Keep It In Your Heart
Luke 2:19, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."Well, today we reach the end of the study on Luke 2. I have definitely learned much as I've studied this passage more in depth this Christmas season, and I pray that some part of it has touched you as well!I can't imagine how Mary must have felt seeing all the wonderous things that happened at Jesus' birth. Total strangers were coming and bowing before the manger where her son lay. She was probably too shocked for words. So she just kept wondering over them in her heart.As you go through the next week or so, I hope that you ponder over and over in your heart just what this Christmas season is about. Just WHO Jesus is. And all that He has done. This will probably be my last "REAL" post until after Christmas, so I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and I pray you keep Christ in the center because without Him, we'd have no reason to celebrate at all!
Luke 2:17, "And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."The shepherds first reaction to seeing the Christ child was to tell somebody about this awesome experience they'd had. They couldn't hold in their excitement. They wanted everyone to know about what they'd seen and heard.And shouldn't that be our reaction as well? We should tell everyone about our Saviour. We should tell what He has done in our lives. We should tell how awesome He is. So that's my challenge to you today. Throughout this Christmas season, remember the reason for the season. Remember how He came. Remember how He died to save you. And tell someone about it!
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.I don't know about you, but there have been times I have been known to be a procrastinator. And I really don't know why. Because it's a trait that really drives me INSANE. If someone says they'll do something, I want them to do it, like right then! But sometimes what I expect of others is more than I will give myself. I need to work on that.Today's lesson shows the shepherds making a quick decision to go see this new Saviour that the angel told them about. They didn't say, "Well, let's give it a few days. I'm sure the excitement will wear off." No, they went RIGHT THEN.And when God calls us to do something, He wants us to do something about it RIGHT THEN. He doesn't want us to wait ten years and see if the Spirit hits us again. He has a purpose for our lives, and He wants us to be excited about it. He wants us to quickly go with His plan. Because His plan holds so much blessing for us.I don't know about you, but I want to be better about going with God's plan. I want to follow Him at the first nudge. I'm sure I will be much happier if I do.
Praise to God on High!
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.I have often thought it would have been awesome to be one of those shepherds on the hillside. I mean can you imagine what an exciting night they had. Not only did they see one angel, they saw a multitude of angels!But then I got to thinking about how those angels must have felt. Could you imagine being "THE ONE" God chose to share the news of the newborn Saviour? I mean, that angel was the very first to share the Gospel of Christ. What an important job.But I'm sure that the rest of the angels wanted to play a part in the announcement too. So once the angel had shared his message, the rest of them joined him, and they began a praise time like you can't imagine.It really made me think. How excited am I about sharing Christ's message? Am I ready enough to share his praise to all the world? I should be. Because He has done so much for me. Even more than He had done for the angels who sang that night. So today I'm gonna sing His praise. Today I'm gonna share what He has done for me, and what He can do for others. Because He is more than worthy of all the praise, honor, and glory!
A Reason for the Manger
Luke 2:12, "And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."The angel ended his message to the shepherds by telling them just where to find Jesus. Now think about this, the angel had just told them that the Saviour of the world had been born. Then he told them that the Saviour would be the one lying in the manger. I really started thinking about this verse this week. Perhaps God put Jesus in a manger because He knew that would make Jesus approachable. I mean imagine if He had been born in a palace. Do you think the shepherds would have dared to go there? Probably not. They would have been amazed at the angel's message, but they probably wouldn't have gone to their Saviour. But a manger in a barn? That was a place they were comfortable with. That was a place they could approach their Saviour.That is just one more thing to prove that Christ will come to you right where you are. He lowered Himself from all of heaven's glory to become the Saviour of the world. We don't have to become rich or powerful to accept His saving gift. We don't have to be beautiful or dressed a certain way. We don't have to be perfect.And that is something to be thankful for this Christmas season. Though I'm sure Mary never quite understood the manger, I'm sure that the shepherds were very thankful for it. Because it allowed them to approach their Saviour without fear.And we can still approach Him without fear today!
Good News For All
Luke 2:10-11:10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.Yesterday we stopped of at a point where the shepherds were cowering in fear. Today, the fear is expelled and in its place is left a message of hope and joy that would change the world. These lowly shepherds were the first to hear the good news, the Gospel. God could have sent the angels to anyone. He could have sent them to Caesar Agustus himself if he had wanted to, but He sent them to the shepherds. The guys sleeping out on the hillside with a bunch of sheep. And to me that just drives home the fact that this Saviour was born to save EVERYONE. He wasn't just sent to save those with money. He wasn't just sent to save the powerful. He wasn't just sent to save the deserving. He was sent to save all. All who would believe on Him. All who would trust in His saving power.What an awesome thought that I never had to do anything to deserve this gift. Throughout this Christmas season, I pray I will constantly have in mind the Saviour of the world who was born in Bethlehem that night.And I hope you will too!
What A Wake Up Call
Well, today we look back to Luke 2 again. I didn't know how much I would enjoy this study, but it really has opened my eyes to a lot. I actually used part of it yesterday when I taught Sunday school, and I think I'm going to through this month. Right now I only have one girl in my class (small church with few kids her age unfortunately, but we're praying about that.)Anyway, it actually helped that it was just her yesterday because it really helped to drive the lesson home. She was almost in tears thinking about what Mary went through and the fact that Jesus was born in such a way. Pray that her heart stays tender like that.And now, on to the lesson for today. We have reached Luke 2:8-9. 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.Now I don't know about you, but I have some days on the job that are pretty hum-drum. Days where I sit and look at the computer screen and it blurs into more and more of the same. Days where I can barely hold my eyes open. I'm sure this is just a me thing. All of you stay peppy and awake at work I'm sure.But me, I have days of boredom and fighting sleep. And I kinda wonder if the shepherds had nights like that. I mean, it probably got to a point where one sheep just looked like the next. By 2 in the morning those sheep probably became a blur of wool. It would have been that way for me, just let me tell ya!But imagine what you would have felt had you been them. I mean, you're sitting there doing the same thing you do every day. You bring the sheep to a good sleeping place, you light a fire, you start telling the same old stories to your shepherd buddies. Then all of the sudden, this blinding light shines from the sky. And you just know that something awesome is before you, and your knees began to shake. Now, I'm not going to go into the awesome message the angel had for the shepherds today. I'm just gonna focus on this reaction today. They were probably all cowering in fear, huddled together. This was something they'd never expected.I'm pretty sure that an angel won't appear in my cube today, but if it happened, I would probably be the same way. Because I'm not looking for that something awesome. I'm not expecting the extraordinary.But God is doing awesome, extraordinary things everyday. He may not be sending angels to shepherds on the hillside, but He is getting His message out there. It can be seen in the hurting face of the homeless man on the corner. It can be seen in the hungry eyes of a child in need. It can be seen in the tears of someone sitting in the hospital room of a dying loved one.We have a world that needs saving, and the awesome prospect can either cause us to cower in fear, or it can drive us to a cause. Personally, this Christmas season, I want to be driven to do whatever Christ asks. I don't want to ignore the awesome things that God has in store for me. I don't want to miss His message because I was too afraid to hear it. What about you?
As I said yesterday, I'm gonna take these few weeks leading us toward Christmas to talk about the Christmas story in depth. Yesterday I talked about the journey to Bethlehem. Today I'm gonna talk about Luke 2:6-7,
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. So Mary has gone through this uncomfortable journey to Bethlehem, probably hoping all along that they would make it to Bethlehem before she had her baby. Then they make it to Bethlehem, and there was no place to stay. So one innkeeper allowed them to stay in his stable.A STABLE. Now I don't know about you, but had I been Mary, I would have been a tad bit upset. I mean, she probably longed for a nice, comfortable place to rest, but instead she was offered a pile of straw.Then the pains started, and I'm sure she thought, "This can't be right! The Savior of the World can't be born here with the cows and the donkeys." But no matter what Mary thought about the situation she found herself in, she knew Jesus was about to be born, and He would be born in the midst of the animals and the dirt and manure.And so there, in a barn Mary delivered a Son. God's Son. And she wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger bed. I mean think about it, they had been turned away by every innkeeper. No one had room for the Savior. Jesus was rejected even before He was born. But that was no surprise to God. Check out Isaiah 53:3, "3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."It is no surprise that Jesus came to this world in a lowly stable. Long before He was born, the prophets had declared He would be rejected. They were saying how He would come as a lowly servant, but most were looking for a mighty king.I'm sure Mary did a lot of praying as she watched her baby sleeping peacefully to the lullaby of the mooing of cows and brays of donkeys. I can imagine her saying, "Lord, I'm your servant. I don't understand all of this, but I'm your servant, no matter where you send us."At this Christmas season, I want to have that kind of heart. I want to be open and willing to do what God wants me to do, despite the discomfort of the situation. I want to be willing to go even when I don't understand why God has me in a certain place. How about you?
Great With Child
I've decided to approach the Christmas season this year by doing a study on the passage about Jesus' birth in Luke 2. I mean we have all heard it thousands of times, but it's more than just a fairy tale. It's more than words we quoted in Christmas plays through the years. It's the TRUE account of a Savior come to earth.Today I'm gonna focus on verses 1-5:1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.I guess this passage hits home more with me now than it did before. Because I've been in that spot where Mary was. And let me tell you, I would not have been wanting to make a long journey on the back of a donkey when I was thinking I'd go into labor any minute. Especially if I had to make that journey to pay taxes.I guess I can identify with Mary in other ways too. Of course, we all know that Mary was a virgin, and the child she carried was the Christ, the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. But I'm sure most around her didn't believe that. And most around her probably thought Joseph was crazy for not putting her away.It's not easy being "the girl who got pregnant" in this modern day. It's not easy feeling like you're on display for the whole world, thinking everybody is looking at you thinking, "Can you believe what she did?"And in those days, Mary faced the fear of death because of her pregnancy. I mean, Joseph could have legally had her killed for the sin of adultery. She was after all his promised wife. But he believed God's Word. He had faith that the child she carried was the promised Messiah.But I'm sure that she still faced the scorn of those around her. She still had to endure the stares of many who didn't believe that Jesus was God's Son. And in the midst of this emotional turmoil, she had to leave her home and travel with her espoused husband to a city far away, right at the time she was expecting Jesus to be born.But none of this was a surprise to God. He had promised hundreds of years before that the Christ would come out of Bethlehem. Check out this verse from Micah 5:2, " 2But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."So although I'm sure Mary wondered why they had to make this uncomfortable journey, God was just proving that the child she carried was the Christ. The One He had promised would come out of Bethlehem. It comforts me to know that God will keep His promises, even in the midst of our pain and discomfort. And He will make His plan known to the world. Even when we don't understand exactly what is going on!