Archive for December, 2018

Is There Room in Your Heart?

I was very touched and challenged today by a song that was sung as a prelude to worship, “Is There Room in Your Heart” written by Matt Maher and recorded by Casting Crowns.

[Verse 1]
Family hiding from the storm
Found no place at the keeper’s door
It was for this a Child was born
To save a world so cold and hollow

[Verse 2]
The sleeping town did not know
That lying in a manger low
A Savior King who had no home
Has come to heal our sorrows

[Chorus 1]
Is there room in your heart?
Is there room in your heart?
Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story?

[Verse 3]
Shepherds counting sheep in the night
Do not fear the glory light
You are precious in His sight
God has come to raise the lowly

[Chorus 2]
Is there room in your heart?
Is there room in your heart?
Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story?
You can come as you are
But it may set you apart
When you make room in your heart
And trade your dreams for His glory

 

It’s the Christmas season and we have been reading and reflecting on the story of Jesus birth in Luke 2.  It’s amazing how the well-known story can be so fresh, relevant and inspiring.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Mary and Joseph were a young couple weary from traveling, in a city one hundred miles from home, desperately needing the privacy of a room. You see, Mary was not only tired but the tightening of muscles across her belly indicated that her baby would be born very soon. They urgently needed a room and there was none.

The sympathetic innkeeper gave what he thought he could, a resting place in the stable. He did not know that he would be hosting the Son of God or he may have made room in his already crowded home.  He could have boosted to his friends his part in the marvelous story that unfolded that night. Instead, the animals shared their space and gave silent witness of God’s miracle, their manger filled with their evening meal of hay became his bed.

Every person on planet earth is faced with the question, is there room in your heart for Jesus?  Revelations 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Will you allow the Son of God to live in your heart? You have to answer that question.  The Son of God wants to dwell in your heart. Jesus does not push his way in, He only comes when invited and you have to open the latch. Living in your heart means that Jesus dwells there. He is a part of everything you do. He will feed your hungry soul with the bread of life and satisfy your thirst with living water.

The Bible is the Word of God and tells us how to know and receive God.  The Bible is divided into two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the story of creation and God revealing himself to sinful man. It foretells the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God. The New Testament is the fulfillment of God coming to earth. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the story of Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection.  The rest of the books explain the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth and growth of the early church. It gives divine guidance for Christians today and points to the time when Jesus will come again in the grand finale of history, redeeming the church. The words are true, living and offer eternal life. Jesus said, I am the Bread of Life and the source of Living Water. Come to me and I will satisfy your deepest longings and thirst for eternal life.

Is there room in your heart for God to write his story?

 

The Day Jesus Came

It was a day that started out like the other days of the journey. There was nothing in the air that signaled that today was the day that a special surprise was going to happen, a visit from Almighty God by His son, Jesus. The ancient word of the prophets had long predicted the event, but there was no word to indicate the day except for a longing expectation in the hearts of a few faithful saints.

As Joseph and Mary stirred that morning, there was a sense of urgency to get to Bethlehem before darkness fell that evening. They were on their last leg of a long, difficult, walking journey of approximately 100 miles depending on which route they took from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Their ruler, Caesar Augustus, had sent out a decree that all the world was to be taxed and each man had to return to his hometown to register. Because Joseph was in Mary’s hometown of Nazareth, and he was of the lineage of David, he had to return to Bethlehem.

Scripture doesn’t tell us all the details, but it does give us clues, so I am going to do some surmising as to what took place. Usually people traveled on foot or donkeys and in groups for safety from bandits, especially for such a long trip that took 7-10 days over rough terrain. Historians suggest that this journey most likely took place in September. (Some say it could have been early spring). September would be after the hot summer months of July and August and before the cold winter season set in. Shepherds would still be grazing their flocks of sheep in the fields.

Joseph was faced with a difficult dilemma. Mary was in her ninth month of pregnancy and heavy with child.  Her baby could be born any day. He had to pay his taxes or face heavy penalty or punishment and a group from Nazareth was preparing to go. He could not bear the thought of leaving Mary alone.  After weighing their options, they decided they had to go, together.  Joseph secured a donkey for Mary to ride (scripture does not give us this detail) and with nervous apprehension they joined the group of other travelers heading south.

Mary did not complain but the trip was all she could handle.  She was weary, sore and her back hurt. They struggled to keep up with the group. And then, finally, they were starting their last day, Bethlehem was within reach. They attempted to keep up with the group but as the day progressed they lagged further and further behind. Mary suspected she was in labor.  Joseph’s jaw tightened as he nervously watched Mary shifting on the donkey’s back, holding her back and silently rubbing her tightening belly.  He quietly urge the donkey forward, as he glanced at the sun setting over the western sky. Their group had long disappeared from view. Many thoughts tumbled through his mind as he began to question the wisdom of their decision, unaware they were plodding towards a divine appointment under the guidance and protection of the Almighty God. The ancient prophets had long foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

It was dark when the exhausted couple stumbled into Bethlehem. Joseph knew they were in urgent need of a place of rest and privacy. There were only a few guest rooms available in town for weary travelers.  Usually the locals would take travelers into their homes for the night. The little town was bustling with people, scurrying around caring for their families and animals. Lively chatter echoed from the rooftops as locals entertained their overnight guests. No where was there an extra room. The town was full to overflowing, their travel companions had beat them there. Finally, one sympathetic  innkeeper offered them a spot in the stable with his animals. It was all he had. He never dreamed he would soon be hosting the Son of God.

Joseph and Mary eagerly accepted his offer and a few hours later in the quietness of a dimly lit, earthy, smelly, stable, Emmanuel was born.

Emmanuel means “God with us” but no one seemed to notice or care that God had come. The exhausted couple was quietly resting on a pile of hay when suddenly they became aware of men cautiously and slowly inching towards them in the dimly lit, shadowy darkness. Humbly and reverently, the shepherds approached with awe.  It was just as the angels had told them, “You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

With excitement they told Joseph and Mary about their evening: how they were sitting in the field when suddenly a whole host of angels had joyfully visited them, praising God, and with the news that a Savior had been born. and where to find him. The never doubted it was God who had revealed the very special news to them and left their flocks immediately to go to Bethlehem. They left the stable excited with what they had seen and told everyone they met what they had just witnessed.

After the shepherds left, Joseph pulled Mary close and held her tight as they soaked in the significance of what had just happened. They had never doubted what God had told them about the baby but the circumstances had been so overwhelming, confusing and difficult. They had faced tremendous pressure, criticism and slander.  Only a few believed and supported them.

After the angel had confirmed to Joseph early in the pregnancy that Mary was indeed pregnant by the Holy Spirit and he was to take her as his wife as planned, he did so. Joseph tenderly loved and cared for her but did not consummate the marriage until after the period of purification following the birth of their son. Scripture was fulfilled, Jesus was born of a virgin.

An extra-ordinary day. Joseph and Mary knew without doubt that their precious baby was the Son of God. Their hearts swelled with joy at the needed reminder and confirmation from the shepherds. God was with truly with them. Emmanuel had come. They called him Jesus.

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Scripture references for the birth of Jesus:

  • Matthew 1
  • Luke 2

Credits:

Other Christmas blog posts:

The Magi’s Star

Light One Star

The Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible records the story but not the day.

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