The Manger or the Miracle

 

Scripture: (Luke 2:1-20 KJV) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

Well, Merry Christmas. You know, it is so good to be alive. I hope you all can say that whole heartedly today. It is good to be alive. Life is such a wonderful gift from God let us not suffer through it but rather let us live it to the fullest, without convictions of death. I remember someone saying to an old man how it was good to be alive and  the old man answered that he didn't really know because he had never been any other way. Well, I have been.  I was dead in my trespasses and sins but now I live because He lives within my heart. I was lost but now I am found. I was working in downtown Clearwater a couple of weeks ago where there are a lot of scientologists. I asked a young man if he was clear yet. He told me that he wasn’t and then in turn asked if I was. I said no, but I am forgiven. For those of you who do not know who or what the scientologists are, or what the term clear means, trust me you are better off not knowing. It is all L. Ron Hubbard ballyhoo. But that is neither here nor there, it is Christmas. So lets take our eyes off of the distractions and put them on the savior. In fact that is our whole message today. Experiencing the power and splendor of the majesty of God can be as simple as opening our eyes to the miracle in the middle of the mess.

            It is so easy to get so wrapped up with our problems, and difficulties and situation that we could, if we were not careful, miss the very presence of our salvation. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for one minute if you can. Here is a man who gets engaged to a young woman only to discover that she is pregnant. We know that before he puts her away privately an angel visits him in a dream and tells him that the baby is from the Holy Spirit. Now think about it. That would have had to of been one powerful dream for him to wake up the next morning and believe something like that. But he did. In fact, lets go back and think about Mary. There she is a young 14 or 15 year old girl from a good Jewish family being visited by a man that tells her the Holy Spirit was going to come onto her and that the power of the Highest was going to over shadow her. Her response was behold the handmaid of the LORD, let it be unto me according to thy word.

    These two had choices that they had to make. I honestly believe that either one of them or both could have said no to God and just gone on with their simple existence. Too often we in the body of Christ spend too much time in the theological debates over such things as Calvinism or Armenian. We debate questions of God's sovereignty and our own responsibility. We get turned around in circles over the ideas of election and predestination. We wonder about eternal security and the extent of the atonement of Christ. OK, maybe you do not get all wrapped up in these debates, but I do. And God has given me a peace about it all and I want to share that peace with you. It goes with the over message of today, which is how we can either look at the mess around the manger or we can experience the miracle lying within it. Maybe it has been due to the familiarity of the Christmas story that we start looking for the deeper things of God. There is nothing wrong with wanting the deep things of God as long as we do not forget about the truth as we uncover the mysteries. 

Let us for this Christmas season put aside the worries of the world. Let's stop worrying about the denominational differences we have amongst ourselves. Let's forget, even if for just this moment, about all of our problems and cares and look onto Jesus, for He is our salvation. If there is anything that I would like to give you today it is a fresh understanding of the depths of the magnificence of God manifested on that first Christmas day. Don't worry, there will be enough time for us in the coming new year to fully cover topics of the day such as relationships and finances, overcoming temptation and handling tribulation. But in order to get a firm foundation on any future spiritual growth, let's make sure the ground we are standing upon is indeed the rock on which we can build. So let's go back to that first Christmas and witness the birth of salvation first in that manger then and right now in our hearts.

    Mary and Joseph chose to look past the natural and see the divine. Mary said yes to the Holy Spirit and welcomed the God of all creation into her heart. Joseph believed the Angel of the LORD and like his ancestor before him, Abraham, Joseph believed that that which seemed impossible to men could be performed by the LORD. God can and does everyday make the impossible possible. Only believe. According to your faith so be it. How far does your faith go? Have you once believed on God but then as the situation did not get any better or maybe even a whole lot worse you faith was shaken. Again look at Mary and Joseph. The next thing that happens is they get ordered to travel across the country to their birth place for some censes so they can be taxed. By now Mary is heavy with child. Well, you know the story. They get into town and there is no place to stay. It is late, the baby is about to come, the only place they can find for shelter is the grotto where the animals were kept.          

 They went from bad to worse, but they knew that within them resided the salvation of all mankind. Within the darkness of that cave there was the light of the world. God wants you to know that no matter how bad things might look on the surface there is great hope waiting to be birthed within your heart. No matter how dark future may seem the promise and plan of God for your life is ready to spring forth leading you through even the darkest valley. Imagine yourself for just one minute standing at the entrance of stable. The night air is crisp. Take a deep breath and smell the mixture of odors from the animals and perhaps the smoke from the fires warming the guests within the Inn. Looking into the depths of the grotto you see an man and as woman huddled together against the cold night air. In front of them in the feeding troth lie their new born baby. The mother had wrapped the baby in strips of cloth to keep it warm and secure. The swaddling clothes look more like the death wraps that this king will be wearing for us all far too soon. If you did not know that this was the birth of Jesus how would you feel? What would you do? What could you do? Better yet, what can you do?

There is a war going on. That war is over the souls of men. That war is over life and the fullness of it. The enemy of our souls has come but to rob, kill and destroy. Jesus Christ came into this world so that we could have life and more abundantly. He was born in that simple manger so that we can know that even someplace like our wicked hearts he would faithfully enter in. The possibility of His coming was so hard farfetched yet He overcame the world to demonstrate to us that He is still able to set right the impossible situations in our life today. The Angel's in heaven rejoiced saying peace on earth, good will towards men, showing us all the we too can rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus Christ, the savior of all mankind, is born. The impossible has been made possible and from this point on nothing will ever be the same. When you let Jesus be birthed with your heart, your troubles may not suddenly disappear but they will not seem as powerful over you. When you look at your heart and you see the shape it is in look now a little closer and see there within wrapped in the eternal love of the Father is your salvation, your deliverance, your provision, your LORD, The King of Kings lives within your heart. 

All the promises of God have become manifested in that birth. All eternity has been opened up to you. Now, like Mary and Joseph were given the opportunity to say yes to God's promise you too are given that choice. Yes, you may have heard it before? You may have the head knowledge of the birth of Christ. You may know some of His teachings and how He died to forgive us of our sins. You may know of the power of His resurrection and how God raised Him from the grave after the third day. You may have heard the story but now, now is your opportunity to personally participate in it. I remember as children always putting on the play of the birth of Christ. My Older brother was always Joseph. My older sister was Mary. Me and Marcell were the shepherds and Sarah, you guessed it, Sarah was baby Jesus. I remember those days of Christmas with such joy. Now, that play can become a reality. Christ can be birthed within your heart. The Holy Spirit can come upon you with power and your life will never be the same. It begins with your acceptance of the truth and it ends, well, the good news it is that it never ends. It is good to be alive. And when you have Christ within your heart, When you truly experience the real meaning of Christmas, it will never end. For God so loves you, that He came and was born in that manger and died upon that cross and rose from that grave so that when you said yes to Him, when you finally, completely put your trust in Him, when you open up and let Him in, all your sins are forgiven and your life will not be waited, you will not perish, you will never die, but you will experience eternal, abundant life, starting right now. And so Merry Christmas. MERRY CHRISTMAS. CHRIST IS BORN IN MY HEART TODAY.

Jesus Christ is born. And it is good to be alive. May God richly bless you and yours in the name of and with the presence of Jesus Christ the LORD. Amen and amen. I love you all!!!!!!  Thank you for your love. God bless.    Yours in Christ;

                                    Pastor Bob