Each week of Advent we are lighting a different candle, and discussing one unique aspect of the Christmas Story...But as we do so, we are also more importantly, comparing the details of these Nativity Events of Old...Learning secrets along the path of the Christmas Story, that will lead US closer to the King who has come!
On week one, we lit the BLACK CANDLE to show the darkness over Israel while they waited in physical and spiritual oppression for their Savior to appear... And the prophecies that pierced the darkness! Giving us solid INTELLECTUAL REASONING to accept the King! Next, we lit the PINK CANDLE...To represent the sweet young mother of Christ... Mary! And the Hope of Salvation she carried for all mankind, into this world! That she was favored, NOT because of what she HAD...
BUT because of all she was willing to GIVE in PERFECT OBEDIENCE!!!
Then, we lit the TAN CANDLE! To represent Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus...
And even though he was plain and common…His SELFLESS FAITH and PERSEVERENCE shown in the midst of the trials and great personal loss...Taught us what true love is all about! Today, we will light the PURPLE CANDLE to represent...One, the Distinction and Royalty of Our Baby King! And secondly, the rejection and separation of our King!
Luke 2:1-7 (NKJV)
1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Even a passive reading of this passage lets us see this young couple was all alone on the most momentous occasion known to man!! But, what we are about to discover, is there was absolutely NO REASON for our King NOT to have been surrounded by those ready to worship and adore Him!! His loneliness at birth was not an accident... Not a secret event, designed by God to be, "under-the-radar!" We are about to see that ALL the world didn't sleep in ignorance that night...Some of the world, overdosed on sleeping pills, and tried to forget!
Lets discover another powerful and hidden Truth together, in the Christmas Story today!!
This passage that we have just read for Advent, picks up with...The young couple headed into Bethlehem from the small village of Nazareth a 90 mile trip. Mary and Joseph BOTH, have very probably been shamed and isolated by the small town of 50 to 100...Both have possibly lost the support, or at least the trust of their families...This is quite possibly why Mary is even going on the journey, when it's so late in the pregnancy... Even though the trip is required only of Joseph! Not coming back until forced by an angel in warning to avoid Judea when returning from Egypt!
They finish their long walk (90 miles, 2600 miles up), alone... And on their arrival in Bethlehem…The shame and rejection felt from distant family members of Joseph seems unavoidable as well...Causing Joseph to either take Mary somewhere other than to his own relative's home...Which would be highly irregular in that culture...And would most probably show that he was avoiding the pain and embarrassment they each would suffer...Or, as is most probable, he WAS AT A RELATIVE'S HOUSE...But they were put into the stable area of the house or land, rather than offered the guest room... Even though she literally was giving birth!
The outright rejection Joseph's family must have shown them, especially if she was at their home, seems apparent...Because birthing a child was a major event in the Hebrew culture! The women would join the midwives in the event together...They would all help and comfort the mother, and care for the child when it arrived! It was a celebration! Yet, the Christmas text here in Luke makes it all too clear, that these two teens were completely alone in the delivery! The passage tells how Mary, herself, wrapped the Baby in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the Manger! This surely would have been the midwife or a helper, if they were present! And Scriptures seem to mention every person associated with Jesus’ Birth in detail!! So, why would these women and midwives have not been mentioned as well?! Mary wrapped her OWN little Babe that night, and held Him closely, as the only comforter she had, Joseph... No doubt cradled them both!
So, at the very moment of His entrance into the world...Jesus was completely shamed, and left alone! As were Mary and JOSEPH!! But what many of us don't look closely enough to realize is this...The Magi, the Wise men who traveled from so far away…KNEW that Jesus was to be born at that time...Because of ancient prophecies they had passed down for centuries from Daniel... (Which the Jews had in their own writings) And the Magi knew exactly where he would be born...Because they received the information from the Priests, and Scribes who were in Jerusalem, just 5 or 6 miles away!
Matthew 2:1-5 (NKJV)
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
So we know that the religious leaders knew the exact time and place to be looking for the Messiah to be born from these passages! And we know that the King of the Jews, Herod, knew all of this information as well...Yet, none of them traveled even the 5 or 6 miles from Jerusalem to welcome or worship the King of Kings! And we know that Mary and Joseph's FAMILIES MUST have known...Because they had heard the stories from their children...And they were very knowledgeable in God's Word... Where were they on that night? Why would they not have followed to witness the Birth if they believed?!
Jesus was very probably rejected and ignored by...His Nazarene families, His Bethlehem family, The very Scribes & Priests who proclaimed & prophesied Him, The common people who knew of His promised coming hundreds of years, The political ruler in power at the time of His birth, And every demon of hell who dreaded and feared His coming on that night!
Most of these people DID have knowledge of when and where He would be coming!! IF... They were serious and passionate enough about God to know THEY DIDN'T MISS THIS NIGHT IN FIERCE REBELLION OR REJECTION…BUT BECAUSE OF A PASSIVE AND UNINTERESTED DISREGARD! Because they were happy in, and accustomed to, their religious and secular lives just as they were...The prophecies were OLD and SOMEWHAT DISMISSED...As though they would now never happen!
And the lives they were so involved in...Took precedent over worrying about some age-old prophecy...Those religious leaders and followers should have been expectantly seeking, looking, and asking about this event... They would easily have been able to pinpoint the events to Mary and Joseph! As did the Magi... From another culture some 550 miles away!! But instead, they seemed uninvolved and uninterested in the biggest event in mankind’s history… Which was occurring in THEIR lives!
Where do most Christians today place their interest and concern? In the Coming Of the Messiah, again?! Or in their own affairs? Passively forgetting about THE IMMINENT EVENT…Not looking for God's Work around them… Not seeing the signs…Honestly unconcerned with the events about to come!
We know when Jesus grew up, and revealed Himself to the world in due time... He was also rejected and shamed in His life and ministry! Disbelieved even by His own brothers and sisters...Because once again, many misunderstood Him...
Rejected Him... Just as when He was a tiny Babe! Jesus warned those that would truly follow Him...Truly desire Him...They too would be rejected by the world, just like Him!
John 15:18-19 (NKJV)
18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Jesus told His followers they would be hated and rejected, just as He was rejected... Living this TODAY! WHY? Because they, “were not of the world!"
Jesus said, IF they WERE of the world, the world would love them. Why does following Christ make us, "not of this world?" Listen to Jesus' final prayer in the Garden, before His crucifixion, as He prays for those that would follow Him in the future...
John 17:14-20 (NKJV)
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
Jesus clearly says if we follow Him truly…His Word separates us from the world in such a way that it makes us hated and rejected! That we are, "Sanctified" through His Truth! The Greek word for sanctify is hagiazo (hag-ee-ad'-zo), meaning to set apart for use as a holy vessel! And again and again, in the New Testament…We are told to separate ourselves through His Word...So that we may be close to Christ and usable!
2 Timothy 2:21 (ESV)
21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice (how live is sacrifice to God!) —the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
So, a good first question would be, "Why does this make the world hate us?"
"Why should they care how we live?"”Every other lifestyle is being accepted by one another…”
Sadly, we see the answer all too clearly in this day and age! The world cannot distinguish between…Not loving and indulging in what it does…And not loving and accepting them! To not agree and join in with the sins of the world…Gives the world reason to say that Christians are judgmental, bigots, prejudice and self-righteous! When for a true Christian, just the opposite is true!
THIS is why the Christians of the first century, and every century following…Have been hated, hunted, imprisoned and killed!
Conservatively speaking…It is estimated that over 70 million people have been killed for their faith since Christ walked the earth! 1And 2/3 of them were after the start of the 20th century! At this very moment in time... On this earth RIGHT NOW…245 million Christians face high levels of persecution daily... Simply for their faith in Christ! 2
1- "70 million Christians' martyred for their faith since Jesus walked the earth", Christianity Today, by Cath Martin, retrieved on 12-19-20 from https://www.christiantoday.com/article/70-million-christians-martyred-faith-since-jesus-walked-earth/38403.htm
2- "Christian Persecution by the Numbers", Open Doors USA, January, 16, 2020, by Lindy Lowry, Retrieved on 12-19-20 from https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/christian-persecution-by-the-numbers/
Why does Christ expect us to work so hard not to indulge in these ways of the world? (Especially at such a cost?!) “Why does He seem so hard and rigid?”“What’s wrong with these things, anyway?” Listen to this answer closely...
Because that is a good question which often leaves God totally misunderstood!
Making the world, and many Christians…See God as harsh, unfeeling, rigid, and against all that is fun or pleasurable! When, in fact, the answer proves God to be absolutely the very opposite of those things! Listen to what the things God always calls, "SIN”…And tells us to set ourselves apart from...
Sin… The things God CALLS sin… ALWAYS...Even if… To us… They seem harmless or natural…Promotes a mindset that focuses on self over
others...Thinking of YOU OVER ALL when do it! Mistrusts God's wisdom...
Mistrusts God's love...Distracts us from the path God has planned for us...
Makes us not see or not care about the most important things in life (Including God's Will) Cheapens, disrespects, and removes true value and passion for others...Gives fake satisfaction for a time, that needs more each time...Always has consequences, even if only internal…That brings a hard heart, wrong focus, loss of love, loss of direction, loss of purpose, loss of self-respect & worth!
One of the PERKS of getting a few years on you…Is experiencing the Truth of His Word! I’ve seen so many lives lived for self… Totally self-destruct!
Listen to this… Contrary to your thoughts…Or the impressions of the world’s view around us...NOTHING God EVER tell us to refrain from as sin…EVER, EVER makes life more boring or rigid... He keeps us from things that cheapen and ruin our thoughts and hearts! He teaches us to have true honor and worth for others and self...He teaches us how to have true love, deep passion, and excitement in how we live…RATHER than cheapen everything into a quick thrill!
We can do all the things we've talked about through the Christmas Season thus far…And STILL never draw close to Christ...Because we are not willing to be like this young teenage couple... And be completely set apart from the world! Rejected if need be!
Some of you are so paralyzed at the thought…Of actually living differently than the world around you!!! Of looking and acting differently than YOUR social group…
That many flat refusing to let go of your ways!Some CHRISTIAN groups are MOST dangerous!)
Quite honestly meaning…You continue to believe that God is dumber than you are...Or, God must not really be concerned with your worldly vices...Or, you secretly don't believe He is real...Or, you just truly don't care!
The sad Truth about our participation in the world's ways...Is that we can't let go long enough…To even SEE how much more excited, peaceful, and contented we could be...If we could taste the life God has for us in righteousness! Living separated and sanctified doesn't just mean walking away from sin! It means seeking His Presence... His Direction... His Will! It means living in expectation of seeing Him work! It means knowing and feeling His pleasure in YOU...
As you live for Him!
What things in this world are you holding onto…No matter the cost…
Because it means more to you than following God? When will you realize…It’s not about what you can get away with...Because the simple fact…That you would rather find a way to get away with it…Than trust a Him…Says you are not really seeking to be close to Him!
What if I gave you a car as a gift. But then said it was only on the condition that I could borrow it everyday for work, weekends for cruising, and vacations for trips...
But you could come drive it anytime I didn't need to borrow it! HAVE I GIVEN YOU THE CAR AT ALL?!
How many here are doing that with your life and God?? Here's my life God... You can have it completely! Except when I want to...Who really has your heart in that case?
James 4:4-5, 8 (HCSB)
4 Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. 5 Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously? 8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people!
PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS... We are living in the last days, and the world is farther from God than it has ever been... Do you not feel that our thought patterns and habits are extremely influenced by the ways around us? Do you not think it is keeping you from living for Christ…From being close to Christ as you should?!
In this Story we have studied for four weeks...THE ONLY difference in these few people we've studied...Was their genuine desire to separate themselves from the world...With the sole focus of knowing and pleasing God!! And these few people were the ONLY ones to be included in His Unbelievable Work!The ONLY people to experience His blessings... His Supernatural Hand... His pleasure and fellowship!
When Jesus was wrapped in the first piece of cloth in this world, the swaddling cloth…He was in shame and rejection that night in the stable...And when He was wrapped in the last piece of cloth in this world, the last piece He would ever be cradled in... That awful purple robe...He was in shame and rejection!! The rest of the royal world around us…The rest of the deity of this world...Are separated by their lavishness, and power, and prestige...Our King of Kings was separated by His shame and disgrace!
John 1:10-11 (NKJV)
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
Those that saw Him that night, that were touched by Him... THOSE THAT
WERE PART OF HIS PLAN! Were those who were not afraid to be rejected by the world...Not afraid to be shamed by those around them...Not fearful of being misunderstood for their good intentions! Not regretful of things lost as they separated themselves from the world!
It was those so passionate to see Him that the world and its ways held nothing for them in comparison! Those willing to be…"Black sheep, for the Spotless White Lamb!"
You and I are CALLED to stand out... Be different... Be separate...So that… We CAN love Him and others FULLY! When will we stop trying so hard to fit in?
When will we stop seeing a lack of participation in the world's ways as a loss... Instead of a BADGE OF HONOR?!
When will it become an embraced way of life... That we walk differently, as Our God and King did? On THIS Christmas... Of all Christmases... When everyone around us seems hell-bent on rejecting HIM... When everything in our culture around us...Works to squash real love and focus on His Will...Let's finally leave this world...
And be a “Black Sheep” at the Manger!
"Don't be afraid to wear the Purple Robe..."
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