Monday, December 23, 2002
It was Christmas Eve - our family was acting out the Christmas Story in our living room. Our daughter was in her bathrobe, portraying Mary. Our five-year-old son was Joseph, also appearing in bathrobe. His little brother was, of course, Baby Jesus, lying in a laundry basket. And I was, appropriately, an angel - sitting on the back of the couch. My wife - well, she was under a sheepskin, crawling around the floor saying, "Baaa." And the doorbell rang. It was two teenagers we worked with in our outreach program. They had left home because everyone there was acting weird due to too much alcohol. And they weren't sure that we were any better off! But we invited them to come on in and join us in the Christmas Story.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Playing Your Part in the Christmas Story."
As we count down to Christmas, I'd like to invite you into the Christmas Story. To play the part my wife was playing. You won't have to crawl around the floor saying "baaaa" - but you will be asked to be what Jesus says we are - sheep.
It's no accident that God picked shepherds to be the first to see His Son in human form ... and to be the first to spread the Good News about Jesus. After all, Jesus would later make this announcement in John 10:11, our word for today from the Word of God - "I am the good shepherd." That's exactly what we all need - a good shepherd. Because, according to the prophet Isaiah, "we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way." (Isaiah 53:6)
We were supposed to follow the Lord as our shepherd. But every one of us - including the most religious person reading today, including the guy doing the talking here - all of us have said, like Frank Sinatra, "I'll do it my way." And that's why we feel so lost, so empty, why we can't figure out what the meaning of our life is. We've wandered away from the only One who knows why we're here, the One we were made for. And like sheep without a shepherd, we eventually wander into a wolf, into starvation, or over the edge of a cliff.
It's hard to admit, but real life begins when you're ready to admit, "I'm a lost sheep." When you do, you realize that a lost sheep's only hope is if the Shepherd comes looking for you - sheep just don't make it back to the shepherd on their own. And right here in the countdown to Christmas, the Shepherd has come looking for you right where you are. He's reaching out to you, He's ready to pick you up and make you His forever - if you'll ask Him to. Maybe you've done that, but you've started wandering off again. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to My voice ... and they follow Me." (John 10:27) Maybe you haven't been - it's time to come home. Those other voices are leading you down dead-end streets.
If you're ready to make the Shepherd who died for His sheep, if you want to make Him your Shepherd - if you want to know that you belong to Jesus Christ - reach up and give yourself to Him right where you are, right now. And if that's what you want, I would love to send you my booklet. It's called "Yours For Life." It's all about beginning your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Just let me know that you want it.
Tonight, as your head hits your pillow, here in the countdown to Christmas, you may be able to say for the first time in your life - "The Lord is my shepherd."