Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The First Christmas

Now, we shall look at another famous Christmas story

Luke 2:1-20
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

And everyone went to his own town to register. 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 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.

From the very beginning people rushed to see the baby Jesus. Later, after 30 years, the adult Jesus. Hard nosed, blue collar shepherds who worked the third shift were drawn to see the babe. Later, three astrologers from Persia came to see Him cdarrying with them gifts of gold, frankincense and murr. This is but an inkling of the great crowds that would seek Him out.

Unlike Scrooge, people longed to be near Jesus and threw themselves at His feet, touched the hem of His garment and followed Him around Palestine to watch Him and fellowship with Him. Throughout scripture, we are taught that our outer body communicates an inner reality of the heart. Jesus spoke of the eye as a metaphor for the things we love and place our attention upon.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matt 6:21-23 (NIV)

Scrooge's visage was so evil that even the dogs of blind men turned away as if to say, "No eye at all is better than an evil eye." Jesus, however, looked upon people with compassion, mercy and warm love.

Albert Mehrabian found that the tone of our voice and the position of our bodies are more powerful in messages than the words we use. Tone of voice is a factor five times more powerful than our best language with some 38% of the message. Try this experiment. The next time you see a dog, make a very mean comment in a warm, loving tone of voice. You may try something like this. "You ugly old dog I am going to beat you with a stick." There is no doubt that the dog will respond by wagging his tail and will come over for a pat on the head.

Despite the words you use, he senses your kindness. You may also try the opposite tack and say nice things in a harsh tone. Then the dog will scurry away in fear.

Dr. Mehrabian discovered that body language speaks even more powerfully than tone of voice. Body language has 7 times more influence, 55%, than the words. Scrooge's demeanor said, "Stay away from me. I dislike you. Come to me and I will give you the boot!"

Jesus communicated a different message. He said verbally and non verbally, "Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

Jesus lived in the fruit of the Spirit so people wanted to be with Him and draw strength, rest and peace from the Spirit. Pray that we might grow in the Spirit and draw people to the Lord by our words and deeds.
This is one reason why a simple "Thank you" or a "Merry Christmas" can bless another person's body and soul. Ask the Lord to produce more spiritual fruit in us in the New Year of 2008.

1 comment:

paula clare said...

A new holiday tradition around the Clouse House is to read (in addition to the "Christmas story" in Luke)John 1 from "The Message"

"The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,in readiness for God from day one.

Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him.What came into existence was Life,and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; and the darkness couldn't put it out."

While I LOVE this version of the text, I prefer NASB for verse 5: "The Light shines in the darkness...but the darkness perceived it not." We didn't comprehend it...we didn't "get it." That's no surprise is it???

THEN later, in verse 14, the Message says, "The Word became flesh and blood,and moved into the neighborhood." MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD isn't that great? Jesus, the King of Glory...left his heavenly address and moved into OUR neighborhood! My mind boggles at the thought!

May 2008 be a year for Seasoned Believers to "move out of OUR neighborhoods" of comfort and ease, and move INTO the neighborhoods of a hurting and dying world.

Merry Christmas!