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“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:1-21 The Christmas Story

 

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. 
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
 

On behalf of the writers of The Daily Dose of Encouragement,

Merry Christmas to all!

How Close Are You to the Christ Child?

How Close Are You to the Christ Child?

 

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Luke 2:4-5, NIV
 

Map_Holy_LandchelHow far is it from Nazareth to Bethlehem? About 100 miles. Not far by car or tourist bus. Pretty far by foot. Very far if you’re nine months pregnant.

Did you know there’s no biblical evidence that Mary, the mother of Jesus, rode a donkey? Chances are good that she walked. Ever since my first child was born on December 20, I’ve claimed Mary’s trip to Bethlehem ranks as one of the great miracles of the Bible!

In addition to physical barriers, Mary also had to overcome cultural barriers. Nazareth was in Galilee while Bethlehem was in Judea. And travelers to Judea usually went around Samaria to avoid the half-breeds who were detested by the Jews.

Mary had to overcome gender issues. She would have as her “midwife” a man with whom she’d never been intimate. How embarrassing! How frightening, as well. Would she not have welcomed a female companion, especially one who had given birth before?

In her willingness to be God’s servant (Luke 1:38), Mary overcame all of these barriers. She gave birth to the Christ child, heard his cries and coos, and wrapped his little body to keep him warm—for your sake and mine. Then she rested—the King of Kings nestled at her side.

How far are you from the living Christ? What barriers do you have to overcome to keep Him near and dear at your side? What obstacles keep Him away? Perhaps, like me, your degree of closeness to Jesus may have more to do with distractions than physical distance.

Resolve this Christmas Eve to put all else aside and welcome Christ—anew and afresh—into your heart today.

Betty

The Stench and The Stars

 
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” NIV
Matthew 2:10

The Stench and The Stars

 

beamTwo small yet significant memories of my world mission tour are finding a special place in my heart as I draw closer to Christmas. Each in its own way has drawn me closer to Jesus.

First, in Thailand, my team was heading home from a house church meeting and had to drive half an hour through rice fields. We were laughing and singing in the truck bed. My precious Thai sister grabbed my arm mid-song and pointed to the sky. As I looked around and above, the blanket of stars covering us overwhelmed us. Worship bubbled out of us for the rest of our drive through the stars.

When I think back to letting the stars envelope me in Thailand, I imagine the shepherds and the wise men chasing the star that led them to Jesus. I wonder if the glory of the night sent shivers of anticipation through their souls. I wonder if, with every step taken, they felt the presence of God grow stronger.

Second, the animals I was lucky enough to share living space with. Chickens. Cows. Goats. Pigs. Sheep. They’ve poked their heads in the window to wake me up in the morning, they’ve sung me to sleep, and they’ve greeted me in the kitchen at every meal. One thing is for certain: livestock smell. No matter how clean you keep them, they will never have a good-smelling home. They’re dirty. No one wants to live in a pig sty.

When I remember the smells that came with carrying straw bales into the pig sty, I think of Mary and Joseph welcoming a new baby into their lives – a baby that would save their lives. I think of the animals around them and the messiness and the noise having a baby in a stable would create.

For thousands of years, people were stuck in their own filth and brokenness, praying for a salvation that many said would never come. And then one night, the stars changed. Hope showed up in the stables in the form of a newborn baby. God decided the best place to enter the world is in the middle of the stench.

Suddenly, this Good News becomes GREAT news because it shows us that God isn’t put off by our messes. He doesn’t shy away from the stench of our sins. Instead, He inserts himself into the middle of the mess and begins to change the story.

So, here’s to a Christmas of trusting in a hope that meets us in the smelly stables of our lives. Here’s to letting the way God changes the stars lead us to worship at His feet. And here’s to trusting God as He changes the mess into something beautiful.

Chelsey

 

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