Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem’

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:13-15 ESV)

When we read this story, it’s easy to forget that these shepherds had nothing to offer Jesus. The shepherds were not religiously polished scribes, they were not socially connected men of influence, they were not wealthy merchants, and unlike the wise men they did not come with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These guys lived under the stars with only the clothes on their backs, a staff to guide the sheep, and a rod for protection. What God wanted most is the one thing they had to offer—themselves.

Is it possible that in the solitude and simplicity of their lives, the shepherds were in the perfect place to encounter and enjoy God? Maybe when we realize we have nothing to offer God, that’s when we’re in a unique position to encounter and enjoy Him.

Most of us already know the following truth: this kind of God-given joy does not come from having everything we want. Some of the most miserable people appear to have anything and everything they want. Check out Donald Trump– he’s that guy. He gets anything and everything he wants, BUT we’d never mistake what he has for joy. When our lives are filled up with things of infinitely less value we lose out on enjoying God.

What is your ultimate source of joy?

AA0342491 Samuel 16:14-23 14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil[a] spirit from the Lord tormented him.15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

Saul showed all the classic signs and symptoms in today’s passage of what we would classify in today’s world, mental illness, including wide mood swings, and fits of depression and anger. Any person can develop these types of crippling emotional setbacks for many reasons. In this case, scripture shows us that “a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled” Saul (16:14). Sauls heart was turned from God, so God knowingly allowed the affliction of the Spiritof distress-maybe a demonic influence-to occur. Not all mental disorders are a resut of direct demonic influence, but like any sickness or disease, many of the battles over our minds is a result of the fall, and Satans presence in this world. Some are a result of physical or chemical inbalances and can be treated like any other disease. In either case, the mind can be an incredible influence on us and needs to be gurded with prayer, and meditation on God’s word. That my friends is the best way to handle the affliction that so many face. That and compassion towards those facing it.

jesus“John … testified to the truth… I mention it that you may be saved.”—John 5:33-34

A stranger to our Christmas culture could well wonder, “Who is this Jesus who causes so much celebration?”

People already wondered about this Bethlehem baby at his birth. Then they questioned even more when he began to preach, and feed, and heal. Who was Jesus, that he could do and say these things?

When Jesus received hostile questions, he took the time to answer. He even produced five witnesses: himself, John, his works, the Father, and the Scriptures.

Perhaps John’s clearest testimony came when he and Jesus met as adults. John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Soon afterward he added, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34). That testimony was John’s “light,” and it pointed to Jesus, whose testimony was even “weightier than that of John.” The religious leaders to whom Jesus was speaking, however, refused “to come to [him] to have life.”

Jesus clearly fulfills God’s great promise of help and hope. He is the one sent by God to save his people, to “bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1).

We also have heard the testimony about Jesus. Are we choosing to enjoy him? Are we committing to him for life? Take the time to realize the reason for the Season and recommit/

christianI believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.
I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small.
I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ from my life today.
I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.
I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible:
I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother’s arms, whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth, who looked at persons and made them see what God’s love saw in them, who by love brought sinners back to purity, and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.
I confess my ever-lasting need of God: The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed, the need of new life for empty souls, the need of love for hearts grown cold.
I believe in God who gives us the best of himself.
I believe in Jesus, the son of the living
God, born in Bethlehem this night, for me and for the world.
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A Christmas Creed