Tag Archives: messiah

O Little Town Of Bethlehem 

This time of year, it becomes obvious that many of us don’t remember much more than the first verse of most Christmas Carols. As we lead up to Christmas this week, I want to explore some powerful verses in some of my favorite carols.

  
A few years ago, we were preparing for Christmas. I was putting gifts in boxes, then sliding them to my wife who was wrapping them. After she would wrap, she would ask who the gift was for. On one such gift, she looked at me with pen in hand expectantly. I looked at the box, smiled, and said, “That one is for you!” She had been so busy wrapping that she couldn’t remember what was on the box.

That’s kind of how God snuck the gift of our savior into the world. It wasn’t a big showy presentation. It was delivered in a barn through a humble girl who was barely known. The world would expect the King of Kings to get around the clock coverage, tweets wondering what His name would be, and hashtags so everyone could follow. But that’s not how God did it. He did it oppositely from the way we would have done it.

The lyrics of “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” described it like this:

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;

So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.

No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in

God silently sent us His gift of redemption. The path to Heaven was illuminated by a star instead of spotlights. It was announced to shepherds instead of to people of social stature. Those who were looking and listening for Him found a baby lying in a manger in the small town of Bethlehem, which wasn’t even the capital. God entered this world silently so that those who are seeking Him will find Him. Those who find Him and receive Him will have His peace live in their heart and their sins forgiven. Oh what a gift that was given in the little town of Bethlehem.

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He is

I had the opportunity last year to meet William Paul Young, author of “The Shack”. In that time, he shared his heart and how that book came about. He also talked about the controversy that was created when in his allegory the person who represented God was a female. His message was simple, “Don’t put God in a box. He is who we need Him to be at the moment of our need.”

As I was reading the Bible this morning, God directed me to Ruth. As I was reading about Boaz being the kinsman redeemer, my mind went back to an old song called “He Is” by Aaron Geoffrey. In my mind, I heard them sing, “In Ruth He is our kinsman redeemer.” The song goes through every book of the Bible and says who God is in that book. All of a sudden it clicked. God truly is everything we need Him to be for us.

To confine Him to a box of male or female would be ridiculous. That’s the point that William Paul Young was trying to make. He was forcing us out of limiting who God is in our lives by trying to define Him with something that has limitations. Our minds want to grasp who He is, but don’t have the ability to so we try to compartmentalize Him. We try to make Him fit, but we can’t.

The song illustrates that in the Bible God is who each person needed Him to be. All throughout the scriptures God is sufficient to meet the needs of the people. He is sufficient today to meet your needs as well. He is more than able to be who you need Him to be when you need Him to be it. To David, He was a strong and mighty tower when His enemies came after Him.

Who do you need Him to be today? Are you worried and stressed out? According to Isaiah, He is the Prince of Peace. Have you lost your dad and are in need of fatherly advice? Psalms 68 says that He is a Father to the fatherless. Are you in desperate need of healing? He is the God that heals you. Are you in need of forgiveness of things you’d rather not talk about? He is the God who not only forgives, but casts your sins into the Sea of Forgetfulness.

The Bible is full of scriptures that show God as the One who can be who you need Him to be. Wherever you are, whatever you need, He is able to be and do abundantly above and beyond all you could ever ask or think. He is not confined to be only the God of the box we try to fit Him into. He is the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. He is deeply concerned with your life and knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows what you’ve done and what you’ve been through and still loves you. He is all you will ever need. He is.

Here’s a link to the YouTube video of the song I mentioned.

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Offer Yourself, not Excuses

One of my favorite miracles that Jesus did was to feed the 5000. You can find it in Matthew 14:15-21. Jesus had just gone away from everyone because he found out his cousin, John the Baptist, had just been murdered. Even in a remote place, people who were looking for Jesus found Him. He didn’t send them away or tell them to let Him grieve in peace. Instead, He had compassion on them and ministered to them.

At the end of the day, the disciples came to Him and told Him to send the people away to find something to eat because it was late and they were in a barren place. Jesus looked at them and said, “They don’t need to leave. You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have nothing, but these 5 loaves and 2 fish.” He then said, “Bring them to me.” He broke the bread and fish and fed the 5000 with it.

All around us every day are people who are in a barren place. They are hungry spiritually. They are looking for Jesus. What do we do about it? Many of us pray for them. Some us hope God will put someone in their lives to show them the way. I think God looks back at us and says, “You feed them.” Too often we think we are incapable of feeding them. We look back at God and say, “I don’t have anything to give except this little bit. They need more than I have to give.”

I wonder if we frustrate God or if He just laughs sometimes at our lack of faith and trust in Him. If you feel like you have nothing to give to someone else, you are mistaken. God doesn’t care how little or how much you have. What He cares about is are you willing to give. God can take your little and multiply it. You just have to put it in His hands and trust Him with it.

After the disciples gave the food to Jesus, He broke it and blessed it. In order for God to multiply you to help many, you have to be broken. The more you allow God to break you, the more He can use you. When you are broken, you only have Him to rely on. When you have been broken, only then can you relate to others who are broken. It’s in our brokenness that God shows Himself to us the most. Many of us fight being broken because it hurts and we don’t want to go through the difficult times. When you fight it or avoid it, you limit what God can do with you. The amount to which God can use you depends on the amount you are willing to be broken.

Once you have been broken and blessed (yes it is a blessing to be broken), you must give of yourself. Jesus wasn’t the one who fed the crowds. He told the disciples to. You must take the broken pieces of your life and give them to others. It’s not His job to do it. It’s yours. The disciples noticed the crowd was hungry, not Jesus. We too must notice when others are hurting and hungry and give of ourselves. You may not have 5000 people who need a piece of you right now, but I guarantee there’s at least one. When you learn to give to one, God can then start to use you to help many.

When you see someone in your life who needs a touch from God, be willing to offer yourself to God to help them. Don’t complain that you can’t do it or that you don’t have anything to offer. You do. You have a certain skill set that no one else has. You have certain experiences that no one else has. You may be the only person who can reach them, feed them or help them, but you must be willing to put your life in God’s hands. You must be willing to be broken and given out. At the end of the miracle, Jesus sent the disciples back out to gather up the leftovers and there were baskets full. If you will give God your little, He’ll use you and multiply that little until you are overflowing.

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Acting in Faith

Lately God has been pushing me to do more than I ever have. Sometimes the things He asks are small while other times it requires a great amount if faith to step out and do it. That first moment when you hear His voice or feel His prompting is critical. My mind starts to think different things. Do I step out and do that? Is that really God? Why would you want me to do that?

Have you experienced those thoughts when you’ve been promoted by God to act in faith? I think we all have. It’s not easy to take a step when you can’t see where you’re going. You don’t know what will happen or how you’ll look. We are all called by God to live a life of faith and surrender. What do you do when feel lead to act in faith?

Abraham was asked to take a huge leap of faith in sacrificing his only son. Here are somethings we can follow when we are asked to act in faith.

1. Act quickly

When God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 22:2 and asked him to sacrifice his son, Abraham didn’t argue with God. He knew that God had given him his son in his old age and that nothing was impossible for God. Verse 3 says that Abraham got up early the next morning, saddled his donkey, chopped wood for the sacrifice and began the trip.

I wonder how I would respond in that situation. Would I have argued with God? Would I have delayed and procrastinated? When God asks us to do something, it is usually time bound and requires our immediate action. He may want you to say something to a stranger, pay for someone’s groceries or just pray for someone. When He asks, we need to act quickly in faith.

2. Trust God

Along the way to the mountain, Isaac realized something wasn’t right. He noticed the wood and the fire, but he didn’t see a lamb. Abraham replied that God would provide. He knew that God had made a promise to him and that God would fulfill His promise. He wasn’t sure how He would do it, but he knew that God had not let any promises go unfulfilled yet.

God is faithful to His Word. He cannot go back on it. When He promises something to you, believe it with al, your heart and trust Him to fulfill it. As abraham was binding up his son and placing him on the altar, I’m sure Abraham was thinking, “Uh God, where is the lamb for this sacrifice?” He continued to act in faith even when he couldn’t see how God would provide. Blind obedience always yields God’s reward.

3. Receive His blessing

As Abraham stood there with knife in hand, the angel called out to him to stop. His faith had been tested and he had shown God that he would not withhold anything from Him including his only son. God then provided a ram to be caught in some bushes by its horns. He received that blessing and sacrificed it instead.

This is a great illustration of what God has done for us. It was our lives who were on the altar. We are the ones who were supposed to die because of our sin. At the right moment in time, God provided a lamb to be sacrificed in our place. He provided His only son, Jesus to come and die in our place so we could receive the blessing of spending eternity with Him.

If God was not willing to withhold even His own son from us, how much of what we have should we be willing to give Him? What He asks of us pales in comparison to what He gave for us. When God asks us next time to step out in faith, remember that we need to act quickly and trust Him. We have received the blessing of salvation, now it’s time to give something back to Him.

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