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! Joy to the World!
Luke 2:1-20
December 21, 2008
* *
Only three more days!
Are you getting excited?
We, as Christ’s body on earth, should have lots to be excited about as we celebrate Christ’s birthday.
Our excitement should bring praise from our lips.
The God of the universe came down to earth as Immanuel –God with us.
Praise His Name!
Henry Blackaby says: Trying to stop the praise of a thankful heart would be like trying to arrest the flow of a mighty waterfall!
God created us to praise Him; praise will be our activity when we are gathered around His throne in heaven.
You should never have difficulty thinking of reasons why God deserves your praise.
You should enjoy the times you have to praise your Lord, both privately and You should never have difficulty thinking of reasons why God deserves your praise.
You should enjoy the times you have to praise your Lord, both privately and publicly in worship.
If your life is not filled with praise, it may be that you have lost your appreciation for God's merciful activity in your life.
Never forget what God has saved you from.
Never take for granted what it means to have the assurance of eternity with God.
Do not disregard the spiritual kinship you enjoy with other believers.
Take time often to recount the blessings He has poured out upon you and your family.
As you contemplate the boundless love and mercy God has shown you, you will want to sing His praises as Mary did.
Spontaneous praise is authentic praise.
It does not have to be manipulated or orchestrated.
It is a real and personal expression of a grateful heart and wonder-filled life that has encountered holy God!
Please turn with me to Luke, chapter 2, and we’ll read today’s Scripture: /At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.
\\ (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
All returned to their own towns to register for this census.
\\ And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home.
He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.
He took with him Mary, his fiancé, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.
She gave birth to her first child, a son.
She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them.
They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said.
“I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!
The Savior – yeas the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!
And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors."
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem!
Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph.
And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.
The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
/ /Let’s go back to that in for a moment.
It wasn't much of a place -- but it was his.
It had been his father's before him, and his father's, and so on.
There weren't many places like this in Bethlehem.
It wasn't much of a town.
Just a small town down the road from Jerusalem, but it was the home of King David.
In fact, this very inn was built on land that belonged to the family of David.
Some said it was the exact spot of the house where David was born.
Imagine that!
A king being born right here!
That made the town special -- but still not very big.
The innkeeper thought about that on this day of all days.
People were streaming in -- still streaming in from everywhere.
He had never seen so many in his town.
Where did they all come from?
* *
Business was good -- almost too good -- at his place.
All the thatched rooms were taken.
People were even camping in the courtyard.
The sights, sounds and smells of people and animals milling about almost drowned out the sight and sound of the coins now tucked away in a safe place.
As he moved about the crowd, he watched and listened.
He was still nervous about some of the things he had seen and heard.
There was a great deal of anger and hostility in this bunch of weary travelers.
The orders from Rome were being bitterly opposed but grudgingly obeyed.
The census was Caesar's way of keeping the Roman boot on the necks of the Jews.
No one liked it, but what could you do?
The penalty for rebellion was swift and certain.
So they came.
It was more than inconvenient.
It was galling to the proud people who were united in their common hatred of everything Roman.
Those born of the house of David had to report to the home of David -- to this little town whose name meant "the house of bread."
“Well,” thought the innkeeper to himself, “if any more show up, there will be no more bread in this house.”
The mood of the travelers had begun to change.
There was an almost festive attitude now.
He breathed a sigh of relief as he turned toward the gate of his inn.
There were still more seeking admittance.
Only a few more, and then he would have to turn them away.
There was little enough room now, and some were beginning to complain.
Night was falling.
He glanced to the distant hills.
The glow of the cooking fires meant that the shepherds of the temple flocks were settling down for the evening.
He laughed to himself about the irony of it.
Those dirty, profane shepherds tending animals that were destined to be used for sacrifices in the holy place in the Temple.
What a contrast: lowly shepherds and unblemished lambs.
Those shepherds wouldn’t even be allowed entrance into the temple grounds to see their perfect animals used in the rituals.
They weren’t good enough, but their animals were.
“Oh, well,” he sighed, “who said life was fair.’
He turned again to the gate.
More travelers.
He had already sent some away.
His inn was simply too crowded to accept any more lodgers.
Opening the gate, he saw the two of them standing there.
They were sagging against the donkey tied to the post.
The three of them had the same look about them.
Man, woman, and beast were utterly exhausted.
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