Luke 2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
We can imagine the shepherds’ joy and excitement at this point, and it can make us happy simply to do so. That was doubtless an experience they remembered, thought about, and probably talked about the rest of their lives. The thing is, though for most of us it is far less dramatic than what the shepherds experienced, all of us can taste the joy of things being as God has told us. Most fundamentally, the Bible tells us what will happen when we repent and believe, and when we experience that it is joy indeed. However, it certainly doesn’t stop there. The Bible is filled with if-then statements, and every one of those is a promise from God. Some of those aren’t so happy, telling us what will happen if we ignore or reject God, but even then, they are demonstrations of the faithfulness of God and His Word. I think we would have much more joy in our lives if we were more aware of how God fulfills His Word to us. Too often, because we don’t usually have visions of angels, we don’t recognize that God is speaking to us, and in turn don’t recognize that things turn out exactly as He says. If we were spiritually alert, I think we would recognize such moments frequently. The thing is, God never lies. That might seem to go without saying, but because we have learned by painful experience that people aren’t like that, we have trouble trusting God for it. Keeping our spiritual eyes and ears open will give us much more of the sort of joy the shepherds experienced.
I have certainly learned the faithfulness of God, by years of experience. That should teach me to rejoice in advance, knowing that if God said it, that settles it, but my human frailty gets in the way all too often. I proclaim the Word of God to people all the time, both in church and out of it, but I’ve got to live it out in trusting obedience more faithfully myself. I need to remember, and rejoice in, God’s promise that His Word never returns to Him without accomplishing that for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) I know I speak His Word, so what am I worried about? My anxieties come over whether people receive and believe the Word for themselves, and so receive the benefits. I desire that all do so, but I cannot force them to do so and God will not force them to do so. I need to pray God’s mercy on them so that they may repent, believe, and receive, for their salvation and God’s glory.
Father, thank You indeed for Your faithfulness. Thank You for getting us through the Christmas Eve service last night. Attendance was not as we had desired and even expected, but You did good things, and each person present was here at Your direction. I pray that each person in this church would choose to place You first in their priorities, and so receive all that You have for them and escape the devil’s traps, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!