A Special Christmas Story

Let’s imagine once again what it might have been like to be living in Bethlehem that night. Wrapped in your cloak on the crowded floor of your house, you could not get to sleep for thinking of the woman on the donkey and her lovely smile. Why was she so happy? And you, why were you so wide-awake and excited tonight?

This was a special night. You didn’t know how you knew it, but you knew that something wonderful was about to happen to you – to you and to everyone. Something so wonderful you were almost afraid to breathe for fear of breaking the stillness.

For tonight Bethlehem was very still. On other nights’ donkeys coughed in their stables and wolves howled from their hill tops. But on this most special of all nights, even the donkeys and the wolves were quiet. The wind stopped blowing. The animals and the sky and a few wide-awake children were quiet. Listening. Waiting for something.

It was a very late in the night when you suddenly jumped up from the floor. There was a commotion out in the street. You could hear men shouting, running, their sandals scuffing on the rough stones of the street. You ran to the door and stared at these men who were talking so loudly in the middle of the night. They looked like country men, sheepherders. What was it they were saying? They had seen an angel!

You looked at them again to make sure they were really shepherds and not lunatics. No, they were tough-looking surely, but not crazy – strong men who lived out of doors and fought wolves from their sheep with nothing but a few sticks and stones. They were not the kind of men who would be imagining things.

They had seen and angel. They repeated. And the angel had told them about   born in Bethlehem and called the Baby “Saviour” and “Lord.” They had just seen the Baby with their own eyes – out in the stable behind the inn – and they wanted everyone else to know about it too.

You didn’t wait to hear any more. You set off down the street as fast as you could run. Past houses where sleepy people were stumbling to the doors. Asking what all the racket was about. To the inn, then around it to the stable, then slowly, softly, in at the door.

There she was. The young woman with radiant smile. She was leaning against one of the stalls, and the eyes in her happy face were closed. The man was at her side. And behind them, in the manger where the cows came for their food, was the Baby.

He was a tiny thing, wrapped tightly in a long linen band of cloth and sleeping soundly as any newborn baby. Sleeping as thought the world had not waited thousands of years for this moment. As soundly as though your life and my life and the life of everyone on earth were not wrapped up in His birth.

Should you speak to His mother resting so quietly there? Should you ask her if you might touch the Baby – not to wake Him, but just to touch His hand?

What a moment that would have been! To have reached out your own hand and touched the Son of God.

  • Our Christmas Story, Billy and Ruth Graham


What a Wonderful Moment

Imagine the scene in Bethlehem. It was a night of nights, and yet it had begun as every other night had before it. Toward the west was the Mediterranean Sea, and the sun was beginning to sink until across the western sky was a great bar of gold.

As the sky turned gray, and after that the night, one could look to the east and make out the mountains of Moab rising out of the shadows like colossal giants. In Bethlehem’s house mothers lay their children down to sleep. In the courtyards of the inn some camels lay down to sleep. Here and there in homes, lamps gleamed for a moment, then went out. In the fields the sheep lay down while the shepherds sat near their fires.

In the heavens above appeared the same stars that had shined throughout the ages, ever since God had made the stars to rule by night.

Yes, it was night. But it was to become the greatest, most significant night of history. This was the night that would conquer darkness and bring in the day when there would be night no more. This was the night when they who sat in darkness would see a great light. This was the night that God brought into the world the One who is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). What a moment! What an hour!

  • Decision magazine, December 1988


Innkeeper

I want to tell you about a man who was so caught up in his own problems that he missed the opportunity to be part of one of the greatest events of all times. This man actually missed Christmas altogether.

The Bible doesn’t tell us the name of this man, but we can read his story in Luke 2:7: [Mary] brought her firstborn son . . . and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

The one brought Christmas, the One who gave us Christmas and who is Christmas could not find a room to be born in.

What was the cause of this tragedy? Why was there no room for Mary and Joseph and their expected Baby, except in a stable? Bethlehem was a small town, and in those days most small towns perhaps had only one inn. The inn in Bethlehem was already filled. No other accommodation was available

I have some sympathy for the innkeeper, except in matter of his preoccupation. He was not hostile; he was not opposed to the couple; but his inn what crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied.

The innkeeper was probably too taken up with his duties to be bothered with a carpenter from Nazareth and his expectant wife. After all, it was an unusually busy time, with guest arriving from every corner of Israel for the census and taxation. It was a time for renewing of acquaintances, for conviviality, and for bringing in the cash receipts. There was no time for idle sentiments. The innkeeper could not be disturbed by a young expectant mother.

He probably told Joseph, “I wish I could help you, but I must keep my priorities. After all, this is a business, and this coming Christ is no real concern of mine. But I’m not a hardheaded man. Over there is the stable. You are welcome to use it if you care to, but thiat is the best I can do. Now I must get back to my work. My guest need me”

He was too busy to notice a woman about to give birth to a Baby, to a Child who would grow up to become the most famous Man in all of history, and more than a Man, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.

No room for Jesu? No room for the King of Kings? This is the answer that millions are giving today. It is the answer to preoccupation – not fierce opposition, not furious hatred, but unconcern about spiritual things.

Things have not really changed since that Bethlehem night two thousand years ago. God is still on the fringes of most of our lives. We fit Him in when it is convenient for us, but we become irritated when He makes demand on us. Our lives are so full.  There is so much to be done. But in all our budy activities are we in danger of excluding from our hearts and lives the One who made us?

  • Decision Magazine, December 2000


Joseph

Christ’s birth was like no other in the history of the human race. For one thing, this Child had no human father. As the angel had promised Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35)

In the Scriptures we are given a little glimpse of Mary and Joseph before Jesus was born. They lived in the hill country of Galilee. Joseph was a religious man, and Mary gives ever evidence of a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, even though she was a teenager.

Joseph was contracted to marry Mary, and in that time, being engaged was about the same as being married. I think we give too little attention to Joseph. He is called a “just man” (Matthew 1:19) which means he obeyed the will of God. It also includes the connotation of sympathy and kindness. It indicated his devotion to God and to Mary. The Greek word translated “husband” actually means “man”.  We are told that they had not come together as man and wife that Mary and Joseph had kept their engagement love pure.

Then Mary was found to be with child. Put yourself in Joseph’s place. Imagine his thoughts, his suspicions, about the girl to whom he was engaged. According  to the ancient law, Mary should have been put to death. But Joseph did not want to have any part of the kind of punishment, so he decided to break the engagement privately.

While he was thinking about these things, God’s angel appeared to him in a dream to give the prospective bridegroom and explanation of the situation. “Joseph, son of David,” said the angel, “do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20 NKJV)

When Joseph found that his wife-to-be was with child, he could have exposed her to the public. She might have been stoned. But he didn’t because the angel had come to him in a dream, telling him, “Fear not! This Child that Mary will have is to be the Son of the Most High” What faith it took on Joseph’s part to believe that message and to trust! He put away his suspicions. He believed god and was married to Mary. Like Mary, he said, “Yes Lord, regardless”

Decision Magazine, December 2001



Mary

One evening in Jerusalem I looked out my hotel window and saw the lights of Bethlehem in the distance. For a long time I stood there and meditated on the events that had taken place over 2000 years ago and which have transformed and changed our world.

I thought about the angel Gabriel. He came to Mary, who was no more than a teenager and said, “Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33)

At first Mary was fearful and deeply disturbed. She asked the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the son of god” (Luke 1:34-35)

Then Mary showed one of the most remarkable demonstrations of faith found in the Bible. Here she was, a virgin, engaged to a godly man by the name of Joseph, yet she was to be made pregnant supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. People would talk, shame could be attached to it, and joseph might even reject her. But Mary by faith said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

I believe that one of the greatest demonstrations of faith in all the Bible was Mary’s answer to the angel in accepting God’s will for her life, no matter what the cost.

-Decision Magazine, December 1986



Room for the Savior

Among the most tragic words ever penned are those found in Luke’s account of the first Christmas. “There was no room for them in the inn.” There was room for merchants, tax collectors, travelers and sightseers, but no room for the gentle Mary and the divine Christ, who was to be born that night.

An event that was destined to stir and shape the universe caused little excitement in a world that was drugged with selfishness and numbered by greed. The roman legions certainly were not interested in the advent of a tiny babe, born in a humble stable. The priests were preoccupied with their legalistic sacrifices and ceremonies to see in him the fulfillment of all that God had promised through the centuries. The mercenary merchant was too busy plying his wares, driving through the centuries. The bargains, to turn aside and se him who was the hope of the world. What a picture of the inhospitality and indifference of the human heart. No room for the son of god.

Mary, the young mother of the Son of God, did not have the loving care provided for most women in such circumstances. She had to be her own maid and midwife. There was no spotless sheet on which to lay her firstborn, only the staw of the manger. There were no nurses in skillful attendance; no doctors coming and going, whispering counsel to each other. There was only the lowing of the cattle and the soft breathing of the child Jesus. There was not even a cot on which to lay Him.

Earthly princes make their entrance into the world amid the comforts of lavish splendor, while their subjects await with bated breath the announcement that a prince has been born. But when Christ the Son of god came into the world only a few humble shepherds and some Magi from the East where aware that a king had been born. He whose name is above every name. he who is the Prince of Peace and the Prince of Heaven, was wrapped in simple rags and laid in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Today, after two thousand years of Christianity, there is still danger that we will be too busy this season to make room for Christ. Billions of dollars are being spent by Christmas shoppers. The stores are filled with people rushing here and there, absorbed with the business of buying gifts. People flock to holiday parties, to programs, to bazaars, to special banquets, but now, as then, there is danger that we will be too busy to make room for Him.

The Christ who came as a babe in Bethlehem to die on the cross and to rise from the grave, can transform and change your life, no matter what your circumstances may be – if there is room in your heart for Him.

  • Decision Magazine, December 1962


A Glorious Hope

Christmas is not just a date on the calendar. It is the celebration of the event that set heaven to singing, an event that gave the stars of the night sky a new brilliance.

Eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah declared: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). It was the promise of the coming of Christ and the light that was to dawn upon the world. It heralds the entrance of god into human history. It is heaven descending to earth. It is as though a trumpeter had taken his stand upon the turrets of time and announced to a despairing, hopeless, and frustrated world the coming of the Prince of Peace.

The Hebrews prophets not only believed in God but they worshiped God. They believed that God could be seen in nature. They believed that He had made the world. But all through the centruies they seem to have been saying, “I wish that God would become personal.”

This is precisely what He did that first Christmas night. He became personal in Bethlehem. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). At a specific time and at a specific place a specific person was born and that Person was God of very Godk the Lord Jesus Christ.

From the lips of Jesus came these word, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Like piercing trumpets these words herald the breaking in of the Diving into human history. What a wonderful and glorious hope we have because of that first Christmas!

  • Decision Magazine, December 1985


THE BENEFITS OF HUMILITY

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.  –               1 Peter NAS

Peter writes “all of you, clothe yourselves with humility.. .for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (I Pe 5:5-7 NAS). Peter expressed 4 very important thoughts. And he combined them for a reason. Let’s look at each:

(1) “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” Peter’s expression “clothe yourselves with humility” referred to a white scarf or apron typically worn by servants. Did you get that? We’re called to be servants, not celebrities! “All” lets us know we all stand on an equal footing before the cross.

(2) “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Those who are self-centered find themselves at odds with God, while the humble enjoy His blessings.

3) “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” The phrase “The mighty hand of God” is used in Scripture to symbolize 2 things: God’s hand of discipline, and His hand of deliverance. And you need both. So submit to His discipline today and you’ll experience His deliverance.

(4) “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Peter addresses the core issue—worry that if we don’t look out for ourselves nobody else will. But if we really believe that God “cares for us,” we needn’t worry about serving our own interests. We can focus on the needs of others, confident that God will spare nothing when it comes to meeting our needs.



MIND PRAYERS

Through faith in him we may approach God with.. confidence.  – Ephesians 3:12 NIV

Did you know that you can pray in your mind without having to speak a word out loud? All of us know the power of unspoken communication. Many of us grew up with parents who didn’t have to say a thing to make their will known. It may have been the way they cocked their heads, a certain look in their eyes or some other signal. But whatever it was, we knew exactly what was being communicated and how we were expected to respond.

Our goal in prayer should be to maintain such a close relationship with God that we can communicate back and forth no matter what the situation, the time of day, or anything else. And we don’t have to shout, or use the right words in the right order, because our hearts are in tune with God’s heart.

It’s like the story of the little boy who wanted a bicycle for Christmas. He was praying one night at the top of his voice, telling God the kind and color of bike he wanted. His mother said, “Son, you don’t need to shout for God to hear you.” He replied, “I know, momma, but I need to shout if grandpa’s going to hear me and buy me that bike!” The truth is, we don’t need to shout for God to hear us—and we don’t need to try and make our own answers to prayer happen either. Jesus said our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask. He gives to us because of our relationship with Him, not just because we say it at a decibel level loud enough to be heard!



MAKE YOUR LIFE COUNT!

This one thing I do.  – Philippians 3:13

Edgar W. Work said, “The real tragedy is not in being limited to one talent, but in the failure to use that one talent.” To make the most of your life:

(1) Maximize what God’s given you. Edison set himself an ambitious goal: to come up with a major invention every six months and a minor one every ten days. When he died he had 1093 patents. Edison made his dreams a reality by sticking to what he did best. Are you doing that?

(2) Start where God put you. After losing a baseball game, cartoon character Charlie Brown pours out his heart to his friend Lucy: “All my life I’ve dreamed of pitching in the big leagues, but I’ll never make it!” Lucy replies: “You’re thinking too far ahead, Charlie Brown. Set yourself more immediate goals. Start with the next inning, for example. When you go out to pitch, see if you can walk to the mound…without falling down.” Success staffs with one step. Exercise your faith and take it.

(3) Focus on what God called you to do. Music was everything to Brahms. He collected music and studied compositions going back to the 15th century. He worked day and night to perfect his craft, refusing to publish anything that didn’t meet his exacting standards. That’s why he didn’t publish his first symphony until he was 40. And he never married, saying it would distract him: “I am in love with music, I think of nothing but, and of other things only when they make music more beautiful.” Is that fanaticism? No, it’s focus; it’s what makes your life count! It’s why Paul said, “This one thing 1 do.”




 

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