Women of Christmas Devotional #7

by Kathy

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If you reading the book Women of Christmas, read chapter 6

Luke 2:1-20

Today, the devotion is a bit long as my heart is just full of this story and what God challenged me to apply as I read it.  Why don’t you grab a cup of coffee and enjoy some time thinking about this magnificent event – the birth of our Savior!!

As Luke 2 starts out, we see it is near the time for Mary to deliver her baby and she finds herself having to pack for a trip.  As I approached my due date with my children, I can remember wanting nothing more than to be close to home, spending time preparing for the baby’s arrival, and making sure everything was in place.  The last thing I would have wanted to do was to take a trip. But in this case, there was no stopping this trip.  It was all a part of God’s plan to fulfill prophesy in Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 

What steps does God orchestrate to guide Mary and Joseph to take a trip to Bethlehem?  A census.  Go figure!  Caesar needed to know how many people he could precisely tax, as well as determine the strength of each tribe of Israel.  To do this, Caesar demanded that each Jew return to the village of their ancestral origin.  For Joseph this was Bethlehem.  From the viewpoint of Rome, this exercise was purely political.  From heaven’s viewpoint, this was completely God’s Sovereign hand, intimately and with great detail, bringing salvation to mankind!  In just a few days, the Messiah would arrive!

The details of this trip are not included in Scripture.  It is thought that Joseph and Mary took the same route that Mary had taken when she went to visit Elizabeth.  This trip would have been a little longer, as Bethlehem was five or six miles south of Jerusalem.    The whole trip is estimated to have taken 8-10 days.

The movies paint a picture of Mary starting contractions the minute she arrives in Bethlehem.  Scripture simply says, “while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.”.   That’s all it states!  There is no more information about the birth.  No details about the labor.  No details about what he looked like.  Nothing.    I laughed a bit as I contemplated this and compared it to the stories women tend to share about the birth of a baby.  Every detail is mentioned – nothing gets left out of the story!  You will hear a moment by moment recap of the labor with complete descriptions of the baby.

As I read the Luke 2 passage, I found myself  wanting to know more of the details of this birth.  But there were none.  As I considered this, I wondered if the details were left out so that the truth wasn’t missed.  Sometimes details have the ability to derail us. So instead of thinking about what may have happened in this moment of Jesus’ birth, I let my mind settle in on these truths – prophesies had all come true, the miracle was complete, and the Savior – my Redeemer – rested in the arms of Mary!  This right here is the true meaning of Christmas!  Tears fell from my face as I contemplated how often I get busy and don’t take time to quiet myself during Christmas to remember this wonderful truth!!  The Lord, God became flesh for me and you.  Nothing would or could stop this moment from happening!  Oh what love He has for all of us that He would stoop so low to be our salvation!

 Mary’s first hours of being a mother was not in comfort.  Because there was no room in any of the inns in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph found themselves in a place that reeked of mold, hay and manure – a place that was meant for animals.  I love what Liz writes about this –

The Lord chose to be born into poverty, to identify with the unseen of society –

the unkempt, the unpopular, the undernourished.  His earthly parents

had nothing the world counts valuable.  Had they been rich, room would

have been made for them.  Instead, they were poor, yet they made room in

their hears for God.”

As the story continues in Luke 2, we find ourselves looking out on a hillside outside of Bethlehem, where lowly shepherds are caring for their sheep.  The culture of the day considered shepherds to be despised as they were unable to keep the Jewish ceremonial laws due to their traveling about the hills with their sheep.  Yet, these were the very people that God chose to be witnesses of the Messiah’s birth.

 As the shepherds listened for the bleating of their sheep in the darkness, heaven came down and the brightness of the Lord’s glory flashed across the sky.  No surprise at what scripture tells us – They were terrified!!!  When an angel appeared to Zechariah he was afraid.  When the angel appeared to Mary, she was troubled. These very shepherds, who were prepared to deal with wolves and thieves that might attack their lambs, were scared out of their wits!!!  Heaven blazed all around them with a holy brilliance.  As they trembled, they were comforted with words to not be afraid.  The angel went on to share with them the most wonderful joyful news – this very moment, nearby in Bethlehem, the Messiah-Savior has been born!  The waiting for God’s people was finally over.  As this message was told to them, suddenly the sky was filled with heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Stop for a moment and consider what this must have sounded like.  Did their arms have goose bumps as they listened to the voices singing praise.  When I hear a really great piece of music, I often feel a shivering tingle all over my body.   Was there four part harmony?  I don’t know what angels sound like when they sing, but I imagine it was the most grand, glorious and delightful sound filling the sky that night.  One day, I will get to hear this and know exactly how it sounds.  This makes me think of my loved ones who are already present with the Lord and experiencing this eternal musical concert.

Let’s get back to our story…

The shepherds didn’t ask for a sign of his birth, nor did hey demand proof.  In fact, they didn’t even insist on going to see the child.  They took the angel at his word.  Still, the Lord wanted them to look and see, because he needed them to go and tell.  As soon as the angels departed, God put in their hearts the desire to go as fast as they could.  The once terrified and fearful shepherds became determined to go and were willing to leave their sheep to see their Savior.

Can you see them running?  Scriptures says they “hurried”.    They found him lying in a manger, just as they were told.  Mary welcome them in to glimpse God’s son.  They looked, took it all  with complete awe, and hurried to tell others all that had happened, praising God and thanking him for everything.  These were the first hand-picked preachers of the gospel!  And those that heard the shepherds news were astounded!

As the shepherds left,  Mary quietly took care of King of Kings and pondered – she committed all the happenings surrounding this pregnancy and birth to memory, mulling them over and over in her mind.  I wonder how many times she would think back on that night.  I’m sure she was still trying to process that fact that God chose her to be the mother of His Son.

Such a magnificent story, all because Mary said yes to God!

Let’s Pause for Heart Application

There is so much to take in with these verses in Luke 2.  As I thought about these verses, what stood out to me is the response of the shepherds and Mary:

  • they hurried to meet with him
  • they shared with others the great news
  • they praised God and thanked him for all they had heard and seen
  • she quietly pondered, thinking about all the events that occurred

I think these responses should cause us to ask ourselves how we are responding to the Savior today:

1.  Do we run to meet with Him often?

2.  Do we purposefully talk to others about Him?

3.  Does our heart and mouth often express praise for all we hear from in His Word and see Him doing in our lives?

4.  Do we take time to quietly think about the things that He is doing in our lives and commit them to memory?

How is God asking you to respond? Will you, like Mary, say Yes Lord?

 

 

 

 

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