Announcement from Heaven
By Jennifer Kennedy Dean
By In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them,and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
Good news of great joy. A Savior was born for you! the angels declared.
Shepherds, unknown, unnoticed. For them, a Savior.
After their journey to the King, the shepherds returned to their flock. They kept watch over their flock the rest of the night. They did the same thing the next night, and the next, and the next. They did not become famous or rich. Their lot in life did not change—except that now they had the gift of joy. So, really, everything changed.
The joy You brought to earth had nothing at all to do withthe outward circumstances of our lives. You did not promise that everything would go easily and well and that would make us joyful. You promised just the opposite: You said that the world will hate us (John 15:19) and that in the world, we will have sorrow (John 16:20). But in You, we are also promised joy, “great joy.”
This gift of joy so excited the heavenlies that the great veil that hides heaven from earth’s sight was pulled back just a crack, and the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. So momentous was this event that heaven made the announcement rather than having it delivered through the mouths of prophets. News of great joy!
This joy is of such importance that its declaration had been planned from before the earth was formed. It had to be presented in accordance with its value. It was a gift so precious that the very heavens would open for its presentation.
But this joy has nothing to do with what is going on in my life. The joy You have given me is so valuable to me because it does not change with the circumstances. It is a joy that has taken up residence in me and stays in place through the roughest storms.
Lord Jesus, You are the joy of my heart. In Your presence is fullness of joy. I do not have to wait on the circumstances to line up just right. You are the gift of great joy.
The shepherds were not expecting a heavenly announcement of Messiah’s birth that night as they kept watch over their flock. It had never occurred to them that they might be the recipients of the birth announcement of the King of kings. They were not watching the sky carefully, looking for a sign. They had not studied for years, anticipating Your coming. But You came to them anyway.
The wise men were just the opposite. They had been watching for the sign of Your birth and their studies had led them to anticipate it soon. They had been looking for You and expecting You. And You came to them, also.
You can read a heart.
Whether a person is articulate and learned, or simple and inarticulate, You can see the hearts that long for Your appearing. You are not put off by either. What comes from the lips matters little to You. What comes from the heart is everything.
Joy can be born in any life at any time. All it takes is a ready heart.
Jesus, thank You that Your requirements to receive Your gift are uncomplicated. Thank You that neither the sophistication of the wise men nor the simplicity of the shepherds made any difference at all to You.
Your “good news of great joy” is “for all the people.”
“I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
Jesus, ready my heart to receive the full gift of Your joy.
Thought for the Day: Your joy takes up residence in me and stays in place through the roughest storms.
This Devotion is used with permission from Pursuing the Christ: 31 Morning and Evening Prayers for Christmastime.(New Hope Publishers) © 2008 Jennifer Kennedy Dean.
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Jennifer Kennedy Dean is the executive director of the Praying Life Foundation and a popular speaker and author. Best known as a gifted biblical expositor, Jennifer speaks regularly at national and international conferences and events and has taught for years at the Billy Graham Training center at the Cove.
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