First Flint Seventh-day Adventist Church


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The next leg on our journey is Bethlehem, one of hot spots on any tour of the Holy Land. We'll be walking today in the hill country of Judah, part of a central mountain range the runs north-south through much of Palestine.

A narrow strip of pasture land lies between Bethlehem and the blistering Judean wilderness to the east. Except for a few farmers who cultivate grain and olive trees in the valleys, the hills around Bethlehem are mostly barren. It is a land suitable only for poor shepherds with their flocks of sheep and goats. This was also the case in the days of Christ.

The Bible says, "there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). And yet, even as they watched, their thoughts were far from their sheep. "Through the silent hours they talked together of the Promised Savior, and prayed for the coming of the King to David's throne" (The Desire of Ages, p. 47). The shepherds may not have understood the true nature of the Messiah's kingdom, but they looked earnestly for His coming and were preparing their hearts to be ready for that great day.

"At the time of Christ's birth the Jewish people were not studying the prophecies regarding the momentous events about to take place. So engrossed were they in their ambitious plans that they knew not the time of the Messiah's advent. Angels found them unprepared to receive the Savior, and the communication which should have been given to the priests and rulers, was given to humble shepherds" (Signs of the Times, 7/1/97).

Preparation to receive Jesus at His birth largely depended on three things--interest, study of the Scriptures, and prayer. All three are intricately woven in the heart of a disciple who is eagerly looking and working for the coming of the Lord. Our readiness to receive Christ when He returns depends just as much on these three things.

What is filling our thoughts today? Are we engrossed in our daily plans or pleading for the Holy Spirit to transform us in Christ's image? Are we praying for a fitness to take the gospel to every nation, tongue and people? Would the angels have come to us if we had been a citizen of Bethlehem?

God sent the angels to the shepherds, not merely because they were interested in Bible prophecy, but because He knew they would do something with the saving news. He knew they would not keep it to themselves.

For when the shepherds found Jesus lying in the manger, they didn't return immediately to their sheep. Tonight wasn't like any other night. Heaven had come down! They had seen the sky lit up by thousands of angels, singing a song of glory. And with their own eyes, they had seen the Messiah, the One they had long been waiting for. 

What did they do with the stupendous news? "Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning the Christ" (Luke 2:17). "Departing with great joy, they made known the things they had seen and heard" (The Desire of Ages, p. 48). Humble though they were, the shepherds used the knowledge God gave them and they became His faithful witnesses.

You and I may not be able to yet explain every detail in the books of Daniel and Revelation. We may not understand how to be a medical missionary, bringing healing to both the body and the soul. But if we share what we know, God will use us in a mighty way.

One of the most powerful statements in the book Christian Service says this: "He who begins with a little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what he knows, while seeking for further knowledge, will find the whole heavenly treasure awaiting his demand. The more he seeks to impart light, the more light he will receive. The more one tries to explain the word of God to others, with a love for souls, the plainer it becomes to himself. The more we use our knowledge and exercise our powers, the more knowledge and power we shall have" (p. 100). 

May we all experience this saving power so we can spread the life-changing message of a soon coming Savior!

* Read Luke 2:1-20
* Read The Desire of Ages, pp. 43-49