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No doubt you have heard the old saying: everyone loves an underdog.
Everyone? Really? Well, maybe sometimes. Like in movies.
But in real life, most of us prefer to be on a winning team – not the underdog.
We only like it when we’re watching from afar. We don’t want to be the underdog, thankyouverymuch. But we sure do like an inspiring underdog story!
I guess because we can relate.
We don’t want to be the underdog, but we’ve all been there at some point.
If you haven’t, you’re excused. You can go make some more Christmas cookies.
But if you have, here’s a treat for you (better than cookies!) …
I found it totally inspiring to take a closer look at the underdogs (aka shepherds) who went to see Jesus right after His birth. How do I know they were underdogs? One word: lowly.
Poor guys. I felt sorry for these ridiculed underdogs, until the movie got to the good part …
Luke 2:8-20 (ESV): 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.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
I know those verses may be very familiar to you, and they were a little long. But I gotta ask, did you read them slowly with your underdog eyes?
I know, I know. You’ve got cookies to make, cards to write, and …
I get it. I’m right there with ya.
So, real quick, allow me to point out the inspiring stuff. And then you can go make those cookies with gusto.
1. The shepherds were filled with great fear.
Verse 9 (NLT): Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,
How often are we filled with great fear when surrounded by the unknown?
I’m pretty sure we can all relate to these shepherds at this point. But …
2. The angel told them there was no need to fear.
Verse 10 (ESV): the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
By the way, this is Verse #12 in our Fear Verse Project. (We’re slowly but surely making our way to #365!)
How often do we fear when we don’t even need to?
All that anxiety for nothing.
3. The shepherds DID have peace after that.
Verses 13-15 (NLT): 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.” When the angels had returned to heaven, 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.”
Even when a whole multitude of heavenly host joined in, all they said was, “Hey, let’s go see!” Had they still been terrified, I’m sure there would have been a lot more discussion – and maybe even backing out.
How often do we rest in the Lord’s assurance and let the Him take away our fear?
4. They went with haste.
Verse 16 (ESV): And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
Haste means excessive speed and urgency. They immediately followed the Lord’s direction – regardless of that fear.
How often do we follow Him with haste?
5. They told everyone about their encounter.
Verses 17-18 (NLT): 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,
Do we tell everyone about Jesus with enthusiasm? All who hear should – even today – still be astonished because our hearts are on fire.
Ann Voskamp eloquently writes in her gorgeous book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, “Now the shepherds out in the hills of Bethlehem that night had angels come to them, lighting their hearts on fire. But no one else heard angels – everyone else only heard the news from the hearts-burning shepherds. When your heart burns with love for Jesus, you’re like a flaming match that lights up all the other hearts with the news of Jesus. When you’re just one of the raggedy manger stragglers who comes with nothing but your raggedy heart to Jesus, when you lean in close over Jesus in that manger and you see His blazing glory, when you come close to His white-hot love for you – how can you not scramble right out of the manger and right into the world with a heart glowing like hot embers of love for Jesus, telling everyone about the love of Jesus?”
God saw the lowly shepherds and gave them a huge role in His movie! He knew that they would take that role and knock it out of the park!
And you know what? We can too!
Now I’m inspired to be an underdog – if it’s like these shepherds.
And unlike a 90 minute movie, the saga continues …
6. They went back home, and kept praising God.
Verse 20 (NLT): The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Now, the Bible doesn’t say exactly how long they kept praising. But think about it. They were surrounded by the glory of the Lord! I’m guessing they probably never got over that.
How fast do we get over what the Lord has done?
Which brings me to the whole point.
During this Christmas season, let’s not ever get over the fact that Jesus gave up heaven to be born as a baby – for us.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT): You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
All for us. For every underdog. Unfathomable.
May we live like we can’t get over it.
May we knock it out of the park for Him, in thanks.
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