Have you ever stopped to think about the shepherds that were among the first to hear of the birth of baby Jesus?
What were they like?
Why would God send angels to them to announce the birth of Jesus?
What made them so special?
Psalm 23, teaches us a lot about what a shepherd did. Most everyone knows Psalm 23. This chapter portrays God as our shepherd, but it can also teach us more about who the shepherds were.
Shepherds were protectors, guides, and companions of the sheep. Unlike many places today, sheep were not fenced in, instead they roamed free. They depended on the shepherd to take care of their needs and protect them from getting attacked by predators. The sheep probably wouldn’t have survived long without a shepherd to care for them. A good shepherd understood this fact. A good shepherd was a compassionate person.
Shepherds were usually loners. They spent most of their time with their sheep and little time with others. This truly made them outcasts in their world. Shepherds were also peasants. They didn’t have status or influence. In the eyes of the world, they didn’t have much to offer anyone, let alone God. However God chooses to speak to the least likely among us. He desires humble people that don’t think too highly of themselves. These people have hearts that are open to the Good News. The Good News that Jesus came to earth as a baby to live a sinless life for a sinful people in order that they might know the love of God.
Think of it... outcasts, peasants, nobodies... that's who God chose to be the first to hear the news that the world would never be the same. It is a special feeling to be on the inside. You know what I mean, to be on the inside of big news. It gives you a feeling that you are important, as much as we would like to deny it in the moment. That must have been how the shepherds felt on this incredible night. For once, perhaps in their entire lives, they felt noticed, they felt important, they felt... special.
It was no accident that the angels found the shepherds on the hillside and decided to give them the news of the Savior's birth. No, it was very intentional. God singled them out, he called them out, because they were special to Him. He had a purpose for them to be His first messengers. And just as He called the Shepherds out of obscurity, and He wants to do the same for you today. Listen to this,
God loves using the unlikely and the humble for very significant things. Make yourself available to Him today and watch Him work!
A hobby of mine is saving money. I enjoy finding good deals and making a dollar stretch! So, here are some holiday money saving tips that I try to keep in mind:
1. Create a budget. Whether you’re buying one gift or 100, you need a budget to stay on track. Set a reasonable limit that you are willing to spend for each gift and stick to it!
2. Find free (or cheap) activities to do with your family and friends. You don’t have to spend money in order to have fun! Most cities have a community calendar of events, especially during Christmas time. Usually these events are free or discounted and a lot of fun. Where I live, there is a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and in the past they had free ice skating.
3. Take advantage of sales by shopping early. Some stores have started to have their best Christmas sales before Black Friday. If you watch the ads closely enough, and shop early you’ll find some great deals on presents without all of the Black Friday chaos.
4. Remember the real meaning of Christmas. The best way to save money is not to spend it! In a small way that works for you and your family, cut your Christmas spending or gift giving. Take time to focus on your family and the miracle of Christ’s birth. We’ve started the tradition of having experiences together sometimes, instead of giving gifts. The memories last longer than material things anyway!