Saturday, December 10, 2016

“But as for you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.  His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity…”
                                                                                      (Micah 5:2  NASB)

                                                                                                December 10, 2016

    I have always found it interesting that the Christmas story in Matthew actually begins with His geneology. “The book of the geneology of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1). I was recently  working on my own family geneology  and was amazed as I considered all those who came before me, in order to get to me. Who were these people, and what did they have to go through, in making me the unique person I am today? Some were born in France, others Ireland, England and many in Quebec. One woman was from the nobility in Canada and was disowned for marrying a commoner, etc. All had their own unique story and place in my history. 
   The genealogy of Jesus Christ is different, however. For, though Matthew’s version of it (Matt chpt 1) traces him back to prove he is the son of Abraham  & David --and thus in line to be the rightful Messiah, Luke’s version of His genealogy  (Luke chptr 3) actually traces Him all the way back to Adam, and declares Him the Son of God.  So, who we are from is important. Where we are from also makes us who we are as well. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The same Bethlehem-Ephrathah that Micah told us was the ‘runt’ of the clans of Judah. I like that. God has often chosen the ‘runts’ of the world to accomplish his purposes—those whom others consider not even worth mentioning—who they may even want to disown for being different.  When the prophet Nathan was sent to anoint the new King of Israel, David’s father and brothers were so sure he didn’t matter, that they did not even call him in from caring for the sheep, for the ceremony.  You can imagine their surprise then when it turned out God wanted ‘the runt’ of the lot to rule over them—over all Israel!! So when the Christmas story tells us that Jesus was ‘born in Bethlehem’, it is telling us, that God has once again chosen the runt—that Jesus deliberately became the runt among His own people, Israel, to come to the world and make all men know they matter with God! No one is insignificant to Him. We are all desired by Him! Hallelujah! 

   But who we are, and where we are from, is not the most important thing about us; nor is our occupation, regardless how lofty a position we may hold. Nicodemus, was the head Rabbi/teacher of all Israel when he was told by Jesus what the most important thing was for a man, as he approached Christ secretly by night to inquire of Him. Jesus told him the real secret of Christmas, the real secret of a successful and fulfilling life: “You must be born again.” Nicodemus responded much like you probably are—“what do you mean by that? How can one be born a second time?” Jesus explained that, there is a spiritual birth a man must have before he not only understands spiritual things, but also before He can be received into heaven. For, just as the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, his mother, and brought Him to her womb, so too, must the Holy Spirit come upon our own hearts and bring forth a new birth within us—that Christ must be formed within us, be ‘born’ in us, creating us as ‘new creatures’ (2 Cor 5:17). Paul tells us in Colossians 1:26-27 that this is “the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the Glory of this mystery among the Gentiles—which is: CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory!”
    This is the most important thing about a man—has he been born again? Has he received the very Life of Jesus Christ within his heart, and been born of the Holy Spirit? Not, ‘is he a member of the Church’; nor ‘is he a Bible teacher’---for Nicodemus was all of those things already; in fact was he was the CHIEF of those things in Israel---yet Jesus told him that it was simply not enough….Jesus told him “You MUST be born again!” It wasn’t optional. It was the only way back to reconciliation with God the Father; that way which our father Adam had lost for all of us when he fell in Eden. But God had sent His Son Jesus to Bethlehem, and then to Calvary, to provide the way for us to return to Him—to provide the way to restore us to Himself, and the glories of heaven. . . Christmas is about Jesus being born the first time in Bethlehem. But it is also about His coming to provide the way for our own second birth-- into His Kingdom.

    So this Christmas I tell you a mystery---a secret that most will never understand---you must be born again, you CAN be born again!!—and I ask you---have you been ‘born again’?? There is nothing a man can do to make such a birth happen, any more than he did the first time he was born. “The wind blows where it will” Jesus told us. We can no more control the Holy Spirit than we can the wind. We must wait upon His coming—watch for Him, long for Him—but do so expectantly---knowing He will indeed come to us in His own time. What we must do while we wait is humble ourselves before Him; admit we are not worthy to receive His pure life within us—admit we do not deserve to be a part of his people---yet tell Him we do long to be restored to Him. We must confess our sinfulness to Him, and cry out for the deliverance that Jesus died to bring to us…Call upon the Holy Spirit to come into your heart this Christmas, and give you the New Life that Christ died to bring to you. Call upon Him; Cry out to Him, and do not give up until you can truly say in all sincerity that he has indeed had mercy on your soul and been born in you!
     YOU are meant to be the ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’; the runt that God does not want to overlook, or cast out. The original hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” had 10 verses. (see below for the link to all 10 verses)  However verses 6 & 9 especially make my point this Christmas. I pray you will indeed ‘receive’ the gift that God has sent you this Christmas, and be born again.    

No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive Him
Still the dear Christ enters in….

O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today!

Here is the link to the 10 original verses…     and Merry Christmas!!               Joann

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