Advent Devotional Day 23 – The Shepherds & the Good Shepherd

[Today’s Advent devotional is written by my friend and fellow youth pastor Stan DePue. You can read more of his writing here: https://standepue.wordpress.com/ ]

Silence: Take a moment to get still and ask God to center your heart on him.

Scripture: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:8-10). 

Devotional: Shepherding is a job that will never be viewed as glamorous, desirable or even respectable.  But being a shepherd is no small task.   If you’ve ever watched a shepherd, you know the incredible ability they have to watch, guide, and lead their flock.  I saw this most clearly in the mountains in western China.  I would stumble upon a flock of sheep and at first not even see the shepherd.  It was only if I watched for a while, and I saw a sheep begin to wander off, that I would realize the shepherd was there the whole time.  From the shade of trees or rocks nearby I’d hear the shepherd’s whistle, call or gesture.  Immediately the sheep would return to the flock.  The shepherd understands the sheep need to stick together, he keeps watch for danger that may come, and the sheep depend on him even when they don’t realize they are.

It is clear in Scripture that the role of the shepherd is one that teaches us more about who God is and how we should serve others.  For King David, it was being a shepherd that gave him confidence to strike down both lions and bears, and what gave him confidence that God would deliver him from evil.  Psalm 23 shows us that God is our shepherd, and in John 10 Christ calls himself the Good Shepherd.

It’s no coincidence that it’s shepherds that the angel appeared to on Christmas night as they “watched their flock.”  He called these men to seek Christ, worship Him, and tell others of the Savior that was here.  From the moment Jesus was born, He wanted people to understand that He was more like a shepherd than successful politician, a rich lawyer, or a famous celebrity.  His influence wouldn’t come from power or fame, it would come from humility.  One can only hope that these shepherds someday heard Christ’s words from John 10. “I am the Good Shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

This advent fight to put yourself in these shepherds’ place as the angel appeared to them.  On what was just another night for them, an angel appeared.  In what was most likely a more powerful vision from God than we will ever experience, the shepherds witnessed an angel announce his birth, and then saw the skies fill with heavenly hosts praising their Savior.  When you long for a savior today, fight to remember that He has come, and that He is a Good Shepherd with you in every moment. Keeping you safe. Guiding you. Leading you.  And when this leads you to worship, remember that every time we sing praise to our Savior today, we are joining in with a multitude of heavenly hosts, praising the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Good Shepherd.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” 

Question: How does viewing God as a shepherd impact your view of Him?

Action: Spend some time thinking of God as shepherd by reading and meditating on Psalm 23 today.

Prayer: Father, you are the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Thank you for leading, feeding, guiding, and protecting me. You are my shepherd and I shall not want. You lead me beside still waters, restore my soul, and lead me in paths of righteousness. Following you, I can know that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in your house forever. Amen.

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