Lessons From Bethlehem (Part Three)

Imagine this scenario: An angel appears to you to tell you that you’re pregnant.

Not only are you pregnant, but your to-be-born child will save the world.

You’d probably be scared. Like, what-the-heck-is-happening-scared.

What complicates this situation even more is that you’re engaged to be married. Somehow, you’re going to have to try to explain all of this to your fiancé and hope he believes you.

If you’re a guy and reading this, imagine that your fiancé is telling you all of this. You may be a little suspicious. You may wonder if she’s completely lost it when she tells you that an angel appeared to her.

This is more than just a crazy what-if scenario, this is what happened to Mary and Joseph in the midst of the very first Christmas 

I don’t know about you, but if I were Mary, I’d be really freaked out. I think we can pretty much bet that she would have been at least a little scared during that event, if not completely terrified. By the Jewish law of the time, Mary could have been stoned to death.(http://www.scripturestudies.com/Vol4/D7/d7_nt.html)

Nonetheless, Mary trusted that God knew what was best. “”I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38. Joseph also chose to have faith in God, and faith in his to-be wife after an angel appeared to him and explained that Mary’s child is from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:24 says “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”

Sometimes, we don’t know why things happen the way they do. Life situations don’t always make sense to us in the here and now, from our perspective. But, God can see the whole picture. It’s kind of like a story. In book POVS, the omniscient narrator can see the entire story. With books written in this point of view, you can see every characters’ thoughts and actions. However, in first person, we can only see life through one character’s perspective. In real life, we can only see a tiny piece of a greater story in our own limited point of view. Nonetheless, God can see the entire storyline. He knows exactly how things will affect not only our own lives but the lives of others.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Even if we don’t understand life’s many unusual circumstances and wrenches in our plans, God does. Romans 8:28 reads “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This doesn’t mean that all things are good, or even make sense to us in the natural realm. But, it does mean that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and He holds the pen to all of our stories.

Sometimes, our job is to put down the pen and let God narrate, trusting that He will turn our lives into a beautiful masterpiece. 🙂

This is the last installment of the Lessons From Bethlehem series. There are many more things that we can learn from the Nativity, as well as many other events from the Bible. I highly encourage you to read the Bible on your own, letting God speak to you in a way that only He can.

I believe this song really captures the emotion that must have taken place on the night before Christmas. It’s also one of my favorite modern Christmas songs.

The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath

 

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Lessons From Bethlehem (Part Two)

Hey everyone! Sorry it’s been a couple of days since my last post! I’ve been busy wrapping presents, Christmas shopping, and baking cookies. The usual Christmas stuff.

The last post was all about how God can use anyone, no matter how small. This post is all about humility, and how God left all of Heaven for us.

John 15:13 says Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

While this verse is speaking about Jesus’ death on the cross, He laid down His life in multiple ways each and every day just by coming to earth. He left all of Heaven’s glory to come down as a baby, be born in a manger, live his life as a carpenter, preach the good news, and eventually die on the cross for our sins.

Jesus didn’t have to make such a humble entrance. He’s God, so He could have just as easily come as a king, not a baby. Yet, that’s how He chose to enter the world. And, not only did He come as a baby, but he was born in a manger!

Interestingly enough, His entrance into the world is consistent with his preaching later on.

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.-Matthew 20:16

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.-Luke 14:10

Jesus lived and preached a message of humility. Now, I’d like to clarify that humility does not mean having a poor opinion of yourself. God created us and wants us to have a positive self-confidence. Psalm 139:14 says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” 

To be humble simply to be the opposite prideful. It means to put others before yourself. Jesus sacrificed his life for us, and because He did that, we’re called to sacrifice in small ways each day for others.

This could be something as small as letting your friend or sibling have the last cookie or holding the door for an elderly lady. Or, it could be something with a greater cost, such as standing up for someone whom no one else will.

However God may be calling you to sacrifice or give, I challenge you to accept that call. When God is leading us, it may not always be easy, but it will be worth it. The holiday season is always a great time to give back, so I challenge you to think of some way that you can make someone’s Christmas season a little brighter. 🙂

Here are two Christmas songs/music videos that I think apply to this post. I used two because I sort of ended up combining two different post ideas into one.

You’re Here by Francesca Battistelli 

Somebody’s Angel by Mandisa

P.S. I would highly recommend the movie that Mandisa’s song is from, called Christmas Angel. It’s a really sweet Christmas movie 🙂

Lessons From Bethlehem (Part One)

A young peasant girl. 

A carpenter.

A shepard boy.

These are the people that God cast in the grand story of bringing the Savior into the world.

Jesus didn’t come into the world sitting on the throne. He didn’t come with a loud, grand entrance. He came in the form of a baby, whose parents were ordinary people just like you and me.

But, why? Why would God use such ordinary people to raise His son? Why not a king? Why would a Shepard boy be the one to take this family in? Why not at least a real inn and a bed, rather than a dirty old manager?

One reason could be that it had to be this way, in order to fulfill the prophesies, but why would God use his people to prophesize such a grand event this way to begin with? I believe that part of the reason he did this may have been to show us that no matter how ordinary our lives may look to us, God can use them for great things. Everyone’s life has a purpose. I bet the Shepard boy had moments when he saw his life as ordinary, but today, we still talk about him, and he’s known for his generosity in letting a tired Mary and Joseph stay with him.

Never think that your life is insignificant, because God just may use it in big ways that you never could have dreamed of 🙂

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.-Ephesians 3:20-21

A Strange Way To Save The World-Rascal Flatts 

As I was writing this post, I decided to stretch this out into a series, so keep checking back for new posts! I plan to post more on the Nativity in the near future. 🙂