The following things are things about the Christmas story that we should apply to our lives. What we are about to look at may be different than ways we may have seen it before. There are some things about this story we have probably pictured in our mind that are not completely accurate.
Most of us will see the manager and think it was this little stable, but it was more than likely a cave. Jesus was probably born in a cave. We must realize that some of the things we associate with Christmas are not completely accurate.
We do not know the exact day, most likely not on December 25, but thank God we still have a day in America and in the world, where we can say Jesus came, and it is not Happy Holidays, it's Merry Christmas! Thank God of that and don't take it for granted. Don't kid yourself that there are not forces who would like to take it away from us. But we are not going to stand for it! We are going to stand for something and it is called Christmas (Christ - Mass).
I. God can birth great things out of the midst of trouble.
Are you applying this statement to your life already? Great things can show up in your life in the midst of trouble and in the midst of a storm. The Devil is not omniscient, he is not all knowing, he is not all powerful, but the Devil seems to know when spiritual things are happening, when spiritual forces are at work. When things begin to happen, when God is getting ready to do something big, the devil will rise up with furry to oppose it.
You would think that when the angels came and said "Mary, you have found favor with God," you would think things would go smoothly.
If an angel showed up at your house and said "Behold. . . " you would be saying to your family, "Get ready! Open up three bank accounts! Great things are about to happen! An angel has come and said we have found favor in the sight of God!"
You would think things would go smoothly when God shows up and announces you have found favor in his sight. But most of the time you will find the exact opposite takes places to begin with.
The point is: Trouble does not necessarily mean we have made a mistake or we have missed God's will.
Just because it is not easy right now does not mean you are out of the will of God.
Just because everything is not going right, right now, does not mean that you have missed God. In fact, it may be proof that you are doing something right! And something great is on the way! Deliverance can be birthed out of great times of trial in your life!
It did not look like it but a Savior was going to be born.
They knew without a doubt that his was the will of God. The incarnation, Emanuel, God with us! God in the flesh! So you would think that something that was so clearly the will of God, everything about it is going to be smooth sailing and great to behold.
Everybody is going to understand,
Everybody is going to know,
Everybody is going to like it,
Everybody is going to get excited about it,
After all it is from God!
But a lot of times the exact opposite happens!
Because the forces of darkness are always opposed to the will of God.
We know that Christmas was bitterly opposed by the Devil and still is.
Satan used every person that was available to him, to try to stop it.
Joseph and Mary were real people walking through a hard time.
It is easy for us to look at it and say the favor of God is on you Mary,
But she did not know everything that was going to happen and she did not know the end of the story like we do. We have the advantage of know who it all turns out in the Christmas story, but they did not.
From their perspective the angel shows up and says you are highly favored and from that time until Jesus was born they are encountering one problem after another.
And it did not stop there, forces opposed Jesus his entire like and his parents had to endure watching these things take place. How can this be God's favor if we are having one problem after another?
It appears that Joseph and Mary's families had rejected them.
Here is a truth in life: People will talk. It was truth then and it is truth now.
There were most likely rejected because people will talk, and your family will talk.
You family seems to be the worst that will talk about you when you are in the will of God. Even when they are believers.
It appears that their families rejected them because:
1. Joseph had to put her away secretly to keep her for danger (Mat 1:19).
2. Joseph took her when he went to register.
After Mary's first trimester of pregnancy, she returns to her home. She had been staying with her cousin, Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias. It was time for Elizabeth to give birth, so Mary returned home. We do not know how she was treated when she got home, being pregnant and not married yet.
By the time of the registration the Bible says Mary is his betrothed wife (espoused wife). Betrothal under Jewish law required that the couple is contractually married and requires divorcement to be released from the betrothal. They were not allowed to consummate the marriage until they had the wedding, with is referred to as the "taking home" ceremony. At that time they were allowed to live together and consummate the marriage. This is why Joseph did not know his virgin wife until she had brought forth her first born son (Matthew 1:25). Why did they have this custom? Because arranged marriages were common. This kept them in relationship but did not allow them to live as husband and wife until the time of the set wedding.
She was nine months pregnant and it was eighty miles away, yet he felt it was necessary to take her because she had no one to care for her. Eighty miles on a donkey is not like ninety miles in a car. And the land was hilly and rough.
Nazareth was not a place of safety in those days. Bethlehem had become an outpost for the Roman Regiment and the soldier who were stationed there were rough, crewed and nasty human beings, thus it had become a very dangerous place to be.
Still with all the dangers of the trip, and the dangers of the city of Bethlehem, Joseph felt she was safer being with him, instead of staying home.
3. No one was with them.
Think about it, all had to go register, that meant both families were in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary families were of the lineage of David. Joseph was through the lineage of Solomon the son of David and Mary's family was through the lineage of Nathan the son of David (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-31).
How many people do you know that will not show up when a child is born. Normally both sides of the family are there for a birth of a child. Joseph and Mary had not family present: Not their parents, not any brothers or sisters, no uncles or aunts; no was there from their families when Jesus was born, even though this was their home town and most likely they had relatives who still lived there.
4. No one let Joseph and Mary stay with them.
Not one family member offered to let them stay in their living quarters.
Instead they had to stay in a stable, which was a cave in that area of the world.
As a relative, would you not allow your relative who is expecting her baby any day, from staying with you; or would you prefer they be homeless? Who would do that?
There must had been times Joseph and Mary thought they had been forsaken by God because they had been forsaken by people and even their families.
They had went from having favor with God, knowing that the child that was to be born was from God, to be King on the throne of David, and savior of his people. Jesus means "a savior". They went for all that to giving birth to their firstborn child, in a stable, a cave, where the animals are cared for. And it looked like nobody was going to be there to enjoy this birth, except themselves. Not even a midwife there to help with the birth.
Mary laid Jesus in a feeding trough, a manger.
Luke 2:12 "You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
This was where the animals ate.
There was nothing else available to use as a crib to lay her new born baby in.
I am sure she must have though this is not what I expected for my by son who would be the fulfillment of the Messiah! To be laid into a feeding trough. We look at a manger as being a nice wooden crib-like bed with hay in it. Not so, it was most likely some simple hued out stone to contain the feed. Would you want to put your new born baby in a slop tub you feed animals in? Have you been to a farm and seen the places they put the animal's food. Not something I would want to lay my son in.
But think about the prophetic action this was. . .laying him in a mange, a feeding trough. . .He was the bread of life. This baby was and is the spiritual nutrition for every human being. This child who was laid in the animal feeding place is the one who would speak life into all who will ingest his words. Life giving words of truth that heals the body and regenerates the soul to have fellowship with the Heavenly Father.
Mary's sense of isolation from her family had to be painful for her.
She had to wrap her own baby
She had to feel abandoned and confused
Thinking, if this is all God and here I am in a place, where it is far from perfect. Where everything does not seem like it is coming together.
Nobody from my family to celebrate the birth of our first child.
Why is it so hard Lord, if you are in this, God why is this so hard?
Here is the Truth: There is no miracle where there is no problem.
Where we don't need God he doesn't come!
Where we need him He shows up the strongest and the loudest!
You have to believe that God will intervene in ways that will defy human logic.
I prophetically release over you and your situation today that God is going to show up in ways that you have not understood nor have not seen yet. He is going to show up in your life in ways that is going to defy human logic.
So before there was a baby in a manger there was a miracle in a belly.
Though she had no one to celebrate the birth of her child, God is going to find some people to celebrate with her.
Remember Joseph initially rejected her.
Her family in Nazareth seemingly rejected her, though later on her sister would stand beside her and watch as Jesus would die on the cross.
Her relatives in Bethlehem seemingly rejected her, giving her no place to stay though she more than likely had family there at the time.
The Point is: Obeying God is not always easy.
Doing what is right is not always easy.
II. God will find people to celebrate you when others reject you.
Sometimes your family will turn their back on you.
Sometimes your family won't understand why and how you serve God.
Why you believe what you believe.
Why you do the things you do, though you tell them what is going on.
The Christmas story shows us that God will find people to celebrate you when all others around you reject you.
Just as the enemy has people who discourage and reject us, God will have people who will love and encourage us.
1. There were the shepherds.
Not the most favorite people around. Shepherds were rude, hard to get along with, ill mannered, and rowdy.
But they were the first to receive instructions that the baby was born.
They were told where to go where they would find him.
That he would be wrapped in linen strips and that he would be lying in a feeding trough. You would not miss who that baby was because how many babies would you find being born in a cave, lying in a feeding trough.
Mary and Joseph trying to deal with rejection from their families, possibly feeling rejection from God because they had to be in this cave, under these circumstances, they look up and here come shepherds. The most unlikely people in all the land to come and celebrate. How that had to feel. A confirmation, a word from God. These shepherds were sent by God to them.
She could say, "I am not crazy!"
"We didn't dream all of this!"
"We didn't make all of this up!"
"Thank you Lord!' Here come some shepherds!
Don't reject the encouragement that God sends you because you don't always know where it's coming from. You can get encouragement from unexpected sources.
Somebody you don't know
Somebody that don't know anything about you
Somebody that is not in your family
Sometimes encouragement comes from the least expected places.
Finally confirmation!! God found some people who love Him and sent them to encourage her and Joseph.
2. Later on Simeon and Anna will encourage them.
3. Then there is the wise men once the child was two years old.
The shepherds made widely known about the child.
Mary kept these things in her heart.
Sometimes it only takes one word of encouragement to get us over the hump.
Be an encourager. Ask God to give you a word of encouragement or confirmation for someone. You never know when people are struggling. People that seem to have it all together, yet they need a word from the Lord to help them in their need. There is somebody God will put into your life who has a need and an ear to hear a word of encouragement from you. Be obedient to be an encourager.
III. God is faithful to those who simply say yes to him.
It is not always easy to do the right thing.
It is not always easy to say yes Lord.
Bud God is always faithful to those who will say yes to Him.
"Lord here I am, my life is not my own, I am bought with a price.
I surrender my will, I surrender my plans.
I give you my future, my dreams, and I say yes Lord!
I may not understand everything that is going on right now, but God I know this, in the end if I say yes to you, if I trust you, it will be better than if I try to do it all myself."
God is faithful to those who will simply in obedient and trust say, "Yes Lord, Yes Lord!"
All of us are going to experience seasons of storms and uncertainty.
Some of you are there right now, even during this Christmas season.
When you get in a season like this you can begin to say, "God what have I done wrong, how have I missed it? Have I missed you will? Surely if I was in the will of God I would not be in this situation. My baby would have been born in a cave and I would not have to lay him in a feeding trough".
But God knows the end from the beginning.
Don't doubt in the storm what God spoke to you in the Light!
God is birthing a great plan in you and you do not need to allow the circumstances of life to keep you from delivering his plan in the place he wants you to be!
God is birthing a plan of deliverance in the midst of your storm!
Trust Him! Know he has a way, to make a way, where there is no way!
I have seen storms that seem like God, surely if we were following you things would not be happening like this, but I can tell you now, looking back at the time it was hard, it was difficult, it made no sense, but know I can look back and see not only what God did in the circumstances, and what God did in me and in us as a body of believers, to bring us through that time, and faith was developed on the inside of us, and has sustained us through recessions.
Through times when people said we were not going to make it.
Through times when the bank said we are coming to shut you down.
Through times when it seemed like we were not going to have anywhere to meet.
Through times when it seemed like it was the end.
But I have a word for you to day. . . .BUT GOD!.
Seasons of Uncertainty
Seasons of uncertainty when it seems like we have not reaped what we have sown.
Seasons of uncertainty when it seems like the increase is not coming as quickly as we thought it was going to.
During these seasons of uncertainty know that God will send people to give you a word to encourage you. This is why it is important that you go to church; a church that is doing something. A church that speaks words of encouragement over you and your family. Get around the right people how love God and his purpose, who will respond to the leadership of God and the Holy Spirit. If you are not in the right place, you will not get the word you need.
What if Mary had stayed in Nazareth and not gone with Joseph?
Then you can be in the place for encouragement and God can speak to your heart. Then you can realize and know that God is going to move in ways that will defy logic.
God is faithful to send people who will celebrate with you.
God will bless you with physical, tangible reward in your life for saying yes and following him. When the wise men showed up, they brought the blessings of God with them.
Think on this. Mary and Joseph did not see the blessings of God for two more years, the length of time it took for the wise me to find him.
Don't give up, God is birthing his blessings to manifest in your life.
Continue to say, Yes Lord, as you would have me to do!