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What to Do When We Have an Encounter With God: Lessons From the First Christmas, Part 11

by | Dec 24, 2021 | Lessons from the Christmas Story, Lessons From the First Christmas, Relationship, Witnessing

Throughout the month of December, the Nugget will be featuring articles focused on important lessons in our Spiritual walk that we can learn from Christmas. This 11 part series features several different authors, but the focus is the same: How can the celebration of Christ’s birth help us in our daily walk with Christ? Today’s lesson is the last of a 4-part mini-series from Nugget moderator and author, Lynona Gordon Chaffart…

All through the Month of December, we’ve been looking at what spiritual lessons the Christmas season can teach us. Today is Christmas Day, and there are so many more lessons we can learn from Christmas. As our final lesson in this series, however, I believe that it is fitting today to focus on Jesus’ first visitors, the Shepherds and the Wisemen.

The story of the Wisemen is recorded in the book of Matthew, while the story of the Shepherds is recorded in Luke. Both passages are familiar to us, and each describes a very different set of events. What do these have in common?

First of all, in both accounts the parties in question were visited supernaturally. The Shepherds by an angel choir: “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’” (Luke 2:13-14 NLT); and the Wisemen by a star: “About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.’” (Matthew 2:2-3 NLT) The first lesson to be learned is how God uses a large variety of different means to communicate with us, ones that will catch our attention at the proper time. The Wisemen were likely men who studied the night skies and would be familiar with the appearance of something out of the ordinary; therefore, God sent a star. The Shepherds on the other hand would have had the care of and protection of their sheep as their primary priority. As preoccupied as they were, God knew it would take something very obvious to get their attention, and He sent the Heavenly angelic choir. We can be sure that God will use the method that will best catch our attention as well. Our only job is to be willing and watching for that encounter with God.

The second lesson to be learned from these two very different stories has to do with what each party did once God had their attention: “…the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about…” (Luke 2:15,16 NLT). Likewise, the Wisemen from the Far East showed up in Jerusalem saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” (Matt. 2:2-3 NLT) We can surmise from this that when the Wisemen saw the star, they left their homes and set out to find the Baby Jesus. Neither group needed a second sign. Both were convinced that now was the time for action.

What do we do when we have had the privilege of hearing God’s voice? Do we drop everything, as did the shepherds and the Wisemen? Or do we wait, asking for another sign, seeking confirmation? Or, perhaps we decided to ignore the whole thing. I’m not saying that it is wrong to pray about something and ask God for confirmation. However when we have no doubt that God has spoken to us, we need to follow the leads of the Wisemen and the shepherds! We need to drop what we’re doing and act!

Another lesson from these different stories involves what each group of men did once they found the Christ child: “[The Wisemen] entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh…” (Matthew 2:10-11 NLT). The Shepherds’ response was a bit different: “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…” (Luke 2:15-16 NLT). After their encounter with the Christ Child, they went out and told everyone what they had experienced.

Although both groups reacted differently, the lesson we can learn is this: An encounter with God will result in a response on our part. We will either worship Him or give Him gifts or go out and tell others about what we’ve seen and heard, and sometimes we’ll do all of these things. Whatever God puts in our hearts, we must … do it!

One final thought… Notice that the Bible doesn’t record the shepherds “preached”. It just says they, “told everyone what had happened.” We don’t have to be trained ministers to share what God has done for us. In fact, we can touch hearts in a much more personal way by just being ourselves, by focusing on sharing what God has done for us. And in case you are worried about the effectiveness of this method, remember what the Bible says about the Shepherds’ approach? “All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…”!

Would you like an encounter with God this Christmas? Seek Him, ever knowing that He will meet you in a way that you will understand. And once you’ve encountered God, press in! Seek Him further! Seek Him until you can’t stop yourself from reacting! Seek Him until you drop to your knees in worship and praise. Seek Him until you respond by giving Him gifts and by telling others of your encounter. That is how to honor God in our day and age! 

This is the last lesson from Christmas. We pray that the Christmas Season this year has resulted in you and your family drawing closer to our Lord and Saviour. I challenge you all to take what you’ve learned and apply it – not just at Christmas time, but ALL YEAR LONG!
What do we do when we have had the privilege of hearing God’s voice? Do we drop everything, as did the shepherds and the Wisemen? Or do we wait, asking for another sign, seeking confirmation? Or, perhaps we decided to ignore the whole thing. I’m not saying that it is wrong to pray about something and ask God for confirmation. However when we have no doubt that God has spoken to us, we need to follow the leads of the Wisemen and the shepherds! We need to drop what we’re doing and act!

Another lesson from these different stories involves what each group of men did once they found the Christ child: “[The Wisemen] entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh…” (Matthew 2:10-11 NLT). The Shepherds’ response was a bit different: “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…” (Luke 2:15-16 NLT). After their encounter with the Christ Child, they went out and told everyone what they had experienced.

Although both groups reacted differently, the lesson we can learn is this: An encounter with God will result in a response on our part. We will either worship Him or give Him gifts or go out and tell others about what we’ve seen and heard, and sometimes we’ll do all of these things. Whatever God puts in our hearts, we must … do it!

One final thought… Notice that the Bible doesn’t record the shepherds “preached”. It just says they, “told everyone what had happened.” We don’t have to be trained ministers to share what God has done for us. In fact, we can touch hearts in a much more personal way by just being ourselves, by focusing on sharing what God has done for us. And in case you are worried about the effectiveness of this method, remember what the Bible says about the Shepherds’ approach? “All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…”!

Would you like an encounter with God this Christmas? Seek Him, ever knowing that He will meet you in a way that you will understand. And once you’ve encountered God, press in! Seek Him further! Seek Him until you can’t stop yourself from reacting! Seek Him until you drop to your knees in worship and praise. Seek Him until you respond by giving Him gifts and by telling others of your encounter. That is how to honor God in our day and age! 

This is the last lesson from Christmas. We pray that the Christmas Season this year has resulted in you and your family drawing closer to our Lord and Saviour. I challenge you all to take what you’ve learned and apply it – not just at Christmas time, but ALL YEAR LONG!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.

(To access the entire “Lessons From Christmas” mini-series, please click here.)

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