Christmas Blessings from The Porch

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.  Genesis 49:10

 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel  Numbers 24:17(a)

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

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.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:1-20

More and more these days I can’t help but think of what things must have been like back in those days when Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem to register for the census.  The magnitude of the birth of Jesus must have weighed on their minds somewhat, as Mary was visited by the angel of the Lord, and Joseph was told in a dream. They definitely knew this baby was going to be more than special, blessed and given by God.  But it was more than that. The implications of Mary, being pregnant during the betrothal period was scandalous, and Joseph, being a thoughtful and righteous man, could have ‘divorced’ her as was most likely suggested to him and expected.  But he didn’t.  He obeyed the Lord as he was told by the angel of what a special child Mary was carrying.

But did they really know just Who this baby was going to be, What He would accomplish for the world and How? Did they understand as she was tiredly sitting on that donkey of how God’s plan of reconciliation with all of mankind would be carried out, and how intricately He would work in the lives of those who chose and choose to trust in Him even when He’s silent?  Being a couple expecting, from a small town, it’s no wonder they couldn’t “find” room anywhere in Bethlehem. Since that was Joseph’s ancestral home, no doubt that talk had spread even to there, of the scandal that Mary had brought upon him.

Did they realize even while obeying God just how much He works all things out for the good of those who love Him?  Do we?

In the midst of things, when everything looks the worst, everything is the worst, can we give God the glory for whatever He can accomplish, just as Mary and Joseph did during that time leading up to the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Looking at the level of faith of Mary and Joseph, it reminds me too of the Gospels we’ve been studying here for the past year or so.  We’re in John, chapter 16 this week (we’ll go to chapter 17 next week) While I won’t post the usual study today, if folks have time to read it sometime today, it goes with the level of faith it takes to trust God is working things out.

When Jesus tells the disciples they will not see Him much longer, and talking of grief leading to His crucifixion, it must have been almost unbearable to understand how all of these things were going to happen, and yet still Jesus talked of comfort, peace and joy. How?!   Because God in all of His incredible love, mercy, understanding and wisdom knows no time.  He has had everything in place and in plans from the beginning.  That Joseph and Mary, the disciples, and all believers go through such times of testing and grief, shows that God is merciful and trusts us to obedience so some day we will see just the amazing things He brought us through and worked out through them.

And for us, it starts with trusting an extraordinarily special baby boy….

And continues at the Cross and beyond.  Until He returns…

From all of us at this Heartbeat, to our family, friends and those who prefer the shadowed places of the Porch, we want to share our prayers for all of you to have a very Blessed and safe Christmas, full of hope and joy!

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