All I Want for Christmas is to be Searching Like the Shepherds

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. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:8-15 ESV)

During this time in history, shepherds spent months away from their families tending sheep.  Most people looked down on shepherds and considered them way down in social status.  Since God’s Son was coming to be the Good Shepherd, God saw shepherds differently.  God sent an angel to them to announce the birth of the Savior of the world—Christ the Lord.  This child would grow up to be the sacrificial Lamb of God.  The shepherds were told where to go to find the Messiah and to expect “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  To make sure they understood the importance of what was happening in their midst, God allowed them to witness a group of angels praising God for this event that would bring peace to men. After this, the shepherds left their sheep and went in search of the Savior.

This year for Christmas, I want to be searching like the shepherds.  Each day I want to be looking for the Savior to return.  He could come back at any time, and I want to be ready.  I want my life to look like that of the life Jesus lived while here on earth.  Others know when you are searching for the Savior because it shows in your life.

You search for the Savior when you serve others as if you were serving Him.  Visit those who are in the hospital and away from family.  Take snacks or gift-cards to the local Ronald McDonald House, purchase children’s games and donate them to the children’s hospital— regardless of what it is, do something for those who are going to be away from home this Christmas.

Search for the Savior at your local John 3:16 Mission, an assisted living center, the Baptist Home for Children, Big Brothers and Sisters of Tulsa, or any place—a visit, card, or gift would be a pleasant surprise.  Just showing that you care will be the best present you could ever give.

We search for the Savior by spending time in the Bible to see just how God has revealed Himself to us.  We take what we learn from Scripture and demonstrate those godly attributes to the rest of the world.  Let people know that the reason for your kindness is because of God’s great love for them.

This year, all I want for Christmas is to search like the shepherds.  The Savior of the world wasn’t exactly what they expected, never-the-less, they searched and searched until they found Him.  In searching for the Shepherd, I might find people to serve who don’t look much like Jesus; however, He taught us when we help those in need we are really helping Him!

God’s Perspective

Here is a wonderful parable of God’s perspective as told by Casandra Lindell.

Bert looked into time from heaven and saw the atrocities carried out in the human realm. Absolutely aghast, he pointed to one unspeakable scene and asked God about it. “How can you allow it? Look what evil is setting in motion down there?”

“There’s no one better than the devil for creating a tragedy like that!” God said.

“But God, that man is one of your people…oh, that poor man!”

“I gave the freedom to choose between good and evil,” God said, his face sad. “No matter what they choose, they all live there together. Sometimes, those who choose my way are impacted by those who don’t.” He slowly shook his head. “It’s always painful when that happens.”

“But those people right there have no choice,” Bert protested. “Evil is being crammed down their throats! That isn’t a choice!”

“Now, Bert,” God said patiently, “have I ever let pain go unavenged?”

“No…no, but…” Bert cringed from the sight, unable to bear anymore.

“Watch!” God put his arm around Bert’s hunched shoulders and turned him again. “Look right over there, by the wall.”

“That one? He looks nearly dead. Is he praying?”

“Ah, Bert, you should hear his prayers!” Intense love flashed in God’s eyes like lightning. “Simple prayers from an aching heart. This is triumph over evil. Trusting me-that is the choice.” God smiled through sparkling tears of love. “Isn’t he magnificent?”

Together they stood in silence, and Bert began to see as God did.

“Now watch this, Bert.” God spoke softly, never letting his eyes leave the scene. He called for Michael and the archangel appeared.

“Go down and get him, Michael.” The tears of divine joy spilled over. “I’ll arrange the party.”

It is impossible for us to understand the ways of God as they are so much higher than our ways. From our perspective life on earth seems to be nothing but chaos; however, the Bible promises us that God is in control. Regardless of whether we understand God’s plan, we can always trust His love for us. His love is clearly seen in the death of His own Son, Jesus!

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart (Part 4)

Yesterday I shared that I began praying for my wife when I was sixteen years old.  At that same time I began praying for my future son. I remember my prayers were for a healthy child that would grow to love the Lord and become a Christian at an early age.  As time went on I began to pray for a young man who wouldn’t make the same mistakes I had.  I prayed that he wouldn’t shipwreck his faith, abandon the church, or live a life caring only for himself.

In 1985 Christian artist Wayne Watson recorded a song that forever changed the way I prayed for my future wife and son.  The song was “Somewhere in World,” and talked about a father praying for a godly wife for his son.  As I listened to the song, my prayers for William grew to include his future wife.  Even though I was only twenty, I knew that I needed to keep praying for my son. 

In 2001 Shirley and I were told we wouldn’t be able to have children without God’s intervention. We never experienced a miscarriage or the loss of a child, but I remember hurting more that day than any other in my life. As word spread through the church, many of our friends stopped by to pray with us, cry with us, and encourage us.  My parents came over that evening and I will never forget what my mom said, “Bobby, you have been praying for your kids for over twenty years.  God knows what is best and His timing is perfect. You trust Him and everything will work out just fine.” Those words of faith continued to ring in my ears for the days, weeks, months, and even years to come. Then came June 2004 when they rang loud and clear as the nurse said to us, “Mr. and Mrs. Pittenger, you have a healthy baby boy!”  After twenty-four years, God answered my prayer.

Now over seven years later, I still find myself not only praying for my son but also thanking God for blessing me with a child.  I am so grateful for God’s wonderful gift. There are so many things I never understood about God’s love me until after William was born. I never knew watching a child grow could teach me about God’s love for His creation. I am over-joyed when he is so excited that I have come home from work.  I am broken when we’ve spent the whole day together, he looks up at me and says, “Dad, wasn’t this a great day getting to be together without any interruptions!” I am humbled when I see him trying so hard to be “just like daddy.” And I am thankful that he has a hunger to learn about Jesus and His Word.  When I think how my boy energizes my heart I wonder how my longing for a loving relationship with God affects His heart.

So, this Thanksgiving season I am thankful to Almighty God who gave to me the wonderful gift of a son.  I pray that I will be equal to the task to raise him in the ways of the Lord and that he will never turn from those ways as I once did.  I pray that the little girl who will one day become his bride will come to know Jesus and pursue Him with all her heart.