Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ordinary Circumstances and Mighty Plans

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus 
that all the world should be registered.
...And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, 
to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, 
because he was of the house and lineage of David, 
to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
- Luke 2:1, 3-5


How many of us have this iconic Christmas passage from Luke memorized?  Don't feel bad if you don't, my point is simply how this passage is among the most quoted from the historical story on the account of Jesus' birth.  It is easy to take for granted and begin to quote as rote.

My passion each Christmas is to not take this life-changing TRUE story for granted and this year, my angle is to see the extraordinary inside the ordinary....

A call had gone out for all to report to their "own" towns, where lineage lied, to be counted.  If God is a God over ALL, including governments, it could be reasonably stated that this call was inspired by God in order to have Jesus born right.where.He.wanted.  And so there they were... in the town of Bethlehem, the city of David.  What is so significant about that?

The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, 
since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?  
Fill your horn with oil, and go.  I will send you to Jesse 
the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."  
And Samuel said, "How can I go?  If Saul hears it, he will kill me."  
And the Lord said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come 
to sacrifice to the Lord.' And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, 
and I will show you what you shall do.  
And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you."
Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem....
- 1 Samuel 16:1-4a (emphasis added)

Every single detail of Jesus' birth was prophesied about: when, WHERE, how and so on, another fact which can quickly become rote if we are not careful.  Aside from prophesy, what grabs me about this narrative today is how Jesus' birth; a consecrated event of the Lord; mirrors that of another consecrated event centuries before in DAVID's city. 

Samuel was greatly upset at King Saul's waywardness.  But God says, 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps man, I got this...'  God has a plan, he never didn't have a plan, and HE knows what he is doing.  Samuel is scared though... if Saul learns of his excursion it could be death, so God says, you know what, let's go into this under the auspice of a sacrificial ceremony and we will make it happen that way.  No one is the wiser, Samuel lives to pray another day.  From there, a child, David, is whom God says YES to. 

Fast forward and the ruse is a Census, the 'child' is a baby born, and the work to be done... will be the greatest, most profound in all of history.  They walked the streets Samuel and David walked.  They revelled in hope and mighty God as Samuel and David did.  This trip to Bethlehem was no ordinary trip... no.  It was wrapped in something much more extraordinary.

Wonderful.
Powerful.

You may be in awe right now.... or, you may be thinking, 'Yeah, that's cool and all, but....' other than the 'awe' is there a take-away?

I think there is.

Where are we right now?  Physically, emotionally, spiritually.... God has us in a specific place, at THIS time, in particular circumstances, for a specific reason.  Mary traveled heavy with babe.  Google maps tells me their trek took, at minimum 4 hours and was just over 9 miles.  That may not seem like a lot but OVER four hours, 9+ miles on sandaled foot over harsh terrain....pregnant.  Circumstances weren't peachy-keen.

They may have traveled simply thinking on responding to Cesar's order, however, we have the benefit of a historical lens, able to see how it wasn't really Cesar commanding their presence, but rather, God called them there using Cesar.  God knew Mary's condition.  God knew the inns would be full.  One could have mourned the situation, as Samuel did with the Saul dilemma, or they could see God's hand, and go.

Do we see God's hand right now?  Are we prepared to trust Him?  To be used by Him in what appears to be the ordinary in order for Him to perform the extraordinary?  It could be as big as a ministry response He is calling you to.  It could be as simple and ordinary as letting a frazzled mom cut in front of you at the grocery store.  Whether you are having a good day or a bad day... whether your finances or marriage or relationships are in good shape or not... GOD SAYS GO and we can trust Him to take care of it all.

We know the rest of the story here.  Long journey, tiered body, no room, baby is coming.  They were put up in a dirty, germ-infested, animal filled stable and there, in the middle of ordinary filth and darkness, something extraordinary and pure took place.

I pray your heart would find go at Christmas.  To respond to God, even in the form of ordinary duty, and welcome opportunities to be part of extraordinary blessings which breathe hope to those in vicinity.  

Merry Christmas Blessings,







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