Dec 04 2011

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Christmas Devotional: When God Breaks In

God broke through to the shepherds.

by Dr. Marilyn Murphree

“..and the glory of the Lord shone round
about them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2:9

People in the Bible who were confronted by God or His angels all had one consistent response—fear.  The angel’s message was always preceded by the words,”Fear not.”  These people felt afraid because they were not used to having God break into their lives.  There was such a contrast between the glory of the Lord and their sense of sinfulness and unworthiness.  They were immediately afraid of what was  to come next.

In today’s scripture the same thing happened.  The night suddenly became as bright as day.  The dazzling glory of heaven was so spectacular that they couldn’t bear it.  They became terrified for a fear of what the heavenly messenger had to say to them.

The announcement was made to ordinary people—shepherds out in the fields.  The announcement came to the most unlikely people to receive the message, but they probably needed this message of hope just as much as we need it today as we face our struggles.  The message came to these ordinary people at the very hour of Jesus’ birth.  The announcement did not go to the “religious people” of the day because they were not prepared to receive it.  These ordinary people paid attention when God broke into their lives.  Perhaps God chose to break into the lives of ordinary people to show us that the Good News is for all people everywhere, not just a select few.  It is for you and me and for whosoever will.

God broke into their ordinary lives as they were busy at their jobs—tending their sheep.  They were awake and watchful.  Scripture says that they were going about rather routine work when the angel came on the scene.  They were not praying, praising, or doing any particular acts of devotion.  When the angel came that night, it was totally unexpected.

God can break into our ordinary lives as we go about our routine and as we are just being ourselves.  Sometimes we are not as ready to receive the good news as the shepherds were.  We don’t want our comfortable routine to be disrupted.  We don’t want to be confronted with tough questions that require an answer.  We don’t want to change.  When God breaks into our lives, we are afraid of what He may require of us.  It may not be the most convenient time when He breaks in.

When we hear from God, He gives directions just as He did to the shepherds.  He doesn’t keep us in the dark or keep us guessing.  His answers sometimes come in a form we don’t recognize.  We say, “Surely this can’t be God.”  We are often so afraid we will miss God, and it paralyzes us from doing anything.  The angel gave the shepherds enough information to get them started and to know what to look for.  He will always give the next step after we take the first step.

When has God suddenly broken into your life, and how did you feel?  Were you afraid?  When God breaks in, let us be ready to hear what He is trying to say.  Let us not fear the message He brings.  It is one of Good News and Great Joy.  This is Christmas—God giving; our receiving; God fulfilling.

Dr. Marilyn Murphree

Dr. Marilyn Murphree

Marilyn Murphree is a retired guidance counselor and pastor who is spending her retirement years writing, traveling, quilting, doing art work, creating music, and speaking in churches where she is invited.  She has written several books which are available on Amazon.com.


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