Monthly Archives: December 2011

Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 

The Magi add a fascinating twist to the Christmas story. They were ancient astrologers who were regarded as the wise men of their time. They were not Jewish and this is the only time that they are mentioned in the Scripture. Their appearance and departure is mysterious and full of imagination. Notice the two groups who knew of the Christ: poor shepherds and respected wise men. Jews and Gentiles. God wanted to make it clear that the gospel was meant for rich and poor alike. It was meant for the smart and the uneducated. In other words, the gospel has been sent to the entire world.

Micah 5:2 (NIV)

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

We find a pattern with the Scriptures: Abraham was called out of his established place in his father’s household to become a nomad. Once he was outside known territory, God could use him. Moses was required to live in the desert for 40 years before he could lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. It seems that God loves to take mighty things and make them smaller in order to confound the world and its wisdom. Bethlehem was a border town with the Gentiles. It was considered unclean and totally out of touch with the rest of the Jewish realm. Yet it was Bethlehem that God chose to birth the Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ. Do you feel that God is whittling you down? Rejoice, he’s getting ready to use you in a great way! Do you see yourself on the margins and insignificant? Congratulations! You’re positioned to do great things for God. He has a record of taking weak and foolish things to confound the strong and wise.

Luke 1:76-77

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.

Zechariah was speaking to his newly born son who would become John the Baptist. Notice what he prophetically speaks to John and ultimately to us: We come to the knowledge of salvation when we understand our sin and the need for forgiveness. We can talk of Jesus being our Savior, but do we realize that means we are not able to change ourselves and need to be rescued? The good news becomes good when we truly realize the state of our souls before God. The birth of John the Baptist reminds us that we are more flawed than we want to admit, but more loved than we could dream. This exposes our fallen nature while embracing the love of God. This empowers us with salvation.

Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Nehemiah was sent to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. As the priest Ezra was reading the Law, many of the Jews began to weep, for they were hearing the words of God for the first time in their lives. When we understand something about the nature of God, we too, can be overwhelmed by the years of ignorance and the toll it has taken upon our lives. But now we can obey the Scripture and be filled with joy. God wants to strengthen us according to His word.