Good Tidings, Even For Shepherds

Another busy weekend. Good Bible study tonight. Our numbers were down for the second week in a row, due to more mandatory meetings at one university and a nationwide English test. English is mandatory for everyone to take here, whatever your major. This test is the one you take if English isn’t your major. There are two levels and it lasts like two hours or so. The more advanced one was pretty close to our Bible study time and hurt us tonight. But starting tomorrow night, we are adding a service on Sunday night (beginning with our concert tomorrow), and we’re praying that a good number will come out for that.  

Quick praise – D. is back at our Bible study after her short complete abandonment to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. She told them that she chose them because she values their friendship and they pressured her, not because she believes what they teach. She also said that they would have to wait for her to make her decision as she will study and pray for a while to find out the truth. And I hope she does soon – she’s killing me with a load of questions that are really a waste of time. It’s just unbelievable how fast religion can program someone – they don’t waste any time teaching the things we agree on (they know we’ll take care of that); instead they just shoot them full of the junk we don’t agree on. So now, the Bible is simple and salvation is complicated – there is no Trinity and God is out of control. So pray for her. 

Another big prayer request – we’ve got a lot of students going home for the first time since they became Christians. The two-month long winter break is coming up, and many will go to their hometowns to spend the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) with their families. St. told me yesterday that he wants to share the Gospel with his family and wanted to know if there’s a good method. A couple other students have expressed this desire, so I hope you will join me in prayer for these guys – this is going to be the first real opposition some of them have had to Christ. 

Took a break from our dating series tonight to talk about Christmas. Talked especially about the shepherds, as the first people to receive a notice of the birth of Emmanuel. Why in the world would God waste a heavenly proclamation on a bunch of shepherds working the night shift? I think there’s a few reasons. I think the biggest, though, is the proclamation that the Gospel is for all. Studying today, I read that the religious leaders of the time pretty much declared shepherding one of the un-holiest jobs a person could have. They were often considered to be thieves, dishonest, and untrustworthy hirelings. The priests condemned them because their occupation in the field for long periods of time excluded them from participation in many of the feasts and ceremonies that they saw as essential for God’s pleasure. So for God to show up to these guys – these undesirables – with a message of good news is pretty awesome. If it’s good news for a shepherd, it’s good news for anyone!  

And, with the upcoming homeward journey in mind, we spent some time talking about their desire to spread the news of the birth of Jesus even that same night. An excited shepherd is a testimony that something truly amazing had happened. This is what they have to remember when they go home and witness. The testimony of the shepherds left people astonished, absolutely amazed at the message and the messenger. And the Bible says they told people what they were told – good news. I’m afraid sometimes we portray the Gospel like it’s bad news – we tell it like a doctor tells a patient they have terminal cancer. Everything about our lives should scream that the Gospel is the greatest thing that ever happened to us and it is great news. 

Praise the Lord – I talked to one guy who’s been coming for some time – I think he’s dating one of the girls who’s become a Christian through St.’s witness. He wanted to know what he had to do to become a Christian. He told me he’d let me know as soon as he had trusted Christ – he wanted my phone number and promised me I’d hear from him soon. Makes Christmas a little merrier, even in Heaven!

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