when Christ is your Saviour there is nothing for you to fear!

This message was also the birth of joy! “Great joy” (10b).  Joy and happiness are not the same thing.  There is a song made popular by the movie Despicable Me 2 entitled “Happy”.  The chorus goes like this:

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

This is exactly what the world offers… happiness!  But that is NOT what the angels were announcing!  Joy and happiness are not the same thing.  Happiness is based upon happenings.  If the happenings in my life are what I want them to be then I am “happy, happy, happy.” But then reality sets in and I’m no longer happy, because the happenings are not what I want them to be.

How different is joy!  Joy is not based upon happening, but upon a relationship!  Years ago I spent four week deep in the jungles of Congo DR.  I had to put up with a lot of uncomfortable things, bedbugs, sleeping in a jungle hammock, less than adequate food at times.  My “happenings” were not what I would have chosen.  Most of the time I was uncomfortable – but through it all nothing could dampen my joy!  You see just before I left for Congo, I was engaged to be married to the most beautiful and lovely lady in the entire world!  No matter what happened in Congo I had the joy of the relationship with Lori awaiting me upon my return to the USA.

Our joy is found in our relationship with God through this Son born on Christmas day!

We also find that this was the beginning of evangelism – “to all people” (10c).  This good news is for all people regardless of background, ethnicity, language or culture!  It is in Christ that we are all truly one!  In Christ!

The good news is about a person:

  • Savior – Jesus.  Jesus means Deliverer and He came to save His people from their sins (Jn. 4:42)
  • Christ – Messiah = Anointed One (Is. 9:6), “God with us.” (Is. 7:14)
  • Lord = Master.  The sovereign ruler.

A message that results in praise to God! (13-14)

“Heavenly hosts” speaks of an army in rank. These are the ranks of heavenly soldiers sent not for battle but to sing praises to God!  Peace indeed when an army is transformed into a choir!

Why this anthem of praise to God?

Because this is a message of Peace to earth! (13)

Is there peace on earth today? Caesar had given the world military peace that would last for about 40 years, but he could not give man inner peace. Peace of heart, of soul and of mind (Mt. 10:34).

Peace is not the absence of conflict! The peace celebrated by this army of angels is the peace we have because we are right with our God and content with whatever happens knowing we are safe in God’s loving care.

  • This is the peace demonstrated by Jesus sleeping in the storm (Mt. 8:24).
  • This is the peace that passes all human comprehension (Phil. 4:7).
  • This is the peace that is to rule in our hearts (Co. 3:15).

A message of God’s good intent toward man (14)

God’s kind intent toward all who make peace with Him through His Son.

Ro. 5:8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Kindly intent of God toward man – not willing that any should perish

II Pt. 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

The response to the REAL Christmas story! (15-20)

Response of faith! (15-16)

The Shepherds were not content to only hear about Jesus, they wanted to know Him!  Let us go see… they were eyewitnesses!

There was an excitement that the Shepherds felt! Meeting Jesus became their priority – response of faith. – “made haste”  They searched until they found Him:

  • Promise of God (Jer. 29:13)
  • Must seek for the narrow gate/path that leads to life instead of death (Mt. 7:13-14; Jn. 14:6)
  • If we seek we will find (Mt. 7:7-8)

The response of witness (17-19)

Once the Shepherds met Jesus they had to tell everyone.  We can only tell others after we have seen Him (II Co. 4:18)!  It is the relationship with Jesus that is the fuel of our witness.

And the world marveled (18).  They heard the witness of these simple shepherds and were struck with wonder and amazement. The same word “marveled” was used of the disciples when Jesus calmed sea (Mt. 8:27); Healed the palsied (Mt. 9:8); and of Pilate when Jesus did not answer him (Mt. 27:13-14).

This was not saving faith.  These people were not interested in meeting Christ for themselves. You can marvel at this wonderful news, and yet not give place to the Savior in your own life!

This good news was for all those who heard the witness of the shepherds! Peace is offered to all.

Jn. 1:12 – But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to be called the sons of God.

Response of Praise! (19-20)

The result of the Shepherds meeting Jesus was that they gladly proclaimed His glory and praise!

They had met Christ and they were exalting him in the minds of everyone they came in contact with! They lifted him high by glorifying him!  They were celebrating the person of Jesus Christ!

They had met Christ and their lives were changed forever!  Their hearts were overflowing and their lips were filled with praises to God!

Can you see why the real story of Christmas is so life-changing?

So what does all this mean to us? Let’s answer that by asking ourselves two questions:

Have you made room for Christ in your life?

Rev. 3:20 Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and will open the door I will come into him and dine with him.

Are you joyfully telling others about heaven’s wonderful gift to us?

Here is the pdf version of The REAL Story of Christmas

Invitation to Celebrate Christmas With Kitwe Church


we have come to worship him_wide_t

You are invited to join us this Sunday 21 Decemer for the Kitwe Church Christmas Celebration!  The day begins at 10:00 at the MOTHS Club with a Christmas Bible study that takes a look at “The REAL Christmas Story.”  Come and discover the real meaning of Christmas and its meaning for our lives!

The Bible study will be followed by a braii.  Bring enough braii meat for your own family and a covered dish and desert to share.

After lunch we will reassemble for the Children’s Christmas musical followed by Carols by Candlelight!

We invite everyone who does not regularly attend a Bible-centered church to join us Sunday for this special Christmas celebration.

For more info ring 0976153466.

Christmas Blessings to you.

Phil Hunt