Watch or listen…
Where can I find peace and joy today?
It won’t be where you think it could be, but it will be exactly where it should be. These are two extremely hard things to find for most people. Especially, it seems, around the holidays. There is more financial pressure. Sometimes we can’t be with our family or there is someone in your missing. We all want to experience peace. We all want to be flooded with joy.
I’m not talking about a mental war that many Christians fight where they force themselves to FEEL at peace or FEEL Joy. I am talking about True Peace and True Joy. I want to help you get there as we look at the Christmas Story, the journey to joy along the path to peace.
Key Passages: Luke 2:8-16 (NKJV)
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Messiah).
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, (rest, wholeness) goodwill toward men!”
15So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Have you ever wondered how the Shepherds ever found Jesus?
Bethlehem was overcrowded. There was no room at the Inn. Yet, the Bible seems to indicate that they went straight there. Jesus was still lying in the manger. There was no star to follow, the wise men didn’t come until much later. Did they run through the town asking if anyone had seen a pregnant lady? Maybe they checked every barn in the area? NO… They knew exactly where to look… These were not ordinary shepherds. And Shepherd’s Field where the angel appeared was no ordinary place. The Jewish Talmud’s sacrificial regulations specified that any lambs sacrificed in the temple had to be born and raised within five miles of Jerusalem. Lambs born there were destined for sacred use in the blood sacrifices of Jewish temple ministry twice a day, as well as for Passover.
The shepherds who watched over the flocks were trained and employed in Levitical regulations by the temple priests close by. These shepherds kept watch over the sacrificial flock, day and night, from the upper-story vantage of the Tower of the Flock – which was referenced in Micah 4:8. Laboring sheep were brought into the protective lower level of the Migdal in the Shepherd’s Field. Rather than a stable with donkeys, chickens, and cows, this tower sheltered only lambs consecrated for holy use.
The priestly shepherds inspected all the lambs born in the Tower of the Flock in the fields of Bethlehem for any defect. Those precious and terribly fragile baby lambs deemed worthy for temple sacrifice were wrapped tightly in swaddling cloths and laid in the close protection of a manger, a feeding trough hewn from stone, to keep them from bumps, bruises, broken bones, and other blemishes, until they relaxed, rested, and grew sufficiently.
Because the sacrificial lambs had to be reserved, unblemished, within five miles of the Temple, and the cleanest stable with the cleanest feeding troughs would naturally be at the Tower of the Flock in Bethlehem. Joseph probably took them there purposefully in the pinch. Isn’t that amazing!
When the Angel of the Lord appeared, the shepherds knew exactly where to look!
Q: Where do you look for Jesus? Is there something happening in your life right now that is preventing you from seeing Him?
What does this have to do with Peace & Joy?
Later, another group would look for Jesus when they saw a star appear signaling the birth of a new King (Matthew 2:1). I can’t help but look at this and wonder how they ended up at the palace. I have 2 choices – it was man’s choice or God’s will. If it was God’s will, look at all that resulted, Herod killed all the babies to secure his reign. The wise men set out with the right goal in sight, but they didn’t know where to look. They had the right heart, but somewhere along the line, I think they let intellect take over. Where else would a king be born? We followed this star – what’s the deal?
You have your shepherds, who knew exactly what to look for because they knew the scripture. You had wise men who knew that there was a king but didn’t know exactly where to find him. They were on the right path but stopped short and tragedy followed their lack of understanding.
How do we apply this to today? We not only need Your peace and joy; Lord, we crave it. You’ve promised rest for the weary, victory for the battle-scarred, peace for the anxious, and acceptance for the broken hearted—not just at Christmas, but every day of every year.
Q: Where are you looking for peace today? Where are you hoping to find joy today?
If you are needing peace and joy…
This is what the Bible says:
Philippians 4:7 “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Q: Which scripture speaks to you right now? What is God telling you?