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Archive for December, 2010

verses 6-7: “And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was not room for them in the inn.”

A couple of weeks ago, God used me in a most unexpected way: I got to witness to an atheist. He was a young college-age man working in a restaurant we just ate at. While waiting at the register station for my waitress to come back (I had to ask her a question), the young man and I started chatting about wishing folks a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukah, etc. He casually mentioned he wasn’t sure what to wish people since he was an atheist! (Talk about your invitations to witness!) I asked him would he like to know more about Jesus Christ; he said yes, but had to ring up a tab…he’d be right back. Long story short, I told him the Gospel; he was open…he was a seeker, he wasn’t hostile. Once I told him about Jesus, his eyes got so wide-eyed. He paused and said earnestly, “I wish everyone would make it that simple.” Oh, I wanted to yell, “IT IS THAT SIMPLE!”. I’ve been praying for him. God used me to plant a seed; I pray that another Christian can help water that seed and that he’ll come to know Jesus. I left that meal setting so charged up that God would use me in such a mighty way.

Imagine how Mary and Joseph felt. Both were used by God in a mighty way. I did some research on both these people from a set of books on loan from my pastor (thanks!) called “All the Men of the Bible” and “All the Women of the Bible”, both by Herbert Lockyer.

Mary:

    Greeted by the angel Gabriel: “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
    Her willingness to be used by God: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.”
    Her rejoicing, as recorded in Luke 1: 46-55, more recognizably referred to as the Magnifcat.
    Her purity, her faithfulness, and her humility.

Joseph:

    Righteous and considerate; he didn’t want to publicly disgrace Mary once he found she was pregnant.
    His willingness to be used by God: “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’….And Joseph arose from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
    Rejoicing: seeing the face of Jesus, Joseph realized that He was the fulfillment of the prophecies about the Messiah!
    Faithful: he raised Jesus up just as if he was his own son, faithfully being an earthly father figure.

Jesus:

We recently performed a Christmas cantata called “Only Love” by Randy Vader and Jay Rouse. In it was a song, called “What Kind of King”. One of the lyrics, (courtesy of http://www.praisegathering.com/media/pdf/A08446b_lyrics.pdf, © 2009 PraiseGathering Music. Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management. All rights reserved.), says it best:

What kind of King would give up His throne,
Come for His people lost and alone?
What kind of King would give everything,
Save all His own and life to them bring?
Only a King who lays down His crown.
Only a King whose love knows no bounds.
Only a King who’s willing to wear pauper’s clothes,
For He knows He’s not only a king.

Merry Christmas to all of you! We will pick up with Proverbs again in January 2011.

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verse 15: “And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”

Shepherd 1: “Sure is a quiet night tonight.”
Shepherd 2: “Yes, just like all the other nights.”
Shepherd 1: “Yes. Except for the occasional wild animal threatening the sheep, it’s really pretty boring out here.”
Shepherd 2: “Yes. Nothing ever really happens out here at night.”

Now, I am not saying that that’s what the shepherds “watching their flocks by night” said on that first Christmas night. I can only imagine it was work as usual for them. I can imagine I might think these thoughts if I were in their shoes. During Biblical times, being a shepherd was one of those jobs not known for its prestige or fame. It was a common job that was necessary.

But that night was different.

It was to these shepherds that the most spectacular invitation on record was given. An angel told them of the Good News, that the Promised One, the Messiah, was born this night on earth. The angel and heavenly chorus announced the event to these common laborers. God could’ve announced the birth to any type of citizen He wanted to….but He chose the shepherds. After all, when you think about it…what more appropriate people to tell the news about He who is the Good Shepherd, He who is the Lamb of God… than to shepherds?

Merry Christmas!

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verse 2: “‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.'”
verses 9-11: “And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshipped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

How far would you go to see a once-in-a-lifetime event?

In January 2010, tens of thousands of people descended on Washington, D.C. The event was the historic inauguration of the first African-American man to be elected President of the United States, Barack Obama. There were many who came great distances to witness in person this event; some believing that the day would never come where a black man would hold the highest office in the United States. That day came.

How far would you go to see a once-in-a-lifetime event?

I have a co-worker who is ecstatic about our alma mater being in the BCS National Championship. He is furiously trying to make plans to afford to travel to Glendale, AZ, to see the football game. His comment to me about wanting to go was, “The last championship we had was in 1957. I may never see this again in my lifetime!”

How far would you go to see a once-in-a-lifetime event?

Three experts in the study of the stars traveled an incredible distance…by camel (an animal not known for fantastic acceleration, as in 0 to 60 in 5 seconds!). They traveled this distance to witness an event foretold in prophecy. Their study of the stars revealed the invitation to this event: “His star”. They didn’t have any fancy GPS system to find their way…they followed His star. You think we get excited at football games? These men “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Now they were EXCITED! When they arrived and entered the house where the King of Kings was….they worshipped Him; they gave Him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; and they went home (by another route, having been warned by God in a dream, so as to avoid Herod).

How far would you go…to meet Jesus? He is as close as a prayer away, if you ask Him into your heart.

Merry Christmas!

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verse 3: “And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”
verse 8: “And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, ‘Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him.'”

Our local high school football team did well this past season. With a new coach, and having lost some good players through graduation, they were not expected to get as far as they did. However, they succeeded greatly, placing 2nd in the region; they only lost to the region champ during the season. They even got matched up in the first round of the playoffs with the team that knocked them out last year (that team was a very strong team last year, a past state champion). The opponent wasn’t as strong as last year, and our team was better than last year; hopes were high we would advance from our local “pond” of teams to the bigger “lake” and prove we were a big fish. Unfortunately, we wound up getting beat almost as badly as we did last year.

Now, here’s the funny point. That past state champion, a big fish, didn’t do as well in the 2nd round; they were defeated by a team who had beaten them earlier in the season. And then, that team that advanced to the 3rd round? Knocked out by a south region team. The point I’m alluding to is, no matter how big and powerful you think you are, there is always someone bigger and more powerful…a bigger “fish” in the bigger pond.

Herod the Great fits that role. Although he had power by Rome’s help, he was the big fish in the local pond. If he was unhappy or “troubled”, then “all Jerusalem” was in trouble. Now here came these wise men, these magi, asking about where the new King had been born. A new king? That’s the last thing that the current king wants to hear! I marvel at the fact that, even though Herod found out where the King was to be born and sent the magi on their way with his pledge that he “too may come and worship Him”…even though Herod had nothing but death in his heart for the new King, God used Herod in a way that that “big fish” would have never wanted. God used him to point the wise men to where the baby Jesus was. That “big fish” was used by the One who created all “fish” so to speak. What’s more, Herod directed the wise men to the earthly birthplace of the Great Fisher of men.

Merry Christmas!

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