Google+ 12/24/12 Alone in Bethlehem!

Isaiah 7:10-14

 

Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”

But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”

Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David!

Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look!

The virgin will conceive a child!

She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). 

 

It is Christmas Eve.  Literally, the night before the arrival of God's only Son, who will walk and talk with us here on earth.  The preparation has been completed.  Let's review.  Isaiah told Ahaz, the ungodly King, that Jesus, Immanuel is coming.  An Angel visited Mary with the announcement that she was carrying God's only Son.  An Angel visited Joseph and told him that he was to be Jesus' earthly father.  An Angel visited Elizabeth and told her that she would bear a son that would be John the Baptist.  Mary, Joseph, and Elizabeth obeyed and responded, immediately, to the angel's messages.  John the Baptist was born and he did exactly as he was told.  He proclaimed that Jesus was coming and that there was a lot of preparation that the world needed to do to accept the "Great I Am." John the Baptist spelled it out and issued a warning to all that did not prepare.  Because of their continued obedience, Joseph and Mary traveled afar.  They made the long and arduous journey to Bethlehem.  Upon arriving, they were rejected because the "No Vacancy" sign was already fully illuminated at the inn.  They were not discouraged and the innkeeper offered them all he had, which was the stable.  It was cold, dark, and not very inviting.  They accepted it gratefully and made themselves as comfortable as possible, awaiting that divine moment that was about to occur.  Now that our review is complete, let's talk about today in the stable.  Any of you that are parents know what is going on today.  In our updated terminology, Mary's water has broken and the delivery of the Christ child is imminent.  No matter how much preparation Joseph and Mary have done up to this moment, their hearts are pounding because of both fear and great joy.  Remember, this is their first child.  On top of that, Mary's "seed" has been planted by God.  By anyone's definition, these are very unique circumstances surrounding the birth of Joseph and Mary's first child.  They must have been in prayer.  They must have been talking to each other to make sense of all of this.  By the way, try to remember that currently, the stable is empty except for Mary, Joseph and the few animals that may have been present.  Except for God, they were alone.  The upcoming star, complete with announcement, hasn't happened yet.  There is no "great light" in Bethlehem today, only people paying taxes!   This circumstance focuses on something we all need to understand and think about.  Today is the first day of the rest of their lives for Joseph, Mary, and all of us.  Please understand who Joseph and Mary are and what they are thinking.  They are not saints to be worshiped.  They are not gods or prophets or apostles.  They are two very important people, in God's eyes, who are being obedient.  They were chosen for this very important event.  The didn't show up in Bethlehem to stay at the Ritz Carlton.  It was never God's intention.  This soon to be three-person family, is getting ready for the prophecy foretold.  They have prepared and prayed and they are now as ready as any of us are when we answer God's call.  Now the big finish!  God has and is calling you to be a "Mary or Joseph."  God is preparing and nudging you.  God's voice could come to you through a "heavenly Angel" or one of God's "earthly servants."  We would be well served to listen, prepare and pray, just like Mary and Joseph.   Tomorrow, there will be a crowd in the manager.  It will be all about Jesus and the other visitors in the manager.  If you have children, remember the hours before their actual birth?  There is a reason, ladies and gentlemen, why they call it "labor."  There was no crowd.  The visitors came AFTER the birth.  In those moments right before the big event, there was just Mary, Joseph and God.  Before the star appeared, there was only darkness and faith.  Today, before your star shines tomorrow, think about what God is telling you.  "Labor" as needed for the greater purpose that is to come.  Be faithful, even when you can't see the star.  God has given us the prophecy that the star, indeed, is coming.  On this day, when there is no room in the inn, check into the stable.  God has prepared our perfect accomodations with just Him, us and a few animals!    Prepare, be patient, and wait on God.  When the star comes tomorrow, your faithfulness will be celebrated, Jesus will be crowned King,  and you will no longer be alone in Bethlehem!